Tag: billy wagner

No Giving Up Yet

white-flagIt turns out that the trade for Anderson Hernandez was a message to the rest of the world that the New York Mets are BUYERS, and still have a chance to propel themselves into the postseason.

Furthermore, the installation of Bobby Parnell into the starting rotation is a move to bolster, rather than hinder, the team’s chances. (Though I think it would behoove the Mets to check the Farmer’s Almanac and try to coincide Parnell’s starts with days that it is expected to rain. They may get lucky and end up with games that are halted after five innings.)

We know the Mets have not yet surrendered, and in fact are still focused on “playing meaningful games in September”, because in an article today by Adam Rubin, in which the subject was the possible trade of Billy Wagner:

Furthermore, the Mets aren’t at the stage yet where they’re writing off 2009, so giving serious consideration to trading Wagner is still a couple of weeks away. “I think everyone still feels there’s a 10-game win streak around the corner,” a team insider optimistically said.

So there you have it — the Mets are still in this thing. Book your tickets now to watch the pennant race heat up in September … and hurry, before games are sold out !!!

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Why Back to Back?

wags-putz-back
Recent news funneling from Flushing and Port St. Lucie is that both Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz are on the mend and could be back in big league uniforms within the next few weeks.

Wagner is ahead of Putz, as he is throwing in actual games. Minor league games in Florida, but games nonetheless. Meanwhile, Putz is tossing bullpen sessions in New York.

One thing noted on MetsBlog was that Wagner would follow a schedule of pitching in a few games a week, and eventually move to a program that includes back-to-back days. It won’t be until he’s proven that he can throw on consecutive days that the Mets will consider adding him to the active 25-man roster.

My question is, why?

First of all, putting relievers into ballgames on back-to-back days is a large part of the reason these former flamethrowers were injured in the first place. The idea that a guy isn’t “ready” until he throw consecutive days is the typical cement-head logic poisoning pitchers throughout pro ball today. Incredibly, the same people who buy into this nonsense also think a starting pitcher can only throw 100 pitches once every five days. Is it me, or is there something screwy here?

Secondly, why would the Mets NEED Billy Wagner to throw on back-to-back days? How about exercising some restraint, and learning a thing or two about PROPER bullpen management? The Mets carry a dozen arms at any given moment, yet Brian Stokes and Tim Redding can go more than a week without getting into a ballgame. And this is termed “management”?

Here’s an idea: bring both Putz and Wags back when they’re capable of throwing 25 pitches in a true “game” situation, experience no pain, and can come back and do the same thing 48 hours later. Then, you use one of them on one day, and the other on another day. Cap each at one full inning. If you’re really lucky, you have yourself a dominant and fresh 8th-inning setup guy every day — what other MLB team can claim that?

This strategy would not put a strain on the bullpen, because a) you’re having one guy instead of two or three get three big outs; and b) you won’t be using 7 relievers every day.

If Jerry Manuel was using those 11th and 12th guys on the pitching staff, maybe I’d look at things differently. But as long as Manuel has to “find innings” for some pitchers to keep them fresh, it shouldn’t be an issue to have two relievers who can’t go back to back.

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Mets Injury Updates

No need to panic — not one Mets player went down with an injury in the past 24 hours.

Perhaps the most significant injury to affect the Mets occurred to an opponent — red-hot Raul Ibanez has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin. According to reports, Ibanez suffered the injury slipping down some 42-year-old blogger’s mother’s basement steps.

Ibanez has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Phillies, and in addition to getting his bat out of the lineup, this injury could cool off his steaming hot streak. Let’s hope he falls back to Earth when he returns from the DL.

As far as the Mets go:

Oliver Perez is pitching in Florida and throwing in the low 90s

John Maine is not progressing as quickly as we’d like. His shoulder is still weak and he’s feeling a pinch.

Angel Pagan could return to the club in less than two weeks. But if Jeremy Reed can’t find at-bats –even when the team is playing with a DH — how will Pagan?

Billy Wagner could be throwing to batters shortly. If nothing else can be salvaged from this season, it could be incredibly fun to watch a September bullpen that includes Wagner, J.J. Putz, and K-Rod. Talk about shortening the game.

Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, and J.J. Putz remain out indefinitely, with no news to report. Though, it should be noted that Delgado, like Wagner, was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5th. Does this mean the sixty days go back to the original date they were placed on the 15-day DL, or do you count the sixty days from June 5th? If it’s the latter, that means both players are eligible to return on August 4th. I *think* the counting goes back to the first date of inactivity, and if anyone can find a link confirming this theory, please post it in the comments.

And I know you’re hanging on the edge of your seat wondering when Ramon Martinez will return, but he, too, is in a holding pattern with his dislocated pinky.

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What the Mets Do Next

Much of the Mets’ chances for success this year relied on the bat of Carlos Delgado, who is out until at least mid-July. But, Gary Sheffield stepped up and filled some of the void in the middle of the lineup — though, it wasn’t enough with Carlos Beltran suffering from a stomach bug and Ryan Church on the DL. Still, with Beltran healthy and Church on the way back, it looked as though the Mets could tread water while they waited for Jose Reyes to return to the lineup, which was reportedly “any day now”.

After an MRI revealed a tear in Reyes’ hamstring, that “day” may be in August. To compound matters, J.J. Putz may need elbow surgery — which could knock him out for the rest of the season.

There’s a real possibility we’ll next see Billy Wagner in a Mets uniform before Delgado, Reyes, or Putz.

What will the Mets do next?

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Mike Pelfrey has Tendinitis

It’s been reported that Mike Pelfrey has tendinitis in his forearm.

Uh-oh. That’s typically a precursor to an elbow strain.

TheRopolitans has good coverage of this issue and a description of tendinitis. (The site also has a new slick look, so check it out … seems everyone is changing their look these days.)

In my experience, throwing sliders can cause and agitate forearm and elbow issues, because a righthander has to turn his hand clockwise (also called “supination”) at release, which can put a strain on the forearm and elbow ligaments. In contrast, a properly thrown fastball usually includes a slight pronation of the hand (counter-clockwise turn) during the acceleration of the arm and through the release. Luckily Big Pelf is not using the slider much anymore, but it’s still a concern. Last year Billy Wagner reported a similar injury prior to needing Tommy John surgery.

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Why K-Rod and Putz Might Not Matter

Ask anyone why the Mets finished in second place last year and the immediate answer is “the bullpen stunk”. People are quick to point out the 29 blown saves as evidence supporting that claim. Also buying into that theory was the Mets’ front office, who sought to band-aid the problem by acquiring the AL West’s two best closers. Problem solved, right?

Not so fast. Before we assume that J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez slamming the door on innings 8 and 9 are the “final ingredient” for the Mets’ entry into the postseason, let’s continue to follow the data.

Blown Saves: Putz and K-Rod


Question: who blew more saves last year, J.J. Putz or Billy Wagner?

Answer: You may be surprised to find out that Putz blew 8 games, to Wagner’s 7. But Putz was injured in 2008, so we’re willing to give him a pass. Right?

Question: who blew more saves last year, Francisco Rodriguez or Aaron Heilman?
Answer: K-Rod, who blew 7 to Heilman’s 5.
Granted, K-Rod converted 89.8% of his save opportunities, finishing with 62.

But still, 7 blown saves is 7 blown saves. Add Putz’s 8, and the Mets acquired 15 blown saves this offseason — more than half of the 29 they blew in 2008.

Fans will find out quickly that despite their skills, Putz and K-Rod are not “automatic”. In fact, of K-Rod’s 68 innings pitched last year, he went one-two-three only 22 times (FYI, the Royals’ Joakim Soria led all of MLB with 36 “clean” innings). Also of note: K-Rod never pitched more than one full inning in 2008.

Breaking Down the Mets’ 29 Blown Saves

A few numbers to consider regarding the 29 blown saves that supposedly ruined the Mets season:

9: the number of games that were WON by the Mets, in games they blew a save
13: the number of blown saves that came after Billy Wagner went on the DL
11: the number of blown saves that occurred BEFORE THE 8th INNING

That last number is most intriguing. Many people don’t realize that a pitcher can be assigned a blown save as early as the 6th inning. The big deal about getting Putz and K-Rod is that the Mets can now “shorten the game” to 7 innings. However, the Mets will still have to find a way to bridge the gap in the 6th and 7th, a time when more than one-third of their blown saves occurred.

Subtract those 11 “early blown saves” from the 29, and you’re down to 18 blown saves. Subtract the 9 games that were won, and you’re down to 9 blown saves that occurred in the 8th or 9th inning, that resulted in a loss.

Suddenly, the Mets’ bullpen doesn’t look so awful, does it? Now, consider again that Putz and Rodriguez combined for 15 blown saves last year, and ALL of their blown saves occurred in either the 8th or 9th frames, and you tell me whether the bullpen is definitely improved over last year.

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