What Wagner Worry?

Following a two-year stint with the Phillies, southpaw closer Billy Wagner up and signed a 4 yr/$43 mil deal with the division rival Mets. The deal would last from 2006-09 with an option for 2010. In his first season with the Mets, Wagner posted a 2.84 FIP and provided two wins above replacement, a very solid figure given that relievers do not accrue much in the win value column thanks to such small samples of data.

In 2007, Wagner added +1.4 wins with a 3.09 FIP. Last year, despite missing time with injuries, he still managed to produce +1.2 wins. Extrapolated out over a full season that performance would, at the very least, match the year prior. His injuries were very significant, however, leading to Tommy John surgery which kept him out of action down the stretch in 2008 and was set to sideline the flamethrower until the end of the 2009 campaign.

In the offseason, the Mets went out and signed Francisco Rodriguez to a lucrative three year deal, and traded for JJ Putz of the Mariners. Putz has not lived up to expectations thus far but the season is still young and plenty of time exists to turn things around. What happens in September, though? Wagner comes back, all but assured that his option for 2010 will not be exercised thanks to the presence of K-Rod, but still needs to audition for his future employer, whomever that may be.

Assuming he does return in September, and that Putz turns his season around, that could be one very scary three-headed monster at the back end of the bullpen. Wagner might only be used in low leverage situations, but you have to figure he would still be effective given his track record. The Mets may have choked away playoff berths at the end of both 2007 and 2008, but if Wagner can return around that time, his presence might help prevent the trifecta.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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