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.

13 Responses to “What Wagner Worry?”

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  1. David says:

    As a Mets fan I’d like to point at Bobby Parnell as well. He’s pitching better than Putz is. If he keeps it up and Putz keeps faltering, Parnell should get the 8th. And if Putz actually gets better, that pen is going to be scary-good.

    Though as long as Jerry Manuel keeps throwing his LOOGY against Lefty-killers like Matt Diaz, I suppose that’s a moot point.

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  2. diderot says:

    No matter what happens to the others, you can forget about a contribution from Putz. Having watched him all last year in Seattle, the guy is done. And not only will he blow up the eighth inning for you Mets fans, he will also turn into a brooding, excuse-filled downer in the clubhouse.
    Thank you SO MUCH for taking his sorry ass.

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  3. TJ says:

    I was always under the impression that you dont throw until 12 months after TJ surgery and it takes up to 6 months to get back into “baseball shape”, maybe less for a RP.

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  4. big baby says:

    i can’t imagine wagner coming back and being successful a year removed from TJ. like the aptly named TJ says, it usually takes more time to get back in baseball shape and to regain your control. also, wagner is a pathetic choke artist who I hate.

    putz is a strange case for me. several times this year he’s gotten ahead 0-2 and then thrown a fastball almost right down the pipe. his velo has usually been in the 94-95 range, and he’s been getting an increase in the number of his Ks. I think he’s been a little unlucky, but also is earning some of his bad luck. last night yunel escobar dropped a fly ball on the line for a double, and then was brought home on another fly ball double placed a step out of the poor poor range of dan murphy. pitchers do slump, but it’s definitely something to monitor.

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  5. Brian says:

    Wags is always good for a series of morale-killing, “We suck” bon mots in the midst of turmoil, so I hope his Debbie Downer act is in mid-season form by September. What he can do with his arm is sometimes besides the point.

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    • The A Team says:

      Well said. Wagner certainly has a way with words, although I don’t know how he’d choke away any games without his favorite Pat Burrell. I guess Werth could hit the critical bombs, but Wags wouldn’t be able to complain about his “one-path swing”. That quote always tickled me.

      Also, Wagner has publicly said he’s played his last day as a Met to the NY Daily News. Would be interesting to watch him try to brush that comment off in a comeback attempt.

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  6. Mike Ketchen says:

    Eric,

    Maybe I am in the minority on this one, but I do not see the Mets winning this division. I like ATL and FLA more and Philly might even outslug them. They have been abusing KRod early and often and after Santana I just dont see the pitching depth. The line up also thins out very quick. Does anyone else think I am crazy or off base here?

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  7. MT says:

    Dave Cameron wrote an article on 4/29 saying that Putz looked hurt … so of course, today Jerry Manuel announced that an MRI revealed that Putz has inflammation in the back of his elbow…

    “According to Minaya, it is a bone spur that Putz has become accustom to playing with” – from Metsblog

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    • big baby says:

      he was writing using his early season velocity and lack of strikeouts.

      his velocity started the year slowly and increased quickly afterwards and he started striking out more people.

      don’t know how much credit can be given.

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  8. Ezra says:

    Mike,

    FLA is a mirage, you are being distracted by razzle-dazzle and no depth, kind of like a Michael Vick-led Falcons offense. The Braves are solid, but the Phillies and Mets are still the cream of the crop.

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    • Mike Ketchen says:

      Razzle-Dazzle?

      Unless Johan can pitch every day they are not winning this division. You can put that in the bank. I am not saying others teams are without flaw but you can not trot out 4 below average SP’s and want to win. Also KRod pitching 5 times in a span of 6 days? Yea they will be *fine*

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  9. randy says:

    They already have a scary three headed monster(if Putz looks like he did today) Bobby Parnell has been great out of the pen so far.

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  10. Howdy, what a wonderful website you have. I found it on Bing while looking for some baby gear. Thanks and good luck.

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