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Birthdays and Other Celebrations

Mike SteffanosWednesday, August 23, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

While I was reading that today is Julio Franco's forty-eighth birthday, I realized a couple of things. The first is that Julio Franco is two months older than I am and is still able to compete at the highest level of professional athletics while I need to take a nap after bringing out the garbage. The second was that this blog and Julio share the same birthday. Forty-seven years after Julio was born in 1958, this blog was born on August 23, 2005.

Now, I'm not trying to make a big deal out of being around for a year, or pretending like we're doing something really important (like curing cancer) here, but it is amazing to me to think about how far this little endeavor has gone in 12 months. Thanks to everyone who has come along for the ride and made this blog better with your contributions, and thanks to all the other bloggers who have been generous by linking to this site and helping build an audience. I'm grateful for the chance to share my love for baseball and the Mets with others who feel the same, and for the friends I've made from doing this.

Shawn Green
I know that some of you are more excited by this acquisition than I am, but don't take that to mean that I'm anti-Green. Given the chain of circumstances that began with Duaner Sanchez' ill-fated late night cab ride, this is a reasonable deal for a large-market club with championship aspirations to make. MacLane was a decent little prospect, but there are quite a few ahead of him in the Mets minors (Perez, Bannister, Peflrey, Humber, and even Alay Soler, to name a few). The Mets received enough money back from Arizona (about $6 million) to ensure that Green will not be ridiculously overpaid for his stay in New York. He will certainly make more money than his production is worth, but this isn't a penny-pinching moneyball organization that has to sweat that.

The Mets traded Xavier Nady to bring back Roberto Hernandez at a time when Aaron Heilman looked almost hopelessly lost as a reliever. Given the re-emergence of Heilman, some have called the trade an unnecessary "panic move", but that misses the point. With Sanchez gone and the team capable of winning a championship, Omar couldn't afford to gamble with the bullpen. I've been annoyed with those who have lightly written off Nady's contributions to the Mets, but even I will admit that he was the most expendable player in the lineup. Now if Omar has traded Nady one-to-one for Hernandez, I would agree that this was a panic move, however, you can't ignore the fact that Oliver Perez was part of this deal.

This is a 25-year-old that has shown he can be an elite left-handed starter. Sure, there are no guarantees here, but if this guy can be turned around, this trade is a steal of monumental proportions. Perez' presence in this deal proved that Omar was thinking of the future while taking care of the needs of the present. Those who ignore this when discussing this deal are being disingenuous at best, sadly unknowledgeable at worst. Even if Perez doesn't pan out, this was a reasonable gamble for the future and important insurance for the present.

Still, when Nady was dealt the Mets lost two things that they will miss -- a solid bat at the bottom of the lineup, and a good guy in the clubhouse. Certainly Green isn't the cost-effective solution that Nady was, but he is both a solid bat and a good guy -- a reasonable solution to the Mets problems at a reasonable price, given the team's large-market resources.

So, you say that Wagner makes you nervous...
Billy has had his problems in his first season as Mets closer, but with 17 saves in his last 18 chances it's time to acknowledge that he's overcome the early-season struggles to be pretty much what he was supposed to be. Wagner has blown 5 saves in 36 opportunities, which doesn't make this one of his best seasons, but consider the Cardinal fans who have to watch Jason Isringhausen try to hold leads for them.

He has 30 saves on the year, which isn't bad, but he has blown an incredible 9 saves -- just under one-quarter of his opportunities. In the month of August, Wagner has rebounded from that August 1 walkoff defeat by Florida to save 9 straight chances and pitch a scoreless ninth in a game where the Mets had too big of a lead to qualify for a save. Meanwhile, Isringhausen has pitched 9 times in August. He won one, lost three and blew 2 of 4 save chances. If the Cardinals decide that they can't afford Isringhausen bringing in that can of gas in the ninth inning, their fallback is Braden Looper. Maybe we all need to be a little more thankful for Billy Wagner.

NY Sports Day: Shawn Green
Joe McDonald opines on the Green pickup.

Mets Guy in Michigan: Dave answers the Yankees apologists
Dave takes a couple of annoying items that bugged me a couple of days ago and runs with them.

MetsBlog: Surgery for Castro
MetsBlog is reporting that backup catcher Ramon Castro has undergone knee surgery.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
Hot Foot

Comments (5)

The older you get, its always a blessing to find someone older than you. Happy delayed Birthday... I think Green will fit in very nice and help in a lot of ways..If the season ended today, who would we play and what would be your starting rotation?

Hey Rev -- Looks like the Reds for the wild card unless the Cards completetly collapse. My rotation would be Pedro, Glavine, El Duque and Trachsel right now. El Duque could still wind up in the bullpen, and if Trachsel falls back then John Maine. My reasoning is Maine could do a good job in the bullpen, while Trachsel couldn't. If Steve keeps pitching like he has the last 3 or 4 times out he's the #4 starter, if he reverts to where he was a month ago he's not on my playoff roster. (Of course, none of this is really my call)

With 38+ games to go Philly, SD, and cincy are in for the WC. As per normal it should come down to the final week. I have little confidence in Cincy pitching, I think SD and Philly are better balanced.

Maine got blasted....or did he. He's biggest transgression was his lack of offspeed pitch and the subsequent allowing of Miles and Duncan to get on base twice prior to Pujols....who can hit any FB.

Our 25yr old LHP: Let us not forget Pulse who we did not trade, then whose arm fell off. If Kaz was still here would he still be good? Matt Peterson was doing at least as well as Kaz at the time of the trade...where is he? Perez will make us soon forget Kaz.


I've been in the Hamptons the past couple days, but as for my opinion on the Green trade, I like it. Hitting sixth, protecting D-Wright and being protected by Chavez (maybe the most underrated player in baseball) will undoubtedly benefit him. I think he's young enough to turn it around and anchor the bottom of the order. As down of a season as he's having my his standards, I still wouldn't welcome the sight of Shawn Green at the plate with a man on base.

As for giving Wagner his due, I think you're on the money, but he's given me heart palpitations on multiple occasions. Heilman, though, has been positively brilliant-- and as much as I hated to see Nady go, I'm with you on not blaming Minaya for it.

Ed -- I don't know why, I just think the Reds are going to hold on.
Matt -- 18 of his last 19 for Wagner now. Not pretty, but effective.

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