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.
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.