Billy Wagner used to be the closer for the New York Mets. He's going in for surgery on his left flexor pronator and MCL. I don't know what a flexor pronator is exactly, but MCL stands for Mets Closer Lost for this season and next. Wagner's contract is up at the end of '09, by which time the last meaningful pitch to have come out of his left hand will have been whacked for a two-RBI single by Geoff Blum (the play on which Mark Loretta and Hunter Pence formed a human pyramid atop Ramon Castro). That was in the ninth inning, August 2.
The Mets are 22-11 since.
The Luis Ayala Era, however interim in nature, is surely in effect. The Billy Wagner Era, pending medical marvels, appears over. He'll work hard to get back and pitch somewhere, and I'll root like hell for him personally because, as prickly as he can come off, I admire how much he cares, how well he means and how much he did to close games that for too long had gone uncloseable in these parts. But this is a real page-turner where the Mets are concerned. No way in hell does his $10 million option for 2010 get picked up. No way in hell can the Mets now not think about Francisco Rodriguez if the Angels don't lock him down. No way in hell can the Mets jump on K-Rod without qualification because we've seen, first with Pedro and now with Billy, how short-term benefits and long-term risks unfold where free agent pitchers carrying significant mileage are concerned. But that's for later. For now, it's Ayala and staff and a two-game lead with nineteen to play.
Sleep with one eye open. Good luck Mr. Sandman.
(I was at both games of yesterday's doubleheader. Will be back to tell you about the last longest day in the history of Shea Stadium when I'm fully recovered from it.)