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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Bring the Wood

I wake up most days with my mind on Met things that have already happened. Today I woke up with my mind on Met things that have not yet occurred. I woke up this morning and decided I wanted K-Rod as our closer.

Then I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and decided differently.

The only American League team to whom I pay the least bit of going attention (in a positive sense) is the Angels. I've followed Francisco Rodriguez since he blew away everybody he faced in the 2002 postseason, which is when I latched onto the Angels as, more or less, my A.L. team. I enjoyed watching him take the closer reins and was quite gratified when he blotted the name Bobby Thigpen from history's upper echelons. He is dynamic, he is exciting, he is brilliant.

He also scares the living spit out of me. He is Billy Wagner with younger, better stuff, but he's Billy Wagner not in that oh no, here comes Wagner, we the opposition are screwed way we looked at Wagner when he was an Astro, but rather in the sense we've gotten to know Billy Wagner first-hand. Rodriguez is Wagner in that what now? mode you attach to your own closer from watching him too closely and too often. I love K-Rod, but in an extracurricular, other-league manner. He comes here, and the ninth-inning butterflies are swirling while still caterpillars — assuming the caterpillars aren't routinely squashed in the cocoons of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings per usual.

K-Rod closing for the Mets? It could be great. It could be much worse. After these last two seasons of bullpen roulette, I'm not prepared for much worse. It can't get much worse. It can, but it can't. It just can't.

Thus, after deciding differently this morning, I leaned to Kerry Wood, someone I'd been writing off as injury-prone since his name first came up as closing possibility.

I've seen guys written off as injury-prone shake it off (as well as guys in that position who simply get more injured). Wood's only 2008 injury of disabling note was a blister, wasn't it? He didn't look too terribly blistered when saving two games against the Mets in the final week, did he? These are not rhetorical questions, by the way. Let me know if I'm crazy. I'm not suggesting a 20-year, $400 million Citi deal for Wood or the kind of terms K-Rod's going to command, even in a slow market. I'd sign Wood for no more than two years. I think the guy still throws very hard, will still have something very big to prove and will come here a lot cheaper than K-Rod or Brian Fuentes. Fuentes I want little part of given that he flopped as a closer once (in the only season when it really mattered for his team) and I wouldn't trust too many pitchers with Colorado in their background…even if supposedly the construct is “if he can pitch in Denver, he can pitch anywhere.” I understand he's lefthanded and lefties definitely need apply considering the presence of the lefty-laden world champs in our division, but the idea of Fuentes makes me squirm. He'll come here for too much money, he'll blow a couple of saves and then we're in “he can't handle New York” territory.

Underinformed speculation on my part? You bet. Talking out my asphalt? Could be. It's December, it snowed overnight, I woke up, for a Met change, wondering what's next. Catch me in a few hours and I could change my story completely.

11 comments to Bring the Wood

  • Anonymous

    Greg I am going through the torment I also wanted Rodriguez all along but find myself looking over Kerry Woods stats a the fact that he smashed Sammy Sosa' boom box after a Cubs loss and I find myself looking at Wood as a very effective closer and the money saved on K-Rod put toward Derek Lowe.

  • Anonymous

    I live in LA and actually went to the Mets-Angels game that K-Rod blew. I would not commit five years and a ton of money for him. His velocity is down and he can't pitch more than one inning – something the Mets will need unless they dramatically improve the setup men. Signing someone like Wood, along some setup men and even better, Derek Lowe, would help more.

  • Anonymous

    I wrote very similar sentiments on Friday. Woods upside is too hard to ignore. Closers (unless named Mariano) all seem too volatile to commit so much time to. 2 years for Wood is a steal.

  • Anonymous

    I'm against Rodriguez for even stupider reasons:
    1) Stupid nickname everyone will use
    2) Will do a lot toward creating the illusion of having solved all the bullpen problems, even if it only brings us to the very same place we started the last few years
    3) Demonstrative finger pointing and fist-pumping won't do a thing to turn around the Mets' perception for players who exhibit questionable sportsmanship, and breed contempt among their rivals, to the extent that's a bad thing.
    4) Worries over velocity and stuff declining, even though I'm sure he'll be as close to good over the coming the years as the other candidates.
    5) Hype and $alary will make him impossible to unseat when things go wrong, and they will.
    I'm not sure I like Wood all that much, but that's because he has a long history of injuries and is, I think, Roger Clemens' best buddy. I don;t know if that's true or not.
    So I keep coming back to Fuentes. Lefty, which is a bonus with 18 Phillies games, good strikeout rate, but not so studly and Brand Named that they couldn't bust him down to 7th-inning guy or lefty specialist if the situation called for it.

  • Anonymous

    I'm wary of Rodriguez for the velocity and overuse issues. I could go for Wood and Fuentes in a dual-purpose, Jesse/Roger situation. Then we could get those wacky “Got Wood?” t-shirts. And boy, would this cheese off Cub fans! They love Wood.

  • Anonymous

    It's not just declining velocity–K-Rod's strikeout totals have been declining and his WHIP has been climbing. Fuentes is going in the opposite direction (in Colorado no less). I'd be happy with Wood or Fuentes… or both if they could live with that. Even Hoffman with a one year deal and option for 2010 and money to spend on Derek Lowe would be better than a fortune on K-Rod

  • Anonymous

    Don't know why the Mets are down on Cruz. Seems like a good setup option with heat and a guy who can step in if you have an injury to the closer. Fuentes/Cruz, Hoffman/Cruz or Wood/Cruz gives you more options and a bigger step toward rebuilding than just K-Rod and probably for less money.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    As every Met fan knows we need both a closer and set-up man to replace the loss of Wagner and the inefficiency of Aaron Heilman so I'm hoping they get both KRod and Fuentes. With our luck, Wood would wind up on the DL more than winding up on the mound.
    Of course, both KRod and Fuentes are risks. Those with a baseball eye observe KRod's delivery could shorten his career (something no Bill James statistical formula can predict). And Fuentes has not shown the ability to handle big situations. But we're in a corner and unless two new and efficient late inning relievers are signed we might as well kiss 2009 goodbye already.
    I'm more concerned about any new reliever starting off slow. No doubt whoever the Mets sign will receive a chorus of boos accompanied by chants of “we want Heilman”. Met fans could mess up free agent pitchers as much as any pitching coach or manager.
    So let's hope we get some good merchandise instead of playing hunches on the likes of a Julio or Burgos.

  • Anonymous

    Doesn't Omar remember Bobby Thigpen? It's as certain as death and taxes, if you use a reliever that much his arm turns into salami. Wet salami.
    Stay away.
    -sjg$