The first is from Senor Bill Madden of the Daily News. In it, he ponders who the Mets will use at closer with Billy Wagner on the shelf indefinitely. While he comes to absolutely no conclusion whatsoever, he does point out that both Huston Street and Brian Fuentes would be way too expensive to attempt to pick up.
For his part, Minaya has to hope Wagner's loss can be filled from within because, as he said, "there are few other options" on the outside. Although no closers were dealt at the trading deadline, only Oakland's Huston Street is believed to have cleared waivers. And even though Street is having a subpar season, A's GM Billy Beane is going to want premium prospects back for him. Same thing for Colorado's Brian Fuentes, a free agent after the season who may also have cleared, but is probably not going to be moved.The Rox wanted Aaron Heilman for Fuentes, something that made little to no sense to me. If they had asked for a guy like, say, Endy Chavez, that would have been something the Mets should have thought about. Swapping a relief pitcher for a relief pitcher is dicey territory, especially for a rental like Fuentes.
I'm glad the Mets didn't trade for him, but Street would have been perfect right about now. He's young and talented, so you know Beane would have wanted a boatload for him, but he's the kind of GM that would be willing to take a crop of players from A-ball and let them prosper in his own system.
Either way, the Mets are going to have to patch together the bullpen from here on out. Luis Ayala looked good in his first two-thirds of an inning, but he's got a long way to go before I trust him. (Side note: Read Mets Today's game recap from last night. He's not impressed either.)
Star-Ledger payroll participant, Dan Graziano, penned an article entitled "New York Mets bullpen not built for October."
Believe me, Dan, we know.
Graziano does give the Mets one thumbs up, claiming the team is good enough to win the NL East, but at the same time jinxes the team with the earliest known usage of that terrible term: magic number.
The Mets' bullpen may well be good enough, even without Billy Wagner, to win the NL East. Their starting pitching is excellent. Their lineup is very good. Their schedule is cream cheese. (Seriously - eight more against the Braves, six more against the Nationals. CAKE.) The Phillies don't seem to have that...whatever it is they had last year. The Mets' magic number is 36, and they're in a groove.It's true. The schedule sets up nicely for the Mets, but it could also set up for 2007 redux. We all figured that games against the Nationals and Marlins would be easy as pie (pie and cake references accounted for) in the last few weeks. And again, we all know what happened there.
But he goes on to put this whole whining ordeal into perspective:
If one or two of these guys get hot for the next three weeks, and then one or two other guys get hot for the three weeks after that, and Manuel does a good job of identifying who's hot at what time, then they're home. And if that does happen, they may well get to October with a couple of guys on a roll. Wagner's absence could have the effect of instilling some confidence in a couple of these relief pitchers, if they're able to have success between now and then.I've never heard fans of a team in first place bellyache so much, but the bullpen is an issue. All it takes is one or two pitchers to rattle off a nice scoreless streak and we'll all shut up. And the world will be a better place.