Last Met Out of the Clubhouse Is a Rotten Egg

Santana done for year, Wagner headed for Beantown

Remember at the end of Little League seasons how they'd make sure that every kid, even the ones who spent more time pulling weeds in left than playing ball, went home with some kind of an award? The awards could be things like Most Improved or Best Hustle, but normally they just took the form of a ribbon that symbolized participation and nothing more. Someone with the Mets should order up 10 of those ribbons, but not as a cop-out.

Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Daniel Murphy and the seven other members of the opening day roster who have been active the entire season are true warriors worthy of recognition. After losing two more comrades on Tuesday afternoon, they wouldn't even qualify for group tickets at Citi Field.

As reported earlier, Johan Santana went to the hospital for an MRI and, as expected, they found bone chips on his elbow. He'll have surgery, which will cost him the rest of the season, but should be ready to go for the start of next year. It's good for the Mets that Santana won't be out longer, obviously, but it's through no work of their own that he avoided more serious damage. Santana's elbow bothered him in Port St. Lucie and it's been bothering him since the All-Star Break, yet the Mets allowed him to keep pitching even though the only thing undecided was whether or not they'd rack up 85 or 90 losses for the year. 

Maybe that kind of smart decision making is what led Billy Wagner to change his mind on Tuesday and accept a deal to the Red Sox? Wagner had wanted certain concessions in terms of his option and arbitration for 2010 and usage pattern from the Sox so that he'd be best positioned to resume his closing career next season, which made a trade look unlikely. Ultimately the Sox agreed not to pick up the option and Wagner threw caution to the wind on the rest for a chance at playing in October and limit his chances of getting run over by one of the many gurneys around the Mets clubhouse.

The Mets will get two players to be named later, reportedly AA-level prospects, in exchange for Wagner. While the PTBNL has an illustrious history around the big leagues, the real draw was the nearly $2 million in savings that they'll receive by dumping Wags' contract. That could go toward signing a Domincan teenager or create flexibility in the free agent market, wonderful things for a team in the Mets' position.

It could also go toward covering the losses the Wilpons steadfastly claim they didn't suffer when they were fleeced by Bernie Madoff. They make those claims, but their unwillingness to add salary when the season was still in doubt and holes developed in the lineup as well as their penurious spending in the draft make it clear that something is constricting cash flow in Queens.

That goes well with whatever's constricting the blood flow to the brains of the medical staff and the tears flowing from the eyes of Mets fans who expected so much more from the season.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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