The acquisition of former Mets closer Billy Wagner may or may not work out for the Red Sox in 2009. If he is healthy, his career numbers indicate that he can’t possibly not help. Wagner has given up 265 fewer hits than innings pitched–the only true objective indicator of a pitcher’s worth in my opinion.
But that’s not why I’m writing this.
In February of 2007, my son and I had a somewhat close encounter with Wagner. After having seen Pedro Matrinez earlier in the day, we were leaving the Mets Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. We were passing by a lonely area at the back end of Tradition Field, when Wagner, by himself, was walking back to the clubhouse. We noticed a stray ball on the field and asked him if he’d mind tossing it over the fence. Wagner smiled, walked a good distance out of his way, and flipped the ball to my then 11-year old son. He didn’t have to do it. But he did. After thanking him, we looked at the new prize and relaized it was a left-over ball from the previous year’s All-Star game in Pittsburgh–logo and all.
So, an All-Star closer gave us an All-Star ball. Nice end to the day. And, while it might not indicate whether he still has the talent to help the Sox to another ring, it does show that Billy Wagner’s reputation as a good guy is real.