MLB.com’s Marty Noble gets an earful from Mets closer Billy Wagner, who might be free to write a Newday column if Wally Matthews ever wants to pursue a career as Tom Sizemore’s stunt double.
“Someone asked me what I thought of our team,” Wagner said. “I replied, ‘What team?’ We’ve lost 13 games [Tom Glavine's victory total], and now we are going have to give up something to get those games back. I’m afraid we’re just going to create other holes if we give up a [Lastings] Milledge, a [Mike] Pelfrey or a Heilman.”
“I’m trying to be positive,” he said. “I’m saying we have some good players. But I’m worried. The Braves are getting better, and the Phillies made a move [acquiring Brad Lidge]. We’ve brought back some people, and that’s good. But losing Tom is big. It’s a lot more than the 13 games he won. It’s what he did for John Maine and Oliver Perez and how professional he was. People want to focus on one bad game or just the day-to-day stats. I do that myself when I read about football. By I’m involved in this, and I know how important [Glavine] was. We don’t have him [in 2007], and we don’t even get to the last game with a chance. He was one of the few leaders we had.
“We’re down 13 games already, plus all the games Tom deserved to win,” he said. “Without Aaron, it’d be like another 10 or 12. It would be a big chance to take. Without Aaron, [the bullpen] don’t even exist. No way you can trade him.”
Wagner’s concerns go beyond personnel, to the Mets’ thoughts of using Orlando Hernandez in relief and other relievers’ roles. “[Hernandez] pitches great for five games and then can’t pitch for two weeks,” Wagner said. “If we put him in the bullpen, we’re going to ask him to pitch three times a week. Can he take that?”
Wagner went to bat for his former batterymate as well, saying he has no problem with Johnny Estrada, who was acquired in trade last week. But he believed Lo Duca was an integral component in the team dynamic.
“Maybe he wasn’t the best receiver. I don’t know. But Paulie competed,” Wagner said. “He battled every day, and we had some guys who didn’t show up every day. They were satisfied if they got a hit and we lost. Paul was [angry] if he had four hits and we lost. And every one of the pitchers trusted him. He was a big part of what we did [in 2006], and now he’s gone, too. … It just worries me that we’re missing some important guys.”
It’s hard to know what to make of Wagner’s claim that Glavine was one of the few leader-types on the Mets. On a veteran club with World Series winners including El Duque, Pedro Martinez, Luis Castillo and Moises Alou (not to mention a manager and first base coach of some repute), how dependent should the Mets have been on Glavine’s guidance?
Given Wagner’s already documented tendency to lecture the likes of Lastings Milledge — keep in mind Da Edge has been in the organization longer than Country Time — doesn’t he consider himself a leader? And if so, who exactly is he calling out here?