Wagner’s Comments: What’s the Big Deal?

Sorry for being late on this one … I’ve been avoiding talk radio, Baseball Tonight, espn.com, and all forms of media that might be covering baseball since “the loss”.

Anyway, let’s look at Billy Wagner’s comments in New York Magazine — the ones that he apologized for:

“We’ve been throwing four innings a night – for months!” Wagner told the magazine. “Our pitching coach has no experience talking to a bullpen. He can help you mechanically, but he can’t tell you emotions. He has no idea what it feels like. And neither does Willie. They’re not a lot of help, put it that way.”

OK … and? Why the apology?

Everything Billy said was correct. I can see why people are up in arms, because it sort of could be construed as criticism, but really, it’s not. Wagner said, in so many words, that both Rick Peterson and Willie Randolph were ignorant of what goes on in a reliever’s mind. Pointing out ignorance is not being critical — it’s stating fact.

I know, I know — Billy “should just keep his mouth shut”. Yet at the same time, we hope every day that one of the Mets will come forward and say what’s on his mind — the truth, rather than the same old b.s. and tired cliches. Or are you satisfied with hearing “… gotta turn the page …” every day from Willie Randolph?

To expand on Wagner’s words: if Rick Peterson gets the credit for revamping the careers of Tom Glavine, Oliver Perez, and John Maine, then he has to get some of the blame for the collapse of both the starting pitching and the bullpen. Yet, throughout September, we saw nor heard anything from The Jacket, and not one pundit, beat writer, nor blogger called him out. Now, after the season, Wagner doesn’t blame him, but simply states that he can’t help with a reliever’s emotions. The first time all season someone puts the finger on Peterson, and he has to apologize for it. Huh.

Personally, I do agree that Wagner would have been better off stating things differently — because what he said could have caused dissension had the season still been going on. However, he manned up and apologized for the words, and by next February it will be forgotten.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. smith October 2, 2007 at 12:24 pm
    well said.
  2. isuzudude October 2, 2007 at 5:27 pm
    It’s not Billy’s place to call out Peterson and Randolph. He’s a player. Go out there, get outs, and earn your money. Don’t tell Willie and Rick how to do their jobs. If Milledge can’t get away with saying “who cares” about getting suspended for an on-the-field tirade, and Delgado can’t be excused for saying the team gets bored with winning, than Wagner should not get off scott free for throwing management under the bus. Leave the public criticism up to the public and the media. As a player, do your job and shut up. If you suck at your job, blame yourself, don’t start pointing fingers. And that’s exactly what Wagner did.
  3. Micalpalyn October 2, 2007 at 6:10 pm
    well said.

    Also as I recall, metsblog re-told THE story in which Wags went to Randolph and’suggested’ Heath bell close games and Randolph scoffed. as we know Willie hardly used Bell or Ring.

    Interesting that wags would be a player who could net a return.

  4. joe October 2, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Well, Wagner DIDN’T get off scott-free — he publicly apologized, did he not?

    I didn’t see anything about Delgado apologizing. Milledge hasn’t earned the right to open his mouth nor have fits on the playing field, but he does it all the time.

    I don’t see where Wagner blamed anyone in his comments — he simply said that Peterson and Willie don’t know the emotions of a reliever. How is that throwing someone under the bus? He didn’t say it was their fault for the bullpen’s woes. If you take that one sentence OUT of context: “They’re not a lot of help, put it that way.” then OK, he’s being critical. But reading all the rest of the paragraph, he’s saying they’re not helpful inasfar as knowing a reliever’s emotions. This thing got blown way out of proportion because, as usual, the media jumped on the one sentence, OUT OF CONTEXT, and twisted it to sell newspapers. And all of a sudden Billy Wagner is bashing the coaching staff.

    And he had absolutely no reason to apologize for stating the fact that the bullpen was overworked — I think we’ve covered that in toto right here.

  5. isuzudude October 3, 2007 at 6:32 am
    Wagner apologized because what he said was derrogatory towards his coaches. What Delgado and Milledge said were just stupid.

    All I know is that the things Wagner said about Willie and Peterson were not complimentary. If you were the manager or pitching coach, Joe, and had one of your players say this about you, whether it be true or not, what would your reaction be? Would you brush it off because he’s telling the truth?

    IF what Wagner said was so blatantly obvious, why did he even have to say it? It’s not like his comments were enlightening anybody. We had figured out the Mets bullpen was overworked by July, and now after the season is over here comes Billy jumping on the pile. It simply wasn’t neceassry and was in poor taste.

    And phooey on his apology. He apologized for looking like an idiot, not because he’s causing inhouse dissention. And really all he said was he was “misquoted.” That’s crap. He said what he said. How can “they’re not a lot of help” be misquoted.

    If Beltran is expected to be the “go to” guy because of his contract, than so should Wagner. And this year, expecially late in the season, that was not the case.

  6. joe October 3, 2007 at 8:33 am
    isuzudude, once again we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m still not seeing what Wagner said about Randolph and Peterson not knowing how a relief pitcher feels as derogatory nor inflaming. To me it’s like saying Randolph doesn’t know what it’s like to pilot an airplane. Of course he doesn’t — he’s never done it!

    Further, I will continue to take Wagner in the 9th over 95% of the closers in baseball. And I think that converting 74 of 84 save opps over two years was about what we can expect from a guy making $10.5M per year (less than Gil Meche and about the same as Jeff Suppan BTW).

    Beltran’s salary the next four years is $18.5M — that’s Jeter money, Manny money, it’s more than the Yanks are paying A-Rod. Superstar, carry your team money. Do you honestly believe Beltran has ever, or ever will, carry the Mets on his back? Get the big clutch hit? Until he does, he’s open to criticism for his salary.