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Wagner Gives It Up

Mike SteffanosTuesday, August 1, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Marlins 6 - Mets 5

This one was looking a lot like a very satisfying Mets win, right up until Billy Wagner grooved a fastball to pinch hitter Josh Willingham. It turned into a very tough loss, but not even Wagner's fifth blown save of the season could completely ruin a decent day for the Mets.

Mike Pelfrey hadn't pitched for nine days, and didn't look sharp, but was still able to turn in a decent performance. He was charged with 4 runs in 6 innings pitched, but the first run wouldn't have scored if Lastings Milledge hadn't lost a fly ball in the sun, and Pelfrey did manage to work his way out of a couple of jams. What we didn't see from Mike tonight was the mastery of his slider and changeup that would warrant another major league start. While Pelfrey could look on his time in New York as a positive, I think he needs to be sent down, pitch on turn, and keep working on developing his pitches.

For that reason, I'm not in favor of keeping him in the bullpen at this time. I'd rather see him work on those secondary pitches. This 6-man rotation is not an ideal situation for anyone, and John Maine in particular needs to get some regular work and a chance to possibly show that he's a better option than Trachsel right now. I still have my sincere doubts about Steve Trachsel, so I wouldn't rule out Mike Pelfrey or possibly Brian Bannister coming up and replacing this year's Kaz Ishii at some point in August.

Thoughts on the game
I've had a rough day, it's hot in my home office, and that was a depressing end -- so you'll forgive me if I'm a little brief in this recap. Wagner certainly wasn't great tonight. It's hard to feel good about Billy's fifth blown save of the season, but it was reflective of making one terrible pitch rather than terrible pitching. To me anyway, that makes it easier to live with than some of those excruciating games he had in May, particularly when he was walking a lot of guys. I'm always more forgiving when my pitcher gets beat than when he gives it away.

Wagner made one pitch to each of the 3 batters he faced. He threw a good slider in on Olivio's hands that he fisted just out of Valentin's reach for a single. He threw another good slider that Helms bunted for a successful sacrifice. He threw a fastball to Willingham that Lo Duca wanted him to go inside with, and he left it belt high and over the plate for your classic "oops" pitch. Sometimes you get lucky and the guy misses it, but this season hasn't been lucky for Wagner. It sucked, but what I want to see from him is a new string of good performances. Don't let this one get in your head, that's all I ask.

Wright had another bad day today. I really hope he skips the home run derby next year -- there's something about that event that messes with guy's swings. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but please, indulge me David.

Enough of the ugly. Beltran and Lo Duca continued their hot hitting. Reyes is coming out of it and heating up again. Aaron Heilman needs to step up and, at least for today, proved that he was equal to the task. Bradford also pitched well in his inning, it's clear that both him and Pedro Feliciano will need to pick up some of Sanchez' slack.

Milledge showed patience with 3 walks today. I saw the alleged "incident" with Randolph in the dugout, and honestly think it was overblown. I also don't think Randolph would take crap from the kid an cover for him later, for whatever that's worth.

I hate walkoff losses, but honestly, this wasn't a killer. What's tougher is the thought of watching the human rain delay tomorrow.

This game is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.

Box Score

Comments (26)

Agree with your assessment. It's a tough loss in that all losses sting, but the Mets played well and, of course, there is always another team involved in these games, trying to beat the Mets. Wagner has been pitching better; he left a pitch up and Willingham smoked it.

Anyway, following a huge emotional series, facing up against a hot team and some tough young pitchers, I was pleased with the team's presence and effort.

I looked up the Mets stats sheet last night. Here it is August, and Jose Reyes is slugging .450! How 'bout that?

Hi Mike- I don't agree about Milledge-unless some of the older guys can get a handle on him he will become a club house cancer ala Carl Everett very quickly. So far I miss X..........

DD -- it was an awful pitch, but I've read in a couple of places that Wagner "imploded" last night, and that's not true. He imploded in that Yankees game, he just gave it up last night. It happens. Reyes is making all those statheads that labeled him "the worst everyday player in baseball" look real stupid.
Shari -- I miss X, too, but I honestly didn't think last night was that big a deal. The Mets know him better than anyone, and if they thought he was going to be a huge problem they would have traded him at the deadline.

Hi Shari, I said the same thing a day ago, when I heard about the bump the umpire thing before he came up. I said he needs a boot camp drill from some of the vets.... This Wagner, is not a lights out fireman I thought he would be. If this continues we will have to chip in for a taxi ride for him.Lunch over, bye.

Have they reviewed that incident and determined there was an actual bump?

Shari thats harsh. I actually see a great player with energy. I think the comparison that bears note is to Darryl or Andruw jones. Regardless, X was a stop gap player and was always trade bait. X was a player that Beane liked so the Mets picked him up, but Beane signed Payton. I think X was a player intended to be shipped with Heilman for Zito but now Zito is going to be a FA so scratch that. Personally I'm VERY impressed with the 3 walks yesterday. At Norfolk he was leading off, next yr he could be the leadoff or #2 guy here.

as far as Milledge EVERY GM in baseball has asked for him...Beane, Epstein,Duquette,etc ....nuff said! If the Mets chose to trade him they have Gomez who is near ready too.

I smell a trade. I think Traxx could be dealt to the NL west. If pelfrey stays or Perez is quickly fixed Traxx is done.

I love the "perez is confused' blurb. On Oliver; In the game Norfolk gm where Kepp was yanked (then traded) Perez was pitching. They saw him first hand.

Ed- Every GM in baseball asked for Alex Escobar too a few years back. Just because Milledge has the tools doesn't mean he'll succeed- his persona seems different this time around I see it on his face. I was all for him his first trip around-he came back with a king size attitude. You mean to tell me after he let that stupid ball drop in front of him you weren't wishing for Nady to be there just a little?

REV AL- I hope they don't pander to his behavior and set him straight.

Hi Mike- I don't think they traded Milledge because theydidn't get a chance to-had Sanchez not been injured hewas going to be part of a deal for a starter.

Shari and Ed -- I doubt if there is going to be much agreement on Milledge among Mets fans until we see how it develops. Shari, they could always deal him this winter if they are convinced his a problem. I honestly don't think Willie will let this kid walk all over him, and I'm still giving Milledge the benefit of the doubt. I was cocky when I was 21, people grow up.

Ed, if they would trade Trachsel I would gladly pack his bags. I'd rather take my chances with the kids.

Hi MIke- You and I rarely disgaree, and I did not have a problem withMilledge the first time around, but I'm pretty good at reading body language-not only what he did in the dug out-look at his face,he's different this time around, and not in a good way. I always said the one thing I liked about him was that when he was spoken to about his mistakes he was willing to listen and learn, I don't see that this time. I only hope the veterans on the team will put him in his place now before it gets out of hand.

Shari, it's good to disagree sometimes. I am not in complete disagreement with you, I just feel more inclined to see how it shakes out. And I really was a big jerk when I was 21.

I have to agree with Shari here - I didn't like Milledge's body language the first time around, and although I confess I didn't see all of the game last night, I still didn't like it this time. I liked Milledge for about the first DAY he was called up. I even didn't have as much of a problem with Milledge-gate as many veterans did (probably because I worked in the music business for many years, I'm used to rock star wannabes). But everything else about him I didn't like, and I'm not entirely sure he has the common sense to know what he doesn't know and listen to a Floyd or a Delgado try to help him.

And unlike Shari, I'm not sure that he was actually contrite about his mistakes. I believe he was pretending to be all rookie-humble for the media. He doesn't do it very well. He's not stupid, he's very articulate, he's probably too smart for his own good.

I'm sorry I'm not around for the Phillies series, I won't see him on the field until Tuesday.

But I have to also say that X at the plate didn't give me that warm and fuzzy feeling for a while now.

Hi Mike - Believe me I welcome a difference in opinion, especially yours which I respect greatly, and believe me when I was 21 I was very wild and did alot of stupid things myself, we all do but I one thing I always was - and that was respectful to my bosses and superiors at any job I had.

WHats wiuth these "I miss X" comments? lol.
What is it exactly what your missing? I mean I loved the X-Man as much as the next guy to say you "miss" him?
That's like saying I miss Ty Wigginton. I mean seriosuly... c'mon now. He's replacable.
Nothing about NAdy made you saw "WOW!"
His defense is deffinitly replacable.
His offense can most likely be replaced.
Plus he was batting in the bottom anyway, not like he was our #3 hitter. SO that makes it even easier to replace.

He was great for us for the first half of the season and I love him for that and I do feel bad for him that his reward is to get banished to hell but the Mets aren't missing much.

Okay, I said I enjoy disagreements, but this is too much. Now you will all FEEL MY WRATH!!!!

Okay, I'm over it. Did anyone feel it?

Didn't like his body language the first time he came up and like it even less now?
He's been up for 1 game this time around! You saw him on your TV for about 3 hours last night "this time around".

It seems to me people are waiting for Milledge to fail. Whether to prove he wasn't going to be a good player, or just waiting for him to mess up off the field. It seems like people are just waiting for him to fail. People sound very anticipated on Lastings Milledge demise.

Sucks for him, I already see him being one of the baseball villians in 5 years with the attitude fans and the media are taking.

And just remember the trashy, dirtbaggish HEROES people have/had in 1986. I can't think of ANY mets fan that hates Kieth Hernandez, DOc, or Strawberry. A group of crazy, violent, crack-headed, wife-beating, coke-heads. But... they're HEROES!

Hi Benny-You mean to say that you didn't miss the X-Manwhenthat ball dropped in front of Milledge in the first inning last night?
Nady I know would have caught that ball. His defense was replaceable true, but he made great strides to improve, and I think his personality and demeanor will be missed and sometimes that can be as equally important to a team as much as physical ability - What I see from Milledge and his attitude I would take Nady over him on the team right now in a heartbeat.

Yes MIke LOL I feel your wrath!

Shari and Mets Grrl, I hear you both on Milledge. Maybe you're right, but baseball has been full of guys that were great players but jerks. Of course, we're not even sure of whether Lastings talent will match his ego. I don't know, he just doesn't bother me that much yet, and I'm fairly confident Willie can handle him.
Benny, he's been playing hurt and still doing okay. He was 27, still developing and I felt he was getting better. Omar had to make that trade, but I feel some Mets fans like you were too quick to write him off as a player. Anyway, we'll see.

Okay, this is fun but Mike needs to get back to work.

Benny, I don't write Milledge off at all. You obviously weren't around in the 1980s, though, with the way you write off Keith, Daryl and Doc. There's more to the story than what you're saying. No offense, but you're as guilty as anyone you criticize.

Hi Benny- I had said that I liked Milledge in May - I saw an exhuberant, guy with talent who was willing to listen and learn-I saw that in his first few games. I see a diffference in him already, trust me on this.

True the 1986 guys were known as "The Scum Bunch" to me they weren't heroes, they were ball players, and true they did alot of bad things off the field.
However on the field business is business and you didn't see Kevin Mitchell, Doc and Darryl disrespecting Davey Johnson in the dugout.

Your talking about one game, ONe play. In the first inning.
Take it easy, calm down.
Your jumping the gun pal. To me it ALMOST like the fans booing Beltran in the first game of the season. Lots of knee-jerk emotions.

Oh no, don't get it twisted. I loved X-Man, when he was traded for Cameron I wans't one of those fans getting a noose ready. I liked him.
But he is replcabale its a simple as that.
ANd agian, the guy is 27 years old. He's not young at all.

Sports is a funny thing, they were heroes and don't deny it. You loved all those guys, and its okay, everbody does.
I guess habing bad body language is worse than being a criminal, which Milledge is not, and don't bring up this stupid "checkered past" thing because that's ridiculous. If all 18 year olds got in trouble for getting down and dirty with 15 or 16 year olds, we're all guilty, we're all criminals.

And who's to say he disrespected him? I don't know what WIllie told him, you don't what WIllie told him.
What if WIllie told him to go sit down? Who are we to speculate? That's how guys get bad raps.

And no I don't know ANYTHING about 1986. My baseball knowledge starts in 1996 and even that is fuzzy. I got deep into it in 2000. I make it sound like a drug addiction.

Hi Benny- I thought Nady was only 25......anyway, In about a month you'll be saying how right I was about him.
If you paid attention to that exchange in the dug out Randolph had an annoyed look at the very least if you want to put it mildly-too me he look more an irritated. He spoke to Milledge, and Milledge promptly turned his back and walked away-if you saw Willie's face after that he looked even more aggitated and he got up off the bench walked over to Milledge grabbed his arm and looked to be speaking to him pretty sternly. I would say he was pretty much disrespected.

I wasn't even talking about his 2003 misgivings, I don't know enough about it to comment, what I do know is he disrespected an umpire in AAA and will face diciplinary action if he goes back down, I don't like what I saw last night. If I'm wrong -WONDERFUL. I love to be wrong when it comes to this kind of thing.

As for 1986-too bad you didn't witness it, as a fan since 1977, to see them dominate like that in my lifetime was amazing.
And I saw every inning that year (to quote Mrs Sokol in the famous Seinfeld eipisode with Keith Hernandez) and again I NEVER saw any player do what Milledge did to Davey Johnson.

Benny, I understand why Milledge makes some people nervous, but I've been defending him because I think he'll be fine. Thank goodness Dallas Green isn't managing this team any more. I'm going to give the kid a chance.
The guys in 1986 weren't perfect, but they were winners. If Milledge plays like a winner he can get away with a lot. It's about getting along with your coaches and teammates, and so far he is.

It is like a drug addiction, isn't it?

......anyway, In about a month you'll be saying how right I was about him.

Uhhh no... I'm always right, even when I'm wrong.

SO he "bumped" an ump, which the International League is not even sure of yet as they have to review the "tape" to make sure it was "intentional" or whether he even did it or not. He might not have even done it. He's not the first and only guy arguing balls and strikes. He didn't spit in his face, he didn't punch him in the face, he didn't throw a bat at him.

WHen I played in Little League and in HIgh School, the ump was probably the biggest retard on the field. If I can get mad I don't want to imagine how it must feel at that high level of competetiveness. And I can already tel you Milledge is much more competetive as me and probably hates losing more than I ever did, and I used to cry.

But anyways, I So whatever, I'll always be biased towards Milledge and Kazmir. I'll always defend them, follow them, and love them.

Hi Benny- LIke I said, If I'm wrong thats fantastic and I'll GLADLY admit it, but I don't think I am.

As far as Kazmir goes the only bad things I heard about him was that Leiter and John Franco didn't like him and wanted him shipped out.
I'm not telling you not to love Milledge - I hope he does well, I don't want him to be a problem.

Boy this has turned into a hot and heavy chat room. I know its hot out there but lets cool it boys and girls. We are all in this together, unless some Atlanta and Yankee fans jumped in. We will be fine. I trust Cliff and Franco and Delgado see what we see and will talk to him. Thats what makes team chemistry, and this team has it. It has enough to stop a problem from being a problem. We have been in worst situations than this if you been a Met fan for a few years. It will work out.The best is yet to come.

I agree. I trust Omar and Willie to handle everything just fine.

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