Billy Wagner May Be Right

In a recent interview, Billy Wagner said that he thought the Mets were, at best, a third place team. With the Winter Meetings here and gone, and only the loss of Lastings Milledge to report, he may be right. The thing I don’t quite understand about the Milledge trade is why we couldn’t package him along with a couple other prospects, send him to Oakland, and get Dan Haren or Joe Blanton. Billy Beane may have even taken less if Milledge was in the deal. Now, the Nationals have both Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes, 2/3 of an outfield for many years to come, controversy and all.

I know what Omar has done for me, but what has Omar done for me lately? Okay, so he traded Mota and that automatically improves your team. But we have three, count ’em, three catchers. What are on earth we going to do with three catchers, unless we inlcude either Estrada or Schneider in any hypothetical trade? We need pitching, particularly relievers, yet Omar is doing the same thing he did last year: sitting back and watching as the few available free agents sign with new teams.

With so many teams needing a pitcher, it seems the only way to acquire an ace is through a trade. It almost seems like a joke that we met with the Twins in regards to Johan Santana. Even with a package of Carlos Gomez, Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Jose Reyes, Keith Hernandez’s mustache, and David Wright’s tongue, the Twins still wouldn’t have budged. I think it’s silly for the Mets to try and trade for a pitcher; it seems like nobody wants our prospects, and when they do, Omar refuses to trade them away, even if the player we would be getting in return is somebody Omar expresses interest in. Some days, I want us to make a trade for an Erik Bedard or a Dan Haren or even a Johan Santana and other days I ask myself, "Why can’t we just sign Livan Hernandez and get it over with?"

The Mets don’t really even need an ace; Pedro was awesome in the month that he was back. Each outing got better and better, and it gave me hope for October, but the Gods of the Baseball World had different plans for our Mets. Realistically, we really need a solid #2 man, someone who could replace Tom Glavine and step into Pedro’s role if needed. We need a good enough bullpen to back up a starting rotation of both aging stars and rising stars. We need the old Billy Wagner back; we don’t need the Billy Wagner that blew saves for us throughout the month of September. Joe Smith needs to be that ‘pen the whole season. Give Humber a shot out of the ‘pen; it may work out.

The other thing the Mets need to remember is that getting to the playoffs is a team effort. Carlos Delgado has to actually swing at a bat next year. Carlos Beltran needs to stop complaining about only being 80-85% and go hit four home runs in two games. Jose Reyes needs to be the catalyst that he was at the beginning of the season. And Moises Alou needs to not get hurt. For much of the season, it seemed like the player carrying this team was David Wright and even though he got off to a slow start, he ended with an MVP-caliber season.

Most importantly, more than anything, Willie Randolph needs to have a meltdown. He needs to kick some dirt on a umpire, throw his hat on the ground, and yell louder than he ever has. I know that Willie thinks that baseball is a gentleman’s game and tries to keep his cool, but a meltdown can help a team. Look at the Cubs. They made the playoffs after Lou Piniella kicked dirt on that umpire. Look at the 1977 Yankees. Maybe the Braves were so good for so long because Bobby Cox argued virtually every call. I think that this off-season, Willie needs to go to the Bobby V Academy of Argument; it’ll give the Mets the spark they need.

Sure, we may disagree with Billy Wagner now but may be right, he may not be right. We all laughed at Jimmy Rollins when he said the Phillies were the team to beat. Sure, it took until September 30, but the Philthy Phils won the division. Who knows what will happen in 2008? All I know is that 2006 was definitely our year.

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