Gillick, Wagner In Media War of Words

It's not really surprising that former Phillies' closer Billy Wagner would toss some verbal volleys at his team from the City of Brotherly Love upon his arrival in The Big Apple. Those shots were answered Thursday morning when GM Pat Gillick replied with some thoughts of his own.

Billy Wagner is a talker. He was the first stop for reporters looking for comments in the Houston clubhouse and his role didn't change when he came to Philadelphia. New York reporters are learning quickly that he's good for a sound bite or two.

Wagner used his introduction as a Met to say that the Phillies weren't "fully committed to winning." Wagner didn't stop there with his criticism of the Phillies. "There's a difference between winning and being competitive," Wagner said. "In the end, I thought they [the Phillies] were more interested in being competitive than winning."

The truly interesting part of Wagner's remarks was his reversal on the plans that Pat Gillick has for the Phillies. After meeting with Gillick and Assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. last month in Virginia, Wagner came away impressed. "I got a good vibe from him (Gillick)," said Wagner when talking of how the new Phillies GM had detailed his plans to make the club successful. "I'm impressed."

In New York, Wagner's words took on a much different slant. "All the questions I asked him (Gillick) about who would be the relievers, who would be the starters, what about different positions, he didn't really have an answer," said Wagner.

The morning after Wagner's comments, Gillick appeared on WIP radio in Philadelphia with some comments of his own. "Our medical people told me that he (Wagner) may have two years left, tops," said Gillick. "That's why we wouldn't even consider a fourth or fifth year and why we wouldn't guarantee even a third year."

The most scathing response came when Gillick was asked why the Phillies would now be pursuing relievers older than Wagner after they had expressed concerns about Wagner's age. "We're talking about guys like (Tom) Gordon and (Trevor) Hoffman who are location type pitchers who use their brains, not just their arms. When Wagner's velocity falls, it'll be over pretty quickly," said Gillick.

There is no doubt that Wagner's signing with the Mets adds another chapter in the rivalry between the two cities and teams. You've got to figure that the comments of Wagner and Gillick will be remembered by both sides when the two teams meet in 2006. The first of those meetings is scheduled for May 9, 10 and 11 in Philadelphia.

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