Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Eric Gagne

Well, this surprised the hell out of me. I first heard the rumors yesterday, after the Dye talks hit a snag, but it just didn't make sense to me. Now, after seeing how little the Red Sox had to give up, and how much it theoretically hurts other AL contenders like Detroit, Cleveland, and New York, who were also in on him, I'm starting to like it more and more.

I actually liked David Murphy and Kason Gabbard; Murphy is the perfect 4th outfielder now, with a chance to become a decent center fielder for a wild card contender, while Gabbard could be a serviceable 4th starter for a few years. They're valuable pieces to have, but for a team with the best record in the majors at the deadline, they're pieces that need to be cashed in, and if you can turn the two of them into the best bullpen in the major leagues, you have to make that deal.

Engel Beltre is more of a risk, but he's also a risk for Texas. He's only 17, so he's so far away from the majors and incredibly hard to get a read on. Still, he's regarded as a five-tool talent and was one of the most sought-after Latin American free agent signings last year. There's a chance that, ten years from now, he's mentioned in the same breath as Jeff Bagwell. There's also a chance we'll never hear from him again. Given Gagne's established track record of excellence, I think it's a risk worth taking at this point.

The one thing that worries me is Gagne's injury history, but he's been very good (and healthy) for the last month or so. He doesn't throw as hard as he used to (but then again, who does?), but he still gets results, and a Delcarmen-Okajima-Gagne-Papelbon combination covering innings 7-9 is pretty formidable.

I wonder how much the re-scheduling of the playoffs, with the larger number of off-days both in and between rounds, affected the Red Sox's decision making here. This is clearly a move made to bolster the playoff roster (and, to a lesser extent, to ease the workloads of Papelbon and Okajima, who figure to play a big role on said playoff roster). With so many off-days, you really only need three regular starters, and maybe a 4th to pick up one or two starts and some garbage time here and there. If you're going to pitch the same three guys regularly, it's probably best to limit their workload, and it's easier to cut them off after six innings when you have four guys who can take it all the way home.

I'm probably giving Delcarmen a little too much credit here, but I don't care. As a fourth option, I'll take him, especially if it limits Mike Timlin to 5th-6th inning duty, and keeps Kyle Snyder off of the playoff roster. With Brendan Donnelly going down to Tommy John surgery, Gagne essentially takes his spot on the roster - that's an upgrade you have to make if you're serious about winning the World Series.


Ross said...

I think this was a very smart move by the Red Sox. The Red Sox bullpen is a huge part of the reason they are where they are this season. However, I don't think Okajima is nearly as good as he's been. Afterall, he was never this good in Japan. I just think it takes a while to figure out relievers because you see them so infrequently. That's a big part of the reason I want Chamberlain, Karstens, and Kennedy in the Yankee bullpen. It's not that they will be great relievers over a long stretch, but lightning in a bottle because nobody's seen them.

In 2003 & 2005 Okajima's ERA was 4.84 & 4.75 respectively. And while he did post a 2.14 ERA last year, that was the only year in the past 5 that his ERA was under 3.

I think there's a definite chance the league starts to catch up to him, but the Red Sox have taken the precaution and fortified that spot even if they do by brining in Gagne. That's a smart move.

Warren said...

I agree that it's a great move, as long as the Red Sox don't care too much about the money (it's a fair amount since they guaranteed his incentives).