Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No Worries From Melvin And Yost On Gagne Struggles

Apparently I am not the only one who doesn't want to make a knee jerk reaction to the early struggles of Eric Gagne as closer. GM Doug Melvin and Manager Ned Yost have both said in recent interviews that Gange will remain the teams closer even though he has blown 5 saves in 14 opportunities. When Yost was asked if he would remove Gagne from that roll he said; "Not right now," he said. "That's all I can tell you. I don't have a timetable. I don't have anything marked down that says when the 35th man gets on base I start to be concerned." In his five blown saves, Gagne has allowed 10 runs in four innings. On the positive side, Gagne hasn't allowed a run in his other 11 appearances. I'm glad they are not ready to pull the plug yet on a guy they are paying $10 million this season to close games and pick up saves. I am a life long Gagne fan going back to his early Dodger days when he was first getting going on his 84 straight saves streak. So I was rather excited when the team signed Gagne this off-season, especially since he had so much success as the closer last year in the first part of the season in Texas where he converted 16 out of 17 save opportunities and an ERA of 2.16. Yes he struggled quite a bit in Boston but he was being used in the 8th inning something he was not used to doing. A couple of reasons I want him to keep the closer role a little while longer are as follows:

1. He does have 9 saves which is near the top on the NL, so he can save games and is quite capable.
2. He had 5 saves in a row before blowing one in Cincinnati, that was also when he was used for the 4th day in a row. Something I doubt Yost should have him do. 3 days in a row tops.
3. Although he blew 5 games, he never gave up the go ahead run that allowed the other team to win. He doesn't melt down and lose the game after giving up the tying run.
4. Some bad luck, you hate to blame blown saves on bad luck but he has run into some very questionable umpiring calls and poor defense by the Brewers which could easily give him 11 saves and only 3 blown saves.
5. He still has the closer mentality and is cool under the pressure. Sure we have a few other guys on the team that have closed a little bit in their careers but none have the mental part down quite like Gagne.

Basically his biggest problem that he must solve to turn this around, keep his job and rattle of 15 or 20 of these things in a row is to throw strikes, get ahead in the count don't pitch from behind as often as he has thus far. Especially his changeup which is still one of the best in baseball. As long as he can get his control down and not walk batters he will be fine and this won't be an issue. If he continues to walk guys, he will blow more saves and then yes we may need to start thinking about using Torres or Mota as our closer and the $10 million Melvin gave to Gagne may look like a huge waste of money. I hope that is not the case as a Brewers and Gagne fan.

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