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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Gagné Slap And Tickle

Just a passing thought from the Daily News' Steve Dilbeck:
Got one we know. Brought back a name to rally behind, someone who actually feels familiar.

The Dodgers, who had been hemorrhaging recognizable players all offseason, finally discovered a pressure point in closer Eric Gagne on Tuesday.

Gave the team a face, an entity that shrieks something that precious few of their other moves had -- Dodgers.

Inked him to a two-year deal for $19 million, with a mutual option for a third year, avoiding those antagonistic and silly arbitration hearings for the next two Springs.

It would have been nice if it were longer, if Dodger fans could feel assured their most valuable asset would be around for three or four more years.

But Gagne can become a free agent after 2006. And his agent is Scott Boras, so you know he's not going to pass on the big payday.

Yet in an offseason that has seen the Dodgers lose Adrian Beltre, Shawn Green, Steve Finley, Alex Cora, Jose Lima, Jose Hernandez, Robin Ventura and Brent Mayne, and almost Brad Penny and Yhency Brazoban, Dodger followers can at least take comfort in knowing "Game Over" won't be going to war with his own team in arbitration the next two seasons.

...

"A lot of the things that came out of Oakland seemed to be taken very black or white," DePodesta said. "In reality, I think I've shown repeatedly over the course of the last year, that the world in which we operate is very gray.

"We're not Oakland down here. That isn't meant to be derogatory toward Oakland, but I do think some of the philosophies they have, haven't necessarily been accurately depicted."

... which presumably includes the "sell-the-closer" maneuver. Closers who put up ridiculous save numbers are one thing; Gagné, who makes batters look ridiculous, is another. In a world soon to be without Mariano Rivera, "Game Over's" value is about to spike, and Boras wasn't interested in pursuing a longer contract. For the Dodgers' part, the wisdom of letting a potential injury risk walk after age 31 made sense; I can only surmise that a third year most likely came at a very high price.

Gagné's made the ninth inning a special place for Dodger fans, never exactly comfortable, yet richly anticipated. We're lucky -- lucky to have discovered him, lucky to have him now, lucky to keep getting to see him in a Dodger uniform for another two years.

Welcome back, Eric. Bonne chance.


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