Boston fans welcomed Gagne to town at the trading deadline (the trade was for Kason Gabbard, since returned, David Murphy who has evolved into a great fourth outfielder/sometimes starter, and prospect Engel Beltre.)
Game Over had arrived… but it was the other kind of Game Over. The losing kind.
With 26 percent of the vote, Eric Gagne barely edged out Carl Everett (23 percent) to “win” dishonorable mention on the All-Aughts Team of the Decade. Gagne won despite being placed on the poll hours after Everett and the other main candidates were on it (Julio Lugo joined Gagne).
The results were:
- Eric Gagne (26%, 136 Votes)
- Carl Everett (23%, 117 Votes)
- Julio Lugo (20%, 101 Votes)
- Edgar Renteria (12%, 61 Votes)
- Byung-Hyun Kim (9%, 44 Votes)
- Shea Hillenbrand (6%, 33 Votes)
- Jay Payton (4%, 25 Votes)
I voted for Payton and felt his combination of below-average production and All-Star jerk attitude should be a shoo-in, but fans opted for Gagne and it’s easy to see why.
Gagne was an amazing pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers up until 2004 when his leg, back and shoulder all began to break down, requiring rest and surgery for some. He set a record 84 consecutive saves with the Dodgers before departing and joining the Texas Rangers in 2007.
Gagne got off to a great start in Texas as his 2.16 ERA over 33.1 innings would indicate. Sure, he wasn’t the fireballing closer of old, but he was close. He racked up 16 saves before Boston fans welcomed Gagne to town at the trading deadline (the trade was for Kason Gabbard, since returned, David Murphy who has evolved into a great fourth outfielder/sometimes starter, and prospect Engel Beltre.)
Game Over had arrived… but it was the other kind of Game Over. The losing kind. He made his debut August 2 against Baltimore, a game I had the misfortune to attend. He got a rousing ovation as Gagne was supposed to be a lock-down setup man for Jonathan Papelbon and help Boston win a World Series title. (They did win, but no thanks to Gagne.)
He gave up two hits and a run, and I was decidedly less enthusiastic about Gagne. But I stuffed my doubts down low and kept on believin’.
18.2 innings later with a 6.75 ERA and a new nickname, — “Gag-me” — I didn’t believe anymore. Gagne pitched one inning in the ALDS then tried to give the ALCS away to Cleveland. Indeed, he was the losing pitcher for Game 2 — putting the Sox in an 0-2 hole.
He came in during the 11th inning, getting one out with the game tied 6-6. After a strikeout of Casey Blake, Grady Sizemore singled, then Asdrubal Cabrera walked. Gagne came out of the game, and both players would come around to score on Javier Lopez. Thanks, Eric.
He would then pitch in Game 6, mopping up a 12-2 win. He also saw action in Game 1 of the World Series against Colorado, also as a mopper in a 13-1 laugher. Gagne then left town rather quickly, joining the Milwaukee Brewers and posting up a 5.44 ERA in 46.1 innings for a cool $10 million. Nice. (To his credit, he did buy fans seats to games because he felt bad about his performance. Throughout his interviews in Boston and more recently, he comes across as a class guy. Prone to mistakes? Sure. Class guy? Yes.)
He missed all of 2009, instead choosing to spend it as a starter in the independent leagues to build up arm strength. He tried out for the Rockies and Dodgers in spring training this year and got an invite to spring training. If he doesn’t make the bullpen — and his reduced stuff make that a toss-up — he has indicated he is willing to play in Triple-A. Say what you want about Gagne, but he has drive.
But you know what? I’m getting angry just thinking about how excited all Boston fans were for Gagne and then the bitter, bitter pill we had to swallow. Can you imagine if the team lost the World Series?
So, to mark the dishonorable nature of the award, I’m going to stop spending any more time on this guy. Now.