JEFF: Time For Change
By Jeff Falconio
I liked it when the Brewers signed Eric Gagné. Clearly closer was a priority after Francisco Cordero bolted and Gagné proved in Texas that he was still capable of being an effective closer. Sure, it was a bit of a risk. For as good as he looked in the first half of '07 in Texas, Gagné suffered big time as Boston's setup guy in the second half. Plus everyone knew he wasn't nearly as dominant as he was earlier in the decade.
I was front and center with Gagné two months ago. Now, not so much. Yesterday Gagné took his second loss and based on everything else that has happened so far this season it's pretty clear that it's time for a change. We all know the numbers. Yes Gagné has nine saves but you can't overlook his five blown saves. Yesterday was not a save opportunity but the result was the same. Gagné can't pitch a 1-2-3 inning anymore and that's exactly what you need from a closer. He has given up 18 hits and 11 walks. That's 27 baserunners in just 15.2 innings pitched. His strikeout total is nice but again you have to take the bad with the good and the bad has far outweighed the good.
Ned Yost said yesterday that he won't make any rash decisions regarding Gagné. That's fair but this is not a problem that developed overnight. This is not like that two week stretch Derrick Turnbow had in July 2006 when his effectiveness headed south in a hurry. Gagné's inconsistency has literally been a problem since day one. As a point of comparison, Turnbow blew eight saves in 32 opportunities in 2006 and finished with an ERA of 6.87. In just 14 opportunities, Gagné already has blown five and his ERA is 6.89. Turnbow's rocky July prompted the Brewers to acquire Cordero. Now that Gagné is putting up the same kind of numbers Turnbow did why not make a change?