Upon hearing the rumor that Gagne might sign with the Giants, I had the same two reactions a lot of you had:
- Ew. No. No no no no no. Even if he were just around for one year, he'd leave a stench of Dodger in the clubhouse. It's a stench (burning human flesh and Old Spice) that doesn't just wash out with a little bleach. And all of that for a guy that's thrown ten innings or so in the past two seasons? No.
- Of course, it would cheese off Dodger fans. Revenge isn't the best way to build a club, but it would be sweet to tag Jason Schmidt for six runs and bring in Gagne to close a game against the Dodgers. Signing Gagne would also make those stupid "Game Over" shirts disappear from Dodger Stadium. If I had Mark Cuban money, I'd probably pay $6M just for that alone.
- Gagne stinks or doesn't pitch. The Giants are out $6M.
- Gagne pitches well, and the Giants contend. The Giants have a good reliever for a somewhat reasonable salary.
- Gagne pitches well, and the Giants fall out of the race before the deadline. The Giants have a sweet, brand-name bargaining chip -- one that could even fetch a young position player ready to start.
The unwritten scenario is obviously what's going to happen: Gagne pitches well enough, the rest of the team plays well enough, the Giants go into August three games back and proceed to lose seventeen straight. Gagne blows all seventeen games during the stretch. No deadline deals are made. That sounds about right.
Ignore the unwritten scenario for a second. The only reason to be against the move is #1, but even that can fall under the "it ain't my money" category. The real question is whether or not that $6M can be better applied somewhere else. Would a Gagne signing prevent taking on Richie Sexson's contract in a salary dump trade? Then forget it. Is Gagne the difference between getting the best available player with the bevy of draft picks, and going cheap and picking seven fourth-rounders in the first two rounds and paying them third-round money? Once you figure out what that sentence is supposed to mean, you'll want to forget the Gagne idea.
I don't think Gagne would have an effect on any of it. The Giants have already decided if they're going cheap in the draft or not. If the Giants get a chance to nab Sexson for a signed Kevin Mitchell 8 x 10, they'll do it. It wouldn't prevent them from signing Barry Zito -- it might just make them backload the contract a little more. The idea of "just put the $6M into scouting!" is cute, and maybe if one of us amateurs ran a team it'd be a valid argument for not signing Gagne, but there is absolutely no way the Giants would do that.
Both sides are there, but I think the ayes have it. Unless Gagne's salary prevents another improvement to the roster, either in the short-term or with the drafting strategy, he makes sense. It ain't my money. Just picture the "ker-thonk" of Eric Gagne bobbleheads hitting the trash in Southern California; the "flaffafaffa-curumple" of Gagne posters being torn from the wall; and the, uh, "unworn noise" of those stupid "Game Over" shirts not being worn. Then picture the Giants flipping Gagne for a starter at first for 2008. It's worth a shot.