Do you remember the 2003-2004 Dodgers? I sure do. It was a memorable time in Dodger land. The scummy McCourts had just purchased the Dodgers and the boys in blue were in the midst of breaking an 8-year postseason drought.
The Dodgers had a fun club at that time too. Shawn Green and Adrian Beltre provided the thump. Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora were the double play combination, and the pitching staff consisted of the late great Jose Lima, Hideo Nomo in his second stint with the Dodgers, and the durable Jeff Weaver. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was still playing, and Olmedo Saenz was still pretty fat.
Nothing makes me think more about that time frame than former Cy Young winner and closer Eric Gagne. His 2003 season was one for the ages, and anytime I think about him I think about those 2003-2004 seasons. I think about Lima time and his shutout over the Cardinals in the playoffs, and I think about Milton Bradley‘s tantrums. I think about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the recall election. Man those were interesting times.
Here we are nearly 13 years later and what if I told you the Dodgers were thinking about signing Gagne. Wouldn’t that take you back to those care free days when the Dodgers were a ragtag bunch of misfits with an amazing closer.
Imagine what a story it would be if say former Cy Young winner and closer Eric Gagne not only returned to MLB, but returned to the Dodgers. Let’s say the Dodgers signed Gagne to a minor league deal and after a couple of months he was called up to the big club because of injuries, and let’s just pretend that he can still pitch and pitch well despite being out of baseball since 2008 and being 41-years old.
Eric Gagne said he's talking minor-lg deal with #Dodgers. 2 other teams “really interested, but right now I’m really focused on the Dodgers”
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) April 1, 2017
Could you see that happening? Wouldn’t that be incredibly cool? Close your eyes and imagine Gagne coming into a game in the eighth inning and blowing away hitters, and then Kenley Jansen immediately following him in the ninth inning. I’m not making this up, it could actually happen because the Dodgers are discussing with Gagne about signing him to a minor league contract. According to reports the two sides are talking, but Gagne also has interest from a couple of other clubs as well.
Gagne pitched for the Dodgers from 1999-2006, and saved a total of 187 games in his ten career MLB seasons. He posted a 3.47 ERA and pitched in 402 games. Perhaps his best season was in 2003 when he went 55 for 55 in saves with a 1.20 ERA in 77 appearances that earned him the National League Cy Young award. He finished with 718 career strikeouts and struck out 10.0 per nine innings. Gagne’s last MLB appearance came in 2008 with the Brewers. He’s been out of baseball ever since, briefly pitching in Canadian independent baseball.
Gagne pitched with Team Canada during the World Baseball Classic, but didn’t see much action. He tossed just 2.1 scoreless innings and struck out two with just one walk. Gagne was in camp working out the Dodgers this spring and also served as an instructor. Apparently he still has it. Several players said he looked great while watching him pitch bullpen sessions at Camelback.
The question is whether Gagne has anything left in the tank at age 41. He probably doesn’t, but it would be a shocker if he did. I’m all for taking a walk down memory lane and that insane curveball. It might not be game over for Gagne.