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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Mechanical Failure for Gagne?
2005-03-24
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

While most appeared pleased with Eric Gagne's second exhibition game appearance Wednesday - including the man himself - the following comments alarmed me:

"The last time," Gagne told MLB.com, referring to Monday, "I tried my regular mechanics, which I'm not ready to do. I backed up today. I don't care about the velocity, I don't care about the result. I just want to be comfortable, where it won't bite. I did that today better, it only bit once when I got my cleats stuck."

I understand the idea of going only 75 percent, but I'm not used to pitchers consciously avoiding regular mechanics. Kevin Modesti of the Daily News was also perplexed, asking "whatever happened to the idea that you don't pitch with an injury because you might favor it and hurt something else?"

And on Baseball Prospectus, Will Carroll offered this downer assesment.

"The Dodgers pitching staff has problems at both ends, but appears to have the depth to cover for it," Carroll said. "Most worrying is the way that Eric Gagne is dealing with his knee injury. It's one thing to go at a reduced rate - Gagne said he pitched at around 75 percent at his most recent outing, though it should be noted that pitchers are very inaccurate when self-analyzing their effort - but entirely another to consciously alter mechanics. Sources are telling me that Gagne is completely out of whack, even tipping his vaunted 'vulcan change.' He'll need to get it together quickly or the pressure will increase on Yhency Brazoban."

Ultimately, one wants to give the benefit of the doubt to the Dodger coaching and medical staff, although their denial of injury reality with such players Hideo Nomo and Shawn Green in the past calls for some scrutiny. On the other hand, Adrian Beltre thrived in 2004 on his bum extremities.

Personally, I have faith that Gagne will be fine this season. But I've learned over time that just because a Dodger tells the media that everything is okay doesn't mean that it is.

Comments
2005-03-24 10:44:07
1.   FirstMohican
I share the same skepticism. Was Hideo even injured, or did they want to give him time to work out whatever was wrong? After some poor performances, Edwin Jackson was injured. Penny was supposed to be out a week (although that can be excused I guess considering the rarity of the injury).

It's hard to trust the Dodgers' public statements about players who may or may not have injurires, but it's harder to understand why they would intentionally exaggerate or understate an injury. At least they've been right about Driefort... right?

2005-03-24 11:12:11
2.   Bob Timmermann
Gagne never would have altered his mechanics if Guillermo Mota had been in the bullpen.

(OK, I will retire that joke from now on. I promise.)

I'm not losing much sleep over Gagne's condition. Overall, the Dodgers are in a better position to cover for any short-term absence by Gagne than the Giants are for Bonds.

2005-03-24 11:16:27
3.   Terry Austin
My old friend "Sandy" told me that Gagne's knee is a wreck, and that he'll have surgery if the Dodgers are out of the race early. And he told me this a couple of weeks ago.
2005-03-24 11:29:53
4.   Icaros
Care to elaborate on that, Terry? It doesn't make much sense as is.
2005-03-24 11:29:54
5.   Bob Timmermann
I'm sure Sandy is right. That's why his name is in quotes.
2005-03-24 11:35:41
6.   Jon Weisman
Well, it's hard to imagine that the Dodgers would be out of the race before August, if at all, so even if Sandy were right, what should we make of that?

Is the implication that they'll be out of the race because his knee is a wreck?

If his knee were a wreck, wouldn't they have done the surgery during the exhibition season, a la Bonds?

Just some questions that come to mind ..

2005-03-24 11:43:25
7.   Icaros
"Sources are telling me that Gagne is completely out of whack, even tipping his vaunted 'vulcan change.'"

I find this statement a bit odd as well, seeing as how Gagne has only pitched two innings not at full speed.

I didn't know one could tip pitches during a bullpen session, especially when he's only throwing to get into shape and test a healing injury.

It seems to me that the prognosis was six weeks for the knee to fully heal, so they're trying to get his arm into some shape until the knee catches up. Then he'll be ready to go.

If the knee were a "wreck," how could he still be running, or even walking, on it?

2005-03-24 11:46:04
8.   Bob Timmermann
There's a lot of money and marketing tied up in Gagne. If his knee were a "wreck", they would have done surgery on it now. What would be the point in keeping him around if he were ineffective?
2005-03-24 11:52:11
9.   Im So Blue
No one's commented yet on the game today... Edwin Jackson struggled thru 5 innings. If I heard correctly, 7 runs, 7 hits (2 HRs), 3 BB, 1 K, 2 wild pitches.
Scott Elarton is shutting down the Dodger hitters.
Duaner Sanchez on the mound in the 6th; he gave up a HR to the first batter.

Cleveland 8, Dodgers 0 at the end of 6.

2005-03-24 11:54:45
10.   the OZ
If Gagne's knee is actually 'wrecked,' there's no way they let him pitch once, let alone twice. Hence, I doubt his knee is actually 'wrecked.'

Still, I don't like letting him throw in a game, for all the reasons mentioned here and elsewhere.

2005-03-24 12:36:33
11.   everett
For those looking for a good read, this is a pretty darned good article... found it on 6-4-2

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2005/03/growing_up_with_1.php

Growing Up With Vin Scully
By Eric Neel

I first met Vin Scully in my grandfather's kitchen. He came singing out of a small black transistor radio that sat on the windowsill above the sink.

--ev

2005-03-24 13:01:03
12.   Jeromy
I'm worried about Gagne's knee and need to get out there before the season starts. It must be that hockey player mentality. Play or you are wuss!

Talk about messed up mechanics. Edwin Jackson probably sealed his AAA fate today. I watched part of it on MLB.com and he didn't seem like he could keep his pitches down.

2005-03-24 13:06:42
13.   popup
Jon, I am not so sure I would be so sanguine about Gagne. I am old enough to remember a pitcher named Vernon Law, who pitched for the Pirates in the 50's and 60's. Law suffered a leg injury during of all things the celebration in the Pirate clubhouse after the team clinched the National League pennant in 1960. The leg injury caused Law to change his pitching mechanics, which led in short order to a career ending arm injury. If Gagne is not right, he should be shut down until he is healthy.
2005-03-24 13:17:59
14.   fanerman91
I seriously hope he's not doing anything stupid. We could afford him missing a couple months, really. Well, maybe not, but it'd be better than us missing him for the season or more.

I hope Colby and company know what they're doing. Knowing as little as I do, I guess for now we'll just have to trust them, though the Dodgers recent track record about hiding injuries is not very encouraging.

2005-03-24 13:24:41
15.   FirstMohican
The idea that the Dodgers wont perform surgery unless the team is out of contention doesn't make sense.

If his knee requires surgery they should do it now to have him back by the end of the season, or next year. If they drop out of contention, you lose him for the rest of the year, and maybe some or all of next year.

Surgery now, maybe have him back by this year - definitely next. 1 throw in the towel season, 1 ready to go.

Surgery later, lose him the rest of this season, risk next. 2 throw in the towel seasons.

Nonsense to me.

2005-03-24 13:25:41
16.   Vishal
mark fidrych also comes to mind. he had a knee injury which ruined his extremely promising career because it messed with his mechanics.
2005-03-24 13:56:45
17.   The Saul
I see it this way:
Since the division is not exactly the strongest (especially with Bonds out til June or so) there is NO REASON for Gagne to be out there with any kind of injury, period. This division will not be decided in April, so Gagne should not be out there until he's 100%.

On another topic: JON, what I do miss from all-baseball.com is the links to other Dodger websites and the Dodger salaries that were listed on the right. Is there any chance this will eventually become part of baseball-toaster?
I don't mean to sound demanding or impatient, I just thought I'd ask.

2005-03-24 14:08:06
18.   Jon Weisman
Saul - it's coming - real soon.
2005-03-24 14:38:54
19.   Jim Hitchcock
I'm glad you didn't use the phrase `real soon now'; then I would have worried.
2005-03-24 15:16:04
20.   GoBears
I agree with those who opine that any real injury ought to be dealt with right away, rather than let Gagne play with pain. But knees are tricky. I've torn up both. The first was a complete ACL tear that took months to diagnose properly (the difference between being a multimillion dollar athlete and just joe-HMO-patient) before I got reconstructive surgery, which was followed by 6 months of rehab. But oddly, that injury was, after a couple weeks of swelling, pain-free. I could walk, jog, bike, really do anything except change direction quickly. The other ligaments stabilized the knee, and it was only after I'd forget about the injury, and pivot too quickly that I'd fall on my ass and remember that something was wrong. If I were a pitcher, that would mean that it would feel pretty good most of the time, except when I'm actually pitching, when consciously changing my mechanics (pivot or plant, depending on which knee it is) might fool me into thinking I could handle it, tho it might screw up my ability to pitch well.

My other knee injury was a partial MCL tear. This one was much more painful, but ultimately, less of a big deal. Because it was a partial tear, there was still blood flow, and it healed without surgery.

There are, of course, lots of other kinds of knee injuries, but I guess I'm just saying that we can't diagnose from observing his activities (on or off the mound), nor can we know the best route to recovery without a proper diagnosis. And Gagne is probably the worst judge of all of the extent of his own injury.

2005-03-24 15:23:00
21.   alex 7
So we should start the countdown to Gagne's "oh dang" moment of really messing the knee up huh? Thanks for the sunny news GoBears =)

I gotta hope that the Dodgers are sure of what their medical technology revealed. Yet the fact everyone seems to see the same possible negative outcome is a bit worrysome. Guess we'll find out if the Dodgers' medical staff could really be that dumb as to allow him to pitch when it makes absolutely no sense to anyone else.

2005-03-24 15:43:46
22.   GoBears
I guess the implication of my previous (long) post was that the Dodger medical staff must be convinced that it's not a serious injury, or else Gagne wouldn't be pitching, especially in meaningless ST games. Moreover, they must have decided that even complete rest is not necessary - that a little pitching wouldn't make it worse. To me, that Gagne is pitching at all is GOOD NEWS, unless the medical staff is completely incompetent, which I doubt.
2005-03-24 16:31:11
23.   Terry Austin
Hello Jon, Bob, Icaros, and others,

(It must be pointed out that I knew a kid named Jon Bob Icaros back in junior high.)

It matters not to me whether you put much stock in "Sandy," and I understand completely your reluctance to do so. But for what it's worth, he's been amazingly accurate with information that didn't surface in LA media until days or weeks after he shared it with me. (Most recently, it was the lowball contract negotiations with the coaching staff.)

Anywho, "wrecked" was a poor choice of words, mainly because it was mine, not Sandy's. He said the knee was much worse than the Dodgers were letting on. This was at the time when it was just a "precautionary MRI" and whatnot. If Sandy's right about the severity of the injury, Gagne has obviously chosen to play through the pain rather than have the surgery. If/When the team tanks, I suppose surgery would be considered.

Again, your reluctance to put any faith in this is understood. I'm just sharing what's been passed along.

2005-03-24 16:41:50
24.   Bob Timmermann
"Jon Bob Icaros, that's the dumbest name I've ever heard!"
"Wait, Jon Bob come back! Come back!"

I'm mainly skeptical about the part of "waiting to see if the Dodgers were out of the race."

It's March. There isn't a race. If Gagne needed surgery, they would likely just do it, so he could be ready for any race.

2005-03-24 16:46:12
25.   Jon Weisman
Yeah, that's what I find odd, not the idea that the injury is worse than the Dodgers are letting on. If they knew two weeks ago that surgery was inevitable at some point, why not have it then?

That must have been some game of pepper, I tell ya.

2005-03-24 16:47:07
26.   GoBears
Well, that depends on the surgery. If it's just a scope, I think Bob is right. If it's a major ligament surgery, then it's too late for him to be ready for October, and maybe the thinking is that they'll get as much as they can out of him before he collapses, then surgery, then have him ready as early as possible next season.

I think the point is that we don't know what the injury is, so it's hard to judge the Dodgers' strategy for dealing with it.

2005-03-24 17:48:41
27.   Icaros
I hate pepper.

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