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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Gagne Charted
2005-06-02 21:53
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Eric Gagne vs. Milwaukee, ninth inning, 6-3 Dodgers

vs. Dave Krynzel
0-0 92 fastball, fouled back
0-1 82 change, swung on and missed
0-2 82 called strike three outside corner

vs. Chris Magruder
0-0 83 change, called strike
0-1 92 fastball, called strike
0-2 92 fastball, high
1-2 83 in the dirt
2-2 67 beautiful change, called strike three

vs. Lyle Overbay
0-0 91 fastball, called strike
0-1 82 in the dirt
1-1 85 low and inside
2-1 92 fastball, lined to center field

vs. Brady Clark
0-0 81 curveball, called strike
0-1 84 slider, well outside
1-1 81 slider, check swing for a strike
1-2 69 curve, well outside
2-2 91 fastball, high (passed ball, catcher crossed up)
3-2 83 in the dirt, wild pitch, Overbay scores

vs. Jeff Cirillo
0-0 ball
1-0 91 fastball, called strike
1-1 92 fastball, high
2-1 82 curve, check swing for a strike
2-2 92 fastball, inside
3-2 92 fastball, high, Clark to second on walk

vs. Geoff Jenkins
0-0 84 change, swung on and missed
0-1 82 change, swung on and missed
0-2 82 change, swung on and missed

27 pitches, 12 balls, 15 strikes

Comments
2005-06-02 23:34:15
1.   Suffering Bruin
Stealing time again so goody, goody, I get to post. Sheesh...

Thanks for the mph on Gagne's pitches, Jon. While watching gamecast--I only got to check out the last inning--I wondered how hard he was throwing. I have literally been all but cut off from electronic news so I don't know how Gagne has looked this past week or so but since the injury, I don't think he's hit the upper 90's on the fastball. And Eric Gagne in the low-90's just isn't Eric Gagne. He's just another closer.

I hope I am very, very wrong about all of the above.

2005-06-03 03:35:09
2.   slippy
The drop in mph could explain why Gagne is using his slider. Thing about Gagne is that he's probably more of a 91-94 guy. In order to hit 96-98, he has to rear back and fire with a lot of elbow action. At those speeds, his fastball is actually a little flat, much flatter than Mota's and Dreifort's last year. What's troubling for me is that, throwing in the 91-93 range, his fastball has been still flat, which makes it very hittable since he pitches up in the zone to draw strikes. And that to me implies Gagne isn't dialing at the lower 90s but still firing as hard as he can. That isn't good.

Usually this wouldn't bother me because I could trust the pitching staff to help guide Gagne's conditioning and mechanics back to snuff. But, the way the entire pitching staff has been the past two months, makes me wonder.

2005-06-03 06:28:15
3.   jtshoe
This is kind of an ugly topic to speculate on, but is it possible his velocity is down due to stopping steroids?
2005-06-03 07:38:56
4.   Fearing Blue
It's possible, but since we have no evidence and no way to know, I don't think it's reasonable to speculate. It's much more probable that he's still regaining his strength after recovering from two injuries (knee and elbow). He's still only thrown 11.1 innings this year between AAA and the majors. Nonetheless, I'd rather have Gagne out there throwing low-90s than anyone else in our pen.
2005-06-03 07:48:59
5.   Fearing Blue
#2: How do we know Gagne was throwing a slider? Based on my recollection and ESPN's scouting report, Gagne only throws four pitches. A fastball in the 90s (two-seam or four-seam), vulcan changeup in the mid-80s (which acts like a split finger / slider), curveball in the low-80s, and a slow 12-6 curveball in the high-60s. Having watched last night, I was surprised that Vin called the 67 mph pitch a change (it was likely a slow curve), and I'd be surprised if Gagne threw any sliders (they were likely changeups).
2005-06-03 07:49:43
6.   Formerly R
I agree with 4. The velocity will come. He's still building up arm strength. No worries.

Also, I felt that the strikeout pitch to Magruder was a slow curve. Still a change-of-pace, but it looked to me like he broke off a curve ball on that pitch.

2005-06-03 08:46:29
7.   Ben P
One thing I noticed watching Gagne last night was how unhappy he looked with the way he was pitching. Even during the first two at-bats, his body language was terrible, and he seemed to squirm after each pitch. He clearly realized he did not have the velocity or the command he wanted to have, and this was before he started throwing wild pitches. The good news is that I don't think it's unusual for a pitcher to take some time regaining his velocity after an injury. I think after a couple more weeks of regular work he'll be the Gagne of old.
2005-06-03 08:56:49
8.   db1022
#7 - doesn't he always look twitchy and agitated out there though?
2005-06-03 09:07:32
9.   Jon Weisman
I defer to anyone who thinks the pitches weren't what I said they were in the post. Identifying pitches is not my strength.
2005-06-03 09:12:57
10.   db1022
#9 - That big 67-mph bender looks like a curveball to me. I've always thought that his nasty 82-mph offspeed that falls away from a RH-hitter was a change (Vulcan change from above is a good description) but you could also argue it's the old forkball pitch too.
The best description for any of his pitches to me though is "strike".
2005-06-03 09:22:52
11.   Ben P
Gagne always looks twitchy and fired up but this was different. After some of the pitches he would sort of grimace and lean over sideways, looking disgusted with himself. He also clearly had some communication issues with Phillips. They got crossed up on the passed ball, so Phillips went out to talk to him and then they appeared to be crossed up again on the very next pitch.
2005-06-03 09:22:54
12.   Bob Timmermann
With my arm, 67 mph would be a fastball.

Then it would be followed by a trip to the ER to get my elbow and shoulder repaired.

2005-06-03 09:25:31
13.   Bob Timmermann
Gagne does seem a bit twitchy. Probably because he feels isn't all quite right yet. He wants to come in and blow everybody away and he can't. It's frustrating.
2005-06-03 09:27:46
14.   jasonungar05
It's Spring Training to him. I heard Colburn on the radio the other day and he mentioned that Gagne is about 2-3 weeks away from being the Gagne we know.

Also, on Colin Cowherd this morning, I heard a great interview with Goose Gosage, its off topic a bit, but did anyone hear that? 2 things that stood out:

1. closers today have it easy. The set up men have a tougher job.

He had to come in, runners on base in the 7th or 8th everytime and then pitch the 9th too.

2. He belives relivers are now being used the way they should. But comparing him to a modern closer is a slap in his face.

Is he in the Hall? What about Sutter? Both were so dominant. I still can remember some AB's on the radio as a kid. Specifically Sutter vs Garvey

2005-06-03 09:31:36
15.   Bob Timmermann
Sutter got 66.7% of the vote in 2004. Gossage got 55.2%

75% is necessary for induction. Sutter was third. Gossage was fifth.

2005-06-03 09:44:16
16.   the OZ
I don't know if this subject was broached in last night's thread, but -

Joe Morgan argues that 'closers' [or best relievers] should be used in the higest-leverage situations rather than the 9th inning with a lead. The same 'closers have it easy' argument that Gossage was making, essentially, and that other on this board have made from time to time.

Joe also has argued that batting average is an overrated stat and I thought, "Good for you, Joe!", but then I kept reading and he claimed it was overrated because RBI were more important, never once mentioning OBP or SLG.

If Joe Morgan will be spouting off about using closers earlier than the 9th in high-leverage situations, perhaps it will become 'convential wisdom' and we won't suffer Gagne sitting in the pen with bases loaded, no outs in the 9th inning of a tie game anymore.

2005-06-03 09:44:20
17.   mcrawford
If anyone hasn't read the articles at hardballtimes.com about the evolution of the closer and relief pitchers in general, I highly recommend them. I learned a lot of very interesting stuff about how closers came to be.
2005-06-03 09:49:45
18.   Adam M
I'll confess to the same problem as Jon. Anyone have any tips on how to ID certain specific pitches being thrown on TV, outside of the really notable pitches like Gagne's change or Rivera's cut FB?
2005-06-03 10:18:30
19.   Steve
If I recall my Gagne history correctly, he used to throw a slider as a starter and stopped because it was getting killed. I would have called all of those pitches in the 82-84 range changeups, but that may just be personal preference. But the curve ball is that big Bugs Bunny pitch that Magruder struck out on. Remember the one to Bernie Williams last year to end one of the Yanks games? I was sitting way out in Section 47 (or somewhere like that) and it still looked like it went to the 5 freeway before dropping over the plate for strike 3 -- game over.
2005-06-03 10:20:22
20.   Dodgerkid
All the more reason why we should trade him while his value is high.
2005-06-03 10:43:39
21.   slippy
About the slider thing: Gagne talked during the off-season about bringing back his slider. In the minors, I think Gagne started out as a slider-splitter pitcher and used a 2-seamer as his base pitch. That led to TJ surgery, so he learned the vulcan change instead. The vulcan works like a splitter, but it also has screwball-like movement similar to the circle change. That screwball movement is basically the reason why righties can't hit Gagne, but lefties fare better. Featuring a good slider will close the disparity between lefties and righties, which isn't much anyway. Basically a full-velocity Gagne plus average slider means hitters will be facing 97-99 Pedro Martinez in the 9th.
2005-06-03 10:44:01
22.   Sushirabbit
#18

Tivo. :-)

2005-06-03 10:50:06
23.   Bob Timmermann
#18

Guessing is what I do.

In high school, I was helping out the baseball coach at a playoff game. Our school had been eliminated, so we were responsible for running the game site. It was a playoff game between Palisades (with Steve Kerr) and Fremont (with Eric Davis).

Anyway, I was the PA announcer and the coach ran the scoreboard. This was at CSUN. During the game, the coach (who had played and coached for years) grumbled, "I don't know how those announcers can tell what pitch is being thrown from up here [the press box]. Maybe they pick up the spin, but I can't. I think they're just guessing."

When he had to step out for a batter to take care of something else, he gave me control of the scoreboard too. There was just one pitch thrown though. And I managed to record it incorrectly.

2005-06-03 11:07:57
24.   Stephen Bright
Gagne, in my opinion, was using steroids during his save streak. Some of the normal closer performance we're seeing now is a direct result of being off of steroids.
2005-06-03 11:54:58
25.   dzzrtRatt
Re: #24

I don't know you, and I don't know Eric Gagne. I wouldn't dare speculate on whether you go around sniffing your own armpits when no one is looking. I extend the same courtesy to Eric Gagne. There are many other explanations for his reduced velocity, including the most obvious one that he missed virtually all of spring training due to injuries and has yet to reach top form. Another good explanation is that three years of high-stress pitching in close games has worn his arm down permanently. To speculate that Gagne uses steroids based on the reduced velocity is McCarthyistic. Show me a positive drug test, and I will say, hey, you've got some proof, but short of that, I don't think is in any way fair.

To be clear, Mr. Bright. I'm not suggesting that you stick your fingertips under your armpits when no one is looking and then take a deep whiff. That would be wrong. So was your post.

2005-06-03 12:06:10
26.   slippy
I can see the possibility of Gagne using steroids. But when he was a starter, Gagne featured a 92-94mph fastball. And if I read his report right, that was a 2-seam fastball. So, given the situation where he gets to throw as all get-out and use a 4-seam, it's plausibly he nailed 96-98 without extra juice. The flatness of his high-end fastball suggests that he indeed huffs his way to get that kind of velocity.
2005-06-03 12:41:48
27.   DougS
I don't see any evidence whatsoever that Gagne was on steroids last season and isn't now. He doesn't look any different, for one thing. And I don't see how there's a connection between muscle mass and pitch velocity, because throwing an accurate 95+ fastball is a combination of so many different factors besides muscle mass. In fact, I would think that bulking up could mess with your mechanics by changing the shape and feel of your body.

The more sensible explanation for why he hasn't been quite the same this year as last is, as dRatt said, that he had absolutely no spring training this year. His case is parallel in this way to Jason Werth, who is sub-Mendoza line right now and obviously not the hitter he was last year. Not yet, anyway.

2005-06-03 13:49:11
28.   slippy
Muscle mass helps in specific context. Assuming you have good pitching mechanics, I suppose the "key" to punching 90+ if you're 6'7 is to develop your explosive power in your legs. Gagne's legs seem as thick as ever, so it's unlikely, he's lost mass since.

Kinda the same thing with developing bat speed . . . if you're using a rotational swing, then developing very, very strong forearms enables you to generate very high THT.

2005-06-03 13:53:02
29.   DODGERDOG
If you want to see a pitcher on Roids you need look no further than Kevin Brown. Just look at how big he is and look at the types of injuries he had with the Dodgers. As I recall (correct me if I'm wrong) all of his injuries were muscle or tissue related. This is a problem Roid users commonly have. I personally doubt that Gagne is on steroids. But I have been wrong before.
2005-06-03 15:07:52
30.   dzzrtRatt
#29--

I tried to inject a little humor into this discussion in my response to the guy who accused Gagne, but I'll restate my point more directly. I don't think it's right to accuse a player of being on steroids absent evidence, i.e. Giambi, Bonds, Canseco, who have all admitted they've used them, or the guy from Tampa Bay who tested positive. Even though this is just a blog and not the New York Times, one man's rank speculation quickly becomes another man's fact.

You don't know if Brown ever took steroids. There are many other perfectly plausible explanations for the symptoms you cite. A lot of people have muscle or tissue related problems who don't use steroids. So unless Brown confesses or gets caught in a test, he should be presumed innocent.

Does anyone think I'm wrong about this? This kind of speculation is a menace, in my opinion.

2005-06-03 15:24:33
31.   DODGERDOG
I agree dzzrtRatt, inocent until proven guilty. My comment was meant more as an observation than a proven fact, allthough it did not come out that way. I have had my suspicions about Brown for a couple of years now but I have not read or heard anything specific.
2005-06-03 15:37:49
32.   Rick A
Gagne does have a slider. James and Neyer's pitchers guide has a quote from Lo Duca (from one of the local papers) saying that Gagne has a slider, but that it was so crappy that Lo Duca wouldn't let him throw it.
2005-06-03 17:02:16
33.   Adam M
Two questions about the steroid sepculation:

*Is Gagne's weight down much from previous years? I knew a scout who thought Gagne was on steroids because he put on a bunch of weight. According to him, it was steroids; according to Dodger Blues, it was poutine. Which leads to the next question...

*Don't steroids make you "cut"? Isn't Gagne more "svelte"? Eric Gagne and lean muscle mass aren't two phrases I put in the same sentence much.

*Gagne was throwing heat well before he became a closer, yet he was ineffective as a starter. Unless you can demonstrate that he added 2-4 mph to his fastball at the same time he became a closer, then attributing his success as a closer to "performance enhancement" legal or otherwise, has little merit. Troy Percival was an OK minor-league catcher until he was converted to a closer; you could say steroids were the reason, but the more plausible reason--finding the right role for his talents--is staring you in the face.

2005-06-03 19:25:46
34.   Uncle Miltie
Gagne mainly uses 3 pitches

Last Year w/ Velocity:
Fastball 95-98 MPH
Changeup ~88 MPH
Curveball High 60's

Now:
Fastball 91-94 MPH
Changeup 82-83 MPH
Curveball same as last year

It appears that Gagne has also lost some movement on his fastball on changeup. If he's still throwing like this in July, I would expect him to ever get much better, which means that he probably used steroids.

2005-06-03 22:01:22
35.   Stephen Bright
Steroids has a preamble: do you believe in Santa Claus? If you are from the Bud Selig/Curt Shilling school of thought, then you and I would have no use having a conversation with each other. I myself am much more likely to believe the Canseco/Balco percentages.

Secondly, who do like better: Big Mac refusing to confess, or Sammy Sosa lying to your face?

Since the truth will never be known short of confession or autobiographic best-seller, Steroid Speculation is no less a spectator sport than spotting fake tits or second guessing Jim Tracy.

MOST OBVIOUS STERIOD DODGER: Darren Dreifort. If you don't see this, then you, my friend, are blind.

OTHER PRIME CANDIDATES:
Mr. Hundley, Mr. Green, Mr. Gagne (steroid use enhances recovery time), and about a dozen or so other Dodgers.

But, if you still believe in Santa, I still wish you a merry Christmas!

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