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Eric Gagne: Harry Potter?
2004-01-22 08:55
by Jon Weisman

I've added The Bench Coach to the Dodger links on the right; I think you'll enjoy checking him out. The Coach's font also looks better on my computer than the Dodger Thoughts font does.

I liked the Coach's post this morning on Eric Gagne because it really takes a calm but pointed approach to the situation regarding Gagne's contract status. Perhaps the Coach's most noteworthy comment: Gagne "seems to be morphing into the leader of the Dodgers just when the team needs him most."

The Coach adds: "But there is coming a day, possibly as soon as Jan. 31, when it will be time for Gagne to be rewarded. How that plays out will be the first major test of McCourt's ownership, and I fear it will tell Dodger fans all we need to know."

The other day, I stated my feeling that a salary arbitration hearing between Gagne and the Dodgers would turn into a non-event. Today, however, the Coach writes that he's "been waiting for the Gagne negotiations to get really, really ugly," and I admit the Coach is right when it comes to any negotiations for a multiyear contract. There is going to be a huge disparity between what Gagne wants and what the Dodgers - whoever "the Dodgers" are - will prepared to offer.

For that matter, Times smacktalker T.J. Simers, who you'd expect would have nothing good to say about the $5 million the Dodgers are paying Adrian Beltre this year, fulfills those expectations in a way you wouldn't expect, noting today the risk that the Dodgers are taking by not locking the young Beltre up to a long-term deal.

Gagne and Beltre are symptoms of a much larger uncertainty that is facing Dodger fans now that the Voldemort ownership appears ready to take over Hogwarts. (I promise to drop that analogy post haste, but it seems to fit today.)

No one wants to lose Gagne and no one will want to lose Beltre if he flowers. Ultimately, though, Dan Evans, Billy Beane or whoever will do their best to make the most of whatever New Age payroll they have to work with. If that means they can't pay $8-10 million a year for your closer, well, that doesn't eliminate the Dodgers' postseason chances. In fact, many will argue that paying a closer that much money - even with a $100 million budget - is a misallocation of funds.

The mystery that needs to be solved, before any individual players are concerned, is just how low will Voldemort go with the payroll. Any contract discussion of any player works its way back to that question, and I'm not sure it's worth worrying about Gagne or any other single player right now. The whole team is caught in the ether.

That is going to be one interesting press conference when Voldemort finally appears and speaks. We do need a Dumbledore.

(Okay - that's it, J.K.)

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