One of the more ridiculous things I kept hearing when the Red Sox were pursuing Billy Wagner was “well it didn’t work with Eric Gagne, so it won’t work with Billy Wagner.” I heard this over and over again. To be honest, it was probably one of the most absurd arguments I have heard in awhile.
For those who are not familiar with the Eric Gagne situation in Boston, here is a quick overview. At the trading deadline in 2007, the Boston Red Sox traded for then Texas Rangers’ closer Eric Gagne. Since the Red Sox had Jonathon Papelbon (as they do now), they tried to make Gagne into their eigth inning set-up guy.
The move didn’t work and Gagne was just awful in a Red Sox uniform. Gagne had a 6.75 ERA in 20 regular season games for the Red Sox. In the postseason, Gagne was equally as bad, sporting a 5.57 ERA in five games for the eventual world champions.
So naturally people think well, if it didn’t work once, why would it work again? Really? Is that the logic? So you dated a blonde three years ago and it didn’t work out, so you should never date a blonde again? Or Edgar Renteria didn’t work out in Boston, so Theo Epstein should never pursue a shortstop from the National League again?
It’s just silly.
It’s not like the Red Sox are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. They are not asking Wagner to start or throw 50 pitches an outing to see if they can convert him to a long reliever.
The concept of what they are asking him to do makes sense.
And since Wagner has been part of the Red Sox bullpen, it makes sense for Terry Francona to call his number because Wagner has been lights out. In three innings, Wagner has seven strikeouts and only has allowed two baserunners. The most impressive part of Wagner’s performances so far is that he is routinely hitting 95 mph on the gun.
Wagner gives the Red Sox another hard-throwing bridge to closer Jonathan Papelbon (who has pitched much better as of late). If Wagner keeps this up, he will be everything that Eric Gagne was not.
Thus, making Billy Wagner the anti-Gagne.