04/25/2002 00:51 am ET
Sarah's Take: Eric Gagne
By Sarah Morris / Dodgers.Com
During last winter when the Dodgers did not choose to pick up Jeff Shaw's
option for this year, many Dodger fans were asking, "Who will be the Dodgers'
When the trade with the Oakland A's and the Toronto Blue Jays that would have
sent Billy Koch to Los Angeles fell apart, many fans were upset. They were
yelling for the Dodgers to obtain a closer from anywhere.
I was not worried about their lack of an established closer because I felt
that Matt Herges could have become an excellent closer for the Dodgers.
After all, he was an excellent setup man for them for the previous two years.
Although many people worried whether Herges had the mental outlook for a closer,
I was not worried about his mind. To me, when a pitcher comes into a game with
runners on base, he needs ice water running through his veins no matter which
inning it is.
When the Dodgers traded Herges in Spring Training, I was furious. I still don't
understand that trade. After the trade, I was concerned who would be the closer.
However, I should not have been.
Since September, 1999, the Dodgers and their fans have been waiting for Eric
Though Gagne did fabulously in 1999, he struggled both in 2000 and 2001. It
seemed to me when the game was on the line, Gagne fell apart.
When I heard that the Dodgers were considering making Gagne a closer, I was
The closing position has the most pressure and glamour associated with any
pitching role. I was not sure that Gagne was mature enough to handle it.
I was wrong.
During the winter Gagne was working with weights to build his endurance. His
weight work helped his fastball improve. During spring training, he worked on
improving his off-speed pitches. These two things have made Gagne almost
Somewhere Gagne increased his confidence. Believing in your ability helps you
succeed. When I was taking math, I didn't think I could do it, especially typing
algebra, so I was not doing well. At Pasadena City College, I started over with
my algebra. With every good test grade, my confidence grew. By the end of my
second semester of calculus, I knew that I could do math. The confidence that I
gained in math transferred to other areas in my life.
Gagne's new confidence has helped him to be successful as a closer. Since the
season began, he has recorded his first eight major league saves without
allowing a run.
Gagne proves again that young players can rise to the occasion and take over
for an established veteran.
Sarah Morris is the editor of Dodger
Place. She lives in Anderson, Texas.