Eric Gagne retires

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Erig Gagne 2.jpgGiven his release from the Dodgers even though he accepted a minor league assignment it’s no surprise that Eric Gagne has decided to retire.

For about three years there — 2002 to 2004 — Gagne was the best closer in baseball, going 152 for 158 in save opportunities, including a perfect 55 for 55 in 2003. He won the Cy Young Award because of that.  Elbow surgery came in 2005 and back surgery in 2006, and that was more or less that for the guy as an elite player. Since leaving the Dodgers after the 2006 season he bounced from Texas to Boston to Milwaukee to the Can-Am League, never able to recover top form.

Gagne was named as a Kirk Radomski customer in the Mitchell Report. He spoke about his PED use to some extent with the Los Angeles Times last year, voicing remorse but declining to go into details because he didn’t want to implicate others.  His PED use also implicates teams to some degree, as the Mitchell Report noted that the Red Sox had scouted Gagne at one point, writing “steroids is the issue.”

And it remains the issue with Gagne insofar as career assessment is concerned. His best years were all about power, all came prior to the advent of steroids testing and ended at basically the same time. Yes, injuries killed him, but his inability to take whatever it was he was taking back in the day likely didn’t help matters.

I enjoyed watching Gagne shut things down during his brief but dominant
prime, but that was a different time in baseball history, both temporally and philosophically speaking.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.