While the thought of adding flamethrower Billy Wagner to an already strong bullpen is an exciting thought to Red Sox fans, the current members of that pen are feeling a little differently.
“What has he done? Has he pitched this year?” Jonathan Papelbon told WEEI.com. “Is he ready to pitch or is he not? … I think our bullpen is good where we’re at right now. Don’t get me wrong. But I guess you could always make it better. It’s kind of like the [Eric] Gagne thing, I guess.”
Equating a potential free-agent acquisition to the fateful trade for Gagne in 2007 isn't exactly a ringing endorsement from the team's closer, and Papelbon wasn't alone.
“We loved Gagne coming over here, just the stuff that he had, but it was an awkward situation this late in the season,” Manny Delcarmen told WEEI.com. “I think our bullpen is fine right now. It is what it is. If [Wagner] comes and helps us win, that’s what we want. But sometimes, shaking things up this late might work out different. We’ll see what happens.”
Of course, it could be an overreaction from Delcarmen and Papelbon. While those two, combined with Hideki Okajima, Daniel Bard, Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito form a very capable unit, the team has yet to find a true replacement for Justin Masterson.
Minor leaguers like Enrique Gonzalez, Fernando Cabrera, Billy Traber and Hunter Jones have all logged innings this season — innings that could be placed in better hands as the Sox fight for their playoff lives.
Wagner, who was reportedly claimed on waivers by the Red Sox and could be traded to Boston by Tuesday, has recorded 385 saves and 1,068 strikeouts in his career. He has only pitched once in 2009 — a scoreless inning against the Braves on Thursday night — and missed the last two months of 2008 with an injury. He underwent Tommy John surgery last September and, based on his performance this week, appears to have regained his velocity.
Still, even if the Red Sox land Wagner for the stretch run, the thought that it could even remotely resemble Gagne's tenure in Boston is enough to temper the excitement of just about anyone.