Monday, February 8, 2010

A plethora of potentially somewhat vaguely useful arms

We're back! Did you miss "we"?

And while we hate to spoil our return by engaging in told-you-so's, didn't we tell you before we left for our much-needed vacation that the Jays were certain to pull off a major move or two while we were away? That's what always happens, and we were certain that Doogie Anthopoulos would celebrate our absence with some earth-shattering move.

And thus, enter Kevin Gregg. (And Dana Eveland. But more on him some other day. Let's focus on Gregg, because he's stuck in people's craw.)

We have to confess that we've had a bit of a hate-on for Kevin Gregg for a few years now, mostly due to the fact that we were waiting for him to cough up his closer role for the sake of our fantasy baseball teams. (Go Marmol!) Being the gentleman that he is, Gregg accommodated us both in Florida and in Chicago, and for that, we are grateful.

But now that this joker comes to town, toting with him his 16 blown saves over the past two years, we figure that we have to find some way to wrap our head around the signing and feel happy about it, because there are only so many members of your team's bullpen that you can hate in any given year. Seeing as how we've dedicated most of our disdain to Shawn Camp, we've got to dig real deep and find some level of sweet charity for this chucker who has lost some zip on his fastball and gave up 13 dingers out of the bullpen last year.

The best we've been able to come up with so far is this: He's got to be better than Kerry Ligtenberg. (He really does, doesn't he? Right?)

Our feeble defense of this signing
Okay, so we know that the Better Than Ligtenberg defense is the faintest of praise, and one that we use a little too often to help keep us sane. So we're gonna dig deep on this one and try to find something (anything!) to make it seem a little more palatable.

And here's what we've come up with: Tonnage. As much as there is talk of the sheer number of average-or-worse arms that the Jays are bringing to camp this season, and the crowded bullpen picture, we look back at the past three seasons and see the numbers of pitchers who were pressed into Major League service before their time. It was fun and all to see Brett Cecil and Bobby Ray and Marc Rzepczynski and Brad Mills last season, but we would have preferred to leave them in the minors to develop instead of having the Phillies lineup school them on the way the game is played up top.

We made this argument to Mrs. Tao as she tolerated us watching a few innings of the Caribbean Series (in Spanish on a Dominican station, which was a weirder experience than we can easily describe.) As I got excited by seeing Randy Ruiz's plate appearances, we got talking with the missus about just how many players it takes to keep a baseball system running. Once you get past your 25-man roster, plus a few injured players, then about 25 guys per team in your system, you're looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 warm bodies to get you through the year, and not all of them are going to Chase Utley or Mariano Rivera.

What the Jays ultimately get in Gregg is a bullpen arm who has in the past posted sub-4.00 ERA's with a strikeout per inning over the past three seasons. He's a marginal, potentially useful piece who could be a significant part of the bullpen's back end if everything breaks right. At the worst, he's a guy who won't cost much (relatively speaking) and will be gone before any of us remember he was here.

And when it comes right down to it, that's not a bad play on AA's part.

Memories that we don't have
We don't seem to remember people losing their shit over the signing of Jaime Navarro back in 2001. Not that it didn't happen privately, but we don't remember it.

Scouting Randy Ruiz
So we got to see Randy Ruiz play a few innings in the Serie Del Caribe, which was just enough to stoke the fires of our Ruiz mancrush. We saw the big man whiff weakly in one at bat, but we also saw him hit a solid single with two strikes on him, go first to third on a sharply-hit line drive, and score on a single. Production!

Ruiz also looked very solid in the field, so if it comes down to it, we could imagine him taking a regular turn at first if he's needed there this year.

And finally, thanks and praise... the Ack for a stellar week. We'll confess that we get a little jealous when we go away, and then something happens and the blog gets oodles of visits and they're not coming just for our witty repartee. And we have a notion some days that Ack is getting ready to shove us down the stairs, just like Jessie Spano did to Gina Gershon in Showgirls. Which is why we're taking off our thigh-high patent leather boots anytime we walk in front on him down a flight of rickety stairs.

(Which we don't do, seeing as how we live thousands of miles apart. But still, gotta keep these things in mind.)

But if someone's gotta be there to field the inquiries and keep the lights on, we're glad that we've got Our Man in Winnipeg on the job, because if he were writing for another blog, we're sure that it would be one of our favorites.

(Although if Ack starts to get ideas and a big head about this, we'd remind him that John Oates didn't do shit without Daryl Hall out front singing. And Andrew Ridgely's career evaporated when he wasn't standing just behind George Michael. So don't go making plans for that solo project just yet.)


Kevin said...

"At the worst, he's a guy who won't cost much (relatively speaking) and will be gone before any of us remember he was here."

Exactly. Thanks for putting it so succinctly.

Tao of Stieb said...

I wish I could say that my succintness was on purpose. I just really didn't have a clue on this, so it's best to not think too profoundly about it.

The Ack said...

I could also never rock a 'stache like John Oates, so there you go.

True story - saw Showgirls in the theatre with a buddy and about 12 other people (total) who had nothing better to spend $8 on. What can I say? I was 18 (?) or so at the time. It was a topless Saved By The Bell as far as I was concerned. I'd like to think I've grown since.

Oh, and Free Randy Ruiz.

Hilleraj said...

And I think that's part of the problem... people seem to be trying to think profoundly on this one, rather than just accepting it for what it is - a solid depth move.

Tao of Stieb said...

I don't think you even really need to qualify it as is a depth move.

Although I am picturing Gregg closing at some point next year, and me not breathing for the entire length of time that it takes for him to get three outs.

Ty said...

I think one of the reasons the Gregg signing seems like a big deal is the fact that, as far as I can remember, the last free agent reliever the Jays signed was BJ Ryan, which is pretty crazy to think about. That seems like ages ago, but I can't think of anybody who's been in the pen since then who wasn't homegrown talent or a waiver wire/minor league pickup that ended up working out.

Fans of this team just aren't used to the idea of signing free agent relief pitchers anymore, so this signing stands out way more than it should.

Anonymous said...

Free Randy Ruiz indeed! Thanks for the update on him. I am cautious, but enthusiastic about him at first if that is really in the cards for him.

KP said...

I think it's best just to ignore the people who get all bent out of shape about signings like this.

It's not our money. He'll throw a few hundred pitches in a Jay's uniform. He'll go away.

People must be really really bored if they feel the need to get upset with this footnote of a signing.

Darren Priest said...

You named-checked Wham! I am forever in your debt. I know, I know...

I liked other, cooler bands too.

torgen said...

People get angry at depth moves when it's been two years since the team made a breadth move.

Gil Fisher said...

I don't have much time for Wham! and I gave a lot of people grief back in the '80s for listening to that shit, but I must admit Careless Whisper has turned into a bit of a classic for me.

*ponders posting anonymously*

Gil Fisher said...

Some great porn over at the battersbox this morning....confirmation on Wallace included (TL=Tony Lacava):

BB: Is Brett Wallace now a first baseman or are you going to leave him at third?

TL: We are going to move Brett over to first.