Showing posts with label Kevin Gregg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kevin Gregg. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Brian Wilson walks furiously between the raindrops

Or maybe we should say: Brian Wilson tries to throw around the raindrops.

Because if there is one thing that we've gleaned from our first few consecutive nights of watching the Giants douchey bullpen ace, it's that he has a very similar approach to that of the Jays' jarheaded closer: Keep throwing shit off the plate, and pray to your Affliction t-shirted higher power that either the umpire buys in or the hitters can't help themselves.

Not to belabour a point that we've been making all through these playoffs, but if Brian Wilson had to face the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays with any regularity, we doubt that his stature as a Big League Closer would last for long, given their penchant for keeping their bats on their shoulders.

(And if we were handier with Pitch F/X tools, we'd back this assertion up with a graphy-graph. Alas, Brooks Baseball seems to be preoccupied with stuff other than baseball right now.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Well, that sucked.

If your whole thing this morning is something like: "Kevin Gregg sucks and shouldn't be the closer", here's what we're gonna tell you: There's more than enough blame to go around for last night's loss.

And if you're going to whine and cry about how the bullpen gave up the game in which Brett Cecil pitched so heroically, know this: Any other team would have taken all that junk that he was leaving up in the zone and parked it in the heliosphere.

The Jays ran the bases like nimrods last night (looking your way, Mr. Lind), flailed at the plate when there were runners begging to be driven in, and made their pitchers get too many extra outs.

It was a game that appeared to be in the bag twice over, and one that we felt they should have walked away with. To see it slip away twice to a bunch of slap-hitting cellar-dwellers might have made it to most painful loss of the season so far.

And as for our jar-headed friend
Kevin Gregg went out and threw strikes. And some of them got hit. That's going to happen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Angel Hernandez wasn't enjoying Kevin Gregg's tasty nibbles

So...that's what Cubs fans were on about all season. Funny, because having been off the continent during Gregg's previous meltdown, we were still in the midst of our jarheaded love-in with the Jays closer.

So maybe that's why we're so eager to make excuses right about now. Like how it struck us that maybe home plate ump Angel Hernandez was making good to the Rays after refusing to call time to Carlos Pena and tossing Joe Maddon, and maybe his strike zone got a little cramped.

When we threw that notion out on Twitter following the game, intrepid reporter Ian at The Blue Jay Hunter undertook the task to get the Pitch FX data, and boy-howdee did he ever get the data. So if you'd like to pause for a moment and go read his most excellent analysis, have at 'er.

Not satisfied to wait until this morning, though, we actually got off our butt and looked up the pitches to Jaso, Zobrist and Navarro ourselves. On Gameday, which is admittedly totally unreliable, we found our suspicions confirmed. Conspiracy!

Then, this morning on Brooks Baseball, we found that the more reliable system seemed to confirm that Hernandez just made some very good close calls, although the fourth and fifth pitches to Zobrist were really close. And if it's a sunny Sunday Get-Away-Day, either Zobrist or Jaso is punched out and the Jays are high-fiving their way back to the clubhouse, another game closer to the peak of the AL East. Believe that.

The truth is that Gregg played a pretty dangerous game for a pitcher with men on base by trying to pick the corners throw pitches away from hitters. Gregg has some decent tailing motion on his fastball, and getting them in on the hitters hands or over the plate might have been rewarded with a ground ball or two, and a save/win.

For now, we hold our breath, and hope that this is more of a blip than a trend, and that Gregg heeds the words that Pappy Walton offered on his trip to the mound last night: "No problem."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In lieu of thoughts, 10 random tweetable whims

We'd prefer not to put too much more thought into last night's game. We're not even going to repeat the score or the details, because such a thing will only help the thought to take purchase in the soil of our mind. And so, we forget.

In lieu of any day after gnashing of teeth, we offer up 10 brief and random notions on the season thus far. We do this also because since we been on the Twitter, we can no longer shape or develop any cogent argument in a paragraph. We can only hint at the possibility of one in 140 characters.

(All hail Twitter: The End of Thought, The Triumph of Whims!)

1. We'd given up on Casey Janssen, but he now looks like he could throw a pitch past someone if he needed to.

2. Randy Ruiz is a big dude, but he can run the bases with fury if he needs to.

3. We like seeing Adam Lind in the field. It reminds us that he's going to play there when the Jays make it to the World Series.

4. Overbay complained in '09 about not getting regular playing time. We hope he's enjoying his 2010 so far. We're not. So far.

5. Kevin Gregg just looks like a closer. Like a big, jarheaded nasty shut-the-door closer. And that appeals to some part of us.

6. Frasor is about eight inches shorter than Gregg, but still throws harder. It just doesn't seem that way.

7. Ruiz has now scored more runs than Aaron Hill. And not in the good way we might have imagined before the season.

8. Hamstring injuries scare the shit out of us. We remember the first time Vernon pulled up lame with one.

9. A sign that this might be more than a hot start: In addition to his improved swing, Vernon is letting pitches off the plate go for balls.

10. The 51s are 6-1 so far. And Brad Mills' line looks like this: 2-0, 0.79 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 18 Ks, 1 BB.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coffee is for closers

You can insert your own standard caveat about how early it is in the season to even consider having these sorts of conversations. But what is the point of having the role of a closer and the save stat if you can't piss and moan about it every time the man in the role hacks it up.

Thus, piss and moan we shall.

It could be that the members of Tank Nation could give a fuck about how the Jays seal the deal to win games because, somehow, being the worst team in the league is going to guarantee that we draft first and get our shot at the next Dale Hawerchuk. But we're convinced that winning breeds winning, and young players who play on teams who find ways to win develop a culture and a mindset that promotes winning in the future. And if learning how to win a seemingly meaningless game in April 2010 means that The Rosy-Cheeked Phenom is in the proper headspace to hit a walkoff dinger in October of 2013, then let's learn to win now. Shall we? Mmmmkay?

So far this season, every Jays game has had a save situation, and given the razor-thin margin for error that the team will have, they will be in plenty of close games. And if we're going to try to win games every night, let's at least have a look at what is going on with the closer now so that we're not handing back wins in April that might make this team look respectable in September.

So let's get down to brass tacks: The Jason Frasor that has taken the mound five times this year is not The Sausage King. Frasor's velocity is down (91.2 MPH vs 93.8 on average last year), and our guess is that he knows it. He's trying to finesse his way around at bats.

Where The Sausage King of 2009 went after hitters, stepping on their throats with fastballs for strikes to get ahead in the count, then kicked them in the teeth with his reprehensibly nasty off-speed foshiness. But Jason Frasor 2010 is attempting to tickle-fight hitters into submission, tossing pitches on the margins of the zone, falling behind and having get-me-over pitches sent back the other way at alarming rates. In his first 4.1 innings pitched, he's given up eight hits, including three doubles and a homer to go along with three walks. And were it not for his ability to squirm his way out of some of these predicaments with his six strikeouts, we're sure that he would have given up more than just three runs and two wins.

Okay, let's snap back to reality: Just one week of the season is down, and there are 25 more to get through, so it is probably too early to start making rash decisions on bullpen roles. It's been a crappy week for Frasor, and a good week for big giant manly-man closer-type dude Kevin Gregg. (Although surprisingly, Gregg's fastball velocity is clocking in at just 91.9 MPH, which is shocking to us considering the way we've swooned every time he shot puts a heater past someone.)

Frasor's progress over the next few weeks bears monitoring. If the velocity comes back or balls start finding gloves or Frasor starts getting calls, then we can all chill. But a few more walks and a few more extra base hits, and just maybe The Manager should put loyalties aside and look to find the most effective arm in the bullpen to shut things down.

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...
...to 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.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quick thoughts on the 'pen

Eerily quiet day around Blue Jays camp after word broke on the Gregg signing, I suppose pending completion of a physical and such. I've been thinking more about the ramifications of the signing (and yes, I realize the absurdity of spending even more time pondering the merits and fallout of a $2.75M contract handed out to a reliever, but that's how I roll), and I'm no longer convinced another trade is necessarily imminent.

Perhaps Wilner's take has influenced my thoughts here, but it really is quite conceivable that the Jays head to spring with all the arms currently on the roster in tow, and let camp dictate the next course of action. I'll disagree slightly with Wilner in that it feels to me like Shawn Camp is far more entrenched than "being up against it", but what do I know? He gave the Jays 80 innings of serviceable relief in '09 - admittedly mostly low-leverage innings - but he pitched fairly well, posting a 3.50 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.

That's my way of saying I don't get the Shawn Camp Hate.

Think good thoughts for the 'Foose
The relief situation became a little less cloudy (unfortunately), as the Jays (and Hayhurst himself) announced the reliever will go under the knife for exploratory surgery on a troublesome shoulder.

Say what you will about Hayhurst's pitching ability, but Dirk seems to be good people, and you have to feel for a guy who has spent a career bouncing around baseball's minor leagues finding himself on the precipice of a major league job....only to face the uncertainty of shoulder surgery two weeks before camp.

The Garfoose's tweets admitting worry about his career (and mortgage payments, etc...) pull the covers back just enough to make you realize that the players we incessantly (obsessively?) discuss and analyze aren't all that different from you and I. Except for maybe a tad more athletic ability, of course.

Here's hoping all Hayhurst needs is a little nip & tuck.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Making sense of the signing

Such is the state of the excellent and on-point Blue Jays blogosphere that often if you ain't first, you're last. I likely don't have any original "analysis" to add to the discussion, but hey - here you are and so am I, so read on.

Yes, the internets were scratching their collective heads on Tuesday when the word broke that the Jays had signed ex-Marlin and Cub closer Kevin Gregg. On the surface, the move is just that - a head scratcher. Standing alone, it's difficult to find the logic. Is Gregg really an upgrade over Jason Frasor? Scott Downs? Jeremy Accardo? Was there really a need to add another relief arm considering the club also has Shawn Camp, Brian Tallet, Josh Roenicke, Jesse Carlson, Dirk Hayhurst, Casey Janssen, Scott Richmond, Merkin Valdez, and rule-5 dude Zech Zinicola looking to eat some innings?

No, probably not. But there's the rub - it's probably unfair to judge this move on a stand-alone basis. Consider some possible scenarios:

(1) Anthopoulos has a deal in the works to trade one (or more) of the more notable bullpen arms - think Frasor, Downs, Accardo - thus the need for an experienced late-inning reliever to handle the 8th/9th. It's problematic in that it seems to be working backwards, but we've seen the domino-effect already this winter - the Jays/Phils/Mariners/A's deal as a prime example, and the Yankees/Tigers/Diamondbacks trade being another.

Lots of overly-optimistic speculation out there that the signing is a precursor to a deal to bring in the exciting young shortstop the club covets, but I'm not buying it. Young franchise shortstops aren't traded for spare bullpen parts - unless they're packaged with big-time talent. Which could happen, I suppose (lending credence to my oft-stated belief that a young starter is on the way out....), but I'm not holding my breath.

The question then becomes, who/what are the Jays targeting in return if the primary asset on the move is Frasor/Downs?

(2) As a Type-A free agent who wasn't offered arbitration, he comes to the Jays free of draft pick obligations, and the club hopes he holds that value throughout the season, effectively netting picks when he signs elsewhere in 2011. This can't be the primary motivation. Can't be. Way too risky, for a multitude of reasons.

For one, the Jays would have to offer arbitration to qualify for compensation, and the market clearly penalizes relievers designated with Type-A status. Gregg could very easily accept the arb, and the Jays are not only left pick-less, but with a contract (and player) they don't want. For two....do we really think Gregg can maintain that Type-A status? Type-B maybe, but that's a big to-do for a sandwich pick.

(3) The Jays are aware of the arbitration risk, and instead hope Gregg pitches well enough to garner interest at the trade deadline, netting prospects in return. If this is the case, I don't see how Gregg ups his value pitching in the AL East. Best case scenario, he hits the deadline being viewed as potential bullpen help for a contending team - who'd be willing to offer contract relief and not a lot more in return.

(4) Gregg has a nice enough arm, the Jays felt he was undervalued in the market, and it's a $2.75M play for bullpen depth. That can't be it, can it? The Jays have been stockpiling relief all winter, and it's not like Gregg suddenly became available. He's been out there all winter with nary a peep until, uh, now.

Something has to give. I've mentioned thirteen arms above vying for major league innings. Half of those will make the team (yes, 6.5 of them). It's not like the rest can all go straight to Vegas, leaving no room for other prospect arms and rehab stints.

Reviewing the possibilities, it seems there has to be something in the works, no? Forced to choose, I'd say more trades are coming. I just wouldn't get your hopes up on that franchise shortstop we all dream on....yet.