Archive for February, 2010
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
5:50 PM Pacific
I have joined a whole big whack of The FAN’s crew out here in B.C. for some huge winter sporting event that’s going to get going later this week, so there won’t be a whole heck of a lot of bloggage coming from these quarters for the rest of this month.
There are all kinds of big, important rules surrounding these sorts of sporting get-togethers, and one of them is no blogging. So, unless the Blue Jays make some big news (and I hear about it up here), this is going to be it until I get back home at the beginning of March.
I can tell you a few things about my first couple of days up here on the mountain, though. First of all, this place is gorgeous. It’s my first time in Whistler and the views are spectacular. I look out the window of my condo and see the mountain. The village is pretty cool, and in the first couple of hours of walking around here yesterday I saw groups of people wearing the uniforms of the Italian, French, Swiss, Polish, Russian and Croatian teams. I’m directly across from the Swiss Broadcasting Centre and a minute’s walk from the Medal Plaza. Here’s hoping, if the bosses don’t mind, that I’ll be able to trade some of the cool uniformy stuff they gave me before I left for some of the other countries’ cool uniformy stuff at the end of the month.
The drive up the Sea-To-Sky Highway was spectacular as well, especially the part where the bus driver told me (because I was sitting closest to the front, I assume), that I was going to have to navigate once we got into Whistler. As I mentioned above, this is the first time I have ever been to Whistler. That made the end of the bus ride kind of fun.
I managed to trek up to the finish area of the downhill today, and while I was walking up got a chance to see a bit of a staged mid-course helicopter rescue. I didn’t get a great view, nor did I manage any pictures, so I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, except that it was kind of cool.
It’s awfully difficult to pin down this Whistler Village thing. I figured I’d have the lay of the land by now, but I don’t. Oh, well, all that means is that there are a ton of things to do around here when there aren’t events on. I doubt I’ll get to do much, though I do have event veterans Jeff Blair and Rob Faulds up here to show me the way. Chances are my days will be vacuum-packed with sporting events to cover, no time to party. Also, I think I’m going to try to stay, relatively, on East Coast time. That way it’ll feel like I’m sleeping in until 11:00 every day! Of course, it also means being in bed by 9:00 local. We’ll see how long that lasts.
As far as baseball is concerned, I’m surprised that so many people seem to have their shorts in a knot about guys like Kevin Gregg and Dana Eveland. Gregg, as awful as he was at keeping the ball in the park last year, had a better WHIP than Jason Frasor in both 2007 and 2008. He’s not that bad, and he came awfully, awfully cheap. Eveland is another arm to throw onto the pile, and whether it means the Jays will have a decision at the end of Spring Training with too many guys who are out of options, or too many guys slated to pitch in Vegas, or a few guys they might have to send through waivers or release, then so be it. They’ll have six weeks to get a good look at as many arms as they can, and anyone who has watched this team over the last few years knows that the Jays always need rather a plentiful supply of back-up arms.
And to clear up some confusion, both in these parts and others, David Purcey is NOT out of options going into this season.
Again, I apologize for what will be a distinct lack of bloggage in this space for the rest of the month. I will try to answer comments as they come in, but I think I can only answer baseball-related stuff. Winter sports and the like are pretty much off-limits – I don’t want to break any rules.
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
3:50 PM Eastern
Zaun out, Kevin in – that’s the way it seems to be with the Jays all but set to announce the signing of former Marlins and Cubs closer Kevin Gregg to a one-year deal with a couple of team options.
It seems like Cito Gaston wasn’t kidding at the State of the Franchise when he kept referring to an additional closer candidate that Alex Anthopoulos might bring in.
Gregg will likely be the closer for the Blue Jays this year, and probably makes a trade of Jason Frasor or Scott Downs the team’s next move.
It’s really a win-win move here for both the Jays and “the player”. As I’ve said many times, this coming season isn’t about winning, it’s about giving guys a chance to play, not blocking players who have a chance to make an impact down the road and about gathering assets. Gregg is an asset.
No, he’s not a great closer, and there’s plenty of debate that he’s even a good one, but that’s OK. He’s an established, durable guy with a good arm who is only costing the Blue Jays $2.75 million. And he’s all but guaranteed to be a Type-B free agent next season. So, at worst, the Jays just spent almost $3 million to secure themselves another top-40 pick in 2011.
At best, Gregg comes in and blows the doors off, Bryan Harvey-Marlins-style, and the Jays either reap the benefits on the trade market in late July or use the club options to their advantage on the trade market in the wintertime.
He’s not going to displace anyone who was guaranteed to be a successful reliever. There’s still room for Frasor, Downs, Carlson, Tallet, Accardo and Roenicke. Casey Janssen and Shawn Camp will be up against it now, barring a Frasor/Downs trade, and they’ll have to find room to squeeze in a Zech Zinicola. Unfortunately, Hey Dirkhurst is no longer in the running – he’s having arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder on Friday, here’s hoping they don’t find a torn labrum or a major rotator cuff issue.
When you can get a guy like Gregg – whose numbers are kind of enigmatic – for less than three million bucks, you do it, even if the only reason is to turn him into a sandwich pick a year down the road. If one of Carlos Delgado, Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye would come that cheap, I’d be all over that, as well.
As far as those numbers are concerned, Gregg is one of the weird right-handed pitchers who tends to fare much better against left-handed hitters. This can be a huge asset if it’s something of which the manager is aware and willing to utilize. In 2009, lefties OPS’d .592 against Gregg, compared to righties’ .860. In 2007, his first year as a closer, it was .514 for the lefties and .732 for the righties. 2008 was more even, with only a 67-point difference between the two sides, and he was actually better against righties.
His home runs allowed spiked last year, which you would think was natural since he went from working in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark in Florida to a very hitter-friendly one on the north side of Chicago, but the numbers don’t bear that out. He actually did a very good job of keeping the ball in the park at Wrigley, but gave up nine homers in 32 innings of work on the road (three of them over an inning and a third in FLA).
Gregg’s road numbers were awful last year – a 7.59 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and a .906 OPS against. He did have three terrible outings in which he gave up a combined nine runs in just two innings of work, but then he had an outing at home in which he gave up four runs without recording an out, and he wound up with a 2.21 ERA, .573 OPS and a WHIP under 1.00 at home, so that doesn’t exactly explain things.
Bottom line, this isn’t a guy riding in on a white horse to be the next great closer in Blue Jays history. He might wind up being Joey McLaughlin or Randy Moffitt, but that’s about the point in the Blue Jays’ development at which we stand right now. The great benefit to bringing in Gregg is his ability to bring back tasty stuff for the future, whether that comes when they trade him or when he leaves as a free agent, as well as what could potentially come in a Frasor or Downs trade, since Gregg’s arrival pushes that door open a little bit wider.
For a small investment, with what are sure to be team-friendly options, that’s a good deal.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
10:35 AM Eastern
The disappointing news of yesterday that Tom Cheek has again been passed over for the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence was, unfortunately, not a surprise.
Tom should have won the thing by now – he’s a more than deserving candidate and, frankly, he should have won it in 2005 when he would have been alive to enjoy it, and when we pretty much knew it was the last chance for that to happen.
Dave Perkins has a great column in today’s Toronto Star that sums it up perfectly. I really liked how he described this year’s winner, Jon Miller, as a “popular and polished” broadcaster. Perkins gives the criteria for the Frick Award, which have been listed in this space before, and there isn’t even a bit of a question that Tom Cheek easily fulfills them all.
We will re-engage the battle next December, trying to get Tom to win the fan balloting for yet another season in the hopes that at some point, the voting group will wake the hell up and realize that this honour is well past due. Maybe, as Perkins said as well, the facts that Roberto Alomar will be voted in as a player in 2011 and Bob Elliott will likely be a finalist for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award will also help Tom’s cause.
For my part, if I happen to come across any Frick voters during the upcoming season (chances are I’ll see Milo Hamilton in spring training and Miller himself when the Giants come to town in June) , I will engage them in full-throttle debate as to Tom’s candidacy and their responsibility to see that justice is served sooner and not later.
Oh, and happy birthday Travis Snider.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!