Posted by: Asher Roth | February 3, 2010

Jays reportedly sign Gregg (NOT Zaun)

Following news that the Garfoose is set to undergo shoulder surgery, the Jays have reportedly signed an experienced reliever with closing capabilities.

Various reporters, including FOX’s Ken Rosenthal and SI’s Jon Heyman have reported that the Jays have signed former Cub and Marlin Kevin Gregg to a one-year, $2.75 million contract with options that could earn him as much as two more years and a potential $12 million. As the deal is not finalized, exact details are not available, although we know that the Jays reportedly beat out the Rockies and the Padres for Gregg’s services (IN YOUR FACE!!)

But wait! With such quality alternative options (like playing at a hitter’s ballpark in Denver, or playing for a god-awful team like the Padres), the Jays really must have come out of this with a steal. After all, $2.75 M for a guy who’s spent the last three years as a National League Closer would be somewhat of a bargain, no?

In many cases in advertising, the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away (says Tom Waits in this hilarious classic). As usual, raw statistics serve as the small print. Gregg allowed 13 homers in 68 2/3 innings last season for the Chicago Cubs, and was third-worst in the majors in save percentage, converting only 23 of his allotted 30 chances with an awful 4.72 ERA. Now, while his unfavourable save percentage is nothing new (6th worst with 29/38 converted for the Marlins in ’08), his crappy ERA and home runs allowed were. In fact, in his two years as Marlins closer, he was 7-13 with a 3.48 ERA, compiling 61 saves and allowing only 114 hits in 152 2/3 innings, with only 10 homers allowed. Not too bad.

Here’s my take. Given the fact that his save percentage is pretty bad, if given the chance to be the Jays full-time closer, he’ll be more like the Miguel Batista-type than the Tom Henke type – he’ll get the job done, but he’ll make you very nervous along the way. Perhaps if he is used as a mere reliever, he will perform better when not under the pressure of closing out the ninth inning. The team still has Scott Downs and Jason Frasor, after all, and they’ll want to get a chance to close, too. Knowing Cito, Gregg would have to earn the closer’s role, it will not be handed to him on a silver platter.

On the other hand, you can’t really fault double-A on this signing. $2.75 M for a 31 year old hard-throwing reliever is pretty risk-free, since he’s coming off a bad year, for his own standards. This is why he was offered the bonus incentives, which may or may not be performance-related. If it’s a team option, he’ll have to play well to earn a pay raise next season. All the better, right?

It depends on your point of view on the team’s direction. We go into this season with the pre-conceived notion the team is not going to do well. If that is the case, Gregg is the perfect low-budget solution. He’ll get paid very little to close out games. If he blows a lot of saves, who cares, as long as they team’s goal is to lose? On the other hand, with McGowan and Marcum set to return, and in the hypothetical situation that the Jays young bats all compile career years, maybe you’d want a better closer out there.

The latter choice is not likely, so signing Gregg makes sense to me.

Just forgive me for not jumping off the walls in excitement. But like I said months ago, this off-season has been pretty depressing, and most of the moves the Jays have made, while being productive for the long-term, have provided fans with little to no excitement, whatsoever.

So it goes.



  1. Unrelated, but I ask anyway: would the Blue Jays consider Chien Ming Wang or are they set with their youth movement in the rotation?

  2. That’s a good question. is a good answer.
    He may not be fully healthy by spring training. We’re already taking a gamble with Marcum, McGowan, Litsch, and to some extent Janssen. Morrow has huge potential, so does Cecil, Rzepcynski, and Ray and Mills are on their way. Why bring a total non-sure thing into the mix when you have 3 or 4 already?

    Also, frankly in my opinion, he’s not very good. He’s a mediocre middle rotation starter who put in a lot of innings and got a lot of run support. Even between 06 and 07, his back to back 19 win seasons, he allowed 432 hits in 417 innings with just 180 strikeouts and 111 walks.

    Also, his career playoff ERA is 7.58 thanks to his 19.06 ERA in 2 starts in 07.

    If I were double-A, I would not want him.

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