Tag:Kevin Gregg
Posted on: March 15, 2011 11:01 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 11:02 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/15: Ellsbury's back

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jacoby Ellsbury3 UP

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox -- The Red Sox center fielder certainly appears recovered from the broken ribs that limited to just 18 games last season. This spring, he's hitting .414/.452/.724. His second homer of the spring came Tuesday off of Detroit's Justin Verlander, who allowed only one other hit in his start.

2. Brett Wallace, Astros -- The guy the Astros got for Roy Oswalt struggled last season, but is having a pretty decent spring -- buoyed by his performance on Tuesday, when he went 4 for 5 with two doubles, a grand slam and seven RBIs.

3. Jordan Lyles, Astros -- The Astros' top pitching prospect retired all six batters he faced against the Orioles, striking out three, including Luke Scott and Vladimir Guerrero. The 20-year old is expected to start the season at Triple-A Round Rock, but could make the Astros' choice for fifth starter difficult.

3 DOWN

1. Brad Bergesen and Kevin Gregg, Orioles -- Bergesen gave up three run on four hits and two walks, and only half of his 52 pitches went for strikes. In his last three starts, Bergesen's allowed 10 earned runs on 16 hits and five walks. He was "relieved" by Gregg, who got just one out, but gave up three hits and a walk, while giving up five runs, including a grand slam.

2. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- In the fifth inning of the Cubs' game against the Rockies, Soriano caught Esmil Rogers' sacrifice fly in shallow left field and unleashed a throw into the visitors' dugout, allowing another run to score. Soriano is under contract until 2014, so Cubs fans have four more years of his attempts at defense. But hey, he's owed just $72 million for those four years.

3. Wade LeBlanc, Padres -- The lefty gave up seven hits, six runs and a walk in five  innings against the Angels. Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Mark Trumbo homered off of him the fourth. Battling for the fifth spot in the team's rotation, LeBlanc has a 9.22 ERA this spring.

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 9:06 pm
 

Injuries muddle Jays' closer race

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Blue Jays went into camp with no shortage of closers with experience, but no real favorite.

Jon RauchTwo weeks into exhibition games, that apparently hasn't changed much.

"It's premature to say who's in that slot," manager John Farrell said (via MLB.com). "The main thing is guys that are taking the ball and getting on the mound are certainly putting themselves in a position to establish roles. So right now, we're not here to say who has that spot locked down."

That points toward Jon Rauch, left, because of injuries to Octavio Dotel and Frank Francisco, both scratched from their next scheduled outings because of injuries. Francisco, scheduled to pitch today against the Phillies, was out with a right pectoral injury and Dotel, expected to throw Wednesday and Saturday, has a sore left hamstring.

Rauch, signed two a one-year deal with a team option for 2012 in the offseason, had 21 saves for the Twins last season. Farrell also praised his recent performance, including a scoreless inning against the Phillies on Tuesday.

All three were acquired in the offsesason -- two signings and a trade -- after the team lost Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs to free agency.

Francisco is still expected to be ready for opening day, Farrell said.

"We feel like if we can get him three or four games [more] before we leave camp, he'll be fine," Farrell said. "He's not overtly concerned or overly alarmed. He feels this is a spring training aches and pains type thing that he's going through. The red flag is not up per se with Frankie."

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Wanted: Experienced closer, likes Texas heat

Neftali Feliz

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If Neftali Feliz is starting for the Rangers, it doesn't appear the close is in camp with the defending American League champions.

"I have confidence in Jon Daniels and our scouts," manager Ron Washington told reporters, including ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon on Tuesday. "If that's the case, I'm 100 percent sure they'll go out there and find somebody to close ballgames down for us."

If that's the case, the Rangers will be looking for their seventh different closer in the last seven seasons (defining "closer" as "dude with the most saves."). The last Ranger to lead the team in saves in back-to-back years was Francisco Cordero in 2004-05. Cordero has since been an All-Star for two different teams.

Alexi OgondoThe Rangers' internal candidates appear to be Mark Lowe and Alexi Ogando (right). Or the team could go with a closer-by-committee until the trade deadline, also using veteran lefties Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver along with Lowe and Ogando. Prospect Tanner Scheppers is another (remote) possibility. The Rangers traded Frank Francisco, their closer in 2009, to the Blue Jays in exchange for Mike Napoli in the offseason.

As for trade candidates, the team could go out now, or wait until the trade deadline when more candidates would be available.

Among those available could be the Padres Heath Bell, the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez and the Orioles' Michael Gonzalez. The Blue Jays have several experienced closers on their roster, including Francisco, Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.

If the team waits until the trade deadline, if the Mariners David Aardsma could be available, as well as Cordero, who could be supplanted by Aroldis Chapman (or Nick Masset). Others that could be available include Kevin Gregg, J.J. Putz and Brandon Lyon.

However, Washington did tell reporters in the same sitting that he felt confident enough with the rotation as it is and Feliz in the bullpen. It also appears, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson writes, that Washington would prefer to keep Feliz in the bullpen unless Daniels can get another closer.

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Posted on: February 21, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Report: Simon could be released from jail

Alfredo SimonAlfredo Simon could be released from a Dominican prison within the next week-to-10 days, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli writes.

Simon is expected to be cleared in the shooting death of his 25-year old cousin in the Dominican Republic in a New Year's celebration, Ghiroli writes, citing two sources. Authorities are reportedly investigating another suspect in the crime, which could help his case.

The Orioles placed Simon on the restricted list last week to make room for Vladimir Guerrero. He can remain on the list until he is able to rejoin the team, but is not paid and doesn't accrue service time. He could, however, be ready to join the team for spring training.

"We fully expect him to be back up -- and pitching very soon," one of his agents, Phil Isaac, told MLB.com.

Simon served as the Orioles' closer for a time last season, picking up 17 saves to go along with a 4-2 record and a 4.93 ERA in 49 games. He was replaced by Koji Uehara last season.

Since then, the Orioles added former Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg, as well David Riske and Jeremy Accardo to the bullpen. The team is long on relievers and it could be tough for Simon to break camp with the team -- although, compared to the future he was facing, a trip to Norfolk, Va., doesn't sound too bad right about now.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 3:05 pm
 

Report: Orioles get Gregg

Kevin Gregg
On a day when Orioles past and present are in the news being accused of murder and talking about failed steroid tests, there's a refreshing bit of actual baseball news coming out of Baltimore, as closer Kevin Gregg appears to have chosen it as his destination, according to FOXSports.com.

The Orioles offered Gregg a two-year deal worth between $8 million and $10 million about a month ago, and the former Blue Jay had reportedly been talking with the Red Sox and Nationals as well. The Orioles will be the fourth team in as many years for Gregg, who went 2-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 37 saves in 2010 for Toronto.

UPDATE: The Baltimore Sun reports that the deal is for two years at $10 million, with a vesting option for a third year. It is pending a physical.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: January 3, 2011 8:14 pm
 

Closer Gregg close to deciding on a team

Kevin Gregg Free agent reliever Kevin Gregg will make a decision this week, his agent, Danny Horwits, tells the Baltimore Sun 's Jeff Zrebiec .

The Orioles have offered Gregg a two-year deal worth between $8 million and $10 million. The Nationals have shown interest in Gregg earlier this offseason and so have the Red Sox.

The Orioles have reportedly been "close" to a deal with Gregg for the last month and seem to have the most interest in the former Blue Jay.

Last season in Toronto, Gregg was 2-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 37 saves. He's had 121 saves in the last four years with the Marlins, Cubs and Blue Jays. He struck out 58 batters in 59 innings last season, while walking 30.

From the Sun :
“We’ve been going back and forth with the teams that are left in the mix for the last couple of weeks,” Horwits said. “We’re received new counter offers, fine-tuned other offers. Now, we’re pretty much in the mode of Kevin is going to make a decision.”

Horwits declined to say what teams are involved, but all signs indicate that the Orioles are one of the finalists for Gregg’s services.

“You’d have to ask Andy, but both sides, as far as I’m concerned, still have interest [in one another],” Horwits said.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:39 am
 

Kimbrel could close for Braves in 2011

Craig Kimbrel The Braves will be looking internally for a closer to replace the retired Billy Wagner and 22-year old Craig Kimbrel tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he's ready to compete for the gig.

"There was never really a point last year where I didn't think I could do it," Kimbrel told the AJC 's Carroll Rogers. "I can't go on the mound and think 'I can't do it,' because then I'll be in a losing situation."

Kimbrel allowed just one earned run in 20 2/3 innings last season, striking out 40 batters and walking 16. He appeared in four postseason games, and allowed one hit and one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, while striking out seven. He pitches in the high-90s and has a nasty slider.

Braves manager Bobby Cox called him out to close Game 3 -- I was sitting in a press box dining room with a Braves scout who said he thought Kimbrel was the guy to close for the Braves in the future -- but the veteran manager didn't quite show that confidence in the rookie, who ultimately was charged with the loss.

WIth a 2-1 lead in the ninth, Kimbrel got Cody Ross to pop up to second baseman Brooks Conrad before pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa worked a walk. Kimbrel then struck out Andres Torres before Freddy Sanchez's grounder up the middle. WIth two on, Cox took out Kimbrel, bringing in lefty Michael Dunn to face Aubrey Huff, who singled in a run. Peter Moylan then came in to replace Dunn and Buster Posey hit it between the legs of Conrad, scoring Sanchez, for the second run charged to Kimbrel in the inning (unearned) and gave the Giants the lead.

Kimbrel says he's ready to compete in spring training and will be happy no matter his role -- just so he's in the big leagues.

"I'm looking at it like it doesn't matter what role I have, if I'm in the big leagues, I'm happy," Kimbrel said. "But if I just go out there and focus more on pitching well, good things will happen."

Left-hander Jonny Venters could also close. Venters was 4-4 with a save and a 1.95 ERA in 83 innings. He struck out 93 and walked 39, finishing eighth in Rookie of the Year voting. Like Kimbrel, he pitched in all four of the team's NLDS games, allowing seven hits but no runs in 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking none.

The Braves signed Scott Linebrink, who has seven saves in his 11 seasons in the big leagues, but has been a set-up man in the past and isn't coming off his best season in 2010, where he was 3-2 with a  4.40 ERA for the White Sox. Veteran lefty George Sherrill had 52 saves in 2008 and 2009, mostly as the closer for the Orioles, but is also coming off a bad year, with a 6.69 ERA in 36 1/3 innings for the Dodgers. He posted his worst strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.04) of his career, walking 24 batters and striking out 25.

There is, of course, still Rafael Soriano out there. The Braves' 2009 closer is coming off a season with 45 saves for the Tampa Bay Rays, but is likely out of Atlanta's budget. A cheaper free-agent option could be former Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 9:40 pm
 

Top 10 free agents remaining

Okay, so all the big names are off the board now, and quite a few solid names are gone as well.

Now teams are left to fight over the scraps, and how clubs go about filling their holes with the remaining names can have major implications on a season. There will be teams who are done spending and shopping for bargain-bin pickups, teams who have been jilted and can spread money around and more.

No more Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez may not be exciting, but there's still plenty more machinations ahead. The trade market may also start heating up now that teams can more clearly identify their holes or surplus players.

So who are the top 10 free agents left?

Gregg 10. Kevin Gregg

Gregg closed for Toronto in 2010 and surprisingly held his own in the AL East after years of being a miscast closer and flaming out of Chicago. He's still not a great option, but as someone willing to ink for just two years, Gregg's market may open up what with the crazy three-year pacts being handed out.

How about: The Orioles seem to be the top (only?) suitor for Gregg, so let's take the safe route here and tab Gregg to the O's. This would push Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to setup roles, and give the O's what suddenly looks like an intriguing top three in the bullpen that could do wonders for the young rotation's confidence in nailing down wins.

Fuentes 9. Brian Fuentes

Fuentes is another mediocre closer but as a left-hander with strikeout stuff, is in plenty of demand as both a setup man and closer. Fuentes is looking to max out the years on his contract but has a top team in the Red Sox chasing him, plus plenty of other clubs with the financial wherewithal to import Fuentes.

How about: The Yankees. New York has money to toss around and a need for a left-handed reliever. Fuentes ranks above Pedro Feliciano in the remaining market for lefties and Fuentes may be willing to pitch just in front of Mariano Rivera. He's likely too pricey for Colorado.

Hall 8. Bill Hall

Hall revitalized his career in Boston as a super-utilityman and rediscovered the pop he left behind mid-decade in Milwaukee. Another good season would really open up his career prospects. He's been closely linked to the Dodgers, but there's no shortage of teams that would want him as a backup. The club that can offer him the most playing time is likely the team that snags him.

How about: The Dodgers. L.A. has made a habit of collecting average players and hoping quantity beats out quality. Problem: they still haven't solved their left-field conundrum. Hall makes a lot of sense here as he can back up at multiple positions and serve as insurance in case they need to move him out from left field.

Thome 7. Jim Thome

Thome is 40 years old and still bashing home runs, cranking 25 in 340 plate appearances for the Twins. However, he looks to be squeezed out by the impending return of Justin Morneau and emergence of Delmon Young. As someone who will come on a one-year deal and a cheap base salary, any team with a hole at DH has to be interested.

How about: The Rays. The market for DHs is small, but Tampa Bay are one such team that could use Thome's thump and have a DH spot -- and no potential for losing the spot -- waiting for him. In addition, Thome could benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium and the moving in of the right-field fence in Boston.

Jenks 6. Bobby Jenks

Jenks has often had a tumultuous career in Chicago as Ozzie Guillen hs never been a fan. However, Jenks was actually better than Rafael Soriano in 2010. Jenks's xFIP was 2.62, while Soriano checked in at 2.81. Over the next three years, Soriano is certainly the better property, but the point is that Jenks has actually been a better pitcher these last few years than given credit for.

How about: The Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay is slashing payroll, but they still have some room to spend dollars. They have an empty bullpen, putting them in position to pick and choose from any remaining reliever out there and handing them the closer's job. Jenks, however, is the only one who would likely accept a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again after the year. Tampa won't complain about that. (The Jays were the original pick here, but a Hardball Talk report that has Jenks and Tampa Bay close to an agreement changed that.)

Lee 5. Derrek Lee

Lee started the year hobbled by a thumb injury, and Aramis Ramirez's own struggles compounded the issue for the Cubs. Lee bounced back in the second half and showed he wasn't cooked with the Braves. However, his stock is down enough that a one-year deal could work in his best interest -- and teams would be only too happy to oblige.

How about: The Padres. Lee is a Northern California boy, and is the best first baseman remaining on the market. The Orioles seem focused on Adam LaRoche, and the Nats are talking to LaRoche as well, but Lee should provide the bigger bang for the buck in 2011. The Padres desperately need a first baseman and could make the case to Lee that they are better positioned to win in 2011 than either the Nats or O's.

Ordonez 4. Magglio Ordonez

Looking past how much Ordonez was overpaid the last few seasons, you see an outfielder still capable of hitting with the stick. His agent, Scott Boras, is currently being unreasonable in salary demands but since when is that news? Of the outfielders left on the market, Mags is the best bet of all to produce in 2011.

How about: The Tigers. Detroit still needs a bat, and that outfield as comprised (Ryan Raburn-Austin Jackson-Brennan Boesch) does not look pretty. There's motivation on both sides to get a deal done.

Pavano 3. Carl Pavano

Pavano is a quality starter, there's no doubt about that. He can soak up innings and function as a solid No. 3 in any rotation, but he seems to be benefiting from a positive groundswell of support as there's not much differentiating him from Joe Blanton. He's understandably trying to capitalize on a market run amok, but Pavano's injury history and advanced age is working against him here.

How about: The Twins. Minnesota wants Pavano back and Pavano wants back in the Twin Cities. It's possible that Pavano, seeking a three-year, $30 million contract, could leave money on the table to do so.

Soriano 2. Rafael Soriano

Soriano is a lights out reliever but seems to be suffering from a curious lack of interest. Yes, his pedigree as a closer is one reason for that as teams are balking at four years and a high salary. One might think teams are learning their lesson when it comes to overpaying for relievers, but unfortunately it appears that teams are only getting smarter when it comes to paying closers, not relievers as evidenced by the ridiculous three-year deals handed out to relievers. But riddle me this: if someone like Matt Guerrier can get three years, how can Soriano not demand four?

How about: The Rangers. Texas is scrambling to find a pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Pavano's a possibility, but how well can he play in that park? It may be better to go for the quality arm in Soriano and convert Neftali Feliz to a starter.

Beltre 1. Adrian Beltre

The best player left on the market, Beltre can pick it with the best of them and enjoyed a strong season at the plate. There's enough question marks about Beltre's offense that he's going to have to move significantly off his salary demands unless he phones Oakland and asks for the five-year, $65 million deal to be put back on the table.

How about: The Angels. It makes too much sense for the Angels to sign Beltre. They have a gaping hole at third and missed out on Crawford. Beltre, meanwhile, has seen his suitors dwindle as the market hasn't broke in his favor. This is a match for both sides that is too obvious. Then again, the Crawford-Angels match was obvious as well. As long as Los Angeles continues to negotiate as if there are no other teams involved, they will continue to miss out. The Halos could stand to be more aggressive.

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com