Thursday, May 1, 2008

Addition By Subtraction

The business side of baseball is often very interesting. An example of this took place yesterday with the Detroit Tigers' trade of Jason Grilli (pictured here) to the Colorado Rockies for a chap, Zachary Simons, who played for their Modesto farm team. Simons will report to Class "A" Lakeland where he will be a Flying Tiger. In Modesto he played for the "Nuts." That's correct, he was a Nut. And, yes, their fans cheer, "GO NUTS!" Zach, things are lookin' up, buddy.

These are the interesting, albeit minor, transactions in the game. The big deals (and nobody made a bigger one this off season than Detroit's blockbuster with Florida) get the attention but these small player transactions are interesting for a different reason. They aren't payroll or even performance (up to a point) driven, they're roster driven. Detroit needed to make room for Francisco Cruceta on the 25 man roster. So, a relief pitcher had to go. Many observers guessed it would be Zach Miner heading down to the Mud Hens since he still had an option left. Clay Rapada would have been a guess to go down too except for the simple fact that he's pitching his @$$ off. Grilli was the odd man out and trading him for a minor leaguer gives the Tigers roster flexibility. But there's more movement on the horizon. Dontrelle Willis will likely come off the DL in the next week and at some point Rodney and Zumaya will come back from the DL. That's a starter and 2 relievers needing roster spots currently held by.........? That's the question. Another twist is the rehab of Vance Wilson. If he comes back this year as the backup catcher an everyday player will have to be moved down or another trade will be made. My guess is that there will be as many as a half dozen changes to the 25 man roster (aside from DL stays) between now and the end of the season. Some could be very interesting trades by Dealer Dave.

As for the Rockies' new pitcher, Grilli made 120 appearances for the Tigers since coming up from the 'Hens. He went 8-8 with a 4.31 ERA whilst a Tiger. Not bad. But he was not a fan favorite. He tended to perform better last year on the road than at home. He blew up badly in some key, memorable situations too. But, I thought he was a victim of a circumstance last season. His role was supposed to be long relief. He is capable of giving a team 3-4 solid innings when a starter gets knocked out early. Every team needs that. But last year, with Rodney and Zumaya injured, instead of pitching innings 3,4,5 or 6 he often found himself pitching in the 7th and 8th. Now a fan can say, "hey--he's paid to pitch, what difference does it make..." and that's true. But, it takes a different makeup to pitch in those late inning slots. By being played "out of position" Jason's weaknesses were exposed. We wish him well in Denver-- Coors Field is one of our favorite ballparks-- and we welcome the new Tigers reliever Francisco Cruceta. Oh, and, GO NUTS!