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Jason Grilli traded!

The Tigers have dealt Jason Grilli to the Colorado Rockies for Zach Simons. This frees a spot for the activation of Francisco Cruceta who will join the team tomorrow.

I’m surprised on a number of levels.

  1. That the Tigers would part with a pitcher given the woes of the starting rotation. The starters aren’t going deep and have generally been unreliable. Meaning the Tigers could use extra options as spot starters (like Zach Miner) and the Tigers have leaned heavily on their long men.
  2. That they’d make the move without Cruceta available to join the team considering Bonderman has walked 13 in his last 2 starts. They might need that arm tonight.
  3. That Grilli would be trade-able at any point in the season.
  4. That Zach Miner wasn’t optioned to Toledo. I think Miner can be effective but the guy has given up runs in 5 of his 10 outings this year. He’s been good in 3 of the last 4 appearances, but still…Grilli has been more effective this year and has pitched 11.1 scoreless innings since some early season rockiness. The longest scoreless streak for a reliever this year is 13.1 IP just as an aside.

As for Simons, he’s a 23 year old right hander in High A ball. He was transitioned to the bullpen last year and bumped up his strike out rate to nearly one per inning. He does struggle some with control with a walk almost every other inning.
Beck’s Blog: Cruceta to join Tigers, Grilli traded

Posted by on April 30, 2008.

Categories: 2008 Season, Trades

44 Responses

  1. FREE AT LAST THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, FREE AT LAST.

    we now return to your non all cap programming already in progress

    by stephen on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm

  2. I’ve been waiting for this for so long. Why do I feel so hollow? I guess cuz he’s been pitching better lately. Hardly irreplaceable, though. If there is anything to like about this Simmons fella, I guess it would have to be a good trade. So they still think something good can come out of Miner, huh? I still like Miner, but I really didn’t think the organization did.

    by Ryan on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:10 pm

  3. Our long, local nightmare is over!

    Honestly, I’m glad Jason went out on a positive note with a string of strong outings. This is definitely a confidence vote for Zach Miner.

    Billfer – #3 made me LOL!

    by Tbone on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:15 pm

  4. well, i’ll be the guy who says i’m sorry to see grilli go. yes, he did have some horrendous outings over the past two years however for the most part he pitched well, good era AND he ate lots of innings. simons isn’t in the rockies top twenty or so prospects.

    by charlie on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:21 pm

  5. I, for one (and probably the only one if the above comments are any indication), am disappointed to see Grilli go.

    He has been a solid bullpen contributor the past 3 years. Since coming to Detroit he has posted ERA+s of 127, 108, 96 (even in 2007, he posted a very good 3.70 ERA post-May) & 130. As a manager, if I could get a long relief type pitcher that can deliver 60-80 IP at a league average or slightly better level, I would jump on the chance.

    Once again, I don’t quite get all the Grilli-hate.

    by strummer on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:29 pm

  6. Heh, well at least charlie is with me.

    by strummer on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:30 pm

  7. First response: YESITSABOUTTIMETHANKGODWHEREHASTHISBEENFORTHELASTTWOYEARS.

    Second response (about five minutes later):

    Shoot. He’s had a decent ERA this season (3.29) in 9 appearances. It seems like he could’ve eaten some more innings for us and constantly given us heartburn like Jones does.

    Third response:

    JASON GRILLI IS FINALLY GONE?!?!?!

    by Dean on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm

  8. Grilli’s talents are expendable with a staff that has Miner and more importantly Lopez. Long relievers aren’t exactly hard to come by, and having a good late inning guy is probably more important. Plus, there are already 2 guys that for sure can go several innings on the staff. Grilli was redundant. Miner has a higher ceiling. Lopez is pitching too well to let go. No brainer, no matter what you get back.

    by Eric Cioe on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:57 pm

  9. I’m stunned. I always liked Grilli much more than Neifi Perez. In fact, I have never disliked anyone as much as Neifi Perez(though Jacque Jones is trying my patience.)

    by Tony P on Apr 30, 2008 at 6:58 pm

  10. I have mixed feelings about this. For a couple years now, other than watching Guillen field, one of the most disconcerting things a Tiger fan has had to endure has been watching Grilli trot in from the bullpen in key situations. He had stretches where he was effective, but they were few and far between, or came in mop up duty. He just singlehandedly took them out of too many games. Part of that fault should be on Leyland. When he was struggling so bad for so long, I don’t think it was a good idea to throw so many ball games away just to prove you have confidence in him(which is what Leyland was trying to do I think…show confidence in him).

    Anyway, Grilli recently came into a game when it was still close, and for the first time ever, I didn’t FEEL like the game was over simply because Grilli was in the game. That had never happened before. In fact, I felt relatively confident that he’d get the job done. It seems like he’s turned a corner recently.

    With his new found effectiveness, I was actually hoping that he might get stretched out to see what he might do as a spot starter.

    The funny thing is, his stuff never looked that easy to hit. His stuff actually looked decent and he’s got good velocity. I never understood the long stretches where hitters had their way with him. Plus, with so many egos in today’s game, he always seemed like a classy guy, a guy you want to do well.

    I too, had assumed Miner was going to the Minors, so it is a small surprise given how much Leyland loved him.

    I wonder if this was a salary dump? Anyone know how much Grilli made? I would think it would be a lot more than Cruceta given Grilli’s service time.

    I wish Grilli well in Colorado and I’m looking forward to seeing Cruceta.

    by greg on Apr 30, 2008 at 7:04 pm

  11. Bye-bye Grilli!!!

    by JML on Apr 30, 2008 at 7:11 pm

  12. Comerica crowds, you won’t have Grilli to kick around any more, because, ladies and gentlemen, that was his last homestand.

    I don’t like a team that has little bullpen depth trading away relievers — especially considering the success Grilli has in stretches — and the timing is just bizarre. If someone had to go, however, he was likely the best choice.

    by Dave BW on Apr 30, 2008 at 7:48 pm

  13. The timing is rather odd. Plus, it seems like a funny kind of deal, since we didn’t get anybody immediately usable. And this Simon guy has control issues (great!). I guess DD must be taking a gamble that we have enough serviceable pitching available in the minors right now. On the other hand, I seem to recall that Cruceta is out of options, which means he has to be put on the staff or we are sure to lose him, so that probably had a lot to do with making a deal. Hopefully he can cut it and be a successful surprise. Miner has an option remaining (yes?), so there is some flexibility there. But when we do we say enough is enough with Bautista? And just for the record, while I am ranting, I am not a big Joke Jones fan either.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:08 pm

  14. Mr. Grilli used to be completely in love with his fastball. He was getting bombed because the hitters knew what they were going to get. Once he started throwing his slider more often, as he has this year, he started getting people out. I thought Miner would go, but I don’t have any problem with it. I am anxious to see Cruceta pitch.

    by K-man on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:13 pm

  15. Grilli was making a hair above the league minimum. Definitely not a salary dump. In fact, I think Cruceta makes about 100k more.

    by billfer on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:16 pm

  16. When Grilli came into the 9th inning with a 13 run lead against the Rangers, a Grilli trade crossed my mind for a split second. But like most others, I dismissed it as not a real possibility. Perhaps improving his stats was the objective of the more recent late inning assignments.

    by Brian P on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:23 pm

  17. I am not surprised that Grilli was traded, but I thought that the timing was odd. I wonder if the Tigers brass think that trading Grilli now was better (while he has been playing better of late) before any trade potential was gone. That is, they felt that this trade was the better than what they could get later.

    by Noli on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:30 pm

  18. Well I’m glad Grilli is finally out of here but now who will be our scape goat?

    by Mike S. on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:38 pm

  19. Two excellent uses of historical quotations from the political arena in the first three comments. Good work, boys.

    by Kyle J on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:39 pm

  20. Just imagine some of the horrendous numbers Grilli can put up in the thin air in Colorado. Oh baby, that could be fun to watch (now that it would for another team).

    Jason was a good innings-eater, but he could not be counted on in any pressure situation. If used right, he could be a serviceable arm out of the pen.

    Getting a 23-year old in high A-ball doesn’t strike me as a steal, and I glanced at his stats — about a hit per inning, pretty subpar bb:k ratio, and a flyball pitcher. A K per inning average is good, though.

    I guess this trade doesn’t make a ton of sense to me from a personnel point of view. They are trading a groundball pitcher who is capable of getting big league hitters out, for a guy (old for his level) that looks like a longshot to make the bigs. As billfer points out, salary wasn’t the issue and they are making room for Cruceta, but with Miner having an option left (and pitching at least as bad as Grilli), I don’t see this as as move that had to be made.

    Plus it will reduce the comedic material around here by at least 30%

    by Mark in Chicago on Apr 30, 2008 at 8:43 pm

  21. Wow.

    Deep down, I kinda thought Grilli would never be traded, so this comes as a surprise to me. I know his numbers weren’t good (okay, they were bad), but for some reason or other the organization seemed content to hold on to him. This year he’s been better, but I guess it wasn’t enough to save him a spot in the bullpen.

    I won’t miss his ERA, but I’ll never forget how every time I went to the ball park, Grilli could be seen moving up and down the left field line signing autographs. Every single time. Tirelessly, Grilli would sign autographs until he absolutely had to leave, frequently moving backwards for people who arrived late. He didn’t just sign, though; he would answer questions and chat (not in a creepy way), especially with little kids who didn’t have any idea what an ERA is and were just thrilled to meet someone who plays baseball for a living. Maybe that’s what you have to do if you get booed most of the time, but to me it seemed like he was going above and beyond.

    As mentioned by other people, Grilli’s personality was admirable too. He always seemed very honest and down-to-earth, and whenever they showed the bullpen he seemed to be intently watching the game or doing something of value, rather than staring off into space or goofing off.

    With his numbers, Grilli maybe didn’t fit in as well with the Tigers, but I’ll miss him.

    And (also mentioned by others) I think the Tigers will miss his innings.

    by Angie on Apr 30, 2008 at 9:21 pm

  22. Jason Grilli since July 7th, 2007:

    55.0 IP, 47 H, 23 BB, 42 K, 21 ER, 31 Inherited Runners, 11 IR scored (35.5%), 2 HR’S, 1.27 WHIP.

    He’s been pretty decent for the last while out of the pen.

    by Mike R on Apr 30, 2008 at 10:06 pm

  23. …and just when I was convinced that this had been a crappy day.

    Best of luck, Colorado.

    FWIW, Mr. Grilli handled himself with the utmost class and professionalism. I will miss that – and only that – about him.

    by Bobby on Apr 30, 2008 at 10:11 pm

  24. I really wish Jason well… I think he’s a good man, a classy pro, and still has talent to develop. But his numbers do hide the fact that he doesn’t handle pressure well. That’s the key skill he needs to learn. His numbers on inherited runners aren’t nearly as impressive as his surprisingly low ERA. That’s been his achilles heel.

    The reason Leyland and Dombrowski kept giving him chances was that his “stuff” is actually pretty darned good. But under stress, he make some bad choices with pitch selection and location, and clearly there were some psychological blocks there… and look at the home/away ERA differential. Maybe a change of scenery and a fresh start will serve him well.

    This wasn’t personal — The Tigers actually have a logjam in the bullpen because so many of those guys have made such a strong argument to play in the bigs. The Tigers need to make room for Cruceta and soon Willis as well… So you need to find 2 spots. Only Miner can be optioned to Toledo (which I expect to happen when Willis comes back). Given the prospect of having to run Grilli through wavers, or eat his salary by giving him a release, trading him not only takes his salary off the Tiger’s books, but it gives them an arm who just might contribute something down the road.

    That’s the key — consider the alternatives. The only thing that really surprises me is that someone was willing to deal for Grilli. I thought he was untradeable, but really, this deal makes sense to me. Something’s better than nothing.

    by scotsw on Apr 30, 2008 at 10:13 pm

  25. One rebuttal to your point 4, Bilfer:

    Grilli has not been in anything close to a stressful situation since April 11th, when he had his first decent outing (which was ironically saved on a diving stop by Cabrera at third – yes, “Mr. Crappy Defense Cabrera” – after he’d already walked the bases loaded. He settled down thereafter and pitched 2 more decent innings).

    4 of his last 5 outing were in games with more than a 4-run differential and the other was a loss.

    It’s the same pattern as last year, when his stats started to “improve” late in the year, as he was no longer used in stressful situations once Seay and Byrdak emerged.

    Quite simply, Grilli is and always was the definition of a mop up guy. Nothing more. He’s always done well when the game was not in doubt and he’s always been horrific when the game was on the line.

    My guess, is that the Tigers made up their minds already that he was going to be the guy to go and they put him in low-risk roles to “showcase” him in an effort to get something – anything – rather than try to get him through waivers and lose him for nothing. They had discussed a trade with Rockies for him in the past, if memory serves.

    As for Miner, he’s not been good this year, but at least he has a track record of some success. He had a very good year last year, which to me, is more meaningful than his 4 poor outings to start the year.

    by rings on Apr 30, 2008 at 10:25 pm

  26. Agreed on all points, rings.

    by scotsw on May 1, 2008 at 12:07 am

  27. Grilli and Miner have both been passed by Lopez and Bautista. Cruceta has done well at Toledo. They have put up with a lot of nonsense to get him to Detroit. I would guess he is probably ahead of Miner on the depth chart as well.

    Miner is way younger than Grilli and still has considerable upside. But he will be the next one to go down. Why burn his last option if someone will give you something for Grilli instead? Simons was a 2nd round pick so he must have some talent. He hasn’t done much with it.

    I haven’t been able to see Rapada throw much. Is he good or just lucky?

    I am impressed that they seem to have weathered the slow start and put together a decent bullpen in the process. And they have scraped the bullpen together rather than go out and pay premium money or give up players. I’m worried about the rotation. And Todd Jones. But Jones has worried me for 10 years or so. Maybe he can do it one more year.

    I didn’t see Grilli going back to the rotation. Or Miner either; if that was a possibility I would have expected to have seen it already. But they went with Galarraga instead even though he almost no track record. They still have Vasquez, although he’s lousy right now. Bazardo would likely be the next starter after Vasquez. A shocker that he got through waivers when everybody knew about his father’s death. He could do a fine Carlos Silva impersonation for 5 years. I would rather have him than Grilli.

    by Tim D on May 1, 2008 at 2:20 am

  28. Tim,

    Rapada has been good, not just lucky. I’m sure he’ll allow more hits and maybe even walk a guy once he gets more time, but when he gets behind in the count he doesn’t nibble and doesn’t seem to be afraid to get hit. It’s like the Todd Jones way of pitching – average (at best) stuff, but I’m going to throw strikes and make you beat me. Combine that with his low arm slot and two different deliveries that he uses without a pattern, and you’ve got yourself pretty much the perfect lefty specialist. The good news is that he isn’t totally ineffective against righties, either, just like Seay. Two guys who are really tough on lefties and acceptable against righties is a nice luxury to have in the bullpen, I think, and I can’t really see either of them going anywhere anytime soon, especially in a division that includes Mauer, Morneau, Thome, Hafner, and Sizemore, and when probable post-season opponents include Ortiz, Abreu, Matsui, Giambi, and Ellsbury.

    by Eric Cioe on May 1, 2008 at 2:41 am

  29. anyone see the gem that Jurrjens spun yesterday? I watched a little of it, he would easily make the rotation this year, he throws strikes. We better win the WS this year or next and Renteria better be the MVP. And I am not a big 2nd guesser, I just think we may have made that trade to appease Guillen and his move to 1st, er, 3rd.

    by David G. on May 1, 2008 at 9:09 am

  30. David G.,

    I suspect that, if the Cabrera/Willis trade had gone down first, the Tigers never pull the trigger on Renteria and keep Jurrjens, looking elsewhere for SS (Inge? Santiago?) And in that case, probably Nate Robertson is pitching somewhere else this year. Just my hunches.

    I think we all knew Jurrjens was going to be a quality starter somewhere — he showed us a lot. But you gotta have a shortstop. I think you have to view the Guillen move as a necessity. You have to preserve his health, and you just have to keep that bat in the lineup.

    by scotsw on May 1, 2008 at 9:56 am

  31. I suppose. But it’s frustrating just watching him pound the strike zone yesterday. If Gorkys’ turns into Damon I will be naseous and forbid this organization from every trading with the Braves again.

    by David G. on May 1, 2008 at 10:01 am

  32. I can understand the Jason Grilli part of the trade, just not the Zach Simons part. Anyone with any insight into what the Tigers see in him, please speak up. Maybe it was just a case of the Tigers “placing him” for his sake, knowing that he had to go and not making it contingent on any significant return.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on May 1, 2008 at 10:08 am

  33. Cue Handel’s Messiah

    Also, Zumaya and Rodney are going to return at some time, perhaps DD wanted to move Grilli while his value was high, and before everyone knew he had to do something. Miner has not been given a get out of jail free card, just a stay of execution.

    If the guy we got never makes it to the majors it also means he never blew up a close game. (score 1 for the new guy)

    by Dave T. on May 1, 2008 at 10:30 am

  34. Sean,

    I know absolutely nothing about Zach Simmons. But, just shooting from the hip, in general, in cases like this, a scout has seen them and says, ‘I can fix them, if we just do this, or tweak that, we’ll turn him into ‘fill in the blank’.

    by greg on May 1, 2008 at 10:32 am

  35. The Jair Jurrjens trade is and always will be suspect. If Renteria is AL MVP and the World Series MVP, we may have a wash. Anything short of that and Tiger fans will be lamenting this one for a long time.

    Nothing against Renteria — he is a quality player and a clutch hitter — it has to do with Renteria’s age, his deteriorating range, and what we receieved for what we gave (don’t forget about Gorky). Renteria is an old player on an old team. JJ is at the beginning of his career (a very promising career).

    I love JJ — he spun a gem or two last year out of nowhere, and then was knocked around a couple times, which to me just meant he needed some experience and maturity, nothing more.

    The counter argument is that JJ and Gorky were not proven players, but if I were a talented scout, I’d be pushing that line, too. JJ is the real deal. The bottom line there is, we gave up too much for Renteria. Let’s just hope Renteria will produce to lessen the pain.

    On the games:

    The Tigers have put together a nice stretch as far as the win vs. loss column is concerned. Nothing to complain about there. There are still some very troubling issues, however.

    Driving in RISP: not so good. Way too many men left in scoring position — especially less than 2 outs. This problem has been overshawdowed the last couple games by the allure of the long ball. Bottom line, it needs to improve if this team is gonna contend.

    Control/composure: not so good. Bonderman was extremely lucky to escape the 1st with only two runs scored — as was Kenny Rogers the night before. Last night the score could have easily been 6-0 after that inning. Bonderman recovered (in part because the Tigers immediately answered) but I’d wage to say the innings would have unfolded differently for him if he didn’t squeeze out of that first inning as unscathed as he did. Ditto for Rogers the night before. The starting pitchers need to step up, throw strikes and challenge the hitters. Let’s not let back to back quality starts (coupled with some very lucky breaks) overshawdow a serious need to improve in the starting pitching dept.

    by T Smith on May 1, 2008 at 10:36 am

  36. Greg -

    That sounds about right. I guess he doesn’t have fit into any particular plan, being a pitcher.

    Has a deal like this turned out particularly well for the Tigers in recent years? As in a “sleeper” that came out of a seemingly inconsequential deal. Well, Galarraga comes to mind, of course.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on May 1, 2008 at 10:42 am

  37. The Jair Jurrjens trade is and always will be suspect.

    T Smith – The trade was sensible at the time and remains sensible. It could turn out to be regrettable, but that’s another matter. The Tigers, evidently, wanted to replace Guillen with another shortstop who could hit. They could have gone in another direction. We could be complaining now about having Santiago at SS and how poorly Jurrjens was filling in for Willis. I don’t know that the Tigers could have gotten another quality SS, whether glove or bat, and given up any less than they did to the Braves.

    Renteria has been good so far, and Jurrjens doing well in the NL doesn’t hurt the Tigers too much. Except that he could be in the AL beating the White Sox and Indians instead, maybe.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on May 1, 2008 at 11:05 am

  38. Grilli’s trade value is pretty low, middle relievers who can only mop up are a dime a dozen. So to get anything for him, even a 23-year old in high A-ball, is an accomplishment.

    Who knows? Dombrowski has made some shrewd deals in the past, landing guys like Guillen, Bautista and Bazardo for spare parts. Maybe the organization sees something in this kid that intrigues them.

    by Mark in Chicago on May 1, 2008 at 11:30 am

  39. Rings nailed it. Completely.

    Grilli’s quasi sexy numbers were dervived at via mop-up work. He finished relatively strong last year, but in close games this year he only managed to pitch himself into mop up duty designed to clean up his stat sheet and make him attractive on the trade market.

    Yet another fantastic job by DD. He received actual value out of a player who in most other instances would have been released at no compensation to the home club.

    I have said it before, many times: Dave Dombrowski. The Anti-Millen.

    by ez on May 1, 2008 at 11:32 am

  40. **The Tigers, evidently, wanted to replace Guillen with another shortstop who could hit. They could have gone in another direction**

    If you’re implying the Renteria trade is better than, say, something like a Jack Wilson deal, however spun — or moving Santiago to the everyday SS, I couldn’t agree more. I like Renteria and think we all will be very happy with his production. How long we will be happy with him is another thing. One year, two years maybe? Who knows.

    I also agree that we probably couldn’t have made a deal for Renteria for anything less, given our needs. But that also doesn’t make the deal less lopsided. Per the laws of supply and demand, we’ll all pay $4.50, even $5.00 per gallon for gasoline, when it comes right down to it — if we really need to get somewhere. In this case, that better be Comeria Park on October 22.

    by T Smith on May 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm

  41. In this case, that better be Comeria Park on October 22.

    Good point, couldn’t agree more. Every move the Tigers made (in the offseason) and make will be judged by that standard. Isn’t it great to be a Tiger fan in this age of Win Now?

    Still, Jurrjens’s performance with the Braves won’t influence my expectations of Renteria. Looks like win-win, and if it comes to Jurrjens pitching to Renteria in October, I like our chances.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on May 1, 2008 at 12:44 pm

  42. Leyland said:

    “…you may not have heard yet, but the Tigers just traded their favorite whipping boy to the Rockies. There is now a vacuum in universe that need be filled, and right now you’re auditioning for the job…”

    by T Smith on May 1, 2008 at 12:55 pm

  43. Jurrjens head up for Edgar “good for maybe two years” Renteria….reminds me of the worst trade in Baseball history: John Smoltz for Doyle “Mr. September” Alexander in ’87. Yes, the Braves got the best of that one as well.

    by Robert on May 1, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  44. Everything that has been said about this has already been said. But I am so relieved. I am normally a stat guy and I understand for the Grilli apologists who present his ERA as an argument for his durability in middle relief. But as someone who was in attendance at game 4 of the 2006 ALCS and watched Grilli walk the bases loaded . . . things just got way too personal. Also it seems like he let score so many inherited runners that his ERA could have been much worse.

    I wonder how his WHIP ranks among other middle relieves over the last 2 years?

    by Pat in Carolina on May 1, 2008 at 4:03 pm

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