Gregg a waste of money for Jays

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Sometimes a team just wants a proven closer. It doesn’t matter if he’s any good or not; it’s just the safe play. If the proven closer fails, then it’s his fault. If the unproven closer fails, it’s management’s fault.
The 2010 Blue Jays, a team destined to finish in fourth or fifth place, now have their proven closer in Kevin Gregg. The $2.75 million guarantee is hardly so excessive as to make it one of the worst deals of the winter. In fact, it’s a little less than I thought he’d get. Still, it’s hard to see how he’s worth it when Guillermo Mota was forced to settle for a minor league deal the very same week.
Gregg, too, likely would have had to settle for a minor league contract this winter if not for the stroke of good fortune that landed him in Florida in 2007. After three years of pitching in obscurity in Anaheim, he quickly took over as the Marlins’ closer and saved 32 games in 36 chances. He was solid again in the first half of 2008, but knee problems took a toll and he ended up blowing nine saves in 38 chances before losing his closing job at the end of the year. Traded to the Cubs, he was handed the closer’s role over Carlos Marmol last spring, but he turned in a dreadful season. He blew seven saves in 30 chances, gave up 13 homers and finished with a 4.72 ERA in 68 2/3 innings.
In all, Gregg has a 4.03 ERA in 335 career relief appearances, about half of which came in the NL. The man he’s expected to supplant as Toronto’s closer, Jason Frasor, has a 3.78 ERA in 342 appearances, all of them coming as a Blue Jay. Going strictly by ERA, he’s had two seasons better than Gregg’s best and none as poor as Gregg’s worst.
Frasor, though, isn’t a favorite of Jays manager Cito Gaston’s. So, he’s set to return to a setup role, barring a trade.
It’s my opinion that Scott Downs, Frasor, Jeremy Accardo and Josh Roenicke are all better bets than Gregg for 2010. Casey Janssen might be as well, but he’ll have to show he’s healthy. The Jays also have Brian Tallet, Jesse Carlson and Shawn Camp coming back, though Tallet may begin the year in the rotation. There won’t be room for all of them, so either Downs or Frasor could be traded and Roenicke might return to Triple-A.
Perhaps that will work out if Downs or Frasor could bring back a talented young outfielder capable of stepping in right away. Still, the Jays could have gone that route with or without Gregg. Their $2.75 million was better utilized elsewhere.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.