In the Dominican, the Orioles 2010 team leader in saves Alfredo Simon sits in a cell, uncertain of his future while a legal team hired by Miguel Tejada works feverishly to get this kid out of jail time and back onto the pitcher’s mound.
In Baltimore, the Orioles and Kevin Gregg came to terms on a two-year, $10 million dollar contract that will cleanse their conscience of any Simon-baseball related issues.
Gregg and the Orioles had been discussing contracts since way before Christmas with the talks coming to a relative halt as the New Year approached. No coincidence that with the heartbreaking news out of the Dominican that Gregg is now an Oriole pending physical.
As a member of the division rival Toronto Blue Jays, Gregg collected 37 saves in 43 opportunities; an 86% success rate. Over his seven full seasons of work in the Majors, Gregg has saved 122 games with an 81% success rate.
With the addition of Gregg, the Orioles now have him, Koji Uehara, Mike Gonzalez, Jim Johnson and maybe Alfredo Simon who have experience closing out games.
Ultimately, how Kevin Gregg is used in the 2011 season is up to three things:
1 – His Spring: Let’s face it. If the guy puts in one hell of a spring, and puts himself ahead of guys like Gonzalez and Koji; he will be the closer.
2 – Buck Showalter: If all these guys perform near the median during Spring Training, he’s going to need to make his decision. Does he want Gregg in the 8th and Koji in the 9th? The man knows baseball. He turned the team around late last season, he knows how to handle the club.
3 – The Situations: Injuries always seem to plague the Orioles. Guys will be going down left and right. Another situation is the fact that Koji struggles in warm weather. Will Gregg be the hot-weather closer? The biggest situation is the one happening down in the Dominican.
At this point, it is extremely hard to tell what Buck is going to do with all the guys, namely Gregg, in the bullpen. Gregg closed out a high number of games pitching in the same division last season, a resume that no one else can boast in Baltimore; he has to be the front runner.
This post was written by Tim Anderson, you can follow Tim on Twitter @sportsnickelTim.