The release of Orioles pitcher Kevin Gregg yesterday was actually rather anti-climatic and much less commented upon than I might have expected. The favorite whipping boy of Orioles fans saw his DFA come at last, and to my surprise, I find myself a bit sad over the whole affair.
Certainly a poor acquisition by Andy MacPhail, the Orioles were stuck with a guy who massively underperformed for the investment made (10 million over 2 years). As writers go, I am less critical of MacPhail than most, but this signing always confused me, even from the start. The numbers simply did not support the contract, and optimistic hopes reigned supreme that a new and different handling of his consecutive days pitched, etc. would yield a better than average closer.
But it did not take long to realize that the Birds were stuck with another in a line of command-challenged relievers in the mode of Jorge Julio (and to a lesser extent even George Sherrill) … guys who liked to walk the bases loaded just to see if they could get out of the jam and provide some excitement. It drove me crazy to watch, and as much as I tried, I could never get to the point of working up a smile at the title “Captain Chaos.”
A reason I could not ratchet up the smile is Gregg’s 1.64 WHIP with the Birds! He lost the closer job last year after converting only 22 of 29 – and many of the 22 being very painful. This year his role has never been very clearly defined beyond pitching either dumb-dumb innings when the game was out of reach in one direction or another, or pitching in desperate situations when there was nobody else to turn to (like the famous Boston game won by Chris Davis). In those latter situations he actually pitched well … as he did in a majority of situations this year. To be fair, many of his elevated numbers in 2012 have come from a handful of games that exploded on him – likely exacerbated by his stretches of inactivity.
The low point for Kevin Gregg with the Orioles was probably being booed at his introduction on opening day. The high point was likely the respect he received for standing up to David Ortiz in an altercation last season. If I asked you the question as to who is the bigger dude – Big Papi or Captain Chaos, I suspect almost everyone would say Ortiz. In fact, at 6’6” Kevin Gregg is two inches taller and only five pounds less.
Showalter has said that the situation of Gregg’s DFA will hopefully work out best for the 34 year-old Oregon native. He can hopefully get picked up by a team where he’ll be able to pitch more regularly and be able to sign on with someone for next year.
Showalter has commented further on numerous occasions that Gregg was an asset in the clubhouse. I certainly don’t know; he never appeared to be a very jolly fellow to me. Yet, all things considered in terms of the criticisms and difficulties endured over these two years, Gregg did appear to handle it reasonably well. He could have been bitter and angry and vindictive, but never appeared to be excessively so. Without doubt I was among his harshest critics – writing one time that he was not merely a captain of chaos, but rather a five star general. And so, though I’m pleased to see him gone, I can honestly say I’d be pleased to see him have some redeeming success elsewhere.