Sorting out Grilli trade
PITTSBURGH – Jason Grilli is a big fan of social media, so he’s probably aware of all the bad things being said about him.
Grilli was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend, and people have been piling on since he left PNC Park.
Examples? He wasn’t liked by teammates. He was a self-promoter. He wasn’t much of a pitcher any more. He spent too much time signing copies of his autobiography.
And on and on, as endless as a Sunday night Yankees-Red Sox game.
The Pirates made a trade that makes sense for them, dealing their problem reliever for the Los Angeles Angels’ problem reliever.
Both pitchers had been removed from the closer spot this season.
Grilli is 37, and his contract is up after this season. He wasn’t coming back in 2015. So when the chance came to deal him, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington jumped at it.
Ernesto Frieri is no sure thing. He throws hard, but he wasn’t fooling anybody in the American League. He was getting torched for home runs at a pace worse than the one that Grilli was on.
The Pirates like the deal because they trade an asset near his expiration date for a player who is 28. If the Pirates can solve Frieri’s problems, they can get a couple of years use out of a guy capable of being a closer.
That’s why the trade was made.
Grilli was never the most popular guy among teammates. Some of them rolled their eyes when he took advantage of chances to step into the spotlight.
That isn’t an uncommon reaction among baseball players. The late Gary Carter was disparaged as “Red Light” among teammates because they thought he was too quick to step in front of TV cameras.
It isn’t a big deal. Some teams that are close lose a lot. Some teams that win aren’t especially close.
Barry Bonds didn’t have many friends on the Pirates teams that won three division titles from 1990-92. But when the game started at 7:05, there were a lot of Bonds fans because he helped the team win.
“We Are Family” was a catchy Sister Sledge song, but it wasn’t a way of life for the 1979 Pirates. Everyone liked Willie Stargell. Dave Parker was not universally popular.
Parker’s style – loud and crude – rubbed some people the wrong way. But when the game started, everyone was on board with Parker because of what he could do on the field.
Grilli is gone, and he doesn’t matter to the Pirates any more.
Now the question is whether Ernesto Frieri can help the team win games.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.