Don’t look now, but the Chicago Cubs have almost done it.
It’s so close that they can almost taste it. All it would take is one more bullpen injury, one more blown save and one more call from a desperate GM before the Cubs complete what might just be the greatest ruse in baseball in recent years — turn closer Kevin Gregg into actual assets.
The again, why not?
After all, this is a Proven Closer (TM) who has experience an apparent career resurgence at age 39, posting a very good 9.55 K/9 to a 2.63 BB/9 and carrying a 1.65/1.00 ERA/WHIP that might have you wondering whether the Cubs somehow convinced Mariano Rivera to pull double duties in the league while donning an elaborate high-tech mask.
And the best part of this someone who is responsible for putting together the on-field talent of a MLB ball club will believe it.
They’ll believe that Gregg has turned the corner, that the 157 saves the veteran’s got on his belt means something, and that this 27.1 inning sample is somehow representative of his skill set instead of the 600-plus that he’s had prior to this season. Most importantly, they’re willing to pay for it.
So who are some of these teams?
Well, there’s the Atlanta Braves, for one, who fall into the ‘somewhat desperate’ category over their bullpen after season-ending injuries to Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters. Further due into the ‘actually desperate’ bunch, you’ve got the Detroit Tigers, whose pair of failed bullpen experiments in the ninth inning (Bruce Rondon and Jose Valverde: the redux) have left them with a mess that’s unbecoming of a pennant favourite.
The same could be said for the Boston Red Sox, whose bullpen has been a series of misadventures thus far in 2013, and has been arguably the weakest part of the upstart surprise club in the AL East.
No matter which team pulls the trigger, though, the story is likely going to play out the same way as it always has with Gregg. In fact, with three straight outings in high he allowed as least a run prior to his clean save on Sunday, perhaps the act has already begun.
Except this time, it’ll be tears of joy from Cubs fans and … well, you can figure out the rest.