The results of the Hall of Fame voting will be announced at 2 p.m., and I fully expect Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven to receive the necessary 75 percent for induction.
I’ve never seen a better defensive second baseman than Alomar, and he was the best all-around player in baseball for a period of time. Unfortunately, Robbie had that on-off switch. If he lost interest, which happened when his team lost ground in the standings, he could look quite average. Case in point: the 1998 season. But he deserves to have a plaque in Cooperstown.
Since I was determined to make another batch of calls yesterday, I decided to contact former Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz and get his thoughts on reliever Kevin Gregg, who agreed to a two-year deal yesterday that includes a vesting option for 2013.
“Loved him,” said Kranitz, who worked with Gregg in 2007 as the Florida Marlins’ pitching coach. “He’s going to be a great fit. He’s a quality guy, a quality competitor. He just loves to pitch. He’s a great fit for that club.
“It was really funny because when I was in Florida and we got him in a trade, at first it wasn’t really a major trade. We didn’t think it would be a major trade. He was a long man in Anaheim, but that bullpen was so good. We went through probably three different closers that year and he kept coming up to me and saying, ‘I’m your guy.’ We finally gave him a chance and he did it.”
Gregg saved 32 games that season, and has totaled 121 saves over the past four years.
He’s never shy about taking the ball. Good luck getting it out of his hand.
“He’s a really tough guy,” Kranitz said. “I remember telling (Larry) Rothschild in Chicago, ‘Don’t let the walks fool you. This guy has good control.’ He just doesn’t always give in. He’ll walk a guy instead of giving in. He’ll make his pitch. That’s what I like most. He never gives in. He’s got quality stuff.”
From the It’s a Small World Department: Kranitz went to high school with Accardo’s mother.
“That was a few years ago,” Kranitz said, chuckling. “I’ve kind of followed him through his career and I’ve always liked him. He threw the ball great. I don’t know what happened. I guess he had an injury problem last year and I don’t know if he fell out of favor, but he’s a good signing.
“They’ve done a good job over there. You need power arms at the back of the bullpen in the American League East.”
Kranitz is the new pitching coach in Milwaukee, but he’s kept tabs on the Orioles.
“I think they’ve improve their defense 100 percent,” he said. “When you’re dealing with the young starters they’ve had, you put out a mediocre defense, it’s tough on those guys. You’re asking them to do more than they should do. Derrek Lee is a great first baseman. J.J. Hardy is sure-handed. I know when I was in Florida and watched Mark Reynolds, he played great defense. That translates into guys going deeper in games because you don’t have to throw as many pitches.
“I like the club. They upgraded on defense and their depth. Cesar Izturis is a backup guy now and that’s a huge upgrade. And I like Brendan Harris, too. He’s a ballplayer. I had him in Chicago and he’s one of my all-time favorites. I thought the trades they made were excellent.”