Getting to Know Your Obscure Cubs: Jeff Gray

In my quest to fill out some pages at Wiklifield, I thought I'd take a deeper look at some lesser known guys in the organization that could make an impact.

Jeff Gray

The center piece as far as the Cubs were concerned when they moved Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the A's in December(the Cubs also received Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer). The 28-year old right-hander was drafted in 2004 by the Oakland A's in the 32nd round and saw a brief 4-inning cup of coffee in 2008 despite struggling in the minors with a 4.32 ERA.  After the season, he reworked some issues with his mechanics in the AFL and enjoyed a more successful 2009 with a 1.54 ERA in Triple A over 41 innings with 16 saves and then a solid 3.76 ERA over 26.1 IP with the A's after being called up on four occasions. His strikeout rate dropped significantly in 2009, although he still maintained a fantastic K:BB ratio(4.75 in the majors, 3.76 in the minors) and keeps the ball in the park with a remarkable 0.36 HR/9 rate over his minor league career.

He claims to throw five pitches - a four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup and curveball - but says his sinker and slider are his bread-and-butter pitches.

He'll compete for one or two bullpen spots that will be open to competition this spring. Jim Hendry compared him to Angel Guzman when the Cubs acquired him in December. I assume that was a comparision to their pitching style and not injury histories as Gray seems to have stayed healthy so far through his career. If he doesn't make the club out of spring training, he does have one minor league option left.

After the jump, the bulk of his Wiklified entry.

Miscellaneous Info

Full Name: Jeffrey Michael Gray

Height: 6'3" Weight: 205 lbs

High School: (HS) Lafayette (Balwin, MO)

College: Missouri State University

Acquired: Via trade from Oakland Athletics with 1B/OF Matt Spencer and RHP Ronny Morla for OF/3B/1B Jake Fox and INF Aaron Miles in December, 2009.

Status: Still with organization and on  the 40-man roster

Notes & News

Gray grew up in Missouri, a Cardinals fan of course, although he claimed to like the Astros as well.

He was drafted in 32nd round, 967 overall in 2004 amateur draft by Oakland Athletics. He was added to their 40-man roster before the 2008 season. After the 2008 season, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League for the second time in his career(the first in 2007) and reworked his mechanics to add some deception to his delivery, including lowering his arm slot. He also reworked his approach towards hitters, trying to focus more on pitching to contact. His strikeout rate did decline in 2009, but his walk rate and groundball rates went up, along with a better ERA. He was called up four times during the 2009 campaign with the A's, the first three he just pitched once before being sent back down and finally stuck on the roster after his final call-up in August.

Scouting Report

Worked with A's bullpen coach Ron
Romanick to add some deception to his delivery after 2008 season, including lowering his arm slot which Gray credits with his improved 2009 season.

Repertoire

A "four-seamer (up to 96 mph), a sinker, a slider, a changeup and a curveball"

Honors & Awards

Has been a member of 2 AFL championship teams(2007 and 2008 Phoenix Desert Dogs) and 2 PCL championship teams(2007 and 2008 Sacramento RiverCats).

Prospect Lists

34th on Scout.com A's list after 2009 season.
48th on Scout.com A's mid-season list during 2009 season.
47th on Scout.com A's 2008 list.
35th on Scout.com A's 2007 list that followed the season.

Comments

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...

"I thought I made some good adjustments and worked on the curveball a little bit. I made the pitch more what fits my style better. Instead of trying to throw a big [12-to-6] curveball, I wanted to come out with an aggressive curveball that gets guys swinging."

Hey Pancho...

He thrived on the street food in Mexicali.

"The only problem was when you did want a burger or craved some pizza, it had a Mexican twist to it," he said. "Some Tecate Lights took care of that."

oh, Cisco...

Of course I'd be thrilled if sam-ninja came through with a solid year. I'm just not expecting big things from him now. Any reports yet from AZ Phil on how these guys are looking so far?

I'm chomping at the bit here...

His numbers in Mexico were pretty good. Not sure how tough a league that is, but it would be great if we could pull another solid starter out of the ether like Wells last year.

True that. And have Wells stay true to form too. Maybe too much to ask, but I hope not.

The problem is, Rudy will counteract any style changes this guy can throw. It's just a neverending swirl of strain.

In 2010, I don't think Gray matters.

Seriously, the odds are probably even that a guy like Gray could perform just as well as a 7th inning guy as most of the retread middle relief guys that demand $2.5 million a year.

In 2010, I don't think Gray matters.
----------------
Can we get Heather Graham, too?

Going by his stats, I'm shocked Hendry was able to get someone with any potential for Miles. What did Gray do, rape Billy Beane's cousin?

Well, in reality, Hendry wasn't able to get Gray for Miles, he was able to get Gray for Fox.

True. I already forgot about our lad Jake. So sad.

Cub myths-
http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

1-yes
2-Is Dempster still on team?(although I do agree with him)
3- If your best example of an every day player to make the team as 19 year old happened twenty years ago and is Ken Griffey JR, probably not a good example.

2. Dempster having a solid season is probably considered a given, whereas the guys he actually listed have questions.
3. It was a "notable" example, not the best. The thing about only having 31 games above A isn't really true, anyway, because the AFL is considered above A. The fact that he's fourth on the depth chart at SS probably should have been mentioned, though.

http://milb.scout.com/2/946743.html

Vitter -11, Castro - 22

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers...

no Cubs, but Homer Bailey is on there...

'09 - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers...

'08 - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers...

'07 - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers... (Sean Marshall is on that one, with Rich Hill getting a special mention)

and then a THT debunking of it from
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the...

"Can we predict injuries? Do some teams push their pitchers too hard? Well, those are questions we can at least begin to answer."

that is sooooooooooo cute. *pats it's little head*

but yeah, verd's article is smoke...some bad smoke.

"Bailey: This is probably the most troubling case on this list, if only because there was no reason to lean so hard on Bailey down the stretch. The Reds finished 13 games out. In his last nine starts, Bailey averaged 112 pitches and was given an extra day of rest only twice even as he far exceeded his previous high in innings. The club kept leaning on him because he was pitching well, but to what end?"

To make him finally learn how to fucking pitch to big league hitters?

It's not as cut-and-dried as "the extra 15 innings you pitched in 2009 are 15 less innings that you need to figure it out in 2010." But, that kid needs to pitch and needs to pitch a lot until he's some idea about how to get somebody out. The guy is one of the worst pitchers with the best stuff in baseball.

Yes, he's still young, but last year was the THIRD year they tried to bring him up and he was just piss poor awful when he got there.

I'm going to get run out on a rail for saying it, but Dusty's at least smart enough to know that Homer has be able to pitch every fifth day at some semblance of a major league level for the Reds to even have a remote chance of winning this year.

Yeah, and after he figures out how to get hitters out, he and Volquez can sit in the training room talking about it.

Not to say that those innings don't have the value of experience that you mention, but would you rather have a Cy Young pitcher on the DL or a #3 starter throw 200 innings?

They've steadily increased his workload the last 3 years. Approximately 110 total IP in 2007, 150 total IP in 2008, and 200 total IP in 2009.

The kid doesn't even pitch every fifth day in his last 9 starts to get to his inning quota and Dusty's an idiot. He got 2 extra days off. What else do you want?

Increase his work load by less than 30 innings a year.

Then he probably runs out of gas around 175 innings this year. If by some stretch the Reds are actually in it come late August, they probably wouldn't have Homer down the stretch to lean on, because he wouldn't be stretched out for 200 innings. If you're fine with that, then I guess it isn't a big deal. I would have played September 2009 much the same as the Reds did because I'm looking ahead to what I'll need in September of 2010.

The difference between increasing by 20-30 innings and 40-50 innings isn't all that dramatic from a stress standpoint. I'm sure they shortened up his side sessions in September and they probably also limited his long toss on his off days to make up for it. You can do things to limit the other strains on the arm in order to get where you need to go in an innings increase.

I'm sure the Reds organization (not just Dusty) didn't want Homer getting to 200 innings the first time in the middle of a pennant race. Now he doesn't have to.

But the evidence shows - and I am in agreement that you can't just blanket apply it across the boards to every pitcher - that 30 inning increases is the breaking point, so why push it with a guy who's got one of the top 20 arms in the game? Do you really think the Reds are the organization that has a firm grasp on which pitchers can be extended and which can't? I mean you have to go way back to 2008 at to see where they fucked up almost this exact same situation.

some guys are nolan ryan or livan hernandez...some guys are jr richard or teddy higuera.

damn, higgy was awesome.

unfortuantely, there's no DNA swab or stress/endurence test to figure any of it out.

currently the best method is not doing obviously stupid crap and paying attention to what the pitcher is saying/showing about his own body. when it comes to nitpicking over who can throw 30 more innings a year vs. 50 more innings a year there's nothing obvious about it, though. it's just too fine of a detail to err on the side of extreme caution, imo. if their body can handle it go for it...if steps can be taken in the way of extra rest or restriction of off-day activities, sure. some wouldn't take these risks, though... *shrug*

JR Richard didn't have any arm problems, and Livan Hernandez lost about 10 MPH off his fastball over the years.

No, there's no magical number, but again, which organization would you trust least with developing a young pitcher? Maybe the Royals, but the Reds are right up there. You don't take arms like these guys and experiment with them, you play it safe unless you have a good reason for having them pitch more (like a playoff spot).

There's two fallacies in the THT article.

The first, "I am too lazy to do it correctly, so I won't". I read the rest anyway.

The second is a classic example of using numbers to 'prove' anything. Here's the quote "The bottom line: a dramatic increase in innings on a young pitcher elevates the risk of injury or a setback to their development."

Say you have two groups of pitchers.

Group A goes up 50 innings from year 1 to 2. Each of them throw 150 innings. Then in year three three blow out their arms and the other six throw 200 innings, on average they only throw 10 fewer innings, but three guys conformed to the effect. To say that there was no such effect, you would have to identify all the pitchers and who blew out their arms and show that guys who didn't have the innings jump also blew out their arms at the same 30% rate.

Verducci is using a either/or evaluation, and the bozo from THT tries to refute it by hiding analysis in averages (without doing the proper research first). 8 of 11 guys from the 2006 list...

Bruce Levine Chat Transcript from today:

http://espn.go.com/chicago/chat/_/id/30863/es...

Compared Gray to a young Bobby Howry.

Geovany Soto on steroid speculations...

I wasn't strong. I was just fat."

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/02/...

It's a good point. When he weighed more, he hit worse.

It's also an awesome quote.

left sidebar advertises the clip...

"ex-Cub Still Pitching for Schaumburg Flyers"...

I made the mistake of clicking on it.

They interviewed Carmen Pignatiello, while he was talking they show a pic of Sean Marshall and Dan Jiggetts asked what team the Flyers were associated with...

good television there..

Hard to believe him and Mike North have been regulated to 5-7 am slot with a financial show.

Which is perfect because they both don't know sports, and Mike North's last show fell victim to a Ponzi scheme who was the show sponsor.

They are missed.

evidently you don't understand satire.

har...laugh...snort...lulz.

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/02/...

looks like case will be at end of the week

I saw that earlier today. The guy is shameless. You wuz robbed.

Recent comments

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  • If it was 2006 Hendry would be there w a Bible and a contract
    https://mobile.twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/77...

    jacos 2 hours 30 min ago view
  • he subscribes to my twitter, he's beyond TCR. #yolo #swag

    crunch 3 hours 8 min ago view
  • Whoops. Maddon must have been reading TCR (for his daily crunch) and got confused.

    CTSteve 3 hours 10 min ago view
  • kuhl is a righty, not a lefty.

    i think maddon might think kuhl is a lefty, too. i wonder what the reasoning is for baez leading off vs a rightie.

    crunch 3 hours 51 min ago view
  • "trout's one of the best, and at this point should probably win over donaldson (and should have more MVPs in the past, too), but the defensive aspect of valuing WAR still needs more tweaking...imo."

    that's from my 1st post. there's no suck involved in that. maybe with a few less posts about bullshit that point would have jumped out more.

    crunch 4 hours 39 min ago view
  • crunch - you do know that, taking defense out of the equation, Trout has led the AL in wRC+ each of those years, right?

    And, if you want to complain about position adjustment (which would be serious #crunchsplaining), he's been in the top 3 in the AL in WC (not park/league/position adjusted). And the only players ahead of him (if there were any players ahead of him) in any of those years have been DHs or 1B that play lousy defense.

    But sure - Trout sucks (or at least isn't as good as WAR says). Because it factors in defense and position.

    big_lowitzki 5 hours 43 min ago view
  • early tim tebow stuff rolling in...

    ran a 6.7 60yd (above average)...shagging flies in RF and showed off a rather impressive arm a few times, but average-at best on most of his throws...hit a few over the fence (both fields), fouled or weak contact a few...he's got a touch of power

    it'll be interesting to see who bites on this project, if anyone. he probably projected himself out of RF and into LF/1st because of his arm, but unless he can make that power work on a steady basis it'll be hard for him to play himself up anyone's system.

    crunch 6 hours 28 min ago view
  • LHP Clayton Richard (released by the Cubs earlier this month) is pitching very well as a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres and could be a good candidate to get traded to a contender looking for a veteran SP before tomorrow night's post-season roster eligibility deadline.

    Because they released him, the Cubs are paying most of Richard's 2016 salary (the Cubs are on the hooks for $2M, minus the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary that is paid by the Padres).

    Arizona Phil 8 hours 15 min ago view
  • it is honestly awesome (for real) that anyone would even have a strong opinion on AZL playoffs. i guess if you invest enough time watching it, you want to see a fair/just playoff structure.

    plus, the kids deserve it.

    crunch 8 hours 16 min ago view
  • The AZL team with the best record over the course of the full 2016 AZL season and the only AZL team to play .600 ball (the AZL Dodgers) did not qualify for the AZL playoffs, and the AZL East Division team with the best record over the course of the full season (the AZL Athletics) did not qualify for the AZL playoffs, either. 

    That's because of the ridiculous "split season" schedule most of the minor leagues now play, a stupid system that rewards mediocrity at the expense of the worthy. 

    Arizona Phil 8 hours 23 min ago view
  • Despite good movement on his fastball, I think location kept him from getting Ks. Left some pitches up and away that got hammered up and away. Then of course Travis Wood gave up the 2-run double in the 7th, but both runs counted against Arrieta.

    Charlie 8 hours 59 min ago view
  • "i'm gonna make you my main squeeze one day, bro. save the date."

    This level of discourse is #charming.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 9 hours 14 sec ago view
  • I would be having this discussion with anyone who (a) blathered on ad nauseum about the topic. (See, "Olt, Mike, not given an opportunity") or (b) responded directly to what I posted (which you did).

    Have a nice day.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 9 hours 2 min ago view
  • what would you do without me? aside from having your posting content here cut by 75%+?

    i'm gonna make you my main squeeze one day, bro. save the date.

    crunch 9 hours 6 min ago view
  • In this instance, yes, I care more about the result of this big thing that isn't really a big thing.

    #crunchsplaining

    #willlistentojeffsullivanmorethanyou

    #blessyourheart

    #hitler

    #tcrmartyr

    #billyhamiltonwar

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 9 hours 6 min ago view
  • Two things:

    Fangraphs WAR #s include baserunning and Hamilton is elite at that. He leads in SBs with the 54 and and has an 87% rate which is really good. I'm sure once he gets on base he's able to take the extra base quite often too. Both those things will up his overall WAR value.

    The differences between BR and FG WAR is pretty well documented online and thus If there are discrepancies it's fairly easy to figure out why. It's fairly well accepted that BR WAR is fine as a snapshot but FG is better at predicting future value.

    johann 9 hours 10 min ago view