May 14, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Grant Balfour (50) delivers to the plate during the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Grant Balfour Back to Oakland Athletics?


This year’s bullpen has been disastrous for Oakland. Well actually, just a couple of them. But you can read more about that here.

Getting straight to the point, Oakland needs new relievers. or maybe old ones.

Both Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson need to be replaced. There are some very real possibilities to explore than can really get this bullpen going.

First, let’s look at how to get rid of Luke Gregerson. It’s obvious he needs to go. He has 4 blown saves in 7 tries, and he is the reason the Athletics had their win streak snapped.

Eric O’Flaherty is coming up soon. His recovery is ahead of schedule, as he is on track to return in June. He is going to be a great addition, and may just be what the bullpen needs to close out games and secure the wins that the starting rotation sets the team up for.

When O’Flaherty returns, someone is going to have to go down to Triple-A. That means the perfect opportunity to get Gregerson off the roster. I really hope this happens, because I am tired of having the Athletics go late into games with a lead only to lose it and the game with it because Gregerson couldn’t stop the runners from crossing home plate.

So that is the most likely option the Athletics have to get Gregerson off the roster.

Now for the exciting one. How to get Jim Johnson off the roster.

If you don’t follow the MLB in general, then here’s the situation. The Tampa Bay Rays started the season as strong contenders, but after losing two of their pitchers to injuries, they have started reeling and fast. Their star ace, David Price hasn’t had the greatest season so far, although he was truly looking like an ace in his last start against the Mariners.

So what does that have to do with anything? Well, when teams lose hope for getting into the postseason, they look to trade some players for future talent. Who is on the Tampa Bay Rays that could come in and close games?

I’ll give you a hint. He really knows how to get fans riled up. You could say he gets them into quite the rage…

That’s right, Grant Balfour.

If the Tampa Bay Rays start to shop some of their players around, the Athletics could ask about Grant Balfour.

The Athletics need a proven closer, and who is more proven than the guy who broke the franchise record for most consecutive saves?

If Billy Beane can pull those moves off, especially the Grant Balfour one, the season will get a whole lot better. We need Balfour to close out games. A bullpen without a true closer is asking for disaster. Balfour is already a fan favorite, bringing him back would be the best choice Beane makes all season.

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Tags: Grant Balfour Jim Johnson Oakland Athletics

  • Gorgonzola Albatross

    Using save stats for a reliever who often works the 7th or 8th inning creates misleading stats.

    Balfour is not having a really steady season either. Only one blown save but some very unsteady ones.

    • jbenitez

      Balfour wasn’t complete lights out in Oakland last season either. He had a lot of first at bats reach first base. He always found a way to fight and get the save though. He had one week where he blew like 2 or 3 saves last season, but to go 41 consecutive saves is a whole lot better than having more blown saves than actual saves.
      Also in the case of Gregerson, the save stat is to show he is costing the team games. Runs scored in the 7th or 8th off of him can cost us the game as much as in the 9th. For example the game against the White Sox.

  • ScottG2

    Gregerson has been good overall. Wishing him off the roster is way too extreme

    • jbenitez

      I don’t think it’s way too extreme. I think if there are options that are better than him, why not take it? Why have Dan Straily in the rotation when you can have Pomeranz? Why have Barton in the lineup when you can have Moss, or Callaspo? He and Johnson are the worst in the bullpen at this point, and a major reason why the bullpen is responsible for half of the season’s losses so far. I believe that if we have better pitchers that we can have, why not replace them? I’ll admit I wrote this piece shortly after the heartbreaking loss where we lost our win streak, so there is more anger than there should be in this article towards them, but the facts remain, they are the weak links, and we have the tools available to improve, so we should take them.

  • THM07

    How are you going to justify sending Luke Gregerson down when his overall numbers aren’t even bad? That was the first home run he has allowed this season, and it was to a guy who leads the league in home runs. If you actually took the time to look at his stats you would see that his season, so far, has been better than last years, besides his strike outs being down. Gregerson isn’t perfect by any means, but you absolutely cannot cut someone because of a couple (A COUPLE) of bad outings.

    Grant Balfour meanwhile, has a 5.91 FIP, a 7.04 BB/9 rate and -0.5 fWAR, but this is the guy you want over Gregerson and Johnson? I know it’s hard for some fans to get over the gimmicks, but Balfour is not going to be any better than what they already have.

    • jbenitez

      A couple means 2. Gregerson has more than two outings. While his other stats may not be the worst, the stat of having more blown saves than actual saves, in my opinion, means having him is too risky. Remember 2012, where 1 game separated us from the Rangers when it was all said and done? Every game counts, every loss hurts the team. Last season, we were only a couple of games away from the Red Sox for best record. Had they picked up those two extra wins, they could potentially have faced the Rays instead of the Tigers, making it to the ALCS, where they would have faced the Red Sox. The Red Sox are a team they had a better chance of beating than the Tigers. We saw them take two of three against the Cardinals earlier that season, so those couple of games could have made the difference between an early exit yet again or a potential world series.
      Every game counts, and when we have a guy who is costing the team wins, it could prove costly when October rolls around.

      Also, in your argument of Balfour’s numbers, that is with the Tampa Bay Rays. We’ve seen first hand that there are players out there who aren’t the greatest, but when they put on the green and gold, some of that Oakland Magic starts to rub off on them. Jed Lowrie was always injured, He came to Oakland and became a huge part of the teams success. Josh Reddick wasn’t doing too well with the Red Sox, he comes to Oakland and he has 30+ home run season. While he has had his struggles, his defense has saved plenty of games. We have proof all over the roster that Oakland knows how to bring the best out of their players. Grant Balfour would come back to Oakland And start to do a whole lot better.

      I appreciate your feedback, you bring up valid points and I respect your opinion. I do, however, stand by my article here. Gregerson is costing us games, and we’ve seen how even just (A COUPLE) of games can make all the difference in October.

  • Adam

    Yes, let’s get Balfour, who’s been terrible this year (and just helped blow another game against the Angels) and let’s cut Gregerson who’s actually been really good, your illogical obsession with blown saves notwithstanding. He’s given up runs in 5 out of 20 appearances. That’s a pretty good ratio. It just happens that they came at terrible times, but that’s going to happen for a guy who pitches prelimarily in the 7th and 8th inning. Almost every set up man has more blown saves than saves, because they almost never get saves. Take a look at his stats this year and his career stats. One of the better relievers in the game. Educate yourself before writing drivel.

    • jbenitez

      he’s not just a setup man pitcher. Bob Melvin has said himself that Gregerson was part of a close by committee group. So he is not just a set up man pitcher, he is part closer as well. You can throw all of these stats out, but when it comes down to it, all that matters is wins and losses. The Red Sox fans aren’t focused on stats, they care about the fact that they won the World Series. If you lose the last game of the season, nobody cares. What matters is winning the world series, and you get there by winning games.
      As I have also stated, players, particularly pitchers, do better in Oakland. Moss couldn’t stay in the big leagues long with his other teams, he comes to Oakland and he becomes a huge contributor. Scott Kazmir is doing a whole lot better this season so far than he did in Cleveland last season. Grant Balfour would do better in Oakland than he is doing in Tampa Bay.

  • afannaz

    i’ll believe it when it happens. i know you’re just throwing stuff out there…but really? balfour isn’t really “balfour” anymore, just like johnson isn’t “johnson” this year, either! go BB, go A’s!