The story of Jason Grilli is certainly filled with ups and downs, mainly downs. But in 2012, Grilli did something historic and it will lead to the biggest payday of his baseball life.
In normal circumstances, a team would do there damndest to sign such a player, but Grilli is different. The right hander is old for baseball pitchers. The set-up man also is setting records for strikeouts in his old age.
On the season he struck out 90 batters in a tad over 58 innings. In some games, Grilli was simply unstoppable. The confidence he showed on the mound was sky high. When he faltered down the stretch it was only difficult to watch because he trained us like dogs to expect nothing but dominance.
It went something like this for the good part of four months: Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle would summon Grilli.
Twitter would blow up as if Pavlov rang a bell.
Grilli would deliver a couple of strikeouts.
He would pump his fist and walk off the mound.
Pirates fans would foam at the mouth.
#SACK. #WIRED. #cheese!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The hard throwing reliever would say all the right things too. He talked about the team hanging up a banner of him on Federal Street after the team rescued the right hander from the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system. How Grilli went from throwing for the Iron Pigs to being among the most proficient shut down relievers in the game is amazing.
Grilli was once a Rule V pick (at least I think he was, because it was so damn long ago.) He’s played all over the country and had never been as impressive as he was in black and yellow in 2012. And here’s the kicker…. he was in his mid-30′s.
When he was in the minors early in his career he could sit down hitters, but after Tommy John surgery, the strikeouts fell off. The finesse followed and the strikeouts diminished.
But upon his arrival in the Burgh, Grilli sat down hitters faster than a Yinzer polishes off Iron Cities at dollar draft night. After striking out 10.2 batters per game in 2011, Grilli followed up with a historic 13.8 last season. In 2006 when he was converted to a reliever, he didn’t come close to the numbers he put up six years later–three times as many strikeouts at the age of 35.
Of course the real news is that nobody has. Jason Grilli is the most senior hurler to attain a strikeout ratio as high as the one he put up in 2012.
So the question remains, why is it taking so long for Grilli to make up his mind? Because he’s in the driver’s seat.
He had a career year.
He’s gonna get overpaid for it.
He has an internet business called the empower network that he promotes on twitter that turns homeless men into millionares.
The guy has the baseball world by the balls. (Did you know that his agent is Gary Sheffield?.) But for me it’s hard to imagine at the end of his next contract we will be talking about Grilli as we are today.
On his blog he says this,
I am living out my boy-hood dream through baseball, but that will end one day. My father Steve taught me to pitch, Nolan Ryan to dream, and Eddie Veddier to want to be a rock star.
Should Grilli return to Pittsburgh, Bucco fans trust that Grilli ignores the dreaming and Pearl Jammin’ part…and leans on what his father taught him.