The Final Straw, and DiPoto Acts

After Ernesto Frieri almost single-handedly deprived Jered Weaver of his well-earned and hard-fought-for eighth victory Thursday evening against the Twins, the Angels’ brain trust, i.e., general manager Jerry Dipoto, finally acted, and at a time of desperation, pulled of what potentially could be a masterful trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In a straight-up, one-for-one deal, the Angels sent 28-year-old Frieri to the Pirates for 37-year-old Jason Grilli, who as recently as last season was an All-Star. Grilli, like Freiri, has not fared well so

far this season, and had lost his closer's spot in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, the Angels took a 6-1 lead into the ninth, when, for reasons that bogle the mind, manager Mike Scioscia yet again chose to give the ball to Frieri, who loaded the bases on two walks and a hit before being shown the Anaheim Stadium showers, for the very last time. All three runners scored, but Joe Smith managed to get three ninth-inning outs, to save
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first half to 2013, saving 27 of 28 and striking out everyone in sight, until a late July arm the win for Weaver and the Angels.

The outing raised Frieri’s ERA to 6.39. Over his last five appearances as an Angel, he lasted only three innings, allowing nine runs. How far and how quick he fell from his marvelous 2012 season, when after his acquisition by LA he struck out 80 batters in 54-1/3 innings with a 2.32 ERA and an exceptional 0.96 WHIP, while saving 23 in 26

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opportunities. Last season he had some ups and downs, but still saved 37 games. This year? Well, the stats do tell the story.

The journeyman Grilli has been with six prior teams, and never had the opportunity to close until the last year with the PIrates. He had a sensation
problem cut into his effectiveness. He still finished the season saving 33 of 35, with a 2.70 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He only walked 13 batters in 50 innings a year ago, but this year control has contributed to his woes, and he has walked 11 in only 20 innings, while compiling an ERA of 4.87, though he has been charged with only a single blown save.

Grilli will get every opportunity to be the Angels’ closer, and if he is healthy and new scenery can help him return to his early 2013 form, then perhaps the final piece of tile in the Angels 2014 mosaic has been found.

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