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Grilli... Gone!

I know Jason Grilli was an easy punching bag during his time with the Detroit Tigers. And sometimes, it was justifiable. There were several instances where the guy was flat-out terrible. But he also probably got kind of a bad rap, and never really quite as awful as many Tigers fans (myself included) thought he was. His final 2008 stats with Detroit are an 0-1 record and 3.29 ERA, with 10 strikeouts and 12 hits allowed in 13 2/3 innings.

Having said all that, one of Detroit sports' great unsolved mysteries was how Grilli managed to keep a spot on the Tigers' major league roster. We didn't call him "Gas Can" around here because we thought he was a swell guy. But that mystery is now left for the fans of the Colorado Rockies to deal with.

Grilli was traded this afternoon to the Rockies for minor league reliever Zach Simons. Simons is pitching in Single-A this season, learning his craft with a team that has one of the great mascots in the country, the Modesto Nuts. He's appeared in seven games so far this season, posting a 1-0 record and 2.70 ERA, with 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.

The Tigers attempted to trade Grilli to Colorado before, trying to get Clint Barmes in exchange last August. The Rockies turned down that deal, but must have maintained interest in Grilli - who, in fairness, does have a good arm - since then.

So who takes Grilli's spot? It was only a matter of time before Francisco Cruceta joined the Tigers, and he'll do so tomorrow. Besides the fact that the bullpen needs any help it can get, and that Cruceta was likely to make the big league roster out of Spring Training had he not been restricted from entering the country due to visa problems, the man was blowing hitters away in Triple-A. 15 strikeouts in seven innings. Just two hits and one run allowed.

Other than the question of when Cruceta would arrive, the natural follow-up query was who would get squeezed off the roster to make room for him? The obvious answer looked to be Zach Miner, given his struggles this season and his remaining minor league option. But Grilli being traded presumably grants him a stay of execution.

I suppose I can forget selling any of these t-shirts, eh?