11:30 AM Eastern

Here I was about ready to write how cynical I am about the “open competition” for two of the last three spots in the Jays’ rotation.  How, despite the fact that we’d been told no decisions had been made and it all depended on how well Brad Mills, Scott Richmond and Ricky Romero pitched down the spring stretch, that it was going to be Mills and Richmond going north, because that was what Cito Gaston, J.P. Ricciardi and the rest of the cast and crew had decided a couple of weeks ago.

Then Jordan Bastian of mlb.com breaks the news this morning that Gaston told the assemblage Romero had pitched his way onto the team with his strong performance against the Astros yesterday.

He didn’t blow the doors off, but put together easily the best start of the Mills/Richmond/Romero trio in the past three weeks.

Romero allowed two runs on eight hits over seven innings, walking none and striking out six.  He also pitched what Cito called the best inning of the season so far, working out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the 6th by striking out Miguel Tejada and Geoff Blum and getting Ivan Rodriguez to ground to short.

The bases had gotten loaded, by the way, on a grounder to third that ate up Jose Bautista for a single, a slow grounder that Bautista booted for an error and a line single to right.

So that was Romero’s statement, while Mills’ and Richmond’s latest statements have been solid, unspectacular, workmanlike efforts that have “kept (the Jays) in the game.”  It was strong enough for him to book a ticket north, and to earn the start April 9th in the series finale against Detroit.  Bastian also informs us that Gaston has confirmed that David Purcey will pitch the second game of the season and Jesse Litsch the third – not because Purcey is the “number two”, but because they want to split up the lefties in the rotation.

So that leaves Richmond and Mills for the fifth spot.  While neither has pitched particularly well recently, Cito likes Richmond, and he loves Mills.

The thing with Richmond is that Cito has seen him succeed in the big leagues, and that means a whole lot.  By succeed I mean five starts with an ERA of 4.00, but Richmond never gave up more than three runs (though he pretty much gave up exactly three runs every time out), pitched against some tough competition in the Rays and Red Sox, and left a great final impression with a rain-shortened shutout in Baltimore in his last start.

This spring, Richmond has been hit, but he hasn’t been walking people, and that goes a long way, too.  I see him winning the fifth spot, and making the start at the Indians’ Home Opener on April 10th.

It helps, as well, that the front office sees Richmond as a dispensable part.  A place-holder who can get the job done until one of the better arms is ready, either Casey Janssen or Brett Cecil.

As for Mills, I can see why everyone is in love with him, though I have yet to see him pitch well.  He’s small, but has a fierceness to him.  He doesn’t back away from any hitter, he works quickly and (except for that one start) he throws strikes.  He’s also a solid defender – he actually held a runner at third and then started a 1-6-3 double play in his last start.

He blew the doors off in his first couple of outings, before I got to Florida (and after I left for the WBC), and that first impression gave him a huge leg up, but it appears as though Romero has caught and passed him.

The thing with Romero is two-fold: A – his recent success may lead them to believe that Brad Arnsberg has “fixed” him, since Arnsberg wanted Romero as kind of a pet project earlier in the spring, and 2 – for the conspiracy theorists – it would look good on J.P. to have his “bust” first-rounder to contribute at the major-league level.

If it’s Richmond over Mills (and I think it is), then having Mills go down and get his first taste of AAA certainly won’t hurt him, and it’ll give the Jays three terrific options in Vegas by the end of April in Mills, Cecil and Janssen, all of whom could be up if Purcey, Richmond and Romero stub their toes.  Remember, too, that Litsch has yet to have a full season in the big leagues.

Some injury news, too, though it all seems to be minor – Vernon Wells got a cortisone shot in his left wrist yesterday and won’t play until at least tomorrow, Travis Snider hurt his knee going into the wall against the Tigers on Saturday and Rod Barajas is dealing with an aching back.  Gaston has said that he wants his regulars to all play the last five or six games of spring, so having one-third of them on the shelf certainly puts a crimp in those plans.

There was a JaysTalk this weekend, after our Saturday broadcast, and here it is, for your listening pleasure:

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We’re ramping up almost into regular season mode now, broadcasting three of the last five games of spring – you can hear Jerry and Alan call the game against the Phillies Tuesday night and then the Friday night/Saturday noon trip to Jupiter to take on the Marlins.  We’ll JaysTalk it up after the Tuesday and Friday games, so make sure to listen and call in!

Before I go, and I meant to do this earlier in the week, I want to offer my condolences to the family of John Brattain, who passed away a week ago during heart surgery.  I met John on a few occasions, down at the ballpark, and he was a not-infrequent contributor to the comments section of this blog.  He was a passionate fan and student of the game, a very good blogger and author, and though we didn’t always agree, he always presented a well thought-out, intelligent argument for his side.  Long-winded, maybe, but hey, I consider myself to be a member of that club in very good standing.  John also had my back on many occasions both here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, which I appreciated a great deal.

It’s rare that I actually get to meet someone whom I have read and with whom I have corresponded in the world of Blue Jays’ bloggage.  I have met a couple of commenters, both outside the tent and in Florida, and I did a Grill Room with Stoeten of the Drunks, and, as I said, chatted with John a few times in the Jays’ dugout and the press box at the Dome.  I’m sorry that I won’t be able to do that again, and very sorry to those whose lives he touched for their loss.  Rest in peace, John – Best Regards.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome.

52 Responses to “One Giant Step For Ricky”
  1. 1.

    Hi Mike

    If Richmond takes the 5th spot, who will be in long relief in the pen? My hunch is Mills gets number 5 and Richmond will come out of the pen in long relief. Just a hunch.

    Have they made a decision about Barajas’ back up? Could they carry three if Barajas back is not healthy?

    Thanks Mike

    MW: Tallet and Camp will be the long relievers in the bullpen. No decision yet on the back-up catcher as far as I know (again, I’m no longer there), but no, they won’t carry three catchers. If Barajas isn’t healthy they’ll put him on the disabled list.

    - garry
  2. 2.

    Mike,
    I am not a doctor but I have spent a lifetime around sports and from my experence cortisone shots are a temporary solution when eventually a long term solution will be needed. Maybe I am off base, but getting a cortisone shot in March seems like a bad start to the season for guys like Wells and Lackey. Is there any reason to think Wells wrist won’t be a season long problem?

    And finally, I keep reading about Dominicans using milk crate gloves. Think you could ask a guy like Bautista how they are made? And maybe post a picutre if you can get him to make one?

    MW: The key here is your first five words. I’m not a doctor either, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I do know that a lot of the time, the odd cortisone shot is enough – also, a lot of the time, it isn’t. There are lots of reasons to think that Wells’ wrist won’t be a season-long problem, though. As for the milk crate gloves, I’ve actually seen them made – very cool.

    - JW
  3. 3.

    Are you excited to talk about JP’s draft record after every Romero start?. Perhaps Ricky can change his first name to “Drafted ahead of tulowitzki”. Daoft for short? Maybe we can start calling him Jesus Tulowitzki.

    I’m sure the JP bashers will come up something much more uncreative and uninformed.

    Cheers

    MW: I don’t get the Jesus reference, but yeah, it’s pretty sad that I’ll be taking at least one Troy Tulowitzki call every five days for as long as Romero is in the rotation. I wonder how many of the Troy-tskyites know that Tulowitzki hit .263/.332/.401 last season – nice, but certainly not all-starric.

    - jeremy
  4. 4.

    Hi Mike … I think with the Jays toning down the expectations before the season began, we may actually come away pleasantly surprised. To be honest, I don’t expect to win more than 70, but if they compete game in and game out, and don’t quit and we can slowly intersperse some young guys in the lineup throughout the year, we fans can be a forgiving lot when we see effort game in and game out.

    Thanks for keeping the blog going over the winter, still checked it once a week.

    Bob

    MW: Glad to hear you did, Bob! For the life of me, I don’t see why people think this is a 90+ loss team.

    - Bob
  5. 5.

    Mike,

    Did they send you home early? It seems we didn’t get much of your first-hand analysis this ST, due in part to the WBC, but it seems you missed motre than just that. No Blair, no Wilner, I guess Griff and Bastian will have to do. Good thing there is only one more week to go.

    MW: I think Griffin might be back home, too. I would have been down there four weeks if not for the WBC, only one week less than usual.

    - andy mc
  6. 6.

    AWESOME!
    This will be fun
    I hope he sticks

    - slobberface
  7. 7.

    What the Jays should do is put Romero or Mills or Richmond in the bullpen and try to bring all or some of Scott Downs, Jeremy Accardo, Casey Janssen or Brian Tallet or Jason Frasor into the starting rotation. Why not? Many starters have become relievers and many relievers have become starters. I think Frasor tried it once but failed. But that’s what they should do because a starter’s menatality, although different from a relievers, is still relatively the same in that they are all PITCHERS! Try it out instead of rolling the dice with unproven rookies in your starting rotation.

    MW: There’s often a reason why a pitcher is in the bullpen and not the rotation, and most often it’s because they lack a quality third, if not second, pitch. That’s certainly the case with Frasor and Accardo. Janssen is in the rotation when he’s healthy and Tallet is the emergency guy. As far as Downs, he was a mediocre starter at best and is now a dominant reliever – he doesn’t want to go back to the rotation.

    - Ben B
  8. 8.

    Hi Mike,

    I was just wondering what you think about the youth movement of this team. If the Jays are really willing to throw these young pitchers to the wolves by necessity, does it not also make sense to get some young talent in the batting order as well?

    I think the Jays should seriously consider getting Emaus (2B and move Hill to SS), Campbell (3B), and one of Arencibia or Jeroloman (C) into the lineup by the end of the year. It may also make sense to get Cooper in at 1B. Assuming their development continues at their current pace, doesn’t it makes sense to not waste the entire year on guys like Scutaro, Rolen, and Overbay who will likely not be around when the team is getting good again?

    MW: No, it really doesn’t. Overbay and Rolen are under contract through the end of 2010, and if healthy, will be big parts of a team that will be very good next year. As well as he did this spring, Emaus has yet to play above A-ball, just like Cooper, and I’d rather have Rolen at third than Campbell. It’s easy to get very enamoured of the kids, but you need to take a deep breath. I think we will see Arencibia in the bigs before the year is out, though.

    - Andrew
  9. 9.

    Im glad they are giving the kid(s) a shot here….Richmond to me is just a guy and reminds me of former journeymen like Steve Parris(remember him??) or a Toma Ohka….sell us wins or hope and Romero,Mills certainly give us some hope and reason to watch this year

    MW: I still think Richmond makes it, but only for 4-6 weeks if everyone stays healthy.

    - Jeremy
  10. 10.

    Ha, I love the “rational, reasonable comments” caveat.

    This was exactly how I had hoped the Jays would round out their rotation. It’ll be fun to see Ricky get a taste of life in the Bigs. Given his minor league stats it seems unlikely that he will pitch more than 120 innings but we’ve seen with pitchers like Litsch and some guy named Roy Halladay that it can be extremely beneficial for a pitcher to get his feet wet against major league hitters and then go down to AAA to re-tool their arsenal.

    It’s a shame that Wells is a little banged up this Spring. Too early to use the “injury-prone” tag but you can’t help but worry about a guy making as much as he does on a team not named the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels. I’m hopeful and cautiously optimistic that he’ll be able to get into at least 145 games this season and be a productive member of the team.

    One week until opening day! If you don’t have a ticket yet, get one.

    MW: Halladay actually went all the way down to A-ball not just to re-tool, but to re-make himself. J.P. Ricciardi has said that Romero could pitch 170-180 innings this season.

    - Ken
  11. 11.

    One more thing in response to Garry. I think they Jays would probably want to keep Richmond stretched out in AAA because the starting rotation is going to be extremely volatile this season. The more quality arms the Jays have available to throw 5 or 6 innings the better off they will be over the course of the season.

    - Ken
  12. 12.

    Mike,

    How is it a “conspiracy theory” to suggest Romero made the rotation because he is a first round pick?

    It happens all the time in baseball.

    I’ve never seen him pitch so I don’t know what to think.

    I have a lot of faith in Arnsberg and I hope this is a nice story in the making. But I’m also aware that Romero has a spring WHIP over 2 and JP’s industry wide reputation as a laughing stock is well known. So Romero’s development should be interesting to watch anyway.

    MW: It’s not a conspiracy theory to suggest that Romero made it because he’s a first-rounder. You’re right, that does happen all the time. But that’s not what I said. I said the conspiracy theorists will say that Romero made it because Ricciardi needs to show something for the first-round pick (ahead of Tulowitzki) that everyone had been calling a bust for the past couple of years. It’s interesting, I have never heard anyone else in baseball refer to J.P. as a laughingstock. You must have some really, really good contacts in the industry.

    - Prokopec
  13. 13.

    Hi Mike
    Please help me understand why Hacksaw Hamilton yesterday would say the Yankees have approached the Jays about trading Roy Halladay for Cabrerra, Hughes , Cano and one other. I sincerely hope that is hype only. I also hope you can pin down JP and Doc as to what they think of that. It sure doesn’t seem to make any sense. What are your thoughts?

    MW: Who is Hacksaw Hamilton? And why wouldn’t the Yankees approach the Jays about a deal like that?

    - Richard from AR
  14. 14.

    Hi Mike; what’s the news on Ricky’s brother Davis? Will we see him in Toronto this year?

    MW: I doubt it, but you never know. I never actually saw Davis (no relation) throw this spring, and I’m not sure he actually did.

    - Zack
  15. 15.

    Hi Mike,

    I am a long time reader of the blog but this is my first time posting. I heard Lee Hamilton on XM reporting that the Yankees and Blue Jays are discussing a possible trade for Halladay. In return, the Blue Jays would get Canó and Cabrera, as well as two of the Yankees’ young pitchers. As far as you know, is there any truth to this? If so, do you think it would be a good deal?

    MW: Ahhh, so that’s who Hacksaw Hamilton is. What are you doing listening to XM radio? Anyway, as I said above, there’s no reason the Yankees wouldn’t make such an offer, and there’s no reason the Jays would accept it, unless Halladay specifically tells them that he won’t be coming back after his contract expires in 2010. Even if he did say that, though, I think the Jays would need more back.

    - Tyler
  16. 16.

    Mike,

    Whats the Jays’ staff’s fascination with Bautista. I know he has had a pretty good spring offensively but what is the point in keeping him around.

    He doesnt have any power. He is nto that good defensively. So what can he bring to the team that Jason Lane, Russ Adams or Joe Inglett cant?

    Is it just the fact that they cannot option him to AAA?

    With McDonald, Scutaro both being able to play third if Rolen goes down do they need Bautista? Is there anyway he can help this team more than the guys I mentioned earlier? I know I would rather have Lane’s power off the bench.

    What do you think?

    MW: I don’t understand the fascination with Jason Lane. Why do so many people think that one good month erases three awful years? For a guy who has no power, Bautista finished tied for second on the Jays with 15 home runs last year. He hits lefties well, and the Jays were terrible against lefties last season. That’s a big reason they’re keeping him.

    - Brandon F
  17. 17.

    Hi Mike, Great post as always one thing that stands out for when reading your blogs and the other articles from the Toronto media is you/they seem to be way more optimistic about Casey Janssen’s year then I would be. he had a great year in the pen in 2006 I think he’s alot ways away from being a good MLB starter.

    MW: Then go back and look at the starts he made in 2006 before he hurt his knee. You mean 2007 out of the bullpen.

    - Dan M
  18. 18.

    Hey Mike,

    Can’t wait for the 2009 season to start, i’ll be attending a couple of the Detroit games for sure.

    The over/under for wins by the Jays this season is 79.5, and i am currently trying to talk the wife into letting me head down to Vegas to drop a boatload of cash on the under. The best the club can hope for this year is to stay out of the basement of the AL East, as Tampa, Boston and New York will be well out of reach by the allstar break. As a fan it stinks that the team i enjoy watching is out of playoff contention before the first pitch is even thrown, but i try and stay optimistic that 2010 will be a great year with a rotation of Halliday, McGowen, Marcum, Cecil and Litsch.

    The one statement that made sense to me from management is that they would attempt to ease up on Doc’s workload in 2009, considering they have no chance to contend. I hope they make this a priority because if they continue to abuse him it may catch up with him in 2010, which would be devastating for the Jays. With a rotation of Litsch, Purcey, Mills or Richmond and then Romero (god help us), the bullpen is going to get a ton of work and will likely be in play by the 5th or 6th inning of most games. I just hope Cito doesn’t stretch Doc out too often to give the bullpen a much needed break.

    Looking forward to watching Doc on the hill, the continued development of Lind and Snider, the arrival of Cecil and how you handle all the calls from the disgruntled fans during the season.

    Thanks,

    MW: Don’t make that bet, I think you’re likely to lose the house. What makes you say the Jays have been abusing Halladay?

    - rick
  19. 19.

    Hey Mike…Hope all is well with you and yours…Just have two quick questions. 1-How many wins do you think it will take for the jays to make the playoffs this year?, and 2- How exactly does the “rookie season” in MLB work? would this be considered Snider’s rookie year or does the games he played in last september count? Im curious because I could see him having the kind of season that really opens up some eyes around the league…and possibly contend for rookie of the year…what do you think? thanks Mike…

    MW: 1 – 93. 2 – This is Snider’s rookie year. A player is considered a rookie if he has never had 130 plate appearances/50 inning pitched or 45 pre-September days in a big-league season. Yes, I think he can contend for rookie of the year.

    - Trevor B
  20. 20.

    I noticed that Frasor was brought back today on one days rest. I wonder if Cito has ever looked at his career splits and realizes that he’s basically ineffective if he doesn’t have two days rest (actually, I’m certain Cito hasn’t, but you know what I mean). The Jays would probably be much better served to use Frasor as the long man out of the pen and make sure he has ample rest between all his appearances to maximize his effectiveness.

    MW: There’s no point in carrying a reliever if he needs two days of rest after each appearance, so Frasor is going to have to show he can be effective if he’s needed sooner than that. And as a general rule, you’d like to see each of your relievers go on back-to-back days before you break camp.

    - Ari
  21. 21.

    Hi Mike,

    I think you are right, Richmond gets the 5 spot. What fun it’s going to be to see this all unfold.

    Let’s see…Richmond falters or doesn’t, Romero falters or doesn’t, Janssen returns in May or doesn’t and is good or not, Mills and Cecil pitch great at AAA or don’t. So many possible outcomes.

    And still possible questions about Litsch and Purcey. What fun!

    I also like your batting order from a previous post…most people wouldn’t think of Overbay in the leadoff position, but you do.

    I guess that’s why so many enjoy your blog, your take on the game.

    Keep it up…and thanks.

    - Steve in HH
  22. 22.

    Hey Mike

    Love the blog 2009 version, so here it is. At what point do you see the Jays bringing up catcher of the future JP Arencibia?

    MW: It depends on how the season goes and whether Rod Barajas stays healthy. If the Jays are out of it as everyone seems to expect, I can see Arencibia coming up by the all-star break, but it will probably be a little later than that.

    - Tarun from Newmarket
  23. 23.

    Hi Mike,
    Great interview with Mike Barrett. Do you think the Jays will bring him North?
    Liz

    MW: Yep.

    - Liz
  24. 24.

    Mike. I would like to see if Brad Mills will get to start for the Jays at some point this season. It sounds like he’s going to the Roy Halladay school of pitching, throwing strikes, working fast, fielding his position. Not the Juan Guzman and Kelvim Escobar school of being slow and deliberate. I can’t think of any other pitchers in Jays history who worked as slow as those two. Can you Mike. Thanks.

    Peter, St.Catharines

    MW: No, I can’t. I’m sure you’ll see Mills at some point this season. Halladay fields his position well?

    - Peter
  25. 25.

    Hey Mike,

    Big time fan of the show and the blog.

    I thought the Jays should have made an effort to get Rich Hill and let Arnsberg work his magic. However, now that I see that he’s hurt I am glad we didn’t take the chance. It seems to me though that the Tigers have lost all faith in Dontrelle Willis and have him on the DL for an Anxiety disorder(probably cause he has to put up with Sheffield in the clubhouse). I am not sure what Willis is making in terms of salary but do you think it’s possible for the Jays to make a run for Willis and trade a member of the bullpen(a strength) to the Tigers for Willis?

    As well it’s too bad the Jays didn’t listen to you last season when you talked about the idea of moving Ryan to the Indians for Peralta. Would have been a great move.

    As well I am torn on what jersey to wear to the home opener. Hill black jersey or Wells white. Any advice?

    MW: I would go with Hill black to celebrate Aaron’s healthy return. Why would you want Dontrelle Willis?

    - Jeff
  26. 26.

    Hi Mike,
    How do I find the Jays broadcast on Radio Net ? I tried the other day , but didn’t have any luck.
    Thank you

    MW: You have to go to mlb.com and sign up for their audio package.

    - kim
  27. 27.

    michael,
    with the distinct possibility of any or all of romero, mills & cecil all having an excellent opportunity of making their mark for this organization going forward, i got to thinking….
    with young litsch & purcey now clearly in the picture & janssen mcgown & marcum probably all being firmly re-established by next season, this organization certainly will have some tough decisions to make in the next 1 yr. or so.
    can’t keep em’ all can you michael?
    sure, tough decisions to be made like these is always regarded as a nice luxury to have, but it no doubt will be still be a very difficult situation to manoeuvre thru by the higher ups.
    and heck, there might be 1-2 others on the radar screen that come up thru the ranks quickly that i’m not even putting into the equation at this point.
    anyway, interesting times ahead for this organization that much seems likely…

    MW: Can’t keep ‘em all indeed, but then again, you can never have too much pitching.

    - darrell bishop
  28. 28.

    Im worried about Mills going down to AAA for no other reason than the PCL in general, and Las Vegas in specific are LAUNCHING PADS. I almost think he’d be better off going to AA rather than getting beat up down there and possibly having his confidence shook.

    MW: It’s amazing that the Dodgers have been able to come up with several good, young pitchers despite the fact that they’d been in Vegas. Where’s my Chad Billingsley guy when I need him?

    - generalzod
  29. 29.

    Congratulations to Ricky, Im hoping we can see what this kid can do and also to shut up everyone that has been blasting JP for who he didnt take with this pick. I have zero real opinion on Ricky because anything I know is all Ive read and will present my own opinion when I see him pitch for myself. Mike my question for you is who in AAA should I keep a close eye on this year other than Arencebia, Cecil and Mills (Citos “I dont want back to back lefties in the rotation” leads me to believe the 5th spot is Richmonds)? I am so excited about the season starting in 6 days and getting to watch and listen to the greatest game in the world.

    Cheers Mike

    P.S Great interview with Michael Barrett, sounds like a great asset to the team

    MW: Then again, it might be Cito saying “I don’t want back-to-back-to-back lefties in the rotation.” Keep a close eye on everyone at AAA – but Scott Campbell will be worth watching, too. And heck, keep an eye on Jason Lane while you’re at it. Let us know how he’s doing, since so many people here seem to think he’s the saviour.

    - Chris
  30. 30.

    Hi again,

    They are crediting Arnsberg for getting Romero ready to pitch. From what these guys say about him, Arsberg seems to be “the man”. What does that say about the coaches in the farm system? In my eyes, perhaps that is an area which needs to be improved if you want to get guys ready for the big leagues. Maybe teams need guys like Arnsberg on the farm rather than the bigs.

    thanks

    MW: Actually, everyone you talk to has nothing but great things to say about the coaches up and down the system, especially guys like Rick Langford and Dennis Holmberg. But there’s a reason why the big-league guys are the big-league guys. Who do so many people have to look for negatives?

    - garry
  31. 31.

    Mike

    Your thoughts on BJ Ryan and the suggestion that Cito might not use him in the “Closers Role”?

    Dan

    MW: I think it’s a phenomenal suggestion. If Ryan shows that he’s not up to the job, he shouldn’t have it just because of who he is.

    - DC
  32. 32.

    Hi Mike,

    From the MLB site, Ryan says:
    “I’m just trying to get a little more out front, not to recoil so much,”

    I think I grasp some of the “out front” part but what is he referring to about “recoil”? Can you please interpret the pitcherese?

    Thanks!

    MW: When you look at Ryan’s quirky motion, his first movement after he takes his stretch is backwards.

    - Charles
  33. 33.

    Hi Mike,

    At this point, Cito can put names in a hat and just pick them out. None of the competitors has really stood out. However, I will be optimistic. I have yet to see Romero pitch. Can you tell me what pitches he has in his repetoire? What is is velocity like on his fastball?

    MW: I don’t know how hard Romero throws, never saw a gun on him.

    - Ian
  34. 34.

    I note that the Tigers have released Gary Sheffield, meaning he can be signed for League minumum.

    Although he has been brutal this Spring, and not great over the past 2 years, is there any reason the Jays should be interested?

    MW: I think you just answered your own question.

    - GregH
  35. 35.

    hello Mike – I was listening to Ricky Romero talking about his big break and it reminded me of a question I wanted to ask you for some time. Why don’t MLB players ever refer to maing the big club as “the Show”? Is that just a Bull Durham movie myth that minor league players aspire to “making it to the Show”?

    I thought it was a common term but I can’t recall ever hearing a Jay AAA callup for example actually say “the Show” when interviewed. Is it a superstition or some unwritten code to not say it when you make it ?

    MW: No, there isn’t. Bull Durham is a 20 year-old movie.

    - Rez
  36. 36.

    As a fan I am pleased that we have an above average catching prospect in Arencibia because I believe that Barajas overachieved a little bit last year and that’s saying something since his OBA is below .300. Barrett is not much better. How is Kevin Ahrens progressing? Has he been surpassed by Campbell and Eamus as potential third basemen in 2011 or 2012. I am not as optimistic as you are about this season as I don’t believe that they will hit the 80 win mark. I believe that there is potential for disasterous results because of the inexperienced rotation but I will definitely watch and hope for the best. I am excited for what lies ahead in 2010.

    MW: Ahrens is progressing slowly, but that often happens with high-school picks. He hasn’t been surpassed by Campbell, Campbell has always been ahead of him. Emaus has the advantage of being three years older than Ahrens, as well.

    - Domenick
  37. 37.

    “For the life of me, I don’t see why people think this is a 90+ loss team.”

    The Jays are a 90-loss team because they are in the best division in baseball. And because they have one great starter, one solid, back-end-of-the-rotation guy, and three guys who probably won’t win 20 games combined. The Jays are a 90-loss team because their bullpen, which heroically overachieved last year, will likely give out in 09 because of the three guys who won’t win 20 games combined. The Jays are a 90-loss team because their corner infielders won’t hit more than 30 home-runs, and because their lead-off hitter and shortstop is neither a good lead-off hitter or, really, an everyday shortstop. The Jays are a 90-loss team because one of their two star-calibre offensive players (Vernon Wells)is starting to wear down right before our eyes.

    As someone with season tickets, someone who loves baseball, summer nights at the ballpark and the Jays, it gives me no pleasure to write any of this.

    MW: Well, then, prepare to be pleasantly surprised when you spend those lovely summer nights at the ballpark.

    - steve
  38. 38.

    MW: It’s interesting, I have never heard anyone else in baseball refer to J.P. as a laughingstock. You must have some really, really good contacts in the industry.
    ————————

    I think we might have had this conversation before. I suspect you have only slightly more contacts than me, but off the top of my head, I have heard JP ridiculed by Buddy Bell, Buck Martinez, Larry Walker, Stubby Clapp, Adam Dunn, Keith Law, Ernie Whitt, Frank Thomas, Bob Elliott, Richard Griffin and Keith Law.

    Oh, and according to Peter Gammons baseball insiders marvelled at JP’s incompetence amidst reports that he accidentally placed Brandon Lyon on waivers back in ’03, and then called the Red Sox to beg them to give him back.

    But maybe you’re right. Maybe he’s not laughed at for being the longest serving GM not to make the playoffs. Maybe you are better connected than I.

    MW: Hmmmm, and how many of those people had an axe to grind against J.P.? I’m going to go out on a limb and say all of them, considering he fired Buck, Law and Whitt, released Thomas, insulted Bell and Dunn and offended Clapp and Walker by daring to put the interests of his team ahead of theirs. People who are actually in the industry understand that it’s not as simple as “longest-serving GM to not make the playoffs.” There are actual mitigating factors in the much bigger picture.

    - Prokopec
  39. 39.

    Mike. Do you know how many assists and putouts Halladay made last season. Maybe I was giving Doc too much credit for fielding his position well. The greatest fielding pitcher I’ve seen was Greg Maddux. I’m sure you agree there?

    Sunday night will be hard for me getting sleep since I’m going to the opener. But I’m sure as heck going to try. Thanks Mike.

    Peter, St.Catharines

    MW: I don’t know how many putouts and assists Halladay had last year, but those numbers are about two mouse-clicks away. The greatest fielding pitchers I have ever seen on a regular basis are Shaun Marcum and Josh Towers.

    - Peter
  40. 40.

    Hey Mike,

    Dallas McPherson was just released from the marlins. I’m thinking he will be picked up soon. I know its late in ST, but I have a feeling he will cost significantly less than Bautista and I know its late in ST. He is the same age as Bautista but has yet to get gig at the major league level because he has been blocked by other players and in the marlins situation blocked by a GM who guaranteed bench players contracts last year. He has raked at every level in the minors to the tune of .280/.360/.635 in AAA with 85 HR in less than 1000 AB. I think he would be great to have on the bench or at least great for a legitimate option to call up for the first injury. I think maybe given a chance he might surprise.

    I know he probably wont be guaranteed an everyday spot and considering the strong sides of the possible platoon situations at 1B and DH are left handed it makes no logical sense to platoon two left handed hitters. But Down the road he might turn out to be something. And probably a better bang for your buck than Bautista will ever give you.

    What do u think??

    MW: We actually discussed McPherson on The JaysTalk tonight. I think that he would be a great guy to take a shot at, but I don’t think the Jays will do it. You have to wonder how a guy who OPS’d .997 at AAA last year, even in a hitters’ league, can get himself released, though.

    - Nick "The Greek"
  41. 41.

    MW: We actually discussed McPherson on The JaysTalk tonight. I think that he would be a great guy to take a shot at, but I don’t think the Jays will do it. You have to wonder how a guy who OPS’d .997 at AAA last year, even in a hitters’ league, can get himself released, though.

    I’m thinking it was much more of a numbers game and more due to the fact that he was the only guy with a non-guaranteed contract with the Marlins. Anyways, I think he would be a great buy low candidate, but I’m sure other teams with a roster spot open would be willing to offer more to him right now than the Blue jays could offer him. I still wonder why he wasn’t given a fair shake in Anaheim or in Florida. You would think given the times, a team with an open roster or everyday spot would offer to him and he would more than likely accept it.

    MW: Yes, you would, which again makes one wonder why he would get released and the Marlins wouldn’t try really hard to make room for him.

    - Nick "The Greek"
  42. 42.

    I just returned from vacation the other day and I’m trying to catch up. Mike, is there any reason Jessie Litsch hasn’t pitched since the middle of the month or did I miss a box-score somewhere.

    Apologies if I did.

    Drew

    MW: He’s been pitching in minor-league games in order to give the rookies in competition a chance to show their stuff against “real” competition.

    - Andrew Shone
  43. 43.

    Hey Mike,

    I was just wondering what you thought the Jays might do if Scott Richmond gets lit up on Thursday and has a start like Brad Mills did tonight? Is there any chance that Matt Clement, or someone else, comes north instead of either of the aforementioned? Or do you think that Richmond pretty much assured of the fifth spot in the rotation? It seems that Cito likes him ’cause he has shown, albeit over only five starts, that he can keep the team in games. I was just wondering what you thought might happen?

    MW: I don’t think it matters what Richmond does on Thursday, so long as he stays healthy. He’s on the team.

    - Justin from Ardtrea
  44. 44.

    Hey Mike,

    I have a buddy who throws 82 mph wearing sandals and shorts . . . He also has a herky-jerky delivery and balks on every pitch like B.J. Ryan, otherwise known as “deception.”

    Think J.P. would be interested in him to close?

    MW: Does he throw strikes?

    - Ken Pagan
  45. 45.

    M-Dub,
    comment 28
    Im right here buddy!
    Billingsley is ready to go after a slight groin strain earlier in spring training!
    Kershaw is going to be fun this year too!

    so m-dub,
    wily mo pena or what?

    MW: I’ll take what.

    - slobberface
  46. 46.

    Hey Mike

    “what makes you say the Jays have been abusing Halladay”

    I was chirping about his workload last season, as i couldn’t understand why a team that was 14.5 games out of first place on September 1st would allow their franchise player to throw 246 innings. Doc has thrown 700 innings over the last year years, and i just think it time to back off considering the team has no realistic expectations to contend. In 2003 the club allowed Doc to throw 266 innings, and he ran into injury problems in 2004 and 2005, throwing only 133/141 innings during those years.

    Perhaps Halladay is one of those guys that is able to throw 240 innings every year, and i hope he is. I would just like to see them keep his pitch count at a maximum of 100/start and see his innings capped at around 200 this year and give some of the young kids more innings. If Doc throws 250 innings this year when the team will probably not even be .500, thats just plain stupid in my opinion.

    Regarding Romero, i think part of the reason he made the club has to be attributed to the fact that he was selected in the 1st round. The other reason is just a lack of decent candidates. Based on statistics, Romero has no business in a big league rotation. He will get shelled until the Jays send him down sometime in May and call up Cecil to replace him.

    MW: Based on which statistics? You may be right – I certainly don’t think Romero will around for the whole season, either, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving him a taste until Janssen is healthy and while they get Cecil’s innings under control. As for Halladay, I’m pretty sure he didn’t rack up too many Pitcher Abuse Points despite his innings. They don’t let him throw a ton pf pitches, which is what really matters.

    - rick
  47. 47.

    Hey Mike,

    I called in last night about MacPhereson. And to speak of the devil!

    Also, I claimed I saw Mills in Clearwater which wasn’t true, I saw him in Lakeland against the Tigers…

    I guess now were even for a couple of years ago when I called in to your producer to correct a trivia giveaway when you guys asked how many strikeouts Marcum had.

    Which was probably the moment I realized I need to get a life!

    Anyways, you shurgged off the idea that Kevin Millar gets 300 at bats this year (which is no shrugging matter).. And I really hope you’re right, but just let J.P. know that if I am forced to watch Millar have 300+ at bats I’m going to send JP an invoice for wasting my time!

    MW: I’ll let you handle that.

    - Stevie H.
  48. 48.

    #45
    LOL
    i saw that response coming like a 2-0 fastball!

    - slobberface
  49. 49.

    MW: Hmmmm, and how many of those people had an axe to grind against J.P.? I’m going to go out on a limb and say all of them, considering he fired Buck, Law and Whitt, released Thomas, insulted Bell and Dunn and offended Clapp and Walker by daring to put the interests of his team ahead of theirs.
    —————————

    Everybody who makes decisions in baseball is left with people who have axes to grind against them. Only JP is held in such low regard by his peers that it is permissible to expose him publicly and still find further employment within the industry. This is the true measure of the fraud that is JP.

    Anyway, at least you didn’t try to defend him on the Brandon Lyon fiasco. Kudos.

    MW: Your logic defies explanation.

    - Prokopec
  50. 50.

    MW: It’s pretty sad that I’ll be taking at least one Troy Tulowitzki call every five days for as long as Romero is in the rotation. I wonder how many of the Troy-tskyites know that Tulowitzki hit .263/.332/.401 last season – nice, but certainly not all-starric.

    Well Tolow had an .838 OPS at age 22 in 2007 and had the best defensive season of any shortstop since The Wizard of Oz in the eighties. It’s also worth noting that Ricky Romero was drafted before the Reds drafted Jay Bruce & the Nationals drafted Ryan Zimmerman. All in all not a great decision.

    MW: It’s interesting, I have never heard anyone else in baseball refer to J.P. as a laughingstock. You must have some really, really good contacts in the industry.

    Read the comments at “The Hardball Times” and “The Baseball Think Factory”. I think it is safe to say that he is considered a laughing stock by most. He is now playing third fiddle in Toronto behind Beeston and Gaston. JP’s influence on this team in now very close to zero.

    MW: Don’t make that bet, I think you’re likely to lose the house.

    Why not….both CHONE and Baseball Prospectus have the Jays at 75 wins. I suspect the Vegas line of 79.5 is considerably high, but it really does depend on how the new young Jays do. You never know with young kids.

    “For the life of me, I don’t see why people think this is a 90+ loss team.”

    You are right Mike. They are much closer to an 87-loss team than a 90-loss team. People over reacting to the lack of established talent on the team. This team can win 75 and might actually do it. Go Jays. Any reason you haven’t downgraded your expectations with the news that McGowan is out for the year and Well’s numerous health issues? Or have you ?

    MW: People who are actually in the industry understand that it’s not as simple as “longest-serving GM to not make the playoffs.” There are actual mitigating factors in the much bigger picture.

    I beg your pardon. Please do some research. He is generally seen as incompetent and a laughingstock. What are the mitigating factors exactly. That his good buddy Paul Godfrey wouldn’t dare fire “his guy” – so he got to hang around long past his expiry date? That the the AL East was just too tough to make the playoffs (unless of course you’re the much maligned Rays). The suggestion that he is not a laughingstock and that there are “mitigating circumstances” is simply ridiculous and lame.

    MW: Sigh.

    - Ken
  51. 51.

    Mike,

    Any chance this year of replacing “Wednesdays with JP” with “Wednesdays with Beeston”?

    MW: Doubtful. I don’t think Beeston is interested in that kind of time commitment, for one thing.

    - Prokopec
  52. 52.

    I am just going to say this, though I am not a huge JP fan, but I don’t think the other GMs would call JP a laughingstock or incompetent since he put together the best pitching staff and defence in ALL of MLB last year. What would that make them, considering they did much worse in this regard? And, by the way, he did this without Beeston or Cito.

    Though not the best GM, he is not ridiculed like some claim. If such was the case, why wouldn’t Beeston have summarily sacked him immediately?

    Though you are entitled to your opinions on JP (and as I said, he is not my absolute favourite) I am getting pretty tired or this ‘laughingstock’ or ‘worst GM in baseball’ nonsense. And yet his team managed 86 victories in the AL East last year?

    - Rory
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