12:30 PM Eastern
Well, obviously a two-game losing streak doesn’t sit well with the higher-ups in Blue Jay land. Unwilling to waste the fine offense that has led them to a 15-9 start, they turned over fully one-quarter of the pitching staff this morning with six roster moves.
Gone are David Purcey, Bryan Bullington and Brian Burres, coming up are Brett Cecil, Robert Ray and Brian Wolfe.
The big question, of course, is why Wolfe and not Accardo? OK, maybe that’s not the big question, but I know that’s the question I’m going to get on The JaysTalk probably about 8-12 times tonight. The answer is a big, fat I don’t know. At least until I talk to J.P. Ricciardi when I get to the park. Wolfe isn’t pitching better than Accardo in Vegas, nor has he had more extended outings than Accardo. Right now, let’s just say that the answer is that the Jays like Wolfe better.
As for Cecil and Ray, the hope is that they’re going to come up here and throw strikes, which is something that neither Purcey nor Burres seemed able to do to great effect.
Cecil – a sandwich pick in ’07 – fired through three levels of the minors at the ages of 21 and 22 last season (his birthday is the day after Canada Day). He tore up A-ball, held his own at AA, and got beat up a bit at AAA. His return visit to AAA this season didn’t start off well, but his last start was a good one – he allowed four hits and a walk over six innings at Sacramento, striking out five. He’ll start Tuesday against the Orioles, on a week’s rest.
Ray – a 7th rounder in ’05 and former Aggie – pitched himself onto the radar last year by going 8-6, 3.18 at AA after starting three straight years in Dunedin. The 10.1 hits per nine innings there don’t look good, but he doesn’t walk people, having averaged 2.7 walks per nine through his minor league career. That’s what the Jays are looking for right now, I think. Cito hates pitchers who can’t throw strikes, and well he should. Ray will be on the mound tomorrow, making his major-league debut in Purcey’s spot in the rotation. He’ll be throwing on five days’ rest.
Will either one of these guys be here long term? It depends on how well they pitch. When Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero come back in a couple of weeks, they’ll either take their places or replace one of them, with Brian Tallet going back to the bullpen – assuming everyone else stays healthy.
If they were going to bring up Cecil now, why not do it a week ago and save us from having to watch two starts from Burres? I think the answer to that was that they wanted Cecil to have at least one good start this season before bringing him up. Both to get him on a high note and to send the message that the kids do have to earn their way up here. Still, it’s going to be very tough for the Jays to control his innings from here on out, especially if he pitches well enough to stay. Both for that reason, and for service time reasons, I think we’ll see Cecil make a month-long trip back to Vegas at some point this season.
As for the guys who went down, Burres remains just a guy. An emergency airlift in case you need an 11th starter, which the Jays did. Bullington showed a nice slider and a good arm – there may be some there there, and hopefully they’ll let him start in Vegas, ahead of Burres or maybe Chris Michalak.
Purcey is the one the Jays want to bring back. For whatever reason, Purcey just couldn’t put it together this year. A 7.01 ERA and 1.792 WHIP tells you that, despite the 26 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. He only had one good start out of five, and it was the first one – second game of the season against the Tigers. He’s going down to Vegas to turn things around. To get back to being the guy who walked 2.6 batters per nine innings in Syracuse last year, and 2.3 per nine at AA the year before. Purcey has a big-league arm, and if he can figure out his control, a big-league future, and is still very much a part of things going forward.
I’ll get to the comments during the ballgame, and if you’re coming down, you might just get to see me on the field when it’s over doing a post-game interview for the in-stadium crowd!