Thursday, 6 March 2008

Morning Roundup

A few weeks ago I made a note to self to start reading Jeremy Sandler, the baseball writer at the National Post, and then proceeded to ignore it almost immediately. Well, shame on me because he's a very solid writer, superior to most of the others I cite on a daily basis.

While the familiar faces at the Sun, Star and Globe were churning out near cookie cutter stories about a) Eckstein's scrappiness; b) Rolen's happiness; and c) Doc's spectacularness, Sandler dug a little deeper and decided to check in on an overlooked player we should be keeping tabs on, David Purcey.

Purcey is a physically imposing left-handed starter who was JP's first pick (16th overall) in the 2004 draft. Bastian has this scouting capsule:

The Good: Few left-handers around can match Purcey's combination of size and velocity. He's a big-bodied power pitcher whose fastball sits in the low 90s, and he can dial it up to 95 on occasion. He flashes a plus slider and also mixes in a change. Prior to 2007's unique injury situation, he had been a durable arm who carried his stuff late into games.

The Bad
: Purcey's secondary stuff remains inconsistent, as does his command, as he's struggled with mechanical troubles throughout his career. Because of his limited arsenal, many ultimately project him as a reliever.

The peanut gallery has already labelled him a bust since he's entering his age 26 season and has yet to master AA. Expect the chorus to grow louder if Yankees "phenom" Phil Hughes, who was taken seven picks later, starts off well this year.

You might wonder why someone who's yet to put up an ERA under 5 in a full season at AA by his mid-20s would still merit the 'prospect' label. Last year Purcey started off gangbusters at New Hampshire, prompting many of the learned elders of Jays fandom to hop on board the bandwagon. He was then predictably felled by injury--he had surgery in June to remove cysts on his forearm, a bit of that going around--and was limited to 11 AA starts for the year. But, teasing us once again, he tore up the AFL, striking out 25, allowing only 11 hits and posting a 1.23 ERA in 25 IP against some of baseball's top prospects.

The chattering classes are now saying that if anyone in the Jays system is capable of pulling off a Dustin McGowan in 2007, it's David Purcey.

Back to Sandler. While JP cautions patience because not all prospects break on the same timetable, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg is a bit more frustrated:

"With that body and his stuff," Arnsberg says, "I was hoping he'd have year in the big leagues by now."

Arnie is pushing Purcey to push himself:

"I just said, 'You know, you're treading water, kid, and you got guys that are going to be passing you up there that shouldn't be passing you,'" Arnsberg says. "It's time for you to become a big-leaguer. We [were] having to send you back to Double-A to get your stuff straight and it's time for you to turn that corner."

Arnsberg says Purcey must be the self-declared ace in Syracuse this year. "He shouldn't go there thinking, 'I'm going to be one of the five starters.' He wants to be that guy that, 30 innings into a big-league season, if we have to make a phone call to get a starter up here, he should be that guy.

Having recently been diagnosed with ADD, Purcey is now taking medication that should enable him to focus better at this make or break point in his career. He's also a bit older, wiser, and hopefully capable of making the leap to the bigs. If AJ Burnett does depart after this season, there's a potential rotation spot waiting for him in 2009.

One shouldn't make outrageous, premature comparions, but it's worth nothing that this power lefty didn't really break until he was 25/26 and he went on to have a pretty decent career.

Looking at the other papers, Adam Lind is going to AAA with the right attitude. Should anyone get hurt this summer, he's immediately back in the mix. And we all knew he's in the fold for 2009 regardless. He took on a pretty serious offseason training regime and has let Matty Stairs take him under his wing, both smart moves so long as he doesn't suffer a keg stand injury. Lind doesn't blame Mickey Brantley for his hitting woes last year, which is noble because the man's no longer around to defend himself, but I'm going to go ahead and fault him anyway.

Why does The Star let pretty much anyone write baseball columns?

Brian Wolfe has been pitching like his job depended on perfection. It kind of does, so cool.

The Beej might throw in a real fake game this weekend.


DJF has been doing its damnedest to start Reed Johnson internet trade rumours, and looky here, the Mets will be without Moises Alou until mid-May at the earliest. Git'er done, JP! You'd figure Reed's game is more appealing to a NL team and he could keep David Wright company as the other token white guy on the Mets.

-- Johnny Was


Jay K. said...

Wait, wait, wait. I am all for a power lefty to come up for the Jay's, but there's NO WAY he could look as good as R-John in skin tight acid wash jeans. You just can't compare them.

Also, aren't the NY Mets the same squadron that pissed away Kazmir for Victor Zambrano? Is this the team you can fleece?

The Southpaw said...

He's 6'5", so I guess would call him the "Well Above Average-Sized Unit"?