Back in late April JP did a little roster shufflin', DFA-ing Chiefs starter Josh Banks (50th overall pick in the 2003 draft) to make room on the 40-man for minor league invitee Shawn Camp. There was little outcry at the time; Banks had scuffled through 2 tours at AAA in 2006 and 2007, showing little beyond excellent control and a propensity for surrendering bushelfuls of home runs. Banks didn't help his cause by getting off to a craptacular start this year and had fallen down on the starting depth chart behind the likes of veteran roster fillers John Parrish and Kane Davis.
Sharing a first name and skill set with another recently departed starter I'd rather not name, there wasn't the remotest chance he'd crack our rotation at any point this year and the DFA gave him an opportunity for a fresh start. The Padres picked him up. Score! What pitcher wouldn't want to ply his trade in the friendly confines of PETCO? Camp, meanwhile, has been a productive member of the Jays bullpen and will probably stick after guys like Brian Wolfe and Jeremy Accardo come off the DL. Seemed like a win-win for all parties. So far so good?
When you're off to a horrible start and temporarily unemployed, why not tinker with your game a bit? That's what Banks did.
"I just kind of modified my delivery on my own," he said. "That was one of the things I had thought about doing with Toronto before I came over."
Easy shmeasy, right? Who needs a pitching coach? The result? 17 scoreless innings and counting for the Pads, including a complete game victory over the Giants in his last outing. Teammates are over the moon for the guy. A sampling of their comments:
"He's got a little of Roy Halladay, the way he turns," [Jake] Peavy said.
"He's got like 13 pitches and throws strikes with all of them," said Padres reliever Heath Bell.
"He's a crafty righty," [manager Bud] Black said.
One man's garbage is another man's treasure, I suppose. Jean Machi must be praying he gets DFA'd too.
The ESPN supercomputer says the Jays have a 46% chance of victory as the enigmatic AJ Burnett takes on the less mystical Jon Garland. Garland hasn't pitched particularly well against the Jays through his career, but always seems to end up winning (10-2 with a 4.17 ERA in 16 career appearances).
A win today putting the Jays at 4-2 in California through this trip would leave me ecstatic. The Jays really had no business winning last night's game (which they lost), but Gibby really muffed it badly in extras.
Walking the bases loaded with less than 2 outs in a tie road game in extras is like betting heavily on a pair of twos. If you're curious, here's a numbers heavy piece from Tom Tango at The Hardball Times on when you should and shouldn't intentionally walk the sacs full. Short version: it's like the bunt; traditional baseball wisdom goes that you should set up the inning-ending double play with runners on second and third and one out, but cold hard mathematical probability says you've just increased your opponent's probability of scoring by doing so. When one run wins it, that's just not smart. And never, under any circumstance, should you intentionally walk a hitter as bad as Jeff Mathis.
-- Johnny Was