Monday, 26 July 2010

The Shuttle Shuffle

Looks like we'll get a new rider on the Vegas Shuttle this week, and and another rider who'd probably going to have his flight delayed.

LHSP Brad Mills, who was came into the 2009 camp with a lot of buzz but spent half of last year on the DL, is likely to start Wednesday for the Blue Jays against Baltimore. Mills has been largely off the radar this year but not for lack of effort. Other than an inexplicable loss of control in the month of May, Mills has quietly been very effective in 2010 in a league that is god's gift to hitters.

Hopefully he'll have a better go this time than he did during a brief recall in 2009 during which he got severely pounded in two appearances.

The reason he's up is because Friday's rain out pushed Shaun Marcum's next scheduled start, which would have been that Wednesday game, back a day (two actually since the Jays are off Thursday). By all accounts, this is a one and out spot start (unless the Jays decide to drop someone from the pen or a trade intervenes) which will precipitate a series of moves over the course of three days. After Tuesday's game, Mike McCoy (almost certainly) will be optioned to Vegas for Mills, then on Thursday Mills (almost certainly) will go back and the Jays will recall Travis Snider (this could happen Friday if the Jays want Snider to play in NH Thursday night but I don't see why they would bother with that). Snider, you might recall, had to stay in AA for 10 days which would have made him eligible for recall on Tuesday, but he's going to be a couple of games late now.

It's going to be tough for Mills to get back here as a starter, albeit through no fault of his own, barring more than one injury. The Blue Jays are watching the inning count on Brandon Morrow and to a lesser extent Brett Cecil, but should they need another pitcher there's Marc Rzepczyinski who's nominally ahead of Mills on the depth chart, and there's a goodly number of off days on the remaining schedule. In fact, between tomorrow and August 24, Jays starter project to pitch with at least one extra day's rest in 21 of 26 games.

Then after rosters expand, reports suggest they will go with a six man rotation, and the smart money is assuming that sixth man is Zep. No one will go on 4 days rest after that point. If Mills comes up as a long reliever/depth starter in September, he might get to pitch the last game of the year (which projects right now to be Marcum's last turn) depending on what's at stake.

It's a tough spot for him to be in.

A couple of other pitcher related notes:

  • Don't look for Drabek in September - the Jays want to hold him to about 160 IP which he'll almost certainly reach (barring injury) before the end of August.
  • Injured RHP Shawn Hill* (a seldom remembered free agent signing) has now dominated the GCL (as a pitcher his age should) 4 times and one would think he'd be pitching for Dunedin soon, since he has about three more turns before his rehab stint has to end. It's not inconceivable the Jays could bump him up through the system in August (assuming continued success) and maybe even give him a September look in Toronto.
  • I haven't seen a specific report on what the Jays are targeting as an inning limit on Zach Stewart (who's found his form of late) but he has almost matched his total from last season and if they follow the generally accepted standards, one would assume he has no more than 5 or 6 more starts before they shut him down. Unless they get crafty and shift him to relief.
finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't chime in on potential trades as the deadline approaches. Here's my take on the most discussed names:

Kevin Gregg - the Rockies have shown considerable interest and I hope the Jays make a deal - it's well known I'm no Gregg fan. Expect AA to hold out all the way through Saturday unless the Rox or someone else caves to his demands early;

Scott Downs - the most popular target, I've no idea who ends up with him but it's hard to imagine they will all risk losing him to others. expect the renting team to overpay here (albeit, Downs is perhaps the safest buy on the market). Also, don't be stunned if the stars align properly for the Jays to bring Downs back as a free agent given Downs' strong desire to remain with the team.

On the other hand, if no team pays up Alex knows there are two draft picks waiting for him if Downs signs elsewhere - though it shouldn't be overlooked that as much as Downs likes Toronto, he might just confound predictions and accept arbitration.

Jason Frasor - I'd love to see the Jays get the Mets or some other poorly run organization to bite on Frasor but I've got a bit of a hunch he doesn't get moved.

John Buck - it hurts to move a guy who did everything he was asked to do, but the Jays HAVE to get Arencibia up this year, IMO. He should be a quite valuable comodity as he hasn't slacked up much with the bat yet.

Lyle Overbay - My guess is that he won't get dealt until late August.

Edwin Encarnacion - I know what you are thinking - no one would claim him on waivers so who would trade for him? Well, for one thing, things change (i.e. Detroit's losing two important hitters this weekend) and for another, the Jays can eat salary if need be. Furthermore, Encarnacion is having a better offensive year than you might think. since he came back from the minors he's hitting for an OPS of .816 (which, by the way, parallels his OPS since early April) and he's playing better defense by all reports.
Beyond that, if you go old school and look at his counting stats, they pro-rate to the best totals of his career. He's not going to carry a team on his back for long, but could a team like, well, Detroit, use him to compliment the offense they have? Heck yeah. all that said, his contract does ensure the Jays will likely have the liberty to deal him in August if no team steps up this week.

Any other guy going from the major league squad would be a mild surprise.

Last but not least - is it too late to remind you one more time about the book?

*Edited per correction in the comments. I knew the right spelling on his name - just was an autopilot or something there. but for some reason I'd gotten it into my head he was left-handed. I should have known better but managed to mix it up somehow. corrections are always appreciated.


Ian H. said...

Stupid question: if Scott Downs gets traded at the deadline and the Jays bring him back in the offseason, does that other team get those 2 draft picks or do the Blue Jays get them?

mathesond said...

The other team would get the picks (presuming they offered him arb and he turned it down)

Anonymous said...

Shawn (not Sean) Hill isn't a lefty....just wanted to clarify.

The Southpaw said...

EH? that you say it my brain sys "I knew that!"

not sure where that particular part of my brain was when I was writing. Thanks for the catch.