The great and wise Cito took it upon himself to comment on the 2011 bullpen situation as recorded by Jordan Bastian here.
Gaston says, in the article, that the Jays are in real need of signing veterans for next year's pen because they don't have anyone but "kids" and the "kids" can't be asked to pitch under the pressure of the AL East. Of all the undiluted BS which he's caressed us with this year, this might take the cake.
One of the things he bemoans is that the young starters "go out there and pitch their heart out" - by what logic do we decide that the AL East is not too hard for a 22 or 23 year old Ricky Romero or Brett Cecil or, hell, even a Jesse Litsch for 6 or 7 innings. BUT it's far too hard for 1 inning of work for a 27 year old Josh Roenicke, a 28 year old David Purcey, or a 29 year old Jesse Carlson?
These are KIDS?
(Casey Janssen and Taylor Buchholz are both 28 as well, and that's not even bringing up Shawn Camp)
Now, if you want to argue that these guys don't have the TALENT to pitch in this division, fine - but that has fuck-all to do with their age. Two years ago, then 27 year old Jesse Carlson, with no major league experience, absolutely destroyed the AL East. So did 25 year old Brandon League. In 2007, then 25 year old Casey Janssen was virtually untouchable. and 25 year old Jeremy Accrdo stepped out of obscurity and was one of the best closers in the league.
Cito said, of the closer job "If he's (Gregg) not here, we don't have one. Do you see one? I don't see one."
Who saw Accardo as the 2007 closer in September 2006? Even if we'd known Ryan couldn't answer the bell. Nobody.
Do I KNOW that Purcey or Roenicke or, heck, even Buchholz, will have the composure to close in 2011? Hell know. But I know from what the scouts say that both Purcey and Roenicke have the stuff too. And that's to say nothing of Zach Stewart.
But I'm not even trying to defend these guys specifically. the point is that (a) young guys step up and pitch impressively in this division all the time; (b) that there is no difference in a young pitcher throwing one inning late in the game than a young pitcher throwing 6 early in the game; and (c) that a lot of these guys are NOT young and NOT inexperienced.
Consider - Jason Frasor departs, Casey Janssen remains. Janssen's stats this year are virtually identical to Frasor's, and he has late game experience from three seasons back. There is NO reason Janssen can't replicate Frasor's work, at a bare minimum. Shawn Camp pitched BETTER than Gregg did.
Downs will be tough to replace, no doubt - he's one of the best at what he does - but what was he when we acquired him?!
Frankly, he was Brad Mills. Nobody could have been sure in 2005 that he would even survive on this team, let alone turn into one of the very best late-inning lefties of the decade.
Let's say the Jays keep Gregg on his option, just to lay aside all the alleged intangiblness of the closer role. Here's a projected pen for 2011, without any signings:
Closer - Gregg
Set up - Camp or Janssen and Carlson or Purcey
middle - Camp or Janssen and Carlson or Purcey
long relief/ spot start - Roenicke and Zep or Mills
If we assume that Hill is in the rotation and Drabek is in Vegas (along with Stewart) that still leaves Buchholz (DON'T obverlook this guy) Richmond, Listch, Accardo and Tallet (both likely non-tendered) Hayhurst, McGowan (if recovered) as overflow.
Of those 12 candidates for the pen, only Listch, Zep, and Mills will be less than 28. and 8 have 2 years or more major league experience.
Cito might as well have come out and said "get more guys cause these guys suck."
Most aggravating of all was this gem:
"I think you've got to have some out there," Gaston said, "some that have been in the war, been in the battle for when you go up against teams like Minnesota or teams like the Yankees, Tampa, Boston. Late in the ballgame, those guys have got to be able to come in and do that job.
"Not to say those kids are not going to be able to do it, but there's going to be a lot of pressure on them. Maybe gradually they can move into that role, but for next year you're going to have to have some veterans out there, I believe."
Gradually? Gradually move in? What has Janssen been doing when healthy the past 4 years? what has Purcey been doing? what has Carlson been doing? They have been, under Cito, the back of the pen guys instead of frontline. ok, cool, gradually they have been readied and now it's time for them to inherit the frontline jobs - if not, just say "these guys suck" and we'll argue about that.
Meanwhile, Zep or Mills or Roenicke slide into those less crucial roles that Purcey and janssen were in and , ya know, EASE INTO IT. But you know what stands in the way of that?
How the HELL do you "ease" "young" pitchers into increasingly high leverage roles if you KEEP blocking them with the Tanyon Sturtze's and Kerry Lightenberg's of the world (someone remind me how THAT worked out for us again? no, wait, don't)
Geez-almighty-Lousie that man turns my crank.
(Note for clarity, I'm NOT saying it's necessarily a bad idea to find a nice bargain vet guy to add to the mix. Having more depth is fine. But in my opinion, if we add someone, other than a closer, it ought to be a guy who will have to come in here and TAKE the set-up job from the in-house guy, not a guy who's the presumptive favorite because he's past 30)