Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Deep Deep Depth

Alex is, of course, in the news again today, explaining to the masses what he's up to now. In the interview with Bob McCowan this afternoon he offers some insight into what'a going on with the Jays now and he teases us with the implication that he's pretty much done ("except a minor league deal or two").

First, that disappoints me regarding my Chavez fetish, and second the presumptive lineup of Bautista at 3B and Rivera in RF now seems more likely (not that saying nothing is afoot means NinjaGM won't strike again within the next five minutes.

Beyond that, though, he defended the state of affairs that has the team dripping with pitching options. There are so many, in fact, that I figure a scorecard is needed. Even though the focus of today's deal wasn't the rotation, i might as well be as through here as i tried to be with the offense, since there is some rsisidual impact of one on the other.

Starting Rotation

1. Rickey Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Brett Cecil

That's pretty much set in stone. the other two spots have more or less presumptive candidates, but written in pencil rather than ink.

4. Jesse Litsch
5. Kyle Drabek

In many minds, Drabek is considered the 4th guy because he's the fellow, beyond the Big 3, who seems most likely to be on the staff. But assuming health and a competent ST, Litsch enjoys the benefit of seniority and, in my opinion, the likely holder of "first dibs" on the rotation - and traditionally your rookie (Drabek) will be your #5, regardless of relative talent. As noted, though, these two spots are subject to change should spring inefficiency undermines either guy.

Other candidates include, in what i consider the order of most likely to win an opening day job:

Marc Raepczynski
Jo-Jo Reyes (because he's out of options)
Scott Richmond
Brad Mills
Zach Stewart - who's more talented than anyone else on this list but he'd have to literally cursh his opposition to leapfrog up this list to the top 5 - primarily because he really needs one more season to stretch his max-innings limit. Assuming that the jays didn't lose Reyes on the waiver wire, that would be your Las Vegas rotation. I have to admit I'm not a little troubled that Zep seems pretty much ready but doesn't have a role and has Stewart closing hard on the first one which arises. His major hope right now is that Drabek struggles in the Spring giving him a chance to make himself hard to bypass.

Also, four of those those excess five starters (excepting Stewart) are nominal candidates for the 'pen, although that's an increasingly difficult scenaro to imagine.


Frank Francisco - the favorite to close, IMO.
Jon Rauch - Excellent and obvious option for the 8th inning RH role.
David Purcey - ready for the Downs job and it's crucial to the balence of the pen he fills it.
Octavio Dotel - Still not convinced he stays, but he serves as an alternate to the two righties above and will presumably seldom face a lefty.
Jason Frasor - regulated to middle innings, at least the illusion he can't handle late innings won't be an issue.
Shawn Camp - under-rated, also capable of up to 3 IP so defacto "long reliever"

Those six are all but mortal locks, if healthy and not departed. That leaves one, or possibly two, more spots to fill and so far only one lefty. These candidates, too, are listed in order of the strength of their candidacy A lot of these guys are not really any sort of candidate and are listed because they might be candidates on a less deep team - that is, if things got so bad they had to be called they'd still be at least competent:

Casey Janssen - just as effective Frasor or Camp and under-rated in about every way possible. in a less over-crowded situation he'd be a lock. While I'm unclear on options, I believe the prevailing belief is that he has one left, which hurts his candidacy.
Jo-Jo Reyes - Again, benefits from being out of options and, in this case, left handed. but that alone won't get him in, he HAS to show the team he can be dependable or he'll depart (probably) in the final cuts.
Marc Rzepczyznski - I might be overly optimistic in listing him ahead of the next guy, but I think most teams value the second LH reliever and that, presumably, gives an edge.
Carlos Villianueva - The whole off-season he's been thought of as more or less a lock but the numbers are certainly not in his favor at this point. I'm not sure that he has options but if he doesn't, I expect a late march trade of this guy unless he is most impressive in ST.
Jesse Carlson - Also in play for the "second left hander" position, should the Jays prioritize that role, but Zep is a better pitcher and I'm unclear on his option status. If he has no option either, he might move up into a tie with Reyes on this list.
Josh Roenicke - Would have to be massively impressive to overcome the numbers game.
Scott Richmond - owns RH hitters, but so does Dotel. Virtually no chance.
Brad Mills - an option for the second lefty role, but hard to overcome the guys in front of him.
Zach Stewart - only a candidate in the most technical sense, no way the Jays compromise his development given the number of options available to them.
Alan Farina - no reason to rush him under these circumstances.
Bobby Ray - technically a starter but given the SP depth for the jays, has no real shot and only slightly more of a shot at pitching in relief for the Jays.

That's a total of 22 names mentioned in this article. if we assume that Janssen completes the 'pen in Toronto, then you have Stewart, Zep, Richmond, Mills, Reyes and Ray would be the Vegas rotation and Villianueva, Carlson, Roenicke, Farina, and Ray will be relieving there, along with a couple of other filers such as Luis Perez, Sean Henn and Winston Abreu.

That, frankly, is insane depth. I submit this now, pending revision if I can find out the option status of some of these guys.


Thanks to a comment, I'm reminded that I overlooked Chad Cordero. It's very true that he might be done as an effective major leaguer, but he should be at least mentioned. Also, while I'm speaking of lingering injury recoveries or lack thereof, I'll throw in the name of Dustin McGowan while I'm editing.

The other guys mentioned in the comment I didn't forget, I simply disregarded. Wil Ledzma is major suckage and Abreu can't be as good as his stats or the Rays would have clung to him fiercely given the turnover in their 'pen this winter.


Andy Mc said...

I like


Reyes can do long work along with Camp if need be. Very solid.

gabriel said...

And we can add to the list Chad Cordero, Wil Ledezma and Winston Abreu. All three would be respectable additions to a MLB bullpen.

Frankly, I don't understand the massive reliever stockpile we have. Strikes me as excessive. Perhaps Frasor & Camp have trade value and can be moved.

Jon said...

I don't understand why people are sold on Litsch. Sure he might be healthy but I seem to remember his performance from last year being pretty atrocious. Further, I also remember someone saying his hip injury had no effect on his pitching but he just wanted to take care of it.

Having said all that I think the front runner for the third spot is Stewart as I remember hearing AA saying he was just as good as Drabek last year.

If thats the case we would have 3 power arms in the rotation. Not too shabby.

The Southpaw said...

Listch was coming of TJ surgery, and those 9 starts have to be weighed against 48 pretty effective starts the first to years.

IMO, he's a lesser starter than Drabek Stewart, AND Zep and i tend to think he'll lose his spot this year.

But I also think that there's a strong possibility that the Jays will take the cautious and slow route and defer to his veteran status if he pitches reasonably well in Spring Training.

not saying that's what i myself would do - I'm attempting to predict what THEY will do.

As for Stewart, his IP ceiling this year is gonna be about 165, anything more than that and they are unnecessarily taxing his arm - with the depth the team has it's silly to try to get those innings in the majors.

If it was merely Litsch v. Stewart maybe - but they need to maximize their value on Zep too.

Spiggy said...

The best possible outcome, IMO, is Litsch in the rotation for a few months to prove that he's still a dolid but unspectacular pitcher, then deal him to an NL team and put Rzep in the starting 5.