Friday, April 22, 2011

Frequent Flights!

It's times like this the Jays have to even more acutely wish they were not further from their AAA team than any other major league franchise. But for a lot of fans the distance isn't really the first thing on their minds.

Brett Cecil was demoted today (well, yesterday now of course) in order to get his head and his mechanics together. By now you've surely read the details, and heard the comments by AA and others. Cecil may lack a bit on his normal velocity, but it's his command that is getting him pounded and it's easy to infer that his mechanics are off because he's trying too hard to find the lost velocity. But compounding that is that he's apparently not handling the struggle well. I've heard only a few comments which suggest it was a mistake to send him out for a bit to get things together.

Reaction was nd continues to be much more divided regarding the recent demotion of Jesse Litsch. Many Jays fans are convinced that it was simply wrong to cling to JoJo Reyes in the rotation at the expense of Litsch's major league spot. I largely disagree with that negativity. First of all, Litsch, while he's been perfectly adequate for a 5th starter type, is not without flaws. John Farrell specifies that he has issues with his pitch selection (notably "falling in love with his cutter") which, by the way, is not the first time the team has demoted him for a similar issue.

Second, the virtually unanimous conclusion that "JoJo sucks" is in my opinion wildly pre-mature. Yes, it's true that when the Braves yanked him out of AA too soon he didn't adjust well to the majors and has floundered since. He probably lost two years of normal development because of that poor decision (and refusal to back off from it). but if we learned anything from Brandon Morrow is that a new organization CAN put the mistakes of the former organization in the rear-view. What JoJo did for Atlanta has some informative value but it certainly doesn't mean there's no "there" there. Are we, as long distance obersvers, better qualified to decide a guy has no value than the respected personnel people with the team? I mean yes, if you already decided JP is a fool and Cito misguided and you see them make a questionable move maybe they get less benefit of the doubt, but AA has certainly earned some respect i would think.

Third, everyone including the players understood that this year was a "work in progress" year. The team made no pretensions about sacrificing the future for wins today. If Reyes has value, as a member of the jays or as a potential trade later on, then the team is not going to take a small marginal difference between he and Listch in return for squandering that potential value.

now, do I think Litsch DESERVED a demotion? Not really, certainly no more so than Janssen did. But I don't think it's worth more than a slightly bemused shrug. The added layer now is, of course, that with Cecil down, Litsch can't be recalled in time for Cecil's next turn because of the 10 Day Rule. This though, assumes he wasn't really demoted to work out anything but for no other reason that the option issue. Litsch can be recalled if Hill (or someone else) ends up on the DL before Tuesday, and IF the jays do choose to bring him back then there is a legitimate question to ask - "why didn't you wait until after Cecil's start if you were thinking of demoting Cecil all along, and see if you were going to need Jesse?"

Here's my theory - Alex Anthopoulos is always 3 steps ahead of everyone else, including is. The idea that he simply screwed up and demoted Listch 2 days too soon and now regrets it is, frankly, inconceivable to me. I don't think Gord Ash would have made that mistake and I'm certain AA didn't. Litsch is going to get, in my estimation, at least 2 starts in Vegas and should. Cecil will get as many as necessary to get himself together, which will be at least two (one to do it and one to prove he got it). In the mean time, there's another player to consider here.

Brad Mills. Yes, the lefty is derided as a "junkballer" and his previous major league appearances have been disappointing. But he's owning the PCL in three starts so far, sporting a 0.82 ERA and a .162 BAA. If the Jays don't intend to give him a chance in the majors now, with an opportunity in hand and that effort on his resume, then they ought to go ahead and trade him because he's not going to pitch any better than this in Vegas. As with Reyes, the team needs to know what it actually has, and needs for other teams to know if there's value there worth dealing for. there's really only one way to do that. Mills is, IMO, potentially on a par with Litsch. Neither is an overpowering guy, both will have to cling to the bottom of the rotation on cunning and guile (in the same vein as Shaun Marcum, but against tougher competition). He's never goingto be a Cy contender. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have value.

In the long run, things are still difficult. if everyone were healthy, if Reyes and Mills both take advantage of their opportunity, if Litsch and Cecil both regain their footing as the team wishes - then you still have to figure out how to use SEVEN starters. and that's before I lament that Zep is probably better than Mills and Listch and maybe better than Reyes. how would you like to be Scott Richmond and know there are eight guys in front of you and a prospect behind who might get promoted over you if it came to a legitimate opportunity?

I should mention Chris Woodward's promotion, of course. He'll have to go through waivers when he's farmed out but don't worry, he's not the sort of player you lose on waivers - or mourn the loss of if you do.

1. In the next few days, Morrow will be activated to start on Saturday and Luis Perez will be demoted;
2. Aaron Hill will either return to action or be DL'd and if so McCoy will return in his place;
3. Raji Davis will be activated on Tuesday and Woodward will be waived back to the minors;
(alternately, the Jays might wait about Hill to Tuesday and just simply swap him for Davis)
4. Mills (most likely) will be recalled for the Tuesday start and a reliever (likely Janssen, sadly) will be demoted.

All this barring further injury of course.

Oh, and by the way - the Jays got Brad Emaus back from the Mets and sent him to Las Vegas. look for him to be installed as the regular 2B and for Niuman Romero (no relation) to head to AA.

What else? That cover everything? did I miss anything in the last half hour? Okay then, I leave you with this thought: It's been EIGHTEEN games - not even 4 times through the rotation - simmer the fuck down. i remind you that Brandon Morrow's ERA after 3 starts last year was 7.31, and on April 21 last year Jose Bautista was hitting .207, so take a breath.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Litsch was taken out of yesterday's game. Rumour is he'll likely make Tuesday's start. I think Mills needs to have at least a 1/2 season of excellent performance to get another shot. Zep's not coming out of the pen.
I think Litsch will once again have a sub 4.00 ERA this season.