Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 pm
By Matt Snyder
The 2011 Blue Jays were 81-81, despite blowing an AL-worst 25 saves. So the task heading into the offseason for general manager Alex Anthopolous was pretty clear: Improve the bullpen. And he did, in trading for Sergio Santos and signing Francisco Cordero, among other upgrades. If the Blue Jays can knock off 10-15 of those blown saves and basically play similarly in every other aspect, they'll have a great shot at one of the two wild card spots. And the good news for the Jays is that they appear a bit better in other aspects than last season, like getting a full season from Brett Lawrie, to name one example.
Major additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jason Frasor, OF Ben Francisco, IF Omar Vizquel
Major departures: C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Eric Thames, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Henderson Alvarez
4. Brett Cecil
5. Dustin McGowan
Kyle Drabek is also in the mix.
Closer: Sergio Santos
Set-up: Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen
Important bench players
OF Rajai Davis, OF Ben Francisco, OF Travis Snider, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel
Prospect to watch
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, one of the players who came over in the Roy Halladay trade, just turned 23 years old and is considered a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers in 114 Double-A games last season. And while Arencibia hit 23 bombs last season, he also had a paltry .219 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. He struck out 133 times while only walking 36. So it's entirely possible he struggles mightily and is replaced by d'Arnaud at some point this season. Or maybe the Jays trade one of them? We'll see, but keep your eye on d'Arnaud's progress. Many believe he's special.
Fantasy sleeper: Henderson Alvarez
"Alvarez wasn't considered a high-profile prospect at this time last year, so understandably, his 10 starts during a late-season trial weren't enough to put him on most Fantasy owners' radars. But consider just how impressive those 10 starts were. Better yet, consider how impressive his final eight were. He pitched at least six innings in each, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He also issued only six walks during that stretch. Six. In 53 innings. And this isn't some soft-tosser who took the league by surprise simply by throwing strikes, a la Zach Duke in 2005. Alvarez throws in the mid-90s. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff to go along with a good feel for the strike zone and has already tasted success in the heavy-hitting AL East." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Fantasy bust: J.P. Arencibia
"Arencibia was one of five catchers to hit 20-plus homers last year, and he did it as a rookie. But before visions of Mike Piazza start dancing in your heads, keep in mind he was especially old for a rookie, turning 25 before the start of the season. He's 26 now, which means he's already in the thick of his prime, which means what you see with him might be exactly what you get. And it's even worse than it looks. Arencibia hit only .219 in 2011, which is discouraging enough, but when you consider he got worse over the course of the season, hitting .199 over the final four months, you have to wonder if his excessive strikeout rate makes him a sitting duck against major-league pitching." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Morrow has a huge breakout campaign, giving the Jays a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. Alvarez blossoms into a good No. 3 while Drabek realizes his potential and has a huge second half. Lawrie enters stardom early and Rasmus reaches his potential, making the offense even more potent than before. Plus, the new back-end of the bullpen is dominant. That gets the Blue Jays into the 90s in victories and they win a wild card.
The Jays just didn't do enough to close the gap, as they still aren't good enough to finish ahead of any of the following, at the very least: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers or Angels. Instead, they're more on the same footing as the Royals and Indians. Thus, it's another fourth-place finish for the Blue Jays, who haven't made the playoffs since 1993.
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Tags: 2012 spring training, Adam Lind, AL East, Ben Francisco, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Francisco Cordero, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jeff Mathis, Jose Bautista, Kelly Johnson, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Omar Vizquel, Rajai Davis, Ricky Romero, Sergio Santos, spring training, spring training 2012, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:59 am
By Matt Snyder
Here we are for the fifth of six installments of spring positional battles. This one is the mighty AL East, the most polarizing and probably best division in the majors.
Previous spring position battles: AL West | NL West | AL Central | NL Central
New York Yankees
Designated Hitter: Andruw Jones vs. Russell Branyan vs. Free Agent vs. Revolving Door
I still feel like the Yankees will sign either Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez or Hideki Matsui -- any of whom likely nails down this job full-time. But it's undecided as of right now, and wide open. Will Andruw Jones or Russell Branyan hit well enough to justify being the full-time DH? Maybe, or maybe they platoon -- as Jones hits from the right side while Branyan is a lefty. Or maybe the Yankees use bench players like Eduardo Nunez, Bill Hall and Chris Dickerson in the field while using starters like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher at DH a few times a week in order to keep guys healthy and in tip-top shape.
Tampa Bay Rays
No. 4-5 starters: Jeff Niemann vs. Wade Davis vs. Matt Moore vs. Six-man rotation
Talk about a nice "problem" to have. The Rays obviously have David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson as the top three in the rotation. While there isn't a big problem with either Niemann or Davis, it's time to find a place in the rotation for Moore and I'm certain they will. The 22-year-old left-hander was awesome in his limited time in the majors last year, including a stellar outing against the Rangers in Texas for Game 1 of the ALDS. Moore's already received the type of team-friendly contract Evan Longoria got when he was a rookie -- as Moore is signed through 2016 with club options running all the way through 2019. So the question is, do the Rays demote either Niemann or Davis to the bullpen or trade one of them? Niemann would be the trade candidate, as Davis also has a team-friendly contract with club options that take him through 2017. And I doubt this happens, but the Rays could always go with a six-man rotation. Seeing how this plays out will a big spring storyline.
Boston Red Sox
Shortstop: Nick Punto vs. Mike Aviles vs. Jose Iglesias
After trading both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie this offseason, the Red Sox are left with what appears to be Mike Aviles against Nick Punto at short. Punto had a good offensive campaign by his standards last season, when he hit .278 with a .388 on-base percentage. He only had six starts at shortstop, though, and his career numbers don't indicate he's worthy of an everyday gig at shortstop. Aviles also only started six games at short last season, and he only hit .255/.289/.409. He did hit well for the Red Sox, but it was a small 107 plate appearance sample. So the choice between Punto and Aviles is dubious defensively and neither is a good offensive option. Enter Iglesias, the dazzling defensive prospect. He's a dreadful hitter -- his line in Triple-A was .235/.285/.269 last season -- but it's not like Aviles or Punto are going to be confused with Troy Tulowitzki or anything. Maybe the Red Sox just plant Iglesias in the nine-hole and enjoy the exceptional defense?
Corner Outfield spots: Cody Ross vs. Ryan Sweeney vs. Carl Crawford and his health
Crawford is said to be questionable for the start of the season after undergoing minor wrist surgery a few weeks ago. If he's healthy, he starts in left easily while Sweeney and Ross battle it out for the right field job. If Crawford can't start the season, Ross and Sweeney are the corner outfielders, yet still fighting for the right field job for when Crawford returns. At some point, Ryan Kalish will return from offseason shoulder surgery and could eventually fight for playing time in right field as well.
Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield logjam: Colby Rasmus vs. Eric Thames vs. Rajai Davis vs. Travis Snider
We know who mans right field, but these four guys are competing for the other two spots. Thames in left field and Rasmus in center seem the most likely, but Davis will get a shot at either spot and Snider is in the mix for left.
No. 5 starter: Dustin McGowan vs. Kyle Drabek
This may bleed up into the No. 4 starter as well, but I'll give Brett Cecil the nod for now, since he is left-handed. The top three are Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez. So, for now, I'll guess the last spot comes down to McGowan and Drabek. McGowan was once a very promising young arm. He went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings back in 2007, when he was 25. He then made 19 starts before falling injured in 2008 and finally just resurfaced late last season -- two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery later. Does he have anything left? He was good in 12 minor-league starts in 2011, but had a 6.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in the small sample of 21 innings pitched for the Blue Jays. Drabek was a top 30 prospect each of the past two years, according to Baseball America, but he fell flat last season for the Jays. He had a 6.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP and more walks than strikeouts for the big-league club. Even worse, he was knocked around for Triple-A Las Vegas, to the tune of a 7.44 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in 75 innings. Walks, again, were an issue with Drabek issuing 41 compared to 45 strikeouts. Prospects Deck McGuire and Drew Hutchison could also figure in the mix eventually, but this feels like Drabek vs. McGowan heading into March.
The entire pitching staff: Johnny Wholestaff vs. Joe Allstaff
So let's see ... the following pitchers might have a chance at the starting rotation: Zach Britton (very safe bet), Jason Hammel (safe bet), Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Alfredo Simon and Tommy Hunter. That's quite a mix of pitchers to sift through, but the job isn't overwith yet, because we have to look at the bullpen.
Three pitchers -- Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg -- will compete for the closer job, with Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day also being part of the bullpen mix. Of course, guys like Simon, Hunter and Bergesen will get a shot in the bullpen if they miss out on the rotation, too. There are more (Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga, etc.), but I already named 17 pitchers vying for 12 spots.
We could probably move Simon and Hunter to the bullpen while eliminating Eveland from the starting mix, but that still leaves eight guys in competition. In the bullpen, Johnson seems the best bet to win the closer gig, with Lindstrom and Gregg setting up. Add Strop, Patton, Simon and Hunter and you have your seven. But, again, we've thrown out Eveland and there would still be three extra starters along with O'Day, Eyre et al on the outside looking in.
I'll say one thing: Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair won't be bored this spring. Maybe frustrated, but definitely not bored.
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Tags: AL East, Alex Rodriguez, Alfredo Simon, Andruw Jones, Blue Jays, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Carl Crawford, Chris Tillman, Cody Ross, Colby Rasmus, Dana Eveland, Darren O'Day, Derek Jeter, Dustin McGowan, Eric Thames, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Jeff Niemann, Jim Johnson, Johnny Damon, Jose Iglesias, Kevin Gregg, Kyle Drabek, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Moore, Matt Snyder, Mike Aviles, Nick Punto, Orioles, Pedro Strop, Rajai Davis, Rays, Red Sox, Russell Branyan, Ryan Sweeney, spring position battles, Tommy Hunter, Travis Snider, Troy Patton, Tsuyoshi Wada, Wade Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Yankees, Zach Britton
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:15 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
The American League East is the biggest, baddest division in baseball -- in large part because of the deep pockets of the Yankees and Red Sox, but also because of the drafting and development from the Rays. Somewhere in the middle is the Blue Jays, a team that could be a giant in maybe any other division in baseball. In our exercise, the Blue Jays have an argument as one of the best teams in baseball, largely because of a stout rotation.
1. Reed Johnson, CF
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Michael Young, 1B
4. Adam Lind, DH
5. Vernon Wells, LF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Ryan Roberts 3B
8. J.P. Arencibia, C
9. Cesar Izturis, SS
1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Ricky Romero
4. Shaun Marcum
5. Alfredo Aceves
Closer - Brandon League
Set up - Marc Rzepczynski, Tim Collins, Brandon Lyon, Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen
Long - Jesse Litsch
Notable Bench Players
Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Casey Blake, Travis Snider, Eric Thames.
That rotation, are you kidding?
There's Rios and Wells -- two of the most overpaid players in the game. Those two are not just overpaid, they're also not very good. Eric Thames could step in for either one. There are some decent players on the bench, but not a lot of pop.
Comparison to real 2011
The 81-81 season was seen as a step forward for the Blue Jays in 2011, but with this lineup the expectations would be much, much higher. The rotation alone makes this team the favorite in the AL East in our hypothetical. The offense lacks the impact of Jose Bautista, but there's enough to support the pitching staff. Not only is this team better than the real Blue Jays, they have a shot at winning it all.
Next: Colorado Rockies
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, AL East, Alex Rios, Alfredo Aceves, Blue Jays, Brandon League, Brandon Lyons, C. Trent Rosecrans, Casey Blake, Casey Janssen, Cesar Izturis, Chris Carpenter, Dustin McGowan, Eric Thames, Felipe Lopez, homegrown, J.P. Arencibia, Jesse Litsch, Jose Bautista, Marc Rzepcynski, Michael Young, Orlando Hudson, Reed Johnson, Ricky Romero, Roy Halladay, Ryan Roberts, Shaun Marcum, Tim Collins, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:00 pm
By Matt Snyder
Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...
Team name: Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 81-81, 4th place in AL East, 16 games back
Manager: John Farrell
Best hitter: Jose Bautista -- .302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 105 R
Best pitcher: Ricky Romero -- 15-11, 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 178 K, 225 IP
2011 SEASON RECAP
The Jays played .500 ball pretty much throughout the season. By month, they were one game under .500, two over, three under, four over, two under and two under, respectively. That's the very definition of an average baseball team, but there are mitigating factors. Namely, the Jays are playing in the best division in baseball, trailing the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. If you removed those three teams from the schedule, the Jays went 60-48. So you can argue this is already a very good baseball team caught in the wrong division. Of course, they aren't going to be getting out of the AL East anytime soon, so there's no use in thinking about what could be.
They're actually set up to have a legitimate shot at the division. The Yankees are aging and have pitching questions, the Rays have monetary issues, the Orioles aren't close yet and who knows what happens with the Red Sox? The Blue Jays will need steps forward from young players like Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil and either Colby Rasmus or Travis Snider. They also need to shore up the bullpen. The Blue Jays were ninth in the AL in bullpen ERA. Saves and blown saves are flawed stats, but 33 saves against 25 blown saves doesn't bode well in close games. Only the Astros had a worse save percentage in 2011. I'm not necessarily of the opinion that a team has to have one closer and always use him in save situations, because sometimes a three-run lead in the ninth doesn't need maximum protection, but each team should have one reliable guy to shut down the opposition and Toronto lacked that for most of the season.
The good news for the Blue Jays is that they are in position to increase the payroll, reportedly pretty significantly, in the next two seasons. That doesn't mean it's all happening now, but a big splash is coming.
Jose Molina, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B/DH ($3.5 million club option)
Shawn Camp, RP
Frank Francisco, RP
Jon Rauch, RP ($3.75 million club option)
Tags: Adam Lind, Adeiny Hechavarria, AL East, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jesse Litsch, Joel Carreno, Jose Bautista, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Prince Fielder, R.I.P., Ricky Romero, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: September 16, 2011 5:18 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
You know how blenders work?
They have a very sharp blade that spins very quickly, chipping up anything in its path -- and it doesn't have to even be moving to cut something. I've got to admit I once learned this the hard way, so did Blue Jays' left-hander Brett Cecil. Cecil has been scratched from his start Friday night against the Yankees after cutting his left index finger while cleaning out a blender. Right-hander Dustin McGowan will start in his place. McGowan was scheduled to start Sunday, with Brandon Marrow moving up to take that start.
Cecil is still listed as day-to-day, so his season hasn't been ended like fellow lefty Jeremy Affeldt, who had his season ended when he cut himself trying to separate frozen hamburger patties (which, it should be noted, you should never use -- you can always get fresh ground meat, get it from the butcher and hand-form it, just a little salt and pepper and you're golden).
Oh well, I guess it's just another case of lefties being a little… different and a bit clumsy, which I say as a lefty myself.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 11, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 11:52 am
By Matt Snyder
It's September 11, 2011. Much smarter people than myself have written about today, but things other than baseball should certainly be somewhere in our minds. Ten years ago today was a rough one. Let's be happy for what we have and cherish life. When you do stumble back to baseball for entertainment -- and it's essential for maintaining sanity -- you can follow all the live action on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. For me, though, it feels like baseball takes a back seat to the 10-year anniversary of a day that was so horrible, yet brought us all together as one, big family.
Strasmas ... again: It's Strasmas in D.C. Phenom Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the season Sunday for the Nationals, as they host the Astros. He worked five shutout innings Tuesday, allowing just two hits while striking out four. In his major-league career, Strasburg has a 2.71 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 73 innings. Expect him to work somewhere from four to six innings, depending upon how the pitch count falls. Henry Sosa (2-3, 4.11) takes the hill for the Astros, whose next loss will match a franchise-high 97 for the season. Astros at Nationals, 1:35 p.m. ET.
Dustin's Return: Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan hasn't started a game in the majors since July 8, 2008, but he'll give it a go Sunday against the Orioles. He's had several surgeries -- two to his shoulder and one to his knee -- and a long road of rehab back, so it's difficult to not root for him. He allowed three runs in four relief innings earlier this week, but it feels like a clean slate in his start Sunday. Tommy Hunter (3-3, 5.28) takes the hill for the Orioles. Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET.
Sunday's Big Game: If the Rays beat the Red Sox, it will only be a 3 1/2 game lead for the Sox in the AL Wild Card race. And the Rays visit the Red Sox for a four-game series on their upcoming road trip. As if the stakes weren't high enough, two All-Stars take the mound. James Shields (14-10, 2.77) squares off against Jon Lester (15-6, 2.93). Last time the two started in the same game, the result was a 3-1 Red Sox win -- in which Shields only allowed a three-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in one of his major-league leading 11 complete games. Rays at Red Sox, 1:40 p.m. ET.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:04 am
By Evan Brunell
Limbo: The saga of Jim Crane as Astros owner continues to take a strange path, and that path may be headed toward a rejection.
BizofBaseball.com outlines the reasons behind why the deal has stalled... and why approval may be a pipe dream at this point. You'll have to click through to get the full breakdown, but the main takeaway is that Crane shares some sobering similarities with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and we all know how that turned out.
For one, Crane had a contentious divorce himself that ended up in the papers back in 2000, where he reportedly came to blows with his son. Crane's history in court is also checkered, as allegations of racism and war-profiteering are very real concerns, and baseball understandably may not be interested in being affiliated with such a person, especially one whose companies were in federal court 130 times in 15 years.
Current Houston owner Drayton McLane expects a vote to be passed at any minute. But it won't come this week, and might not come at all unless commissioner Bud Selig and all 29 current owners can get on board. But even that might be rendered moot, as Crane is reportedly having a hard time keeping his investment group together, which is large and has investments as low as $25 million committed. Eventually, these investors may tire of having their money tied up in a venture that looks less and less ideal.
Time for a four-man: For a few years now, I've strongly believed that the best rotation would be that of four men plus a fifth starter who could start every now and then. I've blogged on it before, and now Jeff Passan comes out in favor of a four-and-swing rotation, even as teams move to six-man rotations these days. (Yahoo! Sports)
Managers of the year: You know it's September when you start seeing articles on who should win certain awards. Today, two candidates for manager of the year are discussed: The Angels' Mike Scioscia by the Orange County Times while Ron Roenicke of the Brewers gets love from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Return of Strasburg: The return of Stephen Strasburg was highly anticipated, and the phenom delivered Tuesday night with a dazzling performance. Here's a pitch F/X review of the outing. The biggest takeaway? Strasburg is throwing a new changeup. (Fangraphs)
Finally: It took three years, but Dustin McGowan has finally moved past all his injuries, surgeries and rehab. For the first time since July 2008, McGowan pitched in a game when he threw four innings Tuesday night. He wasn't lights out, but that's besides the point. (Toronto Star)
Done in Pittsburgh? Paul Maholm is shut down for the year due to injury, which may bring an end to his Pirates career. The club holds a club option, but it's anyone's guess if the option is exercised. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
Venable a Bear: Wil Venable's brother has made the Chicago Bears football team. Winston was an undrafted free agent, but made the squad on special teams. (North County Times)
Beer me: If you're looking for a good beer, give AT&T Park in San Francisco a try, a destination that received a glowing beer review. (Fangraphs)
Montero wants to return: 'Zona catcher Miguel Montero will be in his final year of arbitration next season before becoming a free agent. The backstop has indicated his desire to stay, and the team has reciprocated, with both sides likely to discuss an extension after the season. (Arizona Republic)
Team USA: Brett Jackson won't be called up to the Cubs this season, as he will instead play for Team USA in the Pan American Games. With a solid spring training, Jackson should cement himself as the Cubs' center fielder. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Back in L.A.: Rod Barajas has found a home in Los Angeles and is interested in returning. The Dodgers may disagree, though, and may prefer to go young at the position next year. (Los Angeles Times)
Social day: Speaking of L.A., it's hard to argue against the fact that the Dodgers have taken the biggest step back in public relations this year. As an attempt to reconnect with fans, the team is holding a Social September campaign, a month-long campaign that will give fans the ability to win prizes and interact with the team. (MLB.com)
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Tags: AL East, AL West, Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Brett Jackson, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Drayton McLane, Dustin McGowan, Evan Brunell, Giants, JIm Crane, Miguel Montero, Mike Scioscia, MLB Rumors, Nationals, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Padres, Paul Maholm, Pepper, PIrates, Rod Barajas, Ron Roenicke, Stephen Strasburg, Wil Venable
Posted on: March 14, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 4:34 pm
By Evan Brunell
Except the 28-year-old had dates with a frayed labrum and torn rotator cuff. Now battling back from two major surgeries and two years away from the game, McGowan is unwilling to undergo a third surgery and has moved slowly in spring training as a result. Bullpen sessions were limited to just 25 pitches at 80 percent intensity and were exclusively fastballs until recently. That forced the Blue Jays to evaluate McGowan's future.
"The thing that you run into there is, what is the fatigue level once you get to 80 pitches and above?" Blue Jays manager John Farrell asked MLB.com. "Is that where more damage takes place? Because if that's the feeling -- [and] that's the feeling of the medical staff -- now, you're looking at a five-inning starting pitcher."
That, clearly, wasn't an option for Toronto. Pitches have enough trouble being asked to go the six or seven innings required of them. Having McGowan pitch only five innings a start (if he was even able to reach five innings) would put a major strain on the Jays' bullpen. That's why McGowan is now going to become a reliever, although being a reliever comes with its own set of questions.
"[That's] the tough thing about coming back as a reliever," Farrell added. "If you're not a closer, it can be rough on you, physically, because of the ups and downs and how quickly you've got to get ready for games. But we'll give him plenty of time to answer those questions."
It's unclear when McGowan can hope to appear in a game. He certainly won't be able to break camp with the Jays, but it's possible he could return to the majors at some point in the season. At this point, however, all bets are off.
"The most important thing for Dustin is that he's had no setbacks," Farrell said. "[There's been] no need for added rest on the program he has been on. It still has a chance to be a very good ending to a tough road that he has travelled, but [it takes] a quality person to answer those challenges.