Tag:Jesse Litsch
Posted on: March 4, 2012 12:46 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 12:47 pm
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Blue Jays' Litsch out after emergency surgery

Jesse LitschBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Blue Jays right-hander Jesse Litsch will miss the start of the season after undergoing an emergency shoulder surgery last week, manager John Ferrell told reporters on Sunday.

Litsch had been bothered by right shoulder inflammation and was given a platelet-rich plasma injection by Dr. James Andrews to help clear up the inflammation. Instead of clearing up the infection, Litsch got an infection and had to have arthroscopic surgery.

Farrell said Litsch will not throw for six weeks.

"There's a small risked when you receive an injection," Farrell said (National Post). "Unfortunately, in this case, he was hit with it."

Litsch, 26, missed a month last season with a shoulder injury. He was 6-3 with a 4.44 ERA in 28 games and eight starts, going 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA and a save as a reliever. He also had a much better strikeout rate as a reliever, recording 30 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings as a reliever and 36 in 46 1/3 as a starter. He was expect to be used out of the bullpen this season.

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Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:15 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Toronto Blue Jays



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What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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.

Lineup

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

Starting Rotation

1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Ricky Romero
4. Shaun Marcum
5. Alfredo Aceves

Bullpen

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.

What's Good?

That rotation, are you kidding?

What's Not?

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

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:00 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Toronto Blue Jays

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.

R.I.P. series
The good news is that the 2011 Jays saw lots of reasons for optimism moving forward. The young nucleus is really strong and has the potential to get even better with lots of good talent sitting in the minors. J.P. Arencibia proved a solid catcher and Brett Lawrie is a future star. Meanwhile, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Adam Lind, Yunel Escobar and Eric Thames, among others, are all 28 years old or younger. At 30, Jose Bautista still has several years of his prime left -- and 2011 was huge for the Blue Jays as they discovered 2010 wasn't a fluke for Bautista. He's a legitimate superstar and the face of the franchise, until Lawrie surpasses him in a few years.

2012 AUDIT

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.

FREE AGENTS

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)

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • It's folly to spend big money on late-inning relievers for the most part. Mariano Rivera is a rare case. Most closers have a short shelf life. Thus, let Casey Janssen be the guy. He had a good season (2.26 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.6 K/9) in 2011 and it's possible he sticks. In front of him, though, the Blue Jays need more. Jesse Litsch has the chance to develop into a good setup man and Joel Carreno showed great promise. If the Blue Jays still see a need to dip outside the organization here, Michael Wuertz and Chad Qualls could work if their respective options aren't picked up. Juan Cruz wasn't great in 2011, but he has good enough stuff to be an option as well. Maybe sign one veteran and plug the rest of the holes from within. It wouldn't be shocking to see the Blue Jays a major player for someone like Heath Bell, it just seems like their money would be best spent elsewhere (we'll get to that).
  • Keep an eye on Adeiny Hechavarria. The 22-year-old shortstop hit .389/.431/.537 in 25 Triple-A games in 2011 after promotion. Whenever he's ready, Yunel Escobar could be traded for more bullpen depth. 
  • By the same token, keep an eye on Travis D'Arnaud. The catching prospect hit .311 with 21 home runs and a .914 OPS in Double-A this season. The Blue Jays need to decide if they want Arencibia or d'Arnaud and eventually trade the other.
  • There's no need to make a big splash with starting pitching just yet. Romero is a clear ace, albeit an underrated one. Morrow is firmly planted in the rotation and Drabek will improve. The rotation can be filled out behind the three for now with some combination of Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan. Waiting in the wings are promising prospects Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchinson and Nestor Molina. With the starting pitching free agent class this season a bit underwhelming, the Jays can hold off another year before focusing on how to shore up the rotation -- and by then, maybe everyone pans out and they don't need to. But if they do, next season's free agent class could include the likes of Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and James Shields.
  • Let Encarnacion walk, go with Lind at DH and pursue Prince Fielder. I've said a lot of teams should pursue Fielder in these R.I.P.s, and that's because a lot of teams should pursue him. The Prince sweepstakes are wide open, as there are no real favorites. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers are likely out for various reasons. And who knows the Cubs' direction. That leaves the possibility open for teams like the Orioles, Nationals and Blue Jays to make a serious run. Can you imagine this Blue Jays offense with Bautista, Fielder and Lawrie together for the foreseeable future? The Blue Jays are really close to seriously competing in the AL East. They are a sleeping giant with tons of young talent on the rise and are ready to start spending some money. This signing would announce their presence with authority to the rest of baseball and take a huge step toward bringing a World Series title back to Canada.
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Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Moustakas on hot streak

Moustakas

By Evan Brunell

GETTING HOT: Mike Moustakas didn't find the major leagues much to his liking in the early going, but things have turned around thanks to a recent tear that's lifted Moose's batting average to .206.

That's an accomplishment when it was at .182 mere days ago. Over the last five games, the third baseman has collected eight hits in 16 trips to the plate, doing much of his damage against the Red Sox who just completed a four-game series with Kansas City.

“Whenever you’re going bad,” Moustakas told the Kansas City Star, “you need those little things here and there to pick you back up, and this homestand kind of helped me out.”

Also encouraging from the 22-year-old is the three doubles collected during his five-game hot streak, a display of power that hasn't been around this year. It's taken quite some time for Moustakas to get used to the majors, but the Royals have proven to be very patient. Working in Moustakas' favor is that he's struggled at every single new level he's risen, so if history is any indication, he will snap out of his slump in due time.

Moustakas credits his turnaround with working alongside hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to close up his front shoulder more when at the plate. He needed some time to get into a groove with the new stance, but results are starting to show.

“Anytime you change something, it’s gonna feel uncomfortable,” Moustakas said. “But Seitz told me just stick with it, it’s gonna work out. And it ended up working out right now. I’m hitting the ball harder, squaring a little more balls up, so it’s paying off.”

BEAST MODE
: The Brewers have started up a tradition, making hand gestures after a big play that translates to "beast mode." The inspiration came from the movie Monsters Inc. and describes what Milwaukee has been up to lately with a 22-3 record in its last 25 games.

"I don't want it getting carried away," manager Ron Roenicke said of the new trend to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "Do I like it? Not particularly. But I don't think I'll say, 'Don't do it.' If I see it getting worse, I'll say no. I didn't like when the Rangers did the 'antlers' thing [last year]. If you're old school, you're not going to get along in the game these days."

BEST DRAFT: It's been a week since the deadline for drafted players to sign has passed. With a few days to digest, Jim Callis came up with the top five drafts, with the Nationals heading the list. Also ranking among the top five are the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Pirates and Rays. (Baseball America)

COMPLETE PACKAGE: The New York Times ran a profile on Miguel Cabrera, who is one of the best young players in the game. Seriously -- he doesn't seem to be considered a superstar, but maybe he should be, as this factoid suggests: "Only five players in major-league history have had 1,500 hits and 250 homers, while hitting .310 or better, through their age-28 season. They are Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols and Cabrera."

BEST BALLPARK: Four teenagers went on a trip, taking in games at all 30 stadiums in 54 days. The best stadium according to the four? Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark -- a quality park, but not one you usually hear as the best. It may have helped that they witnessed a walkoff in the Reds game. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

LOSING CUBA: A wave of defections across Cuban sports have recently left a void in Cuba, where sports is not a lucrative field. That's caused many athletes to defect in the aim to compete against higher competition and make more money. To help address the problem, Cuba is finally considering allowing its athletes to play abroad. (Associated Press, via The Globe and Mail)

LOOKING BACK: A year ago this week, Cody Ross was claimed off waivers by the Giants. The Padres were also interested in Ross, but the division leaders at that point declined to put in a claim while San Francisco won his rights. Of course, Ross ended up a postseason hero, while the Padres were frozen out -- but to hear GM Jed Hoyer say it, he would make the same move again. (Tom Krasovic, Inside the Padres)

MAKING FUN OF WERTH: Phillies fans have a new favorite pastime, which is making fun of Jayson Werth. Still roundly booed for taking a lucrative deal to play for the Nationals, the ex-Phillie felt the "love" during a homestand in which Phillies fans virtually took over Nationals Park. A Philadelphia car dealer got in on the fun, running an anti-Werth ad on Philadelphia sites. (Washington Post)

TWEETING TICKETS
: Jesse Litsch challenged fans to find him in Wonderland, an amusement park near Toronto. The winner received two tickets to Tuesday's game, but it took until Litsch winning a gigantic Spongebob prize and tweeting about it for him to be spotted. (Toronto Star)

MOST HANDSOME SOPHOMORE: SI.com has photos from high school of 28 athletes, and Nolan Ryan and Barry Bonds are among the stars. One one came away with the designation of most handsome sophomore, though -- that being Ryan, who was among the 1965 class.

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 3:58 pm
 

Jays closer goes on DL after appendectomy

Jon RauchBy C. Trent Rosecrans

It's beginning to look like 2011 is the year of appendicitis -- Blue Jays reliever Jon Rauch was taken to a Seattle hospital early Tuesday morning where he underwent an emergency appendectomy, Mark Zwolinski of the Star in Toronto reports.

Rauch gave up the eventual going-ahead run in a 6-5 loss to the Mariners on Monday with a solo homer to Casper Wells and was later taken to the hospital.

So far this season the Cardinals' Matt Holliday, White Sox's Adam Dunn and Yankees Ramiro Pena have all undergone emergency appendectomies. Even Rays general manager Andrew Friedman underwent an appendectomy last month.

The Blue Jays put Rauch on the disabled list and also designated left-hander Trever Miller (who also gave up a homer on Monday) for assignment and called up left-handed relievers Will Ledezma and Rommie Lewis.

If you're looking for a closer in fantasy baseball, Jesse Litsch may get the first chance at closing for Toronto, so pick him up before anyone else in your league does.

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Jays' Francisco, Morrow to return soon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Brandon Morrow The Blue Jays pitching staff should be better this week, gaining a closer and potential ace, as Frank Francisco and Brandon Morrow are scheduled to return from the disabled list.

Both pitchers threw at Class A Dunedin on Sunday and are scheduled to re-join the team later this week. Francisco is scheduled to join the team Tuesday when the Yankees come to town. Toronto plays tomorrow morning in Boston for Patriot's Day.

Morrow, 26, was 10-7 with a  4.49 ERA last season, his first in Toronto and first as a full-time starter. Those numbers were from a pitcher just getting used to starting -- from June through August, he had a 3.14 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings last season and in five starts in August last season, he averaged 14.5 strikeouts per nine, including 17 in his no-hit bid that went into the ninth inning against the Rays on Aug. 8. He also struck out 12 Yankees in six innings later that month.

Currently on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, Morrow went four innings , allowing three hits and two runs, walking three and striking out five. He should be ready to pitch later this week for the Blue Jays, taking the spot of either Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2, 6.75 ERA) or Jesse Litsch (1-1, 3.63 ERA).

Francisco allowed a hit and struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief. It was his fifth minor-league appearance.

While Francisco was tabbed as the team's closer during spring training, Jon Rauch has converted all three save opportunities in his steed.

"We're not going to not acknowledge what Jon has done," Blue Jays manager Jon Farrell told MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm . "That was as crisp of an inning the other night when he came into the ninth that you'd ever want to see. Frankie coming back will give us options."

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Jays notebook: Club intends to run more

DrabekBy Evan Brunell

GM Alex Anthopoulous and manager John Farrell took to the airwaves Wednesday morning to talk about all things Blue Jays. And there were plenty of topics covered.

Farrell, for his part, skirted around the issue of what the Blue Jays did in the past, always a difficult thing to do when you disagree with the philosophy but don't want to burn bridges.

"Planning against [the Blue Jays while with the Red Sox] felt like it was more of a one-dimensional approach," Farrell said according to Drunk Jays Fans (warning: some language). "Now, I'm not saying that's a wrong approach, but I just know that, going up against other teams, it was much more difficult to approach or plan for a team when they had the ability to attack you with different methods. To be more opportunistic is probably I'd best describe it.

"Again, I don't think it's a matter of saying what was done in the past was wrong," he added. "I just feel like -- put it this way, it would be, I think, more of a complete type of game, or a complete style of game, rather than just that one dimension."

It's in this vein that Farrell plans to let players loose on the basepaths more than previous seasons, as that's the quickest fix toward improving the team. Farrell would also undoubtedly like to diversify the offense at the plate beyond being home-run happy, but that will come in due time.

Anthopoulous then came on the airwaves to touch on multiple topics, two of the most compelling being the rotation and service-time manipulation.

The rotation is expected to have Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow at the top, and AA isn't expecting issues from them. However, the pitchers set to round out the rotation -- or those still in contention for a spot -- do have specific aspects the GM needs to see improve.

With Jo-Jo Reyes, in the hunt for the last spot although he's likely to be moved to the bullpen, the lefty needs to stay down in the zone and deploy his secondary stuff effectively. Sounds obvious for pretty much any pitcher to succeed, but it's this aspect that tends to derail a lot of careers. It's not easy to do.

Kyle Drabek (pictured), who is expected to win a rotation spot, needs to be calm on the mound and (surprise), be down in the zone along with featuring his changeup. Meanwhile, Jesse Litsch needs to be able to throw strikes, which can be problematic coming back from Tommy John Surgery

Lastly, while Brett Lawrie has virtually no chance of making the club thanks to Juan Rivera blocking him, "there's a reason he's still here," Anthopoulous said. "He's probably better than we had hoped for at this stage."

That turned to a discussion on service-time manipulation, which is always a factor with rookies and came into play last year with Buster Posey. He believes service time can be folded into the club's goal of doing certain things better than the competition, similar to Tampa Bay's chase for the extra two percent. That includes how players are treated along with what travel, the clubhouse and other factors are like, and service-time manipulation falls into that category, as players know when they aren't being "treated the right way."

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Posted on: February 5, 2011 8:51 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 8:53 pm
 

Drabek to fight for rotation spot

DrabekIn the last two years, the Blue Jays have traded away their Opening Day starters, leaving a void at the top of the rotation.

Or is there one?

Yes, there's no Roy Halladay or Shaun Marcum any longer, but Toronto still has plenty of young starters. Last season, the rotation was anchored by Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow. All three remaining starters are also the only ones guaranteed rotation spots for 2011 as FOX Sports reports.

The final two spots will be battled out by Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch, Jo-Jo Reyes, Scott Richmond and Marc Rzepczynski.

While Litsch will be 25 before Opening Day, he also hasn't seen extensive playing time in the majors over the last two seasons thanks to injuries. When he's right, he would be perfect in the back of the rotation. Meanwhile, Reyes is unlikely to get a shot after failing in Atlanta and making just two starts for Toronto after being traded along with Yunel Escobar. Richmond is a former independent baseball player who received 24 starts in 2009 -- but posted a 5.54 ERA. He spent 2010 in the minors when he wasn't hurt. Rzepczynski, meanwhile, has the most major-league experience over the last two years, posting a 4.32 ERA (4.95 in 2010) across 23 career starts.

That leaves Drabek, who is likely the leader for the No. 4 spot, allowing Litsch and Rzepczynski to battle it out for No. 5.

Drabek, part of the Halladay return, made his debut last season at age 22 and made three starts, walking five, striking out 12 and giving up nine earned runs. He pitched a total of 179 innings across the minors and majors, and it's not entirely far-fetched to think he could contribute 200 innings to Toronto.

"You can look at the [innings] progression he’s already gone through to this point," new manager John Farrell said. "What it’ll come down to now is his efficiency in games. When you look at the competitive nature of the person, and you know that the talent and personal side align, this is a very exciting and bright young prospect.

"You’re talking about someone who loves to compete and doesn’t back away from challenges. That’s his wiring and his makeup."

While Drabek has proven he can handle a big workload and appears to be the best pitcher of the remaining crew left contending for a rotation spot, the Jays may want to rethink giving him 32 starts over a full season. After all, the depth is there and while Toronto would love to match or exceed its 2010 wins total of 85, it can't come at the expense of a young starter who could anchor the rotation for years to come.

Not only that, but one major league inning is far different than one minor league inning. Up in the majors, you're facing people up and down the lineup that would be in the top five spots of any Triple-A lineup, with the competition and expectations that much higher. These innings at the big league level require more effort, just like 80 pitches on a hot, humid day in a slugfest can be tougher than 100 on a cool, crisp day where both sides are mowing down batters.

And again, this is a young pitcher. Does Toronto really want to risk derailing him for life just to get 200 innings in his rookie year of a division in where it is very unlikely the Jays make the postseason?

If Toronto decides to carry Drabek on the Opening Day roster, they should shoot for no more than 180 innings from the right-hander. If everything goes right for Drabek, that may mean skipping a few starts down the stretch, but at that point the Jays will probably be out of the postseason race, so it wouldn't matter.

Finances also come into play. By demoting Drabek to start the year, they can hold him out until June or July and then bring him up and guarantee an extra year of team control. That's a slippery slope for a team looking to stay relevant in the AL East, however -- especially since the team's shedding of Alex Rios and Vernon Wells have cleared up tons of dollars.

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com