August 11, 2012
Jays need pitching help for 2013
By BOB ELLIOT, QMI Agency
Never mind the “wait ’til next year” talk.
Realistically, the Blue Jays should be looking towards contending in 2014.
The concern about the starting rotation should not be about muddling through the final 49 games of this season.
The worry is having enough, finding enough for next season.
With Drew Hutchison undergoing Tommy John surgery this week, it means he’s likely lost for all of next season, and that the Jays will lose at least 46 starts from Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Hutchison this year.
Plus another 50-to-55 lost starts next season by Drabek and Hutchison next season.
With a healthy rotation and a lineup that barely heard there was a trainer’s room at the Rogers Centre, the Jays were not one player away from making a rush at post-season play on June 11, two games out of the wild-card race with a 31-29 record.
First it was the 3/5ths of the rotation out and now Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie are all on the disabled list making their lineup look like a night game in Fort Myers.
Manager John Farrell said in the off-season he thought that the Jays “could contend this year.” How was that possible coming off a .500 season.
“We can get there, it will take more quality innings from our rotation,” Farrell said way back when and you know what ... he was close to being right.
Maybe he would have been right ... until that inter-league home stand:
Morrow walked off the mound after only six pitches with a strained left oblique against the Washington Nationals on June 11.
Drabek walked off after 89 pitches two nights later, headed to Dr. James Andrews and a second Tommy John surgery.
And the next game Hutchison walked off after 12 pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies. Hutchison’s right elbow was examined by multiple doctors and he was told he did not need surgery. After his third throwing session to begin his rehab, Hutchison felt discomfort and was headed for Dr. Andrews and Tommy John surgery too.
Morrow makes his second rehab start Tuesday at double-A New Hampshire and if all goes well he’ll start for the Jays next Sunday. So his injury, one that cost him more than 1/3 of the season, is the least costly of the three. Despite missing all that time he’s still third on the staff in innings pitched.
What is the state of the Jays’ rotation for opening day next April?
There is Ricky Romero, who had made 24 starts and owns a 5.32 ERA, which is 35th best of the 39 starters to qualify for the American League ERA title. Romero has allowed 141 hits and walked 77 in 1432/3 innings.
Henderson Alvarez, 22, is 7-9 with a 4.58 ERA, 26th best ERA in the AL. Alvarez has allowed 158 hits while walking 38 in 1352/3 innings.
Then there is Morrow, whose next start will be his 14th of the season.
The Jays get their first real look at lefty J.A. Happ on regular rest Sunday afternoon. He started Tuesday for the first time since July 16. After being acquired from the Houston Astros he worked four games out of the bullpen.
Carlos Villanueva, who has made seven starts, is a free agent at the end of the season. The Jays have to re-sign him.
Will the Jays retain lefty Aaron Laffey.
Then there is lefty Brett Cecil, who made nine starts, allowing nine homers in 501/3 innings. Will he be back next season?
Where does former No. 1 pick Chad Jenkins fit, he pitched three scoreless against the Rays in his debut.
Right now the rotation consists of Romero, Alvarez, Laffey, Happ and Laffey. Besides Romero, Morrow is the only starter to make 30 starts in a season. Morrow made 30 starts last year.
“If you look at what they currently have now,” said one evaluator this week in St. Petersburg, “they have a No. 1 in Romero, who has not had a great year and four No. 5 starters. They have some work to do.”
Do the Jays get excited about Dustin McGowan again as they did this spring?
The best free-agent starters on the market at the end of this season are Zack Greinke and Edwin Jackson. The others include Joe Blanton, Colby Lewis, Francisco Liriano, Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum, Jason Marquis, Ray Oswalt, Anibal Sanchez and Joe Saunders.
R.A. Dickey and James Shields both have club options and could enter the free-agent world. Tampa Bay is expected to pick up his option $9-million option.
Greinke will likely head to one of the Chicago clubs, the Texas Rangers or the Los Angeles Dodgers.
They would not be in such dire straits if Justin Nicolino, Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard were dominating double-A Eastern League hitters at New Hampshire.
But they’re dominating class-A Lansing.
Nicolino and Sanchez are expected to be at the Rogers Centre in 2015.
Ex-Yanks had a clue
Playing in New York educates ball players.
Many a time we’d show up at the first day of spring and a Blue Jay would ask “so how’s (insert name of writer from opposing paper here)?”
“What do you mean not sure.”
Haven’t seen him since the winter meetings.
“Don’t you guys work at the same paper?”
But whether it was Al Leiter, David Cone, Lee Mazzilli, Mookie Wilson who came to the Jays from either the New York Yankees or the New York Mets, or Todd Stottlemyre, who rode Yankees buses with his father Mel Stottlemyre, former pitching coach, ex-New York players understood newspapers.
During the 1995 season it was apparent that the Jays were going to deal Cone before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. We wrote stories almost daily about what teams were interested in Cone.
Before hitting the road, Cone asked if I could tell him what I’d written for the next day, ... “so I don’t get blind-sided by some radio talk show.” (Kids this was before this Internet thing.)
Sure. So, I’d give him updates after filing.
Cone pitched 81/3 innings at Fenway Park to beat the Boston Red Sox on June 28. As wave after wave of media surrounded Cone, I waited across the room to give him the update.
Along came Leiter sipping soup to say “guess you enjoy being a columnist now instead of a beat writer ... standing back rather than being in the crush with the others.”
How on earth did he know the difference between a columnist and a beat guy?
“Michael Kay explained it all to me,” Leiter said of the Yanks broadcaster. I’d met coach Kay during his days when he worked at the New York Post.
A month later, Cone was dealt to the Yanks for minor leaguers Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon.
Mazzilli, who knew every writer by name, once asked about his nickname Wilson told me over lunch in Minneapolis “Mookie is not a nickname ... it’s a personality,” and Stottlemyre asked more questions about deadlines, filing and the business than some of our interns.
PICKING LAWRIE OVER HARPER
One scout’s take on the game’s young bucks ... “I’d take Brett Lawrie over Bryce Harper. Both have an edge whether it’s the way they play or dealing with umpires. I don’t think either will grow out of it. They are what they are, they play out of control. Harper has a long swing which I don’t like. Both are cocky, trying to take an extra base, but Lawrie seems more sincere about winning. The other guy does a lot for show.
“Having said that ... I’d take Mike Trout over either one in a heart beat.”
Sunday semis are set at the Canada Cup
Michael Bucci pitched four innings for the win and Blake Weston three scoreless for the save as Ontario edged British Columbia 3-2 to finish round-robin play undefeated at the 24th annual Canada Cup in London, Ont. Jake Lumley had three hits, while Malik Collymore knocked in a pair of runs.
Ontario was led by Justin Orton, Lumley and Collymore top win Pool A. Two provinces — from Quebec (2-3), B.C. (2-3) and Alberta (1-4) — will also advance to medal play when Baseball Canada championship concludes Sunday.
Manitoba (4-1) led by Matt Dunston (hitting .438) and Brent Wiebe (.300) and Nova Scotia (3-2) led by Chris Thibideau (.563) and Scott Harrison (.400) are the two teams to advance from Pool B.
Had Newfoundland rallied, there could have been a four-way tie for first in Pool B.
Semifinal games are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. with the final at 7 Sunday night, all at Labatt Park.
20 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK
Day-by-day on the way
to the 1992 World Series
Aug. 5 — John Olerud (above) hit a two-run single in the eighth off Jeff Reardon in a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox. Derek Bell and Devon White each tripled.
Aug. 6 — Dave Winfield, Jeff Kent and Joe Carter all went deep, while Carter knocked in four runs in a 15-11 win over the Detroit Tigers. Pat Tabler, Jeff Kent and Winfield knocked in three each.
Aug. 7 — Winfield had three hits in a 7-2 loss to Bill Gullickson of the Tigers.
Aug. 8 — Candy Maldonado hit a two-run homer in an 8-6 in a Detroit victory as Doug Linton took the loss. Kent also drove in two runs.
Aug. 9 — Robbie Alomar had two hits and Maldonado homered, but the Jays fell 9-2 to the Tigers.
Aug. 10 — Winfield, Carter and Maldonado all went deep as Todd Stottlemyre beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-4.
Aug. 11 — Alomar and Maldonado had a pair of hits each but the Jays were blanked 3-0 by Mike Mussina and the O’s.