We were half way through this article in today's online edition of the Star about the numbers game with the Jays as they approach Spring Training when we were shocked and bewildered by a name that emerged from the foggy mists of the past: Jesse Carlson. (Wha? Who's that guy?)
We're not at all being facetious when we say that we figured Carlson was already gone and on his way to scraping together innings here or there wherever he could, or picking up with an ultimate frisbee team and to play in regional tournaments where he could hook up with his female teammates.
(Side note: Ultimate is the urban hipster version of paintball. Just so you know.)
This isn't to say that we think that Carlson has no value for the Jays. His ERA climbed significantly last year (from 2.25 to 4.66), even as his strikeout and walk rates remained pretty close to the same. This might have something to do with his BABIP jumping from .230 (probably unsustainably low) to .300 (possibly higher than he deserved).
We've likely misplaced Carlson in our mind's muddled filing system because there has been so much transition and turnover within the Jays' roster since the middle of last season. We're getting old and forgetful in the twilight of our youth, and have too often reached for the "what's-his-name-the-guy-with-the-tattoos" to get us through a line of thought in the middle of a conversation. And a scan through the roster has led to understand just how many of these guys have completely fallen out of our mind since the end of September. Here's a few other dudes who totally fell below our dim radar over winter.
Chad Jenkins: Not that we were necessarily expecting this guy to step in and make his presence felt this year, but the Jays' top draft pick (20th overall) in 2009 was supposed to be fairly polished as a college pitcher and at least closer to the Majors than some other picks. Maybe the fact that Jenkins didn't pitch in affiliated ball last season helped push him to the back of our dusty cranial filing cabinet, but we're hoping to get to know a little bit more about him than his college stats (8-1, 2.54 ERA, 98 Ks / 15 BBs in 92 IPs).
Brad Mills: At a certain point last season, there was actually some talk that, amongst the endless line of left-handed pitchers at the top of the Jays' system, Mills might be the best of the bunch. But he slipped backwards in our consciousness because of the performances of Brett Cecil and Marc Rzepczynski last season, along with the shitkickings that he took in his two starts.
Brad Emaus: Emaus was the talk of Spring Training last year after he tore things up good. People even started speculating as to who would have to move where when he stepped up and pushed Aaron Hill aside. As it turned out, Emaus stumbled to a .712 OPS in New Hampshire, while Hill did okay for himself.
Scott Campbell: Speaking of guys who were supposed to supplant Hill, the Kiwi (with Canadian roots!) who put up pretty respectable numbers (.825 OPS) at Double-A in '08 and represented the World team in the Prospects Game stumbled backwards in '09, posting a .747 OPS at New Hampshire and a .608 OPS in his 27 game taste of Triple-A. Unless he makes some significant step forward, Bob Elliot can probably file away that profile that focuses on Campbell's Canadian roots, and just how goshdarned Canadian Campy (or Camps or Campser) really is.