It's no secret that I've paid a lot of lip service to the stockpile of young arms the Jays have in camp this spring and the potential for a frontline rotation (if not "down the road"); lip service paid without any substantial discussion behind it. Guilty as charged. I've also been guilty of piling on weak posts of scattered thoughts thus far this spring. My bad, friends. What can I tell ya?
Well, consider me enthused - here's my attempt at righting the aforementioned wrongs. Inspired by the Tao's look at the starting 9, let's have a gander at the plethora of young arms destined to fill out the Jays' future rotation(s):
Who could forget the on-field interview with Marcum shortly after it was revealed he'd undergo T(B)J surgery and miss the entirety of a season (I'd link the TSN clip, but it appears to be "no longer available"). There stood Marcum, voice trembling, speaking of how what he'd miss the most was just being "on the team and one of the guys".
Marcum is now back, fully healed, and all indications are he is ready to go with no limitations. So what does he bring? A low-90's fastball, tight breaking pitch....and a filthy little change-up - his bread and butter. Marcum might not have the pure "stuff" to project as a true rotation ace, but he doesn't need to be. Assuming he can regain the pre-injury form that had him penciled in as a middle of the rotation starter - with upside as a #2 - he'll go a long way to anchoring a staff in need of a go-to guy.
Another player easy to pull for. Due to draft circumstances beyond his control, Romero has been shit on more than....well, I don't have a witty punchline for that. But he's taken a beating, let's all agree. Before fading in his rookie season, Romero was nails enough to start putting the "Tulo" sniping behind him.
In a sense, he's a lefthanded version of Marcum - a bulldog on the mound who relies on his change to make hitters look silly. Romero has more zip on his fastball, but probably less control than Marcum at this stage. Either way, they should complement each other well heading up the staff.
You know what? I miss Brandon League already, that goofy fucker. There is no doubt, however, that AA pulled off a steal in the trade bringing over the fireballing righty. Assuming he can be a starter, and assuming Johermyn Chavez doesn't blow the fuck up into a mashing outfielder, of course.
Morrow brings something to the staff the Jays were sorely lacking - a big armed presence with an intimidating fastball. You might groan at early comparisons to AJ Burnett, but take away Burnett's occasionally shitty attitude and frequent DL trips, and what do you have? Maybe Brandon Morrow.
Much like the spelling of his name, RZep is a bit of a mystery. He doesn't have a big fastball. Scouts don't rave about a nasty breaking pitch. His delivery is unconventional. He doesn't yet possess great (or even very good) control.
But somehow, despite all those "flaws"...RZep strikes dudes out and induces ground balls otherwise. I'm willing to let him pitch himself out of the rotation, and apparently, so is The Manager.
Every staff needs a long reliever who can pile up 3 inning appearances and act as the swingman to spot start when needed. Brian Tallet is that guy for the Jays. Unfortunately, he's another of Cito's faves, and I'm willing to bet he breaks camp in the starting 5.
I say "unfortunately" because, while I like the dude and see the value he brings.....I don't get why a 32 year old career reliever (for the most part) holds down a rotation spot on a rebuilding ballclub.
But hey, I'm not The Manager.
Clearly, McGowan rates above "6th man" status when projecting a rotation, but the feeling here is the Jays will buy time and start McGowan on the DL. If Dusty's shoulder is indeed healed and he can get back to where he was on his way to becoming - no small accomplishment when considering the dreaded labrum injury - he brings the potential to give the Jays exactly what they don't currently have: a true frontline ace.
The Immediate Future
Prior to some struggles last season, Cecil was widely regarded as a future horse in the rotation. The stuff hasn't changed, so I see no reason why Cecil can't still be That Guy. He might have a few months in Vegas in his future, but there's no way he doesn't see big league action this summer. Dude is just too talented.
Any time you can bring back a prospect like Stewart in return for an aging third baseman with declining power (bless the GBOAT) who didn't want to be here, well....you do it. Thank you, JP Ricciardi. Even if it's to debut as a reliever, smart money says Stewart breaks his MLB cherry this season.
Assuming he can ignore the burden of living up to being the player traded for a pitching god, Drabek is sure to be a big part of the team's future. A good chunk of the season in New Hampshire, maybe a month or two in Vegas.....and Toronto at some point in 2011?
Somewhere in The Future
The Jays top pick in last year's draft, early projections had Jenkins eventually filling a mid-rotation slot. But ya know, with the glowing early reports - reporting to camp down 20 pounds, bowling ball sinker, great attitude - he just might surprise and be more than that.
Sure to start in Dunedin or Lansing, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him advance quickly and end up in AA New Hampshire. Yeah, I'm excited.
All right, I know very little about this kid, except that he's young (not yet 20), acquitted himself well in Lansing, has great control, and developing stuff the scouts seem to love. Here's hoping.
Gone (for now) but not forgotten
Don't count on seeing Uncle Jesse at all this summer as he recovers from his own T(B)J Rite of Passage. In fact, with all the arms now in the organization that weren't here prior to his injury, it's tough to say what the future holds for Litsch. He is another guy, though, that you have to pull for. He's certain to get another shot somewhere.
Long(er) shots and Camp Fodder
Brad Mills (still has potential, but unlikely to be a part of the Jays rotation?), David Purcey (one more shot?), Dana Eveland (depth play, I guess?), Scott Richmond (DL bound with "a shoulder" - uh oh) .
Yeah, that's a little more than "a word", I realize, but there's a lot to be excited about pitching-wise in the organization. Who'd I miss? Am I wrong?