Honouring our patron saint: It was great to see and hear so much about Dave Stieb this weekend, as everyone seemed to trip over themselves to find enough superlatives for the former ace. (If you missed it, there's a nice bit of ceremonial huzzahs available on the Jays site.)
It was especially interesting to hear Stieb in conversation with Jerry and Alan on the radiocast mentioning how Buck Martinez used to have to remind him to lay off on the slider and throw some fastballs here or there. Stieb also bemoaned his own approach on the pitches he threw that saw previous no-hitters get broken up. More than 20 years later, you can still hear him kicking himself for throwing a curve with perfection on the line.
And you'll excuse this cliché, but he does look as though he could go out and toss six solid innings tomorrow if he had to.
Less than perfect, Part 1: As was brought to our attention last week by email, the coveted Stieb bobble had a few flaws in it. Firstly, the cap was the wrong one (Jays wore solid blue caps on the road that season) and the jersey has the wrong lettering (road jerseys read "Toronto", not "Blue Jays".) So if you are superstitious enough not to talk about no-hitters and such in the middle of the game, maybe you'd agree with us that such flaws in the promotional swag were certain to doom yesterday's game for the Jays.
Less than perfect, Part 2: If you're more literal-minded, perhaps you're looking at the actual pitching in yesterday's game when assessing what went wrong. Last year's callup surprise, Marc Rzepczynski's output this year has been bad enough to make us forget how to spell his name. His mechanics, which were very tight last season, look completely messed up now. Last year, he threw a lot of strikes down in the zone to keep things under control. This year, he's having a hard time getting anything where it should be.
Especially telling was the pitch Rzep threw after a mound visit from José Molina with two balls and the bases loaded. After all of the shoulder rubs and "just chill and throw strikes" that his catcher could offer, Rzep still let his lead shoulder fly out and threw a mid-80's fastball a foot outside. Not good.
Who's next? With the announcement that Brandon Morrow is going to get an early end to his season (a very good call, in our estimation), and the possibility that Shaun Marcum might also see his innings limited in his first post-TJ season, the Jays will be looking for additional starting arms to pick up the slack.
And if that additional arm is Brian Tallet, we'll die a little extra on those days.
The smart money would seem to be on Bobby Ray, who pitched well last year in a brief time with the Jays, and whose innings aren't up particularly high because of some minor league DL stints. Brad Mills, who looks like a mess of messes on the mound lately, could also get some starts down the stretch. Canadian Shawn Hill might have also been an option, but he tossed just one inning in his last start and is coming off a long road back from injury, so he's a long shot.
But don't get your hopes up for appearances from Kyle Drabek: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are headed towards the playoffs(!!!1), and he'll eat up his remaining innings at that level.
Jeremy Accardo would like to be heard: If you read the original Las Vegas Review-Journal piece (as opposed to some of the overheated clips from it that were tossed around on this side of the border), Jeremy Accardo doesn't sound so much aggrieved as he does frustrated and resigned with his lot in the Blue Jays' organization.
This might be forgotten at this point, but Accardo broke camp with the Jays, and promptly sat for two weeks in the pen. And though Accardo has put up respectable numbers in Las Vegas (especially considering the inflation inherent in pitching in that division of the PCL), he'll be hard pressed to get a sniff of the pitching rubber in the Bigs so long as The Manager is still wearing the windbreaker and crossing his arms in the dugout.
To be honest, we'd almost prefer to see Accardo go somewhere in the National League and get the opportunity to work in the back end of a team's bullpen next year. He's been painted as a bit of a jerk for his outspokeness, but we're inclined to think that he has the very same "hustle" and "heart" that the team likes to proclaim as primary values in its marketing campaigns.