Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jo-Jo Reyes - Your Summer is Calling

It's not even spring, and we nearly took a header trying to walk down our street today, thanks to some of the sneakiest sidewalk ice we've never seen.

And yet: The Summer of Jo-Jo begins today.

Okay, so maybe we're recycling a meme, leaving you with the same feeling you'd get seeing the "What's Up With That" sketch on SNL for the fifth time. (For the record: Lindsey Buckingham deserves better.) But we've had this great feeling that the Jays had found a tremendously undervalued arm in their acquisition of Jo-Jo Reyes with his quiet inclusion in the Yunel Escobar/Alex Gonzalez deal last summer.

(And if you want to get the whole story on him, NatPostie John Lott's story from Tuesday pretty much covers off his chaotic 2010 campaign.)

Sure, we've heard your scorn when we've floated the notion of Jo-Jo being any part of the team this year. His 24.30 ERA is tossed out with sarcasm (which is to say: completely witlessly), and his poor track record (6.40 ERA in 194 innings over four seasons to date) held up as proof that he's nothing more than cannon fodder.

And yet, there something beneath the muck that shines brilliantly to us.

Mostly, we have a sense that people are too ready to write off a young arm, given that Jo-Jo is just 26. He's younger than fellow lefties Jesse Carlsson or David Purcey, and is also younger than fringe arms such as Scott Richmond, Josh Roenicke, and Robert Ray. And he's only marginally older than Brad Mills and Jesse Litsch (less than six months their senior.)

Our optimism is also fueled by the fact that Reyes' minor league stats demonstrate that he improved from one level to the next throughout his development, interrupted by ill-advised recalls to Atlanta periodically. Reyes' ERA went from 4.16 at A to 4.11 at High-A, to 3.40 at AA and 3.11 at AAA. If any other arm in the system had demonstrated an ascension like that, the fan base would be doing more than shrugging off the inevitability of his release.

Today, Jo-Jo Reyes takes the mound for a scheduled five-inning start versus the Phillies this afternoon. We'll be keeping a watchful eye on the results, as a good start could pry open a spot on the opening day roster for our new favorite southpaw.

And from there, a glorious Summer of Jo-Jo.


gsjays said...

Here's hoping Jo-JO has a good day against the Phillies

Anonymous said...

My prediction is that Jo-Jo and Litsch are 4 and 5 in the rotation. Zep and Drabeck both have options and this would delay Drabeck's service time. After a couple starts, if Jo-Jo flops, the better of zep and drabeck will be called up, much like what we saw last year with Dana Eveland.

Peter DeMarco said...

I'd still prefer Rzep and Drabek in the rotation and Villanueva (0 ER this spring) in the bullpen over Reyes. But I have very little hope that Reyes or Litsch with be productive major leaguers.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh yes ERA the be all and end all of evaluating a pitcher.

Tao of Stieb said...

Seriously, you want xFIP for low-A ball numbers?

How's this...K/BB ratio at different levels:

Low - A - 3.10 (149.1 IPs)
High-A - 1.61 (65.2 IPs)
Double-A - 2.08 (87.1 IPs)
Triple-A - 2.37 (188.1 IPs)

Frankly, those Double-A numbers are as good as what Drabek and Stewart have posted.

Anonymous said...

Well, except Drabek threw almost 3 times as many innings as Reyes in AA.

Reyes has been in AAA 4 times. Here are his WHIP progression each time:

2007: 1.03
2008: 1.21
2009: 1.39
2010: 1.52

Opponent BA:

2007: .191
2008: .214
2009: .266
2010: .292

Actually, Reyes' K/BB ratio in the Braves AAA level also went 3.25 to 2.38 to 1.33 before jumping back to 3.33 in 2010 before he was moved to Toronto.

This is a guy who has giving up more than a hit per inning across basically all levels he's pitched at for the last 3 years.

It's not exactly an "ascension" as you'd put it, when he's been bounced around to AAA 4 times now, and has been increasingly hittable each time.

Thom Tsang said...

It's also worth mentioning that Drabek already has more minor league experience than Reyes.

Stewart has also thrown more AA fact, I wouldn't really use Jo-Jo's 87.1 total AA innings for much. They were over two stints 3 years apart.

Apologies for being anonymous in the comment before, I didn't even realise I could sign my name.

Ty said...

Forget Jo-Jo, this is the summer of Edwin. Book it.

The Southpaw said...

I love JoJo for a newbie, but I loved Zep first and I don't want him neglected.

If that means waiting 4-6 weeks on Drabek, I'm down with that - if it means Villianueva spends 90% of his season in Vegas I won't bat an eyelash.

Hopefully both JoJo and Zep get their due chance.

Gil Fisher said...

I`m pretty sure Jesse Litsch has options left....maybe three. While he`s spent time in the minors in 2007, 2008 and 2010, the first two years look like brief enough stints that an option would not have been used and 2010 looks like a rehab stint to me.

I think Drabek`s going to make the team out of ST and Jo-jo, Litsch and Rzep are battling for fifth starter or first call-up. Jo-jo`s this year`s Eveland, but the Jays won`t hold any misconceptions about whether they can realize any value for him.

Well, that`s how I feel today anyhow.

And yes, this would be the Summer of Edwin, if it wasn`t the Summer of the Lunchbox Hero (stars in his eyes).

brent said...

The article says he could take a big step forward, but that obviously didn't happen last year. Talking about lefties and age isn't that important. Most lefties enter their prime starting around age 30. I'd have Jojo as my swing man this year and see if he can develop a plus changeup.