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.