Indulge us, if you will, the latitude to contradict1 ourselves.2
If years of reading this blog hasn't led you to the notion that we don't put much stock into Spring Training, then perhaps you've missed the past few years where we refer to this part of the schedule as "fake games".
And yet...tilt your head in just the right way, and there's something to be gleaned from the collected output of 21 exhibition matches. Not that we think that they are overly predictive, but some of the whatnot and wherefore makes for amusing chatter. So here are a few curios that we've plucked out of the pile.
Iron Men: Both Jonathan Diaz and David Cooper have played in 20 games thus far in the spring, most of any of the Dunedin denizens. Though most of those appearances have come off the bench, allowing their big league brethren to peel out of the parking lot before the last pitch is thrown, we suspect that the brain trust have chosen to take a longer look at them in the pre-season. Same goes for Eric Thames, whose 46 ABs (in 18 games) are most this spring for the Jays.
Why the lingering gaze? In the case of Thames and Cooper, we get the sense that a decision has to be made within the next 12 months on where they fit in the plans for the future, and this spring is a crucial piece of their evaluations. Neither player is heading north any time soon, but the 2012-2013 rosters are beginning to take shape. And as well as they've performed so far, we suspect that neither will have any sort of profound impact on those future contenders.
As for Diaz, he sounds as though he's in possession of a magnificent glove, though his acumen with the bat makes Mike McCoy seem like the Splendid Splinter. Our guess is that he's a body who can fill in at enough positions to get the Jays through the overly long tune-up period.
Ratios! We heard ESPN fantasy dude Nate Ravitz make mention on his podcast this week that the only stat he observes through the spring are K-to-walk ratios for pitchers. Which seems about right to us, especially with his proviso that the ratio has to be really impressive or really bad to catch his attention. So here's what we found upon a brief review of the Jays' hurlers:
Jesse Litsch - 17Ks/3 BBs. Woah. If we had any reservation about his spot in the rotation, it's probably gone. For now.
Brandon Morrow - 16Ks/3 BBs. Okay, we're not going to put too much stock into this...But Jesse Litsch's K/BB ratio is slightly better than Brandon Morrow's so far. Roll that around your noggin for a while.
Kyle Drabek - 9Ks/1 BB. Still under a strikeout per inning pitched, but you at least have a sense that he's ready to step in as the fourth/fifth guy and work his way up the ladder.
Bret Cecil - 10Ks/4BBs. Sounds about right.
Ricky Romero - 10Ks/9BBs. Aside from Aaron Hill's spotty attendance record so far, this is the March development that concerns us most. When we watched him a few weekends ago, he looked as though he had great control over all his pitches...so we'll chalk this up to spring experimentation.
David Purcey - 5Ks/7BBs. That's how you pitch your way out of town. Or pitch Marc Rzepczynski (9/6) into contention for your spot in the bullpen.
Other fun numbers of note: The Jays are taking a lot of walks so far, with J.P. Arencibia leading the way with six (tied with Thames). For all of the talk about his bad start at the plate, we'll gladly take the walks...Rajai Davis is slugging .639, with three homers and five doubles so far. Now that's our kind of slap-hitter...Yunel Escobar has 16 hits and five walks so far, which gives us a modicum of hope that he'll be back to a 3ish WAR.
So that's about it. We could really parse these numb3rs and try to figure out who the killer is before the third commercial break, but that would just make us look silly, wouldn't it?
1. Walt Whitman wrote: Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) So there.
2. Amongst the hazards of my continuing insistence on using this "we" voice is getting stuck with this awkward quandry: "ourself" or "ourselves"? Either way sounds wrong. Comes off simultaneously as oafish and poofy . No small feat, that.