Monday, August 6, 2012

Long Weekend Observations, Opinions, and Sentiments

It’s a good thing, I suppose, that I waited until after the Blue Jays’ recent four-game series in Oakland was over and the team was safely on their way to Tampa, as opposed to blogging on, say, Friday.  My spirits are decidedly better after a couple of back-to-back victories to salvage a series split than they were at the tail end of a season-high six game losing streak – even if that losing streak seems to be a more accurate indication of the talent level of the team right now than the consecutive wins would trick us into believing.

If these are the dog days of summer, in keeping with the theme, the Jays are passing off some mongrel mutts as lineups.  For instance, it was one thing to carry the rather anemic bats of your Omar Vizquels and Jeff Mathises (Mathii?) in the early part of the season when they were mostly glued to the bench and maybe seeing one to two starts per week.  But it’s a different matter altogether to have those kinds of subpar offensive performers dotting a lineup that, on at least one occasion this weekend, was more than half made up of players who started and have spent most of the year in Las Vegas.

And yet.  Against a “playoff contender” by many accounts in the Oakland A’s – a team with very good pitching that’s bumping along at eight games over .500 – they split four games on the road, and might have made it three of four given a little more extra inning luck on Friday.  I realize this probably sounds a little Pollyannaish, since they also came off three straight stinkers in Seattle, but my point (I think) is that even among those teams considered to be just a cut above the likes of the middling Jays, the gap isn’t that big, and when the Jays are healthy, they’re probably on the positive side of it.

Ricky Romero

While I’ve got my rose-coloured glasses on, can we put our hands together for Ricky Romero*?  With just three hits conceded over an effective seven innings on Saturday (albeit with four walks sprinkled in alongside five strikeouts), our enigmatic ace-cum-whipping-boy had one of his best outings in recent memory.  He was TERRIBLE at pitching to the score like Jack Morris would have, as the single earned run he gave up was enough to preclude him from chalking up a much-coveted win.  That honour went to Jesse Chavez for his work in extra innings, the reward for which was a convoluted designation-for-assignment.  ANYWAY, Ricky pitched well, and he just mostly looked like he was in control out there.  He had a glimmer of confidence – dare I say swagger – that had been missing in action for far too long.  It was nice to see, and I was probably happier for him on Saturday than any other player on the team.

* NOTE: putting hands together can be repeated in a clapping motion, or hands may be clasped for a longer period of time in prayer for continued improvement.  Your choice. 

Youth Will Be Served

That’s not to say I’m not also happy for some of the erstwhile 51s who have found their way into the Jays lineup, out of either aggressive escalation of their competition level or sheer necessity due to injury.  It’s easy to get discouraged about the recent trajectory of the season and argue over the organizational response, but the upside is that we’re getting a look at some intriguing players.  I’m not just referring to Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria here, who are obviously fascinating if possibly in a bit over their heads in their first tastes of MLB action.  I’ve also been interested in Moises Sierra as a potential fourth-outfielder type for a while, and if you can get past a couple of herp-derp plays in the early going for him, he does look the part of a big leaguer just lacking some polish to his game.  It may not be the case that the team will have to hang with these kids for too long, provided injuries to Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus are as mild as has been reported and Jose Bautista progresses a little better in his recovery.  There remains merit, though, in giving these prospects a taste of the big-leagues to see how they respond.  With the Rays, Yankees, White Sox, Rangers and Tigers in the immediate offing, if they’re still here, they’ll definitely get a test.


Ty said...

With all of these prospecty types making premature debuts, I think the guy who has been quietly impressing me the most is David Cooper. He performed admirably when he was up earlier in the year, and that's been continuing this time around. Maybe I'm just a sucker for lefties who drive the ball the other way, but he's done enough to deserve something close to regular at-bats from the DH spot even after Jose returns.

Anonymous said...

This season has now come down to auditions and verification for management as to what they really have in house. As a result they will know what they need to acquire.
For instance the revamped pen seems to have found its groove and is retry much set for 2013 with: Jannsen, Delabar, Lincoln, Oliver (providing he does not retire), Loup with 2 of Cecil/ Jenkins/ Stroman and Santos (if the injury reports are true).
Its safe to say that barring injury the following positions are set: 3B (Lawrie),CF (Rasmus), RF(Bautista), 1B (EE), C (JPA or TDA), SS (Escobar). Offensively have needs at LF, DH and 2B. The way Gose plays in Bautista's absence will likely determine if he starts at the MLB or AAA level next year(LF). If we acquire a big bat for LF or DH then I project Hech as the opening day 2B.
The rotation needs some help. We have Morrow, Romero, Alvarez and Happ. Which means at least 1 front of the rotation starter must be acquired. I'm assuming Drabek is done and when he comes back he won't be a starter (2 TJ surguries and a lack of control previous does not build confidence). Plus by the time he is back and hitting his stride he will likely have the Big 3 nipping at him. Hutchinson could be fine for spring training but there will always be a worry and even if does come back he will likely be handled with kid gloves. Laffey/ Cecil should just be insurance or long men out of the pen. At this point Litsch and McGowan's careers are on life support.
With McGuire and Jenkins being question marks at best. I think it may well be prudent to go after a second (back of the rotation) starter as well or sign Villaneuva for that long man/ spot starter role. The gist of this is that this is a critical off season for AA. He can make this team pretty competitive with the acquisition of a front end starter ( JJ/ E Jax/ Masterson etc) and a big bat. The nice part is that with the pen as is and Teahan we save 12M over 2012. Add in another 6M by going with Hech over KJ and we now have a pretty big war chest which we can use for a free agent or a trade and sign candidate.

Anonymous said...

I pretty much agree with the above. 2b really needs to be addressed and if it's Hech, i'm just fine with that too. Johnson's 2nd in the AL strikeout total with very little production just can't be kept.

Lind's days as a Jay may be numbered even though he was hot upon call up. His nagging back and rollercoaster hitting aren't worth it.

For 2 season Villaneuva has been one of our better pitchers and i think deserving of the bottom of the rotation. A trade (because free agents cost too much) for a top starter and some luck with health, and think we'll sniff playoffs next year.

Anonymous said...

Romero's last start was a sign of regression, not progression. on July 30th he went 6 innings and struck out 7 while walking 2. On his last start he allowed 4 walks vs 5 K in 7 innings. That's a step backwards, not forwards.

His issue is his lack of control, and it showed up again in Oakland. It's great he didn't allow more than a run, but that's not what we should be focused on. It's his control that will determine whether or not Romero succeeds going forward.

Rucker said...

This makes it an ideal hearing aid for day to day usage. I've broken enough gadgets in my life to at least ATTEMPT to quell my excitement long enough to learn to do it right. -We have more than 10 year experience in online market. Save The Environment - Use Rechargeable AA Batteries And Battery Chargers To make a good choice from the various available options in the market, firstly try and figure out your priorities.