Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Losing Sleep and Games

I am going to officially petition MLB and ask that all games be played during prime-time on the East Coast. I have a job to do, and staying up to watch the Jays play at ungodly hours is cramping my style.

West Coasters should support my idea, they would have baseball from 4-8pm, and still have time to watch TV shows afterwards. I think I'm on to something.

As for the games: Have you ever been more frustrated?

Let's review all of the Jays losses to this point in the season:

- a 4-3 loss to MIN, where the team had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th
- a 2-1 stymie-ing of the offence versus Trevor Cahill and the Oakland A's, where the A's only managed a win due to some wild pitching by Jason Frasor
- a torrid extra-innings affair in L.A. of A, where an inept umpire cost the Jays a chance to win.
- a loss that the offence really earned, by not being able to touch Jered Weaver.
- a bullpen meltdown that squandered a 6 run lead over 2 innings.
- a pitching gem by Romero that was wasted when the team couldn't cash in again. (Last Night)

A theme is REALLY emerging here. Overall, the starters have not been to blame for these losses. Admittedly, Brett Cecil hasn't been getting it done, but he's not hurting the team either. Reyes showed what he is capable of versus Weaver in LA, and Litsch wasn't great in Seattle, but he battled hard, and didn't allow any runs.

The bullpen was supposed to be dramatically improved this year for the Jays. I know it's much to early to say that it's not, but it certainly has cost the team some games already. I hope that later in the season, none of us fans revisit these losses with regret.

As frustrating as these losses are, there is a lot to take solace in. The offence is exciting, and fun to watch. Rajai Davis showed flashes of what kind of catalyst he can be when healthy. Lind has been hitting lefties. Escobar has been incredible, and managed to even avoid a concussion. The starting pitching has been good, and will get better soon with the addition of Brandon Morrow.

On that note: there seems to be a near constant debate on Twitter as to who Morrow should replace. Jo-Jo Reyes is out of options. Cecil is "established". Litsch is pitching at the level he was at before he hurt his elbow/hip. I feel the need to get preachy on this, so here goes:

Yes, teams should put the best 25-man roster on the field each night. But there is a business to the game that is well documented. Players are people, but on another, more cynical level, they are also assets to a team. Protecting these assets gives teams a cometitive advantage, and allows them to have sustained periods of success. As these assets accumulate value, they can be moved for other assets, similar to the stock market (Thanks Jonah Keri! Read his book, the Extra 2%)

The Jays will inevitably send down one of the 2 starting pitchers with options: Jesse Litsch or Brett Cecil. Cecil only needs to have one good start in the next week-and-a-half to remove his name from this conversation. Although the converse could also be true, and if he continues to struggle, he may find himself ironing things out in Las Vegas. Litsch on the other hand is doing all he can to stick, and he's definitely made a fan of me. But as much as I have come to like his newfound approach, I want him to stay with the team long-term, and so he may have to take a trip to Vegas.

There is also the potential for a trade. Alex Anthopoulos is already shopping David Purcey around the league (He was designated for assignment yesterday, the Jays have 9 more days to trade or waive him) and these discussions could lead to larger deals involving a starting pitcher. Reyes has never been a fan-favourite in Toronto, so fans seem eager to have him be included. I find that management seems to really like him. They targeted him specifically in last years' Escobar trade, and have spoke glowingly about him so far this year. I would be shocked if he doesn't get every opportunity to succeed in Toronto. Romero is going to be with this team for a very long time thatnks to a team-friendly contract extension, and Morrow is hurt. This leaves Cecil and Litsch as the candidates once again. I won't speculate, because I like both. Yet, they would both hold good value, and could be packaged with Purcey to a team that needs help.

Not that the Jays need any more prospects, but at this point it has to be about asset protection.

For another awesome segue, Kyle Drabek (prospects-to-Drabek. How 'bout them apples!) gets a chance this afternoon to be an ace. The kind of pitcher who can come out and put a stop to a losing streak, and get the team pointed in the right direction again. He's been good so far, and I for one am excited to see his continued devlopment.

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