Thursday, March 24, 2011


So the latest (okay, not latest - let's just say my west coast location lags 24 hours and call it even) news out of Blue Jays camp is that, with Morrow down, the Jays are preparing to roll with a 5-man rotation of Romero, Cecil, Litsch, Reyes, and Drabek.

The first thing that pops into my head when I see this group, or more specifically Reyes' spot within it, is not hell yes. It's more like sink or swim. The goal seems not to be putting the best five men on the field but shooting for whatever upside may be there for the taking.

With Reyes in the rotation and Francisco (presumably) on the DL, there's now room for both Purcey and Janssen in a seven-man pen, along with Rauch/Camp/Frasor/Dotel/Zep. With injuries taking the toll that any honest (read: cynical) fan should prepare for it doesn't seem particularly likely that we'll see a Werth-for-Frasor deal this Opening Day. Note to all late-February roster-overflow complainers: problems tend to work themselves out.

With the current regime (Side note: why do we use the noun regime, with its weird sub-connotations of fascism, when referring to baseball teams? Am I reading too much if I say it's because the average baseball fan swears a lifelong oath of unrequited fealty to a powerful organization featuring godlike figures? Okay, I'll stop.), let's start that line again: With the current regime's interest in retention of assets, Jays fans should be willing to accept the proposition that going forward the emphasis is not on exploiting talent so much as exploring it. Remember when Mike Smith got 6 starts on the 2002 Blue Jays? Okay, you probably don't. (I'm not sure how I do. How does a name like Mike Smith stick with a person? Must be the that it was so generic that I remembered it for its very genericness.)

But the point stands: Mike Smith was a bad pitcher on a bad team. In 2002, JP Ricciardi was in his first year as GM and trying to figure out what he had. If that meant signing Tanyon Sturtze off of one of the worst seasons in memorable history or calling up a mid-round pick with a superficially decent ERA against International League hitters, he would do it. Jo-Jo Reyes is probably not a good pitcher. He may not belong as a starter, and even if he does eventually carve out a career for himself as a crafty lefty (Ted Lilly has also had his issues with wildness, for example), there's no guarantee that this will be the year. But he's young and he's out of options, so he gets the Mike Smith treatment.

Anyway, while I'm on the subject of idol-worship and young GMs, let me take a moment to breifly rip everyone proclaiming AA Executive of the Year based on some positive early results. I need only direct you to that first Ricciardi team: sans-Mondesi, a combination of Ash picks (Halladay, Wells) and JPR acquisitions (Hinske, Politte) emerged to give that sub-.500 team the look of youthful potential. The oldest starting position player was Ken Huckaby, who was caddying for Kevin Cash anyway (remember that?), and with a rotation of Halladay-Carpenter-whoever going forward, in the post-Ash era we as Jays fans looked to Ricciardi's glib efficacy and saw him as our American savant and saviour. A real baseball guy, we said. None of this "Canadian bank-manager out of his league" business. That all seemed validated, too, when the 2003 version won 86 games (one more than 2010, but who's counting?). Well, fast-forward ten years, and who's at the helm? Oh yeah, it's the Montrealer with the economics degree.


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