This morning season ticket holders were invited to dial in and have a Q&A session with Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. I missed the first 10 minutes of the 45 minute call, but did manage to ask a question, I explained to Alex that the media and manager John Gibbons are alluding that if Brett Cecil manages to crack the 25-man roster, it would be as a long man out of the bullpen. My question was this:
With the numbers Cecil has put up vs. lefties, not just last year but throughout his career, and since he hasn’t had much success vs. righties, why haven’t the Blue Jays given Cecil a long, hard look as a lefty specialist?
I also continued to state my opinion that if the Jays do not take him on their 25-man roster, since he is out of options, another club will likely pick him up for nothing, use him as a lefty specialist (as the numbers show he should be used) where he has to potential to excel and have a solid career.
Anthopoulos gave a pretty good answer to this question, although I still disagree with the organization that Cecil is a long reliever. Anthopoulos said that for the past few years, they’ve gotten three different Cecil’s at Spring Training and never know what to expect. His weight was up, then it was down. His velocity was sitting 85-86 mph and this spring his throwing 90-91 consistently. He has been a fastball/change up guy, a fastball/slider guy, and is now a fastball/curveball guy. His mechanics have been different each year, also. Anthopoulos acknowledged the lefty vs. righty splits and said they will continue to monitor them closely. But because Cecil’s velocity is up, Anthopoulos thinks Cecil will fair better vs. righties this year. Anthopoulos also said the club needs a guy who can eat some innings and fill the void that Carlos Villanueva held so well the past couple seasons. Anthopoulos’ hopes that they don’t need a traditional long guy in the ‘pen because the starters are going 7 plus innings per night. However, over 162 games, he figures there will be a small handful where the starter is roughed up a bit and leaves the game in the 3rd, 4th or 5th. Anthopoulos went on to talk about Aaron Loup and how they really like him in the lefty specialist role. He mentioned Casey Janssen closing games and Sergio Santos and Darren Oliver playing set up. He mentioned that Esmil Rogers and Steve Delabar are great one-inning guys. But the club is missing a long man and might need Cecil to fill the void – even if his strengths lie elsewhere.
So it looks like if Cecil makes the club (which I really think he should since he’ll be gone for nothing otherwise), he’ll only get into the games with the huge deficits or leads. Hopefully, for Jays fans, it’s leads.
For what it’s worth, I’d left Jeremy Jeffress be the long guy that is rarely needed, start Loup in triple-A for depth even if he is major league ready (think J.A. Happ), and have Cecil be the lefty specialist. Here’s why:
vs. left – ERA = 2.81, WHIP = 0.94, opp. avg. = .214
vs. right – ERA = 6.75, WHIP = 1.72, opp. avg. = .319
vs. left – ERA = 2.25, WHIP = 1.11, opp. avg = .186
vs. right – ERA = 5.75, WHIP = 1.41, opp. avg = .282
vs. left – ERA = 2.48, WHIP = 1.00, opp avg. = .224
vs. right – ERA = 4.75, WHIP = 1.42, opp. avg = . 275
Sorry Alex, after 357.2 innings, the numbers don’t lie.