There is a glaring question in Blue Jay land: What the heck should we do with Ricky Romero?
Romero was outrighted to triple-A last Saturday afternoon to make room on the 40-man roster for Ramon Ortiz. The fact that Romero was outrighted to the minors means he passed through waivers without any of the other 29 Major League teams deciding to claim him. The lack of interest doesn’t exactly come as a surprise considering Romero is earning $7.5 million this season with another $15 million on the way through 2014-15. When the Jays originally signed Romero to this contract in 2010, he proceeded to pitch to a career year in 2011. Both the Jays and Romero were happy with the deal – the Jays got what looked like a bargain for a young lefty, and Romero had the security of a 5 year deal worth $30 million. Now the contract seems burdensome on the Jays.
Romero’s well-documented struggles with command last season and again this year have totally negatively transformed the young pitcher, who had previously improved on his numbers every season in the majors prior to 2012.
In his last start, he allowed five runs through the first four innings. The 28-year-old lefty finished his outing after six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out three. The most positive aspect was that he didn’t walk a better although he did throw three wild pitches.
Romero entered that start with 20 walks and just 6 strikeouts in four appearances in triple-A.
Two starts ago, he was unable to pitch his way out of the first inning. In that outing, Romero surrendered eight runs on five hits and three walks while recording just two outs. He threw just 13 of his 32 pitches for strikes. His ERA in triple-A now sits at 11.84 and he has allowed 31 hits in 19.0 innings.
The Jays have to be wondering what steps they can take from here.
Romero was cut by the Blue Jays at the end of Spring Training to overhaul his mechanics on the mound. He spent almost a month in extended spring training in an effort to change his delivery and limit the way he throws across his body.
Bottom line: you’ll remember I didn’t think the Jays should have called up Romero from single-A to pitch in the majors after only a single minor league start. If you want a guy to rebuild his mechanics, it doesn’t happen over night. But the Jays had few options and felt like Romero gave them the best option to win that night. Two starts later – one average and one extremely ugly – the lefty went to triple-A where he has continued his profound struggles. So what can the Jays do? Not much. With Romero set to earn $7.5 million this year and another $15 million between 2014-15, the Jays would most likely have to eat some of his salary in any trade scenario. And it’s really hard to trade someone that has had success at the major league level at the bottom of his value – especially when he is only 28 years young. So the Jays will have to stick to the status quo – Romero will keep on grinding it out in the minors until either the Jays completely give up on him or he is able to regain some consistent control of the strikezone. Going into spring training, who would have thought that with Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ, and Josh Johnson all spending time on the DL that Romero would not be an option? Not me. But he clearly isn’t. Right now, he’s not even close (just like his fastball).