Tagged: John Gibbons

Romero and Gonzalez down, Ortiz and Storey Up

Ricky Romero looked awful last night.  As a major league pitcher, you have to be able to throw the ball where you want to throw it was some consistency.  Last night, poor Ricky couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.

It’s no surprise that Romero has been sent to triple-A after last night’s disaster.  He was only able to record one out through the first seven batters and was quickly yanked.  Some people are saying that John Gibbons was too quick to give Romero the hook last night.  The ol’ “what does it do to his confidence” bit.  Well, we are trying to win ball games.  And Gibbons said it best.  He has a responsibility to the other 24 guys on the team to try and win the game.  When a pitcher can’t control where he is throwing the ball (I mean, Ricky wasn’t even close last night), a manager should have a quick hook.

So down goes Ricky, which leads to the question – was he brought up to fast in the first place?  To me, the answer is definitely yes (and if you are a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll remember I thought it was too quick before Ricky threw a single pitch for the Blue Jays this season).  But I guess the Jays thought Ricky was the best in-house solution to replace Josh Johnson and tried to rush him.  They obviously thought wrong.  But what does that say about the recent call ups.  Are Mickey Storey or Ramon Ortiz suddenly better than Ricky Romero?  Do they give the Jays a better shot at winning?

You wouldn’t think so, but maybe.  Romero has lost 15 of his past 16 decisions dating back to 2012 and owns a 7.60 ERA over that span.  Yikes!

Edgar Gonzalez was sent back down after throwing 4.2 innings of relief and giving up 5 runs.  He was really only called up as an insurance policy in case Romero struggled to provide bullpen depth and eat some innings.  Last night would have been Gonzalez’s regular turn in the triple-A rotation, so his arm was fresh.  Now that it’s not fresh, he’ll have to clear waivers to once again pitch in Buffalo.  I think he will – he always has once this year.

So up come Ramon Ortiz and Mickey Storey.

Ortiz, 39, made one relief appearance for Toronto on this year. He has compiled a 2-0 record and 2.18 ERA in four games (three starts) with in triple-A. The righty has posted a 86-84 with a 4.93 ERA in 297 career appearances, including 214 starts.  Barring any other roster moves (and you never know with Alex Anthopoulos’ roster of musical chairs), I expect Ortiz to get a temporary shot in the rotation at least until Josh Johnson is back – the Jays expect him back towards the end of May.

Storey posted a 3.93 ERA in seven relief appearances in triple-A. The 26-year-old righty had a 3.86 ERA in 30.1 innings as a rookie with the Astros last season.  With J.A. Happ only going 1.1 innings two nights ago due to an early exit after being hit by a line drive in the head (thank goodness he appears to not have any serious injuries) and Romero’s 0.1 innings of work last night, the Jays need some fresh arms in the ‘pen.

Romero is a mystery.  Will he ever be effective again?  He simply does not have the ability to consistently throw strikes.  It’s mind boggling.  Who knew that Ortiz would be the better option?  I would have never of guessed it, but it certainly looks that way now.

With both Johnson and Happ out, expect to see another move.  Assuming Ortiz gets a start, the Jays are still one short in their rotation.

@IHRTBJs

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Last Night’s loss – May 2, 2013

I’m tired of losing.  Even more so, I’m tired of losing to John Farrell’s Red Sox.  

Last night the Blue Jays dropped another game to lower their record to 10 – 19.  That’s the 27th of 30 MLB teams.  Only the Houston Astros are worse in the American League.  

I never expect to win a game when our starting pitcher walks 7 batters.  It rarely happens.  But with all the walks (10 in total) allowed to Red Sox hitters, the Jays only surrendered 3 runs and definitely had a chance to win.  

Edwin Encarnacion came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded.  He’s been making solid contact for the past two weeks and really hitting it hard every time he puts it in play.  On a 2-0 pitch, he rolled over on a slider and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.  

Adam Lind came to the plate with two out and the bases loaded later in the game.  He has been seeing the ball as well as any Blue Jay lately (11 walks in his past 9 games).  He worked the count full and then struck out on a fastball at the letters.  

So the offence had its chance.  Bad start for J.A. Happ?  Definitely.  He couldn’t command anything.  But the staff gave us a chance to win last night and the offence, yet again, let us down.  

This next comment might sound a bit like I’m just bitter and looking for excuses for the Jays – I’m not.  They have played horrible baseball and deserve their record.  I really think they will go on a run, but they deserve to be 10 – 19 with the way they’ve played so far.  So keeping in mind this is not an excuse….what the hell was up with home plate umpire Gary Darling last night?  His strike zone was inconsistent to say the least.  He gave Ryan Dempster so many pitches off the outside corner, which I’m totally fine with if it was going both ways – but it wasn’t, and poor Happ couldn’t get a call when he was on the plate.  It was downright ridiculous.  Now, this umpiring did not lose the Jays the game.  The lack of clutch hitting lost them the game.  But you have to wonder if all the previous whining about balls and strikes over the past couple seasons is catching up with the Jays with umpires around the league.  

On a positive note, only Brett Lawrie complained last night.  Usually it’s Lawrie, Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia, and the list goes on.  I’m happy Bautista has shut his trap the last couple games.  You have to think John Gibbons had a private conversation with him about it.  

This is going to sound weird to some since the offence sucked again last night, but I think they are really close to breaking out.  The at bats are getting much better.  It was rare that they chased and it really looks like most guys are starting to see the ball well.  The only two that looked lost at the plate were Melky Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio.  Cabrera is in a funk and Gibbons has now moved him back to the 2-hole where he is certain to see pitches while hitting in front of Bautista – thank you Gibbons (you should have never moved him).  And Bonifacio just isn’t getting enough consistent at bats, so it’s tough.  He should be starting nearly every night and Munenori Kawasaki should be on the bench to spell Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis when they need a night off or to come in for Bonifacio as a defensive replacement late in a game if the Jays have the lead.  How many times do I need to say this?  

And Gibbons, I really do like you as a manager and don’t want to see you go (despite what some of the fan base is saying), but how can you not pinch hit for Kawasaki in the bottom of the 9th when he represents the tying run at the plate?  Really?  Mark DeRosa was available.  Hell, even Maicer Izturis has more pop than Kawasaki.  Just a bizarre decision to pinch hit for Bonifacio with Rajai Davis and not pinch hit for Kawasaki when he represented the tying run.

I realize it sounds like I really don’t like Kawasaki but I actually do.  I just don’t like him as a starter or at the plate representing the tying run in the 9th inning.  

Let’s hope Ricky Romero’s new mechanics can hold up tonight vs. Felix Hernandez.  And let’s hope the bats come alive.

@IHRTBJs

Gibbons Did the Right Thing

Gibbons was right and Jeff Kellogg was wrong.  Period.

I’m not talking about whether Ben Francisco was safe on his bunt attempt (I think whether Edwin Encarnacion trapped the ball or not, it was a close enough play to go either way).  I’m referring to rule 9.02 c which states: “If a decision is appealed, the umpire making the decision may ask another umpire for information before making a final decision. No umpire shall criticize, seek to reverse or interfere with another umpire’s decision unless asked to do so by the umpire making it.”

The Yankees did not appeal the ruling on the field.  The firstbase umpire did not initiate the meeting of umpires to “get it right”.  Therefore, Kellogg broke a rule and Gibbons had ever right to speak his mind about it (leading to his second ejection in as many nights).

I’m not sure if there is an automatic fine for an ejection, but Gibbons shouldn’t have to pay it.  In fact, Jeff Kellogg should have to pay a fine for breaking a rule of the game.

Umpires are the most arrogant of all sports officials.  I don’t mind the missed calls – there are part of the game and umpires are human.  But to break a rule from your own handbook?  When an umpire does that, there should be a fine.  How else can we ensure that umpires are calling a game to the best of their ability?  Every umpire should know the rules – plain and simple.

Fortunately, the rule-breaking play by Kellogg didn’t lead to any runs and didn’t make a difference in the outcome of the game.  Hopefully, it doesn’t have an outcome for Gibbons’ wallet.

@IHRTBJs

The Past Few Games…

If you missed the game yesterday, you missed a bit of everything.

Finally, John Gibbons started Maicer Izturis at SS and Emilio Bonifacio at 2B.  Thank you – it’s about time.  The offence had the long ball going, as the Blue Jays hitters bashed four homers.  But then the Jays squandered a 5-2 lead and allowed the Orioles to tie the game and force extra innings.  Gibbons got tossed in the 9th by defending Brett Lawrie (who was arguing balls and strikes – big surprise).  Jose Bautista made an error when he lost a routine fly ball and fans across the country were thinking “here we go again”.  But Rajai Davis saved the day by throwing out the walk off run at the plate in the bottom of the 10th to set up a go ahead bases loaded walk to Izturis to take the lead.  Casey Janssen was spectacular again, tossing a 1-2-3 inning with two K’s.

But I want to talk about something else.  With the offence struggling, why are the Jays not trying to manufacture more runs?  In two of the past four games, the Jays have had a situation where Munenori Kawasaki comes to the plate with one out and runners on 1st and 3rd.  He is the definition of a slap hitter and more often then not hits a ball on the ground and hope it sneaks through a hole or he can beat it out.  Why not bunt up the first base line?  The 1B is glued to the bag to hold the runner and can’t charge the ball, you guarantee a run, move the trail runner into scoring position with two out, and play for a two run inning.  Chances are Kawasaki is going to hit a ground ball somewhere and it’s important to stay out of the double play.  Not bunting in these two situations makes no sense to me.

In the two cases, a bunt would have accomplished more than what transpired.  In the first, Kawasaki hit a sac fly.  Great.  We scored a run.  But we could have scored a run AND moved the trail runner into scoring position.  Wasted opportunity.  In the second, Kawasaki hit into a double play and ended the inning.  Even worse.

If I look at the current starting nine, at the very least the Jays should be bunting in this situation with either Kawasaki or Izturis at the plate.  I might even do it with others like Davis or Bonifacio depended on the situation.

Everyone in the lineup save maybe the 3-4-5 hitters should be capable of pulling off this play on a major league team, in my opinion.  The Tampa Bay Rays use this play all the time and have more wins in the past five years then any other team besides the Yankees and Phillies.  With a stuttering offence, it’s time to take the guaranteed runs when they are there.

@IHRTBJs

People Questioning John Gibbons Moves – April 16, 2013

There is still a bit of a buzz around Blue Jays nation following a move made by manager John Gibbons on April 16th.  Gibbons brought Rajai Davis off the bench to pinch hit for Colby Rasmus – and three days later everyone is still asking “what if”…

Rasmus had been 2-2 with a homer, but was about to face a lefty.  He hasn’t had many at bats vs. lefties this season, but is just 2-10 (.200 avg) with 7 K’s.  Yikes.  Davis, on the other hand, is 5-12 vs. lefties (.417 avg) and only hitting .200 vs. righties.  Seems like a natural move to make in a tie game, right?

But Rasmus has unbelievable power and it’s hard to take a homerun guy – who is the winning run – out of a game.  Also, Rasmus is by far the best defensive CF on the team.  And when Emilio Bonifacio took a bad route to a ball in CF moments later, the media and fans jumped all over Gibbons.

But here’s the more puzzling move (or non-move)…..

Why did Gibbons not bring in Casey Janssen to pitch the 9th in a tie game at home?  When at home you won’t get a save situation in extras, so you might as well throw your best reliever at the opposition in the 9th – your closer – and hope to score in the bottom of the 10th.  Gibbons is starting to make a habit of throwing one-inning guys multiple innings.  It worked when Aaron Loup pitched 3 inning of 9 up, 9 down ball.  It obviously did not work when Steve Delabar pitched (or tried to pitch) 2 innings on April 16th.  I didn’t mind stretching out Loup as much because we had a 4 run lead.  But in a tie….use one-inning guys for one-inning and play for the home half.

Davis or Rasmus late in a tie game vs. a lefty – that move gets questioned either way and frankly I have no problem with either.  If Davis had of got on a stole a base or two, nobody would be saying anything about the swap.  It’s just a move that backfired and those will happen over 162 games to any manager.  It’s the bullpen use that I’m questioning here, which is thought to be a strength of Gibbons.

Overall, I think Gibbons has done a good job managing the early overused bullpen.  But let’s all keep our eyes on whether he starts using our one-inning guys for one inning.

IHRTBJs

 

Cecil a Multiple Innings Guy?

Manager John Gibbons has not indicated that Brett Cecil has secured a spot in the Blue Jays bullpen.  But considering that Cecil is out of options, it’s doubtful the Jays would keep him off the 25-man roster – he would be almost certain to be lost to a waiver claim for nothing in return.

But Gibbons did allude to something in the lefty arm race for one of the final bullpen spots – he sees Aaron Loup as a specialist and Cecil as a multiple innings guy.  I completely disagree.

I feel both these guys are specialists and have the ability to have long, successful careers in that role.  However, I think the numbers show that Cecil is no multiple innings guy.

Let’s just look at 2012 alone since Cecil was called up into the rotation (and struggled) and then ended the year as a lefty specialist (and a damn good one).

Cecil vs. right = 6.75 ERA, .319 opponents batting average, 1.72 WHIP

Cecil vs. left = 2.81 ERA, .219 opponents batting average, 0.94 WHIP

I rest my case.  Look at the numbers Gibbons – Cecil is a specialist and deserves that role (and only that role) on this team.

IHRTBJs

You can follow me on twitter @IHRTBJs

Blue Jays “State of the Franchise” Highlights

Last night the Blue Jays held the annual ‘state of the franchise’ event at Rogers Centre.  Season tickets holders had the option to send in questions in advance and have either manager, John Gibbons, general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, or President, Paul Beeston provide an answer.  Television play-by-play announcer, Buck Martinez, acted as the master of ceremonies for the event.

The mood was certainly different this year – the questions much more positive.  I guess that’s what happens when an organization makes offseason moves that vault the club into the Las Vegas favourite to win the World Series.

Here is a list of some key highlights in no particular order:

  • Jack Morris, the first 20-game winner in Jays’ history, will join Jerry Howarth in the radio broadcast booth as the new colour commentator/analyst after the departure of Alan Ashby.  Ashby was with the club for six years but accepted a position in television for the Houston Astros (he lives in Houston and his family is there).  Morris has spent the past few years broadcasting for the Twins and Tigers, so he is no strange to the booth.  And yes, he is still sporting a killer moustache.
  • Anthopoulos commented that he isn’t concerned with the recent performance enhancing drugs allegations linked to the Jays newer signed LF, Melky Cabrera.  Cabrera is freshly coming off a 50-game suspension for test positives for PED’s and now finds his name listed in a report out of a clinic in Florida along with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, among others.  Anthopoulos doesn’t seem concerned, but I don’t share his optimism.  I wonder that if the players mentioned in the report are found guilty, if Cabrera serves another suspension since he’s already done time and admitting to PED use in the past.  When where these alleged users using?
  • Gibbons unveiled the order of the starting rotation.  Last season’s NL Cy Young award winner will take the ball in the opener on April 2nd vs. Cleveland.  Following Dickey is Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Rickey Romero.  Dickey getting the ball opening day was expected.  It was also expected that Gibbons would break up his softer tossing lefties with his hard throwing righties.  I’m a bit surprised that Johnson didn’t get the second spot in the rotation, although it really doesn’t matter with this line up.  Morrow is definitely coming into his prime and if he can stay healthy, has a chance to be one of the top pitchers in the league.  So no knock at him as the number 2.  But Johnson has been a legitimate ace since arriving in the majors for the Marlins and is in a contract year.  I think he’s going to be lights out if healthy.
  • Gibbons stated that Casey Janssen is the team’s closer.  This isn’t a huge surprise either considering that Janssen recorded 22 of 24 saves opportunities last year after taking over the closer role.  He also put up some sparkling numbers: 2.54 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with 67 strikeouts in 63.2innings.  There had been some talk in the media that Sergio Santos would compete for the closer position in Spring Training; he was acquired in a trade from the White Sox last offseason and was thought to be the prize addition to the team after recording 30 saves for the White Sox in 2011.  However, Santos only pitched in six games and then missed the rest of the season with shoulder issues that led to surgery.  It makes sense to see where he’s at before having him compete for the closer job after missing so much time.  Especially since Janssen was about as lights out as a closer gets last season.  I’m happy to see Gibbons squashing the media speculation about a closer position battle.  Janssen deserves the job and it’s his to lose.
  • Now onto someone that might not deserve the job but looks to be the front runner anyway: Maicer Izturis.  It appears that when the Jays signed Izturis to a three-year deal this past offseason, Anthopoulos made a pitch that he wanted him to be the Jays starting 2B.  That, however, was before he knew he would be able to pull off the blockbuster trade with the Marlins that brought another player with the ability to start at 2B: Emilio Bonifacio.  This is a position battle to watch during Spring Training, but it’s likely that Izturis will start the year in the line up and avoid the bench.  Bonifacio will find time in a super substitute role at 2B, 3B, LF,and CF.  I prefer Bonifacio over Izturis in the starting line up.  His speed and ability to get on base should have him in the line up regularly.  Izturis is clearly the better defender, but I think he would serve the club better coming off the bench as a sub for 2B, SS, and 3B – a similar role to the one he served last season for the Angels.  We’ll see how this plays out.  My guess is Izturis starts the year at 2B and Bonifacio takes over by the allstar break.
  • Another position battle is for the back up catcher role.  It appears the aging veteran, Henry Blanco is the front runner for the job.  He, like the man he’s competing against in Spring Training, Josh Thole, have both caught Dickey’s knuckle ball in the past.  Thole has options remaining, which means he can be sent to triple-A without being exposed to waivers.  Therefore, look for Blanco to take the job unless he drops off dramatically in Spring Training due to age or injury (he is 41 years young).  I imagine J.P. Arencibia will get a huge dose of playing time if he can stay healthy this year – think Pat Borders in 1992 when Borders led the AL in inning played by a catcher.
  • Beeston indicated that natural grass at Rogers Centre will eventually replace the Astro Turf currently on the field.  He said this could happen sooner than most think.  The big deal here is that the Jays need the Argonauts to move out of the stadium to make it an easier transition.  The difference in field and seating arrangements from baseball to football make it difficult to have grass currently.  It’s no secret that players don’t like playing on turf and only Toronto and Tampa are the only stadiums still using it.  I’d love to see grass in the dome.  We’ll have to see where this goes…

Just so everyone is aware, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next week.  It’s been a long and exciting offseason, but we’re almost there.

IHRTBJs

You can follow me on twitter @IHRTBJs