Tagged: Ricky Romero

What to do about Ricky Romero?

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).

@IHRTBJs

 

 

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Josh Johnson set to return

Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson will make his long-awaited return from the disabled list against tonight vs. the Giants.  Johnson, who has been on the DL since late April with right triceps inflammation, has only made four starts this season.

In those outings, the 6’7″ right-hander has a 6.86 ERA, although most of that damage came in the shortest start of his career on April 11, when he allowed six earned runs in 1.1  innings against the Tigers.

Johnson’s return comes at a time when Toronto’s rotation is in need of a pick-me-up. Of their top six starters entering the season, only Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey have yet to miss a start, and they are the only ones to not find themselves on the disabled list or demoted.  While Buehrle struggled early, he has pitched well during his past 5 outings and looks to be on track, the same can’t be said about Dickey who is struggling to regain his “ace-like” form.  Dickey’s lack of command and velocity have been his undoing so far this season.

Let’s hope Johnson can provide a much needed boost to rotation that is coming undone at the seams.  With Ricky Romero outrighted to triple-A (are we really surprised nobody wanted him off waivers?), Brandon Morrow nursing a sore forearm on the DL, J.A. Happ trying to get his leg back under him (sprained knee and also on the DL), the return of Johnson couldn’t come soon enough.

If Johnson remains healthy, look for him to perform extremely well as he is in a contract year.  Also look for him to become trade bait near the July 31st deadline if the Jays can’t gain any material ground on the division by the allstar break.

@IHRTBJs

 

Gonzalez Elects Free Agency

Edgar Gonzalez has had enough of the up and down of the Toronto Blue Jays.  After clearing waivers, he did not accept a triple-A assignment and instead elected free agency.

While Gonzalez’s 7.88 ERA over 8 innings with the Jays won’t be missed, he did provide emergency depth and can eat innings when needed.  With Josh Johnson and J.A. Happ on the DL, R.A. Dickey and Brandon Morrow trying to pitch through back and neck spasms, and a completely fallen apart Ricky Romero, having a guy like Gonzalez on your triple-A squad wouldn’t have hurt.  

However, guys like Gonzalez are thought to be a dime a dozen, so not a huge loss in the end.  

Do you think we’re regretting letting Aaron Laffey walk with all our injuries?

@IHRTBJs

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

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

Justin Germano Down, Brad Lincoln Up

If you saw the Blue Jays game last night, you saw Brad Lincoln is back up with the big club.  The Jays called him up when Josh Johnson hit the DL yesterday and have now sent Justin Germano back down to clear room for Ricky Romero (who will start tonight vs. Felix Hernandez and the Mariners).

Germano, 30, has pitched 23 innings for triple-A this year with a 6.65 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 0.8 BB/9. The righty has also pitched for the Padres, Reds, Indians, Red Sox and Cubs, compiling a 5.29 career ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.  He’ll have to clear waivers and accept the minor league assignment.  I expect both these things to happen.

Lincoln, acquired from the Pirates last season for Travis Snider, is a career 8 – 10 with a 4.83 ERA in 192 big league innings.  He provides the Jays with an arm out of the ‘pen that can pitch more than one inning when necessary.

@IHRTBJs

Johnson to DL, Romero Back with Big Club

Only a couple hours after posting that both R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson were on track to make their next scheduled starts on Friday and Saturday, the Blue Jays have place Johnson on the 15-day DL due to persistent triceps inflammation.  Johnson has undergone an MRI which shows no structural damage, but after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday, the Jays appear to be taking the cautious route with the soon-to-be free agent and shutting him down temporary.

Johnson’s DL stint is retroactive to his last big league appearance so there is a change he only misses one more start.  However, after skipping two starts, you have to wonder if the Jays will want him to do a minor league rehab assignment.  Sergio Santos hit the DL earlier this season with a similar injury to his triceps and it was originally thought he would be ready to come back as soon as his stint was over.  Well, it was over last week and he still isn’t back.

Ricky Romero has been called up for the Jays to pitch tomorrow in Johnson’s place.  This is an interesting move since Romero only has one start in single-A this year after numerous bullpen sessions to work on his new throwing mechanics.  I think the Jays are rushing Ricky back, but I guess they feel he is the best available option.  With a 10-18 start and needing to play close to .600 baseball for the remainder of the season to have a shot at the playoffs, I suppose they don’t have much of a choice.

Unfortunately for Romero, in his return to Toronto he draws Felix Hernandez of the Mariners to pitch opposite him.  King Felix is 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA so far this season.  Let’s hope he has confidence in his new mechanics.

The silver lining in today’s news seems to be that Dickey also underwent an MRI this week and looks good to go for his start on Saturday.  He is still suffering for a sore back and neck but said it didn’t feel as bad as it has after his latest side session.  The MRI reveal slight inflammation but no serious injury.  Dickey plans to continue to pitch through the pain.

I really thought Johnson would be one of the best, if not the best pitcher on the Jays staff this season.  He still has a chance to be since the season is only about 15% complete, but he’ll have to come back quickly and then avoid the DL.  In a contract year, he’ll be itching to prove his health and value, so look for good things when he comes back.  If injuries persist, the Jays might be able to sign him to an extension for a year at a discount so he can prove his health and value next season before hitting the free agent market.

I keep telling a co-worker that starting with the win on Tuesday, the Jays will play .600 ball for the remainder of the season.  It would be a good start by taking the series tonight (Happ vs. Dempster) and grabbing 2 of three this weekend vs. the Mariners.

@IHRTBJs