Talkin’ Cecil

“Eighty-seven to eighty-nine miles per hour is the new norm, it appears, and the reality is that means Cecil’s now a back of the rotation pitcher,” writes Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail in one of several pieces about Brett Cecil to have hit the web in the last couple of days. They come as the Jays’ lefty continues struggling with what some might call  might call his fastball velocity, while others might say he’s merely working on the ability to command his eminently Cole Hamels-like “stuff.”

No, really. That’s what what was written by Mike Wilner at his Fan 590 blog, apparently in agreement with his radio colleague Alan Ashby– and intentional or not, for my taste, it’s the kind of comment that, unfortunately, wades a little dangerously close to blatant homerism territory, especially, I’m sure it will be pointed out, on the part of guys who draw a paycheque from the same company that owns the team. On Twitter, this madness was later both defended, by Wilner, and derided, by Keith Law, and pretty much everyone else, the real kill shot coming from our friend Drew over at Getting Blanked, who went all Pitch F/X-y to show two rather different arsenals– in both tenor and quality.

And it’s the quality of Cecil’s arsenal that continues to give legs to rumours about the Jays looking for pitching reinforcements, despite the club and the pitcher himself putting on brave faces and saying all the right things.

“As far as the body goes, I’m even better than I wanted to be,” Cecil told Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com after his start on Sunday. “As long as everything feels good I’m going to be happy. There’s going to come a point, who knows what game, it’s not always going to be there and that’s where the hard work starts on the mound. Pick and choose your spots you’ve got to work on, but hopefully it doesn’t come for a while and things keep going well.”

“If Brett’s in the 88-91 mph range that’s probably what we expect from him,” John Farrell added. “But more importantly is the location of it and how it’s travelling through the strikezone. If it’s on a downward plane, his changeup in behind it becomes that much more deceptive.”

It all sounds nice, yet rumblings about dissatisfaction among Jays management continue.

“As the Jays try to create more room for their top young pitchers, there’s no question Cecil could be available in a deal. He is one of those former top prospects who hasn’t lived up to expectations, and he hasn’t had an especially good spring,” writes Nick Cafardo in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

And Monday evening Danny Knobler– the Knobler!– of CBS Sports added more fuel to the fire:

So… where there’s smoke there’s fire? I don’t know. I don’t know if we can quite draw a line leading from the Jays’ rumoured continued interest in upgrading the rotation– something they were unable, or unwilling, to do over the winter– to the issues Cecil may or may not be having this spring. But with Kyle Drabek looking good so far, and Dustin McGowan being out of options and all but assured an opportunity to take the ball out of the gate and run with it, it makes it tempting to assume that Cecil’s spot is the one the club is most interested in upgrading on.

Not that there are many opportunities for clubs to upgrade their rotation at this point in the year. But I’m sure that’s not going to stop anybody from writing about it, is it? Myself included, I suppose. Ugh.

Comments (59)

  1. Even if Cecil breaks camp with the club, how long is it before pitchers like Drabek, McGuire, Hutchison, and Jenkins come knocking on the door? If Cecil had pin point location then I could make the case for him but in the AL east it just won’t happen. Show me a pitcher in the division who is successful throwing 88-90 without being known for excellent command. His only good pitch is his changeup, his secondary stuff doesn’t stand out either. The writing is on the wall.

  2. ” Anthopoulos and Hoyer agreed that to survive in the AL East you have to load up on power pitchers, particularly in the rotation. Pitchers who rely on finesse or getting hitters to chase pitches out of the zone don’t play well against patient teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox.

    “We talked about how you need pitchers who can get strikeouts and strikes in the strike zone,” Anthopoulos said. “All the lineups are really selective and will make you come into the zone. That puts a premium on the ability to get strikes in the strike zone.”

    Thats from an SI article by Verducci. That does not sound like Brett Cecil.

    • This is exactly what I’m referencing. The teams like the Sox and Yankees take too many pitches and have too many power hitters to throw soft at. You have to fight power with power in this division.

    • Doesn’t sound like Floyd or Blanton either

    • Exactly and it’s funny how Walton and Farrell went from being concerned about his velocity last year to not making an issue of it now when it sounds like it’s lower this year. Just go back and google all the articles before Cecil got sent down last year and everyone mentions the velocity issue. All of a sudden it’s not a problem now? Obviously they are trying to get him to stop worrying about something he obviously can’t change at this point and focus on what he can control.

      Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact the velocity is still important, especially for a guy with command problems. The added velocity makes his more frequent mistakes up in the zone less hittable. There’s no doubt if he can average 89 to 90 with better command he’ll be more successful because at that point he’ll start to be a lot more like Cole Hamels is right now. He averages 91-92 the last two years.

      That said, I like what I’ve seen from his this spring so far. If can cut down on the HR rate to something like 2010 he’ll be just fine at the back end.

      • I believe Walton and Farrell believe that velocity is very important, but so is the mental health of their pitcher. Last year Cecil was so focused on getting his velocity back that it distracted him from working on his location and developing as a pitcher. I think the mentality this year is to accept Cecil’s velocity drop and work on him locating his pitches.

    • I would only add, dont let any ST victories against the Yankees (or Red Sox) influence your opinion of a particular pitcher. These guys will get you to think you’ve got the next Nolan Ryan.

  3. I did a bit of stat-scouring myself and it turns out that so far in the 2012 regular season, Brett Cecil has an ERA of 0.00 over 0 innings pitched, which isn’t that bad for a pitcher everyone seems to be ready to throw in a fucking dumpster.

  4. Would like to see do a Pitch F/X comparison between Cecil and Downs. Bullpen might be his future?

  5. I won’t believe any Gavin Floyd rumors until I hear from his cousin

  6. if cecil has the same stuff as hamels, then brad mills must be a number 2 starter! lol, what a joke, no wonder i can’t listen to the jays telecast or radio anymore. Buck and pat talk like JP is the best catcher in the world because he had 80 something RBIs. Really? I know he is young and has a chance to be good in the future but did they ever look at his On Base? Mike wilner acts he like knows everything about baseball and no one else knows anything! This proves his credibility!

    • Call me crazy, but Cecil was not exactly a power pitcher when he was so effective against the Yankees in 2010. His fastball that season average 90, so we are not talking a 3mph dropoff, more like 1.5. To me, it would seem, that his success was from one of two things, lack of tape or adjustments made to him by opposing batters, or command.

      If it was command that he was missing, and he is finding it again, could he not have some success with a good offence to back him up?

      Plus he does get into the 7th inning pretty regularly which means he is not a liability to the bullpen.

      Plus the goggles are tits. I’d love to keep seeing them.

      • Tony I’m inclined to agree…until of course he blows up. But as of now he’s got – what?- 0,90 ERA after 10 innings? I’d be inclined to wait and see. I was impressed the way he managed that little dust up in the 1st inning yesterday and he handled the rest of his time well after that. If he is really in the best shape of his life-and he looks it- I’d say he earned the right to start the season. And hopefully his velo will pick up in the meantime.

    • Didn’t mean to reply to you. This should have been it’s own post.

    • come on. you cannot write off Jerry and Alan that fast. They are actually really quite good at what they do.

  7. Cole Hamels has a career track record of 1160 IP with an ERA of 3.39 & a HIP of 1.191.

    Brett Cecil has a career of 389 IP with ERA of 4.64 & a WHIP of 1.404.

    Why Does Wilner think they are the similar pitchers? Is it because they are both LHP?

    • It was about “stuff”. I still disagree with Wilner on that, but this stuff’s nowhere near what he was talking about.

  8. What a fucking joke Wilner is. HI MIKE! Fucking clown. The guy is the biggest shill for Rogers, and it has worked out well for him. His PBP is even more annoying than his pompous post game act. I wish he’d Fuck off!

    Thanks for listening mike! And stoeten, I’m surprised, but proud of your calling bullshit on this.

    It was just the other day wilner shot someone down that informed him of Law’s “shell of his former self ” comment, saying it wasn’t said without even trying to verify if it was. Wilner loves taking things out of context, and never admits when he’s wrong.

  9. Buck and Tabler (who gives a shit which one) made the groan-inducing comparison to Hollywood Hamels too. Fact is Cecil sucks, if you can trade him now for any kind of value you do it. Hell even if you think he can transition into the next Scott Downs worry about that in another year or two when he’s sitting out on the scrap heap.

  10. Considering I’ve been told (by this site) that the Jays won’t be contending this year what’s the issue with starting the season with him? Establish some value? Sure, Jojo didn’t do shit but guys like John Buck sure did. For that matter, Jose Bautista didn’t have much value either when he started playing full time in Sept a few seasons ago. Let’s give the guy a chance, he is only 25.

  11. actually Hamels is 3 years older. When Hamels was 25 he had an era of 4.32 Cecil at 25 4.73. at the end of the season Hamels pitched 794 total innings before turning 26. Cecil 390 which means Hamels did pitch nearly twice as much give Cecil one more season for deciding he sucks. It took Halladay till he was 25 to put it together, dont decide that Cecil who isnt 26 years old yet is garbage, he could be something or he may not this is the season on the bubble.

    • before I take heat for this post I am not expecting Cecil to be left handed roy, but I am just saying for a pitcher, lets, give him that 1 more season to decide with the quality of young arms coming what is the best course of action with Bret.

      • Commenting on the ERA alone. 1, it’s 2012, there are additional stats which should be considered. In the year you mentioned, Hamels wins every other statistical category (FIP,HR/9,K/9, BB/9,WAR). Considering ERA, Hamels has a better ERA each of his first three years than Cecil has ever had; on average, they aren’t even comparable.

        I also find the whole innings pitched debatable because he’s been in the Jays system for 4 years, but I could go either way on him.

  12. Life starts after 30 for most left-handers…

    Guys like Sabbathia are the gross exception.

  13. Wilner is becoming more ridiculous and homerish every year since he got suspended by Rogers. I used to agree with him most of the time. Now, its 50/50 at best. Anyways, the cecil vs hamels comparison is just dumb. If he wanted to compare hamels and romero that would make much more sense and be an interesting comparison.

    • Mike Wilner is a fat bitch who needs to stop playing slowpitch and Witches And Warlords.

  14. Did anyone see Miggy’s face get mangled like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Wow, as JR once said to Betman……I say this to MLB, wake up, wake up MLB, this is not the PCL playing fields.

    That shit was horrific, and if I wanted horrific, I’d stay on the Space channel.

  15. Alright, sorry, but I gotta be ‘that guy’… what is a homer? I have heard the term used before and kinda assumed I knew, but just checked dictionary.com and couldn’t find it. Now I am curious, dammit.

    • My understanding it that it is a guy who will unnessarily only talk about the home team players and how great they are compared to everyone else in the league. Usually they do not have any sort of facts to back it up either. A good example would be comparing Cecil to Hamels without any real basis, and then defending your statement with conjecture instead of facts.
      If you have MLB.tv or are able to watch a White Sox home broadcast you will get a very good understanding of the term.

  16. It’s being biased towards your own teams players.
    #yankeesfans

  17. You start the season with Cecil in the rotation. There should be no question about that. We didn’t grab Darvish or Latos, and the goal here is to see what we have with out starting pitching, namely Cecil, Alvarez, McGowan and Drabek. I’d keep Drabek down on the farm for now, until someone else struggles (or until McGowan has arm troubles and needs to be moved to the pen).

    The Jays certainly should not be in on Blanton or Floyd. If one of the above guys struggles, Drabek comes up. If two guys struggle to an unacceptable degree (read: Jo Jo Reyes), then you make a deal for one of them, as both of them (or someone equal to their calibre of talent) will no doubt be available throughout the season.

    I’m still not convinced that Cecil’s arm speed can’t come back up another 1.5 mph. But whether or not it does, I also never expected Cecil to be anything more than a Cahill-type 4th starter.

  18. You guys are nuts. The guy hasn’t even pitched a single game yet. If he struggles again I can’t see the jays letting it go one too long, but no way are they going to crucify the guy who obviously tried very hard to make an effort in the off-season, when he hasn’t even pitched a single game yet. And what’s more, in spite of the ‘concerns’ during spring training, he hasn’t got lit up either.It just doesn’t make sense to go all ballistic until you know what you’ve got. I like Cecil. It will be a shame if he can’t cut it. But they have to at least give the guy a chance. They’re not in the same Jo-Jo scenario this year. If Cecil stumbles, there are other arms that are just about ready a la Alvarez to have a crack at it. Why rush things at the beginning of a season that the organization has already told us it does not view as a serious contending one?

  19. Pretty much agree with everything said here. I dont see them dealing Cecil unless they come across a deal they cant turn down. Like something that nets them a primo 1B without sending too much back. AA’s always said he wants to build a team of all-stars and Cecil definitely aint that. Anyway with all the scouting help these guys have, my guess is they stick with Cecil til he does struggle, then decide. I bet his guys are out there trying to guess who’ll be the best rule 5 guy released right now.

  20. Ok, so Brett Cecil is Cole Hamels… who is that guy that has been pitching for Philadelphia all those years??

    • If you sign up for Twitter Gold, you saw Wilner also claim that Ben Francisco is Ryan Howard, Jeff Mathis is Darren Daulton, and Kevbrad Mencherson gives you 90% of the Phillie Phanatic.

  21. wilner…

    he one blog post he notes that cecil didn’t throw a pitch over 87… and in the next breath defends the notion that cecil has the same ‘stuff’ as hamels.

    he either thinks that every person reading his blog (or following him on twitter) is a complete moron… or he doesn’t have the first clue what he is talking about. i lean towards the later.

  22. wilner…

    in one blog post he notes that cecil didn’t throw a pitch over 87… and in the next breath defends the notion that cecil has the same ‘stuff’ as hamels.

    he either thinks that every person reading his blog (or following him on twitter) is a complete moron… or he doesn’t have the first clue what he is talking about. i lean towards the later.

  23. Wilner is clearly wrong on the Cecil/Hamels comparison – but seriously, that is not even in the top 25 dumbest things I’ve heard the Toronto sports media say about the Jays this offseason. Wilner is one of the few sports media members who have more than a casual grasp on baseball, so I’ll cut him some slack.

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