The National Post’s John Lott tweeted moments ago that the Toronto Blue Jays have demoted Brett Cecil all the way down to Double A, and have called up Joel Carreno. Lott believes that Carreno will start the third game of the season in Cleveland, after Rickey Romero and Brandon Morrow, with Henderson Alvarez starting the home opener and Kyle Drabek following him in the rotation.

We’ve become rather familiar in the last week with Cecil’s struggles to not only find his fading velocity, but also some semblance of command on the mound. He struggled to the point of hilarity in his last Spring Training start yesterday, and in no way appeared ready to being the season at the MLB level.

Carreno, meanwhile, impressed as a reliever in his eleven appearances at the big league level last year, striking out almost a quarter of the batters he faced while only walking 6.8%. In his limited sample, he also showed an ability to keep the ball on the ground, inducing 22 ground balls compared to 14 fly balls and five line drives with his low nineties sinker. His ability to throw a curve ball for strikes has led to something of an over reliance, but as batters adjust to his approach, he’ll have to adapt.

The big question is whether or not he can adapt as a starter going through a lineup multiple times. Frankly, my money is on “not so much.” However, he found some success last season as a starter in New Hampshire. Unless he’s been able to further strengthen his sinker since last year, we can expect a lot of long innings with Carreno on the mound where batters get few pitches to hit. That will most likely result in a lot of strikeouts, but also a lot of walks, and then, as he tires, a lot of hits and a lot of runs.

I’d say hopefully, this audition is brief, but there isn’t a whole lot of extra depth among Major League ready starters in the organization. It’s expected that the Blue Jays will go to a four man rotation after the opening two series, at least until April 21.

Comments (77)

  1. wow, that was fast. im impressed with Jays’ mgmt for not dicking around.

  2. Lott reports that after April 21, Jays will go on a 4-starter rotation. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m pretty excited about that.

    • Only because off-days allow them to skip the 5th starter a couple times. It’s not a permanent change by any means.

      • Oops. Misread the tweet from Davidi (not Lott). Apologies all.

      • I was looking at the schedule, it would also allow them to skip the 3rd starter, and keep people on normal rest. It’s possible we get a spot start out of Carreno and then decide on a longer term solution for April 21st.

        • That’d be the most sensible move, I would think. Carreno can make a few intermittent starts until McGowan gets back (or, more realistically, IF McGowan gets back) in May.

          I’d love to see as much as possible of Carreno while he’s up here. But, it also makes most sense right now that Drabek would be the one to stay when one of them inevitably needs to be sent down.

  3. Over 50% of Carreno’s pitches with the Jays last season were curveballs!

  4. It’s after the opening series UNTIL April 21, as off days allow it.

  5. Carreno was .5 WAR in only 15 IP in the majors last year according to baseball reference. not too shabby.

  6. Good time to sign a big veteran innings-eater. Check the scrap heap.

    Livan Hernandez might have been useful. Oh well.

    • EWW.

      Not good enough for the Astros = not good enough for the Blue Jays. Carreno (or Jenkins, or McGuire, or Hutchison) will fare far better than any of those types would.

      • I just mean as a temporary solution, until one of the younger guys is a little more ready. Over the long haul, I agree with you. But right now, Carreno probably isn’t quite ready.

        • To make a few spot starts? I think Carreno will be fine… but the idea of Livan Hernandez pitching in the AL East at this point is pretty scary.

  7. Surprised they picked Carreno over Jenkins or McGuire considering he doesn’t have as many pitches to work with for multiple times through the order. At least they didn’t fuck around with Cecil and acted decisively. That’s a great sign from the management point of view. Also should send a message to everyone else – produce or get sent down.

    • It probably had a lot to do with the fact that Carreno’s MLB service clock already started last year. Knowing that the call-up would only last a month or so, it makes most sense to go with him rather than starting the clock on any of the other young guys.

      • It would be interesting if that was the case but it would seem rather petty especially if the results aren’t stellar. Carreno isn’t heading for a big pay day anytime soon.

        • Has more to do with the other guys than Carreno, I’d think. If any of them have a long-term place on the team, Jays could lose a year of team control by bringing them up now (as opposed to, say, June or July). With Carreno, his clock’s already ticking, so it doesn’t make a difference.

          • it actually has more to do with the fact that he’s already on the 40 man roster, is stretched out and can slide into Cecil’s slot. All the other guys that aren’t on the 40 means they’d have to remove someone currently on the 40 for what amounts to a spot start and/or middle relief innings for a month. Jays don’t seem that worried about service time knowing that a lot of guys will ultimately get sent back down for some period of time, with the exception maybe of Lawrie last year.

  8. I’m assuming the post-April 21st 4 man rotation will include Drabek and not Carreno.

  9. For those of you looking for some more info on Carreno, John Sickels 2012 top 20 Blue Jay prospect list has Carreno at 18:

    18) Joel Carreno, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Ready for the majors. Should provide strong middle relief innings and could be a closer eventually.

  10. Personally I think this means when McGowan comes back they’ll keep Drabek and McGowan in the rotation and Carreno will either go to the bullpen at the expense of someone who is underperforming, or be sent back down for a bit more seasoning if he falters.

  11. Surprised they didn’t give Aaron Laffey the job. Relieved, and surprised, but mostly surprised.

    • Laffey stunk up the place last two times out, and given his history he was done for after that.

      It’s kind of cool that the powers that be in the Jays org. have learned their Jo-jo lesson.

      • It’s a bit different than Jo-Jo because he was out of options and the only way to get any value out of him was to keep him on the 25-man. Laffey has less potential and can be sent to the minors, so this was a much easier decision.

        That said, the whole handling of this situation does seem different than it would have been in years past. Like they’re really trying to win as many games as possible THIS year. It’s a cool feeling.

      • They couldn’t have learned that lesson after John Parrish, Brian Tallet, or Dana Eveland?

  12. Drabek should get the number 3 spot, and go with a 4 man rotation with Carreno in the bullpen the first two times through rotation.

    • they are gonna go to a 4 man with drabek and alvarez for a bit but the Jays obviously have more confidence in Drabek that’s why they’re putting him in the 5 slot so he can face the BoSox and Carreno will go against the Tribe, a much easier opponent.

  13. There is no sense going outside the organization for a short term solution. They can use Carreno and Laffey until McGowan is ready and when the weather warms up they can try Jenkins, McGuire and Hutchinson. They’re not winning this year anyway, so they’re be better off to see what they’ve got internally than they would be blocking the youngsters’ paths to the bigs with some slug off the scrap heap. If they go outside the organization, it should be for a longer term solution in the two or three spot. They had a chance to do that in the winter and declined. So, onwards and upwards with the youngsters.

    • I agree with the beginning and end of your paragraph. Less so the middle part.

    • Glad you stopped by, now take your not-winning attitude and fuck off.

      • What I meant by “not winning” was that they are not good enough to make the post season. Was not trying to imply they would be below .500. I’m calling 85 wins, and would not be totally shocked if they upped that to 88 or even 90. But the wild card? Sorry, not going to happen.

        • Lol how can you say that with such certainty? I’m not saying they will, but proclaiming one or the other to be absolute is fucking stupid.

      • Atta boy Riggsy – you tell ‘em. Jays all the way! Romero knows it, Lawrie plays like it, Bautista will deliver it, and Vizquel will mentor the boys to the playoffs. You have the best relief crew in the Division. To those who want to wait and see, I’m sorry, but you will have to root for Baltimore now. You can fulfill your endless wait and see fantasies with the O’s

  14. I posted in the earlier thread that they might go with Laffey for a few starts. Didn’t realize Carreno was stretched out enough this spring. Either way, its a good decision as Cecil just doesn’t have it.

    Going to AA is interesting for Cecil as he will get to know his rotation mates who will one day permanently relegate Cecil to the bullpen or to oblivion.

  15. I’m glad they did this. Cecil has always had mediocre stuff with no swing-and-miss out pitch. Even his 15 win season was mostly smoke and mirrors. Jays brass know what he is at this point, so why not roll the dice on someone that might have more upside?

  16. This all seems to highlight an organizational philosophy that AA has spoken more and more about lately: the Blue Jays clearly believe that power arms are necessary to compete in the AL East. The Morrow and McGowan extensions, the addition of Alvarez (and now Drabek and Carreno), adding Santos as the long-term close, recent draft picks (Syndergaard, Sanchez, Norris, as well as internationally signed Cardona), multiple references to the importance of power arms from both AA and Farrell… it’s pretty clear that this team is targeting guys who can throw hard.

    • From a scouting point of view, could it be also easier to find effective starters that throw hard than effective starters who have to have pinpoint control to be successful?

      • I think it’s pretty generally accepted that, guys who throw have a better chance of success than guys who don’t, and scouts definitely tend to prefer power arms over finesse guys. But the impressive/notable thing is how AA has absolutely filled the system (including the entire MLB rotation at this point) with those kinds of power arms. It looks like the Jays don’t even want to bother with soft-tossers at this point.

        • *should say “guys who throw HARD” in the first line… and a superfluous comma somehow found its way in there too… hooray for editing.

          • Although you’re definately correct that “guys who throw have a better chance of success than guys who don’t”.

            You’d have a hell of time pitching without even throwing!

  17. I think this move shows the Jays mean business this year. They aren’t giving him a chance to figure his shit out in the Majors, like Reyes or Drabek last season. They want to win games now.

    I’m impressed.

  18. Oh yeah, Fuck off Parkes. :)

  19. Seems to me that they’re okay with Carreno going out there and seeing how far into the game he can go and then seeing just how well the bullpen can takeover. The hope would be that Romero and Morrow can go deeper into their games to allow for a rested bullpen.

    And besides, Pitchers pull off good games all the time in their first start (yes, granted he has MLB bullpen experience), so there’s no reason to assume the worst so early in the season.

  20. What about Roy Oswalt? Exactly what this young staff needs. Thoughts??

    • I think it’s a matter of him wanting to play here. He already indicated in the offseason, he wouldn’t sign with the Jays.

      • He’s probably fearful of getting injured from the turf, walking from the mound to the dugout and back.

      • He did. But he (or maybe his agent ) has since said that he’d consider other places again…. Though I’m still assuming that means something like: “Show me you’re a legit playoff contender and then I’ll consider it”

  21. I think Drabek has a much better chance of sticking around longer than carreno if he performs well. I think Carreno is here because Cecil has been terrible and the alternative (laffey) is not very appealing. Carreno might make some starts until mcgowan or hutchison is ready. I think Carreno tends to stuggle against LHBs which is a problem if hes starting so not sure hes the long term answer

    • Still kind of amazed how many people seem to be sold on the fact Drabek is all the way back to his elite prospect status. He had a decent spring but I’m still not sold on him quite yet. Still gave up a lot of base runners considering. Personally I hope he’s back but I’m going to see how he does over a couple of starts.

      • I am far from sold. I think it’s humourous fans not only thinking he’ll return to what he was, but that he will be injury free, as well. Pitching is rather strenuous, and if you haven’t beaten your body into that type of submission in the last three years, it will take its toll.

      • I don’t think it’s anything close to a sure thing, but I also think it’s kind of funny to see how much ink was spilt talking about Cecil’s improvements over the offseason with very little talk of Drabek. In reality it appears that Drabek made the biggest changes over the winter and Cecil is worse off than he was at this time last year.

        • Well we will just have to wait on actual results from Drabek to see if he has truly turned the corner from his wild ways of last year. Quite frankly at this point, I’d be more than happy if he ended up a solid innings eating #4 or #5 considering what we have on the way for next year.

          • That’s true. He still has more upside than that, though. I’m excited to see how he does this year. When he was “on”, he was excellent.

  22. Thank God Cecil is not major league caliber….romero, morrow alverez mcgowan drybek….beautiful

  23. While I’m glad they didn’t fuck around and give Cecil starts, I’m ecstatic Anthopoulos didn’t go with Laffey and try to hit gold, a la Jo-Jo Reyes. Maybe they’re realizing that the team is on the cusp of contention–2013 being more likely–and can’t afford to fuck around this year.

  24. Now that Cecil’s gone everyone can start kicking the crap out of Lind again. At least unil Drabeck has a rough outing.

  25. Good to see them go with Carreno rather than Laffey, a pitcher who doesn’t deserve at all to be a major league starter. Nobody needs to see the next Eveland/JoJo.

  26. Damn Alvarez getting smoked now too lol

  27. lol Prince beats out a double play and then steals 2nd on JP. Who is this fat man?

  28. poor squints. hopefully he can pull his shit together.

    also, you misspelled “Ricky” (“Rickey”)

  29. What about Charlie Villeneuva?

    Zaun thinks he has “the most polished arm of the Jays pitching staff”, and no one can argue he was not effective last year during his spot starts. Does he not deserve the 5th spot..?

    Then again, I think Charlie will be getting plenty of innings as a long man in the pen. Probably best keep him there, we are going to need him when the McGowan’s/Drabek’s/Cecil’s/Carreno’s/Laffeys get chased early, and often.

    Trade some of those elite prospects for a quality SP already!

    • The team is really big this season on giving their pitchers clearly defined roles and sticking to those roles. They want Villanueva as a long reliever and don’t want to mess with that unless absolutely necessary.

    • Gregg Zaun think a lot of things, most of which should be paid no mind.

    • I highly doubt former Raptor Charlie Villanueva is the answer to the Jays starting pitching troubles.

  30. I’d wager he chose NH because it is closer to his family in Baltimore.

  31. I think Carreno is just a stop-gap. There will be a bakeoff between Jenkins, McGuire, Hutchison. Whoever pitches best will be up with the big club on June 1st.

    re: Cecil not in AAA?

    Sending a struggling pitcher to the PCL is not a good idea.


  32. Jays really need to go after Marcum after this Season. Romero, Morrow, and Marcum are a great 1-2-3 punch. Would be a great relief off the pen aswell.

  33. Or they could trade for him now. either or

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