The line for Ricky Romero didn’t look particularly horrific today. Not great, mind you, but not absolute disasterfuck. He tossed three innings– was scheduled for four– giving up three runs on five hits, and two walks with four strikeouts. The issue, however, as it’s been since the end of Spring Training last year, was his ability to throw strikes.
By Wilner’s count it was 62 pitches, 32 of which were strikes. Which… is not good.
Last season Romero threw the eleventh-most balls among qualified pitchers, on the fewest number of pitches of anyone in the top 30 save for Barry Zito, and with the fewest number of strikes thrown among the top 45, save for Tommy Hanson. Which… is not good.
In an excellent piece of work over at Getting Blanked, Drew suggests that a move to the other side of the rubber might, at the very least, help him throw strikes– a la Alan Webster of the Red Sox, or Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals. What I’ll simply suggest, however, is that we give up the fucking consternation over this, and take a second to take note of the fact that every statement that every fan makes about what the club ought to do with last year’s Opening Day starter is qualified with a giant “if.”
For the moment the club has been steadfast in its insistence that Romero will begin the year in the rotation, no matter what. But as I pointed out when I last tackled the issue, a mere three days ago, that was precisely what they said about Brett Cecil last spring, before his performance made the idea of taking him north completely untenable. It’s also exactly what you would say if you were trying your best to prop up the flagging confidence of a once-valuable pitcher who doesn’t appear to have anything physical that’s keeping him from not being one of the worst starters in baseball.
So, for one, let’s please not talk as though the Jays will be completely unwilling to bend on this. If– and there’s that word again– Romero continues to have a devil of a time finding the strike zone, they know better than to simply endure it just to spare his feelings. I mean… obviously.
The same goes for the notion that they’re going to give him some kind of infinite, Adam Lind-like amount of rope if they do happen to take him north when the season starts.
Understanding that, there is simply no reason to be arguing about what to do with him when we’re still so far from the point where a decision actually has to be made.
For two, let’s also please not talk about it in terms of J.A. Happ’s fucking spring results. Yes, he’s looked pretty OK in his nine-point-one-inning sample, but… it’s fucking 9.1 innings, and in the last two weeks (i.e. 6 1/3 of the nine innings), here are the batters he’s faced: Alexei Casilla, Manny Machado, Nolan Reimold, Conor Jackson, Steve Pearce, Lew Ford, Yamaico Navarro, L.J. Hoes, Luis “Tony” Exposito, Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix, Kevin Youkilis, Juan Rivera, Francisco Cervelli, Matt Diaz, Melky Mesa, Thomas Neal, and Jose Pirela.
Not exactly a murderer’s row. In fact, not exactly a murderer’s row in Triple-A, save for Youkilis, Gardner, Machado and maybe Reimold.
I mean, I entirely understand how “it’s early” rings a bit hollow given that Romero hasn’t looked all that much different than last year, but let’s not go assuming that Happ, coming off consecutive seasons of 5.35 and 4.79 ERAs (albeit with better peripherals), is some kind of massive upgrade that fans of the club are being fiendishly denied– or that he’s going to be denied the club forever. And let’s also not forget that– sorry– it’s early. Romero may well not get his shit together, but acting like it’s hopeless on March 15th is ludicrous. Similarly so is acting like the club will blindly herp-derp their way through excuse after excuse for his performance in perpetuity.
So… let’s maybe just see how this plays itself out before anyone starts making emphatic, impassioned statements one way or the other on it, hoping– for no apparent reason but to incite argument– that no one notices the gigantic “if” in the corner of the room. Sound good?