“If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t, hey, I’ll go home to the people that have supported me and been behind me this whole time.”

That’s Ricky Romero, as quoted in a Shi Davidi piece at Sportsnet last week about the potential of his call-up to the Jays, not-so-subtly giving credence to some of the things we’ve heard– particularly, I think, on the radio from Jeff Blair– about Romero’s bizarre unhappiness with the way he feels the organization has treated him as he his career has continued speeding away from him in 2013.

I say bizarre, of course, because– while I don’t know the grimy details of the relationship behind the scenes– I’m not sure what the hell Romero expected here.

Does being “behind” a player mean letting him go out and get his head caved in for sixty starts?

I guess I understand the anger and frustration in Romero– who pitched to a 5.68 ERA in Buffalo this year, with lefties hitting him to the tune of an effing 1.004 OPS– but it just isn’t really plausible that where he’s at is for a lack of support from the club for their former All-Star, who is still owed $15.6-million after this season. They have far too much invested in him, and have had far too much need for him to be right to not be looking out for him– even if it’s sometimes misguided and even if it really comes down to self interest.

That said, I’m not sure I entirely agree with the thesis about the call-up posited by Dirk Hayhurst at Sportsnet today, as he suggests that, in addition to being about money, for the club, “the hope is that by pulling Romero up and getting him back into some big league games in September, with playoff pressure long gone and the eyes of many fans diverted elsewhere, they’ll get Romero into controlled scenarios more conducive to success. Should Romero have success in these limited samples, he’ll (supposedly) get the psychological boost he needs to get back to 2011 form.”

Hayhurst cites myriad reasons why that’s not likely– the difficulty of finding spots to give work to a left-hander who can’t get left-handers out in a bullpen full of decent right-handers also needing work being paramount among them– and excoriates the Jays, because  ”hoping to win a player some confidence by gambling on what might happen to him if what has been happening to him all season doesn’t continue to happen to him simply because he is now in the bigs, does not strike me as a sound business plan.”

Me either. But I don’t necessarily believe that’s the plan at all.

I do think Dirk’s right when he suggests Romero’s being here has a shit-tonne to do with money. But given what he says, and the somewhat-evident souring of the relationship, and the fact that someone who watched Romero as close as anybody this year– Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News– can, in an interesting-if-hopelessly-flawed piece about the deep disappointment of Jim Negrych not getting the call this year, scathingly write that “the callup of Romero and his 5.78 ERA is another column for another day but it’s an absolute joke,” I can’t help but wonder if maybe there’s more to it than the club using a big league spot as merely– as Hayhurst puts it– a psychiatrist’s office.

Frankly, at this point, I don’t know why the Jays would want to be in the Romero business at all.

To that end, I could be convinced to see the call-up as a gesture of good faith to a pitcher who feels he’s been wronged, as well as an attempt by the club to massage the narrative– to try to show to the league that they still believe in Romero. To let him display on the big league stage that, while the results may not, the stuff is still there. To put him in ideal spots to have success, not to help instil confidence in a pitcher they still hope to one day rely on once again, but in rival clubs who may see in Romero enough potential value to allow themselves, even in the tiniest way, to help unburden the Jays of some of his salary.

I’m usually wary of that kind of fanciful thinking from fans, mostly because I’m certain the league knows full well what Ricky Romero has been for the last two seasons. But I’m just not sure there’s a better way to possibly get out from under even a little of the contract at this point.

Romero now occupies a somewhat valuable 40-man roster spot, and he can’t be outrighted to the minors again without his consent– in that case he could, and almost certainly would, elect free agency (with the Jays being on the hook for what’s still owed him, less the amount of minor league or league-minimum deal he’d presumably sign elsewhere). If he keeps his roster spot until the spring, he can still be optioned to the minors– per Bluebird Banter he was added to the 40-man in late 2008 and wasn’t optioned until just this spring, so he has two remaining– but does anybody really want that?

Could even the best Spring Training in the world earn him a spot on the roster at this point? Not, I submit, unless the Jays fail miserably this winter in their quest to add reliable arms to their rotation, and… well… that simply can’t happen.

So would the Jays really want to keep him on the 40-man for another year? For what?

Maybe I’m again being too fan-ish here. The Jays, to their own benefit, have been far more patient that even I would have been with guys like Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind, so maybe there’s still genuine belief in Romero, and maybe there should be! But I don’t know… I’m just not able to be on board any longer, and I have a tough time fathoming why anybody else who has followed his career arc here closely would be either.

For their part, however, according to Gregor Chisholm’s transcript at North Of The Border of AA’s scrum with the media last week, the club is saying all the right things:

He abandoned those mechanical changes during the middle of the season. Does that add to the disappointment?

“No, not at all. Like we told him, I think any mechanical changes were made were done in conjunction with him. We weren’t going to do anything he wasn’t comfortable doing,he was part of the process but I don’t think anyone said this is the fix. We know, exactly this, will get you back on track. Take three weeks, four weeks, let’s try this. That’s a lot of what happens, it’s trial and error. We don’t know why, we have theories and beliefs but we can’t really be convinced why things have happened. If he ultimately believes he has found something that works for him, and he feels good about it, and he believes in it, that’s what you have to go with. So the fact that he had that type of belief, absolutely, we encouraged him, do what you feel is best. You know yourself better than anybody else but at the same time he was struggling, was trying to find some answers, worked with him in 2012 and tried some things, skipped a start, tried a lot of things, just couldn’t get him going.

But what’s really left to do here but to let a seemingly bad situation grow worse?

And in a pitching-desperate environment where a broken down Dan Haren still gets a $13-million deal? Where we debate until a damn month ago whether it’s worth qualifying Josh fucking Johnson? Where Ervin Santana puts up a 5.16 ERA and 5.63 FIP, then gets dealt to a team willing to pay $12- of the $13-million owed him– and then goes out and has a great year??

It’s not entirely inconceivable that a team may think that, if he can be had for the right price, Romero might be worth trying to fix. And he might well be! But the Jays must certainly see themselves as better off using whatever salary of his they can free elsewhere, and they very possibly may see him as better off having a fresh start, too.

Call it a “showcase” if you have to, I guess– I know it makes the whole theoretical endeavour sound more bogus. And point out the fact that any team could have taken his contract for nothing this summer when he was outrighted, too. But I still think the Jays could possibly– maybe, theoretically– eat enough salary to find a taker.

I mean, if Vernon Wells’ deal can be traded, whose can’t?

So, as nice as it might be to not view it cynically, this call-up may actually be a step towards making Romero’s exit happen sooner– not towards righting his ship with the thought of the Jays ever relying on a dramatic return to form for themselves. I mean, it has to look at least slightly better to the market to have him here and failing, rather than indicating to the world that those who’ve seen him closest think he’s not even worthy of a call.

If it was about psychology for his sake, maybe, as Hayhurst suggests, they would be better off shielding him. If it’s about holding onto whatever little value he has left, making the suggestion that the ugly numbers from Buffalo were more about a pitcher with still-great stuff simply “trying to get right” and applying a number of fixes doesn’t sound like the craziest plan at this point, does it? I mean… what else can they really do?

Comments (83)

  1. If they take him off the 40-man, he elects for free agency and another team signs him, what happens with the money he’s owed? Do the Jays still have to pay him?

    • yeah, that’s what i was wondering. can’t imagine a situation in which the jays aren’t on the hook for his money, because there’s no way he walks away from that kind of scratch, hurt feelings or not.

    • The Jays would be on the hook for the difference in salary between what he is owed now and whatever league minimum deal or minor league deal he signs elsewhere. Which would be pretty much all of it.

  2. If they take him off the 40-man, he elects for free agency and another team signs him, what happens with the money he’s owed? Do the Jays still have to pay him?

  3. ‘…he can’t be outrighted to the minors again without his consent– he could, and almost certainly would, elect free agency.’

    how’s that work money wise?

  4. The way I see it, what do they have to lose by calling him up? If he sucks, so what, what else is new.

    If he has a few good starts, maybe they can move him.

  5. I’ll make it clearer, folks. The Jays are still on the hook, obviously.

  6. The call-up is pretty simple to explain. With Romero pitching, they protect their position in the Reverse Standings.

  7. What kinds of situations do they think they’ll find to boost the confidence of a bullpen lefty who can’t get lefties out?

    • this is the problem with him out of the bullpen lol, who the fuck does he match up againt?

    • Uh righties i guess. I think he’ll get mop up duty the next time a starter gets lit up for 6 runs in the first 2 innings.

  8. Not that I’m any kind of expert on pitching mechanics, but from this fan’s point of view, it’s hard to see why he wasn’t more open to experimenting with different mechanics. It’s not like he’s had any kind of success on “his old” mechanics. What does he have to lose?

    Unless he wants to ultimately go eat innings on the Astros or somesuch team, that is.

    • Uh… he kinda had success for a few years with the old mechanics.

    • Unless he wants to ultimately get innings for the Astros? At this point, he should be grateful for ANY innings at the big league level, be it the Jays or the Astros or the Marlins.

  9. “the fact that someone who watched Romero as close as anybody this year– Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News– can, in an excellent piece about the deep disappointment of Jim Negrych not getting the call this year, scathingly write that “the callup of Romero and his 5.78 ERA is another column for another day but it’s an absolute joke,” ”

    I was thinking about Negrych whwn the callups were announced. I remember when the Jays signed Negrych, he said they promised him it wasn’t just to curry favour with Bisons fans by adding a Buffalo native. Yet it seems like that’s exactly what it was, as in a season where he was a AAA all star, the Jays couldn’t be bothered to give him some time in Toronto.

    Good on Mike Harrington for highlighting this in a Buffalo News column, but his comments on Kawasaki suggest he hasn’t followed the Jays closely. He undervalues Kawasaki’s impact and is way off the mark suggesting his three callups were “pandering to the Asian fan base”. All this has me wondering, did Kawasaki not make much of a connection with Bisons fans? Seems like he didn’t.

    • who cares is Negrych does or doesn’t get the call .. he is not type cast as career minor leaguer he actually plays like one!

      the jays gave him an opportunity, probably payed him a decent salary, and he performed decently .. not sure that any of this deserves a bashing of AA or the Jays front office .. you can’t compare RR promotion to Negrych not getting a similar promotion .. these are 2 polar opposite situations ..

    • I don’t think he’s right about the pandering to Asian fans in particular (nor do I think he’s right lumping anyone from that part of the world together as one homogeneous group), though there was maybe some pandering to fans in general, all of whom embraced Kawasaki.

      I don’t think he’s underplaying his impact, though. He wasn’t very impactful at all.

      I DO think he’s overplaying the notion that Negrych started sucking, as fully expected, in the second half in part because he was hurt by being passed over. Kind of a ridiculous suggestion, really.

      • What about by WPA or some such stat. He seemed to have 3 games where his late hit either won it in a walk-off or gave us the go-ahead run or some such.

        Not that I believe in “clutch” but he did happen to be clutch (or so I think).

    • Jim Negrych hit .285/.360/.384 for Buffalo this year. He’s also 28, and has never hit for power.

      I don’t see what there is to complain about.

    • negrych wasn’t called up because he is a gawdawful defender at 2B… if this clown from the buffalo news watched the bisons all year and doesn’t realize that then he shouldn’t be writing about baseball. (buffalo’s Damien cox?)

    • Harrington has made a living saying very move by every team he writes about is wrong. He’s the hackiest of hacks. His opinion is valueless.

  10. So………..when is he going to make his next start for the Jays?

    There’s only 24 games left.

  11. While I’m a believer in the psychology affecting a players performance.In the case of Romero,I have a hard time believing that it’s the only issue.Experts trianed to analyze this stuff to the nth degree,seem to agree that his mechanics are sound,so my opinion means jack shit.
    It is a truly baffling situation.
    His elevation to the Show reeks of something of a courtesy rather than an earned promotion.
    Can’t see it as a showcase, when any team could take him, even on a minor league deal and nobody did.

    • They didn’t take him at full price, and at mid-season, with an extra few million from this year still owed. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t become more attractive as the number goes down.

      • Got a point,Stoeten.
        His 2012 season can be explained due to injury but for 2013 season to go the way it did,I can’t imagine a MLB team not having better options.
        Is Ricky even a reclamation project for somebody at this point?
        He’s not even a Jo Jo Reyes now ( a guy with hugh potential looking to turn it around).
        Does anybody think he can return to his former self at this point?

        • He’s not even a Jo-Jo Reyes?

          Uh… disagree.

          Again, I cited examples of how pitching pedigree opens doors to teams who are desperate. Someone would take him. They would’t give anything back but some indeterminate level of salary relief. But they’d take him.

          • You may be correct.
            This is a situation where you could argue for any option and be right.
            I’m opinionated but this one has me scratching my head.( or maybe it’s a case of head lice)

        • @Radar, He can, but not with the Jays. I see another Chris Carpenter situation

        • Is his former self all that good though? It seems the league learned to lay off the change up, which he rarely throws for strikes, and hitters are just sitting dead red and destroying the fastball. I don’t know what the solution is, but the league seemed to adjust to his former self.

  12. Ricky’s problems are a shame on a million levels. I think he believes the Jays have something to do with the issues – i.e demoting him, not believing in him, whatever .. all of which the Jays are perfectly justified in doing. It’s easy for him to be disgruntled with the Jays handling of him as a way for him to potentially cast some blame elsewhere in hopes of reestablishing his career with another organization.

    it’s all too bad .. no matter how this ends up, I would imagine that RR needs a total miracle to be even a 4th, 5th starter type moving forward.

    Mr. Moreno .. we have a problem .. care to help us fix it?


  13. you have to assume that some team will take a chance on him. If he lost mph, then maybe a team would be more worried.

    but baseball is a funny game, i remember watching Aaron Hill for 2 years and he couldn’t hit a beach ball, he goes to Arizona, and almost instantly is reborn into a top shelf 2B.

    obviously that’s more an exception to a rule, but with pitching being in such high demand, a team like the angels, texas, etc might take a shot on him.

    it will suck to trade him for free, but it is what it is at this point.

  14. The solution is obviously weighted balls, no? It’s always weighted balls.

    • I got a guy on the weighted balls program. He claims it works.

      • One problem.
        His balls are so big , he has to wear a bra.

        Thank you very much. You guys have been great Don’t forget to try the veal and up next the famous Shecky Green.

  15. I respect Romero and wish him well and even think he is probably a neat guy, BUT even when he was good he was such a Walking Motivational Poster. Everything he says is sooo deep. Dude. The Jays are paying you many millions of dollars to pitch. If you can’t pitch, they still pay you! It’s amazing. Anthopolous could defecate on my lawn every day for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t say a thing if he made me as rich as they made Romero.

    • Sorry, but are you blaming the player for accepting the money he was offered?

      • I think he’s blaming the player for complaining about how he’s “being treated” while he’s still getting paid enough money to keep several generations of Romero’s well off.

      • No I’m saying he should stop with all the drama about who does or doesn’t have his back and all this Hollywood movie stuff.

        He’s getting paid. He sucks. Shut up and pitch. No one owes him anything except the money that he is certainly still getting.

  16. I watched most of Romero’s games with the bisons, not only is his control gone but I think his fastball velo is down as well, he routinely sat around 87-88 only ocassionly hitting 90. It could be the minor league guns but without checking that seems a few ticks down from his time in Toronto.

  17. It’s like salt and vinegar chips. It don’t make sense.

    But I would like to see Romero on Jersey Shore. Drama baby.

  18. Ever since Miss USA sent him to Splitsville, it got in his bones like Party Rock Anthem.

  19. I see a similarity between RR and JPA. They both have a pretty big disconnect. They need to grow up and accept the fact that they haven’t been able to adjust to the adjustments that have been made against them. They both have failed miserably at the mental side of the game. But that could be said for much of the team.

  20. Why not piggy back Romero, Drabek, Jenkins, Happ, Redmond and Rogers with your last 3 rotation spots?

    4 innings each per duo, 5 if your cook’n.

    The pen has a lot of innings this year, so its ok that they can gear down this month.

    They did in the minors, why not the majors?

  21. I would really like to know if they ever figured out what the hell was wrong with RR in the first place.. other than being able to throw strikes. All this talk about psychological breakdown is being bandied about a little too frequently by Ricky for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with someone admitting that they are having problems in the thinker, I just don’t see what good it does talking to the media about it all the time.

  22. One thing that I like about this is the possibility of making Romero sit next to Darren Oliver in the bull pen. Without looking into their pitch types at all, off the top of my head I think Romero could be successful pitching like Oliver. I know that sounds dumb – anyone would be successful if they could pitch like Oliver – but what I mean is Oliver’s a guy with underwhelming power and reverse platoon splits.

  23. The whole thing would be a tragedy if he weren’t making so much money. Or maybe it is a tragedy because he’s making so much money. At least it makes it semi-tragic for fans, since all this payroll is tied up in this guy.

  24. And this just in.

    Bautista gone for the rest of the year.
    Left hip flexor.

    • No surprise from Bautista, and nowhere to rehab either. Let the Bisons control the OF in September.

    • Out for season with a Femur bruise? I know there is nothing to play for, but for petes sake….a bone bruise? Any NHLer would be laughed out of the league if they missed time for a bone bruise.

      • Ya, but the thing is, he probably wants to play. In fact, the reports all say he’d be playing through it if it mattered. But with the team out of contention, why risk any further injury? That whole NHL argument is pretty annoying. If the doctors say he shouldn’t play, he’s not going to play. It has nothing to do with him not being able to ‘tough it out’.

      • Also, they are playing baseball for a bad team, not a hockey team

  25. MLB players don’t fulfill their contracts. BJ Ryan and $15 million in remaining contracts come to mind.

    Ricky is getting paid a pile of money. I remember late last season he stated that he didn’t know what was wrong with him. And obviously, his inconsistency IS the issue, because he typically goes x innings before a complete fall-apart and he can’t get back on track.

    The Blue Jays organization is not at fault for this. Ricky is. He is not performing at MLB calibre and won’t be until he gets his mental issue resolved.

    And if the Jays decide to take him off the roster and another team picks him up and take on his bullshit, so be it. And if Ricky goes to the Royals and becomes very highly unlikely Cy Young winner in 2014, so be it.

    If it’s true that he can be optioned to the minors next year without any recourse, then of course the call up is just to provide Ricky some extra innings against MLB innings and he’ll likely be a Bison next year.

    • “And obviously, his inconsistency IS the issue, because he typically goes x innings before a complete fall-apart and he can’t get back on track.”

      - Well duh. Why didnt anyone call Timinthefalls? He has it figured out. Obviously.

      • “He is not performing at MLB calibre and won’t be until he gets his mental issue resolved.”

        A) You don’t know that it’s primarily or even at all a mental issue
        B) If it is a mental issue, I’m sure it’s quite serious and not so easily resolved. If it is a mental issue, it’s probably not right to call it bullshit.

    • Tim, he can only be optioned if they keep him on the 40-man. If they remove him from the 40-man after the season, then decide in the spring they still want him off the 40-man (presumably as a Bison), he can refuse the assignment and make the Jays pay him to play for someone else. What Stoeten is saying, and I totally agree, is it’s not really a good thing or even a palatable option.

      They need someone to take him and as much of his contract as possible or for him to retire and leave the money on the table. The latter isn’t going to happen, and this is their only chance to try to make the former happen.

  26. from my armchair couch I bark that it’s obvious … they let him be “called” an ACE. THAT he is not and can never be. THAT was the albatross around his neck. He could not live up to that and it drove him ____ … there are not 30 odd aces in MLB … even Cliff Lee is not an ACE … so puleeze do not let this happen again. Brandon Morrow, no matter how well he pitches is not an ACE. This is about far more than being the best pitcher on a team at any one moment.

  27. Holy moly….do you think youve thought about this too much! Who gives a crap about Romero. He really hasnt done anything to offend anyone to the point that we should say we hate him. Sure he will come up and pitch a few games. I for one hope they START him so he can get rocked or maybe he might pitch well, I dont care. The contract is over soon, pay him the money he obviously doesnt deserve or isnt working hard enough to earn. I wish him well, but there are bigger problems with the team than chewing up a contract.

  28. Folks. Please read the column on Negrych before you comment. It says right in there that he DIDN’T deserve a September callup. You can disagree with any and all parts of it but don’t get the impression it says something it doesn’t. Read it.


  29. [...] People seem to be divided on whether or not Ricky Romero should have received the call North when rosters expanded in September, Andrew Stoeten looks at why exactly the call was made to bring him up. [DJF] [...]

  30. Id bury him in the minors until..ya know..he pitches well..

    The Jays need to toughen up on their players more, to much personal catering for a last place ball club..

  31. Why users still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe everything is presented on web?

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