Jeff Blair had Mike Wilner on his Fan 590 radio show this morning to discuss the state of the Blue Jays rotation, the shape of which has apparently largely been decided already by manager John Gibbons. Ol’ Gibbers will slot Drew Hutchison second, between soft-tossers R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, with Brandon Morrow going fifth, starting the home opener while ostensibly being punished (or something) for not being particularly sharp in his first live game action since hitting the DL back at the end of May (save for two innings for Dunedin on a rehab stint in mid-June).

The fourth starter’s spot is still up for grabs, we’re told. Still in the running are ailing mediocrity J.A. Happ, Todd “hoping to not start a sixth straight season in triple-A” Redmond, and non-starter Esmil Rogers. That all makes enough sense, I suppose, but what was somewhat jaw-dropping about the segment to me was what both Blair and Wilner suggested the real plan for the fourth spot in the rotation. That pitcher, apparently, is merely a placeholder until Marcus Stroman is ready. Or, should he continue his supposed upward trend, until Ricky Romero is ready.

Yes, Ricky Romero.

Granted, they were clear that it’s a fairly sizable “if,” but Blair figures that ol’ RR Cool Jay will get every opportunity to succeed, simply because of the money that’s still owed him, and Wilner… well, Wilner was ready to put a positive shine on everything (save Dioner Navarro, apparently), and whichever way this plan ends up going (and it won’t, he figures, include J.A. Happ), he tells us the rotation will be fine.

Not really buying that line, but more importantly… uh… Romero?

In his piece on the rotation for Sportsnet, Wilner explains:

The only one of those five to have really distinguished himself so far this spring is Romero, who has done enough to earn a start on Tuesday afternoon in Lakeland against the Tigers. Romero has looked like his old self more often than not, but it’s a lot to ask for him to be rid of the demons that plagued him the last few seasons by the end of this month. He’s likely ticketed for triple-A Buffalo, but the more he looks like his old self, the more likely the Blue Jays will want him back in the big leagues after a minimal amount of minor league outings.

But… um… has he looked like his old self?

As I noted in last week’s Layin’ Down The Law piece, ESPN’s Keith Law certainly didn’t think so when he saw him, rubbishing the reports out of this city that “something has clicked” for the former All-Star by explaining, “He was horrible when I saw him. Those reports sound like BS to me. Stuff was bad, command was nonexistent.”

Of course, the results, the feeling, and the few underlying spring numbers we can look at say otherwise. Sort of. A 1.29 ERA? WHIP of 1.14? Nearly a strikeout per inning? All those would be pretty nifty things if we weren’t talking about a sample of data that is utterly, utterly meaningless.

But it is meaningless. And that’s too bad, because one could think of few better personal stories that could potentially come from the upcoming season than the return and redemption of Ricky Romero. It could still happen, I suppose, but it’s a hard thing to bet on, despite what on the surface looks like a tiny handful of encouraging numbers.

Those who want badly to believe in what they think they’re seeing have already told me that, while the sample may be small, Romero is at least showing something to be encouraged by (unlike the other dreck in this fight), and he also has a much greater pedigree and ceiling than those he’s competing with (save perhaps for Marcus Stroman). Thing is, that’s all rather misleading…

Splitting Headache

For one, with the league now being even more aware of his atrocious split against same-sided hitters, it’s hard to imaging Romero putting up the kinds of numbers he did before if he simply went “back” to being the guy he used to be. That guy badly needed a weapon to get lefties out with, and the league knows it.

In his three very good seasons of 2009, 2010, and 2011, left-handers actually managed to produce excellent wOBAs of .378, .343, and .368 against him respectively. In his disastrous 2012 it rose to .390, which maybe isn’t in line with where he’d been in the years prior, but isn’t exactly what you would call a giant spike, either. Exacerbating his problems against same-side hitters by then was the fact that the league had truly begun to notice the difficulty he had getting left-handers out. Rays manager Joe Maddon famously stacked his lineup with lefties against Romero back in 2012, irking the Jays’ then-ace, and overall that season 32.3% of the batters he had faced were same-sided ones. Two years prior just 25.1% of the batters he’d faced were lefties, which would seem to reflect the more orthodox approach managers were then taking when constructing the lineups to face him.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the 2010 season in which he faced lefties just 25.1% of the time was by far Romero’s best, at least according to advanced metrics like FIP, xFIP, fWAR, etc. His All-Star season of 2011 saw the percentage of same-side hitters that he faced jump up to 30.3%, and the damage they inflicted on him rise as well, to the .368 wOBA mentioned above, but that seems — at least in a very crude reading of the numbers — to have been masked by the fact that he was lethal against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .192 average on a suspiciously-low BABIP of .219.

In fact, by year from 2009 to 2012 Romero’s BABIPs against right-handed batters were .299, .272, .219, .325. Of course, BABIP isn’t entirely a factor of luck, but the one still really jumps out as being low, and the next lowest one came in a year where he faced fewer trouble-causing left-handed batters than he has at any point in his career. It almost makes you wonder, even before his command went south, along with the swinging strike rates, to what degree his success was something of a mirage all along.

Oh, and last season, in 115.2 innings at triple-A, 7.0 innings at high-A, and 7.1 innings in the big leagues, left-handed hitters facing Romero put up an OPS of 1.032. One-thousand-thirty-two!!! Mostly in the minor leagues!!!!!

So expecting something just to click and for Romero to snap back into being the All-Star, 3.7 WAR kind of pitcher we saw before the career implosion seems to me to be, unfortunately, pretty fantastical. Should that guy ever exist again, he will undoubtedly see more left-handed batters than ever before, and without some kind of new weapon to get them out with, his overall numbers almost certainly won’t ever be the same.

Sails Pitch

For two, we can actually look for ourselves a little bit more deeply into where Romero has been at so far this spring than what we’d merely see in his stat line — though, even just the line is enough to tell us that command remains an issue, as he’s walked five batters in seven innings of work. You’d also have to think that he’s been getting lucky, having held opponents in this ridiculously tiny and meaningless sample to a BABIP of just .176. And speaking of those opponents, we’d do well to remember that they’ve mostly been minor leaguers.

In fact, on Romero’s Baseball Reference page we can see in numeric form that he’s faced lesser competition, because the site has come up with a number to reflect “opponent quality” during spring training, based on the levels a player’s opponents played at during the previous season. If the number is a 10, the opponents faced have all been major leaguers, if it’s 8, they’re from triple-A, seven is from double-A, five is high-A, and so on down the line.

Romero’s OppQual number at this stage is 8.2, putting him behind fellow rotation candidates R.A. Dickey (9.4), Mark Buehrle (9.4), Brandon Morrow (9.4 [Note: the game against the Canadian juniors mustn't have counted]), Marcus Stroman (9.4), J.A. Happ (9.4), Dustin McGowan (9.4), Todd Redmond (8.8), Drew Hutchison (8.6), and Chad Jenkins (8.4).

At 8.2, Romero is even with the opponent quality seen by Sean Nolin, and ahead of only Esmil Rogers (7.9), as far as pitchers who had a shot of making the rotation go.

Hey! But those results, right??? Can’t argue with results! Except… we can actually take a look at how Romero’s results came about, exactly.

There is no video of Ricky’s outing over the weekend against Tampa, however those of us with MLB.tv can go back and take a look at the three innings he had pitched prior — one against Baltimore on March 1st, and two against those same Rays back on March 7th.

This afternoon, that’s exactly what I did, and unfortunately for Jays fans, I’d tend to agree more with Keith Law’s assessment than whatever vague feelings of possibility have been creeping up on a desperate fan base.

Below I’ve provided brief notes on each and every pitch of these three innings, though I’m sure I’ve mislabeled some things, and some of my shorthand might be rather unhelpful, as I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t exactly my greatest area of expertise. Still, there are some pretty clear reminders that all wasn’t cinnamon and gravy, even considering that we’re not exactly looking for perfection here.

03/01 vs. Baltimore – 5th Inning

LHB – David Lough
-Misses way to glove side, goes to the backstop.
-Batter shows bunt, misses to same spot (less badly).
-Same story, closer to the plate, lower.
-Four pitch walk, misses glove side again.

RHB – Nelson Cruz
-Misses low (changeup?)
-Breaking ball in for strike.
-Looping curve misses to arm side.
-Curve misses hight and outside, Thole jumps. Crossed signals.
-Fastball misses outside, walk.

LHB – Chris Davis
-Infield fly on first pitch FB.

RHB – Adam Jones
-Curve misses high and outside.
-Fastball low gets Jones to chase.
-Misses low and in– glove side.
-Changeup belt high outside, Jones just misess it, fly out.

LHB – Nick Markakis
-First pitch fly out.

03/07 vs. Tampa Bay – 7th Inning

LHB – Jeremy Moore
-Bounced well in front of the mound.
-Low and away gets a swing, good pitch.
-Fastball bounced.
-OK pitch low and inside, fouled off.
-Low and away, didn’t bite.
-Swinging strike on fastball up and away.

LHB – Cameron Seitzer
-First pitch pulled to 1B, out.

RHB – Sean Rodriguez
-Miss low and inside (glove side).
-Swing on a curve outside and low.
-Missed high with fastball.
-Walk, missing high and inside with fastball.

LHB – Cole Figueroa
-Nice pitch, low and away, strike. Good location.
-Goes inside, grounded to short, out.

8th Inning

RHB – Justin Christian
-First pitch ground out, location good.

LHB – Vince Belhome
-Bounces first pitch to glove side.
-FB middle in for strike.
-Nice curveball drops in for strike.
-Misses target low and away by a lot.
-Slider low and away gets a swing. (Does a big leaguer bite?)

RHB – Mikie Mahtook
-First pitch misses big to arm side.
-Single slashed to RF, fastball up and in, location good.

RHB – Curt Casali
-Fastball up and in, grounder to 3B, reached on error.

RHB – Richie Shaeffer
-Swinging strike low and in.
-Fastball with arm side run for strike.
-K on low and outside fastball.

There are badly missed spots, bounced balls, crossed signals, swings at pitches legit big leaguers may not have bitten on. As Law would define it, Romero struggled with control (the ability to throw strikes), and he struggled with command (the ability to put specific pitches where he wanted to). He threw one really nice looking curve, but the location on the others was spotty, at best, throughout. Against Baltimore he threw one pitch that went to the backstop, two more that would have if not for Josh Thole, and put a changeup on a belt-high tee that Adam Jones just missed. Against Tampa he bounced four of 26 pitches in the dirt, nearly did so on another one, and got results basically because he managed to get some bad hitters to chase.

I don’t think the story from the game I couldn’t see in the MLB.tv archive, from this weekend against Tampa, tells us a whole lot different: Romero’s first inning of work was nice, including a strikeout of Ben Zobrist. In his second inning he walked Logan Forsythe, then got a gift from Jose Bautista, who threw him out at third when the next batter singled. Hak-Ju Lee cashed a run with a single before a groundout ended the threat. The next inning started with a walk, but Romero was then bailed out by a double play, and in his last inning of work he made quick business of the murderer’s row that is Kiermeier, Guyer, and Belnome.

I don’t think it’s damning stuff, necessarily — to be fair, he induced some pretty weak contact in the outings I re-watched, those strikeouts do count for something, and it’s not up to him to decide which batters he faces — and I’m sure there would be black marks on every pitcher’s chart if we took inventory of a handful of spring innings this way, but I guess the point of doing so here is to ask ourselves the question, does this really look a whole lot different from the Romero we saw last year and the year before? The Romero who also had encouraging moments amid the second straight disaster? The Romero who, in the damn minor leagues in 2013, put up ERAs of 4.15, 4.44, and 5.50 in June, July, and August?

It simply doesn’t.

So why the hell are we talking about him? Why the hell are the Blue Jays talking about him?

If a Romero comeback is going to be a story — and, again, it would be a great one, and despite my pragmatism on the issue I’m rooting for it — why force it? Why get talking to the media about having any kind of hope here? Why continue this off-season’s insufferable trend of pissing in our mouths and telling us it’s raining? Or, if you’re actually desperate enough to be serious about getting help from Romero before you’ve seen more than seven fucking innings mostly against shitbags, just… WHY???

Here’s a handy tip, Jays: if you don’t want fans to dumbly go off the deep end about stuff like Brandon Morrow being oddly moved to the fifth spot in the rotation, maybe don’t encourage the same sort of derangement when it comes to a tiny sample of Ricky Romero’s “positive” first seven innings against minor leaguers of the year. Hmm?

Comments (146)

  1. It’s a sad state, for sure.

  2. Would be great if he made it back to being a productive pitcher, just not likely unfortunately.

  3. I don’t see anyone forcing anything in regards to RR except for Blair, Wilner, and anyone else who needs to drum up some content.

    • That’s it, let it all out. Feel better?

      • What I’ve noticed around the comments section generally (from those who are levelheaded and hopeful of this happening) is no more than a raised eyebrow, or a “wouldn’t it be great if” type stuff.

        There is a big difference between fan following the team who would like to see things go well, and after market Jays content providers tying to carve out some early position on a story.

        The strategies of talking heads, group think followers, and fans of a good narrative are all separate thing in this instance.

        • This stuff is coming from the Jays, though, based on what Wilner and Blair have said. Pretending like it’s just a thing to drum up content so that you can look down on people is shitty.

          • Lott called it “Gossip” in his column yesterday.

            I’m not looking down on anyone, I just think that it’s gossip as well. Problem is, many readers/fans take gossip as gospel, and then it snowballs from there.

            I’m just answering your question “Why Are We Talking About Ricky Romero?”, I think the reason is all Blair.

            • Actually the day after Santana signed with the Braves AA mentioned RR as a possible 5th starter in a medium scrum.

          • Isn’t this whay you do in a regular basis? sprinkled here and there with some sound analysis…

          • Isn’t this what you do in a regular basis? sprinkled here and there with some sound analysis…

  4. The sad truth is, there never was a great or even very good Romero. Sure it seems he got worse…but large chunk of that was just mangers running more lefties against him….which they are sure to do plenty of going forward.

    Expecting him to revert “back” to some very good pitcher is an impossibility. He was never there. There is nowhere for him to go back to.

  5. Does RR have to clear wavers again at the start of the season?

  6. Nice analysis; well done. I was 4th row behind the plate at the Wed 12 March game. Several bounced balls & some wasted pitches that just sailed up & away. I stood and cheered every out Ricky made – the Zobrist strikeout was pretty awesome – but he wasted a lot of pitches and a few at-bats could have gone the other way. I’m with Law on this one.

  7. Outstanding article — one of your best in a while.
    I like to think that people are buying into the Romero narrative because it would just feel so good to have him succeed. But in truth I think people buy into it for far lazier reasons. Rickey will not be our saviour, and likely will not pitch again in the majors.

    As an aside, with respect to the rotation, If I were AA, and I thought my job was in jeopardy (big assumption, yes), why wouldn’t I trot Stroman out at the start of the season? The potential upside is way higher than what he could get out of any of the other #5 (or 4… wherever Morrow doesn’t land) contenders. And if it fails, well I’m fired anyway, and what do I give a shit if it sets Stroman back? Scorched Earth and all……
    Anyway, I don’t think he’ll do it, but if my job was on the line, I’d want a guy that has some chance of blowing me away before I handed the ball to Todd Fucking Redmond.

    • Fair comment but that kind of a Hail Mary would be so obviously desperate even AA wouldn’t risk setting Stroman back by throwing him in so early.

      That said I’m sure he’ll be one of the first call-ups when the musical 5th starter chair games begins.

    • The first thing I’d want to know would would be how much upside potential does RR have? I don’t think very much. The guy has tried a number of times over a couple of years to make the comeback and he can’t , so I don’t think the potential is there. I also don’t think that AA would pull a stunt like that to save his career.

      I’ve speculated myself that I thought AA could possibly be gone by the trade deadline. I don’t think it’s fair because his draftees are just starting to get to the majors. I get the feeling though that he may be around for the 2015 season; which would be his 6th. JPR had 8 seasons.

      • @I’m Gil Faizon
        Holy shit, disregard that whole thing…don’t know why I thought you were talking about RR for the start of the season

    • If AA thought his job was in jeopardy I think we would have seen prospects traded for some immediate help over the winter.

  8. Can you imagine if the Jays start 0-4 in Tampa, come home to a home opener starting Romero or Redmond?

    The crowd last year turned on Dickey when it was 5-0 before an out was even made. I can already hear the “Fire Alex” chants in batting practice (not that I’m condoning it, but i can definitely see it happening) .

  9. There hasn’t even been talk at all about him adding a weapon to help against lefties.

    I get that it’s been more than just his struggles versus lefties, but if its such an obvious and huge issue, why has nothing been done about it?

    And I realize ‘easier said than done’ but this is an issue that for the most part does not plague many lefties.

    The small sample size of this spring would be easier to believe if he had a new pitch or arm slot or something to help him verse lefties

  10. Sorry to be a perfectionist, but you’ve got control & command backwards… (Or Law does, but I’m betting it’s probably more likely a Stoeten brain cramp than a Law mistake.)

    • I guess I never knew there was a difference. What is it?

      • Control = ability to throw a strike whenever necessary. Command = ability to locate a pitch anywhere in the strike zone (or outside it) as desired. Stoeten has the definitions correct but accidently reversed them.

        My stepdad was a former minor league pitcher, and he would get livid whenever the TV guys would mix them up.

        • Or, put another way – Justin Verlander has control, but Cliff Lee has command. Ricky Romero, sadly, has neither.

        • Hmm, so if you have good command, then you automatically have good control, but not necessarily the reverse (because just because you can throw a strike, that doesn’t mean it goes exactly where you want)? Does that make sense? Interesting.

          • Correct. If you have good stuff like Verlander, you don’t necessarily need command, because as long as you can get the heater over the plate, most hitters will have trouble making good contact. If you don’t have good stuff, like Jamie Moyer, you basically can’t survive without impeccable command. Roy Halladay is an example of good command and good stuff; he could strike guys out if he needed to, but usually preferred the efficiency of weak contact and ground balls.

            Usually the best indicators are K/BB ratios. A ratio from 2:1 to 3:1 is servicable; 3:1 to 4:1 indicates good control, and anything above 5:1 is Halladay/Lee/Maddux territory. If such a pitcher can average about a strikeout per inning with a 5:1 K/BB ratio, they’re doing very well indeed.

            • Well, I’ve been watching baseball for about 25 years and this is the first I’ve heard (or at least noticed!) a distinction. Thanks! Always fun to get more insight into a game I thought I knew well.

    • Don’t worry about the perfectionism. That’s a key one, and you’re right. Thanks!

  11. With the offseason theyve had (or didnt have, I guess), They desperately need someone to step out of no where and have a fantastic season, and Ricky’s a guy they can point to and say, with some measure of legitimacy “he *could* do it!”….even though the chances of that happening are small for all the reasons youve pointed out.

    I mean, Im rooting for the guy, even if I know in my heart that the chances he actually gets back to thw big leagues and has success are slim, slim, slim.

  12. Yeah I’m about done with this regime.

  13. Ole Buck Martinez thinks that the last pitching spot should go to Alex Sanchez and that he has been, by a good margin, the best pitcher in the Jays camp.

    • I am totally, almost, kind of fine with this .. I would like to see the Jays get some Jose Fernandez or Michael Wacha magic pitching juice right about now.

    • It would be interesting to see a management team go full 1980′s style in their management.

      I’m not talking RBI’s and batting average, but rather not worrying about super 2 status, forgetting about innings limits, that kinda stuff.

      Yes the team would have to likely spend more and have less assests down the road by way of value added strategies, but would they win more games? That’s the goal of this right?

      Maybe the pendulum has swung too far?

    • Umm, are we missing the Buck joke here, or am I missing something?

    • Didn’t Alex Sanchez pitch for the Jays 25 years ago…? Did he actually say “Alex Sanchez”?

      • This was actually something. On PTS, buck said that he believed Aaron Sanchez should be the fourth starter. He spoke very highly of his stuff, actually saying he believed he had the best stuff in camp, regardless of the fact that he’s 21. I know it’s crazy but I’d love to see it. At least it would give me some hope for the future…
        I feel like artex, the horse in the never-ending story, slipping into the swamp of sadness.

  14. I think its hilarious that Wilner notes that “he earned a Tueday start”. Like earning a start in spring training for a “starter” is some sort of acknowledgement of accomplishment.

    Of course it would be great for the team, the fans and management if old Ricky magically came back and in time for the start of the season. But any conclusions drawn from ST games should be further proven and evaluate at least against AAA players for a reasonable amount time. It seems like the worst thing for RR would be another rushed promotion.

    The Jays can not afford to be wasting or giving away W’s for feel good stories when they cheaped out and didn’t add 1-2 SP as they said they were targeting to do.

  15. While it is hard to rationally argue with your analysis, I would bring up that this is a no lose scenario. There is no chance Romero breaks camp with the Jays. So the 4th spot is going to Redmond and I think they will start Happ on the DL or in AAA. They will let Romero start in AAA just as they where planning to and if he pitches like a Replacement level pitcher why not send him back up. If he gives anything more than replacement level that would be a bonus. If he doesn’t pitch well in AAA then you call up stroman and let Romero linger in the minors and we dont talk to him until next spring training when he is the benefactor of a small sample size again

  16. I’d love to see him come back strong as much as any Jays fan, but Romero has no mental strength. The more bad press he gets the worse he seems to pitch. The stats don’t lie, but you have to think if the guy had any confidence in himself he’d be able to adjust like any other pitcher would. I think the good vibes coming from the club are more of an attempt to help restore the poor guy’s spirit than a realistic expectation of his ability.

  17. A cynic might suggest that the Jays are pumping him to see if there is any kind of trade value there but nobody in baseball is that dumb surely

    Hang on. ….do the Phillies need a crafty lefty?

  18. P.S. Thanks DJF for providing us with a somewhat rational comments sections,,,, I cant even read TSN articles because of there comment section….

  19. Thank you, Stoeten, for some sanity in regards to Romero. While you are at it a look at the bench may be in order. Moises Sierra in the minors: .266/.329/.408 and in 2013 AAA .261/.309/.422. Ryan Goins career minors:.273/.330/.376 and 2013 AAA .257/.311/.369. It isn’t clear to me why Sierra is viewed as a viable corner outfielder/DH by many while Goins isn’t fit to play regular 2nd base(this is not a defense of Goins). 40-50 points of slugging isn’t that much really. Anthony “Dewayne” Gose will be lucky to have Wise’s career. Izturis should retire. Kratz is fine, I’ll take some turkey bacon and taters. Thanks. Gareth.

  20. Was hostile to where you were going (notwithstanding being utterly impressed with the argument), until the end when I bought in entirely: why, Jays management, pump up the volume on this slim possibility when doing so will increase the odds of it coming around to bite not me, not you , not them, not the team (although they will rack up losses because of it) but most tragically RR, in the butt? Odds are it will end up fucked up, with RR being fucked up the most if they keep running this PR flag up the pole. You’re right, they should just shut up and see if he can pull it off, and let him do it away from the glare of the media and without so much fricking pressure.

  21. To me it’s nothing short of an epic grasping of straws. They intentionally or unintentionally bungled the off season when they couldn’t or wouldn’t acquire another starter or two. Now with inevitble bumps and bruises of dpring training raising their ugly head they are looking at any and all options. Personally, i get a really bad vibe from the Morrow situation. I just don’t hear a whole lot of confidence when the Jays talk about him lately. When teenagers are commenting on the lack of zip from his fastball it worries me especially after Morrow said he was throwing all out prior to that.

    • Blair is the one grasping at straws here.

      He spun the Morrow rotation spot sour when he broke it.

      He and Wilner are the one talking about premature stuff now.

      Don’t believe me? Fine read Lott’s article below.

      When have you ever heard a beat writer describe the thoughts as a about a radio biggie like Blair as “Gossip inspired by a Toronto radio announcer”, if the guy wasn’t offside?


      Alex didn’t think the juice was worth the squeeze in the offseason pitching market, and now he’s and Gibby are trying to work with what they got.

      The rest of us are just hoping for the best.

      • Lol so basically in your words we are hoping for the best while working with what we got. Entirely insipring and a complete failure of AA’s stated goal at the end of last year of bolstering the rotation. That said, it’s not all doom and gloom to me. I believe we’ll be better than last year just not a playoff team which is what I thought was the goal. Dickey and Buehrle will be fine. Elite? No. I hope more than anyone my fears about Morrow turn out to be silly, i guess we’ll find out about Morrow and Romero sooner than later.

        • I just think that your mashing together issues that should be looked at separately.

          This team is poised to have great hitting, a great bullpen, very good defence and potentially league average starters. A team with that can be very competitive and make the playoffs.

          Killing the GM to see how it all shakes out instead of forcing a purchase in a so-so market is not reasonable in my opinion.

          • Not sure how i am mashing together issues. I am talking about the pitching and the lack of remedies for that hence the scrambling. Again i never claimed to know what the reasons were so I also can’t blame AA directly especially if Rogers shut off the taps. That said, the club didn’t do anything this winter so someone is ultimately responsible for that decision.

            Again time will tell what Morrow’s and Happ’s true status is heading into the season.

            • I don’t see any “scrambling” by the Jays.

              The only thing we’ve seen is a competition for a rotation spot, some adjustments to rotation in both Spring and set up for the season by the slowed spring by Morrow and Happ.

              This normal stuff.

      • You are reading far too much into Lott’s line about Blair.

  22. I don’t get the hate for Redmond. He’s nothing special, but he wasn’t that bad last year? In fact, his numbers look eerily similar to Dickey’s. Is a 4.16 xFIP, 8.88 K/9 and 2.69 BB/9 not good enough for your 5th starter?

    • He’s got a bigger track record than just last year, and it’s mostly in the minor leagues for a reason.

  23. Thorough. Analysis. Well done.

  24. Man I don’t know what to believe in with this team lately. Last year at this time I was shopping for a Sunbrite telly so I could watch every minute of every game when I was outside. Thank God the wife slowed me down before I anted up for that.
    After watching the shit show of Izturis and Bonifacio in the middle infield than watching Goins work that beautiful D in September I thought we had our 2nd baseman. Everyone here tried to tell me he’s not the guy and watching him this spring I fully agree. He’d be hard pressed to hit a bull in the ass with a shovel let alone a hard slider.
    I’ve watched the FO do absolutely sweet fuck all to shore up 2nd or add a FA starting pitcher this winter.
    Now I’m down to my final Hail Mary that RR comes back like the old Rickey plus were injury free for the year.
    I’ll just be down here in Sarnia with my head stuck in the sand until this season is half way done.

    • Can’t remember where I read it, but wasn’t McGowan supposed to be working somewhere more private in his bid to become a starter?
      So there’s that…

  25. The Morrow situation makes me sad. Is this really the same guy who once threw a 17-strikeout one-hitter?

    • Why are you sad?

      Morrow was pretty much shut down most of last year so their pushing him back a bit which accommodates A) him getting him ready for the season AND B) it sets up a better pitcher for the home opener.

      I know we have 14 days to go here till the season starts, but the side effects of the irrational group think is just getting silly.

  26. We’re pulling for you Romero, some fans like me havent givin up hope…. The Start Tuesday is a huge one, go get em!!!

  27. As a final fuck you to the fans, AA should force Gibby to make Ricky the opening day starter.

  28. Does Romero have any future as a relief pitcher? Especially as a specialist in getting right handers out? Not necessarily as a Blue Jay but he was good for us for a couple of years, I’d like to seem him do well.

    • Would be pretty rare, a LH specialist to get out RH hitters. Lots of RH relievers who can do that, and with less of a platoon split in case of a pinch hitter.

  29. Wilner’s propoganda is sickening to read or listen to. The man has lost all credibibility and is basically a corporate shill. Nothing that man says should be taken seriously anymore including Ricky Romero.

  30. best is wilner’s voice all excited when he says ricky’s name RICKKKY ROMMMEROOO!!!!

  31. AA needs to manage the roster once camp breaks. So that likely means that Redmond and Rogers need to make the club or risk being exposed. Ricky can be sent to AAA with no concern as he is off the 40 man roster. Not to mention his contract is enough to scare even the Dodgers.

    I can see a rotation composed of Dickey, Morrow, Buerhle, Hutchinson and Redmond to start the season (well aware of the plan to start Morrow in the 5th spot).

    At this stage, Happ needs to prove he is healthy and can throw strikes (I wouldn’t be surprised to see him remain for extended spring training on a DL assignment).

    The whole out of options angle may very well save Redmond’s ass and doom Romero.

    Assuming Happ is ready by mid-April, he gets called up and AA tries to sneak one of Rogers, Redmond, McGowan or Jeffress back to the minors.

    Stroman needs to earn his spurs at AAA and get past the May cut off date.

    Meanwhile, Ricky remains an asset as depth in AAA.

    The Jays will manage the 4th and 5th spot fluidly and we will be seeing some Romero at some point. Let’s hope it doesn’t get too ugly.

    • And what a tragedy it would be to lose Esmil Rogers.

      • How about when he passes through unclaimed because he is mediocre at best. Might show how badly AA overvalues his own players.

    • I think you pretty much nailed it with the exception of Jeffries. With the emergence of guys like Stilson and the depth they have in the pen i think Jeffries is the odd man out unless Happ and Morrow need more time on the DL.

      • Agreed on Stilson >>> Jeffress.

        Being able to start games makes Redmond much more valuable than Jeffress.

        I just think that managing the options game will play a big role in determining who goes north.

        Romero would need to pitch lights out and Redmond would need to implode from here till end of camp.

        Stoeten, losing Rogers would underscore how messed up AA’s trade withe tribe turned out. Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles wouldn’t look so bad right now.

        • Thankfully we all knew Gomes would exlode.

        • It would, but… so? That’s no reason to keep a player when you have better options. Though I don’t think Esmil necessarily has to be the guy they put through waivers.

        • Royals will put top 22 year old prospect in the starting 5 after a stellar spring.
          Sanchez should come north. Period. If he keeps mowing them down for the next two weeks of course.
          Gibby : ” We’re taking the best team north”
          AA : ” we will address SP and 2B
          Beaston : “the money is there”
          I used to be a fan of this group.

          • It’s nutty to think about Sanchez in this rotation. Fernandez he is not. Fernandez wasn’t walking four and five guys per nine in his MiLB stints– at least not in 2012.

  32. I have no idea if this is RR’s problem but it might be a thing that pitchers and organizations should consider. Ricky has aged and gotten a little thicker over the last couple of years. Soooo much of what is required of a good pitcher is repeatable delivery. As his body has naturally aged in his later 20′s the metabolism has likely slowed down and maybe thickened his body. He is a squat guy, not the lanky sort. As much as he is in good shape and a workout fiend, that did not stop the march of time and and body. He always seems to be fighting to repeat his delivery and landing spot. This is where the biodynamic analysis recordings could have a lot of value by marking the delivery at various ages and seeing if the pitcher is altering it with real data not just imperfect video analysis. He could really be chasing his tail if he is trying to “find” his old delivery in his new body; he may need an entirely new delivery. If the gun is right, he has not lost velocity, so that is a really good thing. He may just need to give up chasing the ghost of his slimmer 26 year-old self.

    Sadly though, in the end, Ricky may just be the Yogi Stewart of the Blue Jays.

  33. Not a believer in Ri Ro. Anyone who compares his woes to the Doc’s when he was sent to A Ball after posting a 10+ERA is like comparing apples to oranges. Ri Ro’s talents doesn’t measure a tenth to Doc’s. Sorry.

  34. I don’t like bringing this up, but are they maybe trying to pump him up as one of the earlier posters mentioned? I only give this any credence because of what Bob Elliott mentioned in a column yesterday:
    “And the next day an Angels scout said ‘we talked about Romero a lot this winter, some of our guys had interest.’”

    A stretch for sure, but if there’s interest in Anaheim maybe there’s interest elsewhere? Maybe Romero and a couple other pieces can net them something of use? Probably swallowing much of his contract, but…maybe?

    • It would have been so Toronto to bring back Wells. Thank god he said no. I’ll take my chances with Dan Johnson. I too would love to see RR succeed but I would rather watch
      THE ROOKIE for my feel good story because Ricky’s issue are in his legs and his head.
      No Dr. Andrews needed here.

  35. Jays couldn’t get out of his contact could they?

    • They would’ve by now it it were remotely possible. Any possible trade has been discussed (by AA) and rejected (by whomever he’s talked to) and I’d go so far as to say that they’ve also explored a trade including some of his salary.

  36. I guess RR has been a bit of a godsend to the front office in turning the conversation away from Santana. I expect to hear a lot about Ricky from AA and Gibbons as we move through the end of Spring Training. As you guys know, I wasn’t a fan do signing Santana, but just about everyone else was. I don’t think Romero’s possible resurgence will divert attention from an apparently ineffectual management all that much.

  37. I am not a Romero fan, but what choice do the Jays have? He is their best option at this moment. Happ or Redmond are not pitchers who can pitch in the AL east. I also have to agree with Buck, Sanchez should come up and see what he has.

    Finally, Mike Wilner has the baseball IQ of a pigeon.

    • Says the person who just wrote the previous paragraph? Good lord.

      • Stoeten, please lets not get silly. Taking the side of Mike Wilner and his opinions are not a good practice

    • Agreed on Wilner. Starting to actually like Tim and Sid just a bit. At least they are up front.
      Jerry H has been very critical of the Jays offseason. Good on them , this pitching staff is just so thin. Hopefully a couple non tendered diamonds in the rough are found by our crackerjack scouts.

      • Jerry is not terribly critical, from what I’ve heard. He’s got his favourites that he’ll still pump up irrationally, like Goins.

  38. I wonder what would happen if you could simulate an entire season where Romero only pitches against JP Arencibia.

    That’s the only way I would find seeing RR on a mound again at all entertaining.

    Sportsnet could pump it with #Egos&Assholes

    And this song, I don’t know what they are saying but you get the gist from the chorus.


    • Ricky could have benefited for the horse whisperer of baseball, Harvey Dorfman.

      Dorfman has since passed away, but ALL the big names would go to him if they had mental blocks(the Mackey Sassers and Knoblochs)

      Anyways, players would fly into his ranch/small town in the middle of nowhere Midwest United States on bizzjet, and he’d just rip into them. He didn’t give a funk about their numbers or who they played for. For hitters in slumps he’d say, “are you seeing the ball? Don’t goddamned bullshit me! Check you ego at the door” Players would shrink and open up Moses breaking water. I read one of his books, great stuff.

  39. Great post. Nailing it lately.

    It’s hard to imagine this rotation holding up for April, let alone over the long haul. I feel almost total apathy towards the start of the season. It’s sad. I have really high hopes for a strong season out of Dickey, know what to expect and then what? Many feel that the Twins shamefully overpaid innings eaters, but considering what’s happened to the rotation over the past two seasons. I’d take abject mediocrity over tire-fire shitballing band-aids after guys go down. Why expect anything else?

    Curious what Wilner’s thoughts on the ‘overpaid’ Navarro were… someone fill me in?

    Anyway, I’ll be watching from home until the Jays show me something. Considering I’ve been good for 20+ live games a year, that’s saying something and I doubt I’m alone on that. If you think I’m being overly negative, I hope you’re right, just don’t act like “no one could have seen it coming” when the DL trips start to hit.

    Alex is playing with fire and Ricky could be the gas dumped all over it. I would find that really hard to watch.

    • *know what to expect out of Buerhle.. damn whisky

    • You’re not alone. Usually I plan my life around the start of baseball season. Not this year. This year I planned my life…wake me up in August if the Jays still have a shot.

      I’m not buying into whatever hope the Jays are trying to sell me. That rotation doesn’t pass my eye test and the inability to address it this offseason is the nail in the coffin this year.

      This year, I’m changing my habits in terms of being a Jays fan.

  40. Fuck I cant stand Wilner.

  41. Yeah I think you pretty much have it right. Ricky has been better, but to what degree it is meaningless small sample-ism and weak opposition is hard to say. What he’s done so far should be enough to convince them that maybe he’s not totally broken, but he should not even be on the radar as far as a spot in the rotation goes.

    Old Ricky would be an excellent back end starter, even despite the troubles against lefties, and given his price tag I can understand the urgency to get him pitching in the big leagues and providing value.

    That said, I’m hesitant to ascribe this newfound optimism to actual lunacy on the Jays part, rather than just blind homerism from Wilner or the Jays just pumping a guy’s tires who could clearly use a confidence boost (or a willing taker for his contract). On the other hand, the Jays recent track record in the lunacy department doesn’t exactly give me the warm-and-fuzzies.

  42. Let’s see if I can make a defense of Redmond.

    He’s 28 now.

    He was drafted by Pittsburgh. Makes it to AA and ends up in Atlanta. Atlanta keeps him in AAA for three+ years for some reason and then he ends up in Cincinnati. He makes one emergency start for them and is sent down. Baltimore and then the Jays claim him through waivers as depth in the offseason.

    The guy has done fine for the Jays and against AL East opponents. Last year was basically his rookie year. I think most of us would be pretty happy with that for a first year effort.

    • I’m not sure I’d claim to be in the fan club, Ed, but if you can find a phone booth, I’d be pleased to join you.
      Not a smidge of respect being shown Redmond.

      I’m not expecting company, mind.

      • Early in spring training, zaun was on the fan 590 and asked the host what Redmond had done to not be given a starting spot. He mentioned he wasn’t given much respect for how he pitched last year. I feel like if he was a first rounder and not been bounced around from team to team the way he has, it would be a forgone conclusion he was one of the top five starters on this team.
        I fully recognize that the reason he hasn’t been given the job already is because the jays have little invested in him, he has a limited record of success at the big league level and that his stuff doesn’t seem dominate (however he gets quite a few strikeouts). With that being said, I’m routing for him. It’s been a long road for him…

  43. Ricky Romero: the pitcher Joe Maddon destroyed.

  44. [...] Andrew Stoeten at DJF asks why are people talking about Ricky Romero as a potential starter for the Toronto Blue Jays? It’s a feel good story that’s easy to get on board with but the fact it’s even being discussed speaks volumes to the sad state of this Jays’ rotation. His last appearance wasn’t televised but Jay Blue gave us what I would describe as a lukewarm report of the outing. He still struggles to throw strikes at times and although the improvement (and usage) of his curveball is encouraging when Romero struggled in Triple-A last year it was mostly deeper into starts, when he was facing the lineup for the second or third time. I’m not entirely counting out but he still has a lot to show at Triple-A again this year if he wants a real shot at pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays. He starts today at 1:05 PM against the Detroit Tigers. [...]

  45. Romero statline today:
    2.1 innings pitched. 5 earned. 6 hits, 6 walks, 2 k’s.
    All this starting at the big league level nonsense ends.

    • What today? As of start time of todays game (18 Mar) he’s pitched 7 innings, given up 3H, 1ER, 5BB and K’d 6 guys.
      ps BAA .130 , WHIP 1.14

  46. It’s just about the exact same team as last year so what else would the Jays expect the masses to talk about? The fact that Romero is being discussed as possible rotation piece means the Jays need to move a star or two for SP. If they don’t it will be a long 2014 before unproven farm hands show up.

  47. Can someone please explain to me the downside of losing Redmond/Rogers to waivers? Why is this even a concern?

  48. Pre-season hype—Nestor Molina style. Could Romero be worth a little something in a trade package?

  49. no one thinks its awesome that ubaldo and santana have both had years as bad as romero’s terrible year, and bounced back, but obviously romero can’t, but we needed one of the other two?

  50. Sigh. This pitching rotation just sucks balls. I mean, really, RR for the #4 slot? Todd Redmond? This is the best that the Jays have?

    The inability for AA to replace JJ with a solid #2 via trades and/or money is an indication of AA’s ineptitude or Rogers’ I don’t give a flying f*** about the Jays anymore mentality. I suspect strongly that it’s the latter.

    We’re going to have the same storyline as last year: short outings by the rotation, an exhausted bullpen by June, people marching to and from Buffalo on a regular basis, undisclosed nagging injuries (thank you, turf) by the regulars leading to incredulous up and down streaks, and a generally shitty year in the basement. Add to that some stupid shoulder / elbow issues with two of the starting pitchers and you’ll see some AAA rotation featuring Jenkins, Redmond, and Romero in the 3-4-5 slots. Yecch…

    Hopefully the end result will be a turnaround in the farm system, the entire team’s mentality, and an end to the reign of AA and Gibbons.

    But it just HAS to be better than last year, it just HAS to be!!! No expectations help tremendously, as does drinking.

  51. A lefty who cant get lefties out. How come they cannot fix this?? it makes no sense at all.

  52. If Romero is on this team to break camp I’m not sure I can still be a fan…kidding but it would be tough

  53. WOW DJF, you nailed this one! 5 walks today. That sounds exactly like the RR from last year. Do you think its just a coincidence that two guys who work for Rogers (blair and wilner) are pumping RR’s tires? Im guessing ROgers would prefer to have their highly paid pitcher in the majors rather than collecting his pay cheque in Buffalo.

    I am a fan of Sportsnet and love all the coverage on the Jays but when it comes to reporting i think you do a great job here with non bias BS. Wilner honestly brings down the whole Rogers production. Its no wonder Bobcat wont have him on Primetime.

    Great work, love the articals and interaction on Twitter

  54. [...] recently as 2011, Romero was an All-Star. What happened? The Drunk Jays Fans blog has an answer: Romero isn’t effective against left-handed hitters, which is unusual, [...]

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