Well here’s something that probably should turn into a regular feature, and maybe is finally starting to: a collection of thoughts on what went on over the weekend — and this time they’re actually almost showing up on time! Almost…
This Effing Roster
According to a tweet from Gregor Chisholm on Monday afternoon, Neil Wagner has been placed on the DL by the Buffalo Bisons, which might go a good distance of the way toward explaining why in the holy fuck it was Chad Jenkins, and not Wagner, who returned to the Jays when Brandon Morrow hit the big league DL over the weekend.
Though it doesn’t say so in their post on the matter, a tweet from the Buffalo Bisons says that it’s a right forearm strain for Wagner, and it makes absolute sense to think it was likely a known issue at the time of the call-up.
And I guess I can understand the club not admitting that Jenkins was their second choice, or letting it get out there that Wagner was hurt. But also… seriously?? Based some of the confounding roster choices they’ve made so far, maybe we should have concluded long ago that the front office isn’t terribly worried about optics or fans openly wondering if anybody over there has the foggiest clue what in the fuck they’re doing, but it still seems odd.
Wagner’s stint is retroactive to Friday night, May 3rd, which was the last time he pitched.
Speaking of how long it’s been since someone has pitched: Esmil Rogers, everyone!
He didn’t pitch in the Pittsburgh series, made just one out in the Kansas City series, and pitched a garbage-time ninth inning in a 7-1 win over Boston at the end of the last homestand back on April 27th. That makes for a grand total of 1.1 innings over the last ten days.
So, John Gibbons has absolutely no faith in him right now, and yet the club is so terrified to lose him on waivers that they’re going with a tiny bench and Steve Tolleson — and his 120 games in the outfield since being drafted back in 2005 — as the only thing resembling a spare outfielder. Yeah, I (somewhat tepidly) defended Esmil last week, and I think that the injuries to Morrow and Wagner in quick succession underscore why Alex Anthopoulos has maybe clung to his pitching depth a little more desperately than fans less concerned about the big picture than he is tend to see — I mean, we know what forearm strains sometimes mean (and Scott MacArthur tweets that there is concern among the club about his elbow). However, at some point you’re going to lose more with the pathetic bench than you are by giving up on clinging to, what, your eighth? ninth? tenth? eleventh-best starter?* Or a right-handed reliever who was only barely getting innings before Stroman showed up, despite Janssen being out, McGowan being in the rotation, and Wagner being in Buffalo.
This Effing Roster – Part Two
Meanwhile, Gregor also tweeted this afternoon that, after a rehab start in Dunedin last night, Adam Lind is on schedule to return to the Jays when the club returns to Toronto following their two games in Philadelphia. What does this mean for Juan Francisco? Apart from the cut in playing time, possibly nothing. “Can’t take a chance, I wouldn’t think, of letting Francisco go,” John Gibbons tells him. “Somebody’s gotta grab him, he’s too valuable.”
It’s… OK, sure. I guess a team carrying an absurd number of pitchers can definitely make room for a nice bat off the bench who can play third or first in a pinch, it’s just… man, the love for Francisco of late is bordering on the love for Ryan Goins when he came up and hit .400/.419/.467 in his first eight games.
Yeah, the towering blasts are fun and all, but Francisco had thirteen stops at various levels before 2013, and he posted a walk rate above 5.4% in exactly two of them — a 14 game September call-up with the Reds in 2009 (12.0%), and a 6.8% rate over 36 games/56 PA with the Reds the next year.
Now, it’s possible he’s legitimately improving in this regard — last year he walked 8.3% of the time over 385 big league plate appearances with the Braves and Brewers, for example, and this year he posted a 12.0% rate over 12 games in Buffalo, and a 12.7% rate in 13 with the Jays — and if he somehow keeps that up, he’d be a hell of a diamond in the rough. But we’re still talking about a guy who walked just 105 times in 2,604 minor league plate appearances (4.0%).
There’s still value in the power and the ability to hit right-handed pitching, but let’s maybe not go nuts here.
* (Let’s see: 1) Dickey, 2) Buehrle, 3) Hutchison, 4) McGowan, 5) Stroman, 6) Happ, 7) Redmond, 8) Nolin, and then I guess Esmil is ahead of the next group, with Liam Hendricks, Kyle Drabek, and whatever other various dreck theoretically comes before they go crazy and rush Sanchez. And that’s without Morrow on the list!
Hey, but what’s to whine about, really? It’s free money night! I mean, you never would cheer against your own team, but… well… if J.A. Happ gets roughed up, how do the Jays argue that he should get another turn in the rotation and that Marcus Stroman shouldn’t immediately move in and give the club their best possible post-Morrow rotation?
They could argue it pretty easily, actually. He’s pitching on eleven days rest, having not appeared in a game since April 23rd, meaning that if he’s not sharp, it’s sort of to be expected — and not just because he’s J.A. Happ — but… y’know… c’mon!! Let’s see some Stroman! Or… how about a nice run of J.A. Happ, reminding us of that long ago time ago — last April — when he was the only Jays pitcher a lot of people thought was any good? Back then he had just pitched to a 1.90 ERA over 23.2 (admittedly meaningless) spring innings and then in 28 innings in April posted a 3.86 ERA (4.01 FIP), holding opponents to .222/.300/.355.
It could happen. Really.
Another thing that could happen, that people aren’t quite ready to think about maybe: as much as certain people want to be gloomy about absolutely everything, the bullpen blowups of the last few weeks could wind up being the low ebb of the season. Imagine that. (I know, it’s hard, given that you have to imagine Happ getting through this start unscathed, but for real!).
And how about Dustin McGowan last night. Enh? Ennnhh?? How ’bout him? Anh? How about the job he did??? Ennh?? Eeeehnnnh?
Seriously though, I’m hardly one to shit on park factors, and McGowan certainly did pitch in some favorable environments in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, but the Jays sure didn’t seem to have much trouble getting balls to leave those yards, did they? Whatever it was, it was hard not to like and to think of the possibilities, now that he’s wearing an insulin pump and seems to be better able to go deeper into games. Fingers crossed, at least.
Oh yeah, and this is your Game Threat…
Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:05 PM ET, @ Philadelphia
For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.
And now, the lineups…
Toronto Blue Jays
SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
3B Juan Francisco (L)
2B Brett Lawrie (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
C Josh Thole (L)
LHP J.A. Happ (L)
CF Ben Revere (L)
SS Freddy Galvis (S)
2B Chase Utley (L)
RF Marlon Byrd (R)
1B Ryan Howard (L)
C Carlos Ruiz (R)
LF John Mayberry Jr. (R)
3B Jayson Nix (R)
RHP Kyle Kendrick (R)