Archive for the ‘Dustin McGowan’ Category

McGowan Madness Follow-Up

Greetings from one of history’s greatest monsters! You know, one of those heartless assholes who sat down in a podcast studio yesterday– like we’ll be doing on a regular basis when major news breaks this season– to remark on just how odd it was that the Jays would bother signing a guaranteed deal for 2013 and 2014 with a pitcher who has thrown all of 21 big league innings since 2008.

This wholly benign and perfectly reasonable confusion has led to a tidal wave of froth coming at Parkes, Drew and I, for reasons that I can’t quite understand either– at least when they emanate from anyone who was able to comprehend what fans’ reaction would have been if the Baltimore OriLOLes had done a thing like this.

Compounding the confusion is the fact that I still actually feel the need to write about this, a deal which we acknowledged from the get-go was rather insignificant, monetarily– rather insignificant, monetarily he repeated for the umpteenth goddamn time– but was the result of processes that very obviously resonate better with fans overly hopeful that all will be right with a pitcher with so much unrealized potential than those of us who look at the should-be-completely-uncontroversial observation that 30-year-old pitchers who are trying to come back from a pair of rotator cuff surgeries have a ridiculously low success rate and say, yep, that makes sense.

Or… actually, I guess I know why I feel the need to keep writing about it: because I can’t escape this story, on Twitter, and especially in the comments of yesterday’s posts.

Yet in some minds we’re the ones forcing the issue, devoting far too much attention to something that we fully acknowledge is pretty trivial.

SIGH.

No. It’s just there has been so much incoherent pushback on this that it kinda blows my fucking mind, and I’m having a really difficult time letting it go by unnoticed. It’s about the money and not the term and the timing? We’re basing all this on one Keith Law scouting report from one three-inning start? We’re underselling the value of showing faith in a player? We haven’t seen his medicals or him pitching this spring, so we should shut the fuck up and fall in line?

My god, people. We all recognize that, at its very worst, this deal is hardly likely to ever have any kind of tangible impact on future transactions the club wants to make– save for maybe the odd bit of maneuvering at the very bottom of the roster, which isn’t nothing, but hardly qualifies as an outrage. That’s not the point.

What’s interesting about the deal, and worth questioning and debating, is the fact that the Jays have done something rather counterintuitive here by– again– guaranteeing a contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons to a player they already control and who has pitched only 21 MLB innings since 2008.

We’ve heard a lot of interesting takes on why that might be. In fact, in the post I wrote about it, I wondered if this was indicative of a new paradigm in baseball, where what once was money allocated to the draft is being repurposed as the new CBA incentivises clubs to invest more in their big league roster. Others have suggested that it doesn’t need to be viewed any differently than a $3.5-million 1-year extension, with the added benefit of gaining extra team control and a show of faith in the player. Others still wonder if it will prevent clubs from claiming McGowan on waivers if the Jays ever feel the need to send him down, or if it might be a way to keep McGowan from filing a grievance if the Jays want to make some creative use of the DL.

All of these notions may be flawed, but they’re interesting and constructive to discuss.

What’s not interesting to talk about– yet not worth quietly swallowing, either– are those views that we need to shut up, not worry about it, admit that because everybody says so we’re wrong, stop griping about money that isn’t ours, stop telling us how unlikely it is he’ll be able to stay healthy, and just accept it, because the front office knows better than we do.

I don’t think I should have to explain to anyone why that’s so.

So… that’s where we’re at. It’s not nearly so far apart as all the histrionics might make it appear, I don’t think.

Here’s something weird:

Um… OK?

Seeing as the last bit of game action Dustin McGowan saw involved his being carted off with plantar fasciitis in his right foot– and seeing as, back in December, Bowden tweeted that the Jays had won the Yu Darvish bidding (he subsequently deleted the tweet)– it’s kind of a weird one.

After news over the weekend of McGowan’s latest injury setback, fans– who were probably expecting too much to begin with– couldn’t have been faulted for readying themselves for life without the engineer of a miraculous nearly-four-year comeback.

Now… he’s extended?

Yes, tweets John Lott of the National Post.

And Shi Davidi confirms the terms.

What the fuck?

Parkes tries to make sense of it at Getting Blanked.

As for me, I understand that the Jays gambled on Jose Bautista’s ability to repeat and it paid off massively. I get that there could be value to taking care of their own and showing their belief in what could be a key piece for them– and perhaps even more value in preventing an Al Leiter situation, where McGowan has a decent season and then bolts as a free agent at the end of 2012.

For that to occur, however, McGowan needs to stay healthy, to pitch extremely well, and to be unwilling to accept anything the Jays might offer him over the course of the next seven months.

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Dustin McGowan left in the second inning of his minor league start today, with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. “After throwing four high pitches, McGowan threw down his glove, pointed to his foot and summoned a trainer,” said Jays TV analyst Pat Tabler, who was in attendance, according to John Lott in the National Post.

He’s listed as day-to-day, “although plantar fasciitis can require an extended period to heal,” Lott notes.

It’s an unfortunate setback for a less-than-rock-solid back end of the Jays rotation, but as the fifth starter, McGowan might not be needed much during the first part of April anyway. With an off-day in each of the first three weeks of April, the club can skip some starts from their fifth starter, mitigating the loss– not that Kyle Drabek, the way he’s pitched this spring, would necessarily be a step down from McGowan anyway, quite frankly.

So… there’s that.

After yesterday’s heavy dose of realism, Jays fans demanded that Keith Law, the obliterator of all their little hopes and dreams, come forth and defend his absurd views on Dustin McGowan!

Or… probably it was just his contract with TSN Radio. Or maybe they just asked.

Either way, KLaw hit the airwaves– the free, public airwaves that I can quote anything from with a clear conscience, I should add– this afternoon and elaborated on what he saw yesterday when he took in the epic Grapefruit League tilt between the Jays and the Astros in Kissimmee.

And, actually, he skipped a lot of the stuff about McGowan. Or… probably I just tuned in a little too late to catch it.

What I did hear was pretty seriously awesome, especially where two the players I’d like to see the Jays not dick around are concerned: Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider.

He also talked Anthony Gose, Travis d’Arnaud, about the back of the rotation in general, and followed up his piece from yesterday with some activity in the comments.

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It’s not often that Keith Law posts an entire piece about the Jays, which means that it’s not often that I have to worry about having to toe the line on just how much of his work it’s appropriate to post here. It’s well worth it to get ESPN Insider– even just for KLaw’s work alone– and I wouldn’t want to devalue that (in whatever tiny way I’m capable of) by quoting too much of his report today on the Jays he saw face Houston, so… I guess we’ll just go with the Coles Notes version. Law’s piece is far more elaborate:

- Law was unimpressed with McGowan, who he calls “a shadow of what he used to be.” Ouch. Apparently he was most unimpressed by how long it took for McGowan to get up to his top velocity of 95 and 96, and his “soft-breaking slider that you can see pretty early out of his hand.”

- The report on Kyle Drabek is much better. He “looked solid with a new, more controlled delivery and increased use of a two-seamer with sharp sinking action.” Law was especially impressed with his new mechanics, landing spot, and the consistency with which he was able to stay in line and not fall off the mound. He also liked the cutter Drabek threw “at 87-88 that looked just the like fastball out of his hand, allowing him to use it in changeup counts.”

- A couple interesting notes from the pair battling for the Jays left field position, as Law says that Eric Thames got a pair of cheap hits on outfield misplays, and that Travis Snider’s lone bright spot– a hard double– was extra bright, since it was on “a ball he wouldn’t have gotten to last year with his hands set up higher than they are now.”

- He also had notes on prospects Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, and Anthony Gose– who laid down an “unfieldable” bunt for a hit.

Far be it from me to actually give too much of a shit about the ins and outs of every spring training game– especially those with three weeks still to go until Opening Day– but with both Dustin McGowan and Kyle Drabek pitching today, at the very least their performances warrant some scrutiny. Y’know, as much as anybody’s performance does at this point in the spring. Or in a game against the damn hopeless Astros.

ESPN’s Keith Law was at the game and tweeted out some stray observations, including an assertion that McGowan, who pitched first, looked “very ordinary so far.”

That, however, was early on, and by the end of the outing, McGowan had come around.

The Fan’s Mike Wilner echoed the sentiment that McGowan improved as his day went on. “He looked very good after the first inning,” he tweeted, “not so great in the first.” On the day McGowan went three innings, giving up one hit, an unearned run, walking one and striking out three, which on the whole is pretty successful. However, he threw 46 pitches, 27 for strikes, according to Wilner. That rate is close to the percentage of strikes he threw in his 21 innings in the Majors last year, which I think we can agree simply isn’t going to cut it– however, we’re talking about such small sample sizes here that just an extra strike or two one way or the other changes the way the rate looks pretty significantly. Still, it’s hardly doom and gloom, and any day that McGowan finishes where he’s still healthy remains, at this point, a pretty damn good day.

Not only that, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star points out that McGowan threw a bullpen session between today’s start and his previous one, the first time he’s been able to do so since since 2008.

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The Jays won’t play a televised game until St. Patrick’s Day (and then it’s only available on MLB.TV, with Sportsnet’s first broadcast not coming until the next day, according to the club’s online broadcast schedule), so those of us not dicking around in buttfuck Florida only have the audio and the assorted reports of the poor souls who are to go on. But by the sounds of things, Dustin McGowan’s first start of the spring went very well.

Granted, it was against the Houston Astros, but when you think about it, any start in which his shoulder doesn’t explode apart into a billion third base coach-maiming projectiles is probably a good thing.

And McGowan did us one better, topping at 96 on the stadium radar gun, according to Jeff Blair and Ken Fidlin, and sitting consistently at 93, according to Gregor Chisholm, who tells me the gun considered to be more accurate than last year,

Perhaps more importantly, he threw 15 of his 24 pitches for strikes– a 62.5% rate, in an absurdly small sample, but still, better than the 57% he threw in the Majors in 2012. This information is relayed by Chisholm, and Mike Wilner of the Fan 590, who writes that “McGowan looked terrific.  He hit his spots, his fastball had good life and his slider had great bite.”

The almost-30-year-old gave up just one hit in his two innings of work, and according to Wilner, “said he felt normal, which is something he hadn’t felt the last four springs.” On the broadcast, Wilner– who, it should be noted, seem to me about as optimistic on McGowan over the winter as anyone– added that he looked like pretty much the same guy we remember.

One hopes.

It’s way early, of course, so hopes are all we’ve really got. But it sure is nice hurt to have these ones– especially with rumblings of potential concern for Brett Cecil (see previous post).