While all of the fuss over the Minnesota Twins’ supposed excesses of starting pitching has focused on Francisco Liriano, another member of the team’s rotation has reportedly caught the attention of the Toronto Blue Jays scouting staff.

According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune the Jays had three scouts watching Kevin Slowely during his latest performance this Spring, and you know it’s serious because one of the scouts even had a video camera.  I hope that those scouts are aware that Major League Baseball games may not be reproduced or retransmitted in any form, and the accounts and descriptions of this game may not be disseminated without express written consent, because if I see a bootleg copy floating around of a Spring Training B-game in which Slowey is pitching, I know where I’m looking to lay blame.

Of course the Jays have a plethora of right handed relievers that could be a nice fit for the Twins after the team lost Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch from last year’s bullpen, all to free agency.  That’s almost a combined 200 innings of relief in 2010.

For Toronto, their sudden interest in Slowey could mean one of two things: 1) The team doesn’t view Jesse Litsch, Jo-Jo Reyes or Marc Rzepczynski as legitimate stop gap options for the rotation and would rather use Slowey to begin the season as the team’s fourth or fifth starter; or 2) We can expect both Kyle Drabek and Zach Stewart to start the season in Las Vegas, with the fourth and fifth rotation spots being given to Slowey and one of the triumvirate of mediocrity mentioned earlier.

I was intending to write about it later today, but I’m of the opinion that Reyes is best suited to being a lefty specialist out of the bullpen and both Litsch and Rzepczynski have Minor League options available, so if the organization isn’t confident in what they have to fill out the rotation, an acquisition makes sense.  It’s also a reasonable strategy to limit Drabek and Stewart’s service time as much as possible, and even moreso if the team hasn’t been impressed by either this Spring.  For all of the hype surrounding the two prospects, it should be remembered that neither pitcher has started a game at the Triple A level yet.

I’m just not so sure that Slowey is altogether that much better of an option than say Rzepczynski to start games this coming season.  Consider this: not a single pitcher in all of baseball that threw more than 150 innings had a lower ground ball rate than Kevin Slowey.  Inducing worm burners just isn’t his game.  And that’s fine, I’m just not entirely certain that a stadium that saw more souvenirs given away to the outfield seats than anywhere else in baseball last year is the best place for that craft to be plied. Not helping matters is Slowey’s platoon split where left handed batters have accumulated an .849 OPS against him over his career.  He improved those numbers drastically last season and showed better command than ever before, but he also likely benefited from an unexplainable lack of flyballs going for home runs against left handed batters.  Overall, his numbers don’t inspire much hope for success in the AL East where tough lefty heavy lineups are the norm.

On the other opposite end of the spectrum, Marc Rzepczynski is a ground ball getting machine, and while control issues are evidenced from his low 1.9 K/BB last season, a glance at his batted ball numbers are very encouraging.  In limited starts in just his second season in the Majors, Rzepczynski was fooling batters like a veteran, limiting contact in the strike zone while collecting an above average ratio of strikes both swinging and looking.

Rzepczynski won’t see his first year of arbitration until 2013 and won’t become a free agent prior to the 2016 season.  Slowey, on the other hand, avoided arbitration with the Twins this offseason by agreeing to a one year contract worth $2.7 million.  He is under team control for two more years after this one.

It seems pretty obvious at this point that the Blue Jays are willing to take one step back this season in order to take two, three, four steps ahead next year.  In order to take those steps forward, the team needs unproven players to emerge.  I can’t help but feel as though that might be difficult to achieve when the opportunity to do so is blocked by a spare starting arm from the Minnesota Twins organization.

Give RZep a chance.  Pass.

Comments (14)

  1. If AA was actually interested in Slowey, would Joe Christensen know about it? Heck no. Nothing to see here.

  2. Jays are just doing advanced scouting…

    The only way a deal happens is if the Jays are looking to move a starter, or are looking at some sort of a 3 way deal…

    The Jays don’t need another mediocre starter, they have enough to mediocre starters to fill their ML/AAA/AA clubs..

    Slowey isn’t very good… His numbers we’re okay in a shitty division, if he played that much against the Sox, Yanks, and Rays his ERA would be like 5.7…

    He’s basically Scott Richmond.. And Scott Richmond is probably going to be a starter in AA this year..

  3. On this one, Parks, we are in complete agreement.

    This trade would only make sense after the Jays trade away a bunch of their in-house starters. And even then, is Slowey that interesting a target? Much more likely the suggestion of advance scouting.

  4. Geez, totally agree. If you want a guy who can only get right-handers out, what’s wrong with Scott Richmond?

  5. I mostly agree, but you have to love Slowey’s 3.99 K/BB ratio last year.

  6. Well… Maybe it’s a three way? With the Jays acquiring Slowey for (insert reliever(s) here) and then flipping him to St. Louis for a prospect? I don’t see why Minnesota wouldn’t just trade him to a pitching starved team straight up, and probably get a better package in the process, but we’re talking about The Silent Assasin here, so ya never know.

  7. What if the deal is acutally about the other guy? Like EE for Rolen was a trade of third basemen, but the real guy in the trade was Zach Stewart, right? Maybe we’ll never know, but I bet if this is real scouting, there’s a hot prospect in here somewhere that the Twins are mulling over much harder than slowey.

  8. Marc Rzepczynski is my Rushmore.

  9. I’ve always had a soft spot for Slowey. Perhaps it was his due to his sub-2 ERA throughout his minor league career, or his career 4.6 K/BB ratio. I do still believe Slowey is talented and, especially in 2008, showed moments of pure brilliance, but at the expense of someone like Rzep? Nah. Rzep deserves a shot. Would I prefer Slowey over Litsch, Reyes and Richmond (seriously, does everyone just have a back bacon boner for him?), then yes, I would.

    Personally, I still feel there is no purpose in us trading for Slowey at the moment, and I’d like to see Rzep and Litsch start the season in the rotation while we let Drabek and Stewart get seasoned.

  10. Free Rzepczynski!

    Time to find out once and for all what Scrabble can do. From all reports, Litsch is back to being a decent back end option this spring too. There’s your protection for Drabek and Stewart, and if you don’t like those two options, there are more here already. Why waste a bullpen piece on something you already have in abundance?

    I’m with NorthYorkJays. How would Christensen know? I guess the 3 scouts walked over to him and said: “Hey Joe. How’s the wife and kids? We’re here to scout Slowey.” because that’s the way this team likes to play their poker: with the cards face up.

  11. I gotta disagree. This guy was money for my fantasy team last year. I think he would be a solid 3rd or 4th starter.

    No i do not have any sabermetrics to back that up, but regardless. Guy is Money

  12. I wonder if maybe we have this backwards. What if the Twins want someone off the Blue Jays roster and they offered Slowey in return and the Jays were doing due dilligence because the offer intrigued them. I can’t believe that AA would go ahead and accept another team’s proposal without getting some info on the trade bait first. That’s just my opinion.

  13. I think he could work out well.

    As long as the price is fine, and the Jays deal from a position of strength I’d do it.

    Downs and a BB prospect?

  14. Right now I’d totally let the Angels trade Downs to the Twins so that we could get Slowey. Best trade ever.

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