A Modest Proposal

With this afternoon’s news that Jesse Litsch has been demoted to Triple A in order to make room for the recently recovered Frank Francisco and keep Jo-Jo Reyes in the Blue Jays rotation for at least another start, I have to wonder if there isn’t a better solution.

I understand how this move has far more to do with Litsch still having Minor League options and Reyes not. And while I’m still not quite sure what the Blue Jays see in Reyes to give him more of a shot at succeeding than David Purcey, I’m willing to work within the frame work of keeping on this team to find another way of working the roster that won’t result in Litsch’s demotion.

Let me begin by saying that I’m far from a Litsch apologist. I think the majority of the credit he receives has more to do with his appearance as the Ginger Beard Man, general luck and his interaction with fans on Twitter rather than any true talent. I’m also somewhat of a realist in admitting that it’s unlikely that this team will compete this season, and therefore there’s no harm in seeing what players who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance can do.

However, barring the ability to travel back in time and purposely not sign Octavio Dotel, there’s only one way I would handle Francisco’s addition to the roster as well as the impending end to Brandon Morrow’s Disabled List stint.

I’d give up on Reyes as a starter and put him in the bullpen, demote Casey Janssen who still has an option available and demote lefty Luis Perez who was only just called up.  Litsch can then remain as the team’s fifth starter, a position he’s fully qualified to occupy, and Morrow can take Reyes’ place in the rotation, as Francisco becomes the team’s closer and Reyes replaces Perez. This way, the team keeps the player who has been performing better in the rotation, but doesn’t give up entirely on Reyes, by placing him in the bullpen, where I believe he has a better chance of succeeding anyway.

The first issue you think of when discussing Reyes as a starter is his durability. Since May of 2009, the 26 year old southpaw has missed 220 days due to injury. Taking a look at the success, or lack thereof, of his pitching arsenal, he seems to be the perfect candidate, like David Purcey, to become a left handed reliever who focuses on only two pitches, his fastball and curve.

Does Toronto really believe that at this very moment Reyes would offer more trade value or have more difficulty slipping through waivers than Purcey? I don’t see it, and I haven’t seen anything to make me believe that will change.

Comments (14)

  1. A reporter on twitter indicated that apparently Reyes was the sticking point in the Escobar-Gonzo deal. I find this to be pretty hilarious but I guess AA likes Jo Jo for whatever reason.

  2. Here’s another way to clear room for Reyes in the bullpen. Demote Rzep and get him starting again in the minors.

    For perspective:

    Reyes (age: 26): 1.635 WHIP as a starting pitcher (40 starts);
    Rzep (age 25) 1.468 WHIP as a starting pitcher (23 starts);
    Litsch (age 26) 1.33 WHIP as a starter (62 starts).

  3. AA seems to really like Reyes, but at some point, it has to be about results, especially if you’re forced to keep the guy on the 25-man roster while he figures out how to throw strikes and generally not be terrible. This isn’t much different than the Dana Eveland experiment last year, when he was left on the roster about a month too long and nothing was gained while we watched him struggle every fifth day.

    The trouble with Reyes as a reliever is that he’s basically a less-good David Purcey. It seems like it’s all-or-nothing with him right now — either he makes it as a starter, or he’s out. One of those is much more likely than the other.

  4. I too am mystified at getting rid of Purcey but hanging on to Reyes. Obviously, the Jays’ front office has a lot more information at its fingertips than us, but Purcey seems to have the better fastball and the better slider (and as I recall, a decent curve when he first came up) – I’d almost rather have Purcey try and get his stuff together in the rotation than Reyes.

  5. I’m totally okay with letting him giving starting a shot for another month. Not like we’re contending here anyway, so may as well give him a long leash. Not to compare the abilities of the two, but Morrow got jerked around a whole lot because of knee-jerk reactions in Seattle, and I believe Jo-Jo was the same in Atlanta.

  6. “…at some point, it has to be about results…”

    Ok, I know I’m the resident Jo-Jo apologist, but is the point where it has to be about results NOW? Because we’re comparing three starts. I don’t think anyone is chiselling Jo-Jo’s bust for future generations to honour him, but I wouldn’t want to give him away until I knew what I had.

    I know their performances look vastly different right now, but in the one start where Jesse Litsch escaped unscathed, he was one lucky son of a bitch not to have been blown out of the ballpark.

  7. To expand on Tao’s point, you could argue that Jo-Jo’s start against the Angels was better than any of Litsch’s three starts.

  8. I watched Reyes pitch effectively against the Yankees in spring training. He looked great to me and in an interview seemed to have a great attitude. I was impressed. That’s all I know.

  9. Noone’s even mentioned Reyes age as a possible reason for the extended leash. At least spiggy made the Morrow connection.

  10. I like Perez. He seems to be everything that Purcey wasn’t – a hard throwing pitcher who could hit the corners at 94, and mix in a breaking ball. I’d like to see him stick, for awhile at least.

  11. Reyes is being skipped on Thursday. They sent down Litsch to keep an 8 man pen for a few more days. When Reyes’ next start comes he will be DFA’d and Litsch will be recalled.

  12. Litsch had a 3.17 FIP/3.50 xFIP in three starts and the last time he was healthy he had a good year for this team (2.6 WAR in 2008). He didn’t deserve this, nor does his demotion help the team at all.

    Reyes is a worse version of Purcey. He has no future pitching in the AL East and should be DFA’d as soon as possible.

    • @Fullmer: Totally agree. I just don’t understand how ditching Purcey and keeping Reyes makes any sense. There’s no comparison to Morrow. Reyes wasn’t dicked around at all. He simply hasn’t held up the last two years to being a starting pitcher.

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