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.