Thursday, September 27, 2012

They Eat Their Young

This was not the way it was to play-out. What options did Anthopoulos have to fix things? Not much –  a couple of minor trades and raiding the minors for what he could find. It was still not enough because, though the Jays have improved the minor league ranks, they have, for the most part, been brought up too soon to be effective in the majors. They need more time to become what they were expected to be.

The pitching staff has been hit hard. Everyone is apparently working beyond their capabilities. The team has given up 199 Hr’s, 551 walks, 1371 hits, only 1099 strike outs and 753 runs allowed heading for the eighth worst season on record.

Aaron Loup, Joel Carreno, Drew Hutchinson, Henderson Alvarez, and Chad Jenkins came up through the AA and missed AAA all together. Sergio Santos and Hutchinson are on the DL. Yes, Santos had two years in the MLB as a pitcher before this year. He also had 30 saves in 36 attempts the year before.  However, he only spent one year in the minors pitching at each level, then was brought up to the White Sox and now he’s on the DL.

Brandon Lyon has been up and down eight times in his career. Shawn Hill and Brett Cecil seven times. Several have been up and down five times.  It tells me that injury and low skill levels are at play.

Several of the big names have interesting numbers along these lines. Roy Halliday spent 641 innings in the minors and was down and up three times. Matt Harrison did 647.2 innings and down and up 3 times and came from AA. Justin Verlander pitched only 102.2 and came up from AA. The biggest exception is Stephen Strasburg who only pitched 75.2 innings in A ball and now has a WHIP of .81. Too bad they had to shut him down on fears of injury. Go figure.

With all the pitching injuries, pitch counts come into play.  These young pitchers are brought up too soon and, with shortened pitch counts, reducing their innings pitched. I am of the school that the training is bad at the lower minor league levels. The pitchers are coddled into thinking that they can only go 95-106 pitches per game instead of 150 or more. When they hit the majors they do not have the strength to go deeper nor throw their better stuff to deal with the better hitters because they have never gone the distance before. These boys are now not work horses but race horses, and weak ones at that. That’s a topic for another blog.

The Jays are openly talking about the fatigue of both Aaron Laffey and Carlos Villanueva. They are trying to decide if they can get another start. They have only pitched 95.2 and 125.1 innings respectively. Not the 198 innings, as if they had 33 starts at six innings each outing. This is not even counting complete games. Not good enough. 

The current position players are the extreme example of too soon and up and down.  They should still be in the minors honing their skills: Moses Sierra, Anthony Gose, Adeiny Hechavarria and Yan Gomes. In spite of all the talk and sometimes exciting plays, these young men need more time in AAA. Twenty-one year old Sierra has a BA of .242. Twenty-three year old Hechavarria's BA .252. Both Gose and Gomes are below the Mendoza Line. They need to be more seasoned. I wish their careers luck.

Are any of these players ready for next spring? Have they shown enough to even be considered next year? I don’t think so. Maybe Sierra and Alvarez. The rest need more work. I hope this approach to the young players is not a repeat of the Travis Snider stuff of bring them up, put them down, throw them away.

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