When I found out that Brett Cecil was being summoned to The Show in order to start in place of Brian Tallet on Friday (April 23), I was excited. I initially assumed that it was simply a spot start due to soreness. Imagine my joy then when I came to the realization that Tallet was being placed on the 15-Day Disabled List. This was in all likelihood to not just be a spot start, but three chances for Brett Cecil to showcase his skill against the potent Rays and Red Sox and offensively meager Cleveland Indians. He pitched well in Las Vegas, a member of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (2 GS, 11 IP, 11 K, 2 BB) and was deserving of a chance to start in the Majors.
Brian Tallet, on the other hand, is awful. Horrendously awful. His entrance music from 2009, “Gimmie Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, was the most appropriate entrance music I have ever heard. Tallet needs shelter; shelter from constantly getting shelled. He won’t overpower anybody and his spotty command jsut provides the ultimate catalyst for disaster. Granted, he has shaved a full BB/9 off his numbers from last year, but when his K:BB is 2:1 (6 K/9, 3 BB/9), he finds himself working out of the stretch and playing with fire for the majority of most of his short (5.89 IP per) starts. The Blue Jays are a team that is in a transitional phase, 1 A.D. (After Doc). They are not expected to contend right away, but they do have a glut of young talented arms that could become integral parts of the Jays’ mound future.
This brings us back to Cecil, a Maryland product selected 38th overall in 2007 (one pick after Brett Wallace, whom we acquired in the Halladay trade). Projected as a #2 starter on a contending team, he features a four pitch repertoire: low 90s fastball, mid 80s slider, high 70s-low 80s curve and a low 80s change. He has consistently struck out approximately a batter per innning in the minor leagues, while keeping his walk rate in the 3 BB/9 range. He mixes his pitches well, and kept the hitters guessing all night (8 K). The four runs allowed in six and two-thirds did not do him justice as two came on a pair of the few mistakes he made all night, a pair of homers. Outside of these blips, he was dominant against the team with the best record in the Majors.
Tallet is a valuable veteran on a young team, but Cecil is a promising young star. If Cecil pitches well the next two times out, and Tallet struggles in his return, Gaston and the gang will be forced to think.
That said – Carpe Diem Brett. Seize the day.
Recent reports indicate that the Blue Jays are discussing a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that would send Lyle Overbay to the desert is exchange for catcher Chris Snyder (Thanks to MLBTradeRumors.com and Jordan Bastian for that one). This is seen as a method of replacing Rod Barajas and Lyle overbay, both of whom Cito Gaston apparently feuded with throughout the season. Unfortunately for the Jays however, beyond resolving personality clashes this deal makes little to no sense.
Lyle Overbay has one year remaining on a 4 yr/$24M deal. He has been our first baseman since being acquired from Milwaukee before 2006. He is not your typical slugging first baseman, but he has shown to be a great fastball hitter (1.26 Runs Above Average/100 fastballs in 2009, 0.93 career). He hits plenty of doubles and reaches base well (albeit he was in the bottom third of starting first-baseman in 2009 according to wOBA).
His broken hand seemed to bother him for the latter portion of 2007, and 2008, but in the first half of 2009, he showed glimpses of his former self. He mashed for 162 game averages of 20 HR, 92 RBI and 40 doubles prior to the All-Star Break, despite a ridiculously low .250 BABIP. He definitely faded in the second half, but ended up with hitting of .292/.395/.509 against righties while struggling badly against lefties (.190/.256/.278), indicating that his role is clearly as a platoon player, although a very strong one on his good side.
Chris Snyder was one viewed as the D-Backs’ catcher of the future, but injury and simple deterioration have reduced him to a backup or marginal starter skill level at best. Wins Above Replacement does not factor in defense for catchers, but offensively he has been just awful. He has been worth approximately 6.7 wins in his career. Not that impressive for a career that has lasted six seasons and cost his team 24.8 runs (2.5 wins) in his career (with his bat) compared with an average catcher during that span.
Another issue is that the Jays have no one else available to move into a starting role at first base. Randy Ruiz is an idea, but his numbers were clearly inflated by the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League and the fact that he swings at 40% of pitches outside the strike zone in his major league career is a cause for concern in terms of strikeouts. This cause is legitimized by his career strikeout totals (28% of plate appearances in ML, 23% professional). Until Ruiz gains more plate disicipline he will constantly be hampered by his strikeouts which will limit his effectiveness as a hitter. He hit southpaws moderately well as a big-leaguer but anything in that department is an improvement over Overbay. Brian Dopirak is a top prospect and another idea for a righty side of a platoon, but a disappearance of power in AAA, along with a severe drop of wOBA in only a 52-game sample makes me think that Dopirak neess more time and should not be rushed onto the scene. It would be much more developmentally beneficial to allow Dopirak a full year in AAA to see if his power re-emerges nd if he can correct the strikeout issue as opposed to bringing him up and thrusting him into a situation where he is clarly not ready.
These situations are hard on teams. Do we keep the clubhouse happy? Do we do what is best for the team? How much of a factor is money? These are all questions that need to be considered. With all of this in mind, the best option seems to be to keep Lyle in town, let Ruiz take the righty side of a platoon, and move Overbay if all of a sudden he starts to hit very well and we find ourselves out of the race by a long shot.
UPDATE:SUNDAY, 17:25 ET: The Toronto Blue Jays called off the swap because of concerns about Snyder’s surgically repaired back, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.