Who Are These Guys? Part I
If you can't sign every free agent in baseball like the Yankees, or trade for John Smoltz a la the Red Sox, how do you bolster your pitching? If you're the Blue Jays, you invite 412 pitchers to spring training. In fact, if you've ever thrown a baseball in your life, you might want to get home and check your messages.
It's not a terrible strategy. There's precious little downside, and sometimes you unearth a gem. Frank Castillo was a journeyman hurler who won a job with the 2000 Blue Jays and proceeded to go 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 138 innings. All for the bargain basement price of $375,000.
Sufficed to say, if the Jays can come up with another Castillo, there'll be some Ricciardi hand springs at the Rogers Centre this season. So while the Jays brass starts to sift through all these arms, let's do the same. We'll start with the B's.Rick Bauer, RHP, 32
It's hard to see where Bauer fits into what should still be a very good Blue Jays bullpen. The veteran right-hander had one decent season with Texas in 2006: 71 IP, 3.55 ERA, but his peripherals were unimpressive, to the point that even the pitching-starved Rangers didn't keep him around. Bauer's platoon splits are nothing special and he's only had one major league start in the last four years, so it's doubtful that's in the Jays' plans. If Bauer sticks, it will probably be at AAA.Excitement Factor:
(out of a possible 10 Castillos)
(Note: A score of 10 Frank Castillos doesn't mean the guy is going to be Cy Young, it means he's going to be Frank Castillo)T.J. Beam, RHP, 28
Picked up off waivers from Pittsburgh, Beam doesn't look all that impressive on first blush. The 6'7" reliever put up a decent 4.14 ERA in 45 innings with the Bucs in 2008. He did limit righties to a .210/.260/.368 line, and he put up a 2.81 ERA after the All-Star break, but he did so with fairly pedestrian strikeout rates, meaning that luck may have played a bigger role than ability. Has never made a major league start, so look for Beam to be bullpen filler, possibly the first guy called up in case of an injury. Quick question, how do you get T.J. out of Theodore Lester?Excitement Factor: Bryan Bullington, RHP, 28
Wait a minute, the Jays snagged the first pick in the 2002 draft?!? The Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir draft?? Woo-hoo!! Somebody order me up some World Series tick- oh wait, that was Bryan Bullington. Another ex-Pirate, Bullington's career has been something of a disappointment, to put it mildly. But there are some positives. After missing 2006 with injuries, Bullington rebounded to log 26 starts and 150 innings in 2007 at AAA. Plus, his strikeout rates have been creeping up the last couple of years, he's not over-the-hill and he obviously has something to prove (think Josh Hamilton). Brad Arnsberg might have something to work with here.Excitement Factor:Matt Bush, RHP, 23
Another first overall pick, this time in the 2004 draft... as a shortstop. After washing out there, the former Padres prospect converted back to the mound, and has thrown a grand total of 7.2 innings of professional baseball. The good news: he struck out 16 batters. The bad news: He faced a grand total of one batter above rookie ball. The worse news: then he had Tommy John surgery. Bush was a sly pickup, in that there's a lot of potential here, and the Padres were probably just happy to be rid of him, but there's little chance of him seeing any major league action in 2009.Excitement Factor: