Toronto Baseball Guys
Friday, March 06, 2009
  Who Are These Guys? Part III
Our final stop on the pitchers the Jays have collected and invited to spring training.

Matt Clement, 34, RHP
The most famous of the off-season pickups, Clement is a one-time all-star who rebuffed the Jays to sign a 3-year/$25 million contract with the Red Sox prior to 2005. After a decent first season, he fell off the rails in 2006 (5-5, 6.61) before undergoing season-ending surgery. Not Tommy-John-see-you-in-18-months-stronger-than-you-were-before surgery, but rotator cuff surgery, which is nowhere near as predictable or successful. Clement was back pitching in the Cardinals organization last year, (32 innings over 3 levels) but didn't impress them enough to earn a call up. With his history, (87 major league wins) Clement has a chance for a comeback, and while asking him to go Chris Carpenter is pure wishcasting, he can certainly be the next Frank Castillo.

Excitement Factor:

Mike Maroth, 31, LHP

You know you have a pitching crisis when... The last time Maroth was healthy enough to pitch in the majors, he coughed up a 6.89 ERA and an opponents' batting line of .347/.406/.597. In case you're thinking, ok, small sample size, this was over 116 innings. That's almost 13 full games of turning every opposition hitter into Rogers Hornsby. Oh, and he's injured! Maroth's knee is ailing, and could hamper his comeback bid. Maroth doesn't have killer splits, so a bullpen role is unrealistic. The Jays must be hoping for the return of the Maroth who logged 600 innings between 2003 and 2005, but he wasn't all that good back then, either.

Excitement Factor:

Reid Santos, 26, LHP
A waiver claim for Cleveland, Santos is relatively young and boasts a 3:1 K/BB ratio and 470 Ks in 509 pro innings, so he's what you could call a live arm. He did get pretty badly waxed in his first foray into AAA last season, but had success before that, so it could be a case of adjusting to the level. He has also worked previously as a starter, so the Jays may see that role in his future. Either way, don't expect to see him in the majors to start the year.

Excitement Factor:

Ken Takahashi, 39, LHP
If Clement is the biggest name among the retreads and castoffs, Takahashi is the most intriguing. A Japanese League lifer, Takahashi will finally get a crack at North America's version of The Show at 39. A swingman with a lifetime 66-87 mark - all for the Hiroshima Carp - doesn't seem like the sort of profile to get anyone excited, but Takahashi's recent history is out of the ordinary. After being a reliever for much of his career, Takahashi was used exclusively as a starter over the past two seasons. His numbers suggest a careful usage pattern, likely due to his age - 20 starts in both 2007 and 2008, but he responded well, going 13-9 with two of the three best ERAs of his career. His peripherals aren't eye-popping, but combine the motivation of finally pitching in the big leagues with the fact that no one in North America has seen him before, and he could be a sleeper at the back of the rotation. Expect him to be the most popular Japanese player in Blue Jays history, eclipsing the very short-lived Ohka-mania of 2007.

Excitement Factor:
 
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