Toronto Baseball Guys
Saturday, April 24, 2010
  Sixth Man Award
After a week and a half of humming and hawing, the Blue Jays have finally decided to DL Brian Tallet and Edwin Encarnacion with arm injuries. Not far behind are the purchase of two first class tickets to Birmingham Alabama, the initial cautionary assessment, and a dump truck of money dropped on Dr. James Andrews’ font lawn for a job well done.

When it comes to efficiency in reporting season ending surgeries, the Jays PR team works at a pace on par with the glacial drift and only a bit faster than Ricky Martin’s people doing a cost benefit analysis of when he should “come out”.

While I feel bad for the injured parties, nobody is suggesting that this is a devastating blow to the Jays’ plans to finish fourth in the AL East. Brett Cecil should have been up with the big club all along, and Encarnacion’s absence should help the team avoid breaking single game and season records for strikeouts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having fun watching a lineup consisting of Rob Deer and Pete Incaviglia’s love children, but I’d rather not see a pitcher celebrating stikeout number 21 as Travis Snider checks the Jumbotron to find the latest hole in his swing. Perhaps this even opens a door for Brett Wallace whose defence at third couldn’t possibly be much worse than we’ve seen to this point.

Certainly the team will go on despite the loss, but I do have to ask why pitchers end up on the shelf as often as they do. Since MLB isn’t planning to outlaw curve balls or pitchers trying hard anytime soon, I’d like to make the following suggestion to the Jays’ brass:

Let’s go with a six-man rotation!
It know it sounds absurd, especially when other teams do their best to skip their fifth starter, but the Jays aren’t other teams. Consider the benefits:

1.) Pitching every sixth day, keeps Dr. Andrews away: The Jays have a collection of pitchers that are young, coming off injury or both. Why not reduce their innings, while increasing their rest time?

2.) Major League Auditions: Minor league numbers don’t always translate to the majors. Adding a sixth starter would allow the Jays to test out more of their potential assets. This is especially relevant when you think about arms like Marc R, Robert Ray, Brad Mills, David Purcey, Doug Drabek Jr., and hopefully at some point Jesse Litsch, Dustin McGowan and Scott Richmond. Major league starters are a rare commodity, if a bunch of these guys show potential, then Anthopolous has some trading leverage at his disposal to try and fill in holes and balance out the line up.

As for the drawbacks to this plan…they might not affect this team:

1.) Weaker staff: Obviously your sixth best guy isn’t as good as your top five, meaning that you’re fielding a weaker pitcher than is required once every six days. This would matter if the Jays were threatening for a playoff spot, but they’re not, so who cares if they lose a few more games this year.

2.) Six starters would tire out the bullpen: Teams that carry eleven pitchers only have six bullpen arms, the Jays have been carrying twelve this year, which would allow them to also have six bullpen arms. It’s not like there isn’t somebody else who could have covered Merkin Valdez’ lone inning of work to this point.

3.) Arbitration Eligibility: Yes, playing guys earlier will make them eligible for arbitration sooner, meaning the team will have to shell out some cash. I don’t care! I’m fine with Rogers spending lots of extra money, they have plenty to spare, and none of it's mine. Besides, I’ve always felt that keeping someone in the minors in order to pay them less is a slap in the face that won’t be forgotten when it comes to sticking with a team during free agency.

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