The Saddest of Possible Words....
And they ain't "Tinker to Evers to Chance" of F.P. Adams
If they are, you have a problem... namely Baseball Zombies.
No, these words are "Dr. James Andrews." They are oft accompanied by "consult with" and eventually "season-ending surgery." Now, the Blue Jays have not heard these words just yet, but you have the forearm discomfort of Brendan Morrow and Brett Cecil's missing 5-6 MPH on his fastball. These are rather sizable concerns for a team that is supposed to be anchored by its young starters.
The Blue Jays are, to their credit, extremely proactive about protecting their young arms, imposing inning limits and shutting them down whenever there's a hint of a problem. So far, Cecil "feels fine" and the club is optimistic about Morrow and everything is just precautionary at this point, but everyone was pretty optimistic about B.J. Ryan once upon a time. And Jesse Litsch... and Adam Wainwright...And Stephen Strasburg (ok, everyone knew Strasburg was done as soon as he threw that pitch).
Rotation health was a key to 85 wins last year, and while the organization is doing its best to safeguard the starters, it's hard to keep a whole crop of young pitchers healthy - hence the wisdom of developing them in crops.
With luck, Morrow and Cecil will be putting together back-to-back 7-inning gems inside of 3 weeks. But young arms have a tendency to break hearts, and an eventual trip to Birmingham wouldn't be a surprise.
No Upside to Rushing Lawrie
Brett Lawrie has been the runaway feel-good story of the spring for the Blue Jays.
Kudos to Alex Anthopoulous for selling high on Shaun Marcum - who very possibly hit his ceiling in 2010 and may not be ready to start the season - and buying low on Lawrie, based on the lack of a position and possible attitude problems (allegations which weren't helped by photos such as this
Lawrie's hitting over .300, exhibiting good power, and seems to have taken to his new position. It's too early to cast any judgement about his attitude - since the fresh-faced rookie who badly wants to make the big league club certainly ought
to be on his best behaviour - but the Jays also hold unique leverage over the Baseball Canada product, who may be inclined to straighten up his act so as not to embarass his home country's team.
In Lawrie, the club may at last have their elusive Canadian star (yes, I like Paul Quantrill, and no, he doesn't count). And so the early returns look good for what was easily the most scrutinized deal of Anthopoulous' off-season.
That said, he should most definitely be sent back to the minors to start the season.
Don't want to hear about the batting average.
Don't want to hear about his "make up" or "composure" or "maturity beyond his years."
Don't care if he has the "poise of a young Brooks Robinson at third."
Don't care how many "eyes he's opened up this spring."
This is, inevitably, the type of pablum that accompanies every single prospect having a good camp. Just send him down.
There are several reasons you don't give the 21-year-old kid who's never even seen AAA pitching the starting job based on a hot spring. Remember Gary Scott?
Neither does anyone else.
You don't want to start Lawrie's free agency clock a minute before he can help the team compete. The Seattle Mariners were so anxious to have phenom Alex Rodriguez in the majors that they let him compile 208 plate appearances before his 20th birthday. They were rewarded with a .224 average and ARod reaching free agency a year earlier than necessary - a year that the Mariners could have controlled for perhaps $7-8 million in arbitration. Instead the Texas Rangers paid him $22 million that year, and Rodriguez hit .318/.399/.622 with 52 home runs.
There is precisely one argument to be made in favour of starting Lawrie on the big league roster come April 1: that the combination of 3B Lawrie/RF Batista will outplay the combination of 3B Batista/RF Rivera by a margin so huge that it will result in enough extra wins to propel the team to the playoffs...
Anyone buying that? Didn't think so.
Let Lawrie disembowel AAA pitching for a couple of months and then bring him up. It beats calling him up to all sorts of fanfare and scrutiny and then sending him down in three weeks when he's hitting .180.