Toronto Baseball Guys
Thursday, April 21, 2011
  Is This the Bottom?

Ok, so Brett Cecil has been sent down to Las Vegas to try to work out why an arm that sliced through the AL East in 2010, would now have trouble getting Corey Patterson to swing and miss on a pitch. He’s the second casualty of the atomic bomb landing on the Jays’ rotation this week, while the cockroach of the bunch somehow manages to walk out of yet another mushroom cloud unscathed. Jo Jo, it looks like “no more options” makes for quite an impenetrable shell. Suddenly the key strength of the team both for the present, and going forward is beginning to look like a liability. “Commissioner” Farrell we need help, pick up the red phone, and shine the sloppy silhouette of an unshaven, portly former staff ace into the sky. These boys need to start pitching like men.

In asking what’s gone wrong with the not-so-golden Brett we can point to the drop in velocity from 93 mph to 87 mph, and the general lack of control. It would make sense that without these tools, Cecil would lose confidence in himself and become even easier to hit than his reduced “stuff” would already make it.

What’s caused the lower velocity? After writing his next blank cheque, Greg Zaun will astutely tell us that there’s been a minor change in Cecil’s windup that now has his hand turned out when it used to be turned in. That might be the case, I really have no idea about throwing mechanics, but I’d rather look at a more obvious change in the appearance of his delivery…the big honking tattoo on his throwing arm (see picture above).

Don’t get me started on “getting inked up”. I think that in a few rare cases, tattoos have religious and cultural significance and I have no problem with that. However, in the last few years getting a tattoo has seriously challenged unprotected teenage sex as the dumbest thing youth do. Mangling your body with needles and permanent dye for the purposes of aesthetic enhancement seems a bit counter-productive, especially when the message conveyed, has at best, temporary significance.

I have no idea what the tattoo on Brett Cecil’s arm says, or what it means, but I do know that pitching requires power and precision, and I wonder if an arm would function in the same way before getting pricked, prodded and stained, as it would after. The bad news here, is that the tattoo is permanent, so there’s nothing that Brett can do to get rid of it. Let’s hope that recovery from getting “tatted” takes time and will automatically resolve itself without Cecil having to "Halladay" his game in single A.

Even if the tattoo isn’t physically affecting the arm, it does suggest that Cecil’s mind wasn’t focussed on the right things during the off season and is certainly a great indication that there was at least one night of way too much drinking during Brett’s winter. Whatever the issue, let’s hope this gets worked out. If all else fails, you might want to try dropping the goggles and facial hair, it seemed to work in ‘10.

Failing rotation aside, I left last night’s game worried that I’m going to jump ship on this season sooner rather than later. The reason behind this is the return of the Jay’s fabled popgun offence. Last year, the Jays bats struck fear in the hearts of AL pitchers who knew that any pitch in any at bat ran the risk of leaving the yard. The threat of the long ball meant that the Jays bats were never far from getting them back in the game. In 2010 the Jays overall rank in OBP was 26th while their overall rank in runs scored was 9th in the 30 team league. Rather than wasting time working the count and getting guys on base, they waited for their pitch and swung their guts out. I’m not going to claim to understand any of these newfangled stats, but I’m pretty sure that runs scored is the clearest indicator of an offence’s effectiveness. Last year, the Jays offence was effective. This year, the Jays OBP has soared to 15th, while runs scored has dropped to 13th and is plummeting. It seems like they’re scoring just one run per game. I’m sick of watching our starters give up the winning run by the end of the second inning.

Let’s hope Encarnacion maintains the recent hot streak, Lind’s line drives start missing gloves, Snider’s wrist finally heals, Rajai goes Mookie on our butts, JP’s allowed off the bench, and Juan stays on it, Hill stops sucking, and Lawrie’s as good as we all have convinced ourselves he’ll be. If not, we’re in for a long summer…well, at least we can enjoy the weather.

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