Tag Archives: Brett Cecil

Cecil murders lefties

Yesterday’s news that Brett Cecil, after a terrible spring, has been demoted to Double-A New Hampshire came as a not-unwelcome surprise. Putting him in Toronto’s rotation to start the year would have been bad for everyone, but I really believed that’s what would happen.

It’ll be interesting to see how Squints fares in the pitcher-friendly confines of Northeast Delta Dental Stadium as he faces Double-A hitters with stuff that works (to some degree) at  the major league level. Maybe success there, if he finds it, will give transfer to the Majors whenever he gets another chance. But if he struggles in New Hampshire, it likely won’t (or, at least, shouldn’t) be the end of Cecil.

I’ve made the argument before that ol’ Squints should be moved to the bullpen. I still think he should be used as a starter if at all possible, but as time goes on that seems less and less likely. I still think he has a future in the ‘pen. But in what role? Just now, as I was going through Cecil’s velocity charts and pitch outcomes and splits looking for something to defend the guy with, I found something that seems interesting:

Brett Cecil is really good at getting left-handed batters out

I doubt any pitcher aspires to being a LOOGY (lefty one-out guy) but they have an important role to play in the modern game. Brett Cecil, if he can’t get it together enough to start again, could be a great LOOGY.

Over the course of his career, Cecil’s held lefties to an OPS of .664. While that’s a good number, it’s inflated by his relatively awful 2009 performance against lefties. In 2010 and, yes, even 2011, Cecil murdered left-handed batters. Check out these lines:

2010 vs LHB: .224/.255/.342/.597 (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS)

2011 vs LHB: .186/.282/.240/.522

Pretty crazy, eh? Even when Cecil’s putting together a season like last year’s that makes everyone doubt his future, he’s still able to hold lefties to pretty anemic numbers.

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Closing argument

I’ve spent the last few weeks in a state of not exactly not paying attention to the Blue Jays, but not paying close attention, either. Vacation, family matters and things of that ilk have taken precedence.

Getting a little distance from the normal obsession is nice. Getting most of what I know about the team from a couple of innings I catch on TV or from the morning boxscore or CP wire story, I almost felt like I was in pre-Internet times. I even reached a point at which Buck and Tabby ceased to be a constant irritation. Whether this was a result of hearing them less or my baseball brain actually regressing, I’m not sure. If my posts seem more ridiculous than normal for the next little while, I guess it may be the latter.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what seems to be a main point of contention for many people who follow the Jays: The bullpen. More specifically, I guess, the closer’s job.

I know the closer’s role is overrated. I know the bullpen’s best pitcher should be used in the most-high-leverage situation possible and that that situation is rarely in the ninth inning. I know and support those notions, but there’s also something to be said for throwing the mouthbreathers a bone, even if it’s just to shut them up. Besides, wouldn’t you rather see someone you have some faith in pitch the 9th instead of Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel or whoever the latest in the long line of “firemen” is blowing his opportunity when given the role?

Somebody, I think it was Joe Posnanski, described Mariano Rivera’s meaning to the Yankees and their fans by saying that he’s not so much a closer as he is a guaranteed win. As of this writing, Rivera’s converted 584 of 637 save opportunities in his career. In other words, the Yankees win 92% of the games in which Rivera has a chance at making a save. Say what you will about the save stat (and you probably should, it’s not a good one) but a guy like Rivera, a guy who can almost be defined as “Yankees win,” has got to be a comfort for fans.

When you think about it that way, it’s easy to understand why people who don’t invest time in learning about the game beyond what the papers and the TV tell them would clamour for a reliable closer.

But who should be that closer?

Well, how about a guy who reportedly struggles with conditioning a bit much to be a starter? How about a guy with good stuff who seems to be hit or miss in the rotation? How about a guy who was drafted as a closer? Who starts out throwing hard but loses velocity after 50 or so pitches?

How about Brett Cecil?

Yeah, if he can get it together and become a reliable option as a starter, leave him there. But if not, or if any of the many arms in the farm system really push for a job in the majors, why not give Brett a chance at doing what he did well enough in college to be drafted with hopes of being turned into a starter?

Turn Cecil loose in the 9th (or 8th or 7th, he is stretched out after all!) and let him throw without worrying about conserving energy for the later innings. Maybe it’s what he needs.

I’m not saying he’ll be Rivera, but he might be effective enough to mollify the masses.


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Why would Toronto want Slowey?

Should Alex Anthopoulos trade for Kevin Slowey? The gut reaction is definitely no. The Blue Jays don’t need more starting pitching. And Slowey’s no stud who’s worth bumping people for.

But gut reactions are no way to run a team and there are reports that Toronto is interested in bringing in the Minnesota right hander, they even had soem scouts watching the Twins the other day when Slowey was pitching. According to MLB Trade Rumours, Slowey might even be had for some bullpen arms, which the Jays have more than enough of.

So, should the Jays trade for Kevin Slowey if it only costs them some bullpen arms? That scenario’s a lot easier to agree with, but is it the right move?

Right now, Toronto’s set to break camp with a starting rotation of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, probably Kyle Drabek and one of either Marc Rzepcynski or Jesse Litsch.

Slowey’s a decent pitcher, but he’s an extreme flyball pitcher — his flyball rate tends to hang out in the 50% range.

The SkyDome, as we all know, is a park that’s very friendly to flyball hitters (Jose Bautista!) so Slowey’s flyball rate is a pretty big strike against the case for him to pitch in Toronto. Combine that with the starting pitching depth Toronto’s already got and a trade for Slowey doesn’t make sense.

Unless Anthopoulos is getting ready for a deal with another team that’s crying for starting pitching (St. Louis? Rasmus? We can dream.)

Then again, there may be nothing at all to these reports. We all know Anthopoulos doesn’t talk about rumours, so the Jays get connected to every player that was ever discussed in any sort of rumour. And those scouts who watched Slowey pitch? Well, could be as simple as doing a bit of recon; Toronto opens the season against the Twins.

(UPDATE: I’ll often try not to read other blogs before writing a post. Sometimes this means that another blog will have written a similar post previous to mine. This is one of those times. For a much more thorough look at these rumours, you really should check out Getting Blanked.)

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Listening to Jays Talk last year, somebody called in asked something about who Toronto’s fifth starter might be next year.

Mike Wilner basically responded by telling the guy that Toronto fans are spoiled. We’re lucky to have such quality pitching. Most teams, he said, have lousy No. 5 pitchers.

He’s right. We Jays fans are lucky. Whether we’ve got Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow or Brett Cecil taking the hill, we know our teem has a shot to win.

But do you have a favourite?

Marcum’s my man. I was lucky enough to randomly catch his first pro start back on July 18, 2006. He only went five innings, but he held the Texas Rangers to one hit and struck out five. Good numbers to be sure, but it wasn’t what he did that won me over, it was the way he did it.

I love watching pitchers make batters look foolish and Marcum’s changeup does that on a regular basis.

The fact that Marcum has since embraced filth and expanded it beyond his just his pitches (take a look at his cap next time you see him) only makes me love him more.

So what is it? Are you with me on #TeamMarcum or is Romero more your type? Maybe Cecil’s potential is too much for you to resist? How about Morrow’s complete domination of late?

Take a vote in the poll below and, if you’d like to say a little something about your choice, sound off in the comment section.



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The bright side of death

The Blue Jays offence is sputtering. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind don’t appear to be snapping out of their funks to save it, either.

Cito Gaston continues to demonstrate what managers are not supposed to do, while the manager of a team the Jays are chasing in the A.L. East may have figured out how to beat Shaun Marcum.

Toronto has lost 6 of its last 7 games. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Red Sox seem to be picking up their games.

Add this up and you get a pretty ugly picture of where the Jays are headed. But who wants to look at that kind of stuff?

I know I’d normally be all doom and gloom in a post like this but, like the song says, “always look on the bright side of death.” So that’s what I’m doing and it’s surprisingly easy.

First off, the Jays weren’t supposed to contend this year. The fact that they’re playing better than .500 is a nice sweet little bonus. So there’s that, but that’s not why I’m excited.

I am excited because over the next three games we get to see Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero pitch. In San Diego. Pitcher’s park of pitcher’s parks. These are guys who usually dominate no matter where they go, but in San Diego? It promises to be an embarrassment of riches.

Sure San Diego is playing really, really well. Sure, the Jays have a history of losing to tonight’s Padres starter — Jon Garland’s got a career record of 11-2 against Toronto. None of that matters. You know why? Because this Jays team is not supposed to win.

Sure, I like to see them win; I’ll likely continued to get aggravated with Cito for his ridiculous decisions; and I’ll likely to continue to complain about lost games that the Jays should have won.

Ultimately though, this is a year about developing players. Toronto’s got a trio of pitchers who are pretty amazing already and now we get to watch them go in Petco. Even if Toronto loses every game 1-0, enjoy it while you can. Marcum, Romero and Cecil should look even more amazing in San Diego.

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Saturday afternoon I went to the Jays game and watched Brett Cecil do bad, bad things to the Baltimore Orioles. Brett Cecil is a bad man and I love him.

At one point during the game, I had the thought that I’ve had a number of times already this season: “How good would these Jays be if Roy Halladay was still here?”

I quickly squashed that thought because, damn it, Cecil was owning the LOLs and I should just enjoy the moment.

Flash forward to Saturday night. I’m at a party having no idea what happened in the world of baseball except that the Jays won and an Indians pitcher took a line drive off his temple. I’m a few drinks into the night and in walks Squizz, occasional poster to this very site.

Squizz: Chris, what did Roy Halladay do tonight?

Me: I have no idea.

Squizz: Really? Really?!

Me: Did he throw a no-hitter or something?

Squizz: He threw a PERFECT GAME.

At this point my face hit my palm and didn’t emerge for a few minutes.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy for Doc. But my initial reaction — and this hasn’t totally gone away yet — was a sense of loss combined with a burning why-are-the-baseball-gods-so-cruel feeling.

The word everybody is using is bittersweet, and it really does fit perfectly.


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Roster moves!

Joe's back, and he didn't even need a Voodoo Whammy!

Joe's back, and he didn't even need a Voodoo Whammy!

Travis (Amazing Sniderman) Snider, Brett Cecil and Bobby Ray have all been sent down to Vegas.

Rickey Romero, Casey Janssen and Voodoo Joe Inglett are all on their way back to Toronto.

Janssen’s going to be starting tomorrow against Atlanta, and Romero’s getting the nod Tuesday in Baltimore.

Voodoo Joe is exactly the type of player that Cito doesn’t seem to like using and that’s too bad, because Inglett’s got the scrap that will keep the dummies happy. (And yeah, I enjoy that kind of play too.)

T. Snides going down isn’t all that surprising. He’s been struggling lately and his playing time has gone down accordingly. Lunch Box should mash completely in the PCL. Before you know it, the Great Pasty White Hope will likely be back in Toronto and better than ever.

As fro Cecil and Ray, they performed generally awesome while with the big boys, but they had to know coming up that they weren’t destined to be here for long. Hopefully they don’t take their respective starts against Boston to heart.

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Romero out, Cito still awesome


In an attempt to protect the health of a promising young pitcher, the Jays have placed Ricky Romero on the 15-day disabled list. Apparently he’s got a muscle strain and a little time on the sidelines should heal him right up. Nothing to worry about, hopefully (I know it’s hard to think that way when this team has a history of turning “sore backs” into Tommy John surgery, but let’s try to be positive.)

While the injury may not be worth worrying about, what is worth worrying about is how the Jays are going to replace him in the rotation. Romero’s been the Jays’ best pitcher so far this year (sorry, Doc) posting a 2-0 record in three starts with a 1.71 ERA, 1.095 WHIP and a 3.25 K/BB ratio.

Based on how spring training transpired, it would seem likely that either Brad Mills or Brett Cecil will be called up (apparently some early reports say that Cecil will get the call) but Romero, based on his performance so far, will be extremely difficult to replace.

The way this team is swinging the bats though, maybe it’s not all that important that the new guy fills Romero’s sizeable shoes.

Thoughts on last night

cito-gastonSince he took over the club midway through last season, I have been a huge Cito supporter. I don’t always agree with his managerial decisions (didn’t when he was winning World Series either) but it’s clear that the man knows how to handle a team. The 62-42 record since he took over is evidence enough for me.

Despite my support for the man, the recent negativity swirling around the blogosphere has apparently affected my judgement. Last night I took to twittering some tweets (yes, I know it sounds ridiculous) about my disagreement with certain decisions the Cito was making.

Using Snider as a pinch runner, then having him bunt?

Not using Overbay as a pinch hitter in the 11th?

Maybe Cito really was losing it.

But we all know what happened. Snider stayed in and successfully layed down an important bunt.

Overbay didn’t pinch hit for Millar, and Millar drove in the winning running.

The lesson of the night, as Jeff Blair so excellently put it, Don’t doubt the Cito.

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And they’re off (sort of)

Dunedin Stadium

Off in the sense that the Jays are playing baseball again, but only sort of in the sense that the outcome of the games don’t actually mean anything yet.

Yesterday being the first of 33 preseason games (35 if you count the games against Team Canada and Team USA) it’s far too early to gain any perspective on the team. All we can really hope is that Brett Cecil giving up a home run on the second pitch of the game doesn’t mess with his head too much.

In other news, and I was going to try to stay away from the circus, but this is too ridiculous to go without a mention:

And when Rodriguez left the ballpark, it was the New York Post’s George King who fingered the getaway man in a car pulling out of the parking lot as being none other than Yuri Sucart, the cousin Rodriguez said purchased steroids and injected them into him.

How stupid.

How A-Rod.

How A-Rod indeed.

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