Blue Birdshit – Lookin back at the 2008 Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays 2008 outfit turned out conspicuously like most others have in recent years. They have mastered the act of hovering around .500 for months, then making a charge when it’s already too late but you want to believe it isn’t, then piss their pants in crunch-time and call it at year. To “will the eternal recurrence of the same” is a principle one should strive to live their life by Nietzshe believed; although something tells me he may not have had a mediocre baseball club in mind when he wrote it.
This review will be broken into a number of chapters, beginning today with Chapter One – The Starting Pitchers – a.k.a. The Soon-To-Be Former Backbone of the Team.
Simply put, the 2008 starting rotation was the balls. They could go toe to toe with any other starting rotation in MLB. So without further adieu lets get into the individuals and what they did…
AJ Burnett – Led the AL in strikeouts and pitched more innings than most thought he was capable of doing over a two year span. However, he won’t be back – a mega-contract is coming in the next few weeks and it will likely be from a divisional rival. I’m guessing that is probably a good thing that another team is going to make the leap of faith for him to perform in a non-contract year. He has never done it in the past, so why would he in the future? Looking back on his career in ten years, people will ponder, “why couldn’t he have pitched like he did in 2008 every year?” The reason probably lies in the fact that he has a heart smaller than the Grinch. Thanks for a good year and adios dick.
David Purcey – Lets keep it real, he is only in the majors because he is left handed and doesn't deserve a spot on anyone's rotation really. He makes John Cerutti look like Tom Glavine.
Shaun Marcum – When healthy he was absolutely terrific. He dominated numerous games and deserved more than the 9 wins he posted on the positive side of the ledger. While I have no stats to back it up, my gut tells me he was the victim of crappy hitting and blown saves as much as anyone else in the rotation. He has the stuff needed to be a great ‘2’ in the rotation behind Halladay. Tragically, Tommy John surgery will rob him of his entire 2009 season. Make no mistake, losing Marcum next year will be a MAJOR blow to the Jays rotation. Hope he keeps his head up and comes back strong in 2010. I will miss you Mr “North of Steeles” Marcum.
Dustin McGowan – He was up, then down, then up, then down, then hurt. Sadly, I am still not convinced this guy will ever prove to be a valuable member of the Jays rotation. Other than sideburns, who really knows what to expect from him in 2009 after his shoulder surgery? Let’s keep our expectations low.
Scott Richmond – Another in the long line of great Canadian hopes for the Jays. Seems like only yesterday it was Denis Boucher trotting out to the mound for the Jays. Will Richmond fare any better? Still much too early at this point to have any sort of real insight, but I'd be happy if he is as good as Paul Quantrill.
Jesse Litsch – Started white hot in 2008. Everyone kept warning that he didn’t have the stuff to keep it up and major league hitters would figure him out. At which point he promptly began sucking the bag and his ERA ballooned. For a while it appeared he was gonna be spending some long nights spooning Gustavo Chacin in seedy motels on the Single A baseball circuit for the rest of his career. Mercifully, Cito then sent him on a trip to Syracuse and when he came back he had miraculously become better than ever. The Jays will need him to maintain that form worse than ever next year. He has likely now moved from being the fifth starter to the second. Gulp… 2009 is not looking good when a key member of the rotation strikes me as the kind of kid who should be bullied and have his shoes thrown in the toilet.
Roy Halladay – The Jays have been blessed with many great starting pitchers over the years. From Stieb, to Key, to Cone, to Morris, to Guzman, to Stewart, to Wells, to Hentgen, to Clemons, to Carpenter, etc. But lets get this straight – Doc was and is the best of them all. I respect Dave Stieb’s pitching and jock strap adjusting abilities as much as anyone, but Halladay is a better pitcher. (not sure if any man alive can fiddle with their nuts as much as 'Tomorrow I'll Be Perfect' Stieb could, so Doc falls short there) Even in 2008 when the Jays had plenty of great pitchers, Halladay was their undisputed leader and may be forced to be a one man rotation next season.
So it basically shakes down like this for the starters: Subtract Burnett and Marcum entirely, assume McGowan will miss his fair share of time, thus promoting Litsch up the ladder, hope that maybe Casey Janssen comes back strong from his surgery and can be the '4' guy in the rotation, consider giving Scott Downs a shot at starting job, sign a free agent and hope JP Ricciardi can try to trade for someone decent. Yikes. It's kinda funny how fast a good thing can fall apart.
Next week bullpen...