* Bob Elliott talks Toronto's busy bullpen, Jenkins/Walden/Jeffress, Juan Francisco, Gareth Morgan, umpire Tim Welke and more in his Blue Jays notebook. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors 2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2015 Canadian draft list
By Bob Elliott
A year ago when the Blue Jays were 7-11, someone cleared his throat, looked around the clubhouse and said:
“You know, this could go south real fast.”
Seven accurate words.
The worry back then was the starting pitching.
Not the offence.
Not the bullpen.
After watching the Jays trundle through Minneapolis and now Cleveland, one has to wonder if the same guy is about to clear his throat and issue those same words, despite the Jays' 10-8 record.
Look at these numbers from the Minnesota Twins series and the opener against the Cleveland Indians:
Starters Brandon Morrow, R.A. Dickey, Dustin McGowan and Drew Hutchison went a combined 17.1 innings, meaning the bullpen worked 16.2.
Not a real good ratio.
Mark Buehrle pitched seven scoreless on Saturday, leaving only six outs for the bullpen.
No way can relievers continue to pitch almost as many innings as the starters as they did in Minneapolis and the first and last game in Cleveland.
The bullpen is solid, even without Casey Janssen. But with this much work?
It won’t hold up.
Super two: Every player and his agent wants super two status, as it ensures salary arbitration a year earlier. And every fan tries to figure out who those will be with super two status.
Juan Francisco hit 18 home runs in the majors with a .718 OPS last year in 124 games between the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Braves. He gained super two status and a $1.35 million US contract from the Brewers.
Milwaukee released him March 24, paying him 45 days and he was signed to triple-A Buffalo. After 12 games at Buffalo, the left-handed hitter was in the Jays lineup when DH Adam Lind went on the disabled list. Francisco was Edwin Encarnacion’s teammate at triple-A Louisville in the Cincinnati Reds system in 2009.
Scouts say Francisco has power, but is a poor defender at both third base and first.
Unforced error: It’s a basketball stat, yes, but how else do you describe the Jays trying to promote reliever Chad Jenkins and losing Marcus Walden? The Jays got rid of reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who was in St. Pete’s opening night, after three appearances. They attempted to recall Jenkins but that was impossible since the season was not 10 days old and the roster change was not due to an injury.
So, the Jays turned to Walden. He didn’t throw a pitch and was demoted on Sunday when the Jays needed to open room on the 40-man roster for infielder Munenori Kawasaki, who has since been demoted.
Bottom line: two arms lost. Walden was claimed by the Oakland A’s and Jeffress signed a free-agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
No doubles: You hear the phrase all the time on TV. A “no doubles” defence means outfielders play deep enough so as not to allow anything to land over their heads. Up a run Friday, Lonnie Chisenhall doubled over the head of left fielder Melky Cabrera ... Like the way Steve Lombardozzi hit a drive over the head of Colby Rasmus in the 12th inning last Saturday night at Camden Yards.
Medium well please: Mike Pesce, one of the scouts the Jays fired last year, scouts the Northeast. At the 2011 pre-draft meetings, he sang the praises of outfielder George Springer from the UConn, as a future all star.
One Jays special assignment scouts, still with the Jays, said that Springer was another “over-hyped hitter from the Northeast who would never get out of double-A, I’ll bet you a steak dinner.”
Pesce agreed to the friendly wager. The Houston Astros recalled Springer, selected 11th over-all in North America in 2011 on Wednesday. Most regard Springer as a five tool player -- as Pesce presented in the meetings. The Jays chose Auburn, Mass. high schooler Tyler Beede, who didn’t sign, attending Vanderbilt. He’ll be a first round pick this June.
Draft day 2014: It’s not the buzz that Brett Lawrie or Phillippe Aumont caused their draft years when the Canadian Junior National Team made its annual April trip to Lake Buena Vista, Fla. But it’s close, as scouting directors, cross checkers, general managers and their trusted aides come to see North York outfielder Gareth Morgan.
Morgan is expected to go late in the first round or early in the second according to some evaluators. He homered Thursday against the Atlanta Braves extended spring squad.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, his top set of eyes Dana Brown, and Texas Rangers top scout Don Welke were in to see Morgan against the Detroit Tigers farmhands on Wednesday. With the Langley Blaze last month, he played in front of every scouting director and cross checker in Arizona.
Looking down the road: Perfect Game Scouting Service predicts that Port Hope’s Cal Quantrill will be a first-rounder in 2016 and that Whitby lefty Ryan Kellogg will be a second or third rounder in 2015.
The two hooked up in a seldom-seen, high-profile match up between two Canadian hurlers as the two Pac-12 powers met Friday. Kellogg, the Arizona State Sun Devil, gained the win in a 3-2 decision over the Stanford Cardinal. The former Ontario Prospect pitched seven innings allowing two unearned runs, while Quantrill, an Ontario Terriers grad, pitched six innings allowing three runs -- one earned.
Debut day: On June 14, 1983, the Blue Jays beat the Oakland A’s 13-6 at Exhibition Stadium. Jesse Barfield hit two homers, while Barry Bonnell and Buck Martinez each homered to make a winner of reliever Roy Lee Jackson.
There were 20,189 fans that day as umpire Tim Welke made his debut at first base along with umpires Dan Morrison, Vic Voltaggio and Mike Reilly.
Welke worked third in a Tampa Bay-Cincinnati game Sunday, the 4,000th of his career. He’s the 22nd ump to work 4,000. Cowboy Joe West (4,575), injured Tim McClelland (4,236) and Gerry Davis (4,133) are the only active men to have worked more.
Bill Klem is No. 1 (1905-1941) with 5,372, followed by Bruce Froemming (1971-2007) with 5,163 games.