* Progressive Field in Cleveland was the end of the line three of the Blue Jays prized rookies: LHP Daniel Norris, OF Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) and RP Miguel Castro. ....
By Bob Elliott
As the Blue Jays roster took shape in late March the operative words were two and too ...
Two rookies in the starting staff, two rookies in the every day lineup and two set-up men which was too many twos, far too much for a team expecting to contend.
We wrote it in March, we wrote it from Montreal and New York. It was clear -- crystal clear -- watching the Blue Jays this week that six rookies was too many.
Should Jays management be given credit for deciding six was too many or knocked for starting the season with six young guns?
Whatever, the end-of-the-month, bottom line was an 11-12 April. Not as bad as the 10-17 start of “all-in” 2013 season or the 12-15 April of a year ago ... A losing month.
This year is different from the “all-in” season or the bounce back year of 2014.
This is a must-win year.
President Paul Beeston is retiring in the fall and then what?
Does Edward Rogers, Mr. Baseball at his neighbourhood campus from Nov. 5 until Jan. 31 while the presidential search was conducted, bungled and then ended, come in with a broom borrowed from the janitorial staff from the Bloor Street offices?
Alex Anthopoulos was hired Oct 3, 2009 by Beeston to replace J.P. Ricciardi ending the mutiny in Maryland. Manager John Gibbons 2.0 was re-hired so this year with the clubhouse culture changed and the lunk heads dispatched elsewhere the over/under on the Anthopoulos/Gibbons quinella surviving is either ending the Jays post-season drought of 21 years or being eliminated on the final day of the season.
I’m no pitching coach, but a losing month is not how you start a must-win season.
We asked a number of experienced evaluators before opening how many of the six rookies could be expected to stick and be successful.
Remember Carlos Delgado was demoted his rookie year.
And Roy Halladay was demoted after two seasons, although with Halladay the No. 1 enemy was his lack of confidence -- not opposing hitters.
The highest answer we received on the number of rookies succeeding was three. The lowest was two.
We had serious concerns relying on so many young players in a must make-the-playoff season. It’s difficult asking roughly 1/3 the team to be consistent in their first year.
The only consistent about youth is inconsistency. It takes time, patience, prodding and tough love at times in order to build the confidence and experience for youngsters to be ready.
That said second baseman Devon Travis, who skipped triple-A, has been the Jays best player.
That’s not a click, but rather a POP.
We’d say only Roberto Osuna is the only other one of the six to have clicked compiling a 1.38 ERA in 10 games, walking four and striking out 15 in 13 innings.
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez has made five starts and has not pitched longer than 5 2/3 and has had two outings in which he allowed two runs. He leads the league in walks, including 15 in the last three starts.
The Jays want more strikes.
Norris made five starts going seven innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. The man who spends his off season in a van had even Brazilian talk shows interested in talking to him this spring, started Thursday. He worked three scoreless and was demoted. That he could allow four hits, walk two, own the lowest ERA among the starters and still head for western New York would puzzle Brazilian sports shows.
You could say Pompey was bumped by Kevin Pillar, a fence-climbing, turf-scraping, wall-crashing, pebble-stirring highlight reel and the return of healthy Michael Saunders. But that was Ezequiel Carrera in right Sunday afternoon.
We want our athletes to speak from the heart and not utter cliches, yet when they do ... After over running a two-out Jonny Gomes drive for a three-run double and making a throwing error against the Atlanta Braves, Pompey admitted he was “scared to death of making a mistake.” He made four more starts in centre, then six in left and was gone.
And finally, Miguel Castro bumped Brett Cecil from closer’s role. Castro had two saves, then took a loss giving up a game-winning single to the Rays’ Desmond Jennings on an 0-2 pitch, blew a save against Atlanta picked up a save and recorded another, despite giving up a three-run homer to Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado.
Then, he blew a save in St. Pete’s and took the loss pitching at Fenway ... which wasn’t Clearwater or Lakeland. Despite being given three days off after the Boston loss he still had 13 appearances in the American League ... tied for second.
Castro was demoted too when the Jays returned from Cleveland and now will be stretched out as a starter.
So this was the rookie initiation trip?
Was six too many?
Is four too many?
Does it really matter if the starting pitchers continue to average roughly 5 1/3 innings per outing.