Archive for February, 2009

Down the road …

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When Spring Training ends, infielder Scott Campbell won’t be heading north with the Toronto Blue Jays. But that doesn’t mean he’s not using the next few weeks to show manager Cito Gaston and Co. what he can do — both at the plate and in the field. Take Thursday afternoon, for example. With the bases loaded in the eighth, the 24-year-old ripped a three-run double to help the Jays to a 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Campbell’s story is an interesting one. First of all, he became the first New Zealand-born player ever to be drafted by a Major League club when the Blue Jays took him in the 10th round (300th overall) in 2006. The following year at Class-A Lansing, he hit .279/.390/.397 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs in 107 games. He also managed an impressive walk-to-strikeout ratio (68/56), especially for a young player. Campbell continued to hit well in 2008, finishing with a .302 (126-for-417) batting average with nine homers and 46 RBIs in 112 contests for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Last year he also had the honour of being a member of the World team at the All-Star Futures Game in July. As a result of his success over the past two years, he has become a legitimate prospect within the Blue Jays organization. It’s likely he’ll start the season at Triple-A, but look for Campbell to make the jump to the big leagues in the near future …

Check out a good Q & A with Campbell by MiLB.com’s Lisa Winston …

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Play ball!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aside from allowing a game-opening solo homer to Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil pitched well in his spring debut — a 6-1 loss to the Yanks — striking out four in two innings of work on Wednesday afternoon. Ricky Romero took the loss, allowing two runs — on an Alex Rodriguex two-run homer — over 1 2/3 innings  of work.

The Jays mustered only four hits on the afternoon, including a pair of doubles by John McDonald and Travis Snider. Toronto will play Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 p.m., as right-hander Scott Richmond will get the start.

Key to the future?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Brett Cecil may, indeed, be the future of the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff. After all, he’s currently the club’s top pitching prospect. And, after being selected in the first round of the 2007 draft, the left-hander made his way quickly through all three levels of the minors before the end of the ’08 campaign. But for now, he’s simply fighting for a spot in the back end of the rotation for the 2009 Blue Jays.

It may be a better idea for the 22-year-old to spend the year at Triple-A Las Vegas (that still sounds weird, doesn’t it? Las Vegas?), but with Burnett gone and McGowan and Marcum out with injuries, anyone and everyone is being considered by manager Cito Gaston for the No. 4 and 5 slots in the rotation. Cecil will look to impress tomorrow, as he starts the first game of the spring for the Jays against the New York Yankees.

On Sunday, Gaston told the Sun’s Bob Elliott that he was looking forward to seeing how the youngster carries himself against big-league hitters. “I want to see how he handles himself on the mound,” Gaston said. “I want to see his makeup.” The Blue Jays’ manager then made a reference to Jimmy Key, the club’s all-time winningest left-hander.  Will Cecil be the next Key? Well, he may just get the chance to shine in 2009.

As for Key, he made his ML debut in 1984 as a 22-year-old and, well, 116 wins later he stood behind just right-handers Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy on Toronto’s all-time wins list.

Leading off …

Sunday, February 22, 2009

There’s no question there are a plethora of issues that need to be resolved by Jays’ manager Cito Gaston prior to Opening Day. But outside of filling the final three spots in his pitching rotation, Gaston will need to decide on a lineup – and hopefully one that can produce more offense than the 2008 squad – a team that finished 11th in the American League in runs scored.

Easily the biggest challenge this year will be finding a consistent leadoff man. Gaston says he will not use Alex Rios there – instead, using the 28-year-old in the No. 3 slot in front of Vernon Wells. According to the Globe and Mail’s Jeff Blair, Gaston will primarily use Marco Scutaro at the leadoff spot. But, as of right now, it is unknown who will bat first when John McDonald gets the start at shortstop in place of Scutaro.

Perhaps it was an easy choice for Gaston to peg Scutaro as his leadoff guy. But that’s likely because there’s no one else to fill the role. Last season was the first in which the utilityman saw any sort of action in the leadoff position. In 25 starts, he batted .275 (28-for-102) with a .353 on-base percentage at the leadoff spot. For his career, Scutaro is 33-for-129 (.256) with a .340 on-base mark over seven seasons in the big leagues.

Very marginal numbers. But who else is there?

Where’s my money?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The reality is this: Alex Rodriguez is an all-star and future hall-of-famer with or without steroids. Sure, his numbers will be under scrutiny now, just like Barry’s. But, in my opinion, that’s not the biggest issue when it comes to the ‘steroid era.’

It’s the players who didn’t make it to the big leagues as a result of others juicing in the game that stands out to me as the worst outcome of the whole performance-enhancing drug fiasco. And I don’t think we hear about this issue enough. So it was nice to see a piece by Bob Elliott in the Toronto Sun recently in which former Blue Jay Rob Butler voiced his displeasure.

“All the money and potential earnings we lost rubs us the wrong way,” said Butler. “What good has it done my brother (Rich) and I to play the game clean? It’s like we were cheated out of four or five years of major-league money.”