No, I’m serious
Two freaking innings into each pitcher’s respective Blue Jay careers and there are two full MLB articles on Ohka’s “slow start” and Thomson “excelling”. Oh, and another one about Burnett being solid- though he hasn’t thrown a single curveball. I was going to write a few paragraphs aping how the media reports whatever it can to feed the need for more and more news and thus distorts what’s actually important in the process (the “cat in tree” syndrome), but the tendency bugs me so much I’m just going to counter with what is actually important so far this spring training. And no, that’s not a lot.
1) Gillick is circling like a hawk
Pat doesn’t come by twice for his health, (nless he’s still mocking J.P. for not trading Ted Lilly for Ryan Howard when he had the chance). It seems a little late for Rios-Myers (which he declined) talk again, but the Phillies are looking for cheap young bullpen help, which somehow we are somehow extremely deep in. There might not be too many big names out of Romero/Rosario/Thorpe/Gonzalez/Banks/Houston/Taubenheim, but there are at least a couple of major leaguers, and some pretty decent NL bullpen filler. We are especially inclined to trade Rosario, who is out of options, and we already have Towers, Zambrano and Walker as experienced players to use as backups.
The real kicker is that aside from prospects, the only player we would really be looking at in return is Jon Lieber. Who isn’t incredible, but is a solid 175 innings, and would make the rotation competition go from crowded to ridiculous. I think Ohka would be pretty pissed after signing an incentive-laden contract to impress for next year if he started the season in AAA, but that would probably do it.
Monday morning the Jays have arranged a special “B” team game against the Phillies. Watch who pitches in that game- and check to see if they have their bags packed.
2) A.J. is working extensively on his changeup
Burnett is working more extensively with his changeup this spring than he has in the past. He threw five on Saturday and joked that he didn’t think he threw that many changeups all last season. It’s a pitch that Zaun feels could help Burnett avoid situations in which he’s forced to rely heavily on his fastball.
“[His] curveball is breaking top-to-bottom, and it tends to finish out of the zone,” Zaun explained. “So, if he gets a good feel for that changeup, that’d be a nice pitch for him to get going to get back into counts where he doesn’t have to throw his fastball all the time.
Burnett really only has two pitches- and his curve breaks too much to throw strikes consistently with. So batters can sit on his fastball (well, they pretty much have to anyway because it’s so fast) and if they get something else, try not to swing. Last year he was unhittable when his curve was catching the bottom inch of the strikezone- but more often than not it starts as a strike, bounces a foot outside and before it gets to the plate, and the batter thanks his lucky stars because he was gearing up so hard to try and catch the fastball, he wasn’t going to hit anything else in a million years anyway. Not only would a mediocre changeup look like a great one next to a 98 mph fastball, but even if he doesn’t throw it very well it greatly complicates a hitter’s approach.