Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Romero, O Romero, Wherefore Art Thou?

So this post won't be nearly as extensive as my most recent epic tome on the subject of the assessment of prospects.

I'm going to throw my hat into the ring of Ricky Romero speculation today.

Let's review what has happened with Ricky over his career:

1. Ricky overcomes struggles in the minors to make the major league squad in 2009, posting a 2.8 fWAR season .

2. Ricky does (statistically) better and better over the following two seasons, with improvements in almost every category each year.

3. In 2012, Ricky is named Opening Day starter and anointed the staff "ace," and goes out and has a horrible year -- mainly because he can't throw strikes.

4. Ricky comes into 2013 Spring Training as the 5th starter due to the newly acquired studs.

5. Ricky doesn't show much improvement in Spring Training despite trying to throw more sinkers at first.

6. The Blue Jays announce that he's going to be working on a mechanical adjustment in his next start.

I'm going to peer into my crystal ball and say that there's a VERY good chance that Ricky Romero will start 2013 in Buffalo.

There are a whole lot of factors that have gone into this particular instance of crystal ball peerage.  The first is that Ricky hasn't been better, or shown any indications that he WILL be better, in Spring Training this year.  The second is that J.A. Happ has consistently outpitched Romero.  While the Jays have assured the media that Ricky would be #5 and Happ would start in AAA (as the #6 starter), John Gibbons has gone on the record to say that they were going to take the best team north to Toronto.  The team that gives them the best chance to win (at this point) is one that includes J.A. Happ over Ricky Romero.

The third factor is the public discontentment that Happ has expressed about going back to the minors as a guy who has a track record as a completely useful, decent enough ML calibre #5 starter.  While the large contract that the Jays signed Happ to in the off-season is indicative of a reward to compensate him for possibly spending time in Buffalo (the Jays signed a similar deal with Josh Thole), no one wants to be in the minors instead of the majors.  While the Jays probably wouldn't care about what Happ says, in this case, he is the player that is performing better and the Jays will have to deal with him at some point if they are going to avoid him spreading grumpiness in Buffalo.

The last factor is that the mechanical change offers the Jays and Romero an excuse to have him start in AAA if they don't result in immediately better performances on the field.  At the end of Spring Training, the Jays can simply say that Romero hasn't quite adjusted to his mechanical tweaks and that they want him to spend some time away from the intensity of a season in which the team has very high expectations.

Ricky, meet Buffalo.

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