#TeamEntirePitchingStaff

Listening to Jays Talk last year, somebody called in asked something about who Toronto’s fifth starter might be next year.

Mike Wilner basically responded by telling the guy that Toronto fans are spoiled. We’re lucky to have such quality pitching. Most teams, he said, have lousy No. 5 pitchers.

He’s right. We Jays fans are lucky. Whether we’ve got Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow or Brett Cecil taking the hill, we know our teem has a shot to win.

But do you have a favourite?

Marcum’s my man. I was lucky enough to randomly catch his first pro start back on July 18, 2006. He only went five innings, but he held the Texas Rangers to one hit and struck out five. Good numbers to be sure, but it wasn’t what he did that won me over, it was the way he did it.

I love watching pitchers make batters look foolish and Marcum’s changeup does that on a regular basis.

The fact that Marcum has since embraced filth and expanded it beyond his just his pitches (take a look at his cap next time you see him) only makes me love him more.

So what is it? Are you with me on #TeamMarcum or is Romero more your type? Maybe Cecil’s potential is too much for you to resist? How about Morrow’s complete domination of late?

Take a vote in the poll below and, if you’d like to say a little something about your choice, sound off in the comment section.

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Toronto fire services

When the Jays signed Kevin Gregg, I didn’t think it was a very good move. Overspending on a reliever who’s been declining for a couple years — in the N.L. Central no less — and counting on that guy to be your closer in the A.L. East? Seems like questionable decision making at the very least.

Then I read Tao’s great post about the Jays’ closer carousel. It reminded me of some thing I’ve said in the past about what teams should be doing with their best relievers — use them when the game’s on the line, not just in the ninth when the most useless of counting stats is at stake. Taking this view, the signing of Gregg is still not a great one, but it’s not as bad as I once thought.

Scott Downs and Jason Frasor free to pitch in high leverage situations that aren’t the ninth inning? Sign me up!

Some other stuff

In case it wasn’t obvious from the above, I don’t have a whole lot to add to the discussion right now. So here are some links!

• Roundtable time and I’m in two of them! Mop Up Duty’s got the first part of their massive 2010 preview roundtable up and Cardinals blog C70 At the Bat has a Jays roundtable up as well. Check them out and marvel at my inconsistency in picking a breakout player for this year!

• Shaun Marcum gets the nod for opening day and the fan club rejoices.

• Star investigative reporting guru does a nice little feature on Toronto’s sabermetrics adviser Tom Tango. It’s a good read and includes the opinion that it’s not always the worst thing in the world if a batter lays down a sac bunt. Heresy!

• Deadspin heaps some disgusting love on Cito, highlights a video of a man in a Cito mask snorting coke and gives some much deserved and undisgusting love to GROF.

Shaun Marcum signs, fan club rejoices

OK, so maybe the second part of the post title is a little bit of an exaggeration. The Shaun Marcum Fan Club is kind of quiet. But what can you expect when the dude’s missed an entire year?

Anyway, if there’s anybody left kicking around that group, you can bet they’re happy today. Shaun Marcum has signed! While it may be a little early to crown him as the Blue Jays’ new No. 1 pitcher, the move is one that fans should be happy with.

During his last full(ish) season with the Jays, North of Steeles was good for north of six innings per start and held opponents to a WHIP of 1.163 during those 25 starts.

While there seems to be a small movement to hand Marcum the opening day start, I don’t think he needs that kind of pressure this year. If I’m running the team, I slot Marcum into the middle of the rotation and let him work his back up to the top. He’s got the talent to do it.

I’m excited about Canada’s team

Who says the Jays aren't Canada's team?

I never thought trading Roy Halladay would end like this, but I’m pretty damn excited about what’s going on with the Blue Jays right now.

I’m excited because Shaun Marcum will be pitching again next year.

I’m excited because I believe the Jays will be a much more entertaining team much sooner than people expect them to be.

I’m excited because the Jays are getting three very good prospects in return for the Good Doctor.

I’m excited because, at the press conference confirming The Trade, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said this: “We’re on our road to getting back to where we were back in the World Series years. Really, this is the start of it, folks.” And, crazy as it sounds, I believe him.

I’m excited because at that same press conference, Anthopoulos took the time to answer questions in French. Since I can’t figure out how to link directly to the Radio Canada report (three minutes long!) you’ll either have to take my word or search for it yourself.

I know what happened with the Expos, but you can’t tell me that there aren’t baseball fans in Quebec. There is a market there to be tapped and if the Jays really want to call themselves Canada’s team, it’s a market that must be tapped. A GM from Montreal who speaks French at the press conferences is a damn good start.

What else can be done? How about getting some games on RDS or Radio Canada (presuming they’re not already) and bringing in someone like Jacques Doucet to call them? How about playing a weekend series at Olympic Stadium? I for one would love an excuse to make an annual trip to Montreal.

The Jays are already Canada’s team, but only by virtue of being the country’s only team. And yes, people outside of Toronto do care. Check out thanksroy.com if you need proof.

Lastly, I’m excited because even if the Jays do stink it up for a year or two, Doc’s finally got a chance to win. Go Phillies.

I believe in Vernon Wells

Sports and the City is running a little poll. The site’s banner prominently features Doc and the poll is to determine who, if anyone, should replace him up there. Whether you’re like me and you believe Vernon Wells will turn it around and be a productive member of the team again or you’re a realist and you just know that VW is going to be a Blue Jay for the rest of his career, it’s pretty clear that he should be the winner. So go vote for him already!

Farewell, Doc

Over the years, I’ve been known to say things like “Shaun Marcum is the best pitcher the Blue Jays have.” I’ve been known to do things like give John MacDonald my loudest cheers, no matter who else was playing. Hell, I even jumped on the Scott Rolen as Greatest-Blue-Jay-of-all-time train.

Yes, I’ve done these things. But if you paid attention while I was doing them, you’d have noticed a little asterisk somewhere in the vicinity. It’s not that Marcum didn’t deserve praise. It’s not that Johnny Mac didn’t deserve applause. It’s not that Rolen’s brilliance didn’t deserve recognition. They did and do.

No, the asterisk was the unspoken deference to Roy Halladay.

Doc is so good, comparing him to the others doesn’t even seem fair. The man is simply on his own plain.

I think Marcum can be a devastating pitcher, but Doc was not only the Jays’ best pitcher, he is the best in the entirety of Major League Baseball.

MacDonald’s hard work and amazing skill deserve the fan’s love, but Roy works harder than anyone and is better than the best.

Rolen was great, but Halladay is the only real choice as GBOAT.

As Jays’ fans, we’re all lucky to have had him for as long as we did. If you’re a Phillies fan, you have no idea what Doc will do for your team. Not only should he completely destroy the National League, he is the type of player who, through his sheer determination, inspires his teammates and makes the pitchers around him better.

Don’t believe me? How do think A.J. Burnett got to where he is today?

Farewell, Doc. You deserve to win and I hope it can happen for you in Philadelphia.

Marcum! Janssen! The 2009 rehab tour continues

Both Shaun Marcum and Casey Janssen are scheduled to pitch tonight as the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats visit Trenton, N.J., to take on the thunder, a Yankees farm team.

Tonight is expected to be Marcum’s final start before making the trip to Triple-A Las Vegas.

I had no idea Casey was so close to returning to the Jays. Did everyone miss in the non-stop Halladay insanity or am I just stupid?

I had no idea Casey was so close to returning to the Jays. Did everyone miss this in the non-stop Halladay insanity or am I slow?

Janssen, apparently being rehabbed in the role he should be used in (ie the bullpen) is scheduled to pitch one inning tonight and one inning tomorrow before joining ahead of Marcum and coming back to Toronto.

If you’re interested in following this game, milb.com links to audio streams of all the minor league teams, but after trying to listen to Marcum’s first start in New Hampshire, it seems as though you may have to listen to the Trenton stream because the good guys are being bad and won’t stream to Canada for some stupid reason.

More bad McGowan news

Dustin McGowan

Just over a week ago, Alex Antholopous made an appearance on Prime Time Sports and, as the Drunks pointed out, was somewhere south of optimistic when asked about Dustin McGowan’s rehab and if he’d ever pitch again.

I recommend you read the Drunks’ post if you haven’t already, but here’s the main point that Anthopolous made during the interview:

I can comment to say that it’s been a long road back, and it’s been up and down. He made a lot of progress, then he did have a little bit of a setback. I don’t know that we’re prepared to say that he’s never going to come back, I think we’re just going to continue to be hopeful, continue to work with him, and hopefully we’ll have more informati0n at the end of the year.

Doesn’t sound good.

Hot on the heels of that sadness, J.P. is also saying some discouraging things about our favourite mutton chops. Erika Gilbert, Bastian’s intern over at bluejays.com, asked the GM about McGowan:

“Dustin is slow. He’s been a slower process,” Ricciardi said. “I don’t know when he’ll come back.”

When asked if McGowan would ever pitch in the Major Leagues again, Ricciardi could not give a definite answer.

“He’s playing catch,” Ricciardi said. “He can’t get beyond playing catch right now.”

“I don’t know if he’s never going to throw again, but right now, he’s struggling. He’s not where he should be from a rehab standpoint.”

McGowan began throwing again in late May, but he has not made much progress from that point.

Can’t get beyond playing catch. Yikes.

I’m really hoping McGowan can get back to being his old self, the 2010 World Series won’t be the same without him.

Good news for the Shaun Marcum Fan Club though. We all know that Marcum’s ahead of schedule in his recovery, but J.P. went out of his way to allay the fan club’s worst fears, saying that Marcum won’t be rushed back, no matter how tempting it might be.

Marcum’s a huge talent and I don’t think I could ever forgive Jays’ brass if they wreck his chances at long-term awesome by rushing him.