Ricky Romero Rumors
ESPN analysts Jim Bowden, Buster Olney and Keith Law ranked all 30 Major League teams according to strength of their Major League roster, quality of the farm system, financial strength, management and mobility of contracts and aggregated the scores to come up with the latest edition of their Future Power Rankings (ESPN Insider required and recommended). The Red Sox currently top the list based on their strong Major League and minor league rosters as well as the fact that they've committed just under $14MM to the 2016 season currently, giving them plenty of long-term flexibility.
Here's more on the AL East...
- Grantland's Jonah Keri looks at the Red Sox' bright future and writes that the team is essentially playing "moneyball" but doing so while also being able to outspend their opposition. Writes Keri: The Red Sox have begun combining their substantial resources with the obsessive advantage-seeking mind-set of a small-revenue club, and in so doing have set themselves up to vie for championships in 2014 and beyond." Keri examines Boston's innovative approaches in four main areas: health, platoons, shifts and prospects.
- Entering camp, Ricky Romero didn't seem to be a legitimate candidate for the Blue Jays' rotation, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. However, Chisolm says that Romero's strong early performance has caught the attention of the club, and he's shown some flashes of the pitcher he used to be prior to his unexpected collapse. At this point, Romero's strong Spring Training has him in the mix for a spot in the rotation. Any form of resurrection for Romero would be excellent news for the Jays, as the left-hander is still guaranteed $15.6MM through 2015.
- Orioles top prospect Kevin Gausman is hoping to force the team's hand and work his way into the rotation out of Spring Training, but that probably won't happen, writes MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli. Gausman has added 12 to 15 pounds of muscle, cleaned up his delivery and begun wearing glasses while pitching, and the early results have looked good.
- MLB.com's Bryan Hoch reports that the Yankees are planning to give Alfonso Soriano a look at first base to improve his versatility, but there's been no talk of him seeing any time at second base.
Romero, at one point, was considered the team's ace following a 225-inning effort that saw him post a 2.92 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 2011. After finishing 10th in the AL Cy Young voting that season, Romero returned to post a 5.77 ERA in 181 innings. Romero dealt with injuries in both knees and underwent elbow surgery following the 2011 season, which could explain the steep decline in his performance. He's twice been removed from the team's 40-man roster and has a combined 5.67 in 135 minor league innings from 2012-13.
Romero is owed $7.5MM in 2014 and again in 2015 after agreeing to a five-year, $30.1MM contract extension with the Jays back in August of 2010. Toronto holds a $13.1MM club option on Romero for the 2016 season which is all but certain to be declined barring a sudden turnaround.
Nickeas, 30, hit .166/.255/.251 in 200 plate appearances at Buffalo this season after coming to the Blue Jays from the Mets in last winter's R.A. Dickey blockbuster.
It's been a disappointing season for the Blue Jays, who announced earlier this week that Jose Bautista would be shut down through season's end. Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos made a radio appearance with Greg Brady and Jim Lang on Sportsnet 590 earlier today to discuss the team (audio link). For those who don't have time to listen to the whole interview, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith has transcribed Anthopoulos' comments. Here are some more highlights...
- The Blue Jays were focused on adding quality innings to their rotation this past offseason, as evidenced by the acquisition of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. One element Anthopoulos says the Jays should have been more focused on is the team's defense. He also stresses it's important to reassess their thinking from last offseason: "You have to look back. If you're going to be arrogant and stubborn and think you had all the answers and 'oh it just didn't work out,' I don't think you're going to get any better."
- Anthopoulos feels that, from a defensive standpoint, rookie Ryan Goins could be the best second baseman the Blue Jays have had since Orlando Hudson in his prime. Indeed, both UZR/150 (+40.6) and The Fielding Bible (+6 runs) rave about Goins defense in an admittedly microscopic 99-inning sample size. He adds that over the past month, Brett Lawrie has been as locked-in defensively (and offensively) as he's ever been.
- The Blue Jays will talk to their medical and training staff and try to decide by mid-October whether or not they will extend a qualfying offer of roughly $14MM to Johnson.
- Anthopoulos called Ricky Romero on the phone late in August to see how the left-hander was feeling. He asked where Romero was at in terms of wanting to come up for September, and whether heading home for the winter to be away from the grind of a long season was the best thing for him from a mental standpoint. Romero wanted to come up and be a part of the team, even with no guarantee of innings pitched or appearances. Anthopoulos adds that he told Romero, who is owed $7.5MM in 2014 and 2015, that he will likely be removed from the 40-man roster again this winter. Romero will be given a clean slate in 2014 and a chance to win a spot on the roster, according to the GM.
- Asked about the possibility of listening to trade offers on Bautista, Anthopoulos replied: "I always [listen on every player], and I tell the players that and I've had players ask me. As a policy, we don't have no-trade clauses on this team, and the question always comes up, 'Well, do you think I might get traded?' and so on. I tell them, 'Look, if I can guarantee you wouldn't get traded, I'd be very comfortable giving you a full no-trade, and we wouldn't have to have this discussion.'" Anthopoulos said it's very hard to trade his best players though, as it's usually a case of creating a new hole in order to fill an existing one.
- The Blue Jays are encouraged by the strong second-half showings of Dickey and Buehrle and will likely look to add another arm to the rotation via free agency or trade.
The Blue Jays announced via press release that the team has outrighted struggling pitcher Ricky Romero off of the club's 40-man roster. The move was made to open a roster spot for righty Ramon Ortiz. Romero will continue to pitch in Triple-A, having already been optioned to the minors.
Notably, as Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tweets, Romero had to pass through waivers before he could be outrighted. That means that every MLB club passed on the chance to take on Romero's contract. The former Opening Day starter is in the midst of what seemed to be a team-friendly five-year, $30.1MM extension (which included a 2016 club option at $13.1MM) that he inked in August of 2011.
Looking back one year after that deal was signed, both team and player seemed happy. Now, however, Romero's well-documented struggles make the remainder of the contract look like an unwelcome burden to the Jays. After an abysmal 2012 season and poor spring saw Romero begin the year in the low minors, he was called up for two ill-fated big league starts. The former staff ace allowed five walks, seven hits, and six earned runs over just 4 1/3 innings in those outings, and has continued to struggle since being demoted to Triple-A. With Romero no longer clogging up a roster spot, the team will have little incentive but to remain patient and allow him to try and work his way back to form.
The home run by the Athletics' Adam Rosales that never was on Wednesday could become the shot heard around the world in the debate over instant replay. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle are both advocating for a five-man umpiring crew. Haudricourt rebuts arguments that it is too expensive to add a fifth umpire or too time consuming to expand replay noting MLB is an $8B industry and the discussions over blown calls waste more time than a replay. Slusser supports a fifth umpire to monitor games from a booth in the press box and a neutral crew in New York of perhaps three people to have access to all available replay angles and make the final call on all video reviews. John Shea, Slusser's colleague at the Chronicle, doesn't believe expanded replay will help immediately because, until umpires are better held accountable for their errors, you cannot trust the people overseeing the system. Let's review the news from the American League East:
- Wei-Yin Chen left today's game with what the Orioles are calling a strained right oblique although the lefty hopes it is only a cramp and will be evaluated on their off day, tweets Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. The Orioles have several in-house options, if Chen lands on the disabled list, tweets CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff, including Jair Jurrjens, who has a June 15 opt-out clause. Jake Arrieta, another possible in-house candidate, did not make his scheduled start in Triple-A today because of a tender shoulder, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN.com (via Twitter).
- The Yankees will soon face some tough decisions regarding roster spots and playing time as several of their injured players are nearing a return to action, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Blue Jays will remain patient with Ricky Romero because of the $23.1MM guaranteed the left-hander through 2015, even if it is just to make him attractive in a trade, according to the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. That patience will be further tested by Romero's dismal debut at Triple-A Buffalo yesterday: six runs allowed on ten hits with five walks, a balk, and a wild pitch in 3 2/3 innings. "I guess it’s a little disappointing to see those numbers but I know he’s still working hard and I still think he’s on the right path,” Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
The 30-year-old Germano has appeared in one game for the Jays this season after signing a minor-league deal with the club in the offseason. Toronto promoted him on April 27 after they designated fellow pitcher Aaron Laffey for assignment.
Germano pitched 23 innings for Triple-A Buffalo this year while posting a 6.65 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 0.8 BB/9. The righty has also pitched for the Padres, Reds, Indians, Red Sox, and Cubs over the course of his big league career, compiling a 5.29 career ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 along the way.
The Blue Jays optioned Romero to High-A Dunedin in late March in an effort to get his mechanics ironed out. The pitcher is owed $7.5MM in each of the next three seasons and Toronto was willing to be patient with him as he worked through his issues.
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (on Twitter) reported yesterday that the Blue Jays were gearing up to designate Germano for assignment in order to make room for Romero.
Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes was surprised when Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports pointed out that his new team is off the the same 2-5 start as the Marlins were a year prior. Reyes, however, isn't worried about his team's outlook: "...there’s no concern at all. There’s way too much talent on this ballclub to continue to play the way we’re playing.” Here are some more links from baseball's two Eastern divisions...
- WEEI.com's Rob Bradford hears that the Red Sox are not interested in trading for Aaron Harang (Twitter link). Reports over the weekend linked Boston to the recently DFA'ed right-hander.
- Offseason acquisition Denard Span has given the Nationals a "new kind of offensive identity," writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The presence of Span and Jayson Werth atop the lineup forces pitchers to work, given the high volume of pitches the pair averages per plate appearance. Werth and Adam LaRoche both offer high praise for the Nats' new leadoff man, who was acquired from the Twins for Alex Meyer this offseason.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca chronicles the early work that former Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero has done so far in his attempts to rediscover his mechanics. As Dividi notes, given the $7.5MM owed to Romero in each of the next three seasons, Toronto has no reason to rush and every reason to make sure they get it right.
- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that struggling ace Roy Halladay will have as long of a leash as he needs to get things sorted out: "If he needs 30 starts he’ll get it. As long as he’s healthy and he keeps working at it -- as much as he needs."
- Chris Dickerson is set to be added to the Orioles' 40-man and 25-man roster today, but speculation that it could result in a Steve Pearce DFA doesn't make sense, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports, who hears that the upcoming move won't involve Pearce.
The Yankees will finish in last place, predicts Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Predicting the AL East is no easy task, that's for sure. The latest from baseball's eastern division teams:
- The Yankees need another Aaron Small-type hidden gem this year, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The team is facing some derision for recent veteran pickups like Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay, but Sherman feels the front office has earned the benefit of the doubt given its success with these types of additions.
- The Blue Jays and starter J.A. Happ first discussed an extension in the offseason when they were doing his arbitration case, GM Alex Anthopoulos told Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. The agreement was reached before Happ found out he'd made the Opening Day rotation, said the pitcher. The Jays guaranteed Happ's final arbitration year in 2014 and also snagged a club option for '15.
- Happ beat out Ricky Romero for the Jays' fifth starter job, even though Romero is owed $7.5MM this year. Romero, who was optioned to High-A, told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, "I don’t belong here to be honest with you. This is not for me."
- The Mets are not yet convinced Ruben Tejada is their shortstop of the future, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Gavin Cecchini is Baseball America's top-rated shortstop in the Mets' farm system, but he was drafted out of high school last summer.
- The Nationals are a scouting-first organization, but GM Mike Rizzo is open-minded to suggestions from their two top analytics people, Adam Cromie and Samuel Mondry-Cohen, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The team has its own formula to evaluate defense and its own version of wins above replacement.
Toronto had reportedly been deciding whether to allow the former Opening Day starter and All-Star to work out his issues on the big league club, or whether instead to turn to J.A. Happ to fill out the rotation, as CBS Sports' Danny Knobler explained earlier today. In conjunction with the Romero move, Happ has been told that he will be the fifth starter by GM Alex Anthopoulos, Davidi further tweets.
When the Blue Jays committed $30.1MM to Ricky Romero last August, he had just 52 MLB starts to his name. But the Toronto front office was less concerned about his relative inexperience than the reality that pitchers’ throwing arms are often fragile.
“I think the risks are pretty obvious with health,” GM Alex Anthopoulos said last August 14th. “You’re always concerned with respect to health.”
In the year and two weeks since Romero signed his five-year extension, he has logged 238 innings, including 181 this year. When the left-hander looks back at the first year of the deal, he evaluates himself on his ability to stay on the field.
“Oh yeah, I think it’s health,” he said, crediting Toronto’s training staff. “That’s the big thing for anyone - to stay healthy. That’s the biggest concern - if you’re going to be able to last the whole season and not break down.”
If Romero (pictured) looked at the stat sheet, he’d find himself in the top ten in the American League in ERA (4th, 2.78), but he doesn’t evaluate himself on ERA, wins, xFIP or any statistic other than innings pitched.
“No, not at all,” he said. “For me I take pride in just going out there and giving my team a chance to win and racking up innings. If I do that and have quality outings? I’m good with that. I feel like I’ve done that this year.”
The numbers confirm that Romero has been effective. He has a 3.13 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 238 innings since finalizing the deal, which set a record for pitchers with less than two full years of MLB service. At the time of the extension, the Jays were willing to enter unchartered territory with the 2005 first rounder since they looked forward to seeing him develop into their ace.
“We see a guy like Ricky continuing to improve,” Anthopoulos said last year. “We think he’s going to be an innings eater, we think he’s going to be a horse. We think he’s going to continue to evolve.”
Jon Lester and Yovani Gallardo, whose extensions figured prominently into the Blue Jays’ deal with Romero, have both taken steps forward since signing their respective contracts. Like the Blue Jays, the Red Sox and Brewers are getting what they paid for - and then some. Despite the similarities between his career and theirs, Romero doesn’t watch Lester and Gallardo any more attentively than he watches others.
“Whenever they’re on TV or there are highlights of them, yeah I’ll watch,” Romero said. “But I like watching baseball highlights period. It doesn’t matter who it is. I don’t pay any extra attention to them. They’re both great pitchers and having good years too.”
Romero’s extension won’t expire before 2015 (the Blue Jays have a club option for 2016), so they have reason to look well beyond 2011. Though there are no guarantees in baseball, especially for pitchers, Romero says his arm feels as good as ever.
“I’m feeling great,” he said. “I think as the season goes on I continue to get stronger and that’s what you’re looking for.”
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.