Category: Dustin McGowan

The Blob

Blue Jays starting rotation as The Blob

The blob is nothing if not unpredictable. If you asked the most seasoned baseball analysts and Blue Jay fans in April who would be holding up the back-end of the starting rotation by August, it is unlikely even two of 100 would have chosen Brad Mills and Henderson Alvarez to be there.

The tendency of injury in MLB starting rotations and the depth of talent and competition in the organization have combined to see 10 young pitchers (Romero, Morrow, Reyes, Drabek, Villanueva, Cecil, Litsch, Mills, Stewart, Alvarez), all 27 and under, start for the Blue Birds.

1. Ricky Romero is the only one, who has not missed a start due to injury or seen time in the minors. The top three (Romero, Morrow, Cecil) have, more or less, found their form and consistency.

4. Brad Mills needs a quality start tonight, if he wants to stay out of Las Vegas.

5. Henderson Alvarez will likely get the Zach Stewart treatment: three starts, more if he doesn’t get hit hard.

6. Jesse Litsch remains in the bullpen. He may yet start some games, if others falter or injure.

7. Kyle Drabek, see you in September.

8. Dustin McGowan made the jump to New Hampshire Double-A last week. Eight scoreless innings of work there is a great sign.

9. Joel Carreno. I’m surprised this guy doesn’t get more attention. He’s been projected as a big league reliever, even though he’s arguably been the Fisher Cats ace this season.

10. Chad Jenkins, next September or 2013.

11. Nestor Molina, next September or 2013.

12. Deck McGuire made the jump to New Hampshire, before sitting down for a rest on the 7-day disabled list. Next September at earliest.

The blob’s shifting mass:
  1. Ricky Romero (26)Henderson Alvarez, in the starting rotation for now
  2. Brandon Morrow (27)
  3. Brett Cecil (25)
  4. Brad Mills (26)
  5. ↑Henderson Alvarez (21)
  6. ↓Jesse Litsch (26) – Toronto bullpen
  7. Kyle Drabek (23) – Las Vegas
  8. Dustin McGowan (29) – New Hampshire
  9. Joel Carreno (24) -New Hampshire
  10. ↑Chad Jenkins (23) – New Hampshire
  11. ↑Nestor Molina (22) – New Hampshire
  12. Deck McGuire (22) – New Hampshire (7-day DL)
  13. ↑P.J. Walters – (26) – Las Vegas
  14. ↓Chad Beck (26) – Las Vegas
  15. Robert Ray (27) – Las Vegas
  16. ↑Yohan Pino (27) – New Hampshire
  17. ↑Willie Collazo (31) – New Hampshire
  18. Drew Hutchison (20) – Dunedin
  19. Ryan Tepera (23) -Dunedin
  20. ↑Asher Wojciechowski – Dunedin

The fortune of Brad Mills

Brad Mills makes the rotation, Brad Mills(er) time, starting rotation sweepstakes Jo Jo Reyes is out. Brad Mills is in, at least for today. Jesse Litsch, also called up, will work out of the bullpen, in the wake of the departure of Mark Rzepcynski, Jason Frasor and Octavio Dotel.

Welcome Colby Rasmus. Hopefully, he and Travis Snider will push each other to meet their ubiquitously spoken of potential.

As of Wednesday July 27, GM Alex Anthopolous, video seen at Getting Blanked, had only stated that Brad Mills was called up for temporary bullpen depth, until the Blue Jays new pitchers (P.J. Walters and Trevor Miller) arrived. A decision had not yet been made on who would start Saturday’s game. How quickly things change in these starting rotation sweepstakes. Brad Mills is our #5.

According to Mike Wilner on the Jays Talk, Mills is likely getting the start today as a way of showing him off as potential trade bait, before the deadline strikes Sunday. The following John Farrell quote from bluejays. com, provides some context:

“The fact that Brad has thrown the ball exceptionally well in Las Vegas, I think he’s earned the spot,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s got the opportunity to take this start and run with it.”

Whatever the case may be, Mills deserves at least a 10 game stint in some major league ball club’s starting rotation.

He’s dominated in Triple-A, unlike Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch and Kyle Drabek. He’s got a lot to prove at the big league level, and I think he’s about ready to do it.

Zach Stewart is out, no longer part of the puzzle. Our depth of starting rotation makes losing Zach a moot point, (in the modern sense of the term).

I don’t think Luis Perez has earned his shot in the rotation, though look for him to rejoin the big club’s bullpen soon.

Carlos Villanueva will have to pitch better than he did Thursday over his next three starts, especially if Mills hangs around, Litsch pitches well in long relief and Kyle Drabek continues to bring his ERA back down to Earth.

Exciting times, indeed.

Chad Beck made the jump to Las Vegas this week. Deck McGuire is now a New Hampshire Fisher Cat, and Dustin McGowan is now up to pitching three innings per start with Dunedin. Joel Carreno and Henderson Alvarez are knocking on the Blue Jays door. It will be interesting to see if either gets the chance to show his stuff when the roster expands to 40 come September.

The race is always on. The climb is great – the fall is depth.

  1. Ricky Romero (26)
  2. Brandon Morrow (27)
  3. Brett Cecil (25)
  4. Carlos Villanueva (27)
  5. ↑Brad Mills (26)
  6. ↑Jesse Litsch (26) – Toronto bullpen
  7. ↑Kyle Drabek (23) – Las Vegas
  8. ↑Dustin McGowan (29) – Dunedin
  9. ↑Joel Carreno (24) -New Hampshire
  10. ↑Luis Perez (26) – Las Vegas
  11. ↑Henderson Alvarez (21) – New Hampshire
  12. Chad Jenkins (23) – New Hampshire
  13. ↑Deck McGuire (22) – New Hampshire
  14. ↑Chad Beck (26) – Las Vegas
  15. ↓Scott Richmond (31) – Las Vegas
  16. ↓Robert Ray (27) – Las Vegas
  17. ↑Nestor Molina (22) -Dunedin
  18. ↑B.J. LaMura  (30) – New Hampshire
  19. ↑Drew Hutchison (20) – Dunedin
  20. ↑Ryan Tepera (23) -Dunedin

Gelatinous movement


To animate the notion of a malleable starting rotation, composed of this organization’s top 20 starters, think gelatinous blob. Individual forces push toward and pull back from various spots, while overall movement trends in the same direction.

The blob is getting bigger.

It was last spotted heading south.

Engrossing New York and Boston is only a matter of time.

Brett Cecil is looking more like a #3 man. Tao of Stieb waxes poetic on the thighs of Cecil, which recovered from a rough last outing and a trying stretch to start the game against the Red Sox last night, going the distance in a losing cause at Fenway Park.

8 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 SO

Jesse Litsch got hit hard wearing the Las Vegas 51s uniform July 4. He’ll have to put together a few quality starts in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League before Jays brass will consider moving him back into the rotation. Andrew Stoeten at Drunk Jays Fans speculates on how the starting rotation numbers game may play out. Through two starts for Vegas, the Litsch line does not help his cause in the starting rotation sweepstakes:

6 IP, 8 ER , 16 H, 0 BB, 5 SO

Despite putting together a promising start to the season in Double-A, Reidier Gonzalez is again getting pounded by PCL hitters.

70.1 IP, 2.56 ERA, 1.21 WHIP – New Hampshire

22.1 IP, 11.69 ERA, 2.60 WHIP – Las Vegas 

It is highly unlikely he will be called up to Toronto when the roster expand from 25 to 40.

Joel Carreno has been an Eastern League leader and strikeout master for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 15 games this season.

90.2 IP (7th), 3.18 ERA (8th), 1.18 WHIP (8th), 111 SO (2nd)

Compare with Zach Stewart through 13 starts:

75.2 IP (26th), 4.04 ERA (25th), 1.41 WHIP (27th), 53 SO (41st)

1 Blue Jays Way provides an audio interview with Carreno  from his Lansing Lugnut days, as well as a written interview with Stewart following his recent return to New Hampshire.

Robert Ray, thought to have been released outright by the Blue Jays May 19, 2011, is, in fact, still in the organization. Signed as a free agent on May 21, 2011, Ray has been in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats starting rotation since June 12. He yesterday logged his second quality start in five tries.

27.0 IP, 7.33 ERA, 1.63 WHIP , 23 SO

Since his promotion from Dunedin to New Hampshire, Henderson Alvarez has started nine games for the Fisher Cats.

53.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 37 SO

Also making the jump to the Blue Jays Double-A starting rotation, Chad Jenkins has started five games. The 2009 first round draft pick would also seem to belong.

35.0 IP, 3.34 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 21 SO

Considering the Jays organization has promoted two of its better young pitchers (Drabek and Stewart) directly from Double-A to the Big Leagues, it is within the realm of possibility that Carreno, Alvarez, or Jenkins could get a look sooner than later.

Dustin McGowan, who was reported to have been shut down due to shoulder soreness, did miss a simulated start but threw two bullpen sessions instead last week. Tonight, July 6, he started his second game for the Dunedin Blue Jays, throwing two scoreless innings before youngster Drew Hutchison replaced him.

The 20-year-old Hutchison, a 15th round selection in 2009, has been promoted to Dunedin from the Lansing Lugnuts. In his first two starts, June 26 and July 1, Hutchison did not allow a run. He was pitching in his third game at the time of this posting.

Starting rotation sweepstakes

The race is always on. The climb is great – the fall is depth.
  1. Ricky Romero (26) Joel Carreno, prospect ascending the ranks
  2. Brandon Morrow (26)
  3. Brett Cecil (25) 
  4. Carlos Villanueva (27) 
  5. Jo Jo Reyes (26) 
  6. Brad Mills (26) – Las Vegas
  7. Jesse Litsch (26) – Las Vegas
  8. Kyle Drabek (23) – Las Vegas
  9. Zach Stewart (24) – New Hampshire
  10. Dustin McGowan (29) – Dunedin
  11. Scott Richmond (31) – Las Vegas
  12. Joel Carreno (24) – New Hampshire
  13. Henderson Alvarez (21) – New Hampshire
  14. Chad Jenkins (23) – New Hampshire
  15. Deck McGuire (21) – Dunedin
  16. Nestor Molina (22) – Dunedin
  17. Reidier Gonzalez (25) – Las Vegas
  18. Mike MacDonald (29) – Las Vegas
  19. Chad Beck (26) – New Hampshire
  20. Drew Hutchison (20) – Dunedin

Toronto

3.  Brett Cecil – June 30, 6.1 IP, 6 ER, defensive lapses

5.  Jo Jo Reyes – July 3, 6.0 IP, 4 ER

Las Vegas

6.  Brad Mills –  July 2, 7 IP, 2 ER

7.  Jesse Litsch – July 4, 3 IP, 7 ER

8.  Kyle Drabek – June 30, 6 IP, 1 ER, 0 BB

New Hampshire

9.  Zach Stewart – July 3, 6 IP, O ER (3 R)

Dunedin

10.  Dustin McGowan – July 2, 33 pitches, 2/3 IP, 3 ER, defensive lapses

Following his 30-day rehabilitation, if he is not yet ready to rejoin the Blue Jays, McGowan may rest and/or start a new 30-day rehab stint.

Baseball in J Minor

Jesse Litsch, Lansing to New Hampshire to Las VegasAs it concerns demoted and rehabilitating Blue Jays starters, the news out of New Hampshire is better than out of Las Vegas.

Jesse Litsch barrels along the comeback trail, making the jump from Lansing to New Hampshire. His two starts for the Double-A Fisher Cats have bested the one in A-ball the previous week, where he gave up three runs in two(+) innings of work.

After 3.2 shutout innings June 23, Litsch lasted five innings and gave up one run June 28. His next start will likely take place in a Las Vegas 51s uniform.

The question, however, is whether the Jays starting rotation will a have a space available for Litsch when he is ready. With Villanueva pitching so reliably,  I would be inclined to think not yet.

If anyone gets the yank, it should be Jo Jo Reyes, especially if his next start ends as soon as his last one did (3.2 IP, 6 ER).

The .363 blog posted an interesting take yesterday on the shelf life of Jo Jo.

Brad Mills is not leaving Las Vegas yetBrad Mills is not leaving Las Vegas yet

Brad Mills, June 26, went six innings for the 51s, allowing four earned runs, days before getting passed up for a Toronto promotion. Though he seems to have hit a bit of a rough patch in the Pacific Coast League, statistically, he remains at the top among all starting pitchers there:

3.72 ERA (3rd), 101.2 IP (2nd), 1.28 WHIP (2nd), 92 SO (1st)

Brett Cecil, June 23, also went six innings for the 51s in his last start, allowing five earned runs. The Jays called him up anyway June 29. Cecil’s velocity has returned, touching 93 and averaging 89 mph, which returns the 6-10 mph differential considered necessary for an effective change-up.

Discounting two God-awful performances for Las Vegas, Cecil has almost matched Brad Mills in core performance measurements. Cecil also has something Mills may never have: a 15 win season at the major league level.

In related news, the Zach Stewart flirtation is over. See you in September, Zach. New Hampshire’s lucky to have you. I’m sure you will be fighting hard for your return and a pass to a proper rookie season in 2012.

I still think his ticket ought to include a pass through Las Vegas.

Upon being reactivated to the 25-man roster, Cecil alluded to the very real difference between pitching in the Pacific Coast and Majors, saying he had never had to base pitch selection on which way the wind is blowing. Perhaps it is that sort of thing the Jays want to avoid with Zach Stewart, having returned him to the Fisher Cats of the Double-A Eastern League.

Only nine PCL starting pitchers now hold an ERA below 4.00, while just 27 have ERA below 5.00 in the 16-team league.

Among them, the Jays forgettable 5th starter of Spring 2010, Dana Eveland, is enjoying a bit of success in that league. His 7-4 record and 3.86 ERA through 16 starts (91 IP) for the Albuquerue Isotopes may serve to give the 27-year-old another shot with a major league club. Just so long as it’s not with the Jays, preferably with an AL East squad. Eveland went 3-4 with a 6.45 ERA in 44.2 IP before the Jays traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ronald Uviedo, June 1, 2010.

As regards another former 5th starter, I would be shocked to ever see Scott Richmond start a regular season game for the Blue Jays. The #3 man in Las Vegas, has gone 4-6 with a 6.26 ERA and given up 14 HR in hitter-friendly air. In my estimation, the April 2009 MLB rookie of the month, now sits 11th in the organization’s depth chart.

My characterization of depth chart is one of constant malleability that considers current performance, health, and major league readiness as its main criteria, but also takes into account perceived statistical blips and temporary setbacks, such as in the case of Brett Cecil. My top five, though not in the same order as Bluejays. com or Torontostar. com, will not include players outside the starting rotation.

That said, when Litsch was still with the Lansing Lugnuts and Cecil still finding his form with the Las Vegas 51s, I believe Brad Mills was the most deserving candidate to take on the spot surrendered by Kyle Drabek.

Since Mark Rzepczynski has adjusted so well to his new role as lefty-specialist in middle relief, I’ve left him off this list.

  1. Ricky Romero
  2. Brandon Morrow
  3. Brett Cecil
  4. Carlos Villanueva
  5. Jo Jo Reyes
  6. Jesse Litsch
  7. Brad Mills
  8. Kyle Drabek
  9. Zach Stewart
  10. Dustin McGowan
  11. Scott Richmond
The oft-injured Robert Ray, who filled in adequately in the 2010 Jays rotation (4 GS, 24.1 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1-2) and pitched 3.2 innings of shutout relief last September, was released May 19, 2011. Dustin McGowan, contrary to first report, has not been shut down due to forearm stiffness. He threw a full bullpen session Monday. I’ll be waiting on the proverbial seat-edge to learn whether he pitches his next scheduled simulated game. To see him rejoin the starting rotation in September would be a thing of miraculous beauty.

Out of the “Wilnerness”

Out of the Wilnerness, Indiana, Mike Wilner, Adam Lind,

From the native land of Adam Lind, it’s Chris from Indiana,  a first-time caller. That’s me. Or at least it was tonight on Jays Talk with sports personality Mike Wilner. 

I gotta say, I can’t wait to get back to Toronto, see some great friends, pay my respects to the Island, and make that 500-level season pass pay.

One week and counting, down.

Visiting with Roy Halladay, before an “engaging” party with some of those great friends will be just what the Doc ordered for this Canada Day weekend. 

Baseball North, here I come.

Despite how fast I spoke and stuttered, I managed to articulate my confusion (or confuse my articulation) about the Sisyphean comeback of Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan.

On Mike Wilner’s Tim Freaking Hudson post, drag the little grey bar of the audio to 56 minutes 15 seconds for a listen.

Mike Wilner: Chris is in Indiana, Chris.

Chris: Yes, I was…..I love the show. I was hoping you might help me better understand the Dustin McGowan situation. I read in one of the major papers that there’s 30 days from the end of extended spring training June 8 for the Jays to decide whether to put him on the 25-man roster or put him through waivers. And I also heard Anthopoulos talking today on the radio about…he was musing cautiously about putting him in the rotation for September and the timeline’s for September. I’m just wondering how the contract and the situation works out in terms of the roster moves the Jays would have to make. Assuming he….

MW: If you bring him up in September, you don’t have to make any move. Rosters are expanded in September, but they would have to make room for him on the 40-man roster, which is full right now. He’s on the 60-day disabled list, so he doesn’t take up a space on the 40-man roster. What you heard about 30 days from the end of extended spring-training is not really true. We had been led to believe that, but we now understand that you can still keep a guy…..even though extended spring training is over, and it’s over now. You don’t have to send a guy out on a rehab assignment until he’s ready to rehab. So Dustin McGowan’s not ready to rehab yet. Once he goes out on an official rehab assignment, it can be no more than 30 days. And at the end of those 30 days, if he’s healthy, he has to come to the major leagues or…..McGowan, in McGowan’s case because he’s out of options, he would have to be put on waivers, if they want to keep him down in the minor leagues.

Chris: Okay, I think I got it. Thanks a lot.

MW: Alright, you’re welcome, and since the Blue Jays are saying early September -that’s what Alex Anthopoulos said today- that means he’s not going to go out on the rehab assignment until early August. And they’re being very very careful with him. At the end of June, he’s going to go three innings every five days. He’s going to do that twice. Then, he’s going to do four innings every five days twice, then five innings every five days twice, and they’re going to hopefully get him up to seven. And if he’s capable of doing that, it’s a minor miracle for one thing, and it’s fantastic news for another. And then Dustin McGowan will come back, if all goes well, be in the rotation next year, and he’s a free agent after next year (laughs). So we’ll see how that works.

Most days, I’m here without a phone, but Skype got the job done, mostly. 

Here’s the text from my follow-up question and answer in the comments section from Miked Up:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for clearing up some of the confusion around Dustin McGowan scenarios. I meant to ask, if all goes well, and he begins his rehab assignment say August 1, how will the Jays have been preparing him up to that point? How will he be incrementally “gaming up” to August 1, without the benefit of pitching to batters like in extended spring training? The IBL Leafs could always use another reliever! I jest, but am curious whether rules exist that would preclude him from pitching a little semi-professional or amateur ball.

MW: Yes, those rules exist. But he can pitch simulated games to real batters, and that’s what he’s going to be doing up until it’s time to send him out on the official assignment.

Right after my call is an amusing affirmation of the truly acrobatic nature of John McDonald’s game.

Johnny Mac, Wizard, Genius

MW: Dave is in Guelph. Hey Dave.

Dave: I’m just a huge fan of Johnny Mac.

MW: Well, who isn’t?

Dave: Well, he’s a wizard in the infield, acrobat in the outfield.

MW: What?

Dave: Johnny Mac?

MW: He’s played maybe two innings in the outfield in his life.

Dave: Well…

MW: I wouldn’t go so far as…..

Dave: Well, he’s an acrobat.

MW: Okay.

Dave: Anyways, he’s good on defense.

MW: Yes, he is.

Baseball in J Minor

Jesse Litsch in J Minor

Jesse the Litsch threw 2+ innings for the Lansing Lugnuts yesterday, as part of his rehabilitaton. Read of that drama at 1 Blue Jays Way.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club, who play every Saturday (2pm) at Christie Pits, have finally updated their website to one that is less reminiscent of the video game Pong.

Paul Spoljaric retired

Former Canadian Olympian Paul Spoljaric has retired. Spoljaric pitched six seasons in the big leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. He hung on until age 40, pitching among the best of the Intercounty Baseball League for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Barrie Baycats.

Former Jays badboy Josh Towers left his job with the Diablos Rojos of Mexico City for a return to employment in United States with the Camden Riversharks of the Independent Atlantic Professional Baseball League. More updates on Josh to come.

The Odyssey, By Dustin McGowan update

Alex Anthopolous cautiously mused about the possibility of Dustin McGowan, who touched 96 m.p.h. the other day, joining the starting rotation come September. How this would relate to his status on the Blue Jays roster, and another potential contract renewal, will depend largely on his progress in the 30 days following the end of extended spring training, at which time McGowan will have to either join the 25-man roster or clear waivers, in order to continue rehabbing with a Jays minor league outfit.

Anthopoulos spoke this afternoon with Bob McCown and Stephen Brunt on Prime Time Sports about Dustin, the state of the Blue Jays rotation, and the implications of Yunel Escobar’s new contract.

The Odyssey of Dustin McGowan

On Wednesday, April 9, 2008, as the Toronto Blue Jays took on the Oakland Athletics, attendance was a meager 16,102 at Rogers Center. I was on a first date with a cute girl, a serious baseball fan from Japan. It was her first time going to a Major League Baseball game, and it was my last time watching Dustin McGowan pitch. Normally a 500 level dweller, but looking to impress, I purchased tickets in the 100 level. Our seats were in row 13, aisle 115, right by Mr. Overbay and within decent sight range of McGowan’s new lamb chops.

The brilliance of Harry Leroy Halladay and the hype surrounding Allan James Burnett had pushed the emergence of Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and underdog Jesse Litsch somewhat to the background in 2007. But with each young starter having established himself as part of the rotation that season, the future looked bright, indeed. And so it still was on that crisp Spring evening.

He started strong and struggled a little in the 4th and 5th innings.

“He’s young, but has a lot of talent,” I assured my seatmate.

Not quite a quality start, but a respectable one, walking three and striking out seven, allowing just two runs over five innings in a no-decision. The Jays would ultimately lose 6-3. But despite the loss and some less than culturally sensitive words thrown by hecklers in the direction of the Athletics Hawaiian (and Japanese-American) catcher Kurt Suzuki:

“You’re not even Japanese, Suzuki,”

the game, like every trip to the ballpark, was enjoyable in its own way.

While McGowan didn’t get the win, I did get the girl, with whom I would return to the Rogers Centre when the Jays took on superstar and occasional comedian Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners.

She especially enjoyed that game, from where we sat in right field to be closer to the “Hercules” of Japanese baseball.

I likewise would have soaked up every one of 101 pitches thrown by Dustin McGowan that April 9, had I the slightest inkling that it might be the last time I would see him pitch live. All that power, along with his considerable arsenal of pitches, were analysed in poignant fashion at Baseball Analysts.

What hope Jays fans had for McGowan would be somewhat dashed three months later when it was announced he would have season-ending surgery on a frayed labrum in his shoulder. His career, and the hopes it roused, were further threatened when in July, 2009, another surgery was announced, this time on his knee to repair cartilage damage.

The bright lights that once shone upon the right-hander all but burnt out, when, in June of 2010,  news broke that McGowan would undergo season ending surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff.  In the realm of the ridiculous, the McGowan situation and the possible role the now 29-year-old might play, if he does make a return to the Jays roster this year, is entertainingly measured at Getting Blanked

In terms of his roster status with the Jays, as May 27 bleacher report article indicates, a decision must be made within 30 days of the end of extended spring training, June 8. He would have to clear waivers, in order to qualify himself with a Jays minor league outfit OR……… re-join the Blue Jays and its active 25-man roster in Toronto for the first time in about 1000 days.

The most improved Blue Jay of 2007 was once thought to have possessed the 4th best fastball in Major League Baseball.

His cutter was recently clocked at 95 mph. Not bad for a guy who’s looked deep into the abyss of a baseball-less future.

Fall Classic


Fernando  Valenzuela, Campeche, mayan, Fall ClassicCAMPECHE, Mexico – Across the street from El Estadio Nelson Barrera, where Fernando Valenzuela was thought to be discovered, from my bedroom in the Mexican family home I stay, through my laptop and the MLB online stream, it was a thing of beauty to watch the final home game of Cito Gaston and all the bells and whistles that came with it.

A speech from his old roommate Hank Aaron, glowing words from champion Blue Jays Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar, along with a standing ovation from a packed “SkyDome” and a single tear from a grateful Gaston, conjured the collective joy last felt in 1993.

It was a thing of nostalgia to realize how his leadership of our dear ball club and his presence in our beloved city interconnected with so many great memories from childhood: like game 6 of the 1992 World Series when we leapt out of our seats and ran onto the field to celebrate via Jumbotron with our Jays in Atlanta. A friend had gotten overexcited as the gates opened earlier that night and disappeared in the crowd, charging up to the 500 level, never to be seen again.

It was a last call with Cito, the closing time on the last three seasons of ball games I attended or logged by TV in varying states of elation, frustration, and drunkeness . It was time for him to go, but as a hard man of steely nerve, he is a hard man not to respect, unless you get into the Bob McCowan v. Cito Gaston controversy of yesteryear.

In spite of the near incomprehensible fall from grace of both Adam Lind and Aaron Hill — see .305 and .286 BA. (2009) to .237 and .205 for Lind and Hill respectively, 2010 was the most exciting season of Blue Jays baseball since 1993. Motherload of slumps and all, Lind-Hill still managed to combine for49 dingers.

The team statistics speak for themselves in aesthetically pleasing fashion:

595 extra base hits (team record)

.454 slugging % (mlb leader)

257 team dingers (mlb leader)

54 Bautista dingers (mlb leader)

7 players with 20+ dingers

4 pitchers w/ 10+ wins

Had we maintained an above .500 W-L record through interleague play, as opposed to a dismal 9-17 mark, we would have fought for the wild in September. It was that close.

The bullpen often seemed shaky with a seeming inability to nail down saves i.e. preserving wins for our starters.

Consider:

0/2= 0%  Brian Tallet

0/2= 0% Scott Downs

2/4= 50% Sean Camp

4/8= 50% Jason Frasor

37/43= 86% Kevin Gregg

That’s 16 games the Jays led late in the game, almost all of which were lost. In an ideal baseball world, without an interleague meltdown, where our bullpen had been perfect, we would have amassed a dominant and best ever 100- 62 record, 1 win better than the 1985 squad with Tom Henke as closer. Not the most likely scenario since few teams have converted 100% of save opportunities.

What shocked me is that the Jays finished the season a respectable 5th place in MLB with 45 saves converted. But I would sooner tempt a 53-year-old Tom Henke out of retirement than endure the torture of another season of K-Gregg’s semi-calculated melodramatics: all those BB’s to go for the easiest possible outs.

Whoever next year’s closer, with three of our top four 2010 starters (Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil) returning a year wiser, and Kyle Drabek, Mark Rzepczynski, Jesse Litsch and Brad Mills battling for spots, with Dustin McGowan just maybe on the mend, a full season of opportunity for T-Snyde, Arencibia, and Escobar, a return to form by Lind and Hill, and anything near a repeat season from Bautista; the future looks bright. Then again, the future always shines bright for the Toronto Blue Jays. Every year, we are one year closer to the next time we win another World Series.