Monday, March 22, 2010

Jays name Shaun Marcum opening day starter

The Blue Jays are set to usher in a new era in 2010, one that does not include former staff ace Roy Halladay. For the first time in eight years, Doc will not start opening day. Instead, that honour will is bestowed upon Shaun Marcum. Halladay established a franchise record with seven consecutive opening day starts, but his time in Toronto is now in the rear view mirror, leaving Marcum as the main man entrusted with the duties of a #1 starter.

The 28 year old has the most big league starting experience of the pitching staff, so the Jays placed the righty on a pitching schedule that would line up with starting opening day against Texas. In 64 career starts, the gritty Marcum has posted a 3.85 ERA. Two years ago he emerged as one of the A.L. East's best young hurlers, posting a dazzling 2.43 ERA over his first 14 starts.

As that season wore on, however, Marcum's unconventional throwing motion caught up him and his throwing arm wore down. He ultimately had to undergo Tommy John Surgery on his elbow, causing him to miss the entire 2009 campaign. His road to recovery is now complete, and he will be leaned upon to be a team leader in an inexperienced clubhouse.

The team has to move forward without relying upon the 2003 A.L. CY Young award winner. This isn't Doc Halladay's pitching staff anymore. It's Shaun Marcum's.

Jays shut down McGowan for the week

It was always a little bit of a stretch to expect Dustin McGowan to fully recover from his shoulder injury in time for the 2010 campaign after missing the entire '09 season. The Jays have decided to shut down the 27 year old righty for at least a week following his latest minor league assignment, making it increasingly likely he won't begin the campaign in Toronto.

McGowan was hopeful he'd make the starting rotation coming out of spring training, but after throwing 36 pitches in a Triple-A game and topping out at just 88 MPH (having consistently hit 95 MPH on the radar gun prior to the injury), the club had seen enough. McGowan is in the midst of a "dead arm" period, making him become more fatigued adjusting to his regular throwing program this spring.

The former 13 game winner, who hasn't played in a major league game since July 8, 2008, will likely start the year on the DL. The organization has to feel it's the most prudent course of action especially given the bevy of young pitchers vying for jobs within the pitching staff. It only makes sense to ensure McGowan is 100% healthy so he doesn't suffer a lengthy setback again.

Let's hope we don't go too long without seeing the man formerly known for his "mutton chops" in a Blue Jays uniform this season.

The future is now for Travis Snider

There has been much speculation and discussion about whether or not Travis Snider should head north with the Blue Jays to start the season. Let me try to put an end to it: The future is now for Snider and the Toronto Blue Jays. The stocky 22 year old has shown glimpses of greatness in parts of two big leagues seasons and spring training this year to show that the Jays simply need to have him start the campaign as a member of the Blue Birds.

A couple of days ago Snider belted three home runs in consecutive at bats in spring training. His raw power is so astounding that it's a matter of when, not if, he'll break out at the big league level. His situation is not unlike what faced Adam Lind a few years ago. Lind, a silver slugger winner in '09, displayed flashes of brilliance mixed in with inconsistency over the course of a couple of seasons. The organization was patient with him and they were rewarded with a monster year. Snider has all the tools to be a very good hitter, he just needs at bats against major league pitching. The team must be prepared to take the good with the bad, because he'll likely rack up strike outs before he gets more consistent.

The '06 first round pick has a vastly underrated aspect of his game, which is his defense. While he'll likely never win a gold glove in the outfield, he moves surprisingly quick for such a compact man, and makes smart decisions in left and right field last year. Just like patience should be preached at the plate with a young ball player, same goes for his defensive capabilities also.

With another year under his belt, Snider has learned to manage the ups and downs that go along with being a major leaguer. He's more comfortable in his surroundings which should lead to greater results. It's all but a certainty that in due time, the team will have one heck of a ball player in Travis Snider.