It is one of my Principles of Baseball Thinking that you must make up your mind slowly. Make judgements slowly. Come to conclusions slowly.
No, more slowly than that.
One of my own longterm gripes about Toronto's current management crew is that they often seem to make decisions in a somewhat random, haphazard manner. They often seem to be acting on the spur of the moment, without bothering with second thoughts or reconsideration. Flying by the seat of their pants. Reacting to events, rather than charting a course and preparing for contingencies. Maybe it's an AL East thing.
By contrast, one might consider the example of Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz in Atlanta. It's barely May, and other teams are already making on-the-fly adjustments, already tossing overboard the carefully laid plans of the off-season - and all based on the results of a handful of games, over the first few weeks of the season. Not Cox and Schuerholz. You want proof? Last night the Braves ran Mark Redman out to the mound. Again. Redman had gone 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA in his first four starts, and he didn't disappoint last night - the Phillies knocked him out of the game in the second inning. I think Redman's chances of making it through the end of May as part of the Atlanta rotation are somewhat less than zero - but imagine if he worked for one of the AL East outfits. Two weeks ago he'd have been in the bullpen, or in Triple A, or designated for assignment, or (if he played for the Yankees) entering a witness protection program somewhere. You have to admire Cox and Schuerholz' commitment to their own judgement, and their willingness to stick by it until forced to act otherwise. Until persuaded by the actual evidence. These are not qualities I associate with the Toronto management team.
Well, what the hell do Cox and Schuerholz know about winning in the major leagues?
Mark Redman is doing his best to force the Braves to make a judgement, and I expect he will soon force their hand - but no one will be able to say the team acted hastily, or impulsively, or irrationally. And sticking with him for an extra start or two or three may very well have cost them a game or two. A close pennant race, like the 2007 season in the NL East promises to be, may very well come down to a game or two. But the principle of judging and deciding and assessing in this manner, as a way of conducting your business, is ultimately is worth much, much more than two particular games in April or May. The investment pays off elsewhere, and it does pay off. Abundantly. And Bobby Cox has an awfully good record in close pennant races anyway.
At any rate, nothing's happened to make me change my mind since I wrote:
I very much hope the Jays stick [McGowan] in the Syracuse rotation and forget about him. Just leave him alone until September. No bouncing back and forth between AAA and the majors, between the pen and the rotation. Let the kid pitch.
Just to recap:
Reconstructive elbow surgery on May 13.
While rehabbing in Florida, is diagnosed with Type II diabetes
Returns to active duty on June 1 at Dunedin. Goes 0-3, 3.70 in 11 starts at A and AA.
Promoted to Toronto on July 30. Went 1-3, 6.35 in 13 games, 7 starts.
Reports to spring training 15 pounds underweight, adjusting to his new nutritional program.
Optioned to Syracuse on March 18. Will be converted to a relief pitcher.
Recalled by Toronto on April 27. Makes 5 relief appearances (1-0, 7.94)
Optioned to Syracuse on May 11. Oh, forget this bullpen crap. Back to the rotation.
Recalled by Toronto on July 29. Makes one start, loses, and goes to the bullpen. Makes 6 relief appearances (10.91 ERA) and...
Optioned to Syracuse on August 23.
Recalled by Toronto on September 2.
So yeah, I still think it's a good idea to just leave the kid alone for a while, and let him pitch.
Granted, somebody has to start on Thursday. Granted, Ricciardi and Gibbons would probably rather have red hot pokers inserted somewhere tender than give the ball back to Towers. Granted that the day after Victor Zambrano (he of the 5 BB per 9 innings over his career, he who has worked half a dozen innings in the past month, he who is less than a year removed from TJ surgery himself) faces one of the most patient lineups in all of baseball, there's just a chance that the bullpen may be a little depleted and a real live starting pitcher will be required on Thursday...
I'd still have left McGowan alone. If absolutely pressed, I'd rather call on Taubenheim or Banks or Brad Arnsberg himself for an emergency start to get the team through the road trip, and then consider my options.
Now maybe this will work. It could work. Maybe after all of the turmoil, maybe after all the serious and frightening health issues (surgery on his pitching arm! an incurable disease!), maybe after being bounced around like a goddam yo-yo between the majors and the minors, between starting and relieving... maybe, after all of this nonsense, maybe all McGowan needed to settle his life and career was just one uneventful month in upstate New York. Sure, this could work.
This had better work.
Finally, a little cut-and-paste, presented without comment.
Toronto Blue Jays Team Pitching Statistics (as starter)
NAME G GS W L IP H ER R HR BB SO K/9 P/GS WHIP ERA
Roy Halladay 6 6 4 0 47.1 35 12 13 3 7 33 6.27 107.0 0.89 2.28
Josh Towers 4 4 1 3 23.0 27 12 17 4 4 21 8.22 88.0 1.35 4.70
Tomo Ohka 5 5 2 2 28.2 29 16 18 6 11 12 3.77 91.0 1.40 5.02
A.J. Burnett 6 6 2 2 33.0 30 20 20 5 21 26 7.09 99.8 1.55 5.45
Gustavo Chacin 5 5 2 1 27.1 29 17 17 6 7 11 3.62 84.4 1.32 5.60
Blue Jays 26 26 11 8 159.1 150 77 85 24 50 103 5.82 95.0 1.26 4.35