Late last week, a veteran left hander soon to turn 28-years-old was sent down to the minors. He was coming off shoulder surgery and hadn't regained the velocity he used to have.
Another 28-year-old southpaw is trying to avoid a similar fate. He underwent a surgical procedure on his elbow in the off season, and had treatment done on both of his knees for tendonitis. He's had a terrible spring and has brought back nightmarish memories of a disappointing 2012 season.
The first left-hander is John Danks of the Chicago White Sox. He went down with a left shoulder strain back on May 25th and didn't pitch again for the "Pale Hose" last season and later opted for surgery, rather than attempting to come back last September.
The second lefty is Toronto Blue Jay Ricky Romero, who gutted his way thru a rocky 2012 season with a 9-14 record and a dreadful 5.77 era.
Both were high end first round draft picks, Danks 9th overall in 2003 by Texas, Ricky 6th overall by the Blue Jays in 2005.
The White Sox acquired Danks in a trade with the Rangers and he appeared to be a steal, when he racked up three straight seasons of double digit victories highlighted by a 15-11 record in 2010. He also averaged over 200 innings pitched from 2008 thru 2010.
In 2011, Danks' record dropped below .500 and he was limited to just 170 innings. Last year he needed the surgery. Danks signed a five-year contract worth $65 million that covers him thru 2016. The contract pays him $57 million over the next four seasons. That's a huge investment, but the White Sox still sent him to the minors, because at this point at least he still can't throw as hard as he used to.
Romero's case appears on the surface to be a little different. His surgery was not quite as serious as Danks'. Ricky's problem is in the way he is throwing. He goes across his body and doesn't put his lead foot down in a direct line to home plate. Hence his ball, doesn't go where it's supposed to and he often doesn't know where the pitch is headed. Ricky we're told still has the same old velocity and stuff that made him a number one pick.
Romero has a better career record than Danks at 51-43 to 57-60 and a better ERA at 4.09 to 4.12. The Blue Jays financial commitment to Romero is less than Danks as well. Ricky is owed $7.5 million in each of the next three years and has a club option of $13.1 million, with a $600,000 buyout for 2016. So Ricky is owed about half of what Danks is in guaranteed money.
The White Sox though showed no hesitancy to send Danks down. The Jays conversely have altered Ricky's mechanics and are hoping in his final two spring outings can turn it around.
Ricky Romero is the kind of person and bulldog like competitor that you pull for and want to see succeed. But if he only has a mediocre degree of success in these next two outings, the Jays should follow the White Sox lead and send him someplace in their minor league system to rediscover himself. There is too much as stake this season, and unlike last year they have a veteran starter in the waiting in J.A Happ.
The White Sox haven't given up on John Danks, and nor would the Blue Jays be, if they sent Ricky Romero down.
If you're billing yourself as a contender, you have to go with your best. The White Sox realized that. The Blue Jays must too.
- Old is New
There was an interesting interview late last week with Boston Red Sox principle owner John Henry, in the Boston Herald. The key point that really stuck out to me was that Henry said, that with all the renovations that have been done on Fenway Park, it should be good for another 30 to 40 years!
While I always liked Tiger Stadium better, it's great for baseball and its fans, that crown jewels like Fenway and Wrigley Field aren't going away anytime soon.