As the non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaches (Tuesday at 4pm et), the Toronto Blue Jays are still stuck in a quandry. Going into Friday's series against the Tigers, they're only four games back of Oakland and that final wild card spot, but their No. 1 pitcher Ricky Romero is still struggling mightily.
So the question becomes - is there any point in giving up top prospects for a standout pitcher when the club is so riddled with injuries and Ricky just isn't the pitcher he was a year ago? The answer would appear to be no.
Ricky Romero isn't the first pitcher or player for that matter to suddenly lose control or throw the ball with an semblance of accuracy. In fact there is a somewhat cruel name for this syndrome. It's 'Steve Blass' disease.
Blass was a standout pitcher for the Pirates in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In 1971, he helped Pittsburgh win a World Series, won two games in that Fall Classic and was the runner-up for Series MVP.
The following season, his best ever, he went 19-8 and finished second in the Cy Young balloting. But in 1973, everything fell apart. In 88.2 innings he walked the ungodly total of 84. In 1974, Blass only pitched one game in the Majors and walked seven. And that was it at age 32.
The story doesn't end there though. Blass went on to become a beloved colour commentator with the Pirates and at age 70 still is involved in their home games. He even wrote a book about his struggles and his broadcast career called, "A Pirate For Life."
There is no real explanation for what happened to Steve Blass. But concider some of the others going thru the same sort of troubles. This year alone you've got a two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum who's sitting at 4-11 and Phillies lefty Cliff Lee who only has one win with the season almost two-thirds over. Boston's John Lester is another. Dontrelle Willis retired just a few weeks ago. Rick Ankiel's wildness was so acute, he was forced to become a position player.
Pitchers aren't the only one's who develop these mental blocks. Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax had trouble making even the most routine of infield throws late in their careers. Mike Ivie and the great Dale Murphy had to give up catching because they got the "Yips" throwing the ball back to the pitcher.
If there is a simplistic answer to this, it could be this - remember it's just a kid's game and you've got to enjoy yourself while playing with passion.
At this point, Ricky Romero is slated to make his next start Monday in Seattle. A lot of questions about Ricky and the Jays could be answered after that outing.
There are still some big name pitchers who might be dealt by the deadline. Some of those on the rumour mill including James Shields and Wade Davis of Tampa Bay. Miami's Josh Johnson, the White Sox's Gavin Floyd and the Phillies' Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton. Brewers GM Doug Melvin already confirmed right hander Zach Greinke will be dealt.
Other Trade Options
The position player drawing the most interest seems to be Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
Josh Hamilton is an interesting case. The Rangers superstar is a free agent at the end of the season and ideally he'd like to stay with Texas. But his last two months have been horrible. He batted .223 in June and this week his average for July had dipped as low as .161.
Hamilton quoted as saying he's feeling out of sorts mentally. His manager Ron Washington and club president Nolan Ryan even went public to say Hamilton gives away too many at bats for a great player by swinging at bad pitches.
The Rangers need a turnaround by Hamilton to have any hope of ending their string of two straight World Series losses.
Scott Ferguson is the Sportscentre Update anchor for TSN Radio 1050 from 4pm et to 7pm et from Monday to Friday and is TSN Radio 1050's Blue Jays analyst/reporter.