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Ferguson: Finally time for the Blue Jays to cut Romero loose

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Scott Ferguson, TSN 1050
5/12/2014 11:50:42 AM
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There are many Toronto Blue Jays fans still harbouring the dream that Ricky Romero can conquer his pitching demons and make it back to the Blue Jays and, in turn, again become the pitcher who won 42 games for the club from 2009 through 2011. But maybe it's time to face facts, cut Ricky loose and give him a fresh start with another organization.

After showing a little bit of progress at Triple-A Buffalo, the 29-year-old southpaw has regressed with three rocky starts in a row. Friday night at Charlotte, against the Chicago White Sox-affiliate Knights, he only lasted three innings, giving up five hits and five earned runs, walking five and striking out three. He also gave up a pair of home runs, a season high.

In six games, all starts, Romero is 0-1 and has pitched only 27 innings, or just a little over four per start. He's given up 30 hits, struck out 20 and has given up an alarming 23 walks.

Remember the slide began in 2012, when Ricky went 9-14 with a 5.77 ERA and routinely melted down on the mound. Last season in a brief stint with the big club, he went 0-2 before getting shipping to Buffalo, where he's been ever since. So essentially, this is Ricky Romero's third season of trying to rediscover himself.

You can see why the Blue Jays are going the extra mile with this. Romero was a staff ace and an All-Star. The Jays also owe him what's left of his $7.5 million for this season, another $7.5 million next year, plus a $600,000 buyout on his $13.1 million for 2016. So that's at least  $15.6 million guaranteed, owed for the next two-plus years.

You've heard that old cliche a million times about pro sports being a business where tough decisions have to be made. Well, maybe it's time the Blue Jays made the call on Ricky Romero. Set him free and give him the chance to start with another organization, where he can put the struggles of the last three years behind him. The Blue Jays cut ties with J.P. Arencibia with little regret. Now is the time for Ricky Romero.

- There is another interesting reclamation project going on with Buffalo right now. Georgetown, Ontario native Shawn Hill is trying to rebuild his pitching career at age 33. Hill has battled his way through two Tommy John surgeries and had two previous stints in the Blue Jays' organization, albeit brief ones, in 2010 and 2012.

Hill signed with the Jays in March and started out with Double-A New Hampshire going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA. He was promoted to Buffalo last week and dropped his first start in Georgia against the Gwinnett Braves. He gave up six hits, including two homers, and walked two in six innings to take the loss in a 5-0 game.

Can Shawn Hill make it all the way back? Maybe, but more likely than not, he's just an emergency depth arm the way Chien-Ming Wang was a year ago.

Hill does hold one unique distinction, though. He won the last game contested between the Jays and the Montreal Expos. It came on July 4, 2004.  The game was played in Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the Expos played out a 20-game portion their schedule in their final year in Montreal before moving to Washington. Hill and the Expos won that game 6-4.

- One arm that might help the Blue Jays out before the end of the season is that of Kyle Drabek.  A key piece of the Roy Halladay deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, Drabek has battled his own control demons, and like Romero, has had some epic mound meltdowns. He appears to be improving now at Buffalo. He's 3-2 with a 4.04 ERA. Over 35.2 innings, Drabek has allowed seven homers, which is not good, but he's also struck out 30 while walking only 15. So there is a bit of hope there.

- The strange thing about the Los Angeles Angels taking the first three games of this four-game set over the weekend: the Angels' two best hitters, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, had so little to do with the outcome. Pujols  who recently smacked his 500th homer and is one of the greatest players of his generation, if not all-time, went  1 for 13 (a double) and walked twice. Trout went 2 for 14 with a walk. He slugged a solo homer off Dustin McGowan on Friday night and hit an RBI double on Sunday out of the DH slot. Trout also earned the old "Golden Sombrero" on Sunday by striking out 4 times.

- I've got to admit, I was shocked when the Baltimore Orioles traded ace closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics in the off-season, but Tommy Hunter, who I always felt was prone to giving up inopportune home runs, has stepped in without missing a beat. Hunter has 11 saves, tops in the American League, and the Orioles are 17-0 when leading after eight innings.

- The New York Yankees' pitching depth is being push right to the brink. Ivan Nova is gone for the season. Michael Pineda, who was first suspended, is now gone for another week or two with a muscle strain. That would serious impair most staffs, but now the Yankees will have to get by without C.C Sabathia.
He's gone on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. It's the same knee he had meniscus surgery on in 2010. You have to start wondering if it's the beginning of the end for C.C.  He was 3-4 this season with a 5.28 ERA and also leads the American League with 10 homers allowed, including three in the final game he pitched before going on the DL. I wonder if they've got Andy Pettitte's number on speed dial.

- At the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse, you wonder where the Blue Jays would be if they could have convinced Ervin Santana to sign with them rather than the Atlanta Braves. In six starts with the Braves, Santana has made five quality starts. He's 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA, with 43 strikeouts, just nine walks and only two home runs allowed. The Brave,s riding a three-game win streak, are in first place in the NL East, two games up on the Miami Marlins.

- Kudos to White Sox captain Paul Konerko, who, like Derek Jeter, is in the final year of his career. Konerko slugged his first home run and 435th of his career on Saturday and, thus, moved into 43rd place on the all-time list just ahead of Juan Gonzalez and Andruw Jones.

Ricky Romero (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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  • [1] Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners
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