Monday, June 7, 2010

Brett Cecil is a Really Good Starter

Pitch Grip Porn
Like, really REALLY good. Like sixth in the American League in FIP, ninth in xFIP, seventh in strikeout per walk good. His splits show him to be nearly unhittable for left-handed batters (1.18 FIP) and decidedly excellent against right-handed hitters (3.84 FIP.) I could go on, if you'd like.

Since the famous finger injury which shoved his change up to the fore of his attack, the 57+ big league innings have each been thoroughly awesome. Of his 9 starts, only two ended with negative WPA totals; a fancy way of saying he puts his team in a position to win.

Those 57 innings are an interesting total. 57.2 innings is the same amount (or more) tossed in 2009 by MLB save leader Brian Fuentes, Mexicutioner Joakim Soria, Hillbilly Dynamo Bobby Jenks, Ageless Bon Scott fan Trevor Hoffman. All closers, all guys who provided the valuable service of recording the final three outs of a winning baseball game.

If any of one of the Angels, Royals, White Sox, or Brewers called up your Toronto Blue Jays and said: "hey, we'll trade you our 57 inning guy for your 57 inning guy," what do you think the Jays would say? The Jays most logical answer:
Today is June 7th. He figures to throw at least another 90 innings this year, giving him about 140 total. 140 innings is way more than 57! Even after his home run per fly ball and line drive rates come up to a more sustainable level, the 140 innings we get from a guy making 400 grand are much, much more important than figuring out who gets the last three outs of a close game.
Honestly, I respect Blair and Griff a ton, but suggesting (or even considering, as they did on the Sportsnet pre-game Saturday) making Cecil the closer is absolutely asinine.

Blair mentioned (via Twitter) that the conversation behind closed Jays doors references Cecil's experience closing in college. To which I say: who cares? Since that time Brett Cecil developed a great outpitch against any and all comers not to mention proving his ability to pitch deep into games. THAT IS A GOOD THING!

The "he closed in college" thought process seems lazy to me. To paraphrase a tweet by the occasionally great/occasionally annoying Matt Klaasen
Shaun Marcum played shortstop in college, should they move him there?
A bit dramatic but I can't disagree with the thinking. Yup, Brett Cecil was a closer in college. He's much better now at a much more important job, why waste his talents in a limited role?

Please please please, keep Brett Cecil out of the bullpen and out of the closer discussion entirely. I don't want to write this post again, you hear me?!? While there are many other internal rotation options, how many of them represent an upgrade over Cecil? At what point would devaluing a prospect/starter by moving him to the bullpen be better than simply trading that piece for something else of value? I don't get thinking like this, please don't make me waste more time on it in the future.

Thanks to Reuters/Daylife for the photo, Fangraphs for the data, and Brett Cecil's overwhelming clumsiness for the grip shown in the photo


  1. I would hate life if Cecil becomes closer for the Blue Jays. Have the Jays brass not seen Cecil's minor league stats?! He was comparable to Zack freakin' Greinke! Why am I shouting?!?

  2. Zach Stewart was being groomed as a closer in the Reds organization. His starter experiment hasn't started off well, and the Jays really need a closer. His K/BB rate and GB% are all great in relief, why not give this kid a chance before you go and suggest wasting such a talented arm as Cecil in the closer's role?

  3. Only after you've exhausted all efforts to make Stewart a starter do you consider making him a closer.

  4. You could trade Cecil for three closers, if you were so inclined. Like Thornton, Santos and Jenks. If you were so inclined.

  5. What would it take to get League back from Seattle?

  6. Trystan Magnunsun for closer!

    Blair is an idiot... He said about Morrow, "Why get 60 innings when you can get 200?"

    But then, he suggests making Cecil the closer?

    Anyone notice McCowan usually has morons replace him during vacations?

  7. Agreed. I tune in to hear McCowan bash the station for the Wilner affair, and end up having to listen to Blair spout this idiocy.

  8. I'm sure that conversations about Cecil as a closer HAVE taken place. I'm also sure (hope) they went something like this:

    Someone: "Our bullpen's having some trouble. Hey - Cecil was a closer in college, wasn't he?"

    AA: "Yes..."

    Someone: "Why don't we try and convert him back to a closer?"


  9. I actually laughed when I read the tags for this post. Agreed on all points, as well.

  10. Zach Stewart was moved from the rotation to the bullpen before we traded for him because the Reds were trying to limit his innings without shutting him down completely.

  11. Cecil as closer is dumb as long as he continues his success. I don't think that would sit well with him either. This interview discusses the reasons he was the closer in college @ 2:20.


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