Mailbag: Was recalling Richmond right?
Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers questions from fans
I have mixed feelings about the Blue Jays timing of promoting Scott Richmond. I can only imagine what it means to be finally called up to pitch in the big leagues -- nevermind being Canadian and pitching for Toronto.
At the same time, pitching for your county at the Olympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Richmond was Team Canada's starter and was called up right before the team was scheduled to leave for China.
Why could the Jays not have called up someone else until he returned from Beijing? Was this a fair decision for Richmond?
--Diane S., Bridgenorth Ontario
It was a completely fair decision for Richmond. Now, had Toronto called Richmond up from Triple-A Syracuse to make a spot start -- only to send him back to the Minor Leagues after one appearance -- then I think a real argument could be made about whether or not the Jays should have handed him the promotion.
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has taken some heat for this decision, but he made it clear that the club wouldn't have added Richmond to its rotation unless it was for an extended stay. Richmond is getting a chance to make at least a handful of starts for Toronto, and pitching in the Major Leagues was his goal.
This is not to say the Olympics aren't important, or that Team Canada didn't take a hit by losing Richmond, but he's waited a long time to get a chance to pitch in the big leagues and that opportunity finally came. When Richmond was scraping rust off the hulls of ships in the Vancouver docks after high school, he was clinging to the dream of pitching in the Majors.
The timing might not have been ideal, but that wasn't the Jays' fault. Reliever Brian Tallet landed on the disabled list with a broken toe, convincing Toronto to move lefty John Parrish from the rotation to the bullpen. That opened a spot on the starting staff and the Jays felt the 28-year-old Richmond was the most deserving.
Toronto could've recalled righty Jesse Litsch, but the club feels he needs more time to sort through some of his issues at Triple-A. The Jays could've taken a chance on a highly-touted prospect like Brett Cecil, but Ricciardi has said he feels Cecil needs more time on the farm before being tested in Toronto.
So, the Blue Jays went with Richmond, who said he plans on keeping close tabs on how Team Canada fares in Beijing. Richmond would undoubtedly love to be heading to China for the Olympics, but he's certainly not complaining about getting a chance to suit up for Toronto. That's really all that should matter, isn't it?
I have been very impressed with Joe Inglett's play at second base since Aaron Hill was placed on the disabled list. I think if the Jays convert one of them to shortstop they could have a pretty impressive middle infield. Do you think the Jays would consider this move?
--Trevor M., Winnipeg
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It seems reasonable to think that the Jays will at least consider moving Hill back to shortstop for next season. Hill has been sidelined with post-concussion syndrome since late May, and Inglett has thrived as an everyday player for Toronto. A middle infield of Hill at short and Inglett at second next year might make sense.
The Jays love Hill as a second baseman and he is arguably one of the game's top defenders at that position -- a main argument against a move to short. But, Hill played shortstop in college and manned that position throughout his time in Toronto's farm system, so it's not an unfamiliar spot.
With a thin crop of shortstops available via free agency this coming offseason, Toronto will certainly explore its options. For now, considering it's looking more and more like Hill will be sidelined for the rest of the year, Inglett is being given a long audition. The decision could come down to how comfortable Hill would be with a switch.
With having four quality Minor League catchers in Robinzon Diaz, Curtis Thigpen, J.P. Arencibia, and Brian Jeroloman, who would be most likely to be the starting catcher next year for the Jays, Rod Barajas or Gregg Zaun?
-- Eric E., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The likely scenario is that the Blue Jays will exercise Barajas' $2.5 million club option, while letting Zaun head for free agency. It seems highly improbable that both Barajas and Zaun will be back with Toronto in 2009. The backup job will likely be up for grabs among a few of Toronto's Minor League catching prospects.
Any idea on who the Blue Jays offered to Seattle for Raul Ibanez before the Trade Deadline?
--David W., Toronto
It's believed that Toronto offered two Major League players to Seattle in an effort to obtain Ibanez. Various reports named first baseman Lyle Overbay, as well as pitchers Litsch, David Purcey and Brandon League among the possible players dangled in the would-be deal, though it hasn't been confirmed which players were actually offered.
We've heard so much about Adam Lind in left field, but Shannon Stewart has essentially disappeared from the media since landing on the DL in early June. Any word on his progress?
-- Mallory M., Kinkora, Prince Edward Island
Stewart has finally started appearing in Minor League rehab games since severely spraining his right ankle. The veteran outfielder has appeared in five games, hitting .357 between stints with Class A Dunedin and the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. There's still no timetable for the return of Stewart, who would be ticketed for a bench role upon rejoining the Jays.
With the rain delay on July 23, why did the Jays and Orioles finish the game on July 24? They completed five innings, so shouldn't that game have been official? Am I wrong in assuming the rules say after five complete innings the game is over?
-- Chad B., Waterdown, Ontario
Five innings is technically an official game, but the Jays and Orioles were tied, 1-1, after five on July 23. In the top of the sixth, Toronto took a 2-1 lead, but the rain delayed the game. Since the Jays were on the road, the home team was required to bat in the bottom of the sixth before that could have been declared a win for Toronto. Since the rain didn't let up, they had to complete the game the following day.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.