So thusfar we've looked at the big starboardsider with the rags-to-riches story, Scott Richmond and 2008 casualty Casey Janssen, using tireless Jays' beat writer Jordan Bastian's pieces as jumping-off points. Bastian's next article in his series takes a look at Matt Clement and Mike Maroth. I thought it was pretty interesting that Bastian decided to look at the two together, since to my eye they have little in common other than that both are coming off serious shoulder problems. From J.P.'s mouth to your screen:
"Those guys are going to come in and they've got an opportunity to win a job," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said.
Ricciardi has long had a thing for Clement, who underwent rotator cuff surgery after the 2006 season. Ricciardi was in on Clement when Boston signed him before 2005, and was interested again last season when the Cardinals signed him to a rehab-type deal. Clement made 17 appearances (though only a handful of starts) at various levels in the Cards' system, but was ineffective at higher levels and the Cards cut him loose in August. According to Clement, he hasn't given up because there were points during his rehab last season when he felt like he was pitching at full strength again and with "major-league stuff":
"In my mind, I wouldn't have even talked to another team if i didn't think I could get back to the Major Leagues right now," Clement said in December. "I have a desire to prove that I can beat the surgery that I had. It was a very extensive surgery, and I still want to prove that ... there is something that comes out of the hard work."
Lifetime, Clement, now 34, is a quality pitcher who had control problems early in his career but settled into a groove in his late 20s. He's got a healthy 7.75 K/9 IP over his career, and though his walk number is high as well (4.14 BB/9), that's inflated by control problems early in his career and post-injury in 2006. If he could pitch to his career FIP, 4.24, signing him would be fantastic move for the Jays. Clement had very strong groundball numbers earlier in his career but fell out of that while pitching with the Red Sox. And he has some history with Brad Arnsberg, having worked with him in Florida. He had three straight years as an above-average starter with the Cubs (112, 105, 120 ERA+s, respectively) and was looking great for Boston in 2005 (10-2, 97/35 K/BB ratio over 117 innings and a 3.85 ERA) before being hit in the head with a line drive.
With the Red Sox, Clement basically had four pitches: a very good power slider, a hard 2 seam sinking fastball, a 4-seam cut-type fastball, and a change he didn't always use. He was a power pitcher all the way, but used his 2-seamer to get grounders too. I understand that he never got above 90 last season, so that might be his limit at this point. Rotator cuff surgery is a nasty, nasty business, as illustrated (literally) by this excellent Lone Star Ball post. I'm not counting on anything from him until I see him in the Spring, but I'm rooting for him and if he is healthy, he could be a solid back-end rotation option.
So when I say Clement and Maroth don't have much in common, what I mean, besides the fact that they throw from opposite sides of the plate and are different pitchers, Mike Maroth just isn't as good, as his lifetime numbers (86 lifetime ERA+, a 1.69 K/BB ratio, and a 1.46 lifetime whip) make him a pretty bad option even when he's healthy. He has two seasons of ERA better than league average, but only one was significantly above average (109 ERA+ in 2006, as a swingman) and that same season he had a 1.49 WHIP, horrid peripherals (4.02 K/9, 2.68 BB/9 for a 1.5 K/BB ratio), a ridiculous number of Home Runs allowed - 1.84/9, and a 5.87 FIP. Maroth's actual best seasons were in 2004 and 2005, when he pitched over 400 innings of almost but not quite league average ball (FIPs of 4.46 and 4.65, respectively).
So, that's Maroth when he's totally healthy. But the 31-year old lefty underwent an unspecified shoulder surgery in May 2008:
"My range of motion was pretty limited," Maroth said. "I just think over time, it was getting that way. Flexibility is so important to be able to throw a baseball, and it was causing irritation in my shoulder -- it was causing some problems. Last year, the arm just couldn't take it."
My guess is that Clement has a very good chance of claiming the 5th starter role if he proves he's healthy (which is to say, a pretty slim chance), and Maroth was brought on in the event of a water landing in which Richmond, Ricky Romero, Mills, Cecil, Clement, Janssen, and probably Bullington and Davis Romero, are all disasters. If almost all of the above are shaky or there are injuries in the Spring, you may see Maroth make the AAA rotation as insurance. But I'm not even sure there'll be room for him there, and if the Jays' youngsters pitch as they can, the Jays have no reason to feel compelled to make room. The one thing Maroth might have going for him in that respect is that if the young pitchers have a shaky start, the Jays may not want to put them in the ridiculously hitter-friendly PCL environment at AAA Las Vegas.
What do you all think the Jays will get out of Clement and Maroth?
And how could I forget? Today's title comes from the Ryan Adams song "Two" off his generally uninspired but record Easy Tiger. That song is one of the bright spots though.