2011 Blue Jay Disappointments: Jon Rauch

I'm going to write a few posts on things that have surprised me and disappointed me about the season to this point. We'll start with Jon Rauch.

I don't like to get on players because they are my guys and they are trying their best. I know that. No one likes to show badly in front of 20, 000 people, so yeah they try. When I don't like a player, it generally isn't the player's fault. It wasn't Kevin Millar's fault that Cito played him too much nor Corey Patterson's fault that John Farrell ran him out there every day.

In Jon Rauch's case, I don't want to criticize the guy cause he scares me. I've seen him up close, he's huge. He looks like he could eat guys my size for breakfast and be hungry enough for another at lunch. And I saw him go at that umpire. John Farrell is 5 inches taller than me and bigger and he couldn't budge him.

I wasn't against the signing of Rauch, this off-season, other than it seemed like we were signing up all the right-handed relievers we could get our hands on.

Jon though, has been a particularly ugly shade of terrible this season. He has given up 11 home runs (the team record for a reliever is 14, thanks MinorLeaguer) in just 52 innings of work, basically 2 per 9 innings of work. That's unacceptable for a reliever, and even worse for a closer. The funny thing is that last season, with the Twins, Rauch only allowed 3 home runs in 57.2 innings.

I don't know what he is doing that's so much different than last year. I imagine that it is much like everything in life, location, location, location. He seems to have a fairly straight, not particularly fast, fastball. If you don't locate a pitch like that,  it can be sent in the other direction in a hurry. His strikeout rate is down from last year, 7.2/9 to 6.2/9, but then it is hard to get a strikeout when most of what you throw ends up over the fence. His walk rate is up as well, but the thing that is up the most is home runs, last year 3.7% of his fly balls cleared the wall, this year it is 12.9%.

I do feel a little bad for him, he really shouldn't have been closer. Frank Francisco was on the DL at the end of spring training and he likely came back too quick. As much as it is admirable to try to come back quick from injury, in the majors it might be best to wait until you are 100%. Now Frank hasn't given up a run since July 20th but first impressions are hard to erase. It will take more than a couple of good months to make Jay fans believe he can be a good closer.

The Jays have a $3.75 million club option on Rauch for next year, with a $250,000 buyout. I can't imagine the team will pick up the option. Rauch would be a Type-B free agent as it sits now. I'd be quite happy to get a draft pick for him but I'm not sure that he would turn down arbitration. 

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