DUNEDIN, FL - MARCH 02: Evan Crawford #46 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait at Dunedin Stadium on March 2, 2012 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Each spring I pick a player in the Jays camp, that I know has little to no chance of making the team. A few years ago it was Jason Lane. Lane and Kevin Millar were 'battling' for the last spot on the roster, sort of a pinch-hitter, occasional first baseman, DH type. It wasn't really a battle, Lane had a great spring, Millar had an ok spring but they were going to give the job to Millar anyway. And we know how that turned out.
This year my choice was Moises Sierra, but they already sent him down. Why Moises? Because we traded for Ben Francisco to be 4th or 5th outfielder, mostly on the strength of Ben being a RH batter. Why did Alex want him? I don't know. Maybe because they had left over jerseys from Frankie. Rogers is a cheapskate organization, you know. Francisco is incredibly average. His OPS+, last year was 93, the year before 104. He gets on base an average amount of the time, he has average power, he steals a couple of bases a season, he plays pretty average defense (Fangraphs has him at a -6.3 UZR/150 on his career). He doesn't do anything especially well or especially poorly for that matter. I'm not going to dislike him as much as I did Juan Rivera, but there isn't any skill there to get excited about.
Moises, well, he's likely not ready for the majors (though he is basically at the same spot Eric Thames was a year ago). I knew he wouldn't make the team. But Sierra has potential power. He's a pretty good outfielder, he's got a good arm. There are reasons to sit up and watch if he was in the game. I'm a baseball fan, I want a reason to watch.
So I need someone new to cheer on irrationally.
What I'd like is if we had someone that could be backup catcher, because Mathis doesn't excite me in the least. I mean, Jose Molina wasn't great, but at least he had a great arm. When he was in a game, I took notice because, maybe, someone would be dumb enough to try to steal, and I'd get to see an amazing throw to second. I watch baseball to see things like that. With Mathis? Well, there is some vague idea that he frames pitches well. How exciting. Let me set the PVR now.
I guess I could cheer for Brian Jeroloman. I'm pretty sure that he could make 8 outs every 10 plate appearances, just like Mathis will. Jeroloman's defense is supposed to be good. I really don't think there would be all that much difference between Mathis and Jeroloman, over the course of a season. But I can't bring myself to cheer for Brian on the 'he's just as good as Mathis' reasoning. it doesn't excite me much.
I could pick Kyle Drabek, I do sort of think that he'd be a better choice than Brett Cecil for the rotation, but I'm kind of thinking that a month in the minors, to prove he's overcome last year's problems, is a good plan, no matter how good he looks this spring.
So my new player of irrational spring devotion is Evan Crawford. Evan's pitched 4 innings and hasn't given up a hit yet. He has 5 strikeouts. I'm sure he could do a good job in the LOOGY role and he's got good enough stuff that I would like to watch him, but there is almost no chance he gets the job out of spring training.
Luiz Perez is looking good, this spring, too. 6 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts. And Perez is out of options. So he'll get the LOOGY spot in the pen. I'm sure he'd be fine at it too. He just doesn't excite me much. I'd rather watch Crawford.
Is there a player that you are cheering for this spring, even though you know he has no real chance of making the team?