After spending a night sleeping on it, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has decided against letting Ricky Romero make his next start in the major leagues. Romero has been optioned to the AAA Buffalo Bisons, and the guy who came in to relieve him, Edgar Gonzalez, has been designated for assignment and removed from the roster.
To fill their places, the club has selected the contracts of Ramon Ortiz and Mickey Storey from the Bisons. By my count, that means the 40-man roster is now full.
This move shows that the club had misjudged Ricky Romero's progress in his rebuilding program and that they brought him up much too early. Of course, they were in a bit of a crunch and needed a starter after the injury to Josh Johnson, but it certainly looks like a panic move in retrospect. Romero will now be headed off to Buffalo, which might mean that the club wants him pitching in real-game situations rather than his previous stint in Dunedin where he mostly worked behind closed doors with pitching coordinator Dane Johnson.
Sportsnet analyst Dirk Hayhurst was very critical of the Jays' treatment of Romero in a post from last night. I seems to me that they are making plans on the fly now, with this demotion being announced less than 10 hours after John Gibbons announced to media that he planned to give Romero another start. Since Romero had made his debut more than three calendar years ago, he must have gone through optional waivers after May 1, but convention (and lackluster performance) prevents other GMs from claiming him.
UPDATE: According to Barry Davis, John Gibbons had to lie to reporters so that he could break the news of the demotion to Romero:
The move the send Romero down was actually made right after the game. Gibbons wanted to tell Ricky before letting media know. #bluejays— Barry Davis (@SNBarryDavis) May 9, 2013
Edgar Gonzalez pitched ineffectively last night, but did his job and ate innings in a mop-up situation. He will need to go through outright waivers before being able to be sent down, but it won't be a big loss to see him leave for another organization.
Ramon Ortiz, you may recall, appeared in a single game for the Blue Jays back on April 17, mopping up for J.A. Happ who had given up five runs in his start. I would expect him to be in the same role with the big club. Ortiz sat in the bullpen without work for the next six days before he was designated for assignment in favour of Aaron Laffey.
Mickey Storey was one of the 20 waiver claims Anthopoulos made since the end of last season, and was successfully outrighted off the roster in the offseason. With the Bisons, the 27-year old right hander made nine appearances for the Bisons, throwing 17.1 innings with a 3.63 ERA and 1.154 WHIP. He has a nifty 11.94 K/9, after averaging 10.09 last season in the bigs (30 innings) and a 9.97 in AAA (65 innings). Storey will likely fill the role of a middle reliever in the Blue Jays' bullpen.
Storey was struck in the face last year when pitching for the Astros, but was able to return to the mound just three days later. Storey had quite the journey this offseason, going from the Astros to the Yankees back to the Astros then to the Blue Jays in waiver transactions.
When it rains.... Now it appears that Brandon Morrow is a bit hurt. In a lede that was a bit buried in Shi Davidi's piece on Romero, Morrow is suffering from "neck and back spasms" and will likely be pushed back to start on Sunday instead of taking his turn on Friday. That means the Jays would need to find someone to start as soon as Friday.