Being a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, you kind of learn to expect the unexpected. Sometimes the team forgets how option rules work, sometimes they start service time clocks indiscriminately without appearing to put much thinking into it, sometimes they miss an injury that is diagnosed by a player's mother. Sometimes they cut 31-year-old Steve Delabar from an already inexperienced bullpen to give Miguel Castro a place on the team. While admittedly the Delabar decision is the least shocking of the four highlighted, it still has to raise eyebrows when given the context of the current team. The roster looks destined to have two rookie starting pitchers, two rookie starting fielders and at least one rookie reliever. With the obvious goal of a playoff appearance hanging over their heads, the Blue Jays cut a 2013 All-Star pitching fairly well in favour of starting the service clock on an unproven 20-year-old who has had a great Spring Training.
As has been stated by manager John Gibbons, Delabar was in direct competition for a single inning high leverage role and was not going to be demoted to a lesser position in the big league bullpen. Enough questions could be raised if the Blue Jays simply brought Castro north with the team at the end of camp, considering all of the service time implications and possibly losing an extra year of control down the road. The fact that the Dominican actually was given a high leverage role in place of a veteran is even more baffling. Delabar's remaining option year is certainly not going anywhere and it seems that the perfect solution would have been to simply have him start the season in Toronto and then send him down to Buffalo if his stuff turned out to be truly as bad as the team is saying it was. At this point Castro could have been promoted and wouldn't have burnt a full year of valuable service time in the process. It's one thing to not have service time be the key variable in making decisions, it's a completely different thing to throw it out the window when it can easily be worked around.
Instead the team runs the risk of irking one of their veteran players by cutting him in favour of a pitcher 11 years younger than him who could implode under the bright lights of the Major Leagues, considering he never even felt the lights of New Hampshire. If Castro ends up not being able to handle the jump from High-A to the MLB then the team would have to go crawling back to Delabar to give him a chance to save them from having a huge hole in their bullpen. It would just be another instance in the past few years where the Blue Jays went beyond making tough business decisions and outright angered one of their players to the point of them considering asking for a release. They provided Delabar no reason why he was being optioned leaving a respectable member of the team angry and at a loss for words in front of the media during an offseason and spring training where they've already embarrassed themselves enough.
None of yesterday's dealings made much sense and as per usual, no explanation will be provided to calm the rising frustration with what was once considered one of the top front offices in the league. The best scenario would be that Miguel Castro continues his strong form into the regular season and the lack of Steve Delabar in the bullpen is never brought into the spotlight. If that doesn't happen though, the team will end up with egg on their faces once again in a year where anything but a playoff spot will be considered a failure. Let's just hope for the best case scenario. We're pretty used to doing that by now.