Brett Cecil turns 37 today.
Brett was a Blue Jays first-round pick in 2007 (38th overall), our second first-round pick. We got the selection for the loss of free agent Frank Catalanotto and would have five first-round picks (four supplemental picks). We picked Kevin Ahrens, J.P. Arencibia, Cecil, Justin Jackson, and Trystan Magnuson. Cecil was the last man standing in the majors.
He came from the University of Maryland, where he had been the closer. We made him a starter in the minors, and he shot quickly through our minor league system. He made his first start for Toronto on May 5, 2009, going 6 innings, with just 1 earned, no walks, and 6 strikeouts, but he hit 3 batters. He missed a bit of time with an injury but made 18 appearances, 17 starts, and 7-4 with a 5.30 ERA.
In 2010 he started the season in the minors but would be called up in mid-April, taking Brian Tallet’s spot in the rotation, and he stayed there all season long, finishing 15-7 (tops on the team for wins), with a 4.22 ERA.
2011 was a lousy season for Brett. It started badly in spring training when everyone was worried about his velocity right from, seemingly, his first throw of spring. He should have been more concerned about hitting his spots and less about what it said on the radar gun, but things went downhill quickly.
He made four bad starts in April and got sent to the minors. Then, after 12 ok Triple-A starts (considering what a terrible place Las Vegas was for pitchers), he got called up at the end of June and was somewhat better until he cut his hand “cleaning out a blender” (does anyone believe that?) in September. He was 4-11 on the season with a 4.73 ERA in 20 starts.
After a bad spring in 2012, the Jays sent Cecil to Double-A New Hampshire to start the season. He would have 9 good starts for the Fisher Cats, get moved up to Vegas, and pitched well there, and then the Jays called him up when Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison would all go on the DL within a week of each other (yes, I was at those games). He would make 9 starts, put up a 5.79, and go back down. When he came back up in September, he was a reliever.
Pitching in relief was the right move. Brett had three terrific seasons in our pen, putting up ERAs of 2.82 in 2013, 2.70 in 2104, and 2.48 in 2015. Or, if you would rather OPS, he held batters to .594, .627, and .562 over the three seasons. The good part was that Brett was equally good against right-handed and left-handed batters. In 2015 he didn’t give up an earned run after June 21.
2016 could have been a lot better. Cecil had a crappy start to the season, missed most of May and June (with a lat muscle tear, his muscles seem to tear easily), was crappy again in July, and returned to being himself in August and September.
Brett’s time with the Jays was injury-filled. He cut his hand on the blender, cut his thumb slicing chicken breasts (or at least that was the story, when you get stories like that, I tend to think something else happened), had back problems, had elbow inflammation. But, most famously, he tore a calf muscle in 2015’s ALDS, which put him out of the ALCS.
After the 2016 season, he signed a four-year free-agent contract with the Cardinals and $29.75 million. It seemed like a lot of money for an often injured reliever. However, the first year of the contract went well. He pitched in 73 games and had a 3.88 ERA. In 2018 he was injured in their opening day game and missed more than a month with a shoulder problem. In 2017 pitched in 40 games and had a 6.89 ERA.
He missed all of 2019 after carpal tunnel syndrome surgery, which was the end of his MLB career.
I was always a fan. I love the guys that can be successful without an overpowering fastball. I loved Cecil’s curveball. It was a thing of beauty.
Cecil is #10 on our franchise list for pitching appearances (Tim Mayza will likely pass him next year). Brett and Scott Downs should be at the top if you were making a list of the best lefty relievers in Jays’ history.
Happy Birthday, Brett. I hope it is a good one.
Jose Canseco turns 59 today.
Canseco was a Blue Jay in 1998. He hit .237/.318/.518 with 46 home runs (and a league-leading 159 strikeouts). You can understand why he was pretty grumpy with that many home runs when the Jays didn’t sign him for 1999.
He may have played for some other teams. He was such a quiet guy that you never noticed him.
And it is Daulton Varsho’s 27th birthday today.
Varsho is in his fourth MLB season. His career numbers are .232/.302/.422 with 53 home runs and 36 stolen bases.
Happy Birthday, Daulton. Let’s celebrate with a win.