Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scott Richmond: The Viable Long Relief Option


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
Standing at 6 feet and 5 inches, he literally is one of the longest men on the roster. Although he once enjoyed success as a starting pitcher, maybe he could be reincarnated as a long relief man.

I'm talking about Scott Richmond; yes the Scott Richmond we all fell in love with after his amazing start to the 2009 season. It's been a rough go since then, but Scotty isn't done yet ... not by a long shot.

Last June, I explored where Scott Richmond could fit in on the crowded roster. As Spring Training continues and the starting rotation begins to take shape, I'm thinking more and more that having him as a relief pitcher is a viable option.

It's no secret that Scott's career splits against right-handed hitters are great (.214 AVG), but versus left-handers it's a different story (.312 AVG). This wouldn't necessarily mean Richmond would be used as as ROOGY, but he could definitely fill the role that Brian Tallet used to occupy.

While the injuries continue to pile up in Spring Training, it's apparent the Blue Jays may need to dip a little further into the talent pool than anticipated when assembling the 25 man roster. Scott Richmond would be a perfect candidate not only as a long man, but as an emergency spot starter as well.

As it currently stands, Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch and Marc Rzepczynski are all favourites to win the final two starting spots up for grabs. However, plans can change very suddenly when injuries come into play.

All it takes is a chicken breast cutting incident or a line drive off the finger to change the entire plans of the starting rotation. Just ask Brett Cecil or Marc Rzepczynski who can attest to those freak accidents first hand.

Even if there isn't room for Scott Richmond in the starting rotation, he could always break camp as a reliever. If the Jo-Jo Reyes experiment doesn't pan out, I'd say Richmond is one of the next in line to make the cut.

Plus, if Scott Richmond continues to pitch as effectively as he did in his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday, the Blue Jays will have a very tough time making an argument to leave him off the roster, whether it's as a starter or a reliever.

When the dust settles, perhaps the door has closed for Richmond to return to the Blue Jays starting rotation, but a window has definitely opened for him to belong in the bullpen.

18 comments:

  1. Richmond's problem is that he’s old (31) and righthanded. As much as I like him, I can’t see him making the team unless there is a spate of injuries, or he’s absolutely lights-out this spring. You’d think the Jays would keep Reyes ahead of him (younger lefty), plus he’d be fighting for bullpen jobs with guys like Carlson, Roenicke, and Mills… who, being younger, may be perceived as having more of a future with the team.

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  2. The thing is...Reyes stinks. His handedness is sort of irrelevant when he can't get batters out regardless of which side of the plate they bat from.

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  3. Robbie, he may be 31 but luckily I still think he hasn't even cleared a full year of service time yet. At his age though, he could be a veteran presence on the team even though most guys on the roster have more experience than Scott.

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  4. sadp, who knows ... I think the Jays will at least give Reyes a shot. Worst case scenario, Jo-Jo flops and they put him on waivers and he's claimed by somebody else. Those lack of options really has the Blue Jays hands tied, doesn't it?

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  5. Is 31 'old'?! Somebody better tell a LOT of MLB pitchers that they're finished...

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  6. Mattt, depends on the position, but since Richmond same into the league so late in his 20's, I wouldn't worry about it. 31 is the new 21!

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  7. My point was that many pitchers pitch into their late 30's and early 40's. The 30's are often considered a pitchers best years as they've still got the strength plus the wisdom.

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  8. Precisely, Mattt. Many hurlers come into their own in their 30's. Richmond has plenty more seasons left in him.

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  9. Also, the thought of 30 being old is just too much for me to take.

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  10. True, 31 isn't “old” for an established pitcher. It’s pretty old for a pitcher with less than 1 full season in the majors under his belt, though.


    Richmond, unfortunately, is older than most of his competition without the advantage of MLB experience that usually goes with age. I think that most teams would keep a younger marginal player over an older marginal player (all other things being equal), because the younger guy is less likely to be physically declining by the time he finishes figuring out how to pitch in the majors. That's my point... not that all 31 year old pitchers are washed up.

    Hell, I've seen comments to the effect that it's now or never for Purcey, and he's just 28.

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  11. Robbie, true - Scotty's definitely a late-bloomer, but I don't think age has that much weight on the decision right now. Talent is talent, and if Richmond is durable and can stay healthy then I think the organization will keep him around.

    And it's crazy to think that Purcey is 28, I've always penned him at being much younger for some reason.

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  12. I think Richmond's stuff would play up in short relief. He tosses 94mph on his FB and has a pretty good slider (or is it a curve).

    If that FB could sit at 95-96 in short stints, he could find his place in life.

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  13. Gil, I think he'd be the perfect guy to be the bridge in between a starter that has been yanked early and the bullpen. Richmond could throw 2-3 innings easily, rather than use 2-3 relievers.

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  14. The book on Richmond's age at 31 should be tempered with the fact that he matured late, and now has the physical equivilancy of a guy only 25, without the same wear and tear, not having played high school ball.
    His injury last season turned out to be alignment problems in his neck and shoulder, which he finally was able to get solved with non medical treatment in the off season, once he was no longer restricted to being subjected to the team medical staff's ineffective protocols.

    I think that slotting him in as the long man might be the best fit right now, with the option to be moved to the rotation should there be negative developments in the opening day staff.

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  15. RM, valid point - when looking at Richmond, I don't really consider him your typical 31 year old pitcher anyway. He didn't get his first taste of the big leagues until age 28, and didn't really start logging innings until 29.

    Long man would be a good role for Richmond, and heaven forbid one of the starters goes down to injury, he could easily step in and throw a couple of spot starts if need be.

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