Casey Janssen: Should He Stay Or Should He Go?
Earlier this morning on Sportsnet 590 The FAN, one of the current broadcasters (and former Major Leaguer) Dirk Hayhurst pleaded his case about one of the more successful Blue Jays bullpen hurlers: Casey Janssen.
It’s no secret, especially to those who follow the Jays, that Hayhurst has always spoken his mind and does not have any problem with stirring the pot over players who he regards as expendable or calling people out on something they’ve done or said.
As much as I respect him for having the wits to say or write the things that he does… Sorry Dirk. You’re wrong about Casey.
In this particular argument, Hayhurst chose to use historical statistics (specifically, the Save), the role of the closer, and personal opinion which doesn’t really carry much weight. He may be right that yes, the Save only came along in 1969 and really only exists to give late-game pitchers a stat to put beside their name, and that a “closer” is just a title for a 9th inning guy. He goes on to say that Casey Janssen’s value is at its peak, and the Blue Jays need to trade him away post-haste and get something for his worth.
There’s no doubt that Janssen is on fire right now. His ERA sits at a respectable 2.57, he’s 17 for 18 in Saves, has 24K/6BB, only given up the long-ball once, and this year he has shown that he may be one of the most reliable closers that the Jays have ever owned.
Hayhurst needs to remember one thing: The Blue Jays have been known for their absolutely horrid bullpens in the past. Remember Frank Francisco? Relief arms were never a strong point for Toronto, and amidst all of the suck, Casey Janssen was probably the only guy who didn’t. He reminds me of a Darren Oliver: like a fine wine, he only gets better with age (and experience too). 2013 is one of the first years in recent memory where the bullpen staff has been a strong point in the Jays’ roster of arms, if not one of the strongest in all of Major League Baseball so far. If anything, we need to preserve this as long as possible because it’s the starters this year who need to pick up the slack, although on paper you would never guess it. If ANY changes are made to this red-hot relief corps, it will only hurt the ball club.
You need a guy like Janssen to back up players like Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar, both who are having an all-star year thus far, and Juan Perez who refuses to give up an earned run. Take Casey out of the mix, and you’re just begging to be hurt in the 9th inning. He throws unending strikes, he’s meticulous with his work, and he can punch out left-handed and right-handed batters without a drop of sweat coming off his forehead.
I guess Dirk does bring up a good point… Who cares about Saves and what makes up a “closer”. Heck, most pitching stats can be considered pointless anyways. Take away all of that, and what you’re left with is a guy who’s extremely good at what he’s paid to do. I think Hayhurst forgot that we need Cecil, Delabar, Perez, and even Sergio Santos once he comes back from the disabled list, to back up our ill-performing starters. And who’s the best guy to back THEM up? Casey Janssen.
It’s true that he’s at the peak of his performance, and his value and worth to the Jays has never been higher. But with a starting rotation that’s suffering, the solution is not to give up a guy who’s going to save what our offense has clubbed away for, trying to regain the tons of lost leads that have been given up game after game after game. You’re not going to get an all-star starting pitcher in a trade for a closer. Think about it.
Janssen is needed through and through. Give him up, and you’re giving up your Saves.