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Ferguson: Bumps in the road for Syndergaard and D'Arnaud

Scott Ferguson
6/9/2014 11:06:47 AM
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There were plenty of critics who thought the Blue Jays gave up too much to the New York Mets for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, even though he was coming off a Cy Young Award in 2012. Many felt the Jays would regret giving up righthanded pitcher prospect Noah Syndergaard and catcher Travis D'Arnaud over the long haul. But you just never know with young unproven players.

Both Syndergaard and D'Arnaud have have had their problems over the last few weeks. They were ranked the Mets top two prospects coming into this season. However a couple of weeks ago, Syndergaard, who can get it to the plate in the 95-97 mph-range, developed a flex strain in his pitching arm and had to shut it down at Triple "A" Las Vegas for a week or so. Fortunately, the MRI showed it had nothing to do with his elbow. As soon as he returned though, Syndergaard got bowled over in a homeplate collision as he was covering home after throwing a wild pitch. He suffered a sprained AC joint in his left (non-throwing shoulder) and once again has had to shut it down for about a week. It's nothing career-threatening, but it is a setback and will delay his anticipated call-up to the Mets this season.

D'Arnaud's problems are more troublesome. He was sent down to Vegas by the Mets on Sunday after hitting just .180, and only .113 over his last 41 at bats. Worse than that, his defence which was supposed to be a strength was the worst of any catcher in the National League. A concussion suffered earlier this season may have factored in, but Mets skipper Terry Collins said D'Arnaud won't be called up again until he starts hitting and dominating in the Pacific Coast League like the prospect he was supposed to be.

Whatever you may think of Dickey, he already has 20 victories over his brief stay in Toronto, he's an innings eater and has helped put them in first place in the AL East.

If you were wondering why teams seem so reluctant to trade starting pitching at this point of the season consider this; only two teams in the Majors, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia are further than 6.5 games out in the Wild Card chases. The Rays are 10 games out and the Phllies are seven back. Ever other team, including the Cubs, Astros and Diamondbacks, who got off to horrible starts, are within 6.5 games of a Wild Card spot or closer. If you are that close, even if your overall talent isn't that good, it's not easy to tell your fans you are trading for the future with almost 100 games left. Even Boston with a 10-game losing skid and then a five-game win streak is still only five games out of a playoff spot.

It only makes sense for the Rays to deal their ace lefty David Price but I can't see him being moved to any other team in the American League East. Texas might make sense, but I have a hunch Price could end up with the Mets. They lost six in a row and are in danger of tumbling into becoming a mere afterthought in New York and the National League. The Mets are loaded with  pitching prospects like Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Jake deGrom. These are the kinds of young arms that should entice the Rays. New York is seven games under .500 heading into Monday's play, but they are only five games back of Atlanta, Washington and Miami, who are locked in a virtual tie for first place in a winnable National League East. Price to the Mets makes sense, if only to upstage the Yankees who have pitching issues of their own.

If you're going to trade for pitching prospects, though, you still could get burned. When the Blue Jays dealt David Cone to the Yankees in 1995, they received three young righthanders in return, in Mike Gordon, Jason Jarvis and Marty Janzen. Gordon and Jarvis never climbed higher than Double "A", and Janzen had only a brief stint with the Jays. Over parts of two seasons, he went 6-7 with a 6.39 ERA. He was ultimately claimed in the expansion draft by Arizona after the 1997 season and then was traded back to the Yankees. However, Janzen never saw the light of day in the Majors again. Cone helped the Yankees win four World Series (1996, 1998-2000) to go with the ring he won with the Blue Jays in 1992.

Looking Ahead

The next 16 games are going to be huge for the Blue Jays. Over that span, they play 10 games against the Yankees and Baltimore, starting with a four-game set at Camden Yards later this week, then a road series with the Yankees on the same trip followed by a three-game set at Rogers Centre June 23-25.

Show of Respect

I don't know if it was a one-off or just the "Cardinals way" but it was impressive and classy when the St. Louis players lined up in front of their dugout Sunday for the anthems.

Home, Not Sweet Home

One of the oddities of this season is the L.A. Dodgers home record. For all their starting pitching and their talent laden lineup, they are only 13-19 at Dodger Stadium. The only team in the Majors with a worse mark is Arizona at 11-23. The timing couldn't be worse for the Dodgers, since the Giants are starting to run away with the division at 42-21, the best record in MLB. Luckily for the Dodgers, they are still just a half game out of a Wild Card spot, battling it out with the likes of the Braves, Nationals, Marlins and Cardinals. If this continues, the Dodgers figure to be one of the more active teams by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.



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