A couple of games ago I watched Brett Cecil’s start against the Texas Rangers where he and some Jays relievers combined to almost squander an 11 run lead. This shaky behaviour is not atypical of Cecil and it got me to thinking about a conversation I had with Kman not too long ago. It went a little something like this:
Kman: Calman, who would you rather have on your staff? Brett Cecil or (Braves prospect) Tommy Hanson?
Callum: Good question. Their minor league numbers are fairly similar. Hanson is a great pitcher but I think I would rather have Cecil just because he is a lefty.
Wow, does that look like a bad decision in hindsight. Since then Hanson has been called up by the Atlanta Braves and has gone 9-3 with a 1.25 WHIP. This has vaulted him (arguably) to the top of the heap in the NL Rookie of the Year race. Meanwhile, Cecil has gone 6-3 (mostly due to run support) with a 5.42 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. Not so good.
Let’s look at their minor league #’s in 2008, which I described as “similar.”
They have roughly the same #’s at mostly the same levels, with Cecil making a few starts at the AAA level while Hanson ended the season at AA. Based on these statistics it is reasonable to assume that they will project to be similar major league pitchers, yes? Let’s look at this year’s numbers, minor league and major league included.
Both players began the season at the AAA level and this is where the differences are evident. Though Cecil plays in the hitting-friendly Pacific Coast League, I don’t think his inflated ERA numbers can be blame entirely on the league factor. If you look at the K:BB ratios, Hanson’s improved significantly to almost 9:1 while Cecil’s floundered to 1.5:1. Not good. This tells me that Cecil is having trouble this season commanding his pitches. When he got to the bigs, it improved slightly to 2:1 (HELLO Brad Arnsberg?) but hitters were hitting at a better clip than in the PCL at .306. So, he was throwing more strikes but those strikes were being hit.
Why is Tommy Hanson thriving? Why is Brett Cecil floundering? Is Cecil hurt? Can it be attributed solely to playing in the vicious AL East in the big boy league while Hanson is pitching in the AAAA National League? Is Hanson just a far superior pitcher and this is a case of Cecil’s shortcomings being exposed at the higher levels? Is he fatigued from being a converted reliever? Please let me know your thoughts known in the comment section and we can revisit these as their careers (hopefully) progress. Will Brett Cecil fulfull his potential or are we doomed for more “Cecil Madness.” Oh, and for all you Mr.X fans out there, below is Cecil and his newlywed wife.