If nothing else, Brett Cecil is selfless.
So concerned was he with ensuring the Detroit Tigers were prepared for Opening Day, he generously assumed the role of pitching machine in his final Grapefruit League appearance today.
Over his four innings of magnanimity, Cecil surrendered a staggering nine runs -- seven earned -- on 11 hits and one walk while striking out one. Consequently, his spring ERA stands at 6.48.
If, for some inexplicable reason, you reject this theory that Cecil was simply overcome by some altrusitic intention, you'll have to confront the reality that Toronto's most lambasted southpaw -- whose job security, some suggest, has become increasingly tenuous of late -- got absolutely ripped in his final spring bid to secure his place in the rotation.
At the end of last season, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Cecil would serve as Toronto's #3/4 starter in 2012. Despite a turbulent 2011 punctuated by an eight-week demotion to AAA, Cecil fashioned an ERA of 4.02 from July through September, performing just well enough to keep the skeptics and naysayers -- a contingent I, myself, belong to -- at bay.
And while many have lauded Cecil's off-season conditioning efforts, his substantially diminished midsection does little to assuage my fears about his equally diminished velocity. The always reliable Shi Davidi reported that "Cecil was mostly 86-87 in first" this afternoon, and "topped out at 88, a ball."
I've never subscribed to the notion that velocity is necessarily a prerequisite to success, but the evidence is certainly compelling me to reconsider. I mean, look at Brad Mills.
At this point, it looks like Kyle Drabek will fill the the McGowan vacancy, but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the possibility of awarding Aaron Laffey the job that putatively belongs to Cecil.
Frankly, with the wealth of high-ceiling arms Alex Anthopoulos has accumulated, it's conceivable that Cecil's future with this team is limited anyway. Over 65 major league starts, Cecil has hucked and guiled his way to an uninspiring 4.36 xFIP. Sure, Laffey's technically pales in comparison at 4.76 (over 126 appearances -- 49 starts), but given the current ethos of this team -- and weighing the potential upside of keeping Cecil in the rotation -- I still feel inclined to throw the guy who gives me the best chance to win tonight.
Today, I feel that guy is Aaron Laffey, not Brett Cecil. Tomorrow, I may feel differently.
But for now, it's hard to justify giving a rotation spot to a guy who bears an increasingly unsettling resemblance to a pitching machine.