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Transaction Report: McClung Demoted, Jackson Up

Transaction Report 6/22/06

The Move-The Rays demoted starter Seth McClung to Triple A Durham

The Details-McClung will work out of the bullpen for Durham, and the Rays are apparently gearing his future toward being a relief pitcher.

The Analysis-Seth is my favorite player. He is Jake's favorite player. He is a lot of fans' favorite player. Why? Because he is personable, pleasant to talk to, and doesn't spout of cliched sports quotes when you have a conversation with him. He is the genuine thing. But perhaps most of all, it is because he has got a right arm that not too many people possess. He can sit regularly in the mid 90s with his fastball, and can hit the late 90s while being able to give that fastball a sliding effect. He gets great movement on his change. He was even showing some nice curveballs earlier this season. That is why it is so frustrating, with all of that good stuff, that he has been unable to put it together due to command issues. He'll put together a masterful, seven inning shutout performance with seven strikeouts one start, and then the next four will be five run, four inning outings. It is so frustrating to see that continuous pattern. And the Rays have tried everything to rectify it. Personal catchers, instructional work, McClung has too good of an arm to not devote resources to him. All of those resources, however, were to no avail.

For that reason, it was time to make this move, to do something new. It has been suggested before that he would make a good closer, and now we get to find out. Because it wasn't working out as a starter. He had a 6.81 ERA, and had walked nine more than he struck out. Even for the tireless McClung defender that I am, that is tough to defend. Sure, just like any season, there were flashes that he was putting together, like a 1.95 ERA during a string of starts between April 26th and May 17th, but other than that, there is no disguising it. He was just pure awful. So it was time for a change. He needed to get out of the major leagues, and he needed a change, and this move gives it to him, because remember, if McClung can sit in the mid 90s over several innings as a starter, imagine what he could do in one or two innings in the bullpen! And along with his nasty breaking stuff, getting at hitters late in the ballgame when they are worn out could prove to be very advantageous for McClung. And you get the added caveat of hitters not facing McClung multiple times like when he was a starter, which often did him in.

Now I realize we have already tried McClung as a reliever at the beginning of 2005, which was a spectacular failure, but remember, he was just a middle reliever then, and further, he was mishandled by Lou just like everyone else. I want to see what he can do in a set role with Durham. But no matter what you think of the move, it was time for a change, there is no doubting that. We can only hope the change will benefit Seth.

The Move-The Rays called up Triple A Durham righty Edwin Jackson to take McClung's spot on the roster in the bullpen

The Details-Jackson will work out of the bullpen, which he has only done once this season. Meanwhile, Tim Corcoran, currently in the bullpen as a middle reliever, will move into the starting rotation.

The Analysis-This move does not make a lick of sense. I have no problem with sending McClung down and moving Corcoran into the rotation, I'm glad that he will get a chance in the rotation that he has never gotten fairly outside of one start on the last day of the 2005 season. Hell, he hasn't even been fairly handled in the bullpen, as Lou's erratic handling of him last year indicates. Why not give him a chance?

But calling Jackson up makes no sense. None. What possible defense is there for this? Even with Switzer called up in another move, there are still plenty of other pitchers at Durham more deserving of a spot here than Jackson. Juan Salas, Chad Orvella, Scott Dunn, Jose Rodriguez, Jeff Ridgway, Brian Stokes, Jason Hammel, and Chris Seddon all have lower ERAs than Jackson's 6.05 ERA among pitchers on the Bulls' staff, with the closest ERA among those pitchers, Seddon's, being at 4.85. Is that to say all of those pitchers deserve a call-up? Certainly not, but it illustrates a point just how poorly Jackson has pitched. Personally, I think that Stokes, Rodriguez, and Dunn, in that order, deserve call-ups before Jackson.

To make this clear, I like Jackson. I like his stuff. When I was in Durham last Friday night, I was the only one cheering for him during the rough outing. But the fact of the matter is, he hasn't deserved a call-up. While his stuff may be nasty, he has yet to become a pitcher, he is still at the thrower stage. His pitch selection is terrible, and his velocity has actually diminished somewhat from its previous level. That all needs work, and the major leagues are not the place to work on that. I've heard we need a "live arm" in the bullpen, and yeah, you could say Jackson is that live arm-type. But you can't ignore the stats and the stuff he needs work on in favor of his "live arm", you just can't.

And about those stats, there is nothing in them that indicates Jackson deserves a call-up. He is giving up an opponent's batting average of .300, and his control is nothing special either, at a 55:32 K/BB. The only good number he has is those strikeouts, and that isn't enough to overrule all of his other stats. He is actually worse away from hitter-friendly Durham Bulls Athletic Park than he is on the road, so that isn't it. And he hasn't been hot recently, as his 7.01 ERA since the start of May can attest. And what about his relief record? He has pitched all of one inning, and there is nothing to indicate that a larger sample size would result in a result radically different from his starts, as he has a 9.24 ERA in his first two innings of work as a starter. What good reason at all is there for him to come up? What has he done to deserve the call? Why is Brian Stokes, who has pitched well and is being moved out of the rotation to make room for J.P. Howell, not being called up instead? This move makes no sense, and it isn't debatable, like the Gathright trade. This was just plainly a bad move.

Story []
McClung Stats [Fan Graphs]
Jackson Major League Stats [Fan Graphs]
Jackson Minor League Stats []