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Canada, Love, and R.J. Swindle

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For those of you that read my "Cult Classics" piece in the DRB Annual, you'll be aware that I have a rather unhealthy love of marginal players.  Actually, to be more specific, I love quirky, underdog players - those players that may or may not be very talented, but are entertaining as heck to watch and follow.  Sure, talented players can be goofy and entertaining as well (see: J.P. Howell), but there's something about quirky, not-so-talented players that just make them so darn irresistible.  Starting back with Luis Sojo and traveling through such players as Jonny Gomes and Casey Fossum (AKA the love of my life), I find myself drawn to these players, unable to resist their eccentricities and mediocrity.

At the end of the "Cult Classics" piece, I decided that Kelly Shoppach would most likely become my cult hero this season since we've been missing a larger-than-life swing ever since Jonny Gomes left.  Somehow, though, I had completely forgotten about another player that easily climbs to the top of my "Cult Hero" meter: R.J. Swindle.  We've discussed Swindle here on DRB before but for those unfamiliar with him, Swindle is a side-armed lefty reliever that hits 84 MPH with his fastball and 55 MPH with his curveball.  While the obvious comparison to Casey Fossum (!!) can be made, Swindle is actually good.  Here's a taste of some of his statistics:

IP

K/9

BB/9

K/BB

HR/9

ERA

FIP

AAA

88.2

9.90

2.35

4.22

0.41

1.63

2.47

AA

16.2

8.64

0.54

16

0

0.54

1.64

A+

15.0

12.00

1.80

6.67

1.80

4.80

3.73

A

73.1

10.23

1.23

8.30

0

0.74

1.34

FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching and an explanation of it can be found here.

Talk about dominant, huh?  If I didn't know any better, I would say those statistics were those of a fireballin' first-rounder, not a soft-tossing minor league free agent.  He's been RJ Anderson's paramour for a long time, but now that RJ has ridden off into the sunset, I figure someone needs to pick up the reins to the Swindle Wagon.

And to make matters even better, according to an interview he had with Tony Fabrizio of Rays Report, apparently he's from Vancouver.  Recent event tie-in!

A: "I actually grew up in Orlando. I was home-schooled, but I was able to play at University Christian, a 6A school. I actually got my number retired within the last few months. I was pretty good in high school, tops in the county in ERA and all that stuff. So I was able to get a college scholarship out of it (from Charleston Southern)."

Oh...well, good job Wikipedia.  At least his parents must have been Canadians...

A: "Neither. My dad grew up just south of the border in Bellingham, Wash., and he had a sister up there, so they were living close to them. He was actually working as a lumberjack in the foothills of the Vancouver mountains, looking for a job. He's an engineer now. My mom grew up in Cocoa Beach."

Dang.  So much for that.  At least he's got good taste, though:

A "A real top-of-the-line BMW is what I always thought I would like. I have a Tahoe (SUV) now, but I always had junky cars up until this last season."

As Billy Joel would say, Big Shot Pimpin'.  Swindle has performed well against both righties and lefties, but the reality is that he's mainly in consideration for the Rays' LOOGY position.  Randy Choate probably has the position all but locked up, but if an injury or act of God happens to occur, Swindle will be just a plane ride away.  Spring training has barely begun and I already have my first love of the season.  I couldn't be more excited.

Oh, and if anyone cares to photoshop Swindle into a BMW, wearing a lumberjack shirt, I'd be down with that.