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Catching Up With Clayton

I realize the sample size is rather small but the most successful manager in Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays PDA-wise) history was back at the Nat last week.  Clayton McCullough, the C’s boss for both 2012 and 2013 was taking up a familiar position in the home dugout, albeit in a different uniform, for a few days.  As he made his first visit to Vancouver as part of his new role as Coordinator of Instruction.

Charlie Wilson, the Jays minor league coordinator described McCullough’s new role during this interview.  Speaking to C’s pitching coach, Jeff Ware, he basically described him as the boss, there to oversee what is going on, both on the field and in the clubhouse.

I managed to catch up with Clayton for a five minute chat after one of the games.  Although I forgot to record it, below are some of the highlights.

On the new role, despite fact McCullough has been to New Hampshire once so far this season, he’ll primarily be travelling between all the affiliates from Dunedin on down.  As his title suggests, part of his remit is to ensure players are getting the instruction they need but I think another aspect of his job is getting another set of eyes on certain players so the Jays can be sure they are at the proper level.

That came up when I asked him why Dalton Pompey took so long to be promoted to New Hampshire.  When I suggested a Rule 5 eligible player should be tested at a higher level to see what they had, Clayton disagreed, saying the Rule 5 issues had absolutely no bearing on how they dealt with Dalton.  The Jays know what they have with Pompey, both as a player and as a person.  Sometimes, despite levels of success or failure, they believe a player is at the right level and that was the case for Pompey in Dunedin.  Part of the reasoning being fact the Mississauga native had only really been healthy and on the field consistently since last year.

Staying on the ‘appropriate level’ theme I asked if the plan was to keep the young, Latin American shortstops from Emilio Guerrero in Dunedin on down at their current level?  Or if one or two of them could play their way up or down.  Again, Clayton said, as an organization, they were happy with where all the shortstops currently sit, even mentioning that they were all probably a bit young for their level.

Baseball References handy AgeDiff stat which tracks a players age versus the weighted mean of the rest of the league they are in bears this out, with all five shortstops averaging out at 2.5 years younger than their peers.  Franklin Barreto is the most extreme example at 3.3 years below the Northwest League average.  Kinda helps explain some of his recent struggles.

That all being said, I don’t believe Guerrero playing five of his last seven games at center field is just to give Peter Mooney reps at short.  Most reports you read did have Emilio moving off short at some point, this may be the beginning.  Which theoretically could lead to Dawel Lugo, who has cooled off somewhat after a torrid May, getting a late-season call-up to the Florida State League.

Lastly, I asked the two time NWL champion (I didn’t notice him wearing his rings) if he had any news on Ladner’s Tom Robson.  I’m not sure if he was being purposefully vague with me or genuinely didn’t know but he said things like ‘rehab’ and ‘we should know in a couple of weeks what path to take’ etc etc.

One thing he did confirm was that it’s Tom’s elbow that is the issue.  That can only mean bad news.  I’m just surprised, after the Jays recent history, that they haven’t just bitten the bullet and sent Robson to Dr. James Andrews.  Obviously I hope it doesn’t come to that, but given the length of time he has been in Florida, I’d be surprised if rehab was successful.

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