In a previous era of
Devil Rays baseball, we were all atwitter about the prospect Chuck LaMar acquired from Oakland for Jim Mecir. In fact, we couldn’t believe our luck that Oakland’s brash GM would deal such a good prospect for Jim Mecir. (I am sure a movie featuring George Clooney as Charles G. LaMar is forthcoming, just wait for it.) Big right arm, scorching fastball, and 388 strikeouts in just 419 minor-league innings.
Then we met Jesus Colome and realized that his fastball was incredibly flat (We also started wondering what happened to our wallets. Quick digression, back in September 2000 when Delvin James, Marquis Roberts, and Colome thwarted a bank robbery in St. Petersburg, the running joke was that James and Roberts actually thwarted Colome’s attempted robbery.)
Does this song sound familiar? We have been waiting for Jake McGee to bring his big fastball to the Rays’ big league bullpen for quite some time. He was the security blanket that helped us look beyond the expensive departures of the firm of Benoit and Soriano this winter. But, like Colome, McGee has a flaw in his armor.
McGee has given up a bomb in each of his last three outings. The late homer he allowed to Melky Cabrera Thursday night looked eerily familiar to the 3-run bomb I saw Brian Roberts hit off him in the 8th inning of game 2 this season. Back then, I remember turning to the Mrs. and saying “man, this kid throws a really flat fastball.”
Here’s the thing that concerns me. He went back to Durham after his early struggles and worked on something before returning recently. I have to believe that his fastball was among the things he worked on. If not, the entire Durham detour would be a huge waste of time. So, that raises the question in my mind, if you throw a really flat fastball, can you learn to throw it with some deception or not?
Obviously, Colome never could get over his own problem. But he had a ton of non-baseball issues that I always presumed limited his ability to grow. In watching Jake McGee, I think I might owe Colome an apology.