Wednesday, 22 May 2013
I was a little miffed a few minutes ago, but then I thought about it and now it's more of a depression.
Melky Cabrera gets the day off today, and Anthony Gose takes his place. Seems reasonable. Mark Buehrle seems like the kind of guy that would profit from having some quality defense available behind him, as a guy who gets guys to put the ball in play a lot. Anthony Gose appears to be rather good at defense, while Melky Cabrera isn't exactly so, especially with those pesky old hammies acting up on him.
What I don't understand is the use of Gose in the leadoff position as well. It's not like there are endless possibilities out there as far as leadoff-type guys, what with Reyes hurt, Cabrera sitting, and all remaining offense coming from the bats of Edwin, Jose Bautista, and Adam Lind. That still feels weird to say.
Other options include Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, JPA Arencibia, Maicer Izturis, and Munenori Kawasaki (aside from slotting Derosa or Boni in there) so it's not like we're facing anything other than an unconventional guy in the 1-hole. JPA is probably the worst option, but Lawrie is currently rocking the sub-.300 OBP, and Rasmus just kind of hovering there as well. Maicer Izturis hasn't been good by any stretch, and he might actually be just as bad as JPA as far as leadoff options go.
I'd personally stick Muni up there..237/.351/.303 isn't anything to go panic about, but it's certainly better than whatever the major-league equivalent of .227/.343/.325. I suppose you could make the case that Colby Rasmus works there in a pinch vs. a righty (.254/.321/.451 career), but all those strikeouts make me want to punch someone.
Ultimately, there aren't any good options without Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera in the lineup. Cabrera needs to take a seat and let everything heal, regardless of how well he's hitting lately. Giving him the day off today is probably the most reasonable scenario, given Buehrle's tendency to have lots of contact. Melky covers little ground when healthy-- we don't need singles turning in to doubles.
Fangraphs has a Q+A with Marcus Stroman.
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports on Ricky Romero's start last night for the Bisons. Harrington uses the power of hindsight to say that he'd have removed Romero after five innings and 76 pitches so that Romero could "feel good about the start." Should have listened Skip, because Romero lost the zone in the 6th inning, walking four straight Also within that piece, Dustin McGowan was supposed to throw two innings, but only recorded a single out, allowing three runs to score.
Finally, I'd like to point out that James Loney is currently sitting at a .377 babip for the season.
Early start today, by the way.
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Staff ace "Razor" Ramon Ortiz will go against the Rays tonight. I'd typically do a crude job of MSPainting Ortiz' face on to the above picture, or something along those lines anyway, but I'm at work and probably won't get home until pretty close to game-time. As such, this is definitely going to have to do.
My not doing photoshops is a story in and of itself, but I'd like to have a chat about this Anthony Gose fella.
See, I really don't think he's ever going to hit. I saw a comp for Gose as "Pre-2013 Carlos Gomez," which I think is totally fair. I doubt Gogo is suddenly magically good with the bat, but regardless, his career batting line, without looking it up again, is like .253/.300/.393, which is really only good if you're a gifted defender at a premium position. Gogo is great in CF for Milwaukee, and from what we've heard, Gose will be the very same, meanwhile adding value with his baserunning and steals and whatnot.
There are rumblings going around that Gose isn't ready for MLB, using his mediocre batting as perfectly good evidence. He's only hitting like .227 in AAA so far this year, so yeah, anyone saying this is probably right. We certainly don't need another Ricky Romero situation on our hands again.
The issue I see with that is that Gose is probably never going to hit at anything near a league-average clip, so his growth probably isn't going to be stunted by this callup, even if the callup is permanent, since (a) hitting coach Chad Mottola had some success with him last year in Las Vegas (I know, I know, hitter-friendly PCL), and (b) his value as a defender and baserunner is probably at or near peak, and it certainly sounds like he's MLB-ready as far as fielding and running are concerned.
Beside, once Rajai Davis returns, Gose is probably sent back down, barring any other injuries or DL stints, to say, Melky Cabrera. Gose was worth more per game, in a small sample, than Colby Rasmus was last year, and he did all of that with a below replacement level bat at a premium position. I don't think the bat is anything to worry about, especially for a two-week callup where he won't be playing everyday.
Josh Johnson threw for Dunedin last night or yesterday or something, going three reasonable innings in his first rehab start.
Marc Hulet scouted some Jays for Fangraphs.
Saturday, 18 May 2013
|I did that to you again.|
Morrow today. The last time he faced the Yankees, he really got his ass kicked, allowing 7 runs over like 5 innings or something stupid. I was at the game. I drank too much. I'm sure one had a lot to do with the other.
Things went a lot better last time out, of course. 8 innings against Seattle, allowing 3 hits and 5 walks, striking out 8. Baby steps, I figure. Let's not forget that, between that start and today, Morrow had a start bumped due to back and neck spasms. Because everybody's hurt.
If anything is certain, this season, a month and a half in, has turned me in to a bi-polar wreck.
Injury updates! Josh Johnson will begin his rehab stint this week. Jose Reyes has rejoined the team, mostly to hang out, and will stay and practice with the club until his rehab games. Dustin McGowan will rehab in AAA for a while, before the Jays need to decide what to do with him. He's on the 60-day DL for another while yet, so there's nothing pressing, but if guys like Mickey Storey, Edgar Gonzalez, and Ramon Ortiz are getting appearances in, there should be room enough for DMcG.
Friday, 17 May 2013
Through 55 plate appearances, most of which occurring while he has been one of those more terrible players in the league, Wells has hit .480/.509/.780 against Buehrle. That's some success.
Of course, Buehrle pitched fairly well in his last appearance, holding the Red Sox to 1 run and 5 hits over 7 innings. He gave up 7 runs to the Rays over 6 innings in the start before that, ultimately putting forth 5 good innings. We're certainly not going to forget about the bad one, of course, but silver lining, I suppose, if we ever feel like getting rid of this contract.
John Lott examines Casey Janssen's approach to pitching. Of course, I already did that, without talking to the guy.
Dustin McGowan will continue his rehab assignment in AAA Buffalo, writes BNS of Sportsnet. McGowan will be used as a reliever, and may very well see some time in the bigs soon.
The Astros are expected to explore an extension for a personal favorite of mine, Jose Altuve. I mention this only because of how much I'd love for AA to try and acquire him from the Astros, if they're willing. I don't expect the Astros to contend for another couple of years, so they might get the use of one good year out of Altuve, so trading him might be a fruitful endeavor, especially since he's still got three years of control left. There's an awful lot of value in a 23 year old 2B with a career .294/.336/.397 batting line, especially when you consider how weak the middle infield market has been over the last few years.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
I either quoted The Arcade Fire, Linkin Park, or nobody just now. That doesn't really matter a whole lot either way-- just needed a title. Anyway.
Baseball Prospectus gives the Toronto Blue Jays a 3.7% chance at making the playoffs this season. That is not a very big number. Sports Club Stats gives them a 0.3% chance. That's a smaller number. Cool Standings has them at 2.8%. That's a number somewhere in between the first two. ESPN also gives them 2.8%, which is the same number as the last one, which leads me to believe that they have some similarities within their formulae.
Some quick math, for the non-believers. Last year, division winners won an average of 94.3 games. In 2011, division winners won 96.6 games. In 2010, 93.3 wins. Using those three years as a sample certainly isn't exact science by any stretch, especially when we consider the Wild Card, but you get the idea, and it's probably an irrelevant study to go back much further just to narrow down the number that we're looking at. 90 wins probably isn't going to get it done. Let's call 93 wins the benchmark here, just to be conservative, as long as we know that it doesn't guarantee anything.
The Jays currently sit at 16-24, leaving 122 games to play in the 2013 season. The Jays would need to go 77-45 down the stretch in order to make it to that 93-win plateau. That's a .631 winning percentage. A .630 winning percentage, extrapolated to a full year, is a 102-win season. That's a big number. I'm not saying that it's impossible, just that there's somewhere in the 0.3-3.7% likelihood of it happening, and that doesn't consider the injury situation at the moment. The Jays essentially need to take 2-of-3 in every series for the rest of the season.
It's not entirely out of the question-- playing above .500 against the division, and sweeping the Astros, Twins, Mariners, White Sox and Royals for the rest of the year ought to do it.
Alright. I'm done humoring you. This season, for all intents and purposes, is over, barring a miracle that begins really, really soon. All the talk in the preseason was that the Jays would evaluate their options at the deadline, and be able to add pieces and payroll if it makes sense. It's probably not going to make sense. What will likely make sense, and therefore happen, is the selling of assets, not the buying.
Who goes? Who are the likely partners? Who are the targets?
We can begin with who won't be traded. There is still a core here that can compete next year. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarancion, Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie seem pretty locked in to place. RA Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Mark Buehrle are pretty likely to stick around as well-- Dickey and Morrow are controlled and are (probably) not as bad as their stats to this point in the season would indicate. Buehrle's contract is one of those borderline "unmovable" ones. I'm sure if someone wants Buehrle, they could pry him loose without a whole lot of effort, but it seems unlikely to me. Melky Cabrera, JA Happ, and JP Arencibia have some degree of trade value, but all are under control for 2014, and would be entirely reasonable options for a team hoping to contend next season. Maicer Izturis is signed on for three years (albeit cheaply), and would be a surprise to go anywhere.
The bullpen is made up mostly of young, controllable guys; Delabar, Rogers, Janssen, Santos, Cecil and Loup are all either under contract, or still under team control at least through next season. All are assets, to a degree, but again, would be of reasonable use for a team looking to contend next year. Of all the names mentioned so far, Janssen is probably the most likely to be moved, in my view, given the proclivity of certain GM's to overpay for a "proven closer".
That leaves Colby Rasmus, Emilio Bonifacio, Rajai Davis, Adam Lind, Henry Blanco, Mark Derosa and Munenori Kawasaki on the position player side, and Josh Johnson, Ricky Romero, and Darren Oliver as pitchers.
Rasmus looks like a decent candidate to be moved. Anthony Gose, among others, is waiting in the wings in AAA. He's shown some life offensively, albeit in the hitter-friendly PCL, to go along with his excellent defense and baserunning value. He'll probably never hit at a league-average clip, but there's still value there, especially as a CF. If someone wants to take a flyer on Rasmus, there's definitely a replacement or two kicking around.
Adam Lind, suddenly, has the ability to take a walk. With no defensive ability, and extreme platoon splits hindering his ability to hit lefty pitching, there's limited trade value, but to a National League team who could use a bench bat or plug-in for a 1B/DH, Lind could be a useful rental player. We never know who will get injured between now and the deadline.
Bonifacio and Davis are both bench players, but can provide value in their own special ways. Bonifacio is one of the fastest players in the league, and can play all over the diamond somewhat respectably. He can pinch-run, provide utility defense, and is a better hitter than most pitchers, which is really useful to a NL team. Doubtful he'd fetch much, but who knows. Davis is also fast as shit, but he also hits lefties very well. Davis will be a free agent after the season, while Boni will be arbitration eligible for the final time. Pros and cons to both.
As for Muni, Derosa and Blanco, there's probably not much there to move. Derosa has played well in limited action, and as a 39-year old guy who will probably retire soon, it would be nice to trade him to a contender down the stretch and give him one last shot at a ring. I'd be jettisoning Blanco before too long if I were in charge, and getting Josh Thole up here. Muni might get DFA'ed once Jose Reyes returns from injury, but he's shown some respectable on-base skills, especially for a SS, so he might be worth keeping around. Regardless, nobody is going to pay anything for a light-hitting 32-year old middle infielder.
On to pitchers; the most interesting case is Josh Johnson. Johnson was a good season away from an $80MM+ contract, but has found himself on the disabled list with arm troubles, hindering his odds at a big multi-year deal greatly. As such, it's not as likely, or worthwhile, to offer him a qualifying offer at the end of the year in order to obtain draft pick compensation. If he can recover to something resembling his typical form, he'd be one of the more valuable options on the market at the deadline. Hard to say what's going to happen, but if AA is in win-now mode, I would expect that he'd make a trade and try to find something useful for the present (i.e. MLB-ready player), rather than for the future (draft pick).
Darren Oliver is in the same boat as Mark Derosa-- he's old, probably ready to retire, but still has some value left in his arm. May as well flip him to a contender at the deadline as a favor.
Romero has $23MM left on his contract, and is in AAA. Someone might take him, but only if they can get away with paying him next to nothing.
It may be mid-May, but this season is about as close to over as it can get. It's probably a little scary, as far as thoughts are concerned, but if things don't get fancy in a real hurry, AA should probably consider getting a headstart on the trade market. Even if it's not early anymore, it's still early; the trade deadline is still 2.5 months away. There's still another month or so to get back above .500, which should probably serve as a reasonable barometer of where this team is.
Teams rarely give up on the year before the all-star break, and all it earns them is a worse draft pick, and now, a smaller draft bonus pool. There's no use in finishing the year with 78-84 wins, other than the self-respect that you can have for not being the absolute most embarrassing team in baseball, which the Astros have pretty much locked up.
This situation is probably a little bit different-- Reyes will be back soon, and the rotation ERA is sure to improve (hopefully!), so even in the event of a sale of everything other than the 15 names listed at the top (i.e. Rasmus, Oliver, Lind), the bulk of the value is going to come from those 15 guys, and the difference between the tradees and their replacements isn't going to be some vast chasm.
Thursday, 9 May 2013
Not gonna shit on you, Ricky. It's not your fault. A respectable start against a bunch of 19 year olds probably shouldn't have been grounds for a call-up in the first place.
It really is unfair of the Jays organization to send Ricky down to A-ball to get some work done, make one start, and then expect him to be able to take the mound in a pinch, expecting him to eat up a bunch of innings since the bullpen has been overworked. Mechanical changes don't just happen overnight-- humans don't really work that way. Muscle-memory, and the like.
Yeah, it was kind of unfortunate that Josh Johnson went down with a triceps injury, and that Mark Buehrle has not been very effective over his first five starts, or that the Jays bullpen has thrown more innings than every team other than the lowly Houston AAAstros. I guess the Jose Reyes injury compunds those issues, in the sense that the offense is going to suffer in his absence, putting more pressure on the pitching staff.
This team needs starters to go deep in to ballgames. Bad starts happen to every team, and they've happened a lot to this one in particular. But Ricky Romero is still an asset. An asset that is being paid something in the range of $23MM over the next three years, and as recently as one year ago, he was the alternate face of the franchise, next to Jose Bautista. Perhaps we should treat him a little better.
I really don't think anybody (within their right mind, anyway) had reasonable expectations when it came to Romero, after being called up. He fucked around with his mechanics in the minors, and made one start, after all. We should really know better, by now.
We, as an internet baseball community, tend to believe in statistics and pretty much only statistics to quantify any beliefs that we have. At least that's the stereotype that dinosaurs cast upon us. Nonsensical statements like "get out of your parents' basement" and "if you actually watched the games, rather than just reading the scoresheet, you'd know that..." are probably a little less common now than they were a few years ago, with the rising popularity of advanced metrics, but they're certainly still out there. It's just that it's pretty impossible to quantify the impact that leadership, grit, perseverance or confidence have on a team of adult professional athletes over the course of a season.
The Romero situation is one that, regardless of any statistical evidence pointing otherwise (if it exists, somewhere), proves that these players aren't just words with numbers beside them on a boxscore; these are actual humans, with feelings and emotions and brains. Ricky Romero really shouldn't have been brought up to pitch last week, no matter how good his start in A-ball was (he was probably just brought up because he was the 6th man on the depth chart and was on something resembling regular rest; not because he had a good start in A-ball, but I digress).
The Jays announced this morning that they've DFA'ed Edgar Gonzalez again, and have optioned Ricky Romero to AAA-Buffalo, selecting the contracts of Mickey Storey and Ramon Ortiz to take their places. The Gonzalez thing, I can live with-- need a fresh arm. The Ortiz and Storey thing is probably correct too, depending on freshness and availability. But at this point, those moves are just righting the wrong that was made by calling Romero up to face Seattle this past week.
Romero had a really shitty year in 2012, and started off 2013 by being demoted, after being told all spring that the fifth spot in the rotation was his. We're now a month in to the year, and he's been demoted again. I don't know the guy personally, but I'll guess that he didn't really need to be demoted twice in the first month of the year. Tthese last 14 months have had to be really, really shitty for a guy that was once treated as a face of the franchise. They don't just make bobbleheads out of nobody. They don't put nobody on big posters and jerseys, and so on. They don't give $30MM to nobody.
Ricky Romero is somebody. He's a somebody with a few issues, as far as pitching is concerned, but this really isn't the way to fix them.
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Probably not. But let's get our imaginations going anyway, no?
Desmond Jennings struck out in the above still. He did not swing the bat once. According to Pitch Trax or whatever the fuck you wanna call that thing on the corner of the screen, there is one pitch inside the strike zone, and four outside of it. Typically, when a player doesn't swing the bat in a given plate appearance that sees four of five pitches outside the strike zone, that player will saunter to first base. In this case, Jennings walked back to the bench, shaking his head in disbelief at striking out.
Basically, Casey Janssen has been getting some calls, and it's part of the reason why he's gotten something like 25 straight batters out. And it wasn't just this at-bat either. Next hitter was Kelly Johnson:
That's a bad call.
So what's my point? Well, let's get some pitch f/x up in this shit. Marty Foster had a horseshit zone Tuesday night, as evidenced here, but it was consistently horseshit, and for both sides.
Is it just possible that Janssen noticed Foster's aggressive zone from the bullpen and decided to exploit that? Let's have a look at several other appearances.
May 6: Mike Everitt has a pretty consistent zone, and does a pretty good job if you consider the loose definition of the strike zone that pitch F/X has, with their typical zones for LHH and RHH. I want to focus on LHH zone for this one, specifically, the little shaded zone that is technically a traditional ball, but tends to get called a strike more often than not. First the zone:
and now Janssen, vs. LHH-- who happens to be Kelly Johnson, again. Johnson struck out looking, naturally:
Nothing egregious, but nibbling effectively for certain. When you consider the zone for the rest of the night, those calls are pretty consistent. If it was a strike on the first pitch, it may as well be a strike on the third and fifth pitches as well, especially if it's been a strike all night long. And now for a huge gif of the three strikes in question. Just because. I've left in examples of body language. Note not only Johnson's severely rustled jimmies, but also Janssen walking off the mound, very cocksure of what he has just done to a former friend and teammate.
Tony Randazzo is pretty consistently wide against lefty hitters, and Janssen gets himself a couple of calls. First, Randazzo's LHH zone, then Janssen's zone v LHH, with two pretty generous called strikes:
Last one. Janssen threw 11 pitches in this outing, and got 7 called strikes. Good lord. Dana Demuth's zone against lefties:
Again, pretty stretched out. Janssen, against Fielder, Martinez and Dirks-- all lefties:
I'll point out that this game was played outdoors, in Detroit, in the rain, in early April. It was probably fucking cold and the umpire may very well have been ready to just go home.
Janssen has been so effective to this point that he's thrown an average of 12 pitches per appearance, which doesn't exactly lend to a whole lot of data. Eliminate swings and called strikes that are very clearly good strikes (i.e. takes), and we're getting a little short on evidence either supporting or opposing my theory.
I suppose the absence of certain data is probably a bit glaring. An umpire with a more conservative zone should theoretically lead to Janssen being slightly more aggressive within the strikezone, but I don't really see that much in the rest of the pitch F/X data for Janssen's appearances.
Ultimately, it's hard to say whether or not Janssen is doing all of this purposely, or if he's just getting a few extra calls here or there. It's certainly possible that he's seeing some bigger-than-normal zones and is expanding his zone, but I don't think there's any real way of quantifying it for sure.
I do plan on keeping my eyes peeled, since Janssen is pretty much must-see TV right now. Considering a perfect game, of which, 23 have ever happened in the majors, is 27 consecutive outs, Janssen is doing something pretty special so far this season. Janssen has retired 25 straight batters, leading back nearly a month ago. Yeah, maybe he's getting a bit of help from the umps, but maybe, just maybe, we've got ourselves a nerd with some pinpoint accuracy, a sharp eye from the bullpen, and the wherewithal to exploit an edge.