Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Cry for Sanity

That sure looks like the image of a guy who just struck out, doesn't it?

Now, I'll not be the first to mention that Ryan Goins is on this team thanks in large part (whole part?) to his defense, and that we aren't supposed to expect him to do much hitting, if any.  We knew he couldn't hit, and that he was going to strike out at an outrageous clip, provide no walks, no steals, and relatively few quality plate appearances.  We didn't necessarily agree with it, but we knew what was coming.

I also know that we're 9 games in to the season, which amounts to 20 plate appearances for Goins, and that probably 18 of them have been utter garbage. Those 20 plate appearances amount to about 60 innings defensively, which certainly haven't been bad, especially given that he can fill in admirably at SS, along with playing a pretty good 2B.

Goins has been getting pinch-hit for late, or has been stuck in to games as a defensive replacement quite a bit so far over the first 9 games (you're looking at the "Inngs" tab to show what innings he's played in each game), so it's not like the Jays aren't already well aware that Goins should be batting is little as possible.

I don't think I've said anything yet that nobody knows, so maybe I'll just say what we're all thinking: send Goins down to the minors, and do it now.

I realize that we're dealing with a really small sample here, but Maicer Izturis seems completely reborn.  I don't expect him to continue slashing .455/.500/.500, but I would expect something a bit closer to his .270/.332/.373 career batting line than what he did last year, even if he is on the decline part of his career.  His fielding should also improve from the -18.5 he put up last year according to Fangraphs.  He's no longer a good player (was he ever good?), but if there's anything that we can draw from a 9 game sample, it's that he's also not the worst player in baseball.  That's a role reserved for Ryan Goins, I guess.

Beyond Izturis, Jonathan Diaz is certainly making the most of his first real look in the bigs.  He's not hitting the cover off the ball, but he's at least not flailing away at everything in sight.  Diaz is definitely a defense-first kind of guy, but he's also walking at a 10% clip.  Again, it's only 19 plate appearances, but (1) walk-rate is one of the first stats to stabilize, at around 120 plate appearances, and (2) Diaz has a career 13.9% walk-rate over 3000+ minor league plate appearances.  I'd say 10% in the bigs is a bit ambitious, but something close to that isn't outrageous.  Goins, to compare, has a 7.8% walk-rate over 2100+ PA's in the minors, and a 2.3% walk-rate over 141 MLB appearances.  Again, walk-rate tends to stabilize around 120 PA's.

Diaz isn't a bad fielder either-- he's playing shortstop, after all, and seems to be doing a reasonable job over a pretty small sample.  Given that, I don't think we're really missing all that much by sending Goins down, are we?  Especially if it's Munenori Kawasaki coming up the other way?  Imagine the standing O's and the walks.

Of all the middle infielders on the big league roster right now, Goins is playing the worst baseball by far.  We're (apparently) about a week shy of having Jose Reyes back, which obviously leaves enough room for two of Izturis, Goins, and Diaz.  Diaz has outplayed Goins badly so far, and I'm sure he's good enough to figure out 2B, especially in a reserve role.  Let Goins figure out how to hit AAA pitching, and if he can't do that, then he certainly shouldn't be in the majors, glove be damned.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Reyes Hurt

Except Blue Jays.

Seriously, hamstring tightness BEFORE I GET HOME FROM WORK.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Stretching Out

Apologies if this kind of thing has been posted elsewhere, but when I got the notification on my phone today that Dustin McGowan was named the fifth starter, I had a couple thoughts go through my head.

First, I assume that this means that McGowan will be the fourth starter, and not the fifth, as the Jays have already stated that Brandon Morrow will start the Jays' fifth game of the year, their home opener.  I just got home from work though, and have quite literally the blurb from my phone to go off of.

Second --and this also ties in to Morrow-- the big issue with McGowan was the fact that he had gotten sick and lost a few pounds at the start of spring, causing him to be a touch late in getting stretched out, to the point that the club was worried about his ability to throw, say, 90 pitches in his first start.

I don't really think that's a huge issue though.  McGowan will have another spring start to stretch out a bit before the season starts, but the Jays will also have a bit of an easy schedule for the first month.  Not easy from a competition standpoint, per se-- they face the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox off the top of my head for at least 10 of their first 20 games, and I think the Orioles are scattered in there somewhere as well-- but rather, they simply have fewer games to play.  The Jays open their season this coming Monday (!), but then don't play a single Monday game until May.  That's four offdays in their first month of games.

However they want to use those extra days off is their prerogative.  It looks like the Jays will be carrying 8 relievers to start the year, thanks to options and whatnot, so the Jays should have plenty in the tank as far as the bullpen is concerned.  Jeffress, Redmond, Rogers and McGowan are all out of options, if I remember correctly, and all four can certainly qualify as swingmen or long relief if needed (they were trying to stretch Jeffress out for a while at the start of the spring).  JA Happ's DL-ing should actually open enough spots for all of those guys to make it, rather than only three of them, at least until Happ comes back, which would be April 8th at the earliest if his DL stint is backdated to yesterday.  With all of those guys in the bullpen, they can go ahead and watch McGowan's progress and let him continue at his own pace, with the pillows of Rogers, Redmond and Happ there, just in case McGowan throws too many pitches early in a game.

If McGowan loses his spot to Happ upon Happ's return from the DL, then so be it, we don't have to worry about anything.  If not though, McGowan will have plenty of time to stretch out by then, and the Jays have lots of time to keep him fresh with all the offdays.  If McGowan is staying in the rotation, he can be piggybacked, whether it's with Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, or the returning Happ.  Beyond that, an extra offday here and there will allow Dickey and Buerhle to pitch on regular rest in the event of someone (i.e. Morrow or McGowan) needing to be skipped or moved back a day.

My suggestion is to stick Dickey behind Morrow in the continuum (1 after 5) and Buerhle behind McGowan.  This way, if either McGowan or Morrow need an extra day to recover, the two rubberest arms are the ones moving up a day.

As such, here's my rotation:

1. Dickey
2. Hutchison
3. McGowan
4. Buehrle
5. Morrow

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Drew Hutchison, Todd Redmond Primed for Huge Seasons

They had fucking well better be.

If you haven't yet heard, the Atlanta Braves have emerged from various woodworks to sign Ervin Santana, pulling the rug from under our collective footsies.  And I mean, all things considered, I'd have probably signed in Atlanta too in his situation, so I don't think I'm pointing any more of my scorn towards Santana than I typically would.  It's a business, afterall, and that business is made up of many individual independent contractors such as Santana.

It's not the $14MM vs. $14.1MM that's the issue here, because Santana probably has a better shot at success in Atlanta than he does in Toronto.  AA, via Gregor Chisolm, all but confirms that Santana wanted to pitch in the NL, which really makes total sense, given Santana's desire for a 1-year deal.  Atlanta is one of two good teams in the NL East, which makes the competition a whole lot weaker.  The idea is to get something closer to that 5-year, $100MM contract that he was looking for, just a year later, and there's a much better chance at him getting that when he's artificially inflating his numbers against a team like Miami.  I still don't see him getting that kind of contract, even with another 3-WAR season, but he becomes a lot more likely to get 4/$60 or something, probably beating Ubaldo and Garza and all those guys in the end.  And of course, he might just lay another steaming turd this year, but I think that's a lot less likely in the NL, rather than when he's facing the Rays, Orioles, Yankee's outfield, and Jays.

As for the Jays... yep.  Good offseason.  I assume Santana would be a Jay if it weren't for the injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, so this would maybe have been a totally different post if those injuries showed up, say, a few days from now instead of a few days ago.  Having said that, it would have been something completely different if AA had taken his shit and wiped a month ago, so the Braves' situation should be totally irrelevant given that we're halfway through the fucking preseason.

All things considered, it's pretty clear that AA is pretty good at building up a farm system, whether it's through trade or through the draft, and he does a pretty good job of trading for under-appreciated guys who have fallen out of favor with their organizations or management or whatever.  Everything else could probably use some work.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Re-Updated Again: Santana signs in Toronto?

1:00 ET-

Haha.  Enrique Rojas is telling us that he'll sign in Toronto by 4:00 ET if nobody better comes along.  Baltimore should really be jumping on this right now.

12:30 ET-

We're the mystery team!  Free agent!  Improvement!  Successful offseason!

I don't mind this.  I would have obviously liked Ubaldo more, but it's tough to argue with a 1-year deal.

I wonder what this means for JA Happ.  He was apparently shut down for a few days with back issues, and this probably has nothing to do with that, but if Happ is suddenly shut down for longer than that, this might be a knee-jerk to that.  I'm kind of expecting Happ to be DL'ed to start the season, which will allow for a little while to let the out-of-options guys settle in to place the way Cecil and Jeffress did last year.

Santana's always been a bit homer-prone, which is a pretty major wrinkle in the Skydome, but I think I read something about a two-seamer that's been getting him more groundballs or something?  I dunno.  He's projected, by and large, to be right around league average, and should provide somewhere in the vicinity of 200 innings, which, judging by last year, would be a fucking godsend, even at a 4.00-ish fip.

Given the state of the offense of this team, I think just having guys that aren't Todd Redmond or Chien-Ming Wang go out there and throw, even if they aren't dominant, should work out pretty nicely.  It's not that Dickey or Buehrle or Santana are especially awesome, but they should be able to keep the game within reach and let Edwin mash enough to keep things close.  Imagine a situation where the Jays get 600 innings out of three starters?!?

Santana is Dominican, by the way.

11:00 ET Update:

A couple of things I didn't mention:

  • Despite Jon Heyman saying that it's down to the Jays, O's and Rockies, I think the Mariners make the most sense for Santana.  There are all the reasons provided, but beyond that, Seattle has traditionally been a pretty good pitchers park, though it was fairly neutral this past season.  I feel like I read something about them bringing the fences in a bit at some point last offseason, but that's forever ago and who cares?  The main thing that we can take away here is that pitching in Seattle is going to be a lot better for Santana's numbers than pitching in, say, Toronto, Baltimore or Colorado would be, especially when you sort that park factors link by HR's.
  • Any team that signs Santana is obviously taking a bit of a risk, by forfeiting a draft pick.  As mentioned already, this would be a 2nd rounder in Toronto's case, and a third rounder in both Baltimore and Seattle's case.  Giving up a pick for one year of Santana seems sort of reckless, but there is upside to it.  If Santana performs well enough this year to earn a qualifying offer and rejects it, the team that signs him for 2013 will be in effect turning that 2nd or 3rd rounder in to a late first rounder in next year's draft.  Obviously, if Santana accepts a qualifying offer next year, or just plain sucks enough to not warrant his team offering him one, then yeah, you blew it.  Baltimore and Seattle really should be all over this, with the hope of turning a third rounder now in to a first rounder later, as there is significantly less value lost in potentially losing that with a 3rd rounder than with a 2nd.

Original Post

I assume we'll know who that mystery team is before I'm finished writing this, but whatever.  Ervin Santana is going to sign a 1-year deal worth $14MM with a yet-to-be-named AL team.  I take this to mean that the deal is done and not announced yet, but I suppose the way that it's worded, it could be that he's just down to a team or two before finally making up his mind.  Given that there's a $14MM value there, I'd assume a deal is done though and that there will be a further announcement shortly.

[Update- Jon Heyman suggests that it's between the Jays, Orioles, and possibly Rockies]

Santana said the other day that he's just going to forget about looking for 3, 4, or 5 years and just focus on a 1-year deal that will allow him to sign a big contract next year, when there's a better market for his services.  It's not that there was a poor market this year, it's just that he was looking for 5 years and $100MM at the start of the offseason.  Sure, you can ask for that and hope that someone gives the maximum payout possible for your services, but you probably shouldn't hold out for that kind of deal after Ubaldo signs for half of that.

Santana makes sense for quite a few teams, especially on a 1-year deal.  Seattle is going to miss both Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker for at least the first bit of the season, plus they've already surrendered a draft pick after signing Robinson Cano.  I believe that their first-rounder was protected, so this would mean that they're giving up a third rounder if they sign Santana.  A 1-year deal works here, given that they're probably going for it, missing some pitching help, and another year of development would be good for their ridiculously good minor league pitching depth.

Santana also makes sense for Texas, given their location on the win curve, as well as Derek Holland's injury status.  We also can't be sure about Matt Harrison, who missed all of last year to injury.

Of course, the Jays make sense.  Brandon Morrow can't be relied upon to throw 200 innings at this point, JA Happ is hurting and might not be very good, and the 5th spot in the rotation is going to be made up of a battle between several question marks.  Santana could lead to some stability, could allow the Jays to further stabilize the rotation behind Dickey and Buerhle, and, as mentioned countless times before, would only cost them their third draft pick, which is a second rounder.  Santana could, of course, be flipped at the deadline if things go south as well, effectively trading a 2nd round draft pick for something of use.

The Orioles make sense, given the way their offseason has shaped up.  They signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, so they've already tossed two draft picks in the fire.  They would forfeit their 3rd rounder for Santana, meanwhile going for it while they still have Chris Davis and Matt Weiters under contract for one more year, before both hit free agency and likely leave Baltimore forever.

Stay tuned!

Friday, 28 February 2014

Needs More Muni

I should note that I've previously been pro-Goins at 2B, and have made posts defending the idea of handing him the job until he proves that he can't handle it.  If I remember correctly, those posts also assumed that the Jays would be devoting their offseason to finding pitching help, not standing there holding their dicks.

I know it's fucking spring training, but Munenori Kawasaki had two hits today against Pittsburgh, and that's entirely enough for me.

It's time to hand Munenori Kawasaki the starting 2nd base job.

In fact, there really shouldn't be a question here.  I mean, yeah, find a real 2nd baseman.  But if not, Muni.  Here's what we know:

  • Ryan Goins is good at defense, and not good at offense.
  • Maicer Izturis is not good at defense, and, well, isn't good at offense either.  I understand, given his contract situation, if the Jays want to make sure he isn't at least somewhat useful before they DFA him to the depths of hell, so he can have the bench role.
  • Munenori Kawasaki is good at defense, and at least offers some sort of positive, respectable contribution with the bat.  He walks a lot, and sees a lot of pitches, which is more than you can say about Goins or Izturis.
Simply, Munenori Kawasaki is the best option at 2B, and the more I think about it, the clearer it gets.  That's all fine and good, but then you read the money quote from John Gibbons today:
I said this all last year, when he's on the field, good things usually happen.  When he's at-bat, he gives you a good at-bat, fundamentally, he's a sound defensive player.  On the bases, he's got real good instincts.  Just a good all-around player.
By gum, he's right.  And if Gibby likes him, I likes him.  Walks, basically.

From a projection standpoint, all three stand to offer right around the same value-- in the area of 0.7 WAR (though given how awful Izturis looked last year, I question how they have him being a + defender)-- so it probably isn't going to be a huge difference, no matter who gets the job.  It's the same destination, there are just three different routes we can take to get there.

But isn't part of baseball-- the non-sabermetric part, I suppose-- about the journey, and not the destination?  I mean, I can't make a sabermetric argument that says Muni should be the guy over either Goins or Izturis without having some sort of bias or conveniently neglecting some info somewhere.  I can't see in to the future or anything, so if we had this season take place in three separate parallel universes, where each guy got the job in their own respective one, I can't honestly tell you which is the best and which is the worst.  But dammit, if they're all projecting to offer the same value, how is this

 the odd man out?

Can't be.

I mean, I understand that Ryan Goins is 25 or something, and that the other guys are in their 30's.  I get it.  You want a guy who can be the 2B for years to come, and Goins is the only one who has a shot at improving, given age and typical aging curves or whatever.  They want to give him the job just in case he turns in to something, or let him fail before he goes to Korea to play, a la Eric Thames.

But come on.  It's Ryan Goins.  28 strikeouts, 2 walks, .092 iso.  It's not like he's 20 and struggled against big league pitching the first time he came up either-- he had a .311 wOBA in AAA last year, and a .336 wOBA in AA in 2012.  That's not all that good, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he sucks at hitting against big league pitching, in the AL East no less.

I'm not really a big believer in intangibles, mostly because there's no way to measure them.  I won't argue that they don't exist, or that some guy being really funny and fan-favoritey doesn't have some sort of effect on a team, because it probably does.  I'd way rather, though, have a guy who is good at baseball and a solid hitter than have someone who stretches upside-down and keeps everybody loose with his antics.  Unfortunately, the former isn't really an option right now, which makes Muni the best of a bad situation.

Speaking of options, I think Goins has options.  Send him down.