Thursday 2 June 2011

Off-day, ~1/3rd of the Way Through the Season Report Cards!

Not even acknowledging yesterday's game.  Too busy watching the National Spelling Bee.

56 games in to the season (34% of the way through), there have obviously been some peaks and valleys.  Obviously Jose Bautista has been the best hitter in baseball, which is always convenient.  But I dunno, on a team like this, with the plan that is in place of this year being kind of a transition season from the rebuild to the competition modes, there are going to be a few frustrating spots in there, especially with a few stopgaps in the lineup.  The really important thing is that the guys who are the real future of this team get their reps in.

So basically, what's gonna happen here is that everybody who's played so far is going to get a letter grade and I'm going to tell them what I think of them.  Let's get on with it.  Starting with the position players:

  • Yunel Escobar- A+
    • Arguably the second best shortstop in the American League to this point in the season, and can definitely make a case for being the best, with Asdrubal Cabrera being his only competition.  Asdrubal has never been this good, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him return to earth, but whatever... Yunel, so far this season, has been the 2009 Yunel that AA was certain still existed when he made the trade that brought him and Jojo Reyes to Toronto in exchange for Alex Gonzalez and Tim Collins, and is actually on pace to be better (4.5WAR in '09, 1.7 so far on pace for 5).  Almost definitely the best all-around non-robot Bluejay in the batting order.
  • Corey Patterson- B+
    • To this point, Patterson has been pretty good.  Don't expect this to keep up.  The Getting Blanked podcast of yesterday (maybe the day before?) brought up the idea of hoping to trade him at some point, which was something that I never really ever thought up simply because he can't possibly keep this up.  But fuck, I shouldn't underestimate AA, should I?  There is nothing about what Patterson has done since 2006 that would suggest that he can keep this up, especially as a 31 year-old, as literally all of his stats this season are better than his career numbers.  I would very much welcome a trade, and will laugh at anyone who takes him.
  • Jose Bautista- A+
    • Best player in baseball over the last season and a half.  Deserves a billion +'s after that A.  There's a billion thing written about him across the internets, no reason for me to go on.
  • Juan Rivera- C
    • This guy would probably be the worst Bluejay ever if he continued on the pace he was on in his first couple weeks, not to mention the complete lack of an semblance of hustle.  He's turned it around with the stick over the last couple weeks, though, but he's still only hitting .235/.308/.345, which is not overly impressive for a DH, or 1B for that matter.  But he's coming around.  I was calling for his release earlier this year, and I don't think I'd be terribly upset if they disposed of him, but he's probably going to stick around for the rest of the season.  I'd be shocked if he were on this team next year, and I don't think he'll fetch much in a trade anyway.  Almost certainly a non-tender unless he lights it up over the next while. 
  • Aaron Hill- C
    • I hate to give him a break, but he was hurt and missed time at the start of the year, which is always tough to do.  He's popping it up much less often than he was last year, but he still kind of stinks with the bat.  I'm really surprised at how high up in the batting order he's consistently batting, since his bat has been practically useless for a #4 or #5 hitter.  Almost all of Hill's value at this point is in his defense, considering his strikeout rates are consistent with his career numbers, but his ISO and walk rates are down (over a 39 game/168AB sample, mind you).  I expect both of his team options to be declined.
  • Edwin Encarnacion- F
    • Kind of a make-or-break year for Edwin, given the non-tender and paycut.  I expect him to be DFA'ed when Brett Lawrie comes up, but he was always just a placeholder who had the potential to possibly catch fire.  He didn't.  Go away.
  • JP Arencibia- A
    • Not sure what more we could expect.  Arguably the best catcher in the AL, given Joe Mauer's absence (Alex Avila and Russell Martin are also in the mix), and as a rookie, no less.  If he's not an all-star, it's a travesty in my opinion (I voted for him), and he's certainly in the running for Rookie of the Year, though I doubt he gets it, given the attention Eric Hosmer has gotten (and Brett Lawrie is coming omg!)
  • Adam Lind- A-
    • Wish he wasn't hurt, because he was the hottest player in baseball right around the time he went to the DL.  He should be back this weekend, but I'm pretty nervous, given the way last season went.  He's played an excellent defensive 1B, but offensively, save for the 7 or 8 game stretch before he got hurt, he was mediocre with the bat.  I have faith!
  • Rajai Davis- B
    • I've had fun watching this guy play, when he's been in the lineup.  He's so fast, and uses it well, as opposed to Corey Patterson, who is almost as fast but runs the bases much worse.  His fielding has been just fair at best, and his lack of ability to hit a ball hard is really hurting him, not to mention the strikeouts.  But he's pretty fun to watch when he gets on base, and since coming off the DL like a month ago or whatever, and being moved down to the bottom of the order, he's really improved his batting numbers.  I'd not be surprised if he were traded next year, given all the similar outfielders in the system and value that a speedy black guy has.
  • John McDonald- B
    • Obviously not an everyday player by definition, but is getting pretty close to everyday playing time, and has filled in about as well as he can.  He's never really had much of a bat, but that glove oh my god.  He pretty much defines replacement level player, and has played slightly better than that in his playing time this year, no matter how ugly that bat is.  He's also a fan favorite, so yeah.
  • Jayson Nix- C
    • I feel generous, I guess.  He's got raw power, and his babip is just .236 (which isn't a huge shift from his career norm, with a limited sample), and he's played well defensively, so I'd be willing to give him another little while until Lawrie is up.  Frankly, though, I'd rather see McDonald in the lineup mostly everyday at 3B in order to field a really good defensive infield to help out the young pitchers (as opposed to offering personal catchers).  All in all, Nix's defense has actually been pretty good, and has shown flashes of offense, even with that atrocious K-rate (30%).  Basically, he's been a bad but unlucky (in terms of babip and injuries) version of what Edwin Encarnacion was supposed to be.
  • Jose Molina- C
    • No, that's not his position, that's his grade.  .408babip over 71 AB's, so his .328/.386/.453 slash line won't keep up.  He's there, I guess, but I really feel like his value to this team is overstated, though I can't really back that up.  I meh at him.
  • Mike Mccoy- C
    • Thanks for filling in Mike.  There's very little sample to go by here, and a lot of the time he's in the game, it's because the game is either a runaway, or because Jose Molina just magically got on base yet again, but needs a pinch runner.
  • Eric Thames- B
    • I've been pretty impressed by Eric to this point, especially given the fact that he's hardly gotten any fastballs to hit.  He's only got 47 plate appearances under his belt to this point, and mostly at DH, so it's no surprise that he's been worth 0 WAR.  I hope he stays up, but wouldn't be surprised if he were sent back down at some point when somebody rejoins the team.
  • Travis Snider- C-
    • Looked lost at the plate while he was up.  He seems to be raking in AAA, not surprisingly, but they really want the power stroke to be there, which still doesn't seem to be developing.  Let's not forget though, he's still only 23 years old, and only had 99 PA's.  I actually thought he looked pretty good (for the most part) in the field while he was up here, to the point of actually going with him in CF in my MLB The Show '11 franchise, though Fangraphs doesn't particularly agree.  I still think he's going to be a star, and needs to be in the middle of the order.

  • Ricky Romero- A.
    • Definitely proving himself as an ace.  He is, however, outpitching his fip by a full run, and xfip by about half a run, but by simply watching him, he's been really badass in a couple starts.  Strikeout rates are up, walk rates are down, and homerun rates are actually up when compared to career stats (which, granted, is only 2 seasons).  Still, an 81.5% LOB (left-on-base percentage) has me nervous, as I don't think that's exactly sustainable.
  • Brandon Morrow- B
    • I hesitated to give Brandon a B, until looking closely at his stats.  Given the facts that (a) he began the year on the DL, and (b) he has a .368 BABIP ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!?!, I'm ready to give him a break.  He's striking out batters at a higher rate than last year, or any other year for that matter, and is actually walking one fewer batter per 9 innings when compared to his career rates.  Here's the big one: ERA: 5.17.  FIP: 2.07.  xFIP: 3.11.  That .368 babip against really burns me up, because a 2.07 FIP is fucking lights out.  It will probably rise to a level closer to his xFIP, because, believe it or not, he's been pretty fortunate with regards to homers, with a 2.0% HR/FB rate, which xFIP corrects (average is 10.5%).
  • Kyle Drabek- C
    • Throw some strikes kid.  Morrow and Drabek aren't incredibly different pitchers, considering the velocity or their fastballs and effectiveness of their breaking balls.  Drabek simply needs to work out the control issues and he's going to be real good.  I read somewhere that he's on pace to set a record for walks in a season by a starter or something like that, which doesn't really surprise me.  Dustin Parkes from Getting Blanked seems to think he should be sent to the minors to work things out, and I fully agree, assuming there is someone else who can come up to start, but,similar to the Brett Lawrie argument, he's done everything he can against minor league competition, so I dunno.
  • Jesse Litsch- C
    • Jesse is one of those guys who is a 4th-5th stringer on a decent-to-bad team, who just kind of holds a place for someone in the minors.  He might be around again next year, but by the time last year's first rounders, sandwich picks, and second rounders show up (Mcguire, Wojo, Sanchez, Syndergaard) hopefully towards the end of next season, I expect him to be gone.  He's not that good, he's simply the best of a bad situation, getting a shot to catch lightning in a bottle and work out.
  • Jojo Reyes- C
    • Jesse Jojo is one of those guys who is a 4th-5th stringer on a decent-to-bad team, who just kind of holds a place for someone in the minors.  He might won't be around again next year, but by the time last year's first rounders, sandwich picks, and second rounders show up (Mcguire, Wojo, Sanchez, Syndergaard) hopefully towards the end of next season, I expect him to be gone.  He's not that good, he's simply the best meh of a bad situation, getting a shot to catch lightning in a bottle and work out. (I just thought this would be funny.  He's actually been better than Litsch so far, and probably deserves something in the C+/B- area)
  • Carlos Villanueva- A
    • Yeah, yeah, he had a bad appearance last time out.  Big whoop, he's been absolutely excellent.  I don't think Milwaukee really knew what they cast aside when they got rid of him, but I'm glad what happened happened.
  • Brett Cecil- N/A
    • Not enough of a sample, but probably in the range of a D.  He's working on it though, and should be, at worst, as good as he was last year for the rest of his career.  He showed flashes of brilliance last year, which leads me to believe that he'll be ok.  Given the amount of pitching depth that this franchise has, and his struggles this year, plus he's a lefty, I can see him moving to the bullpen down the line, but certainly won't write him off yet.
  • Shawn Camp- B
    • Camp was excellent last year, and was pretty fucking good at the start of this season, but it's kind of fallen apart lately.  He's a type-A free agent as of right now, but will more than likely be a type-B by the end of the year.  FIP doens't particularly like him, and he's 36 years old, so I would hope that the Jays let him go this season in order to pick up a draft pick.
  • Jason Frasor- A
    • He's been excellent this year, despite his ERA being right around half of his FIP.  He should be a Type-A by the end of the year, which kind of sucks if they ever plan on getting a pick for him.  I would love to see him moved, if for no other reason than the fact that he takes fucking forever to pitch, but more importantly because nobody is ever going to sign a Type-A middle relief pitcher unless their 1st rounder is protected, which is obviously the big flaw in the free agent compensation system.  Still, he's one of the few relievers that Farrell is using modestly correctly, being put in the game in high leverage situations.
  • Mark Rzepcynszki or whatever- A
    • Scrabble has been really good coming out of the bullpen, against both righties and lefties.  ERA, FIP and xFIP are all under 3.  He somehow manages to strike out a batter an inning (almost) despite throwing high 80's tops.
  • Casey Jannsen- A
    • Frasor, Rzep, and Jannsen have been the best members of this bullpen, despite Jannsen being in AAA for parts of this and last season, Rzep being a starter, and Frasor believing (correctly) that his market would be too small to test free agency.  Jannsen pitches well against both righties and lefties, has a 3:1 K-to-walk ratio, and hasn't given up a homerun yet.  ERA under 2, FIP under 2.5.
  • Frank Francisco- C+
    • I'll give him a pass for being injured to start the year and essentially not having a spring training.  He's been shaky, but has still struck out over a batter an inning.  He's been pretty dominant when healthy throughout his career, and still ranks as a type-B free agent.  xFIP is 3.69, but he's thrown up some meatballs so I dunno.  Jury's still out.
  • Octavio Dotel- C
    • He's effective against righties, and awful against lefties.  Considering how good Rzep, Jannsen, Frasor, Camp... basically everybody but Dotel is against lefty batters, Dotel should never pitch against lefties and everything will be fine.  I realize that Farrell is the one sticking him in there though, so heh.  Type-B free agent projection right now, and that should remain.  Probably won't be here next year, and I'm completely fine with that.
  • Luis Perez- B
    • Looks good, not enough of a sample though.  If any of the bullpen members are moved this year/don't come back for next year, he's probably the replacement for next season, despite being a starter in AAA (though there are some other guys down there, i.e. Alan Farina).
  • Jon Rauch- C+
    • Doesn't really impress me.  Looked good at the start of the season, and has been the exact reciprocal of badness since.  That's my logic kicking in, since he's been worth 0.0 WAR.

  • John Farrell- C.
    • I'll give him a pass for a while, since it's his first season.  Stop bunting so much, use Jose Molina less, don't be retarded with your lineup configuration, use Dotel in less retarded spots.

This took way longer than I hoped.  Let me know if I forgot anybody.

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