Monday, 20 June 2011

They're like me

It's not that the Jays are incapable of sweeping, per se.  They just don't do it.  There are still a lot of positives to come out of this series though.  First, Cincinnati is a good team.  A real good team.  It would be nice if they could go out and develop/find a real ace starting pitcher, but having a bunch of average-or-slightly-better starters is definitely going to translate to success, especially with that offense.  And the Jays took two of three from them, without the use of a DH.

Second, starters are going deep in to ballgames again.  6 straight starts have seen the Jays starter get in to the 7th inning or deeper.  With an overworked bullpen, that's really good news.  Speaking of which, Zaun-head to Carlos Villanueva for yesterday's performance.  He made one mistake to a hitter who isn't particularly dangerous and it got taken for a ride, and that's about it.  Bronson Arroyo pitched a pretty good game, so yeah, those losses happen every now and again.

A trip to the racism capital of America for three games is next for the Jays, as they take on the Braves for 3 games or pitcher-batting madness.  Interleague play is so fucking stupid it makes me sick.  Ricky Romero takes on FIP posterboy Tim Hudson.

Honestly, I expected more info on the Yunel Escobar extension in terms of analysis of just how fucking good this deal is for the Jays, or what they had planned with Adeiny Hechavarria, but there's not really a ton here.  Beyond what I said yesterday, I can speak a bit more about Hechavarria.

As I said yesterday, his bat doesn't really project all that well; what I didn't know was that, according to Dave Gershman from Beyond the Boxscore (@dave_gershman on twitter), Hech has either  the best or the second best glove in professional baseball.  Not projected, and not the minors, but now, and in pro ball (he lists Boston SS Jose Iglesias as the other).  I've also heard that Hech's bat speed is improving quite a bit, and we should probably keep in mind that he's still playing AA ball at age 21, so he's probably still a few years away from being an everyday player.

I suppose I jumped the gun a bit yesterday, when I suggested that this might be the end of the line for Hech's future at 2b in Toronto, since I didn't know that his glove was that good, so I thought he might make some nice trade bait for a team with a very offensive-minded third baseman.  Given that he is a top-2 defensive shortstop, maybe that moves Yunel to 2nd or 3rd, based on what happens with Hill and Lawrie, and by extension, Thames, Snider, Gose, and others if Lawrie doesn't pan out as an infielder.

As for my analytical thoughts on the Yunel deal-- it is extremely team friendly when we consider the club options for '14 and '15.  $5MM for next year seems like a bit of an overpay, considering that it will be his 2nd year of arbitration after a down year last year, but that is made up for with another $5MM salary in '13.  The correct values, based on the way the arbitration system works, are probably in the range of $4 and $6 million respectively, so that's a wash.  The real value comes in the Free Agent year club options, where Yunel would be worth at least $8MM per season on a multi-year contract if he can manage to remain anywhere near his current level of production.  Shortstop is a premium position, and Yunel Escobar has been the second best shortstop in the AL this season.

Escobar needs to be worth about 2.5 WAR over the next 2 years (starting next year, add a WAR per season with each option) to make this deal a positive one for the Jays.  He's been worth 1.9 already this year, and has been worth 2.1, 4.5 and 3.7 in the last 3 seasons, so I think it's fair to say that this is a very team-friendly deal.  The club options allow AA to (1) re-evaluate what he has in Hech and give his bat time to develop, (2) re-evaluate Aaron Hill over the course of the next couple of months, and (3) most importantly, decide what he has in Yunel if Hill and Hech both pan out (or if he moves some of his catching depth, pitching depth, or outfield depth for a new 2nd baseman), allowing him to trade a very team-friendly contract, which would produce a huge bounty given the positional scarcity at short.

Update- Jonah Keri Fangraphs chat:

Comment From Joel.
...So how about that Yunel Escobar extension. His agent is completely insane, right?
Jonah Keri: Just went on TSN Radio in Toronto and said as much, yes. Perhaps his agent doesn't trust the rest of baseball's establishment not to be short-sighted in its player evaluation, the way the Braves were. If we assume that Escobar's supposed off-field personality issues aren't actually a problem, then yes, a SS with a career .364 OBP, in an environment where you can count all the good offensive SS on one hand, is highway robbery at 2/$10M. It's a traveshamockery once you add 2 club options at $5M each.
Anthopoulos is Friedman. Friedman is Anthopoulos.

Update 2-  This is more what I was looking for.

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