Sunday 30 September 2012

An Angry Rant, Brought to You by the Baltimore Orioles

I don't think it's a secret that I'm entirely fed up with the whole Baltimore thing.  They're so clearly not a playoff quality team, and yet, here we are.  They toil in embarrassment for the last 17 years or whatever, and proceed to field their 18th consecutive mediocre-at-best team with no starting pitching to speak of, and an opening day lineup that boasts like 5 replacement level players.  Despite all of this, they got hot over the course of 4 months and happenstance themselves in to a division lead going in to the last week of the season.

This team is living, breathing proof that you can't, indeed, predict baseball.  Everything that we, as an internet baseball community of know-it-all stat-dorks ever point to as a means of actually using our fucking brains for a change and backing up our thought processes via scientific reason has been essentially disproved by Baltimore this year.  Run differential?  We don't need no stinkin' run differential, we'll just be in the negatives all year until we play all the teams who chose to fire-sale everything at the trade deadline.  Sustainable record in 1-run games?  Nah, we'll just win them all.  Wins Above Replacement?  Well, our plan was to have fewer than 30 WAR as a team, which suggests that we shouldn't win 80 games, let alone 90+ in the AL East.  A DH?  We'll get Lew Ford.

I was doing okay.  I really was.  At some point last month, I was pretty well fine with it.  As a rational, thinking human being, I realize sometimes that it wouldn't be called probability if the unexpected didn't happen once in a while, and that there is no better or more entertaining arena than sports for those little statistical anomalies to occur.  It's just that... why Baltimore?  Fuck them.

Of course, mouthy O's fans who started off the season by saying stuff like "This is our year!  I can feel it!" and "Boy this team is good; Jones, Weiters, Reynolds, Jason Hammel! ROBERT ANDINO! Brian Roberts might even come back!" are now being all smug and in your face, talking nonsense about how Mark Reynolds is actually good at defense at 1B, or how Matt Weiters is the best catcher in baseball, or how this team actually has a good rotation, complete with staff ace Joe Saunders, and reliable #2's, Steve Johnson and Wei-Yin Chen (all of those statements are absurdly false, in case you're an O's fan).  And really, it's comments like those that I'm really here to address.  Cue Dave Schoenfield of ESPN, calling the Manny Machado call-up "The best move of the year".

Let's think about that for a second.  Manny Machado playing 46 games at age 20 is better than Mike Trout or Bryce Harper's call-ups.  Better than the Giants acquiring Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez.  Better than the Hiroki Kuroda and Edwin Jackson signings.  Better than the Josh Reddick trade.  Better than the Jed Lowrie trade.  Better than the Pirates locking up Andrew McCutchen until his age 30 season, or the Jays locking up Edwin Encarnacion for 3 years during a breakout season where he would have been the most sought-after 1B in a relatively weak market.

Give me a fucking break.

Machado has been pretty good, especially for a 20-year old, there's no denying that.  But best move of the year?  This wasn't even the best move involving a 20-year old.  The fact of the matter is that Machado has an on-base percentage of .296.  He makes an out in 70% of his AB's.  Most of his value is tied up in his defensive capabilities, which, in a small sample size, can't even be taken all that seriously.  I mean, he's a natural shortstop, and a pretty good one over the course of his minor league career, so we can definitely put some credence in those numbers, but still... Best move of the year!

This is really the nonsense that gets me all riled up.  I understand that people hop on bandwagons all the time, and I'll probably hop on one at some point as well.  I can even forgive someone for pretending that they've been cheering for the O's all year, since this has been one magical, unpredictable run that they've gone on.  But let's not sit here and pretend that this is actually a good team, huh folks?  We can sit here and point to certain aspects of the O's season and call it the lynchpin for the success of the team, but at the end of the day, let's not lose our fucking minds calling a spade anything other than a spade.  This team is, at best, average, and have been incredibly fortunate to get to where they are at this point.  There is no need to go ahead and out yourself as a complete bumbling idiot, making ludicrous claims like this one, David Schoenfield.

Friday 28 September 2012

Playoff Preview: San Francisco Giants

The Giants have had a really awesome second half, going from half a game back in the division at the all-star break to a 10-game lead in the division.  I'm sure a lot of this has to do with their schedule, but let's not take anything away from Buster Posey's second half, which, in my mind has earned him an MVP award.  On top of that, Barry Zito has been not pathetic for a change, Marco Scutaro has been great, and Matt Cain has paired spectacularly with MadBum to give us pretty entertaining 1-2, even during the "absence" of Tim Lincecum.

While the Giants are, arguably, the hottest team on the NL side of things, there are some pretty significant worries moving forward.  First is the rotation, beyond the aforementioned Cain and Bumgarner.  Tim Lincecum has been garbage all season, Barry Zito is still Barry Zito, despite pitching respectably at times this year, and Ryan Vogelsong has been absolutely atrocious over his last 10 or so starts.  Romo, Casilla and Lopez have been great out of the bullpen all year (Casilla has been a bit fortunate), so the bullpen should be a strong point.

The loss of Melky Cabrera seemed to actually make the team play better, for some reason, despite the loss of a guy who had put up 4.6 WAR in 113 games.  Angel Pagan has put up 4.4 WAR this year in a nice bounceback effort (he was traded this offseason from NYM for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez in what has to be the most lopsided deal of the year in hindsight), and has filled the void nicely, as had Gregor Blanco, who has broken out become a league average player.

All things considered, it's not a huge surprise that the Giants are where they are.  They're clearly the best team in a weak division, but they can definitely get hot and rattle off a few wins in the playoffs, even if they aren't the best team.  My main issue is that they'll probably be the worst team on the National League side from a true-talent standpoint.  I'd definitely favor WAS and ATL, I'd probably favor CIN over them as well, and STL is probably a pretty even matchup.

I don't believe the Giants are going to be favored to advance past the division series, but they're definitely good enough that I could be wrong.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Didn't Know, Don't Care

Thought it was a 3-game set with Baltimore.  I'll live.  2 of 4 is quality though, since we're cheering for the Yankees and Rays here.

I don't particularly care about tonight's game in Toronto.  It's not that I'm a bad fan or anything, it's just that I can't cheer for the Jays when I ultimately know that cheering for the Jays is cheering for Baltimore, in a sense.  Because fuck them.

Travis Snider of the not-Blue Jays-anymore made a really, really nice catch today.

Doug Fister had 9 strikeouts in a row this afternoon, which establishes an AL record.

If you're in to reality TV, our Survivor wrapup is up for week 2 at Nowhere Plans.  I haven't linked to the site in a while, since they don't pay me and they can suck it, but uhhh, yeah.  There's some football content over there lately, and there's the odd piece about the Orioles if you can stomach that as well.  Dig in.

Manny Acta was fired by the Indians today, making him another reasonable candidate for the Jays next manager once John Farrell jumps ship to the Red Sox.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Last Chance

High fives and Zaunheads (remember those?) to JPA for putting that game out of hand last night.  Really made my day.  Given all the disappointments that we've sat through over the last three months or so, I don't think it's too much to ask for the Jays to go out there and win another against the goddamned Orioles.

And that's really all I have to say.  Go fuck yourselves Orioles.

Shi Davidi has the first in a three-parter about Travis Snider, and the big "fuck you" that Cito Gaston, Gene Tenace and the entire Jays organization, really, gave him over his tenure with the Jays Fishercats and 51's.  It's a pretty shocking read.  Among the tidbits, Snider rejected a long-term contract extension.  Expect part two tomorrow, and part three Thursday.

Ken Rosenthal believes that the Jays will be aggressive this offseason, based on a hunch, probably.  He calls Escobar a "goner", despite the fact that there are no shortstops on the market and Adeiny Hechavarria is Adeiny Hechavarria.  Not to say that he's wrong, or that he knows less than I do or anything, it's just that none of this is actually news, so if you've got something to do tonight, don't delay it for Ken.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Maddon Being Maddon

Something just caught my eye.

The Rays play the Jays tonight in Tampa, and the lineups have recently been released.  Let's rewind back to earlier this season when the Rays put up a bunch of lefties against Ricky Romero.  Someone had finally realized that Romero has had reverse splits for the entirety of his career (the "someone" in this case more than likely being Maddon).

Well, sirs.  Brandon Morrow pitches tonight against the Rays, and wouldn't you know it: RRRRSRLRR.  Or something like that.

Morrow has shown some pretty significant reverse splits this season, albeit in a smallish sample, though his career splits favor lefties very slightly.  Stay tuned.

The Sun's Mike Rutsey suggests Jake Peavy as an off-season addition for the Jays.  Works for me.

The Jays traded Yorvit Torrealba to the Brewers for a PTBNL or cash.  Works for me.

Apparently Chad Jenkins will get the start tomorrow.  Works for me.


Morrow P


Moore P

Playoff Preview: Cincinnati Reds

UN-DER RA-TED! *Clap clap clap clap clap*

The Reds have played pretty consistently well this season, and have combined that with an incredibly easy schedule.  Those two things have allowed them to be the first team this season to secure a playoff spot.  Despite losing Joey Votto for a stretch, they've remained relatively healthy all year long.  Their starting rotation has been made up of the same five guys all year, with the exception of one single, solitary start made by Todd Redmond (and it sucked).  The result is 91 wins and counting.

Despite playing in what most people would consider a bandbox (107/106 park ratings), the strength of this team has been a very strong performance from their entire pitching staff.  Johnny Cueto, for the second straight year, has put up an ERA under 3.00, and at age 26, seems to have emerged as a legitimate ace.  As I mentioned in my preview piece in April:
[T]he rotation will get a severe boost with the addition of Mat Latos, and the subtraction of Edinson Volquez.  Mike Leake, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto will round out a pretty decent rotation, and if everyone stays healthy, the historically terrible Bronson Arroyo won't throw 200 innings again. 
Not only has nobody missed any significant time, but Arroyo has actually thrown 191 innings and has been worth 3.5 rWAR, amazingly enough.  He's allowed fewer hits, walked fewer, and has struck out more on a rate basis.  He's gotten his groundball rate back up, which has helped him cut back on the homers.  As result, the Reds have four very reasonable reasonable options for a playoff rotation in Cueto, Arroyo, Latos and Bailey, and Mike Leake isn't even that bad, considering the extra value he provides being a good hitter (2.5 batting WAR for his career).

On the offensive side of things, Joey Votto is obviously the leader here, but this team really took off during the span that Votto spent on the DL.  Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick definitely picked up the slack in Votto's absence, and Todd Frazier emerged as a ROY candidate until Scott Rolen returned from injury and inexplicably kept getting playing time.

Ultimately, this team has benefited more than any other from the schedule, getting to play the Astros and Cubs all year long, but they're still a very good team that has an outside shot at winning 100 games (need 9 of 11).  Adjusting for league and schedule, I'm sure we'd see quite a bit of regression, but that's not exactly the way it works.  The Reds do have the freedom of resting their players, given that they've already clinched, which sounds like a pretty nice luxury to me.  I definitely like this team over the Giants, and they should have a slight advantage over the Braves or Cardinals, assuming either wins the wild card game, but they'll have trouble against the Nationals.

Wednesday 19 September 2012


Yesterday's game was rained out, obviously, so they'll play two today!  Enjoy!

Tuesday 18 September 2012


I feel like I'm forgetting to write about something...

Oh right.  That.  Yeah, Yunel Escobar has been suspended by the team (as in: not by the league) for three games for his eye-black message.  Everybody and their mother has written about this already, and the picture of the eye-black has made its' way around the internet like a buzzsaw, so I wouldn't be telling you anything that you didn't already know here, so uh...  yeah.  For the record, and I'm not putting forth an opinion on the matter either way, Shi Davidi tweeted this:

Naturally, someone in the media turned this in to a trade rumor.

In nicer news, it is now official that the Jays' AAA affiliate will be playing in Buffalo, starting next year.  Obviously, this gets the farm system a little bit closer to Toronto, which is always nice.  The offensive numbers will naturally take a bit of a dip, so gone are the days of Adeiny Hechavarria batting .300/.400/.500 or whatever, but at least pitchers will be able to play in AAA instead of being tucked away in AA New Hampshire.

Playoff Preview: Washington Nationals

Strasburg in his warmups.  Get used to it.

As of right now, I don't think any team has officially clinched a playoff spot, but let's avoid the silliness for a second.  The Nats currently have the best record in baseball, have a 5 game lead in the division, and if, for some reason, they were to flummox themselves away from such a lead, they would still have a pretty significant lead in the wild card race.  That Nationals are going to play at least one post-season game, and probably more than that.

So they've gone out and won more games than anybody else to this point in the year, so they must be the favorites at this point, right?  Well, not exactly.  They've allowed just 525 runs, which is the best in baseball, but have done so with Stephen Strasburg taking the mound every fifth day.  Strasburg is obviously shut down for the rest of the year, so don't look his way.  They've also had the pleasure of playing in the NL East, where Philadelphia, NYM and Miami have gone out and disappointed everybody at one point or another.

They've still got a nice rotation even without Strasburg-- Gio Gonzalez is a Cy Young candidate, and Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler have all been quite good all year long-- and the bullpen has been more or less excellent all year long, so the rest of the pitching staff should still be plenty able to pick the extra slack down the stretch and in to the postseason.

Despite cooling down a bit recently, the offense is still really good.  Danny Espinosa has had a fantastic year to this point, Ryan Zimmerman has been ridiculous since the all-star break, and Bryce Harper has put up 4 WAR as a 19-year-old.  Believe the hype, children.  Beyond that, Adam Laroche suddenly doesn't suck anymore, and Jayson Werth is back to hitting like Jayson Werth (though he's only played in 66 games this year due to injury), bouncing back after a rough season last year.

There weren't many people who truly believed in this team at the start of the year (myself included), but they are quite clearly deserving of their current spot at the top.  This team is quite young, and Jayson Werth is the only player in the roster with any significant playoff experience, if you're the type to buy in to such a thing.  Fortunately for practically everyone on this team, they're going to grow up together.  Edwin Jackson is a projected free agent, but the team has control over quite literally every main piece of this club for at least one more year (Mike Morse is a 2014 FA, Werth, Zimmerman and Gonzalez are signed through '17, '17 and '16 respectively, all others are on rookie contracts or are arbitration eligible through 2015), so if experience really is an issue, they're sure to gain some over the coming years, because this team has dynasty written all over it.

Sunday 16 September 2012

What About Carlos?

There's been quite a bit of talk about Carlos Villanueva over the last few months.  He's been arguably the most valuable pitcher for the Jays over the summer months (since Brandon Morrow went down, anyway), he's certainly been one of the few responsible parties for keeping this season afloat(-ish), and he's a free agent at the end of the season.

Given the current state of the Blue Jays' season, Villanueva probably should have been traded at the July 31 trade deadline, and almost certainly would have been, had the injury bug not jumped up and bit practically the entire team.  The fact of the matter is that the Jays weren't that far out of the wild card hunt at that point in time; all it would have taken was one nice little hot streak where they win 10 of 12 or whatever, and there's a reasonable chance that they could pull it off, or at least come close with the addition of a nice piece or two.

Move forward a couple of weeks, and suddenly, the Jays are 8 games out of the second wild card.  Morrow is on the shelf, Bautista is on the shelf, Arencibia (and d'Arnaud) is on the shelf, Lawrie is on the shelf.  Romero and Escobar are having sub-par seasons, Kelly Johnson is either sucking, or playing hurt, and Anthony Gose, Moises Sierra and Adeiny Hechavarria are playing practically everyday.

The obvious problem here is that the non-waiver deadline has come and gone.  AA has already decided that neither Travis Snider, nor Eric Thames is worth a final look, and he moved them to Pittsburgh and Seattle, respectively, in an effort to bolster a disappointing bullpen.  Francisco Cordero, arguably the worst Blue Jay in history, was jettisoned, along with prospects, to land Brandon Lyon and JA Happ.  These weren't sell-mode trades.  These were little deals to help the team win, or at least survive.

Basically, what I'm getting at here, is that if AA could see in to the future, he'd have probably traded Carlos Villanueva at the July 31 trade deadline, since the Jays are currently tanking, and he doesn't seem to want to extend him.  Further, he probably tried to work out a deal at some point during August, but Villanueva probably got claimed on waivers by a team that couldn't work out a deal.

So now, the question is this: what does Villanueva end up getting on the free agent market this off-season?

MLBTR already kind of looked at Villanueva's free agent market, but didn't really make any firm prediction, so let's do that.  The main thing I typically look at when determining a player value is WAR, and assign some kind of dollar value to that, and then adjust for various factors, such as age and past performance.

Villanueva has been worth 1.3 fWAR and 2.3 rWAR so far this season, and is projected to finish with something similar to that by the end of the year, considering he only has two more starts left (we'll call it 130IP).  For our sake, 1.8 WAR is a happy medium and should be a tidy number for math.  His 2011 totals show 1.2 fWAR and 1.8 rWAR over 107IP, so I think we're pretty well seeing the real thing.  The big issue is whether he'll be able to extrapolate those numbers in to 175-200 innings, or if he'd lose effectiveness as the season stretches out.  My money is on the former, for the record.

If Villanueva is a true-talent 2 WAR player, the math is pretty easy.  At $5MM per WAR, then at age 29, Villanueva should just get $10MM a year.  That's probably not going to happen though.  Edwin Jackson's market last year suggested that he would get 3-5 years at $10MM, because, despite being a 2-ish WAR player, he had the track record of being durable enough to throw 200 innings without much worry; we saw how that one worked out (1 year, $11MM plus incentives).

The other two names mentioned by MLBTR in their Villanueva piece are Chris Capuono (2y/$10MM) and Aaron Harang (2y/$12MM).  Neither Capuono nor Harang were 28 years old (both were entering their age 34 season), nor did they have very good years entering free agency this past year.  In fact, the only real thing either had going in their favors were innings counts (186 and 170, respectively); Villanueva has better k/9 and h/9 rates, similar walk rates, and similar ERA's, despite Villanueva being in a much tougher division and ballpark.  The only real problem with this comparison is that both Capuono and Harang were signed by Ned Coletti and the LA Dodgers, who have been throwing around money in hilarious fashion over the last year.

The going rate on a pitcher of Villanueva's caliber is a one-year deal in the $5-7MM range.  Joe Saunders, for example, was worth 1.4rWAR in 2011, and was signed to a $6MM deal.  Again, he has a track record of being able to go out there and throw 175-200 innings.  Villanueva probably won't beat that dollar amount per year, but he may be able to find a second year, thanks to his performance over the last two years.  It's not that he doesn't have the ability to throw 175-200 innings, per se; he hasn't been given the chance to.  Whether or not that is his fault or not is another issue.

My best guess: 2 years, $10.5MM, likely with incentives and/or contract options.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

There's Always Next Year

So the MLB released their 2013 season schedule today, complete with the move of the Astros to the American League, which means that both sides will have 15 teams.  Last I checked, 15 is an odd number, which, as implied by the photo above, suggests that we're going to be seeing at least one interleague series running at all times throughout the season.  That is, of course, retarded and we're not going to be speaking about that anymore.

What we will speak of, however, is the edition of the Toronto Blue Jays that will be playing in those games during that unspeakable schedule.  It's obviously quite possible that the 2012 team will be quite different from the 2013 one, and naturally, there are some changes that are going to be needed for the Jays to be contenders moving forward.

There are obviously a few guys that are essentially locks to return to the lineup next year.  Bautista, Encarnacion, and Lawrie on the offensive side of things, Romero, Morrow and Janssen as pitchers.  Guys like Rasmus, Arencibia, Escobar, Lincoln and Delabar seem pretty likely to return, though they could certainly be used as trade fodder, and most of the young guys we've seen lately are fairly certain to see at least some MLB time next year (Jenkins, Crawford, Loup, Hech, Gose, Sierra, etc.)

The biggest area of attention should be the starting rotation, in my view, with the middle infield being a close second.  Injuries to both Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, and the relative mediocrity of Henderson Alvarez mean that we're going to see a different rotation from what we had on opening day this year.  Romero and Morrow are, more than likely, sure things to find themselves in the opening day rotation this coming spring, but beyond that, we've got a few question marks.  Carlos Villanueva is a free-agent-to-be, and since AA hasn't locked him up yet, I'm wont to believe that he won't be back next year.  Call it a hunch.  JA Happ is a respectable stopgap, I suppose, and we're going to see Chad Jenkins at least get a shot at it.  I suppose Aaron Laffey, Deck Mcguire, and Brett Cecil might get looks, but there seems to be a real lack of depth at the AAA level within the organization right now.

On top of that, the free agent class appears to be watered down, and it isn't exactly AA's preferred way of shopping.  Still, Zack Greinke is there, as is Brandon McCarthy (injury permitting),  Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson and Kyle Lohse.  Depending on how contract options (in brackets) go down, Jake Peavy ($22MM club), Dan Haren ($15.5MM club) and Ervin Santana ($13MM Club) could all potentially be free agents as well.  Trades could also be worked out, naturally.  Arizona has plenty of depth, for example.

What I'd Do: If Zack Greinke isn't a snob about where he plays, I would be more than thrilled to give him $20MM+ per over 5 or 6 years.  As a contingency plan, have a look at Brandon McCarthy, assuming his brain recovers.  Some kind of frontish-middle-rotation guy would be just fine as a trade candidate; I'm looking at Jon Niese of the Mets, or Matt Garza of the Cubs.  Prepare to let Villanueva walk.

Hopefully the bullpen is pretty well set.  I'm not sure how long Luis Perez is out, and I assume Sergio Santos will be back in time for the start of next season.  Either way, Casey Janssen, Steve Delabar, and hopefully Darren Oliver will return.  Brett Cecil is probably a reliever going forward, and Aaron Loup has a fip of 1.79 in a small sample.  Brad Lincoln is there, as is Jason Frasor and Brandon Lyon, though they're both FA's at the end of the year.

What I'd do: It depends on Oliver, Frasor and Lyon's decisions.  I'm sure all three would be welcomed back with open arms, but even if any or all of them leave, the controllable members of the bullpen make up a solid bunch.  There are a few halfway respectable free agents out there, if necessary, but you've got room for guys like Jesse Litsch, Brett Cecil and JA Happ (if he doesn't start) and others.  I think the Delabar and Lincoln trades pretty much shored up the bullpen.  If not, wasted prospects tend to fetch reasonable relief pitching, apparently.

Edwin and Lawrie are pretty well locked in to their spots at 1B/DH and 3B, respectively. As long as Adam Lind doesn't get consistent (see: any) playing time, I'll be okay.

Second base is the real wild card here; Kelly Johnson has definitely had a rough second half of the season, probably partially due to a wonky hamstring that he's dealt with all year.  Re-signing him isn't the worst idea in the world, given the state of offense at 2B these days, but there are other options.  Three of the last four years have seen Kelly Johnson put up an average in the .220's, an OBP in the low .300's, and a strikeout rate that has risen dramatically.  He's a bounceback candidate for sure, but it's also possible that this is what the real Kelly Johnson looks like.  Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't really seem to be ready for the bigs yet, but he's definitely an option, either at second or at short.  Finally, they could look outside the organization at a guy like Marco Scutaro or Jeff Keppinger.

Directly related, Yunel Escobar is still under control for a few years, thanks to an extension he signed last year, complete with two team-friendly club options.  He's having a bit of a disappointing season, and was the subject of a few trade rumors this season, but he's quite good defensively, and has put up some excellent seasons in his career, so there is always a chance that he could be moved in a trade for a nice return.  Hechavarria would be a natural replacement if Yunel were moved.  Potential fits would be Oakland and Arizona.

Travis d'Arnaud is essentially guaranteed the everyday catching job once he hits the bigs, but given his season-ending broken leg, I suspect he'll see some more time in the minors, even if it's just to start the year.  By the all-star break, he'll be in the majors, and JPA will likely be traded.  Mathis is your backup.

What I'd do: In no particular order:

  • Trade JPA.  If d'Arnaud is ready for the bigs, let him catch.  If he isn't ready, Mathis is probably passable for a while.  TDA won't be long in the minors.
  • I'm partial to signing Jeff Keppinger.  If that works, trade Yunel Escobar, especially if Kelly Johnson will re-sign for cheapish.  Try to avoid letting Hechavarria play everyday. 
  • Give Bautista some time at 1B when Edwin DH's as a way to ween him off of playing the outfield everyday.  Adam Lind to the bench/minors/free agent pile.
Bautista and Rasmus take RF and CF, naturally.  Gose and Davis can platoon in LF, I guess, until something better comes along, but I don't think Gose is ever going to hit.  Sierra is a bat off the bench or a trade piece at best.

What I'd do: Assuming Zack Greinke doesn't come to Toronto, which, if we can be serious for a moment... I'd take a run at one of the left-handed/switch-hitting outfielders on the free agent market.  Depending on pricetags, obviously, I prefer Bourn over Swisher and Victorino.

I don't expect AA to go insane and upgrade everywhere, but there are some pretty clear spots that need upgrades.  The rotation is the big one, but if nothing wild happens there, I hope to see him upgrade at either 2B or to find a nice bat to DH and play either 1B or LF.  I mentioned that I don't think Gose or Hech's bats will ever develop enough to be good, but I'm sure we're going to be stuck with one of them in the lineup full time next year.

Update: Hey! Check this out: It's a John Lott tweet, saying that C, 1B or DH (Edwin), SS, 3B, RF, and CF are "entrenched" for the 2013 season.  Forget the JPA stuff above, and then carry on.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Get Ready

The Jays take on the Mariners tonight in the first game of a three game set.  This series means absolutely nothing.

Just some quick chuckling at the misfortunes of some former Blue Jays.  Our beloved Coco has been deemed too terrible for the worst team in baseball, as the Astros have officially released Francisco Cordero. He was, of course, sent to Houston in the JA Happ trade.

On a similar note, Kevin Gregg has been DFA'ed by the Orioles, in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Endy Chavez.  Bloltimore signed Gregg to a 2 year, $10MM contract before the beginning of last season, for some reason.  Gregg has pitched to a FIP in the 5 neighborhood, walking 5.5/9IP.

Chad Jenkins will probably start on the 24th against Baltimore in the makeup game that was rained out two week ago.  Shi Davidi says that he will probably stay in the rotation after that, as the Jays wind down with a 6-man rotation.

The Vancouver Canadians, the Jays' high-A affiliate, have won their championship for the second straight year.  Good for them.

Monday 10 September 2012

Jays Set to Extend Rasmus?

I saw this piece of news yesterday evening, and was actually going to write about it then, but decided not to because I'm lazy or something.  Naturally, fangraphs has a post up about it first thing this morning, so now I look like a copycat, but regardless, the Jays are apparently pursuing an extension for Colby Rasmus, according to Richard Griffin of the Star.

I can't even begin to fathom what kind of terms this extension would have, since a player with Rasmus' numbers doesn't exactly fit the profile of a player that you extend.  The Jays have club control of Rasmus until after the 2014 season, so it's not like anything absolutely needs to happen right now.  It might be a different story if he were a free agent at the end of this season, or even at the end of next season, but given the two full years of control remaining, there are other, more pressing issues, such as figuring out what to do with Carlos Villanueva, let alone the rest of the rotation behind Brandon Morrow.

Since having two excellent seasons in STL (2.8 and 4.3 WAR in his first two years), Rasmus' production has fallen significantly.  He put up 0.8 WAR last year (-0.5 post-trade), and has only been worth 1.3 this year with the Jays.  It's not very hard to find that kind of production, and you definitely don't need to fork out multiple guaranteed years in order to find it.

Despite what WAR tells us, I think there are definitely some positive signs to take away from Rasmus' play this year; the 22 HR's are obviously a good sign that his power is still there, and his defense definitely passes the eye-test, even if he shows a negative UZR, though his -2.2 actually ranks as a median 9th of 17 qualifying CF's, which definitely plays respectably, given the volatility of defensive metrics.  Maybe it's just the Vernon Wells thing.

Drew at DJF explained the batting stance adjustments Colby made, and that tethered him towards a torrid June, where he got super hot and hit a bunch of taters and stuff.  Has anyone else noticed how he's since reverted to the old stance and has batted like .091 since the Lawrie injury?

The talent is there.  We've definitely seen it first hand at points this year; it's all a matter of harnessing it.  We could see it with Morrow over the last few years and he finally put it together this year, albeit in a shortened season, so of course there's a chance that Rasmus does the same, but there's also a very real chance that this is the real Colby Rasmus.

And that's the biggest problem I would have with a Rasmus extension: his walk-rate over the last two years is way down below 10%, and he didn't really walk a whole lot before that.  He's always been a high-walk, high-K kind of guy, which kind of stinks when the babips are in the .260's.  He needed a .354 babip in 2010 to produce .276/.351/.498.  He's hitting more line drives this year than he did last year, which indicates that he should probably see some regression moving forward, but I'm not too sure that it would be enough to turn him in to a consistent 3+WAR guy going forward without an increase in walk-rate.

If the Jays are fully committed to Rasmus in CF over the next two years, then there isn't much of a problem in setting those in stone now, I suppose.  My real worry is that when teams are looking in to extending 25-year old CF's, they want something like five years.  That would be worrisome.  It's not that I don't like Rasmus as a player, because I do (and he was on my secret wishlist long before the trade, if you'll remember), it's just that I'm not sure if he's anything more than a league average CF.  A league average CF is  a pretty decent asset to have, mind you, and a two or three-year extension, at a reasonable price, certainly works for both sides, especially with the potential that we've seen from him.

I'd rather a rotation piece, myself.

Update: I should probably add that I'd rather go year-to-year with Rasmus, rather than spending a bunch of time trying to get him locked in to a multi-year extension.  He's probably set to make about $5MM in arbitration, so I doubt a 2-year extension would be worth less than $13MM.  Factor in buyouts and options and stuff, I would suggest that the only real advantage to locking him up is getting some option years in, instead of letting him hit free agency.  Obviously there are extra costs to that, but locking up the last two years of arbitration without buying up anything else isn't going to come with any major savings.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Your Latest Stuff

I'm probably going to miss the next two games, and won't likely even be around a computer until tomorrow evening at some point.  Don't let that be an excuse for you to miss the AL East races.  Yeah, races.  The Jays are one game back of not-last in the AL East, and could make that up with a win this afternoon against the Red Sox.

Let's not kid ourselves though, the real business at hand here is the 3-way race between the Yankees, Orioles and Rays at the top of the East.  The Yankees beat the O's last night, and the Rays walked off on the Rangers in extras.  As such, the Yanks lead by a game over the O's, and by just two over the Rays, despite holding a 10-game lead about a month ago.  Tough to watch Jays games with these races going down.  Oakland and Baltimore hold the two wild card spots at the moment, with the Rays being a game back.

If you missed it last night, JP Arencibia and Brett Lawrie both returned to the lineup last night.  JPA has to be a bit better than Jeff Mathis, so the difference isn't that big there.  The real improvement here is the recall of Lawrie, getting the offensive hole of Adeiny Hechavarria out of the lineup.  Part way there, I guess.  Still have Gose (.261 wOBA) in there most everyday instead of Bautista (.376 wOBA).  A little absurd.  The Jays have also called up David Carpenter, Yan Gomes and Joel Carreno.

Naturally, JA Happ has been shut down for the season, and will be getting a bunch of screws put in his foot to repair a stress fracture that occurred some point last week, two starts ago.  Aaron Laffey has been chosen to replace Happ in the rotation.  If that's not enough for you, apparently Henderson Alvarez, who actually pitched well for a change, reported some tricep soreness after his start last night.  Let's not be unreasonable here.

Finally, the Jays have granted an early release to Koby Clemens so that he could catch for his pa, Roger for the Sugar Land Skeeters yesterday.  RC went 4.2 innings.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

I've Been Broken

Yep. Baltimore in 1st in the AL East.  I predicted a 61-101 finish for them in my pre-season previews.  Egg on my face.  Naturally, they should be 64-70 right now, which is still better than the Jays, but I doubt anybody really cares about that.

Anyway, Sean at Nowhere Plans chimes in with what I assume is going to be a terribly biased take on what being tied for the lead in the AL East means (I'll be reading it pronto after posting this).  I wish I knew that he was writing this, because I kind of wanted to do a little back-and-forth about the subject, but whatever.  Such an item probably would have resulted in a big bunch of "Lol Canada" and "U mad bro?" reactions, since the bulk of NP's readership are American, and a bunch of those guys are from the Philly/DC/Maryland area, so I'd just be barking up the wrong tree.  Might still fire something together, but it wouldn't be anything incredibly fresh that Jonah Keri or Dave Cameron haven't already written.  We'll probably let the baby have the bottle in this case, because RANGZ.  If anything, I'll probably include a fluffy handjob of Evan Longoria and why he's the real MVP or something hilarious.

I'm conveniently ignoring yesterday's game, by the way.

The John Farrell to Boston stuff refuses to die.  I'd trade that dude in a heartbeat, but it's probably not happening.  Farrell claims to be totally committed to the Jays, because WHY THE FUCK WOULDN'T HE SAY THAT?!?!?

MLBTR also profiles Jeff Keppinger.  The Blue Jays should look in to this guy if Kelly Johnson goes, though Hech will probably see the bulk of the playing time if KJ goes.  Kelly Johnson should probably go though.  I would way sooner Kepp than Hech.  At least Kepp hits lefties.

Remember yesterday when I said something about the Romero sweet spot being an extra day of rest?  Well the Jays are going to give him an extra 4.

Shi Davidi also tells us that David Cooper has been shut down for the season.  Hopefully the Dome is shut (down) for the rest of the season too!

Alright that's enough.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Squeeze it in

Gose and Beck are back up.

JPA could be back Friday.

EE, unsurprisingly, was named Jays player of the month.

Charlie V soon.

Fuck Baltimore!

Monday 3 September 2012

Labor Dabor

Fuck you Baltimore.

So I think we've found the Ricky Romero sweet spot of needing an extra day of rest every time he starts.  What's worse about yesterday's game is that Romero, who usually has a reverse platoon split, got stomped by righty hitters over the brief, yet effective sample size of 1+ innings.  You thought it couldn't get worse, didn't you?

On the bright side of life, Edwin Encarnacion has now homered in three straight, and has 37 on the year, one back of Adam Dunn for the league lead.

Fangraphs has a quick chat with Anthony Gose.

John Lott tells us that JPA could return next week.  He had a double and a walk in 6 PA's in a rehab start. also speaks about Brett Lawrie, who still has no timetable, and Jason Frasor, who has returned to the team and is eligible to pitch today.

As for me, I just found out that I have Teletoon Retro, and have been watching the old Batman show with Adam West.  Might not even watch the ballgame today.




Saunders P

Saturday 1 September 2012

Sweep Them, See if I Care

A little controversial, my last post... nothing major though.  Moises Sierra, huh?

Anyway, I'm going to work, so I'll probably be following this one via MLB Gameday updates and we'll go from there, but clearly, the Jays are looking at winning out and maybe sneaking a playoff spot after all.  They have 60 wins at the moment, and 31 games left, by my count... there's still hope!

Jason Frasor will rejoin the club today, now that rosters have expanded to 40.  He had two strikeouts in an inning Thursday night for Dunedin (A).

Brett Lawrie has begun swinging, and has reported improvement, but still has no timetable for a return.

Oakland scored 20 runs last night against Boston. Hahaha.