Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Stuff: Romero, Peavy, etc.

Ricky Romero underwent some surgeries recently.  The first was to clean up some nonsense in his elbow, and the other was to relieve some issues with tendinitis in his hips or thighs or something.  Neither were major, and he'll need about six weeks to recover.  We can use that as an excuse, I guess.

The White Sox extended Jake Peavy today, which takes a target away from Alex Anthopoulos, just in case he was at all interested in a free agent pitcher.  Peavy will get 2 years and $29MM to go along with the $4MM buyout that he receives due to the White Sox declining the $22MM option Peavy had on his contract.  Peavy could have become a free agent and probably could have gotten more on the open market.

The Dodgers extended Brandon League for three years and $22.5MM, plus a club option worth $7.5MM (note: hahaha what?) for 2016.  This could go down as the worst deal of the offseason, and it's like, day negative 4.

Beyond the Boxscore has a simulated trade between Jon Daniels and Alex Anthopoulos, based on the d'Arnaud for Profar rumors, trading JPA, Brett Cecil and Noah Syndergaard for Derek Holland and A prospect 2B Leury Garcia.  Pretty good read.

Finally, the Jays lost Brian Butterfield to Boston this afternoon.  Butters was a free agent, but you've gotta think that there's some effect of the Farrell stuff helping out here.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Moar Stuff

Nothing major today, so we'll just keep on going with the tidbits.

Gregor Chisolm for MLB.com tells us that the Jays will look to retain Brandon Lyon or Jason Frasor for the coming season, both of whom are free agents, as he examines the bullpen situation heading in to the offseason.  A few quotes from AA in there.

MLBTR's Matt Schwartz has posted his list of projected arbitration salaries.  For the record, I was pretty dead-on when I had Rasmus at $4.5MM, Happ around $4MM, and Aviles at $2.2MM.  He adds Rajai Davis at $3.9MM, who has a $3MM club option, as well as David Herndon, Cory Wade, and Bobby Wilson.

The Hanhwa Eagles are going to post Hyun-jin Ryu.  Hadouken!  He's a lefty pitcher who has beaten up the Korean league for a few years now.  I have a Lee Bum Ho jersey from when he played in Hanhwa.

Finally, Jeff Blair wrote something for the Globe.  The jist is that Joe Girardi walked right in to managing a stacked team with a huge payroll, and that Mike Matheny walked right in to a manager's job with a stacked team with a ridiculous farm system and the flexibility to walk away from the best baseball player of our generation and still be able to succeed.  Both Matheny and Girardi were catchers when they played.  Ipso facto, the Jays should hire either Sandy Alomar Jr. or Don Wakamatsu to be their new manager, because they were catchers.  Pardon me while I never read anything he ever writes.

Stuff: Free Agency, Lawrie

Today is free agency day, and according to MLBTR, 137 players became free agents today.  That number includes guys who have options on their contracts (Robinson Cano, for example, has a $14MM club option that is super obviously going to be exercised by the Yankees).  As mentioned the other day in the Offseason Handbook, teams have five days of exclusive negotiation rights with any free agents that they had control of as of yesterday, so "free agency" in this case is a bit of a misnomer.  Players can re-sign whenever, but need to wait until Friday (I think) to sign with other teams.

As happened last year with the Jays and Miguel Olivo, teams may trade the exclusive rights to any team within that five day period.

Fangraphs looks at Brett Lawrie from a fantasy perspective. They also examine Sergio Romo's fastball down the middle to Miguel Cabrera that totally froze him, earning the final strikeout to win the World Series.

Shi Davidi says that the Jays have begun parsing down their list of managerial candidates.  Jim Tracy, Manny Acta and Brad Ausmus are all out.

The Jays outrighted Tyson Brummett to AAA on Friday.  They had claimed him off waivers the other day, and then DFA'ed him to make room for David Herndon.

The Pirates have claimed Chad Beck from the Jays.  Beck was outrighted to AAA the other day to make room for fuck knows who.

Bartolo Colon took a liner to the mouth last night, playing in the Dominican Republic.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Stuff: Yunel, Offseason, etc.

Type "Yunel Escobar" in to google image search and just try to find a picture that isn't about the eyeblack incident.

Anyway, MLBTR had their weekly live chat today, and for the most part, there was nothing all that important.  I say that, because there was literally one question/answer that stuck out to me as bad news.  I definitely didn't agree with Ben's answer to the question, but I'd like to point out that he probably knows more about baseball than I do, and he's definitely better connected, both in terms of team-to-team rumors, as well as what the market looks like for each team, player, and position.

Comment From Indyman 
What could the Jays realistically get for Escobar?
Ben Nicholson-Smith: I don't think they could get a ton. Maybe a reliever, an extra outfielder or a prospect.
Like, really?  Is it that bad?  He's a shortstop, and a pretty decent one at that.  He's entering his age 30 season, so his best years could conceivably be behind him, especially if we want to have a look at his numbers over the last three years when compared to his career, but still, 8 WAR in 3 years (with babip issues in 2012) isn't exactly easy to find, especially on a team-friendly deal with multiple affordable club options. Does eyeblack really destroy a players' value?  I've gotta think that AA wouldn't sell that low on Yunel, even if he's declining.

What else?  There's no real news on the Jays managerial search.  Pat Hentgen's name came up on twitter today, but that was quickly shot down.  It kind of looks like the candidates that Farrell beat out last time around are all going to be in the lead here, though I suppose it's still early.

I updated the Offseason post that I have bookmarked at the top of the homepage to reflect dates for this coming offseason.

Fangraphs examines the cliff that Kelly Johnson fell off of this season.  And don't go pining for Marco Scutaro to come play 2B for us either, given the way he's played in SF.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Waiver Jays

The Blue Jays have claimed five players off waivers in the last few days.  I'm pretty sure I mentioned the Scott Cousins claim the other day, but to add to the pile, the Jays have claimed David Herndon off waivers from the Phillies, Bobby Wilson from the Angels, Tyson Brummett from the Phillies, and Cory Wade from the Yankees.

I don't really think any of these are big deals, beyond the fact that this makes it rather clear that there probably aren't many (any?) prospects that are going to be placed on the 40-man in the coming weeks in preparation for the rule-5 draft.

Herndon had TJ in June, ending his season, but was reasonably useful in 2010 and 2011, throwing 110 innings out of the bullpen.  He could battle for a bullpen spot in spring training if he's ready to go.

The other noteworthy claim is that of Bobby Wilson, who will add catcher depth (unless, of course, he gets DFA'ed and claimed again before the season starts) and might allow the Jays to move a catcher in a trade if they're so inclined. They might have a partner in the Rangers, who are going to be in the market for catching if they can't retain the services of Mike Napoli.  The Jays would be seeking either pitching or middle infield help.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Offseason Plans, Part 1

You know, beyond finding a new manager and coaching staff.

The Jays currently have about $60MM locked up for next year, as of today, according to Cots.  They had a total payroll of $83.7MM in 2012, and AA has claimed that payroll is going up.  Even if the Jays don't go out and spend a shitload of money on an expensive free agent, they'll be hard-pressed to start this coming season with a payroll smaller than the $83MM, thanks to arbitration raises and the extensions of Brandon Morrow and Edwin Encarnacion.

First, we'll take a look at where that $60ishMM that is already locked up is going, then we'll look at arbitration raises, and then non-tender candidates.

Guaranteed Contracts

  • Jose Bautista ($14MM), Brandon Morrow ($8MM) and Edwin Encarnacion ($8MM) are all practically guaranteed to be back to start the year.  
  • Ricky Romero ($7.5MM), Casey Janssen ($3.9MM), Sergio Santos ($2.75MM) and Jeff Mathis ($1.5MM) are all fairly likely to come back as well, though I suppose AA might look to ship Romero somewhere given his struggles last year, and either Santos or Janssen could be moved if both are looking to close this year.  JP Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud could theoretically play Mathis out of a job.
  • Adam Lind ($5.15MM), and Yunel Escobar ($5MM) have had some trade rumors swirling around their heads.
  • Dustin McGowan ($1.5MM) and Adeiny Hechavarria ($2.75MM) are under team control for multiple years; DMcG is signed through 2015, Hechavarria will be arbitration eligible after this coming year.
  • The Jays hold options on Darren Oliver and Rajai Davis, both of which are incredibly likely to be exercised.  Buyouts on those two deals are $500k each.  Naturally, Oliver could retire, and any number of the above names could be moved in a trade.
Free Agents (last year's salary in brackets): All potential free agents are under exclusive negotiating rights for the 5 days immediately following the end of the World Series.
  • Kelly Johnson ($6.375MM): Probably going to leave, and will likely need to take a paycut, given his performance over the second half of the year.  I struggle to believe KJ will get more than $5MM on the free agent market, though the 2B pool is rather shallow, and he's a nice shot at a bounce-back, after probably playing hurt for the last 3 months.  The acquisition of Mike Aviles is probably a contingency plan of sorts.
  • Brandon Lyon ($5.5MM): This one probably depends on the price he's looking for, but middle relievers no longer get the 3-year, $15MM contracts that Lyon got a few years ago.  He's probably going to be in the market for something like a 1-year, $4MM deal, possibly with an option.  I'm sure AA will be interested.
  • Jason Frasor ($3.75MM): Frasor is entering his age-35 season, and has morphed before our eyes from a back-end reliever to a run-of-the-mill one.  The crazy thing is that as Frasor's numbers have declined over the past few years, one thing that has improved is his K-rate, striking out almost 11/9IP.  Naturally, he's walking more batters as well, so take it or leave it.  Frasor seems to be universally loved in Toronto, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him back next year on a similar deal to what he signed last time around.
  • Carlos Villanueva ($2.2775MM): I assume Villanueva will be playing elsewhere this year, since the Jays just don't seem committed to him as a starter.  He'll probably find a multi-year deal somewhere, and my best guess is that he'll be beating up NL Central batters somewhere.
Arbitration-eligibles and Non-tender Candidates

  • Colby Rasmus: Rasmus is arbitration eligible for the second time. Last year, he signed a $2.7MM deal to avoid arb, and will probably get something in the area of $4.5MM this year.  The Jays have kicked around the idea of extending Rasmus, so there's no way he'll be non-tendered, especially after hitting 23 HR's as a CF and showing signs of the potential that they were hoping he might be when they acquired him.
  • JA Happ: Happ made $2.35MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility.  I believe that the Jays will tender him a contract and give him one shot at proving himself as a reliever/contingency swingman.  He'll probably make close to $4MM, which is approaching irresponsible.  He struck out 10+/9IP over his 40 innings as a Jay last year, so there's definitely something to be harnessed there.  He's probably destined to come out of the bullpen.
  • Brett Cecil: If the Jays are going to non-tender any of their arbitration players, it's going to be Cecil, but as a first-timer, his arbitration pricetag shouldn't be too expensive.  Cecil sort of stinks, as we all know.  Like Happ, the rest of Cecil's major league career should be bullpen work.  There isn't really anything about his stats that suggests anything other than the idea that he's not very good, but maybe some tweaks to the delivery or something could allow a re-birth as a LOOGY.
  • Mike Aviles: The only way the Jays could lose the John Farrell trade would be to non-tender Aviles before he ever sets foot in a Jays uniform.  Obviously that's not going to happen.  Aviles will probably get something in the area of $2.2MM in his second trip through arbitration, and seems pretty likely to see plenty of time at 2B if Kelly Johnson doesn't return.
Entry-level Contracts

All of these guys should get contracts again.  They're all making the league minimum as members of the 40-man roster with fewer than 3 years of service time.  Even the bad players are cheap enough that they're worth keeping around.  For rounding purposes, each of the entry-level contracts are going to be worth 500k on my back-of-the-envelope math.
  • Brett Lawrie may as well be grouped together with Bautista, Encarnacion and Morrow up top, and if he can prove that he isn't an injury waiting to happen, could be an extension candidate.
  • JP Arencibia is a trade candidate, but if Travis d'Arnaud starts the season in the minors, JP will probably stick around a while.
  • Henderson Alvarez will be fighting for a rotation spot, but I'm sure that he would have been sent to AAA at some point last year if there weren't so many injuries.  A little time in Buffalo to learn some secondary pitches would do Hendy some good.  He's still young and can throw pretty hard, so someone might want him in a trade.
  • Steve Delabar performed well down the stretch last season, and will probably return to the bullpen in '13, at least until he proves that he doesn't otherwise deserve it.  Same with Brad Lincoln.
  • Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison are all out with arm surgeries, and won't be involved in the early-season plans.
  • David Cooper is better than Adam Lind, but isn't making $5MM so it's sort of easy to justify giving Lind AB's over Coop.
  • Mike Mccoy, Yan Gomes, Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose are probably going to find themselves either in the minors or on the bench again.  Aaron Loup, Chad Beck, and Chad Jenkins could fight for roster spots, but are probably destined for the minors.
By my count, that's about $80MM, not including coaches and non-40-man minor league salaries.  This doesn't account for any free agents, obviously, or any non-tenders.  There are some holes on the roster that will need to be addressed, such as filling out the bullpen and 2b/backup IF, depending on how they use Aviles.  Frasor and Lyon are free agents and probably won't both be back, and HOLY SHIT WE NEED ANOTHER STARTER.

Just grabbing another reliever or two and not non-tendering anybody is going to raise the payroll, assuming Yunel Escobar and/or Adam Lind don't get traded.  Is the front office willing to add $20MM to the payroll? Is AA willing to move some prospect depth?  All of a sudden, I'm not incredibly optimistic about this offseason.

More soon.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

So Long, Fare-ell, Auf Weidersehen Goodbye

This title and picture combo is much better than what I had before.

It's done.  Jays' managerial search is on.  Sandy Alomar Jr. is the current favorite to assume the role, and we don't need to worry about giving anything up for him.  Let's hope Farrell doesn't take too many coaches with him.

Apparently the Red Sox have given Farrell four years.

Sandy Jr. is obviously the brother of Roberto Alomar, who was quite good.  Robbie is currently working with the Jays as a consultant or something of that sort.  Sandy is currently the bench coach for the Indians, and was one of the four finalists for the Jays' managerial gig that Farrell ended up getting.  He was named interim manager for the Indians when they fired Manny Acta, but Terry Francona has been named the Indians' manager recently, so he's not getting that job.

Other candidates to take over include Brian Butterfield (if he doesn't go to Boston) and Manny Acta, who has ties to Alex Anthopoulos from when they were both in Montreal, though I think AA was still an intern at that point.

I'm hoping that the Jays are getting a young guy or some PTBNL's from Boston in this case, but it's really pretty tough to say at this point.  Either way, trading one year of a manager for anything is pretty awesome, all things considered.  Farrell was probably better than Cito as a manager, but at the end of the day, I would suggest that there's Joe Maddon and then everybody else, so the replacement level of managers has got to be quite low.  The fact that there's a manager out there who might be even better, but can't possibly be way worse sounds really awesome to me, especially considering the fact that something is coming back our way.

Jon Morosi says that the player coming back is an infielder, and was in the majors this past year.  Seriously.Why? Why does he say that and only that? Like, he's either getting the name and opting to say “infielder, MLB’er this past year” and is intentionally stopping there, or whoever his source is is being a giant prick and saying “well, he's an infielder and an MLB’er from 2012, but you have to guess who teehee.” Fuck sakes. I’d rather have nothing than this horseshit.

Update 2
Mike Aviles is coming back the other way.  This is a huge win for the Jays, in my opinion, though I suppose it kind of depends if anything else is going the other way.  Either way, Aviles was worth 1.8 fWAR (2.0 rWAR) last year for Boston, putting up .250/.288/.381 and some nice defense. And considering what past manager trades have brought back, this is a pretty good haul.

The Jays currently have Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria on the depth chart at short, so unless someone's moving to 2B, we might see another deal here somewhere.  This certainly sounds like the Jays are moving on from Kelly Johnson, and it gives them a few options at 2B/SS and leaves them with a trade option as well.

Farrell-y Interesting

Well, it looks like this whole John Farrell trade thing is going to happen.  I dunno, who cares?  The big shame would see Farrell taking some (or all?) of the coaching staff with him.  Apparently Brian Butterfield, Torey Luvollo and Don Wakamatsu still haven't had their contracts resolved.

Anyway, I think the stark contrasts between this year's and last year's Farrell rumors speak pretty loudly.  Last year, the Jays altered a policy simply to get away from the distractions of having the Red Sox come around to poach Toronto personnel, whereas this year, we're hearing absolutely nothing from the Jays, and a bunch of talk from Boston sports writers about how AA and Farrell don't get along and that they're ready to part ways.

The Red Sox have apparently asked for permission to speak directly to Farrell, which would typically suggest that they're negotiating a contract.  Sounds advanced enough to me.  Now we just have to figure out what the Jays want.

And that's really all this is about, I would say.  It doesn't really matter that the Jays (apparently) are growing tired with Farrell for whatever reason, or that AA and Farrell are rumored to not see eye-to-eye on everything, such as Omar Vizquel's role on the team this year (reported in the Elliott link above).  The Jays have something that the Red Sox want. Advantage: Blue Jays.

There was a trade today, to officially kick off the offseason, despite the fact that the offseason hasn't actually started yet.  The D'Backs aquired Heath Bell and infielder Cliff Pennington, The Marlins acquired prospect Yordy Cabrera, and the A's acquired CF Chris Young and $500k.  The Marlins are eating $8MM of the $21MM remaining on Bell's contract.

To me, this is a nice deal for the A's, despite the fact that they now have four outfielders (Cespedes, Young, Crisp, Reddick) to fill three spots, which works if they want to stick Cespedes at DH.  They move Pennington, who had become expendable with the entrance of Stephen Drew.

The D'Backs shore up their bullpen, to an extent, but heh... Bell was really bad this year, and was probably a product of Petco.  Pennington is decent, I guess.  The D'Backs had a bit of a roster crunch, with Young, Parra, Kubel, Upton and Adam Eaton.

Miami obviously gets rid of Bell and his hilarious contract, and score a decent prospect as well.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


It's been a little while, huh?

MLBTR lets us know that the Jays have claimed Cory Wade (Princess Jasmine, I think) from the Yankees, and Scott Cousins from the Marlins, off waivers.

Wade has shown flashes of excellence over his career, but has been pretty meh for the most part.  2011 saw Wade put up an ERA in the 2 (3.76 FIP/3.80 xFIP) area, but the small sample police came back to him in 2012, where he put up a 6 ERA (4.50/3.65).  He'll fight for a bullpen job, and probably won't win one, but who knows.

Cousins has been terrible over his brief career, amassing a .523 OPS over 188 career PA's.  Probably minor league fodder forever.

The Jays also lost pitcher Juan Abreu to free agency, adding him to the pile of meh that the Jays have cast aside recently.

It would appear that the Jays have extended President Paul Beeston's contract for another two years.  I'm not entirely certain what that means.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe or something suggests that the Red Sox and Jays have begun their negotiations over compensation for John Farrell leaving his post as manager of the Jays.  This is still happening.  The Jays have some policy about lateral moves or something?  I feel like I may have heard that once or three hundred times over the last year and a half.

Finally, MLBTR suggests that the Nationals may look in to trading Mike Morse.  Morse is probably best suited for 1B, but the Jays could be a fit.  They're looking for another bat to take on LF, but could obviously have Morse and Edwin split time at 1B/DH/LF.  The Jays may be looking for someone who's actually a LF'er, instead of being a 1B masquerading in the outfield.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Minor Stuff

So this is a thing now.  If you need an explanation.

According to a press release on the Blue Jays' website, the Jays have activated Robert Coello from the disabled list, and have outrighted him off the 40-man roster.  This comes on the heels of a few more outrights, as the Jays also outrighted Aaron Laffey, Shawn Hill, and Bobby Korecky off the 40-man a few days ago.

This was essentially a formality (Laffey less so), as the Jays were going to need to make at least a little bit of room at some point.  Sergio Santos, Dustin Mcgowan, Jesse Litsch, Luis Perez, Drew Hutchison, Travis d'Arnaud and Kyle Drabek are all on the 60-day DL at the moment, and I'm sure some of them are bound to be back sooner or later, though I'm not sure what the rules are concerning DL'ed players in the offseason.  Regardless, the Jays had a full 40-man in order to fill up the bullpen, and if they happen to feel the need to add anybody from the farm to the 40-man roster, or, heaven forbid, go sign a Major League free agent, there'd need to be some kind of movement.

Beyond that, there's not really a whole lot going on these days in terms of Blue Jays news, nor should there be.  It is playoff time, afterall.  I don't think I need to update anybody at the moment as far as what's going on in the playoffs, since nobody reading a Blue Jays blog during the offseason would be uninterested in playoff baseball.  Right?

Having said that, the John Farrell-to-Boston stuff just doesn't seem to want to die.  Stoeten of DJF wrote a few bits and pieces about that, here and here.  That first one is born of a ridiculous article written in a local newspaper here in PEI.  Since I'm from PEI, I know better than to take anything that guy says seriously, but obviously Stoeten doesn't get exposed to that moron nearly enough.

Tom Cheek has been nominated for the Ford C. Frick award.  Again.  Go vote for him, folks.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Playoff Preview: New York Yankees

Bunch of old men who blew (almost) a 10 game lead to the Baltimore fucking Orioles.  They can't win in the playoffs, right?  Well, yeah, they can.

All around, this is probably the best team in the playoffs.  They certainly have the best offense, and CC and Hiroki Kuroda are going to offer a pretty solid 1-2 punch.  That, and they're the Yankees.

I'm not sure what else I need to tell you.  With this offense, they're never out of the game.  Cano, Jeter, Granderson, Swisher, Ichiro, and even the warm corpses of Teixeira and A-Rod are going to provide enough offense to neutralize any issues that result from the back-end of the rotation.

This is definitely one where we should be able to just sit here and watch nature take it's course... until Joe Girardi gets his hands on the bullpen.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My Awards Ceremony

Everyone's doing it, so I may as well too.  This is all about who I think deserve the awards, based on my interpretation of them.  Disagree if you must, but this one's about my personal opinions.

AL MVP: Mike "Ehrman" Trout.  That's a Breaking Bad reference, and you fucking suck if you don't get it.
.326/.399/.564, 30 HR, 49 SB. 10.4 WAR

This one isn't even close.  Forget that he's 20 years old, because age shouldn't (and doesn't) really factor in to the MVP discussion.  Mike Trout was the best player in baseball this year.  Period.  Most WAR, no matter the site, excellent offense, supreme baserunning, and stellar defense at a premium position.  There is no argument, in my opinion, and the entire internet has all the arguments that I don't really even need to link here, so I won't.  Honorable mention to Miguel Cabrera, who had the second best season in the AL.  Look forward to a point-counterpoint city hall effort on Nowhere Plans soon.

NL MVP: Buster Posey.  .308/.408/.549, 24 HR.

This one could go a number of ways and I wouldn't be too upset.  Ryan Braun put up a pretty amazing year, as did Andrew McCutchen, but I give the edge to Buster.  I'm cool with breaking a tie with a playoff berth, I guess, but regardless, I'm with Posey due to the awesomeness of a catcher going out there and putting those kind of numbers up.  Posey's second half was truly retarded.

AL ROY:  Mike Trout.

This one's pretty fucking obvious, no?  Darvish comes 2nd.

NL ROY: Wade Miley. 194IP, 3.33 ERA, 3.15FIP, 3.73 xFIP.  6.66 k/9, 1.71 bb/9

It's him or Bryce Harper, I guess.  Miley's numbers are even better due to the park factors of Chase Field, where the ball just kind of flies outta there, though I suppose that's neutralized a bit by the lack of offense in the division and the other park factors in the NL West.  Harper's accomplishments this year shouldn't be overlooked, and he's certainly valid, especially given the way he ended the season.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander. 238 IP, 9 k/9, 2.3 bb/9, 2.64 ERA

Honorable mention to David Price.  If the two had numbers a bit closer together, I'd go with Price, since the AL East and the AL Central are two fairly different places to play.  Verlander is just really fucking dominant. I'm cool with Price though, and seeing as he won the ERA title and 20 games, he's got a pretty decent shot at winning the Cy.

NL Cy Young: Craig Kimbrel.  3.9 h/9, 2bb/9, 16.7 k/9. 1.01 ERA, 50.2% k-rate.

I wouldn't typically condone voting for a reliever to win the CY, but I've got to make an exception here.  Kimbrel was the best pitcher in the NL this year, and I don't really think it was overly close.  It's pretty obvious that starters are more valuable than relievers, if for no other reason than the innings pitched, but there was no real performance by a starter that stood above everyone else for me, and Kimbrel struck out MORE THAN HALF of the batters that he faced this year.  I understand that it's easier for relievers to succeed, considering the fact that they can go out there and throw as hard as possible over about 40% of the innings, and that they never have to face the same batter multiple times in a game.  For those reasons, any reliever needs to be head and shoulders above everyone else to win the CY in my mind.  Kimbrel has done that this year, because his season was so fucking stupid good that it was a crime to miss any appearance of his at any instance in which he pitched this year.

Honorable mention to R.A. Dickey.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Playoff Preview: Oakland A's

Moneyball, Part two.

This team fucking snuck up on us, huh?  They didn't even appear to be all that good at the start of the season, but lo and behold, Billy Beane went ahead and tricked everyone.  A cuban defector and 96 starts from rookies later, and they're in the playoffs, clinching at least a wild card play-in game.

Basically, the best way to describe what happened with the A's this year is that Billy Beane turned Gio Gonzalez in to three different regulars, turned a reliever in to a 4.6 WAR slugger that would have been a bench player in Boston (at least until the injuries hit), signed a center fielder based on a bunch of youtube videos, and found 2 WAR out of the chasm of value that Brandon Inge had once thought to have become.  All of this, despite the loss of Brandon McCarthy to a head injury, the loss of Bartolo Colon to steroids, and only getting 35 innings out of Brett Anderson, the de facto staff ace.

A lot of people point to the underlying message of "Moneyball" being "On-base percentage is awesome and wins you games!", which, I suppose, is a roundabout way of being right, and it certainly got the message across.  I think the real message, however, is in the Pitt line "Adapt or die."  It's not that OBP is the be-all and end-all; you have zig when others zag.  Once you find something that works, everybody is going to copy that, so you have to find something else.  OBP went from being severely under-rated to being a well-known entity that everybody is looking for, so Beane went ahead to took advantage of that and loaded his team up with some good, young pitchers who keep the ball on the ground, and then focused on guys who could offer some plus power and solid defense, eschewing the on-base heavy model.  I count 13 guys who had at least 200 AB's for the A's this year, and 7 of them have an OBP below league-average.  Quite clearly, power is the new market inefficiency.

This is a sneaky good team, who have a shot at catching Texas for the division lead.  That would be the fairy-tale ending that Moneyball never got, because this team, even before the injury adversities that they've faced that forced them to get 96 starts from rookies, was supposed to suck.  This is the best story in baseball this year, and I am firmly entrenched on the Oakland bandwagon.

Playoff Preview: Detroit Tigers

Someone finally stepped up and won the AL Central.

Turns out it was the team that everybody thought was going to win 134 games, and they clinched with two days left in the season, but heh.  And really, this just goes to show us all how weak the AL Central is.  Chicago was the only other respectable team in the division all year long, and this was actually a race until about a week ago.

The Tigers definitely have some star power: Cabrera is probably going to win the MVP (even though he shouldn't), Justin Verlander has a good shot at the AL Cy Young, and they've got Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson playing some strong roles as well.  The big issue I have with this team is that, well, that's about it.  Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta are nice regulars, but offensively, this team isn't anything special behind the three bats that they have, and giving Delmon Young or Brennan Boesch a bunch of AB's is pretty well counter-productive to everything else they have going on.

This was my real issue with the Prince Fielder signing.  Sure, he's a great player, putting up almost 5 WAR, but that $214MM could have been used to plug the four holes they had in the lineup at that time (and still have, to a degree).

Justin Verlander is obviously the ace of this staff, and he appears to have a rubber arm, throwing 238 innings so far this year, without really losing any effectiveness.  I wouldn't worry about him moving forward.  They've also gotten nice performances from Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, who both appear to still have some gas left in the tank.  Neither are likely to hit a career high in innings pitched, even with a playoff stretch (Fister actually missed time with an injury this year), so I'm actually expecting some nice performances from these two as well, especially if they can be fully rested for the playoffs, since they don't need to worry about holding any division rivals at bay for their playoff berth.

This is one of those scary teams that can just jump up and bite you, despite only have 5 or 6 real quality major leaguers, as opposed to a team like Texas or New York, who are just deep all over.  Guys like Cabrera and Fielder are certainly game-changers with the bats, so if either gets hot, especially if the pitching works out, it's a team that could surprise us and make a run.