Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Izturis-Bonifacio Conundrum

Gregor Chisolm had some tidbits from an Alex Anthopoulos media scrum yesterday (he also notes that Beeston will have a similar scrum today).  It's fairly lengthy, but it's a good read.  MLBTR has a roundup of the important stuff summarized.

I think the major thing to take from the chat, or at least what I'm writing about, is the fact that AA says Maicer Izturis has the inside track on the starting 2B role, with Emilio Bonifacio playing more of a super utility role.

Q- How does second base shape up?
“I think Izturis is the front runner. He hasn’t been promised the everyday job so there’s definitely potential to compete there. Izturis would certainly be the front runner for that spot. Bonifacio’s value is that he can play second, can play all the outfield spots, can play the other infield spots as well. But as we sit here today — and it can change at spring training — Izturis would be the front runner but he hasn’t been guaranteed the everyday job.”
 I'm fairly certain that this is what I've been trying to tell everybody ever since the trade happened.  We may as well have a look at both, and try and hash out why I feel this way.

Izturis, 31, is four years older than Boni.  That's really more of an FYI than anything, and doesn't preclude Boni from getting the starter's role or anything, but it's certainly something.  Typical prime years are 27-29, which essentially means that Izturis is probably on the decline, and that Bonifacio is in Deion Sanders-mode. Bonifacio, despite having just finished his age-27 season, is still offering us a pretty small sample, as far as stats go.

Izturis has something similar to a league-average walk-rate for his career, with each season coming between 7-9.5%.  I think we know what we can expect there.  Beyond that, he doesn't strike out a whole lot, keeping that right around an industry standard 12% (Bill James' projections see his k-rate at 10% this year, fwiw).  He won't hit for power, but his career slash line of .273/.337/.381 provides a wOBA of .306, pretty much average for a 2B.  Beyond that, Angels' Stadium depresses offense, so we might even see a slight uptick in his offense (i.e. slash-lines-- wOBA is park-adjusted).  He's probably due a slight regression (the good kind), thanks to a big increase in IFFB% last year, way above his normal career rate.  Fangraphs has him listed as anywhere from -3 to +7 runs on the defensive scale, though his defensive numbers have slipped each year since 2009, though that counts his time playing all three infield positions, not just 2b.

Bonifacio has only played in one (what I would call) full season, in 2011, where his babip fuelled WAR was 3.3.  Every other season, he's been decidedly below average, albeit with less playing time than your average guy.  Having said that, he's been an injury concern his entire career to this point.  He missed a bunch of time this past year with a thumb issue that kept him out of about 2 months, and then suffered a season-ending injury to his knee.

The big thing I see from Boni is that he replaces both Rajai Davis and Omar Vizquel (Mike Mccoy?), in the sense that he can play all over the diamond, and steal a shitload of bases.  Over his career, he's got 1800+ PA's, good for about three seasons' worth.  He has walked at the same rate as Izturis, but has struck out twice as much. He actully hits for even less power than Izturis (career .076 ISO, vs. .108 for Maicer), and his only season with a league-average or better wOBA was in 2010, where his babip was .372.  Having said that, Boni is definitely the kind of player who fits the profile of elevated babip (.337 career) thanks to the extra infield singles that his speed generates.  His defense at 2B, again, in a small sample, is nothing special either, though we are talking about defensive metrics here, so...

I definitely remember asking the internet if there was something that I was missing on Bonifacio, as far as why people have him slotted in over Izturis for the starting 2B role.  Looking even closer, I still see nothing, save for the stolen bases and the nice 2011 season that he had.

It's not like there isn't plenty of room for Bonifacio either-- he's probably the first option off the bench to pinch run, he can come off the bench as a switch-hitter as well (career .329 OBP is better than both Davis and Lind, .290/.337/.390 career batting line vs. LHP), and his ability to play 6 different positions, combined with his switch-hitting, not-terrible on-base skills, makes him a logical sub for Lawrie, Reyes, Izturis, Rasmus, Bautista or Cabrera if any of them happen to need a day off, or, God forbid, get injured.  I don't see any reason that he can't get 50 games in, not counting pinch-running subs, and that's assuming that nobody is injured and that everybody handles their starting jobs and doesn't get traded.  Yes, that's assuming a lot, but he's a serviceable back-up in any case that I am assuming too much.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Stuff: Staff

John Gibbons, or probably more precisely, The Toronto Blue Jays and John Gibbons, have named five members the big league coaching staff.  Still no Sal Fasano...

In a press release this morning, the Jays announced that Chad Mottola will be taking over as hitting coach from Dwayne Murphy, who has shifted over to first base.  Murph will also be in charge of outfield defense, replacing Torey Luvollo, at least in the first base coach position.

De Marlo Hale, as expected, has been named the bench coach, taking a seat beside Gibby, replacing Don Wakamatsu.

Pete Walker will now be the pitching coach, taking over for Bruce Walton.  Walker was the bullpen coach last season, after Pat Hentgen stepped down to take a consulting/scouting role instead.  No bullpen coach has been named yet.

Luis Rivera has been promoted to third base coach, replacing Brian Butterfield, who, along with Torey Luvollo, joined John Farrell in Boston.  Rivera was a coaching assistant and scout last year with the club.

I certainly haven't heard anything about what's going on with Walton and Wakamatsu, but neither are under contract anymore, so they're essentially free agents.

The other big news from the AL East this morning is that Tampa has extended Evan Longoria through the 2022 season (with a 2023 club option, of course), exercising his 3 club options from his original deal, and then giving him 6 more years worth $100MM more, stretching it to $136MM total, not including the $17.5MM that he had already earned on the previous contract.  I dunno if that makes any sense.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Stuff: Lind, Johnson

What a day.  Don't work in a computer store on Black Friday if you like taking lunch breaks.

Anyhoo... Adam Lind was on Jeff Blair's radio show today, and I think he accidentally took a shit on Ricky Romero.  Basically, he said that the trade that the Jays just made should take a load off of Ricky, because he's just not a "leader"-type of guy.  I get what he's saying, but he probably could have chosen his words better.  He's totally in to the idea of having Mark Buehrle around, for veteran leadership reasons.  Meh.

Josh Johnson and his agent are both apparently cool with the idea of signing a contract extension, despite never playing a game in a Jays' uniform.  I expect AA to have a look at it, but ultimately, he'll probably have to pitch the first month of the season (minimum) and show that he can return to his pre-2012 form, not to mention get the velocity back up.  He'll be arguably the best free agent starter on the market next year, if he gets that far.

AA says that the trade took 5-6 days to come together, in an interview with WEII, which is a Boston radio station or something. He believes that keeping the discussions quiet was really important to getting the deal done.   Audio of the interview as well.

Brian Butterfield was apparently very close to being the next manager, but ultimately, he didn't have any MLB-managerial experience, which was somewhat of a deal-breaker for AA.

Fangraphs has a talk with Bruce Walton, (former?) Blue Jays pitching coach.  Pappy!

NY writer Joel Sherman suggests that the Jays are a fit for RA Dickey, if they don't happen to extend him.  Quantrill's Quandries explores that one.

Finally, with a hat tip to James_in_TO, Bodog has the Jays at 11/1 to win the world series this year, tied with the Yankees, and behind only the Tigers and the Nats.  Don't you even fucking dare taking that bet, by the way, because there's no way that they're going to stay at that price.  If you're going to bet on the Jays, wait until the Red Sox and Yankees make some kind of splash in free agency or on the trade market.  That, or when the Jays sign Brandon McCarthy, make the bet before Bodog puts the odds down.

My bets: Arizona at 40/1 is a nice price, considering their pitching depth, and Tampa at 25/1 is always fun.  Atlanta at 16/1 is probably almost worth it, and depending on what the market for Zack Greinke looks like, the Angels and Dodgers at 12/1 looks mighty fine, since one of them is most likely to sign him.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Live Presser

9:30-- ...until I have to go to work in an hour and a half.

Starting off with AA and Gibby sitting at the table.  AA thanks Rogers.  Cheap fucks.

AA stresses importance of scouting and development, saying that none of the prospects that they moved were automatically impact prospects.

Talked about Melky a second, but not much about that.

AA thrilled to have Gibby.  Good at managing bullpen, communicating with the front office, and keeping players in check.  AA says that he has more conviction in this move than with any other move he's made to this point in his tenure. That's bold.

Gibby will wear number 5.  "Fits a little better this time."

9:40-- Gibby: "Thrilled to be back.  Followed the team since I left.  Last few weeks, I've been following the manager search.  You guys (the media) were way off."  Gibb laughs at Bob Elliott, specifically for being so terrible, in jest.

Wasn't an easy decision for AA-- lot of qualified guys out there, but Gibby thinks he fit the criteria.  Ultimately, it doesn't matter what kind of resume someone has, because it all comes down to what you do on the field, as far as wins.  Get out of the way, and get the most out of these guys.

9:45-- Barry Davis "When did Gibby's name come up?"
AA "These jobs have shelf-life, but we always spoke about how good a job he did, even after he left.  Manages bullpen well, good evaluator of talent.  Had respect of guys in the clubhouse, and could put his foot down.  Connected well with FO.  Always thought it would be nice to have him back in the organization in some way, but first and foremost was the roster, not the manager."  AA also confirmed the alleged Sunday night dinner that Elliott mentioned.  Hmm.

JG "AA went out of his way to build a team, JG was just kind of a right place-right time kinda thing."  Assumes he'll have his critics at the start, but the team record ultmately means everything.

9:50-- Q: Anything you'd like to improve upon from your first go-around?
JG: "Minors vs. Majors, teams are different.  A lot of guys won't make it from minors.  In the majors, it's different.  Big deal is getting the most out of them.  Get out of the way, let 'em do their thing." (Wat?)

Griff-- "Is this a bigger surprise than it was the first time you were hired?"
JG "At least I was a member of the staff that time."  JP (Ricciardi) held him aside after a game and told him.  This gets everybody's attention.  Serious stuff.  Who wouldn't wanna be here? (assuming that means 'look at this team!') "Bigger shock than last time."

Wilner-- "AA, you wanted someone with managerial experience, but hadn't contacted Gibby.  JG, tell us about your relationship with AA."

AA-- "Gibby's been on my mind, but there were a lot of internal candidates.  Gibby was the right fit.  A lot of people can manage and GM, but Beeston thought I (AA) was the right fit, in the same way that Gibbons is the right fit here.  I wasn't going to shy away from experience, but two main criteria were connecting with both players and management."
JG "JP is a close friend, I'm indebted.  AA is tireless, always talking baseball.  Successful org's bounce things off of each other and come up with a solution.  He's ambitious, and has some guts.  Not afraid to take some risks.  All good GM's that are successful takes risks, go with what they believe in, take risks."

10:00-- Q- Compare this trade with Alomar/Carter.

AA- I hope we're talking about this trade that way years from now.  Franchise changing, led to 2 WS's, HOF GM (Gillick).  Hope it works for MIA too.  It was never "let's make a trade, a splash."  It was "let's improve the team."  If we're giving up some good young players, let's expand this.  It developed from us inquiring on Johnson.  MIA is early and aggressive, and they don't play games.  Was going to get serious.  It moved fast.

Gregor-- Major differences between 2006 team and this one?

JG: AA wanted to address rotation-- brought in JJ and Buehrle.  Combined with Morrow, Romero and whoever, it looks pretty good.  Bring in All-star SS/leadoff hitter, plus Bautista and Edwin, Melky is a good hitter. Combine all that, good team speed, big guys in the middle and throughout the lineup.  Don't wanna forget defense either... very good defensively.  (All in all, Gibbs yammers a lot).

Q- Why the big jump in payroll now?

AA- I wish we could have contended in year 1.  We always thought that if the right opportunity presented itself, for the right payroll, we'd have the opportunity to do that.  This was the right deal.  Met with MIA to talk about Josh Johnson and only Josh Johnson.  Eventually talked about Reyes, Burhle, Bonifacio.  It's a lot of money.  Beeston immediately said to stay on it.  Would have been fine with a two-player trade, but that's how it worked out.

Q- Gibby said bringing him back was possibly risky?  Any decisions re: coaching staff?

AA- Always reflect.  Even after this season, you reflect.  Where did things go wrong?  Things I've regretted most were spots where I didn't follow my instincts.  Made a few decisions based on optics-- media and fan reactions.  Certain transactions I thought "we're going to get killed for this" but we made it anyway because it was the right move.  It isn't about perception; I'm in this chair to do what's right.  Right for the organization, and if the results are there on the field, that's how I'll be judged.  I know this was the right decision.  If I'm going to be wrong, I'll be wrong doing what I believe in.  I've done good with my instincts so far.

Coaches-- we're going to move fast.  Other coaches have been waiting, so we're going to move as fast as we can.  Hopefully next week or two.

10:05- What was the thing that tipped the scales?  Are you still planning on being aggressive?

AA- Deeper we went in to this, I had a better idea of what the costs were going to be.  Burnett and Ryan deals went to December and we offered more years and money.  We could have lost those deals.  re: Melky, clubs have been used (as leverage) a lot, only to lose them.  Then a guy becomes attractive as a contingency plan, and that's where the bad deals happen.

Plenty of time left in offseason, and until the end of January, we're not going to stop trying to improve.

JohnLott- Are you still in on top pitchers on the FA market?  Back to regretting; do you regret Farrell?

AA- Internet! sometimes talks about stuff when I leak info, so meh.  We can still use depth behind the guys we have now.  We can always get better in the bullpen too.  We like the offense, but if we can improve, let's do it.

I don't regret John.  Felt that it was right at the time.

Q- French question: Gibbons has no fucking clue what's being said.  Hahahahah. They just went to commercial.  Basically, the guy was just asking questions that had already been asked, about the trade and payroll commitment, but in french.  AA answers in french, talking about the new payroll commitment being incredible, thanks to Rogers.

10:15- Not sure what the question was, but it sounds like AA is answering something about the new players and their excitement levels about being traded one year after signing.  AA says that they're all excited and whatever.

Gregor asks about the catching glut.

AA: JPA starts, Buck backs up.  Buck for Mathis was a big holdup in the trade.
Travis is off an injury and hasn't had a full season at AAA.  He'll start in the minors, and we'll worry when the time comes.  Nobody's being shopped at the moment.

Q- Given payroll and expectations, are you comfortable with this team?

AA "I am, but I like to worry.  Keeps you on your toes.  We're better, but we've seen what's happened.  OAK and BAL are two examples.  Gotta constantly look to get better.  Right now, we can contend.  Everyone's going to say the same thing, caveat is health.  Not flawless, and we can still improve.

Drew Fairservice- Switch hitters and positional flexibility, concious effort?

AA "Yes and no.  If you can get a player that brings something else, you can pay a little more for them.  Boni was hurt, but the energy level that they brought... we were really drawn to them.  Asked Pat Gillick (re: Pence) can you have too many high energy guys?  Loves the switch-hitting and contact+speed factor.  More contact means less K's.  Tools are there, flexibility is there.  Excited.

Q- Tension and controversy last time around.  Anything change?

JG: Entertainment business, family venue, etc.  No room to get physical with someone... wish it hadn't happened.  Intense guy, play to win.  Confront things head on, good or bad.  Right and wrong way to do that, but you make your bed.  Passionate, everybody's gotta be pulling in the same direction.  Gotta be a team, no matter the talent.

AA doesn't have a problem with those incidents.  Hillenbrand acted like a twat, and he should have been confronted.  JG's a great guy, but if you push, he'll push back.

10:25- Q: Melky... risks, past, transition from Yankee to present.

AA "Suspension is important.  Everyone likes Melky, despite what happened.  Spring training, we'll address it once and that's it.  Nobody condones PEDs, but people have been given second chances (Giambi, Pettitte, Roberts).  We give 2nd chances, not 3rd or 4ths.

JG "Melky was a young guy in Yankees lineups, and certainly wasn't the easy out.  Always in the middle of things.  I fell in love with the kid.  Good hitter, PEDs or no.  Could be CF, but should be LF here.  Fans will love him.

Griff- JG, who are you maangerial role models, and how many wins is a manager worth?  AA, hard-ass like Gibby on purpose?

AA: He's not a hard-ass.  If you can't play for him, you can't play for anyone.  Respectful, fair, etc.  Nobody wants to win only 73 games.  Had a town-hall style meeting at the end of the year and said that "I don't wanna go through that again."  Tough times lead to good times.

JG: Played for Davey Johnson.  Loved the way he did things.  Gets the most out of his guys.  Confident, quiet, expected results.  Very smart.  Darryl Johnson too.  Used to just go around and talk about the game.  About the wins, Griff says "+2, -6", JG agrees somewhat.

Wilner: Melky #2 or middle?  Run in to Reyes when you were in the Mets' system?  Dream job?

JG: He (Reyes) was there, never managed him though.  Could hit Melky in the middle, but he's better up top.  Tough to say right now, but let's get a lot of AB's out of him.  "Dream job was last year, coaching at home, but I left to take this one, so what's that tell you?"

Q- Lot of speed in this lineup.  How's that work for you?  You're a proponent of stealing.

JG: Certain guys, you can't stop them once they get on base.  Steal a base and get in to scoring position... there are more singles than anything else, soo.....  At the same time, you can't be stupid about it.  You're going to get thrown out sometimes, and that's just part of the game.  You gotta be smart about it.  It's a weapon, but you've got guys in the lineup who can knock them in too.  It's about balance.

That was fun.

Offseason's over, It's Gibby

No nonsense, boys.

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun is reporting that the Jays will announce John Gibbons as their new manager at some point today, probably at the press conference scheduled for 9:30 ET.  Gibbons, of course, was the Jays' manager from 2004 to late-2008, until being replaced by Cito Gaston.  If I remember correctly, he was actually a pretty decent manager, but those were my college years, and I drank a lot back then.  Since his dismissal, he'd been working with the Royals as a bench coach and as a minor league manager in SD's farm system.

It's not like everybody hasn't been wrong about this already this offseason, so I suppose we can wait until it's entirely official, but Elliott says that AA and Gibby were spotted having dinner last night in Toronto, which is apparently good enough for him.  But shit, it's not like he's just slamming this in to his twitter account or anything; this is in the Sun, and it doesn't sound like speculation... he's really fucking sure of himself.

The last time the Jays finished better than third in the division was under Gibbons' rule, though, again, for the billionth time, I doubt that's entirely of his doing.  Roy Halladay, AJ Burnett, Ted Lilly, BJ Ryan (pre-nosedive), Vernon Wells (also pre-nosedive),Troy Glaus... this was a good fucking team that ultimately probably could have benefited from one more starter and a halfway respectable bullpen.

I don't mind the move, all things considered.  I can definitely remember myself thinking that Gibbons was a good manager (that is to say I can't remember myself screaming at my TV watching him do retarded nonsense with his bullpen), but I can't help but worry, at least a little (even though my opinion on a managers' effect has been stated and probably overstated by now).

He got in a shouting match with Shea Hillenbrand (albeit, after Hillenbrand wrote "this is a sinking ship" on the team's bulletin board like a fucking moron), with Ted Lilly (after he blew an 8-0 lead and refused to exit the game, mind you) and with Josh Towers (who sucked) [I'm being told that this was Dave Bush, not Towers], all in a rather public manner.  I'm sure the team is going to know that Gibby is a bit of a no-nonsense kind of hot-head coming in, but three fairly wide-open spats like that just kind of make me nervous; if there were three of those, there were probably countless closed-door types as well, which isn't to say that those kind of things don't happen in any clubhouse.

Having said all of that, at the end of the day, AA really likes to go out there and find "good people" to be on his team (despite the Yunel Escobar reputation and subsequent actions... not saying Yunel isn't a good person, but...), so as long as twits like Hillenbrand don't show up, I guess we're all going to be alright.  I can't think of anybody on the team that I'd label as a twit at the moment, but I probably wouldn't have done so with Hillenbrand either until that incident.

Basically what I'm trying to say here is that managers don't mean shit, other than being mindful of platooney situations with your bad hitters (Adam Lind vs. LHP, for example) and managing your bullpen reasonably-- two things that John Farrell didn't really do.  I'm sure they do other stuff too, in terms of actual coaching of, say, proper groundball-fielding etiquette or hitting mechanics, and of course, the ever-so necessary "keeping everybody loose," just don't go trying to convince everybody that Gibby, or anybody else for that matter, is going to be a 5-WAR manager.  And it's not like Farrell had a glut of options against lefty pitching (and/or guys who had a past of playing 1B), but he stuck Octavio Dotel in there against lefty hitters, stuck with Coco as his closer for a long fucking time this year, and let's not forget about Corey Patterson and Eric Thames batting in front of Jose Bautista day-in and day-out for the first half of 2011, simply by virtue of being lefties.  Again, at this point, these examples don't really look like they're something worth worrying about, since Coco, Patterson, Thames and Dotel are gone, and the entire world understands that Lind can only hit RHP; let's just pray that Gibby has that last memo in hand.

Monday, 19 November 2012

It's Official

The trade has been approved by the league and Bud Selig; Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio are all Blue Jays, while John Buck is a guy.  Gregor has it all at

Said Selig: "After a thorough examination of this information, it is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established Major Leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both Clubs, does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion."  This was, of course, all just a mere formality since it was never going to be rejected ever anyway.

The Jays have DFA'ed Joel Carreno to make room for all these new guys.  Someone's bound to pick him up.  He's got AAAA written all over him, but he could certainly become something of use to someone in the right situation, whether that's in the bullpen or rotation, or just on the Astros.

The Jays also re-signed Bobby Korecky to a minor-league deal, according to the same link above.  Korecky was a depth-related September call-up last year, and spent the other 98% of the season pitching out of the bullpen for the 51's.  Buffalooooooo.

Fangraphs mentions the fantasy implications of Melky Cabrera moving away from pitcher-friendly AT&T Park in San Francisco, and coming to the hitter-friendly Skydome.

I wasn't going to comment on this at all, because most of this shit is just Buster Olney's fault, but Stoeten at DJF pretty well summarized what I've read today on the matter.  Cliffs: The Jays still don't have a manager, despite Buster Olney telling us a few days ago that they were "close" to naming one, and that Jim's Tracy and Riggleman were among the finalists.  Of course, he's only saying that because Toronto is very "in" right now, and he's looking for as many page-views and retweets as possible, because apparently neither is being considered.  Manny Acta was then tossed in to the discussion, only for Enrique Rojas to dismiss that.  So basically, what we've got absolutely no progress and a bunch of lies.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Stuff: Prospects, Trade, Melky

Ken Rosenthal suggests that the Marlins made a verbal promise to both Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes when they signed in Miami last offseason.  The promise was that, despite a lack of no-trade clauses in their contracts, they wouldn't be traded over the course of the term.  That, of course, didn't happen.

Jon Morosi ultimately shits on the Jays and their acquisitions of Reyes, Johnson, and Buehrle (this was written before Melky's signing), claiming that the Jays still have some questions (on November 16th?!?!?), such as a lack of a manager, a lot of injury potential, AND NO TEAM CHEMISTRY.  Don't even know why I link this shit.  One really valid point that he makes while stretching this whole thing out over a couple hundred words is that the Jays don't have any real impact lefty bats.  Bautista, Encanacion and Lawrie are probably going to be supplying the bulk of the power, and all are right-handed bats.  Reyes and Melky are switch-hitters, but don't hit for much power.  Rasmus should provide some power, but he's more likely to hit 20 HR's while OBP'ing under .300 for the year.

That kind of points me towards Adam Lind.  Lind has a career .358 wOBA against right-handed pitching, and had a .343 wOBA vs RHP last year, including the low babip and demotion-related struggles.  If he can be platooned entirely to the point where he just never, ever faces a lefty pitcher, he can certainly provide a full win of value, even at 1B/DH.  And it's not like you need and impact lefty in the lineup.  It would be nice, but meh.

I linked this at the bottom of last night's post, but here it is again: a slightly more level-headed, not cumming-in-my-pants take on the Jays' haul, again, before the Melky signing.

Fangraphs wrote about both the Melky signing, and the fantasy and prospect impact of the Jays' recent roster shuffle.  Fangraphs also has Marc Hulet on their audio podcast, talking about prospects.  He doesn't really mention the Jays a whole lot, but they mention off the cuff that he's updated his top-15 prospects list in wake of the trade that moved 3 of his top-15 to Miami.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Jays Sign Melky Cabrera

Yeah, you weren't kidding, Ken Rosenthal.  The Jays weren't done.

Two years, $16MM for a guy who put up 4.6 WAR over 100 games and change.  Left field is solved.  It's proven; the Jays didn't just go out there and acquire these three guys to sit there and hold their dicks.  No more half measures, Walter.  We're going to do this?  We're going to do this right.

What else is awesome about this?  Rajai Davis moves down on the depth chart.  He can still conceivably DH or spell Bautista in right against lefty pitching (i.e. Bau can DH), and he can take his rightful spot on a bench to pinch run for catchers and DH's in the 7th inning onwards against righties.  If someone gets hurt, you've got a reasonable replacement that can platoon with Anthony Gose.  Speaking of whom...

Anthony Gose can start the year in Buffalo. Suddenly, you don't have to worry about stunting his growth; he's only 21 after all.  He's been one of the youngest players in every single level that he's played in throughout his brief professional career, and has seen some reasonable success, so it would be cool to see him get some extended time at one level and let him kick some ass in AAA for a year.  We don't need another Travis Snider situation on our hands here.  He's certainly a reasonable platoon replacement if anybody happens to go down to an injury as well.

 Brett Lawrie doesn't necessarily need to bat at the top of the order, and neither does Colby Rasmus.  Let's get some guys who can get on base on fucking base for the big hitters, and stop those little fucking fleas from getting picked off.

We're like two weeks in to the offseason, and the three biggest weaknesses having been addressed.  Your move, rest of baseball.

By the way, as of right now, I see something like:

Reyes 6
Cabrera 7
Bautista 9
Encanacion 3/0
Lawrie 5
Rasmus 8
Arencibia 2
Lind? 0/3 against RHP.
Izturis 4

Bench can be a catcher, Davis, Bonifacio, Mccoy?  Sierra?  Who fucking cares?

I also wrote this, before the Melky deal.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Not Done

This kind of works in two ways...

First, the trade isn't official yet.  Ken Rosenthal reports that Jose Reyes was on vacation in Dubai when the trade went down, so gathering up 12 guys to get physicals done on short notice was even harder than you'd have first thought.  Either way, it should be done tomorrow, I guess.  MLBTR has a smattering of links that suggests that other owners/teams (and Bud Selig) are pretty unhappy with the trade, but there's no real reason to veto this deal.

Secondly, AA is still looking for pitching.  Let's fucking go.  What do you have planned for the next while, Brandon McCarthy?

Elsewhere, David Price and RA Dickey won some Cy Youngs, and Buster Posey and Miguel Cabrera are your 2012 MVP's.  Not Mike Trout.  For some reason.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

How This Works

K, that other post is getting too long.

Here's what I'm thinking right now, in no particular order.

Oliver has to get his shit together and decide whether or not he's playing next year, because if he isn't, the Jays have to go find another lefty.  I don't trust Aaron Loup to be 2012 Aaron Loup going forward, simply based on a really small sample.  Cecil can probably slot in there, but he sucks.

I hope I'm not being greedy when I say that I'd love to see AA go grab another starter.  Happ just doesn't do it for me out of the rotation, and I'd be a fuck of a lot more comfortable with Happ in the bullpen instead of entrusting everything to Loup, especially if Oliver retires.  This can hopefully attract a free agent?  McCarthy? GREINKE?!?!?!?

Does this even happen without the Vernon Wells trade?  Probably not.

The offseason moving forward: SP is probably taken care of.  Johnson/Morrow/Buehrle/Romero/Happ is probably going to be the rotation this year, and, frankly, despite what I wrote above, that's pretty good.  I'd still love to see someone else tossed in there over Happ, but even if that doesn't happen, this is a pretty good pitching staff.  That's one glaring hole that's patched up.

Maicer Izturis is probably the answer for 2B.   Whether or not it's the correct answer is still uncertain, but uhhh...  who cares?  At worst, Bonifacio can make himself useful all over the place, and Mike McCoy is still around, as far as I know.  Izturis isn't overly likely to set the world on fire, but it's no biggie.  He can probably be close to league-average at 2b. Izturis can provide defensive value, and there isn't exactly a whole lot out there for 2B's on the market anyway, trade or free agent.  Plus, I doubt they give him 3 years just to go out and look for someone else.  They'll give him at least a year.

LF or DH is where my focus is right now.  Rajai Davis and Adam Lind are still on this team.  I'm not sure to what extent, but (unless they're involved in the trade) they're still here.  Davis had a good year last year filling in, and Lind showed some signs of another outlier in the second half of last year, but holy fuck, there are a lot of available guys out there to play DH or LF, or even 1B if needed (i.e. Edwin DH).

You're pretty much all in now; go get me Josh Willingham.  Stick him in LF against righty pitchers, 1B/DH him against lefties.  Davis (LF/Bench) and Lind (DH/Bench) platoon.  One of them per day, with splits in their favors, is a lot better than both of them everyday.

I'd flip Bonifacio for something, if possible.

The Jays still have catching depth.  Buck, Wilson, JPA and TDA.  Wilson can probably be DFA'ed safely if they need a roster spot, but still.  Depending on where Mike Napoli lands, Texas will probably need someone to catch, as will the Yankees, Mets, and maybe White Sox, just off the top of my head.


6:33 ET: Holy shit.  I'm excited.  So excited that I forgot to actually write something before posting.

Looks like a huge fucking trade is coming on.  As of now, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle are coming to Toronto.  Henderson Alvarez and Justin Nicolino appear to be joining Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria on their ways out of town.  This ain't over.


6:36 ET: Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck coming too.  That sounds awesome to me.  Rasmus is now expendable.  Rajai Davis is now expendable.  JPA is now very expendable.  Good god, so many people are expendable.

6:40 ET: Oof.  Marisnick gone.  Straight to the feelings.

6:45 ET: The Jays have FIVE (!!!!!) catchers on their 40-man roster, unless one of them is involved in this deal.  Which is fucking scary to me.  Nicolino and Marisnick are two pretty highly regarded prospects, so that's enough, TDA moving scares my cock off.  Take JP, take Mathis, or take Bobby Wilson.  I've been too amped to see TDA in a Jays uniform to have to get this close.

Of course, this is just me being irrationally attached to someone that I have no way of evaluating, and if the shoe fits, then yeah, make the fucking trade.

7:00 ET: This is what Josh Johnson looks like.  Real good pitcher.  Had some injury issues in 2011, and maybe a bit of an off-year in 2012 for his standards, but he's 30 and awesome.  He's owed $13.75MM this year and will be a free agent after the 2013 season.  Naturally, he'll probably be worth draft pick compensation after  2013.  Old habits.

Buerhle has been pretty solid for his whole fucking career.  He's got a no hitter and a perfect game under his belt, as well as 11 (ELEVEN!) consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings pitched.  Pretty awesome when you consider what happened last year with the starters.  There's definitely value in being able to throw that many innings without breaking down, no matter how effective a pitcher he is.  Fortunately, he's plenty effective.  Whether or not he can hack it in the AL East may be a different concern.  He doesn't strike many batters out, but he doesn't walk anybody either.  Yeah, that's cool, but uh... I dunno, Henderson Alvarez didn't walk anybody either and look at what that got him.  He's worth entirely too much fucking money over the life of his contract ($11MM in '13, $18MM in '14 and $19MM in '15), after having a nice backload on his contract ($6MM last year for 3.2WAR was nice).

Reyes is the prize pig here.    Legit all-star shortstop.  He's been an injury concern for literally his entire career, save for last year, where he played 160 games.  He's a career .291/.342/.440 hitter, and he won't be 30 until mid-2013.  He's signed on through 2017 (2018 option) for like $96MM.  Holy fuck that's a lot of payroll commitment.

7:10 ET: Looks like it's Marisnick or Gose, as well as one of JPA, Bobby Wilson or Jeff Mathis, says JP Morosi of Fox.

Continuing, Emilio Bonifacio has the ability to play all over the diamond (like, literally, in the last three years, he's played everywhere but 1B, C and P), and has good on-base skills.  He steals bases like a motherfucker, and is a switch hitter.  He's not your typical LF, but that's probably where he's going to slot in.  I'm going to say that he's better than Rajai in pretty much every sense of the word.


7:20 ET: John Buck had one good season in a ballpark that was tailor-made for him.  Fortunately for us, he'll be returning to that ballpark.  He's entering his final year of a 3y/18MM deal, that has seen him put up less than a (r)WAR.

Dunno what the Jays have planned here with all of this catching depth, but who cares?

7:28 ET: On one hand, this is sweet.  From a more objective standpoint, Jeffrey Loria is really, really bad for baseball.  He completely fucked the Expos, and uhhh... we're watching what he's doing to the Marlins.  Rebuild for 6 years, sign a bunch of expensive free agents, tank, trade them all, repeat.  This is going to be the big take from this deal.

MLBTR (via Morosi) tells us that this trade has brought non-arb commitments of the Marlins down to $16MM, versus the $100MM payroll that they started the year with.  You wonder why there are like 9 Marlins fans out there.

SBNation also writes.

Giancarlo Stanton is pissed, apparently.


7:45 ET: Spitballing here, but Toronto Blue Jays 2013:

Lawrie 3B
Reyes SS
Bautista RF
Encarnacion 1B
Rasmus CF
Izturis 2B
d"Arnaud/JPA/Buck C
Bonifacio/Davis LF platoon
Lind DH?


Oliver (?)

I probably forgot someone or something, but holy shit.  Baseball!

7:47 ET: Mathis gone.  Probably the highest paid Marlin now.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Stuff: Upton, Germano

That's Justin Upton.  He's good at baseball, and is only 25 years old.  He's been a regular in the majors since he was 20, and has been worth 13.9 bWAR since then.  He's also signed to a reasonably team-friendly contract (6y/$50MM) that will pay him $9.75MM, $14.25MM and $14.5MM for the next three years.  Despite all of this, the D'backs apparently would like to unload him in a trade.  Kevin Towers has been looking to move Upton for the last three off-seasons (apparently) and all of a sudden he goes and puts up 2.1WAR like some league-average hack.  Know something we don't, Kevin?

Anyway, I'm too hung over to just spitball at what the Jays should offer for Upton, so I won't bother.  I think I read that the D'Backs are looking for infielders that can help now, and I doubt Hechavarria is good enough, even as part of a package.  Not only that, but Bob Elliott tells us, forcibly, might I add, that the Jays are probably not going to make a deal for Upton.  I mean, there are 29 other teams out there, so just based on pure math, yeah, the Jays probably aren't going to get him.  Still, no context or value to that tweet at all.  I hate shit like that.

The Jays have gone out and signed Justin Germano to a minor league deal, which includes an invite to spring training.  He's not very good.

Shi Davidi was talking to Alex Anthopoulos at some point yesterday.  Anibal Sanchez is looking for 6-7 years, and $90-$100MM at the moment, and apparently the Jays are able to spend that much over a long-ish term contract, if they want.  They're also apparently willing to break their 5-year cap on contracts.  I like that rule, to be quite honest.  Davidi also says that AA trusts Carlos Villanueva to go 30 starts a year, and that he's never doubted CV.  News to me.

Here's Davidi, talking about the GM meetings.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Jays Sign Izturis, Acquire Jeffress

Second base is taken care of.  And look how pleasantly surprised it is.

The Jays have inked Maicer Izturis to a 3 year, $9MM deal with a club option for a fourth year at $3MM.  Seems like the kind of player that you don't go ahead and guarantee three years to, but at this price, I dunno, it's kind of just a spit in the bucket.  He's kind of fast and can play a few different positions on the infield, and it's not like he's Chone Figgins or anything.

Izturis is coming off a bad season in 2012, hanging out right around replacement level over 100 games and 319 plate appearances, putting up a .256/.320/.315 line.  That's not a typo.  A .634 OPS, which is an 82 wRC+.  Whatever, he's a second baseman, and he's been better than that in every other year of his career.

The thing that worries me is that he's signed for his 32-34 seasons, which is pretty much old for a player of this profile.  He already hits for no power, and his defensive value (UZR) has dipped in each of the last four years.

Again, it's cheap, and he's been a league average player as recently as 2011.  Works for me.  Fangraphs' take.

The Jays also bought Jeremy Jeffress off the Royals.  Jeffress was DFA'ed the other day, so it was probably pretty cheap.  He'll strike out a lot of people, but is also a walk waiting to happen.  He was part of the Zach Greinke trade, that sent him to Milwaukee.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Not a Bottomless Pit of Money

Shi Davidi is telling us today that Alex Anthopoulos told him that the organization is going to see a boost in payroll, but that it's not like there's an endless supply of money.


What's worse?  All teams are going to have more money this year, thanks to the new TV deals.  Cheap fucks!

Rumor has it that the Jays are in heavily on Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez, and, on a lower scale, Brandon McCarthy, Francisco Liriano, and Ryan Dempster.  I want McCarthy.

In the same piece, Davidi explores the needs and wants of AA.  Obviously the upgrades include 2B and LF as well as the rotation; those are the needs.  The wants are the little things, like having Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose starting their seasons in the appropriate places.  Says AA:
"There are scenarios that either one of them could find themselves on this team depending on how things work, the economics and so on," says Anthopoulos. "It’s too early to tell how all that is going to shake out.
"They both have the ability to be on this team and we could carry them if it strengthens the team and frees up dollars in some other areas. Ultimately, we’d love to have them waiting in the wings in the minor-leagues as well."

As far as stuff goes, The Jays have lost both David Herndon (Yankees) and Scott Cousins (Mariners) on waivers today, per MLBTR.  The Jays DFA'ed both within the last few days after claiming them on waivers and trying to slip them through the system for minor league depth.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Jays Acquire Esmil Rogers for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes

When did this shit happen, like, Friday?

Anyway, yeah, that's about the end of that batting stance.  The Jays have shipped Yan Gomes and newly acquired Mike Aviles to Cleveland for reliever Esmil Rogers.

The Jays had traded David Carpenter and John Farrell to Boston to get Aviles last week, in what we all thought was a move that was meant to solidify the middle infield situation, but I suppose not.  As a result, the bullpen is now solidified, at least to a degree, just in case one of Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor and Brandon Lyon don't return.

For his part, Rogers had been really shitty as a starter (Coors Field though), before being DFA'ed last year by the Rockies.  The Indians picked him up and sent him to the bullpen, which seemed to work wonders, as he posted a 3.06 ERA (3.12 FIP, 3.24 xFIP) over 50+ innings.  So basically, he's got half a season of non-suck over his career.  He's still cost-controlled, making the league minimum this year, before becoming arbitration eligible next season.

And that's the real thing that I'm taking from this whole story; Rogers is going to make $500k this year, and a slight bump over each of the next three, whereas it would cost the Jays at least $3MM each to lock up Frasor and Lyon for the year, probably more.

As for what's going the other way, Aviles is your standard utility infielder who is probably a little better than advertised.  Strikes out a lot, doesn't walk much, and plays good defense all over the infield.  He was worth 1.8fWAR this season, a win of which was tied in to his defense and baserunning. He batted .250/.281/.381 and played all over the infield for the Red Sox.  I was kind of looking forward to giving him a shot at 2B, but this trade makes it increasingly more likely that Adeiny Hechavarria will play 2B to start the season.  It's still early.

Gomes was drafted by the Jays in the 10th round in 2009, and he made his MLB debut this year, batting .204/.264/.367 with 4 HR's in 111 plate appearances.  He can catch and play the corners, but will probably never amount to much of anything.  He pretty much needs to catch in order for his bat to play in the bigs, so he could find himself backing up Carlos Santana every now and then.

Update- And since I'm not making a new post just for one item, Marc Hulet of Fangraphs has a list of the Jays top 15 prospects.  It looks promising.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Offseason Plans: Part Two

Here's part one, examining the offseason contract issues that AA and his staff are going to have to deal with. Part two will look at the areas of need, and who might be able to fill those areas.

Starting Pitching
The current mix includes Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, and not a whole lot else right now.  Henderson Alvarez could probably use time in the minors to develop, and it looks like Brett Cecil's days as a starter are finished.  Carlos Villanueva is probably gone via free agency, and guys like Drabek and Hutchison probably won't be ready to go to begin the season.  The Jays do have a number of prospects in their minor league system, but there doesn't appear to be a lot of depth in the upper minor leagues, as most of their highly regarded prospects played in A-ball this past season.  Chad Jenkins is certainly an option to fill out the back-end, as is JA Happ, but I'm sure AA would like to add another sure thing or two.

James Shields and David Price have both come up in trade rumors in the last while, but I doubt AA and Andrew Friedman will be able to work anything out in a trade, considering the division thing.  Arizona and Atlanta both have deep rotations, so there may be a couple of trade partners there, and the Mets should probably be thinking about trading Jon Niese.  The Angels will probably trade Dan Haren in the next 24 hours, so anybody who would be willing to pay Haren somewhere in the range of $13MM (assuming the Angels eat some cash the way they did with Santana) should place a call.  Texas has been rumored to be willing to move a pitcher as well.

As far as free agents, Zach Greinke is the only real beast out there.  His most likely landing spot is back in LA with the Angels, but money talks.  I expect Greinke to get at least 5 years and $20MM+ per season.

Behind Greinke, the best pitcher on the market is probably either Brandon McCarthy or Kyle Lohse.  Lohse is a little bit higher-profile, and is probably in the market for a $12MM salary over a multi-year deal.  McCarthy will probably be a bit cheaper, but he has a history of injuries, has only been good at pitching for two years, and just had brain surgery.  Couple red flags.

Anibal Sanchez will probably cost you 4/50 or 5/60, despite being slightly above average. Edwin Jackson is similar, but less effective option, and is probably looking for something in the 3/30 mold.  He's a league average pitcher (who throws a lot of innings, mind you).

There are obviously a lot more names that could be added to this list, but I won't waste a lot of time on them.  Hiroki Kuroda will probably limit his market again,   Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Dice-K are all free agents as well.

Second Base
The Jays do have internal options at 2b, with Mike Aviles, Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria all being shortstops that could contribute to the team as is.  Obviously someone would have to shift over (Aviles has the most experience at 2b), but the team could explore some trades to bring someone in, or find an option in free agency.

Rumors have been circulating around Texas' middle infield situation, with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and Jurickson Profar all being viable middle infield options, with only two spots between the three.  Profar is still very young, and could certainly start the year in the minors, but if Kinsler is available, I'd listen. The Twins could consider moving Jamie Carroll if they don't plan on contending this year.

Free agency is pretty light as far as 2B's go.  My personal wish-list item is, and has been for a while, Jeff Keppinger, who had a great season.  I think he's naturally a shortstop, but that didn't stop him from playing quite a bit of 2B this year.  The only other real option I see is Marco Scutaro, and he's probably going to return to SF.  Kelly Johnson could be a contingency plan.

Left Field or First Base
I wrote it this way here since there's room for another 1B, but they're just a little more scarce, so an outfielder might have to do.  Basically, it's either Rajai Davis in LF and find someone to split time with Edwin (i.e. alternate DH days), or find a LF with a big bat and relegate Rajai to the bench, and kind of platoon your DH situation.

I'm looking at a guy like Billy Butler or Josh Willingham, depending on their availability.  Butler slots in as the everyday DH, getting Edwin the odd half-day off at 1B, giving Rajai the LF job until something better comes along (platoon Gose?).  Willingham, on the other hand, could get LF duties, sending Davis to the bench and having Edwin play 1B most days.  Something like that anyway.

Alfonso Soriano or Justin Morneau could be available in trades as well, along those same lines.

Free agents could include Nick Swisher, depending on a price tag and willingness to play LF/1B/DH instead of RF, Cody Ross, Melky Cabrera, and Andruw Jones.

Stuff: Davis, Oliver, Papi

The Jays have exercised the $4MM club option that they held on Darren Oliver.  The 43-year old still probably has to make a decision about whether or not he plans to retire.  I don't know if he still gets that money if he does retire or not, but meh.

The Jays also declined their $3MM option on Rajai Davis, instead opting for a 500k buyout, and then they re-signed him for $2.5MM, making either zero, or the slightest of difference, possibly in terms of tax purposes.  Davis would have been eligible for arbitration, and probably would have made more than that $3MM total, so I'm confused, but won't really let it bother me for long.  I know that players who go through the arbitration process are only guaranteed 1/6th of their contract if they happen to be released at any point in time during spring training, so I dunno if that played in or not.  Doubt it.  If Davis gets traded midway through the year, it might be slightly advantageous to AA; Davis gets $500k now, and will be paid the remaining $2.5MM in equal installments, which means that he'd have about $1.1MM due to him from the trade deadline onward, as opposed to $1.5MM.  I dunno, just spitballing.

David Ortiz and the Red Sox appear to be making progress towards a new deal, writes MLBTR  Signing him to DH was a pipe dream anyway.

Also at MLBTR, they run down the top 50 free agents and their predicted destinations.  Only Edwin Jackson signs with the Blue Jays, in this scenario.  They've got Carlos Villanueva signing in Kansas City, with no mention of Jason Frasor, Kelly Johnson or Brandon Lyon.

The Angels dealt Ervin Santana and cash to KC in exchange for nothing.  ANA saves money on the buyout, and gets a non-prospect that they didn't have in exchange for a pitcher that they weren't going to bring back anyway, and KC gets a pitcher with a 5 ERA for $12MM.  Seems kinda crazy.  Look for the Dan Haren stuff to be sorted out today.  The Angels hold an option for $15.5MM on Haren and it doesn't look like they're going to exercise it, but will rather look to trade him to a team that will.

Finally, the Jays have claimed Scott Maine off waivers, and have DFA'ed recent claims Scott Cousins and David Herndon.  It seems like everybody they claimed were simply taken with the intention of squeaking them through waivers again over the next couple of days and acquiring some minor league depth.  The Jays needed some room on the 40-man roster to welcome back Sergio Santos, Dustin McGowan, Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison.  Drabek and Hutchison (and probably Perez) will be placed back on the 60-day DL when that becomes an option.