Sunday, 29 December 2013

Speed Dial

I'm not going to miss Rajai Davis, per se.  He was alright to have around, and he provided a bit of value here and there, but in the grand scheme of things, losing Rajai Davis isn't really a big worry.  He's a serviceable 4th OF, in that he can handle lefty pitching (and only lefty pitching), and is pretty good at stealing bases.  He strikes out a lot, doesn't walk very much, and can be frustrating to watch defensively. As far as skillsets go, it's not all that tough to find someone who can play mediocre corner OF defense and hit lefty pitching.  The speed is probably less replaceable than the other skills he provides.

I guess that kind of brings us to Moises Sierra though, doesn't it?  Assuming the Jays stand pat, as far as the offense is concerned, Sierra stands to get a lot of AB's against lefty pitching, which isn't terrible, I guess?  I dunno, it actually probably is-- Sierra doesn't really have a huge sample of plate appearances against lefties, but that sample doesn't paint a great picture.  There's a pretty decent chance that the Sierra experiment goes poorly and that an alternative needs to be found.

From within, if Sierra just outright sucks, he can be replaced with, say, Kevin Pillar or Brent Morel, until they suck too much, or from outside the organization with someone else.  Someone like Jeff Baker, who has a career .375 wOBA vs. LHP could be a nice option to platoon with Adam Lind and come off the bench otherwise.  I guess Baker could even fill in as a 2B option in a pinch, even with some choppy defense.  Maybe as a platoon thing, but that's another post, I suppose.  He's playing mostly 1B/LF these days.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic a bit.  Davis is a fast guy who hits lefties, and he probably won't be replaced in a single transaction/callup.  Finding someone who can handle lefties isn't the tough thing, but finding a guy who can sit on the bench for a while and then come steal some bases or take over defensively for Jose Bautista/Melky Cabrera in the 8th inning is probably a bit more important.

I'm looking at a guy like Sam Fuld.  He's nothing special, offensively, but he's pretty fast, and can offer some nice defensive value off the bench.  That 9.9 career walk-rate is fairly handsome, especially off the bench, and there are some nice stolen base totals between his career and minor league numbers.  He was recently non-tendered by the Rays, and shouldn't make much more than $1MM, if that.

I think the alternative is Anthony Gose.  Gose sucks at hitting, but can play defense and run fairly well.  He's really young, and has, for some reason, been called up for extended periods of time twice in the last two years.  It would be pretty nice to get Gose a full season at AAA and maybe learn how to hit, rather than sitting him on the bench 5 days a week.  Sure, he might never hit well, and will have all of his value tied in baserunning and defense, but hey.

Either way, I think the main point here is that players like Rajai Davis have a pretty good use, especially late in a ballgame, and that the Jays could probably use someone to have on speed dial.  Fuld is just a personal favorite of mine, but a guy like Juan Pierre or DeWayne Wise would fill the same void.  Assuming we can avoid an 8-man bullpen situation this year, there should be enough room to carry someone to run fast and do not much else.

Thursday, 26 December 2013


I've been away from my computer for like three days, and have only gotten the push notifications from The Score on my phone, stating that Masahiro Tanaka will be posted.  As a closet wrestling fan, this is a natural image to put in here, and I'll make the obligatory apology if someone has already used Tanaka/Tatanka.  I know I'm not that clever, so it's either not funny, or someone else has at least thought of it already.

Anyway, yeah.  Tanaka got posted.  This is good news for us.  It will be great if the Jays go ahead and land this guy, but even if they don't, we'll at least get to see some resolution to the pitching market and the offseason in general.  Beyond Tatanka, we've yet to see Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana find homes, and the end of the Jeff Samardzija saga isn't quite upon us yet either.  Justin Masterson's name has come up, albeit very briefly, in trade talks this offseason, and even lesser-cared-about quantities such as Paul Maholm, Bronson Arroyo, and Jason Hammel are kicking around as well.  And hey, given the cost of pitching these days, maybe we'll see another trade target open up too.  Plus, a team like, say, Detroit or Washington could go and surprise everyone and pick up one of the above free agents and create a logjam in their rotation, turning someone in to a candidate to be moved.  It's gonna be tight y'all.

I think the big thing to focus on, at least today, is Tanaka.  He's sure to be the prized pig of the pitching market this offseason, in that he's got some pretty favorable comparisons, and he's (essentially) a free agent at age 25.  For comparison's sake, Garza just turned 30 last month, Jimenez will turn 30 next month, and Santana just turned 31 two weeks ago.  There's a really good chance that Garza, Santana and Jimenez have already thrown their best season of their career when it's all said and done, and that they're set to sign a contract to take them through their age-34 seasons.  Tanaka is probably going to sign a deal to take him through age-31 or -32, which is a pretty huge difference.

I'm not going to begin to say that I know enough to determine who is best here-- my personal opinion is that Garza is better than Jimenez, who is much better than Santana, but I don't honestly want any of them at 5+ years and $15+MM per.  It all makes my stomach turn.  I am, however, oddly comfortable with Tanaka on a 7/100 deal or something.  Not sure why I feel so much better about an unknown entity, I just do.

Anyway, here's a video of one of Tanaka's starts, compressed to weed out the rifraff.  There's a great big grain of salt to season this with, and that is the fact that Tanaka has been a pretty dominant force against a fairly non-MLB offensive force over in Japan, but he still looks pretty good in this video.  I could handle seeing this guy every fifth day.  For anyone who needs the conversion, Tanaka is sitting 88-94 with his fastball in this start, if that gun is accurate.

Here's another mashup of all of his 2013 strikeouts.

And here he is finishing out the Japan version of the World Series, coming in and getting the save in the closing game.  If I'm not mistaken, he had thrown 160-some pitches the day before, and he comes in firing 94MPH gas first thing.  Dice-K used to do stuff like that.

As far as rumors, I definitely haven't seen anything other than fan blogs that suggest anything about the Jays and Tanaka.  I'm sure they'll at least check in and see what the cost is, since they apparently do that with everyone, but I'm sure we're only going to hear about the usual suspects for at least a while--  Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, etc.  Gabe Kapler is predicting 7/$125MM, plus the $20MM posting fee.  That's $20MM up front, and then an average of just under $18MM a year.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Jays Claim Morel

Just going to put this here as a template for if/when he does something awesome.

He kind of stinks though.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sometimes I Forget

 I was thinking about the rotation at some point this morning.  Dickey, Buehrle and Morrow all seem to be practically locks for this business, as Morrow has been apparently throwing at full intensity and, by all accounts, will be good to go.  We'll just go ahead and call them 1, 2, and 3, for simplicty.  JA Happ is pencilled in as #4 or whatever, but can certainly be replaced-- he projects to be about average, depending on how many innings he can toss, but if there is another, better option when all is said and done, it's not a real big deal.  He's a guy who, other than getting hit in the head by a line drive, has been able to stay reasonably healthy, so if he can just go out there every fifth day and throw some innings and help the bullpen stay reasonably fresh, it's not awful.

That fifth spot is really where I get going.  Masahiro Tanaka is probably a bit of a longshot, given that 20 or so teams will be givin' 'er pretty hard on him if he's even posted.  It's not impossible, but it's probably not something we should totally rely on.  Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are all there and have been spoken about ad nauseum.  Jeff Samardzija is there as a trade candidate, and there might be another one or two out there that haven't been mentioned, at least seriously.

Basically, there's a really good chance that the Jays miss out on all of the above mentioned starters, and need to work something out from within the organization, or expand their trade targets to someone who isn't a top target.

Dustin McGowan, Sean Nolin, Todd Redmond, Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison are all kicking around.  Beyond them, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are the two hotshot prospects that we're all dying to see, whether they're ready or not.  Stroman and Sanchez are likely the ones with the highest ceilings, and might be the best pitchers of the group at the moment, but it's likely that at least one, if not both, start the year in the minors, for seasoning, service time and option year reasons.  Sanchez is definitely farther away from the majors than Stroman is, so Stroman is certainly a candidate for the rotation more so than Sanchez.

The thing is, McGowan has no options left, I'm pretty sure Redmond is the same, and Drew Hutchison is probably the best actual pitcher of the five non-Stroman/Sanchez pitchers up there, and is probably more valuable over a full season (assuming health) than Happ.  I think that, as of right now, we're going to see Happ and Hutchison round out the rotation, with McGowan having an outside shot, and probably filling a Carlos Villanueva role.

If an upgrade is purchased/acquired though, things get interested.  Let's say the Jays get Ubaldo/Tanaka/Garza (UTG herein).  That makes Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow and UTG, with one spot left covering the 8 different guys above, plus Happ.  This would probably be the time to bring up Stroman and go for it.  Time to squeeze every bit of value out of that new acquisition, and field the absolute best team you can during the early part of whichever contract it is.  If there's no acquisition, it's probably less of a "squeeze every bit" and more of a "let's see what happens and maybe we can find someone midway through the season, but in the mean time, it's a big revolving door of hot streaks" scenario.

There's all this talk about the need to improve the rotation, and I'm all for it if it happens, but there's some depth there, and some prospects in the pipeline.  We'll see Stroman this year, and sooner rather than later barring a trade.  If you're committing to peaking in 2014 then yeah, get another pitcher and then have a big fight for the last rotation spot.  If we're more worried about staying healthy, keeping assets, and not mortgaging away the future though, there's probably some combination that winds up the rotation in a not-too-terrible fashion.


The Jays signed Steve Tolleson today.  This is not likely to be anything of note, but if someone up the middle happens to get hurt, Tolleson could hope to fill Munenori Kawasaki's shoes.

The other thing I saw is a report that the Pirates are in on Ike Davis and Mitch Moreland, both of whom aren't Adam Lind.  The Pirates clearly want a lefty 1B who can platoon with Gaby Sanchez, and had been linked to the Jays and Lind earlier this offseason.

And finally, about the picture.  I googled Jose Reyes' name right before starting this post.  No idea why.  Like, really. Zero clue.  Wasn't even a conscious decision; my fingers just went where they went and made my mouse click the thing and then typed in the letters, as if I had a purpose for my search.  I wasn't looking up stats, I wasn't looking up his contract info, I wasn't curious what day he was born.  I just googled his name.

While I was there, I decided to look at some images, because that was one of my options, I guess.  Naturally, I saw a lot of Mets photos, a Marlins photo or two, and a pretty good selection of Blue Jays shots.

"Oh yeah," I thought, "he's our shortstop.  Sweet."

Jose Reyes is fucking awesome.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

That Butler Rumor

It was reported yesterday that the Jays and Royals had discussed a deal involving Billy Butler, but that those talks weren't ever really all that serious.  That didn't stop the entire comment section at MLBTR from losing their minds, assuming that it was Bautista for Butler or bust.

Had a quick thought about that one last night, and struggled to make a whole hell of a lot of sense out of it.  The rational human being in me thinks that there are two caveats to this deal ever having any legs:

  • Butler would, of course, slot in as a 1B/DH, of which the Jays already have two. The Jays aren't going to trade for Butler, pay him $8MM, and ask him to platoon with Lind. I doubt a team that's trying to win is going to trade Edwin Encarnacion, so the odd man out would be Adam Lind.  Lind has been at least looked at by the Pirates as an option at first, so my best guess is that these talks, if they happened, were a sort of contingency plan were anything to happen with Lind.
  • The way it's worded, I'm guessing that they were talking about a deal revolving around Colby Rasmus going to KC, since it was apparently Butler and prospects coming our way.  Rasmus is the only position player that makes sense, as far as a trade candidate is concerned, in terms of both actually getting traded, as well as getting Butler and prospects in return.  It's not that nobody else makes sense for a trade, or that nobody else would fetch Butler-plus, it's just that I don't really see a starting pitcher going anywhere at all, nor would a bullpen arm get Butler-plus, and Rasmus is the only real position player trade candidate good enough to get that return.  Beyond that, Rasmus' name has come up already this winter thanks to upcoming free agency.
If this was even a thing that happened, I'm not surprised that it fizzled quickly.  A lot of moving parts, and the fact that there would have apparently been prospects coming back to Toronto is sort of making this smell funny.

The Jays want to upgrade starting pitching and 2B, not the 1B/DH spot.  The odd thing is that they are actually running sort of thin in the outfield.  Bautista isn't going to play RF everyday forever, especially given the amount of time he's missed in the last two years.  Melky Cabrera is sort of a wild card, in that he is coming off a bad year, just had a tumor removed from his back, and is a free agent after the season.  Rasmus has one final year of control left before hitting free agency as well, and put up some numbers that weren't necessarily sustainable last year.  Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar and Moises Sierra don't really look like longterm answers to me, at least not yet.  There's depth in the outfield, but I don't really see a whole lot of impact coming up the pipeline, and certainly don't see an option for CF everyday that doesn't create a big hole in CF where Rasmus was-- might want to keep Rasmus around instead of getting another 1B/DH type.

All things considered, the real catalyst in a deal involving Butler is a Lind-to-Pittsburgh trade going down.  AA had apparently asked for Neil Walker, to which Pittsburgh rightly balked.  It really looks to me as if the lineup is going to be the same as it was last year, with the exception of catcher and probably 2B.  Get the Walker move done, and we can talk about upgrading Lind.  Otherwise, moving anything to get Butler just makes holes.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Shit went down today.  Thoughts:

  • AA mentioned that he's not being all that aggressive in offering Rasmus, which doesn't necessarily mean much.  He could always be lying, or at least not giving the whole truth, but he says that he's probably keeping his core position players for the time being.  He said that he was more comfortable trading, rather than signing free agents, to improve the team, but obviously if the position players are sticking around, it's bullpen, which we already knew, or prospects.
  • Speaking of position players, the Adam Lind to Pittsburgh stuff might have more legs, now that both Corey Hart and Logan Morrison have moved to Seattle-- Morrison by trade, Hart through free agency.  Mitch Moreland is still around, as is James Loney, but at least one of Pittsburgh's targets have been taken away.
  • With all the starting pitcher news we got yesterday, there are quite a few updates.  Bartolo Colon has signed with the Mets for 2 years and $20MM (I had some brief dreams about a Jays' signing last night), Justin Masterson is apparently not being shopped (I had some brief dreams about a Jays trade this afternoon), and the Jays are balking at the cost for David Price (I've always been realistic about Price) and Jeff Samardzija (I'm kind of over the idea of acquiring Shark).  Brett Anderson is also off the market, having been traded to Colorado last night.  Masahiro Tanaka is still probably the biggest catalyst to offseason pitcher movement, and we're likely to have an update on him soon, and we'll likely see Garza, Jimenez and Santana sign soon after we figure out what's happening with all the pitchers.
  • The Jays haven't been tied to Omar Infante yet, at least publicly.  It looks like Infante is looking for something in the 4 year, $32MM area, and that the Royals are currently favored.  Infante projects to be worth 2.2-2.5 WAR this coming season, depending on which projection you're looking at, which doesn't sound like the kind of guy you'd offer four years to, at least to me.  If he finds four years, he should take it and run.  I'd be a lot more comfortable with three years, and can see the Jays getting involved if he doesn't get four.
  • Brandon Phillips is still available, apparently.  Again, kinda depends.
I dunno.  These meetings have been boring.  Everything happened last week.  Hopefully some nonsense takes place tonight before everyone leaves.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

An Unordered List of Thoughts Regarding Colby

Bob Elliott is reporting that the Jays are offering Colby Rasmus for pitchers.  Let's get right in to it.

  • As a relatively straight man, I'm not sure if it's weird to point this out, but trading Rasmus will almost certainly make the team more attractive, which is something that they're in desperate need of in the wake of the JP Arencibia non-tender if they would like to contend for the handsomeness Wild Card.  Of course, keeping Rasmus and signing Bartolo Colon should result in an early draft pick in next year's draft, especially with Dioner Navarro in the fold(s?).
  • Joking aside, Rasmus has had one good year in the last three, offensively, and has one year of control left before hitting free agency.  Stoeten at DJF has already pointed out that Rasmus might very well be in line for a big payday, especially with a big 2014.  Jacoby Ellsbury did just sign for $153MM, afterall.
  • Steamer projects Rasmus to be worth 3.3 fWAR, while Oliver projects 3.2fWAR.  Compare that to his 4.8 fWAR total from '13, which was fuelled by a career-best +12.9 runs above average defensively, and a career-best .356 babip.  We can expect those to regress, and that's reflected in the projections, but even those projections have Rasmus being a pretty clearly above average CF.  Certainly wouldn't hurt to hang on to him and get the draft pick after the season, but trading him now boosts his value slightly in that same regard.
    • Just touching on his babip; Rasmus had an elevated rate of liners this past year, and an ever-so-slightly reduced rate of popups, so that elevated babip isn't entirely noise.  It's mostly noise, but guys who are hitting more liners and fewer popups are obviously going to have higher babips.
  • It's definitely tough to say that Anthony Gose can come anywhere near that 3+ WAR area that Rasmus is projected to provide.  In fact, given Gose's offensive struggles, in terms of K's, walks or even contact, Gose's value is tied up pretty much entirely within his defense and baserunning-- both of which have graded negatively to this point in his admittedly very short big league career.  Steamer only projects 40 games and 162 plate appearances for Gose (which probably sounds about right if Rasmus stays), so it's probably best not to use that projection.  Oliver, however, offers their projection over 600 plate appearances, and likes Gose for a .225/.286/.342 line, with slightly above average running and defense.  I dunno, I just don't think Gose is ready, and, in the event of a Rasmus deal, would probably prefer a temporary replacement, rather than Gose everyday if he can't handle it yet.
  • Left-handed power.  Defense.  Premium position.  Hair, sometimes.
  • Ultimately, it depends on what the return would be.  It's pretty easy to sit here and say "I wouldn't trade Rasmus" since he's a known commodity coming off a really good year.  It certainly depends on what's coming back the other way, and obviously we shouldn't be making any harsh judgments on this until we hear the rest of the rumor.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Winter Meetingy Stuff!

The first thing I did after making my last post (about Roy Halladay) was google image search Bartolo Colon's name, and try to find an image of him at his most rotund.  That took about four minutes, because every picture of Bartolo Colon has him looking very rotund, and I just couldn't settle upon one.  Until I settled one this one.  So there he his, in his rotundy glory.

As for Colon the person, his name popped up in a Jays rumor today, and for some reason, it kind of surprised me.  I guess I just kind of assumed that Colon would go back to Oakland and I pretty much forgot that he was a free agent.  The idea of Colon on a one-year deal, coming off a 3.9 fWAR, 5.0 rWAR season kind of sounds way better than Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, or Ubaldo Jimenez on a 5-year deal.  I'm sure we all know that Colon's 6% HR rate in 2013 is a product of Oakland's spacious ballpark (and even Seattle and Anaheim's spacious parks if we look at his inside-the-division away games), but that's what your xFIP is for, and he performed better on the road this past season than he did at home, so he still presents a halfway decent option.  You could definitely do worse.

Speaking of doing worse, Eric Thames got released today.  By the Astros, of all teams.

The Jeff Samardzija talks are still a thing.  The Jays' name didn't come up, per se, but there are rumblings of a trade and the Jays certainly seem like a potential fit on this one.

The Jays, Rangers, and a mystery team apparently had a deal in place that would have sent Sergio Santos somewhere, but someone failed a physical.  If that sounds a bit vague, well... it is.  Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal are breaking that one out, and they say that it wasn't Santos who failed the physical, so at least that's good news.  Too bad Rosenthal and Morosi didn't name names, because that would make this a whole lot more believable, but I wouldn't mind seeing someone else take on that contract and have to make a tough-ish decision as to whether giving Santos $6MM is a good idea or not.

Santos is set to make $3.75MM this year, before becoming kind of expensive and optiony-- the Jays have three club options ($6MM in '15, $8MM in 16, $8.5MM in '17) that probably won't be worth it if he's not rackin' up them saves or whatever's important. Santos was fucking lights out in limited action this year, and if he doesn't get traded, I'll probably make a .gif of every breaking ball he throws this year, the way I was planning on doing this past year until he got hurt and I started drinking in the mornings.

Seems tough-- Casey Janssen is a free agent next year, and Santos, when healthy, is probably the next best pitcher in the bullpen at the moment, making him the most likely closer in the event of Janssen bailing.  Of course, he's fucking useless when he's on the shelf, as he's been for all but half a season or so during his two years in a Jays' uniform. $6MM is cheap for a closer on the free agent market these days, and even $8.5MM isn't too bad when it's a club option.  Hard to say what I'd do, but I guess the return is a pretty important factor.

Elsewhere, Shi Davidi is telling us that Thad Weber is going to be posted sold to the South Korean SC Dinos.

The Pirates are still apparently in on Adam Lind, especially after James Loney's pricetag is way too high, though there isn't a whole lot here, as that post turns in to a really big "Logan Morrison is getting traded soon" thing.  Hopefully he goes somewhere other than Pittsburgh.

Pat Hentgen on the FAN 590, talking about Roy.

Gregor Chisolm has Gibby's media scrum from this afternoon.

AA was interviewed today about some potential moves that he could make this week.  Might turn these last two in to it's own post with more details.

Doc, My Heart Hurts

My heart skipped a beat this afternoon when I got the notification on my phone.  I had a couple notifications when I checked it as I was going for lunch at work.  The first two were from the Simpsons' Tapped out game, the next from facebook or twitter or something stupid.  The next was from The Score's mobile app, and I quickly saw the words "Blue Jays" and "Roy Halladay", and for just an instant, I wrote my own headline, since those were the only words the I had happened to process to that point.  I had immediately assumed that the Jays had signed Halladay for pitching related purposes.  I can only assume that I saw/thought that because that's what my hearts has truly been yearning for for three years now.

As I finished reading the headline, reality set in, and it set in hard.  He wasn't just an awesome pitcher.  He was our awesome pitcher, and in a way, he still is.  In a more literal and actual way, he isn't, I guess, but the fact that he went ahead and insisted upon retiring a Blue Jay just kind of gives me the satisfaction of knowing that he loves us back, as much as we all loved him when he was our one bright spot in a smattering of dull ones.  Anyway, kinda ruined my day.

I would be totally cool with retiring the #32 right now, especially after retiring a Blue Jay, and, in fact, remember being sort of furious with both Aaron Laffey and Esmil Rogers at wearing that particular jersey these past few years.

I remember thanking Roy via ovation, along with 47,000 other people a few years ago at the Dome when Philadelphia stopped by for the Canada Day Weekend series, and I'm really glad to have finally seen him pitch live and in the flesh.  It was some pretty surreal stuff.  It was also quite warm that day.

I assume he doesn't read this, because not very many people do and why the fuck would he be one of them?  But on the off-chance he decides to do a vanity-check and scour Jays' blogs, I'd just like to go ahead and thank him one more time for everything.  Most of my baseball and Jays' related memories aren't anything overly special-- being a big baseball fan who watches multiple hundred games a summer will kind of force the days and games to melt together.  I honestly can't say that I remember a lot of individual games (though I definitely do remember a lot of them-- 10-inning shutout, the leg-break, the near no-hitter against Detroit in game 162 in 1998, etc.), but I can definitely remember sitting down with my grandfather (consult the picture in the "About Me" section on the right) and just talking about how unwatchable 4 of every 5 Jays games are, but how can't miss that Halladay start always happens to be.

The Blue Jays, and baseball in general, has really shaped who I am as a person. So with Roy Halladay being arguably the greatest Blue Jay ever, and not at all arguably the greatest Blue Jay of my generation, Roy Halladay has supposedly been an integral of my upbringing.  Sounds weird when I say it like that, but meh.

Thanks Doc.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Holding the Phone: Someone Wants Adam Lind?!?

I saw you, MLB Trade Rumors.  I saw you trying to sneak that little tidbit in there, knowing that I'd go ahead and make a big deal of it.  Clever.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm not terribly surprised.  Pittsburgh is apparently looking at James Loney to be their first baseman, as if he's actually good and didn't have an excellent season last year by accident.  Of course, the Tampa Bay turning-shit-in-to-strawberry-shortcake thing applies at least a bit here.

Anyway, Jayson Stark was mentioning that the Pirates have also reached out to the Rangers about Mitch Moreland's availability-- which, when you think about the whole Prince Fielder thing, makes a lot of sense-- and to the BLUE JAYS ABOUT ADAM LIND.

Sorry.  Things got out of hand there for a second.  Too excited.

The Jays don't necessarily have to trade Lind this offseason-- it would create a small, easy fillable hole in the lineup at 1B/DH, but it's not like there isn't an upgrade or forty available out there.  Lind is very serviceable against RHP, but doesn't really offer a whole lot else.  He's also making $7MM this year, and at least has $1.5MM more coming to him in the way of option buyouts.  There's no Mark DeRosa anymore, and there's probably no Rajai Davis around either to take his spot in the order when lefty pitchers are around.

Now watch how I spin this in the right direction.

James Loney is projected for 1 WAR in 2014, and is apparently seeking a three year deal.  Given that Justin Morneau signed yesterday for 2 years and $13MM, I think three years for Loney is looking like nothing less than $18MM.  Lind?  A practically free $7MM, with two options!  May as well be three 1-year deals!

Lind is one of those big cocksuckers who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.  Loney?  Walks.  Reasonable defense.  That's about it.  When's the last time you saw someone score a run by catching the ball?

Lind has been bad in the past, but it's not like Loney wasn't worth -0.4 WAR in 2012 himself, and never better than 2 WAR over a single season in his entire career.  At least Lind has a 3.4 WAR season under his belt, which is driven down thanks to a -22.4 run defensive tally, though he was playing LF then, and is a 1B now.

Loney just isn't all that good, and three years there would be shockingly bad, especially when Adam Lind is available for probably less than that on a 1-year deal with options.  The scary thing is that I'm kind of talking myself out of hating Adam Lind.

But really.  If James Loney is worth whatever he's going to be worth, three options of Adam Lind has to be at least somewhat attractive if you're Pittsburgh.  The only real benefit to Loney over Lind is health.and maybe relative defense.  I wouldn't classify Loney as "good" defensively, but he's practically a full win better than Lind is with the glove.  Lind obviously makes that up with the bat, and is coming off a bit of a comeback year himself.

Mitch Moreland is still probably a better fit for Pittsburgh if Texas chooses to move him, but holy crap... the pieces fit.  Maybe we can get Snider back.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

December 3rd: Everybody in the Pool!

Holy shit.  This day.

First off, Alex Anthopoulos was on the Fan 590 with Elliotte Friedman and some other guy, having a minor chat.  The most interesting part, to me at least, was his answer to the question regarding whether or not he had a chance to match Washington's offer for Doug Fister, which, surprisingly, didn't even entertain the notion that Dave Dombrowski is on all the drugs.

Basically, some GM's like to have auctions for their players, while other like to keep things quiet.  Some like to make certain that the player that they're trading gets out of the division at least, and preferably out of the league, so as to not improve the competition (which he also touched on when Friedman's mystery partner asked about acquiring David Price).  He finally mentioned that sometimes you just don't match up well with the other team in terms of areas of strength and weakness, and that the Jays asked about, but never really had a fighting chance at acquiring Fister.

AA also mentioned that there was a small deal in the works-- one so small that we might not even notice it-- and boy howdy, he was not kidding.  Brad Lincoln to the Phillies for a guy that I've never heard of, and a guy that I've only heard of, but have never seen in action.  Eric Kratz is apparently a pretty good defensive catcher, but definitely can't hit (career .220/.281/.407 slash line, and 2013 .213/.280/.386 isn't terribly dissimilar to what JP Arencibia did, though Kratz only had 218 PA's).  He's listed at 6'4'', 255lbs.  Rob Rasmussen is 24 and seems destined to fail as a starter, but is left-handed, so we'll test him out in the bullpen and see what happens.

He also mentioned that the report that surfaced about the Jays being infatuated by Brett Anderson isn't necessarily true, since he doesn't tend to go around and tell people from other clubs that he's emotionally or sexually interested in other players (my words, not his).  That particular snippet stemmed from a report suggesting that Anderson will definitely be traded at some point this week or at the winter meetings.  Of course, the Jays are looking to bolster their rotation, so naturally...  I dunno, I'm not really all that stoked about Anderson.  He was a good enough pitcher in  2009 and 2010, but he's thrown about 160 innings since then, many of which not terribly inspiring.  I have no idea how healthy he is at the moment, but I'm not sure it matters either, given his history.  He doesn't seem to walk many guys, so that's a plus, I guess.

And he said that Brandon Morrow is throwing at full intensity and feels great.  OK!

Oh, and everybody lost their fucking minds today.  MLBTR links.

Red Sox signed AJ Pierzynski, the most not very Red Sox player there is (other than being a giant douche, I guess) for $8.25MM.  That makes the Dioner deal look a lot better, to me, but it's 1-year and not a whole lot can go so wrong to make a 1-year deal look overly bad.

Rockies traded Dexter Fowler for not very much to the Astros.  Fowler was really good two years ago, and totally reasonable this past year.  Astros' GM Jeff Luhnow is probably just going to trade Fowler for more youth at the deadline, and it will almost certainly be a better return than Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes.  Seems like a huge win for Houston, even if Fowler is now way the highest-paid player on the team, since the odds of him re-breaking out is probably better than the odds of Lyles or Barnes being worth anything for the Rockies, even if Fowler's 2 years from free agency.

The Marlins signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia for three years and $21MM.  I'd guess that Rob Brantly is going to be traded now, but he was really bad this year, so maybe they fancy him as a backup or would like to send him down to the minors for a while to figure some stuff out.  I can't help but think that Saltalamacchia is going to be traded somewhere at some point over the course of this contract too-- signing guys that aren't going to help them immensely and then trading them early in the contract just seems like the way the Marlins do their business and stock up the farm.  Not that that isn't a viable strategy.

Jacoby Ellsbury signed in New York for 7/$153MM.  Pretty reasonable, as far as I can tell, though there are obviously some health concerns.  I figured like 6/$120MM would get it done so I'm not too terrible.

Oakland is still playing MLB The Show, trading everyone for everyone.  Craig Gentry is the newest A, edging out Luke Gregerson in that particular contest.  Gentry and Josh Lindblom came from Texas for some minor leaguers, while Gregerson was swapped for Seth Smith.  Add that to the Jim Johnson deal from last night, and the forthcoming Brett Anderson trade, and the A's are going to have a pretty new look this year, though they're only really replacing some minor parts.  Gentry is a pretty underrated piece, in that he steals, runs, gets on base, and plays defense pretty well.  He was worth 3.6 rWAR over 106 games with the Rangers in '13, playing mostly in CF.

Finally, I guess, the Tigers signed Joe Nathan for two years and $20MM, which is probably more than what Doug Fister is going to make in his last two years of arbitration.  Chuckle at Dave Dombrowski all you want, but PROVEN CLOSERS DAMMIT.


Marc Hulet of Fangraphs has just released his Toronto Blue Jays version of his 2014 Top-10 Prospects list.  No huge surprises, but let's have a glimpse.  He starts the list off with a quick jab to the organization and their trades from this past offseason:
This Top 10 (+5) list is the weakest collection of prospects that Toronto has had in the minors for quite a while now. Most of the talent is in A-ball or Rookie ball with a noticeable lack of depth at the upper levels, thanks to the 2012-13 trades that were supposed to turn the Jays into a winning club.

Numbers 1 and 2 are of little shock; Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.  Some familiar stuff here; Sanchez has #1 stuff, but his delivery is cause for concern, while Stroman looks amazing out there, dummies minor league batters, and could probably have been in the majors this past season, but he's short.  Sounds about right.

Mitch Nay popping up at #3 was probably the biggest shocker for me, though it seems as though, based on his rankings that he would clump Nay in to a tier with Roberto Osuna and Daniel Norris.  Though he doesn't come right out and say it, it sounds like Nay isn't going to be able to stick at 3B, which is probably a minor issue, given Brett Lawrie's existence, but that problem won't likely arise for a few years.

Speaking of Norris and Osuna, things are starting to get a bit depressing-- Osuna is going to miss this season after having a delayed Tommy John surgery, and Norris is a bit of a wild card, given that he's only had one good half of a season over his 2 years as a pro.

AJ Jimenez at #7 is the last person with any real upside that is close to the bigs, at 23 years old and a likely AAA appearance.  Alberto Tirado, DJ Davis, and Matt Smoral are all in the top-10, and are all coming off seasons of rookie-ball, so are pretty far away.  Tirado is a possible reliever, due to Stroman-like size issues, but he crushed the Appalachian League this year in a small sample.  Davis is kind of like an Anthony Gose guy, with a bunch of tools and nothing really to do with them to this point.  Smoral is 6'8'' and left-handed, and is going to get an awful lot of chances to succeed, given his stuff that just hasn't come together yet.

The list rounds out with Sean Nolin, who, Hulet notes, was pointlessly added to the 40-man roster and had an option year burned for the sake of 1.1 IP.  Hulet calls Nolin a future No. 4 innings-eater, which has value.

Hulet calls Jairo Labourt and Franklin Baretto the wild cards that should move up in to next year's list.

Monday, 2 December 2013

My Triumphant Return: A Giant "Stuff" Post

Dioner Navarro looks like he is a big boy, despite being listed as 5'9'', 205.

But he's our big boy now, isn't he?  It's been pointed out around the internet pretty well all day that Navarro, by virtue of being not JP Arencibia, is a pretty huge upgrade for the Jays.  He was pretty damn awesome this past year for the Cubs in a backup role, putting up 1.7 fWAR over a fairly small sample of 266 plate appearances.  It seems a bit aggressive to give him 2 years, given that he hasn't been average ever, save for a nice season in 2008 with Tampa, and even then, 470 plate appearances that year remains a career high.  I'm not sure if I'm ready to anoint him as the everyday-ish (non-Dickey day) starter, given his apparent inability to stay healthy for a whole season, but I'm sure this is going to be refreshing, even if he does fall completely on his face.  Speaking of which, the contract calls for $3MM this year, and $5MM next year, which is really quite close to what JPA would have been paid had he gone through arbitration twice with Toronto.  Even if he does fall on his face, this money is better spent with Navarro, someone who has shown signs of being good, rather than JPA.

We're about to see a whole lot more Josh Thole than what we're used to, which, again, isn't JP Arencibia whiffing through pitch after pitch.  Between Thole and Navarro, we're bound to see a pretty significant uptick in walks, and thus, on-base percentage from catcher, all the while losing out on some power.  Navarro will help a bit in that regard, but making fewer outs and swinging through fewer pitches is truly excellent.  After all, Thole has a 9% walk-rate to this point in his career-- you could do worse, especially out of the guy that's going to be handling the knuckleballer.

We're still waiting to see what exactly happens with JPA; either a trade or a non-tender is looming any minute now, and might even end up being edited in to this very post if it's not finished by the time the result comes through.  Still, I'm pretty sure I can see in to the future on this one.  AA gets asked some inane question about Arencibia and stays pretty non-committal about the decision, hitting mostly at the fact that JP's a great person and is more than welcome to stay within the organization on a minor league deal.  JPA then gets his turn with the media somehow and lambastes the organization/media/city about something or other as if it comes down to anything other than putting up results on the field.  I'm sure he's a nice guy, but this is a business.

Obviously it's going to suck if this whole situation goes all Aaron Hill on us again, and it's certainly a possibility, albeit a pretty remote one.  The book is out on JPA, as far as hitting is concerned.  but there was some prospect shine there at one point, and there's some pretty legit power going on there when he can actually hit the ball.  Someone's going to take a flyer on him, and it will likely be one of those poor teams that need to find ways to win where others just don't care.  If someone can ever get through to him to not hack at everything, and to, you know, swing at strikes and not at balls... there can certainly be something there.  I mean he hit 21 HR's this year, imagine what he could do if he weren't always striking out.

Finally, I'd love to be a fly on the wall in Dave Dombrowski's office today, when he decided to trade an elite starter for not that much.  I just have so many questions.  Most of them are just slack-jawed gawking and some kind of awkward hybrid of the words "what" and "why", but I'd also really like to know whether anybody else had a chance at matching that with, say, anybody from the Jays' bullpen and anybody else from within the system.  There has been a lot of talk going around about Jeff Samadzija lately, and how a prospect haul centered around Stroman/Sanchez just aren't worth two years of him.  Now, I'm okay with saying that the Jays may have overpaid for Dickey, but I'd definitely be cool with giving up the same package for Fister.  We're talking about a top-15-or-so pitcher in the game, still with two years of cost-reduced control left.  If that means dealing one of Sanchez/Stroman and, say, a bullpen arm for him, then I'm for it.  If it means beating the package Washington sent?  Christ, I'm depressed just thinking about how easy that would have been.

If anybody is talking to AA in the next few weeks, I'd like you to go ahead and ask him about Doug Fister, and let him know that I'm heartbroken.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Did You Guys Really Fall for That?

So everyone's believing all they read now, huh?  Are you guys for real?  I came home from work today, and, like I do most days, checked bluejaysaggr and MLBTR to see if anything was up, only to see post after post and link after link suggesting that the Jays are going to trade Bautista?!

Come on, guys.  Let's use our brains on this one, yeah?

Obviously it wasn't going to be straight up, but the rumored deal was Bautista for Dom Brown, because we're apparently in the business of conveniencing the Phillies.  Bautista is infinitely better than Brown, is coming off a year that he missed a pile of games with injuries (i.e. selling low), and still has three years of team control.  Brown is quite a bit cheaper, is worse than Bautista, and comes with only one more year of control.  This one would be sort of dependent on what the Phillies would be throwing in.

The Jays are in need of-- in no particular order-- a catcher, starter, and second baseman.  The Phillies "don't have" a catcher at the moment (Carlos Ruiz is a free agent) so we can omit that one.  They have a recently extended Chase Utley at 2B, which doesn't preclude them from trading him per se, but obviously they want Utley around or they wouldn't have extended him, right?  Probably.  I also doubt the Phillies go Utley-and-Brown for Bautista if the situation even arose, though the more I think about it, it might make a bit of sense if you throw in a bullpen piece here and a prospect or bench player there.  But that's not the point.

Starters in Philly include Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and then a few dudes that the Jays couldn't possibly have any interest in trading Jose Bautista for.  I doubt the Phillies are overly interested in moving Hamels or Lee, given their strategy the last few years.

So yeah-- it's a Bautista-for-Utley type of thing, or it's nothing.

Don't believe everything you read.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

When a Half-Measure is Close Enough

Ryan Hanigan appears to be available, given that the Reds have signed Brayan Pena to a two-year deal, and have Devin Mesoraco kicking around as well.  Some juice on Hanigan.

  • Ryan Hanigan is a career .262/.359/.343 hitter, with a walkrate of 12% and a strikeout rate of 10.1%.  He hits for very little power (.081 ISO career), but gets on base and makes contact at a pretty good rate.
  • Ryan Hanigan is pretty good defensively, and has some nice insights on pitch framing.
  • Ryan Hanigan is set to make $2.3MM through arbitration, which is actually less than JP Arencibia.
  • Ryan Hanigan is not JP Arencibia.
  • Ryan Hanigan is not a free agent-- a team interested in his services would need to come to an agreement with the Cincinatti Reds on a cost, which is probably easier than coming to an agreement with a player/agent on how much money it would take to bring him in.
That stuff all seems pretty good.  If you can't get Brian McCann, you could certainly do worse than Ryan Hanigan on a 1-year deal (i.e. JP Arencibia).

I guess the main issue here is that Hanigan is 33 years old, and is coming off a season where he hit .198/.306/.261 over 275 plate appearances.  The Reds will certainly be selling low on Hanigan, which makes taking a flyer on him an attractive option.  He still walked more than he struck out, he still put up some pretty good defensive numbers, and he had a babip that was about 65 points lower than his career mark without any significant change in his batted ball profile-- his IFFB% rose by 4%, which is certainly a bad sign, but his 2013 LD%, GB% and FB% are all within a percentage point of his career norms.

For a team in need of catching help, Hanigan and Thole could certainly split time for a relatively inexpensive price.  If there is any kind of payroll restrictions in Toronto this year, acquiring Hanigan for a prospect or bullpen arm will allow the Jays to allocate money elsewhere, such as 2B or the rotation.  Acquiring Hanigan, in and of itself, would probably be a sort of half-measure, but as part of the big picture, Hanigan is a cheap alternative that would plug a hole and allow AA to go focus on the bigger parts of the offseason.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

On Gordon Beckham, and half-measures

I used to be a beat cop a long time ago, and I'd get called out on domestic disputes all the time, hundreds probably, over the years. But there was this one piece of shit that I remember, Gordie, looked like Bo Svensen, remember him?  Walking Tall?  You don't remember him? No?  Anyway, big boy-- 270-280.  But his wife... whatever-she-was lady... she was small.  Like a bird.  Brisk like little branches.  Anyway, my partner and I would get called out there every weekend, and one of us would pull her aside and say 'Come on, tonight's the night we press charges."  And this wasn't one of those 'deep down, he really loves me' setups, she was scared; she wasn't going to cross him, no way no how.  Nothing we could do but pass her off to the EMT's, put him in the car, drive him downtown, throw him in the drunk tank, he sleeps it off; next morning, out he goes, back home.
But one night, my partner's out sick; just me. Call comes in and it's the usual crap: broke her nose in the shower kind of thing.  So I cuff him, I put him in the car and away we go.  Only that night, we're driving in to town, and this sideways asshole is in my car in the backseat, humming "Danny Boy".  Hurmph.  Yeah, and it just rubbed me wrong.  So instead of left, I go right in to nowhere.  And I kneel him down, and I put my revolver in his mouth and I said "This is it.  This is how it ends."  And he's cryin', going to the bathroom all over himself, swearing to God he's gonna leave her alone, and he's screaming-- as much you can with a gun in your mouth.
I told him to be quiet, I had to think of what I was going to do here-- and of course he got quiet.  Goes still.  And real quiet.  Like a dog waiting for dinner scraps.  We just stood there for a while.  Me, acting like I'm thinking things over, and Prince Charming sitting there in the dirt with shit in his pants.
After a few minutes, I took the gun out of his mouth.  And I said "So help me, if you ever touch her again I will" such and such and such and such and blah blah blah blah blah.
[Just a warning?]
Of course.  Just trying to do the right thing.
Two weeks later, he killed her.  Of course.  Caved her head in with the base of a wearing blender.  We got there... there was so much blood, you could taste the metal.
Moral of the story is: I chose a half-measure, when I should have gone all the way.  I'll never make that mistake again.
No more half-measures, Walter.  
If you've not watched every second of Breaking Bad, you're seriously missing out, and should stop whatever you're doing right now in order to remedy that, but I'm sure you've already been told by dozens of people.  The above quote is from this scene, and this isn't a spoiler at all-- just one of the more epic lines of the entire series, delivered by arguably the best character of arguably the best show ever.

Gregor Chisolm and Scott Merkin of are reporting that the Jays are interested in Gordon Beckham, for some reason.  Beckham isn't really an upgrade over what we've got already, whether it's Maicer Izturis or Ryan Goins or Munenori Kawasaki or Mark Derosa.

I mean, he's probably slightly better than any of those guys-- I'm not entirely convinced that Izturis is actually as bad as we saw last year, but that's probably a different post for a different day-- but "slightly better" isn't anything to be overly thrilled about.  Goins probably stinks equally offensively in the future, regardless of how good he is defensively, but as of right now, he is probably the best choice to start 2014 as the main 2B of those currently in the organization.

There are plenty of guys in the league who can put up value somewhere in the area of what Beckham can do, and like three of them are already Blue Jays.  Beckham will make about $3.5MM through arbitration-- Izturis, Goins, Kawasaki and DeRosa combined will make slightly more than that.  Take in to account that the Jays would probably have to give something up to acquire Beckham, and yeah, this doesn't make any sense.

If Beckham is an upgrade over whatever's kicking around the organization-- if!-- he certainly isn't a big one, and is therefore not a respectable allocation of assets.  Gordon Beckham would be a half-measure.  No more half-measures, Walter.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Market at Second Base

I think we've beaten it to death here-- well maybe not here since I don't write anywhere nearly as much as I used to, but you get the idea-- that the Jays really need to find upgrades at catcher, 2B and in the rotation.

I'm sure we've all examined the catching market ad nauseum, pointing out McCann, Ruiz, Suzuki, and others as possible targets for the Jays behind the plate. There was probably a joke made at some point about Angels' catchers Hank Conger and Chris Iannetta, since the Jays seem to acquire every Angel catcher ever, but that's apparently real life now.  The pitching market has also been looked at, at least a bit, pointing towards free agents Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza as potential targets, as well as Brett Anderson from a trade standpoint.

We've had some quick looks at 2B, but we, or certainly I, feel most comfortable with internal options at 2B, so I think I've thought and discussed that one the least.  I don't think Ryan Goins starting the year at 2B is the end of the world, especially if it allows AA to go ahead and devote his energy to upgrading behind the plate and in the rotation.  Maicer Izturis or Munenori Kawasaki can hop in and cover if needed, so it's not a guaranteed flop if Goins regresses both offensively and defensively; I can see offensively, but he's pretty good in the field, which should be lots going forward in terms of value, given replacement level at 2B these days.

At least that's where I was.  Over the last few weeks, there have been a few more names pop up, to the point where the 2B market is pretty flush if teams want it to be.  There's obviously free agent Robinson Cano at the top of the pile, but let's be realistic about that one.  Omar Infante, Kelly Johnson, and Brian Roberts make up a pretty top-heavy list of 2B free agents, but all of those guys are probably upgrades over -2.1 WAR or whatever the Jays did at 2B this season.

 Howie Kendrick's name has popped up as a guy that the Angels were planning on shopping, though I feel as though they're looking for starting pitching in exchange.  Still, Kendrick isn't a bad option, depending on the cost (plus there could be a package deal for Conger or Iannetta).  He's way above average offensively for a 2B, and plays a pretty reasonable defensive 2B as well.  He's set to make just shy of $20MM over the next two seasons as he enters his age-31 season, so I doubt he'll be all that cheap in terms of trade chips.

Cuban free agent Alexander Guerrero just signed in LA with the Dodgers, which probably makes Mark Ellis available.  Ellis will either be a free agent, or will have his contract option ($5.75MM) exercised, but I don't think he's a starter in LA anymore, unless Juan Uribe gets sent packing and one of Ellis, Guerrero or Hanley Ramirez moves to 3B.  When you consider the fact that Uribe put up a 5-win season in '13, he'll probably stick.  I figure the Dodgers will exercise Ellis' option (1 year, $5.75MM) and then move him for a relative pittance at some point in the offseason.

Ellis' contract and skill-set makes him a decent option for the Jays-- he rates as a league-average-or-so 2B, which is good for $5.75MM.  He's not going to cost a ton to acquire in terms of prospects or relievers or cash or whatever, and as a fairly cheap, 1-year deal, there is practically no risk involved.  Steamer projects Ellis for 2.2 WAR in '14, with a 91 wRC+ and above average defense.  At ~$6MM per WAR, that's a bargain.

The other new option that's shown up recently is Brandon Phillips.  Phillips is owed $50MM through 2017, and is entering his age-33 season.  That's probably a bad contract, or is at least market value with risk, so the Reds would have to eat some of the salary in order to get something nice in return, but they're probably motivated to do so, as it would allow them to try and re-sign Shin Soo Choo, find a cheap replacement at 2B, and/or maybe get another starting pitcher.

I think ultimately, Ellis is the safest option, given both price and term.  He won't cost impact prospects and will give comparable production to Kendrick for half the money, let alone the opportunity cost (i.e. what they trade to get him).  The 1-year deal that Ellis has allows AA to reconsider his options next offseason as well.  Kendrick might be a bit more likely, however, given that the Angels would like to move him, and that they have two guys behind the plate that might make reasonable trade assets, filling two holes with one deal.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Assorted Thoughts on Recent News

I dunno man, looks like a good hitter to me.

My jaw about hit the floor this afternoon when I read that Chad Mottola wasn't going to return to the Jays staff in 2014.  I thought he had done a pretty good job with what he was given-- some pretty big strides with Colby Rasmus being my main evidence, but Adam Lind seems to like working with him too, and his numbers, while a bit babippy, since going down to Vegas last season to work with Mottola, are above replacement level.  Not exactly something that he can tout since 2009.

If anyone was going to wear this season by way of losing their coaching job, I figured it would Pete Walker, given how terrible the performance of the rotation was this year, but both Walker and Pat Hentgen will return to the coaching staff.

Anthopoulos discussed the coaching change on PTS today, and kind of explained himself.  AA viewed Murphy and Mottola as a tandem, so with Dwayne Murphy stepping down, AA viewed it as a transitional period.  He told Mottola that he still has a job in the organization if he wants it, but given the partial change, AA felt that the full change was the way to go.

Elsewhere, Gregor had a mailbag posted either yesterday or today, in which he points out that "Washington's Wilson Ramos is known to be of interest to the Blue Jays," which is news to me, but I suppose it makes sense.  Ramos is a career .270/.325/.445 hitter over three seasons, though 116 games is the most he's had in a year.  He's certainly had some injury issues over his career, and you'd love to see him walk more, but you could certainly do worse from a 26 year old catcher.  The Nats would definitely be selling low on him, given his recent inability to play a full season, and the relative lack of decent available catchers at the moment.

The big issue for the Nats, as far as getting something done on that front, is that there's no really clear replacement from within their roster if they were to trade Ramos, which means that it behooves the Nationals to keep Ramos, not trade him.  Of course, if they decide to go ahead and sign a Brian McCann or even a Saltalamacchia/Pierzynski/Ruiz kind of guy, you never know.  I'm not sure the latter trio is an improvement over a healthy Ramos-- healthy being the operative word.

Ramos will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, so he'll have three years of team control remaining, which certainly adds to his value.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Thank God That's Over: Assorted Thoughts about FUCK YOU 2013

I sat in my living room thinking, today, about what a clusterprick this season has been, and how this year, and not last one, as previously thought, was the season from hell.  The record was better this year, but the expectations were through the roof.  It's kind of like the time that I saw the trailer to the movie 300 and thought "Holy shit.  This is going to be the best thing ever."  It was good, but it wasn't the best thing ever, and I was therefore pretty disappointed.  This season was World-Series-or-bust.

I did quite a bit of reflecting today.  Most of that reflection was about Breaking Bad (which happens to be on right now-- I'm waiting for it to be on the internet, and am writing this only as a means of passing an incredibly long hour and change without checking facebook, twitter, reddit, or anything that might have anything to do with being an avenue to pass along spoilers), but there were certainly some thoughts about the season that could have been, the coming offseason, and the 2014 season that still might very well be.

I tried to think back to what was up in my life at this time last year-- I was mostly sitting there ready for some playoff baseball, but was irrationally angry at the Baltimore Orioles for their little facade of being good in 2012, and didn't really have a big woe-is-me attitude.  Fairly surprising.

I dunno-- I guess this is good news: with their loss today, the Jays secured a bottom-10 record in baseball, which means that their first round pick in 2014's draft will be protected, even if they sign a "type-A" free agent, or whatever the fuck I'm supposed to call those these days.  That might not matter, but it might matter.  It makes signing Brian McCann a better idea, as it will only cost a 2nd round pick.  He's the only real target I see the Jays going after out of all the guys who might get qualifying offers.  We can dream about Robinson Cano, I suppose. Neither Matt Garza nor that Tanaka guy from Japan will cost a draft pick.

That means that the Jays will have the 10th and 11th picks in the draft this year, no matter what, thanks to the failure to sign Phil Bickford last year.  This year's draft is apparently quite a bit deeper than last year's, so that's pretty good-- obviously having one extra arm in the system for another year is probably better, since we're taking the player and not the entire draft class, but still; two top 11's is a pretty good lotto ticket.

Beyond that, let's just hope that everybody recovers well over the offseason.  Morrow being 100% would be pretty extravagant.  Bautista, Edwin, Rasmus and Reyes all have 5 months to heal up their various knicks and scratches and come back ready to go.  Buehrle and Dickey are used to the turf or Canada or the Dome or whatever the fuck they had for excuses for the first half of the season, and all the kids are another year older.

This was, in fact, the season from Hell.  It can only get better from here, right?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The End

Everybody!  It's happening!

At some point in the last few hours or days or something, Alex Anthopoulous admitted to reporters that he's not an idiot!  I mean, not in so many words or anything, but he let us know that it's okay at least.

Scott McArthur of TSN wrote this morning that AA told reporters that there was going to be a need for more production from behind the plate:
"Offensively has probably been the one area that I'm surprised by," said Anthopoulos. "One thing you felt confident was J.P. would be a .700 to .720 OPS guy with some upside to do better than that. He's always had the ability, he's got power to the opposite field. He's shown the ability to use all fields and you felt that was probably going to be what the floor was for him. Didn't expect it to go the other way."
So yeah.  Sounds like we're going to have a new catcher to watch next year, or at least Josh Thole will be freed a little more than he has been of late. More likely, I think, is that AA will be looking outside the organization for catching help, and, frankly, I kind of feel like JP wouldn't have been thrown under the bus like this if he were coming back next year.  I'm probably getting ahead of myself here, in that he's probably not going to be non-tendered or released, given what's out there for catching right now, and he's at the absolute nadir of value right now (given that he's made headlines lately for having the worst OBP for someone getting a full season worth of PA's in history, or something?  Only person with 20 HR's and an OPS below .600 in a season, or something?  Yeah.), so I doubt he gets traded either.

Buffalo, I guess?  Even if he's out of options, there's not a huge issue in getting him signed and then DFA'ing him afterwards to open up a roster spot.  If that's how it works.  I mean, B-Ref has him at around replacement level, even with his 57 wRC+ batting contribution.  If you want to upgrade behind the plate, though, there's no room for JP.  The bat doesn't play elsewhere, and Josh Thole is there for R.A. Dickey-related purposes.

So where do we go from here?

I touched, lightly, mind you, on this a few weeks ago, but I don't see a reason not to rehash.  My choices for targets, in no particular order:

Brian McCann is going to be the most expensive, as far as free agents go, coming in at somewhere in the range of 5 years and $80MM, give or take.  It's costly, especially for someone who plays a position with a huge attrition rate, and he doesn't exactly have a sterling health record, but he's pretty good at hitting, and can certainly DH at times (making Adam Lind expendable?  Please?)  McCann is just fair against lefty pitching, and may eventually need to come out from behind the plate full-time.  I doubt the bat plays at 1B/DH under the same contract.  With the dearth of teams looking for catching upgrades, I really don't see McCann's price coming down at all, so he won't even be a bargain.

The Astros are still a couple years away from contending, so I wonder if Jason Castro could be pried away.  Castro is just 26, still have 5 years of team control remaining, and has hit .276/.350/.485 over 491 plate appearances in 2013, good for 4.2 WAR.  He'd probably be pretty expensive, as far as the prospect haul or whatever that goes the other way, and I think the Jays will be more comfortable moving prospects to acquire pitching, given the reduction in top prospects after this past offseason, and the performance of the rotation this season.  Still, Castro is young, has upside, can play both offensively and defensively, and is under team control (i.e. cheap) for a few years.  The Astros are going nowhere for at least another year, and probably more than that, so they could make a move with Castro.  They have Carlos Perez, Max Stassi and Carlos Corporan in their organization at the moment as replacement depth.

If the Brewers wanted to tear everything down and try again, Jonathan Lucroy could be a nice piece.  He is under contract through 2016 (with an option for '17), is beyond competent offensively, and is excellent defensively, being classified as one of the better pitch-framers in the game.  Again, this would cost a lot in terms of (probably) prospects or (less likely) big-league players, but hey, if you're going to do it, do it right.

I think I already pointed this out before, but there's not a whole lot out there in terms of quality catchers, so it's more likely that we'll see a fairly cheap free agent signing, or a minor trade, I suppose, involving a Kurt Suzuki-type guy who, while technically is an upgrade over JP, is still relatively crappy when compared to all catchers.

Not that that's all that much of a bad thing.  Anything is an improvement over the worst thing ever.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

September Call-ups, and 2014

Every September, it's more or less inevitable that someone, somewhere across the league, gets called up and sets the league on fire, at least for a couple of weeks.  Avisail Garcia is hitting .317/.345/.460 since being acquired by the White Sox, and Moises Sierra has more doubles than anybody in baseball since September 1 (I think I heard that somewhere anyway), just looking at examples from last night's Jays-White Sox game.  Invariably, a few weeks of decent production is bound to get a few people excited for no real reason.  I decided that we should have a look at the Blue Jays' September callups from this year and see how they might help out for next year, given that LF and 2B might be a couple of positions to improve upon.

Garcia is actually a legitimate prospect, in that he's 22 years old and has some halfway decent numbers in the minors, even despite the strikeouts.  Moises Sierra, though?  He's 25 as of today, and repeated AAA this year, putting up a rather uninspiring .261/.309/.422 line in Buffalo, over 400+ plate appearances.  His first trip through AAA was a bit better when you adjust for the Las Vegas hitting environment-- .289/.360/.472-- but the point remains the same; when you're old for a league, you should be better than the league.

Sierra's true-talent level might very well be higher than what he's shown over his two years of AAA ball, but there's no way that he's actually someone that should have anything to do with a .297/.363/.495 major league line.  His 131 wRC+ in Toronto is better than any wRC+ at any level in the minors, and it is fueled largely by a .377 babip.

Here's where things get weird though: I expected Sierra's numbers to be largely caused by seeing more time, or at least having a significant production boost, vs. LHP, and sitting more vs. righties.  I don't really know where I'd go to find detailed splits of his minor league numbers over the last couple years, but since coming to Toronto, he's actually handled RHP better.  I assume this is just small-sample noise, but I dunno.  Regardless, what I was expecting to say was that Sierra probably has a future has a 4th outfielder-- maybe a Jonny Gomes type who can mash lefties.  I don't even know if I can say that though.  There's probably a reason that Kevin Pillar was the first call-up when Melky Cabrera went down.

Speaking of Pillar, I don't think we've been given any reason to expect that he'll be around to start next year, if Melky Cabrera happens to either miss time at the start of next year, or if he's moved to DH.  Pillar has hit at every level in the minors, so there's certainly hope, but he looks to be fairly overmatched so far in the bigs.  Things seem to be going alright against lefties (.250/.323/.429) over a small sample, but righty pitching is proving to be a real problem.  He's only had 1400 or so plate appearances as a professional, so there's probably still room to grow, but again, he's 24.

Ryan Goins has impressed with his defensive play so far, and replacement level at 2B is low enough that he can probably offer more than, say, Maicer Izturis, at the keystone.  I'm not sure there's a whole lot that should suggest that Izturis is actually as bad as he's shown in 2013, but it is pretty safe to say that he's lost the 2B job for now, and will need to earn it back if AA doesn't go out and find someone from outside the organization.  Goins' major league numbers, so far, aren't going to blow anybody away (.247/.263/.323, .258 wOBA), and even his minor league ones aren't awe-inspiring.

The thing with Goins is that, depending on who you ask, Goins has been worth somewhere between 0.2 and 1.1 WAR over a 28 game sample, despite that ugly looking wOBA.  Baseball-reference has Goins at +1.1 dWAR, while Fangraphs has him at +5 runs.  I think we all know by now that defensive numbers aren't exactly reliable, at least for a few years, but Goins has certainly passed the eye-test from a defensive point-of-view, and with Fangraphs and B-Ref agreeing, at least to an extent, that Goins is good with the glove... well there could be worse.  Goins hasn't exactly been a huge margin worse than Izturis offensively, and he's mile ahead defensively; I'd hate to say it definitively right now, but I think Ryan Goins can be penciled in as the starting 2B for next year, at least heading in to the offseason.

Finally, Anthony Gose is really only a Blue Jay at the start of next year if Colby Rasmus is no longer around.  He's still 22, and he can't really hit yet.  Stoeten kind of tackled this one yesterday at DJF, wondering if there's going to be a CF-for-SP trade involving the Jays this offseason.  My personal opinion on the matter is that Gose is just fine starting next year at AAA again, and that Rasmus is the best option in CF, but Gose certainly has some trade value if that's the alternative.  Gose has certainly shown signs of being an average-or-so hitter in the minors, if for no other reason than his speed translating to false power.

Stoeten's Michael Bourn comparison is probably a ceiling for Gose, but again, could be worse.  And still, Gose is just a kid, at 22.  He's still young for AAA, and has plenty of room to improve.  Offensively, he's definitely not a major-league quality player.  The other tools will more than make up for that-- he's super fast, has a great arm, and is certainly good enough defensively to play CF.  The big problem is that Colby Rasmus is a free agent after 2014, assuming the Jays don't lock him up.  Gose is the next best option, as far as replacements go.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Doesn't Need to be Painful

So let's review.

  • The season has been over, so to speak, since at least mid-July, if not earlier.
  • Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, and now, perhaps, Edwin Encarnacion are all out for the rest of the year.  Those gentlemen, combined, have been worth 12.3 WAR this season.  They rank 28th, 29th and tied for 30th in the league for position players, per fangraphs.
  • Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow weren't things this year.  They were both supposed to be things, along with R.A. Dickey and Mark Buerhle, but, alas, they weren't.
  • Speaking of Dickey and Buehrle, remember how they've been pretty good lately?  12 earnies over 9.1 over the last two nights.
  • Regardless of expanded rosters, the whole fucking Buffalo team seems to be not only up, but starting every game, and apparently being the shining lights of the last two games.
I reserve the right to add to this, but uhh, we're pretty close to the point where the above video is accurate.

Friday, 6 September 2013

The New Guys

I feel like the fact that the Jays have never really been in any sort of playoff race this year, which has been blamed largely on the starting pitching, and, by association, injuries (Morrow missed pretty much the whole season, Johnson was probably hurt for a lot longer than he'd led on, and fucking Todd Redmond, Chien Ming Wang, Ramon Ortiz and whoever else have made starts this year), has sort of blinded us lately.

Yeah, Johnson was dick.  I'll give you that.   Put a big "X" on the face in the middle there.  I want to talk about Dickey and Buerhle or however the fuck you spell it.  I've been working so much lately that I'm hardly writing anything lately, and thus, haven't had practice writing his name.  In order to perfect anything, you need 10,000 hours of practice and experience, and I just haven't been putting in the time.

Anyway, we'll start with Dickey.  He had a pretty rough first half for the most part, throwing in the odd gem of a start here and there.  Cherry-picking his starts since July 1, Dickey's shown up with a 3.73 ERA.  He's still giving up too many HR's, but I suppose that's bound to happen in a park that is known for giving up a lot of HR's.  Most importantly, I think, is that he's throwing innings, which was one of the big reasons that he was brought in.  Assuming Dickey doesn't get injured or shut down or anything, he'll throw somewhere around 210 innings this year.  More on that in a minute.  I definitely don't think Dickey has been the guy that we were all hoping or expecting him to be, but what we've seen lately has been a lot closer.  Typically, that wouldn't mean a whole lot, but his last two months have been pretty close, performance-wise, to his projected performance heading in to the season, if not a more reasonable version of what we saw the last few years in New York.

As for Mark Buerhle, well, the guy that was brought in to be a "sure-fire, throw 6 innings+ a night 33 times this year, don't get hurt, don't get blown up" kind of guy has been pretty much that, save for a few funky performances early on.  His 3.88 ERA for the season is 0.07 runs above his career mark.  His strikeout rate is up relative to his career norm, though his walkrate is up as well, albeit barely.  Hits and HR's are about the same, and he's thrown 185 innings to this point, with probably four starts left.

Like Dickey, Buehrle is going to best 200 innings this season.  That's going to be 13 seasons and counting of 200+ innings from Buehrle.  The last time the Blue Jays had two guys throw 200+ innings in a season?  AJ Burnett and Roy Halladay, in 2007.

Things haven't gone well for the Jays this year, and there are all kinds of reasons for that.  Dickey and Buehrle were plenty to blame early on, but they've carried their weight nicely over the last few months.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

So You Want a New Catcher?

Something something JP Arencibia.  We all know.  Here's the problem; few upcoming free agent catchers are any good.

Brian McCann is certainly the best one out there, if he's actually available, but he'll probably be expensive and kind of risky.  2012 was rough, and he's missed time this year with injuries.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is probably the next most attractive option, assuming the Red Sox just let him walk, but even then, his production this year seems like a pretty huge outlier (.384 babip, average, OBP and wOBA/wRC+ way above career norms).

Carlos Ruiz is another case that might not actually make it to free agency, given the Phillies' desire to resign all of their old players, but he's missed time due to steroid suspensions and injuries over the last two years, and his 2013 walkrate is sitting at an all-too-familiar 3.5%.  He's also 35.

Kurt Suzuki used to be good, briefly, but his offensive skills have diminished greatly, and he's just fair behind the plate.

Geovany Soto used to be good, briefly, but his offensive skills have diminished greatly, and he's just fair behind the plate.

I'm fully sold on the idea that JPA needs to go, or at least have his role significantly reduced, but I just don't really know what the plan is to replace him.  The state of catching is pretty sad right now, to the point where teams probably can't afford to let go of any of the worthwhile guys listed above (i.e. McCann, Salty and Ruiz), and it's probably not worth the money, let alone the time and effort to pursue the others (i.e. Suzuki and Soto).

Unless someone can finally get through to JPA and get him to tweak that godawful approach, I feel like I'm going to be pining for Travis d'Arnaud for at least a year.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Buffalo Club

During my formative years, or what some would call "College Days", I was graciously introduced to some people that I now, and forever will, call friends.  We got in to all kinds of trouble together and formed a lifelong bond, eschewing a significant percentage of the friendship that we had otherwise formed throughout our childhood.  While we didn't necessarily have a name for our gaggle, we did create an elitist membership token that would allow us to separate ourselves from the heathen masses.

Basically, anyone that was granted access in to our little group for jerks was forced to find a penny, and flush it down a specific toilet.  Until you recovered that penny with insurmountable evidence, you must drink any alcoholic beverage that you consume with your non-dominant hand (i.e. left hand for righties, right hand for lefties. If you claim to be ambidextrous, you're immediately out of the club forever).  If you're caught consuming alcohol with your dominant hand by another member of the group, you were to promptly chug the contents of that cup, glass, bottle, pitcher or can.  This is known as the Buffalo Club.

There are many chapters of the Buffalo Club worldwide, and I'm sure that there are many iterations, regarding rules, gameplay, technique, and entry policy.

In related news, Maicer Izturis has been placed on the 15-day DL, and the Jays will call up Ryan Goins from Buffalo to take his spot on the roster.

That makes Goins, Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar, Todd Redmond, Neil Wagner and kind of Josh Thole and Munenori Kawasaki as potential starters on the Jays who began the year or at least played a significant amount of time in Buffalo, if not lower.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013


I was not pleased with Emilio Bonifacio's performance as a Blue Jay.  I'm glad he's gone.  Call up Muni.

It's cash, or a player to be named later, per MLBTR.

Good, I'm glad.

The Continued Losses of a Lost Season

We're beginning to see the gruesome effects of the nasty combination of raining and pouring here.  Josh Johnson is on the DL, and, at least to some, is becoming less and less likely to receive a qualifying offer from the Jays in the offseason, which is akin to saying that the entire Josh Johnson experiment went about as poorly as possible, given the list of possibilities presented at the start of the year.

"He might be a Cy Young candidate," we said.  "We might extend him," we said.  "At worst, he'll walk in free agency and we'll get a draft pick for him," we said.  I still kind of think that he's going to get a qualifying offer, especially when you consider the free agent starters out there, and there are certainly worse things in the world than having a guy with a career 3.40 ERA, a career 3.32 FIP, a career 8.3 k/9... you can see where this going... on a 1-year deal. Josh Johnson has been a really good pitcher his entire career, except for that year that he wasn't. Which, granted, is this year, which is his most recent year, and thus a very important year to use as evidence from which to form opinions.  I'm getting a little off topic here, but basically, 1 year, $13.8MM or whatever for a guy who has been a really good pitcher throughout his career isn't a disaster.  That's probably a story for another day.

Melky Cabrera hasn't been very good either.  He's been hurt a lot, with those wonky legs holding him back quite a bit, both offensively and defensively.  Even with tempered expectations, he's been a pretty big disappointment.

Brandon Morrow is down and out, and has been for a while now.  Even when he was around, things weren't going well.  He might not be back this year.  He was a borderline ace last year while he was around, and was the hot choice for breakout pitcher of the year.  That went to shit too.

Even the bright spots... Jose Reyes was the only person hitting over the first few weeks of the year, but he got hurt and missed multiple months.

Now we're learning that Colby Rasmus, arguably the best Blue Jay in 2013, will probably miss 15 days or more.  It doesn't matter quite so much, now that the season is definitely over, but it would certainly be nice to see him get as many plate appearances as possible while he's having a great year.  This injury will ultimately save the club a bit of money this offseason (arbitration, counting stats, etc.), but meh.

All these injuries means that Alex Anthopoulos is lefting searching around for people to fill in.  It was once automatic that any outfielder going down would mean that Anthony Gose comes up to fill in.  Lately, the extra roster spot essentially needs to go to a pitcher, since none of the starters can get out of the 5th inning, but beyond that, Gose is hitting like .230 in AAA.

Enter Kevin Pillar.   The 24-year old was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft, and has responded by hitting .321/.366/.466 over his minor league career, including .299/.341/.499 in AAA over 52 games.  He's only played 52 games in AAA because he spent the first half of the season dominating AA.

Any and all scouting reports I've ever seen would suggest that he's nothing overly special-- a lot of Reed Johnson comparisons, which-- I mean, Reed Johnson has been in the league for 11 years, so he's got to be doing something right... .283/.340/.410 is certainly below average for a corner outfielder, but is useful regardless, especially in a situation like this one, where the alternative is to have fucking Emilio Bonifacio in there everyday.

I guess something like a Pillar callup is the only exciting thing to look for at this juncture of the year.  Most teams who are really terrible and totally out of it at this time tend to have some really nice prospects built up that get September callups.  Marcus Stroman is the only other person that I can think of who might be a candidate for something like that, and even then, I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense to add him to the 40-man and start the service clock already.  Still, it would certainly be a lot more exciting than watching Thad Weber or Chien-Ming Wang run out there.

And Christ knows we need something to be excited about.  Esmil Rogers will start against Boston tonight.