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.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Checking in on Adam

A month or so ago, I wrote about the two faces of Adam Lind's season to that point.  We concluded that Lind's play, to that point, wasn't really going to be sustained for long.

Some snippets, and some comments.

In 2010-2012, he hit .246/.296/.428 and walked 99 times over 1400+ plate appearances.
There's a "+" there, which would indicate that it's 99 walks in more than 1400 PA's.  99/1400 is a 7% walkrate.  Since the fairly arbitrary date of June 9th, which was selected in the piece linked above, Lind has walked 13 times in 200 plate appearances, good for 6.5%.

But it's 2013 now, and Adam Lind is good, with a .316/.375/.528 slash line.
Lind is now hitting a still-very-respectable .289/.349/.479.

 As far as quantifiable evidence goes, though, we can see that Lind has a .363 babip on the year, versus a .299 career average, and a 9.3% walk rate, versus a 6.9% career rate. [...]he has a 144 wRC+.
His 2013 babip is down to .323.  The walkrate is still at 9.6%, which is probably helped out quite a bit by 5 walks in 24 August PA's.  wRC+ is down to 125.
 Lind's OBP peaked at .423, June 8th.  From June 9th to present, Lind has walked once, and is batting .268/.274/.537 since.  Sure, that's an .810 OPS
That's the old present.  From June 9th to present, Lind has hit .232/.285/.443.  A .728 OPS.

 Lind had a .387 babip from the start of the year through June 8th.  That's down, slightly, since then to .363.  Since June 9th, Lind's babip is a much more in-line-with-his-career-and-skillset .296
Babip is .260 since June 8, .323 overall.

Finally, platoon splits, then and now.

2013 vs. L: 2.6% BB, 29.9%K, .227/.247/.307, .244 wOBA. .314 babip
2013 vs. R: 11.4 %BB, 17.8 %K, .297/.376/.529, .387 wOBA. .325 babip

Lind is still useful against right-handed pitching, even as his babip has regressed to a more reasonable level.  Lefties though.  Jesus. He's been worse this year than over his career against lefties.

I think it's time, again, to call for the end of the Lind-era in Toronto.  The club options on Lind's contract become available beginning this coming offseason, and honestly aren't absurd, at $7MM for 2014, $7.5MM for 2015, and $8MM for 2016, with varying buyouts.  At $5.5MM per WAR, Lind would only need to be worth about 1.3WAR to be breakeven.  Lind's been worth about 1.1 so far this year, thanks in large part to his unsustainable offensive blip earlier this year.  Platooned correctly, yeah, maybe.  But he was worth -0.9 WAR from 2010-2012, and has been of negative value over the last two months; longer than he's been good.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Brett Lawrie, and Being Alright

Brett Lawrie had a pretty rough start to 2013.

It began with a rib injury that delayed the beginning of his season, and caused him to miss the WBC.  He returned to the lineup two weeks in to the year, to a Jays' lineup that was slumping despite the expectations cast upon them, and didn't get over the Mendoza line until April 26.  He's still yet to get above the .300 OBP mark, but the sample size is still relatively small, at 226 PA's.

Things took another turn when Lawrie sprained his ankle in late May, causing him to miss about 6 weeks.  At the time, Lawrie was hitting .209/.268/.374, with a babip of .240 and a strikeout rate of 23.5% (vs. current .296 and 17.4% rates respectively).  There's probably some kind of correlation between starting the season late and having a big upshoot in strikeout rate, but hey.  I'm not trying to throw a bunch of stock in to babip either, but again, hey.  We can say whatever we need to about a 23 year old suddenly becoming terrible and sustainable/non-sustainable performance.

Once Lawrie returned from his ankle injury, he spent some time playing around in Buffalo, getting some hacks in and trying to straighten everything out.  It's an even smaller sample, but in the 75 plate appearances since returning from the DL, Lawrie is hitting .254/.320/.478, with a 13% strikeout rate, and a .241 babip.

The moral of the story?

Brett Lawrie might never be anyone that isn't a big injury threat all the time, but half a season worth of at-bats, sandwiched between multiple injuries and rehab stats, probably isn't going to do a whole lot to determine what a player is worth.  Sure, Lawrie is a posterchild for ADD, and is probably a prime candidate to be injured at least once a year for the rest of his career, but he's 23 years old, and he's probably going to continue to follow a typical aging curve.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Oh, Okay.

Alex Anthopoulos once traded Vernon Wells, with like four years and $96MM left on his contract.  He's better at this stuff than I am.  I get that.

Alex Anthopoulos is the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, who have a pretty reasonable core of players on the club right now, and have that entire core under contract or team control next year, making big trades this year pretty unnecessary.  I get that too.

The Toronto Blue Jays are infinty games out of a playoff spot with slightly-more-than-that-games left.  They probably need two of those patented eleven game win streaks just to get over the hump that is being in contention in September.  They haven't given up, per se, but they aren't going to even scare another team with regards to the playoffs, making the last week or so a great time to jettison players that aren't going to be on the team anymore.  I think we all get that.

You've got guys like Darren Oliver, Mark DeRosa, Rajai Davis and (hopefully to fuck) Adam Lind, who will be either retiring or at least free agents, and guys like Emilio Bonifacio and JP Arencibia who don't deserve the raises that they're going to get in arbitration.  I'm not saying that all of these guys could have or should have been traded, but there are six guys on the current version of the 25-man roster-- the .467 win-percentage 25-man roster-- that are probably going to turn in to nothing next year.  Not prospects, not organizational depth, not a controllable big league asset, not a high-price contract that doesn't fit in the current market.  Nothing.  Sure, if those six guys, or anybody else on the team, for that matter, is welcome back next year, a good way to let them know that is to not trade them.  I get that.

My issue is that it's got to be a longshot that Darren Oliver comes back for his 25th season or whatever the shit it's going to be.  Mark DeRosa is probably on his way to a retirement pretty soon as well.  Rajai Davis is a free agent and might look to go somewhere that he can play everyday, rather than be blocked by a guy who doesn't appear to have a working leg, let alone two.  Adam Lind has a couple of club options on his contract that are sure to be declined, if there is any mercy in the world.  Emilio Bonifacio and JP Arencibia are replacement level players, but will not be paid as such next season.  These are all guys that should have been shopped as potential rentals for teams with gaping holes, yet none of them were traded.  I don't get that.

To cheer up, read this.  It's awesome.