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.

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