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1. Should we even bother?

Of course, don't be silly.

2. Why?

Well, it's baseball. If you're into that.

3. How bad is it going to be?

This is the year of No Expectations. The local nine has been written off by all and sundry. For once, not even any of the people around the team are talking about anything so outlandish as actually, you know, contending this season. After all - they've lost A.J. Burnett, and to a division rival. And Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan are both on the shelf and may not contribute anything this season. None of these things can be seen as actually helping the team. But...

4. What does that actually mean?

Pitchers not named Roy Halladay or Jesse Litsch started 101 games for Toronto in 2008. They went 38-33, 4.13 and worked 605 innings, allowing 297 runs. That's pretty darn good (your average AL starter has a 4.45 ERA.) Let's assume this year's crew can't match that.

5. What's the worst that could happen?

Suppose the kids are not all right. Suppose Ricky Romero isn't at all ready for prime time, and gives the team about 110 innings with an ERA over 6.00 - it's ugly enough for the team to send him Las Vegas and give Casey Janssen a look. Casey's not a whole lot better, alas, but he does manage to get his ERA below about 5.50 in a dozen or so starts. That is  at least marginally better than what they get from Scott Richmond, who makes about 20 starts while going back and forth to the bullpen and AAA, and posts an ERA of 5.56 while he's at it. Brad Mills gets a look and posts a 5.82 ERA in 10 starts, and at some point Brett Cecil is called upon as well only to get hammered in half a dozen starts. And as for David Purcey, he stays in the rotation all year long, and almost gets his ERA below 5.00. Almost, but not quite.

To recap:

Purcey, 33 starts, 190 IP, 5.02 ERA
Richmond, 19 starts, 110 IP, 5.56 ERA
Romero, 19 starts, 102 IP, 6.35 ERA
Janssen, 14 starts, 72 IP, 5.38 ERA
Mills, 10 starts, 51 IP, 5.82 ERA
Cecil, 6 starts, 26 IP, 6.58 ERA

6. Is that ugly enough for you?

I hope so. The upshot is that rather than allowing 297 runs in 605 innings, the new starters allow 364 runs in 551 innings. That's 67 more runs, which is a lot. And just for the hell of it, let's assume Halladay and Litsch aren't as good as they were last year. We'll keep the innings the same, but give Doc an extra 14 earned runs (brings his ERA up to 3.33) and we'll give Litsch another 19 earned runs (brings his ERA all the way up to 4.47); which means that the starters as a group will allow exactly 100 more runs in 2009 than they did in 2008. With a collective ERA of 4.81, they will be a below-average group.

7. Is that what's going to happen?

Maybe. It's just that - doesn't it seem like a lot of things have to go wrong for this nightmare to play itself out? A lot of things? And even if it happens, and they do give up 100 runs more than last year... then they'll give up about as many runs as they score, and we should expect something like 80-82 or 81-81 from this team.

Remember, the Jays have a bit of margin to work with. The 2008 Jays outscored their opponents by 104 runs, dysfunctional offense and all. Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench and all. And there's no shortage of reasons to think the offense might even be a wee bit better in 2009.

8. Gosh. Well, then. Do we dare... hope?

Always. Got to play 'em, might as well win 'em.

9. Seriously?

What if it's not as bad as I've just fantasized? And my nightmare scenario of the starters allowing an additional 100 runs only sees the team falling to the point where it would still be reasonable to expect a .500 season even without any improvement from the offense.

I don't actually know that Travis Snider and Adam Lind are going to be better than Matt Stairs and Brad Wilkerson. But I think they've got a chance. I'll think about that tomorrow. For now, let's suppose the starting pitching doesn't fail in such a spectacularly awful fashion. Let's make it marginally better. Let's pencil in:

Purcey, 33 starts, 192 IP, 4.69 ERA
Richmond, 19 starts, 110 IP, 5.07 ERA
Romero, 19 starts, 102 IP, 5.65 ERA
Janssen, 14 starts, 72 IP, 4.88 ERA
Mills, 10 starts, 51 IP, 5.12 ERA
Cecil, 6 starts, 26 IP, 5.19 ERA

Nothing to write home about, just a little bit better. While we're at it, we'll also shave 16 runs from Halladay and Litsch, giving them ERAs of 3.03 and 4.16. Not as good as last season, but not bad. This group has allowed 50 more runs than the 2008 squad. If the rest of the team performs at a 2008 level, which isn't asking for very much at all, lord knows - well, a team that scores 714 runs and allows 660 should go about 87-75.

The Jays spend the first six weeks of the season outside the division, which means that the young pitchers can get their feet wet without immediately being thrown to the Yankees and Red Sox. So what if they score 40 or 50 more runs than they did last season?

And what if one - just one - of the kids actually steps up? (Personally, I'd bet on the guy who had the 1.54 ERA this spring.)

My oh my. It must be spring...
A Few Questions About the 2009 Blue Jays | 44 comments | Create New Account
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Glevin - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 07:11 AM EDT (#197781) #
"The 2008 Jays outscored their opponents by 104 runs, dysfunctional offense and all. Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench and all. And there's no shortage of reasons to think the offense might even be a wee bit better in 2009."

Their offense will almost certainly be better and not by a little bit. However, one thing that is bound to be worse (besides the starting) is the bullpen. Relievers in general are difficult to predict as they fluctuate much more year to year than other players. (R. Betencourt 's ERA went from 1.47 to 5.07 and Rafael Perez's ERA went up two runs just in Cleveland last year). Even without the recent injuries, the Jays were just not going to repeat the same kind of numbers. Also, while Hill back is an upgrade defensively, the rest of the team has declined defensively evenn if not by a lot so offense is really the only place where the Jays can reasonably be expected to improve. (It's an important place though.) No expectations though and it should be a fun year. ( I hope!)
Dave Till - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 08:10 AM EDT (#197782) #
Nice article. You have succeeded in doing what I did not think was possible: you have given me some reason to be optimistic about the 2009 season.

Honesty compels me to point out that the worst-case scenario could be even worse than you envision. An ERA of 6.50 is bad enough, but what if one or more of the new starters totally melts down and posts an ERA of 10+ after five starts? Unfortunately, that's as likely as one of the kids suddenly reaching the 3.50 ERA level.

And there's always the possibility that Rogers might bail out on the team and dump salaries. (Ken Rosenthal, I believe it was, predicted that the Jays will deal Halladay by midsummer: he predicts that the Jays will crash and burn, attendance will go into the tank, and the Jays won't be able to afford to keep anybody expensive. A pox on him.)

Anyway, the week before Opening Day is not the time to be pessimistic. There'll be plenty of time for that later on, if needed.

Pistol - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 08:53 AM EDT (#197783) #
One thing I think may be overlooked is the bullpen.  They were considerably better than everyone else in baseball (2.94 ERA... the Phillies were second at 3.22, and middle of the pack is a little over 4).

Can that be repeated?  I think that's pretty optimistic even if the starters were the same as last year.  Just having less luck will knock things down, and a lot of relievers are hit or miss year to year.  Plus, if the starters aren't pitching as many innings this year that's going to put more strain on the pen as they'll need to pitch more, and more often.  That team ERA can rise pretty quick with a tired bullpen.



Richard S.S. - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 09:10 AM EDT (#197784) #

April 6-9: Toronto plays Detroit - pitching staff doesn`t compare.  April 10-12: Cleveland`s pitching staff isn`t that good.  April 13-16: Baker, Mauer and Bonzer start on the D.L.  April 17-19: Oakland starts with Duchscherer and Devine on the D.L.  April 20: 1st Day Off.  April 21-23: Texas pitching still isn`t very good.  April 24-26: Chicago really didn`t get better.  April 27-30: K.C. will be K.C.   May 1-3:  Baltimore is not better than Toronto.  May 4-5: Cleveland again.  May 6-7: L.A. Angels start the season with Lackey, Santana and Escobar on the D.L.  May 8-10: Oakland again.  May 11: 2nd Day Off. 

May 12-30: Toronto plays their first 9 of 72 A.L. East games.  Fortunately or unfortunately, A-Roid may or may not have rejoined his team by this time.  Snider replaces the disaster that occuppied Left Field.  Scutaro is an upgrade at Short Stop.  Lind will give much better offence at D.H.  Barrett will give better offence than Zaun.  To expect poorer offence this season does not make sense.  How Cito handles this team will determine whether the team wins 75 or 95.  The pitching will be alright. 

leisl - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#197787) #
Wow, this seems like the first year in a while where the Jays aren't playing the Yankees and Red Sox for half the month of April and dashing all hopes instantly
Jdog - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 10:14 AM EDT (#197789) #
I am not sure why everyone seems to think that playing the Yanks and Sox is what kills the Jays. They generally play those two teams fairly tough. Last year if i remember correctly it was the Rays who ended up killing the jays all year, and in previous years it has just been Jays not beating up on the light weight teams in the AL.
John Northey - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 10:50 AM EDT (#197790) #
Well, last year the pen threw 425 innings allowing 148 runs.  The worst pen in baseball (Texas) threw 572 2/3 innings allowing 360 runs.  So a complete and total meltdown would add 212 runs to the runs allowed and knock the Jays down by 21 games approximately (10 runs = 1 win as a rule of thumb).  Middle of the road is the Cubs at 495 2/3 innings and 252 runs = 104 more runs allowed = about 10 fewer wins or shifting the Jays to the 70-77 win area given the figures above.

Just something to think about - that for the Jays to fall to sub-70 wins (ala the Rays every year but last) the pen has to go from aces to sub-average and the kids have to suck and Halladay/Litsch have to be worse than last year and the offense has to be no better than last year. 

Mike Green - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 11:10 AM EDT (#197791) #
As for the pen, I'd start here. Camp, Downs, Carlson, Tallet, League, Ryan and Frasor had a FIP of about 3.4. The team defence was above average, and you'd expect the bullpen ERA to be a little better than the bullpen FIP. Carlson was the only "out of the blue" surprise.  I'd expect that he and Ryan will be significantly worse.  Downs is not terribly likely to post an ERA around 2 again.  On the other hand, Camp, League and Frasor may all be (at least superficially) better.

It's funny.  People often explain teams overperforming Pythagorean projections by the strength of their pen.  It didn't happen that way for the Jays in 08.
Parker - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 11:24 AM EDT (#197792) #
I think if they have trouble finding major league-calibre pitching to stick in the 3-5th rotation slots, the bullpen regresses to the mean, the offense improves slightly, and they manage to underperform their Pythagorean expectations again, the Jays might conceivably lose 90 games this year.

I hate to be a bigger buzzkill than Buzz Killington, but if everything goes right, do the Jays have even an outside chance at the Wild Card this year?  The Yankees could collapse with age, Boston could have their whole starting rotation on the DL, and Tampa could bounce off the Plexiglass, but even so, do the Jays have a shot?  Some combination of two out of those three teams would probably still be better than the Jays.  I guess stranger things have happened, though

Personally, I'm excited about this season BECAUSE of the low expectations.  There's an (albeit slim) chance the Jays could be a dark horse, or at the very least play spoiler to some team I hate.  Go Jays!

johnny was - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 11:32 AM EDT (#197793) #
"April 6-9: Toronto plays Detroit - pitching staff doesn`t compare.  April 10-12: Cleveland`s pitching staff isn`t that good..."

This sort of thinking, the farmer's almanac approach to looking at the schedule, is a mug's game.  There was a lot of talk last year about the Jays' relatively easy early sched and how they'd get off to a quick start, but then the A's, Royals and Rays ran circles around them to the tune of a 11-17 record at the end of April.  All I know is that the Jays are going to have to take it one game at a time, stay within themselves, give 110% and so on and so forth.
Mike Green - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 11:40 AM EDT (#197794) #
The other problem with this analysis is that the division is likely stronger overall this year than last.  With the unbalanced schedule, that makes a significant difference.  Last year the division as a whole was almost 30 games over .500; this year it might be 35.
Gerry - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 11:51 AM EDT (#197795) #
There is one other thing, the Jays have underperformed expectations for many years now.   This was the year to under-expect and over-deliver.  Magpie you are ruining my under-performing fantasy, you should have kept it under wraps.
ramone - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 11:55 AM EDT (#197796) #

Baseball Prospectus has an article up regarding their prediction for the ten worst teams in baseball for this year.  They have the jays at 22 on the list, saying what has mostly already been said including the uncertainty of the 3-5 starters, predicting regression for the bullpen and again citing Wells and now Rios with contracts that are worth superstar money for players who aren't superstars.  They predict the jays record to be 76-86.  Here is their ranking of their bottom ten teams:

30:Padres                                                                                                                                                                                                          

29: Pirates

28: Astros

27: White Sox

26: Orioles

25: Nationals

24: Royals

23: Tigers

22: Blue Jays

21: Mariners

Mylegacy - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 12:06 PM EDT (#197797) #
All this..."last year we scored so and so the bullpen did so and so the starters shone like "bats piss in a sea of darkness" and so and so..." means squat, zero, nada, zilch and kerplunk.

Last year with their Holinesses AJ, Marcum and McGowan and the Saintly Pen we finished 11 games out of the AL East and 9 games out of the Wild Card. This year we need Purcey to do what he did last year + make some of AJ's real good starts. We need Romero to be Marcum and we need Richmond to be McGowan. Odds of that happening? Slim to Long - and I have it on good authority that Slim just left town on a Greyhound Bus for points unknown. While there is NO question (very little question...some question...a possible question) that our offense is going to KICK BUTT BIG TIME - there is no guarantee that Wells already sore wrist will hold out, that Roeln's "miracle" swing might become a Spring Training Mirage, that Overbay's 3 hernia operations might take a toll all season and his new "hand stretcher" might not be from Lourdes but from WalMart. There is also the possibility that Rios could sleep walk through to September and that Snider could find that being 250 pounds and chasing balls in the corner for 6 months is harder than it looked through his rose colored glasses.

Did I mention that the Yankees have this AJ guy and this CC guy and a first baseman that hits like God? Did I mention that Ortiz's wrist looks improved and that Pedroia and the Youkester are filthy good and that the Sox have improved their Pen? Did I mention that the Rays are so young they're not allowed to play night games after 5 pm and they have SENT TO THE MINORS a pitcher who is 11 years old (give or take) and might be as good as Halladay is NOW?

Now...having said all that you might think I'm not too optimistic - you'd be WRONG - my Psychiatrist says I'm an incurable optimist. The REAL problem this year is that it's a 162 game MARATHON and in a Baseball Marathon - pitching (with reasonable hitting - and last year our hitting smelled) WINS. Good pitching stops good hitting - over the long haul.

The ONLY way we're a factor this year is IF at least two of Cecil, McGowan and or Janssen are up by early May and the two that come up are as good as I think they MIGHT BE. Our odds this year of getting to 82 wins just under 50% - our odds of getting to the playoffs just over 25%. Our odds of beating Boston or the Yanks JUST WHEN THEY NEEDED a big win - 100% and that will be PRICELESS.

The second I finish this entry I head off to Vancouver, then to Toronto, then to opening day at the Rogers Rounders Grounds. I'll have my laptop so I'll be able to follow the Box as you all froth at the mouth about our upcoming 100 game winning season. Wish it were so.

Gentlemen - start your engines!

jerjapan - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#197798) #

Great article Magpie.

While I definitely count myself in the sceptical camp on the Box, I believe there are genuine reasons for optimism that you have outlined, and the beauty of baseball is that there's always an unexpected success story or two.  And while you refuse to play God and predict the future when you say:

 I don't actually know that Travis Snider and Adam Lind are going to be better than Matt Stairs and Brad Wilkerson. But I think they've got a chance.

I myself am not as judicious as you, and I will state that Travis Snider and Adam Lind will, unequivicolly, be better than Stairs, Wilkerson and Mench.  That, plus the rest of the rookies, is reason enough to watch this year!

TamRa - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#197799) #
4. What does that actually mean?

Pitchers not named Roy Halladay or Jesse Litsch started 101 games for Toronto in 2008. They went 38-33, 4.13 and worked 605 innings, allowing 297 runs. That's pretty darn good (your average AL starter has a 4.45 ERA.) Let's assume this year's crew can't match that.


Without touching on Doc and Jessie, lets take those 605 innings and say that whoever pitches them, collectively, gives up 400 runs. that would be a 5.95 collective ERA.

That give away our total run differential from last year. If you would like to shave, say 20 of those runs to Doc and Jesse that would mean the Replacements have a collective ERA of 5.65. That assumes the starters plus whatever relief innings go into taking up the difference in what the bad starters post as opposed to what the good ones did...so if our pen is similar to last year the relievers should have a downward drag on that ERA meaning the "bad starters" ERA is more like 5.80 or some such.

I, for one, don't think it's REMOTELY likely that an amalgamation of Purcey, Janssen, Cecil, Mills, Richmond, and Romero (and possibly Clement) will agregate to that level. (unless the Jays just stubbornly stick with Romero all year in the face of a 7+ ERA or something)

But for the sake ofthe speculation - I'll play along.

It CAN'T be WORSE than that - and I'll go ahead and postulate the offense CAN'T be WORSE than 2008 - so bottom line, on pythag at least, this team CAN'T be WORSE than .500ish

Now, I'll wager the team will score more runs, possibly noteably more, than last year. But I'll postulate one extra run every three games, for a +54 differential. And a total number of runs that would have still been only 10th in the AL last year.

that's (a pythag of) 87 wins.

And that's IF the pitching is as bad as we fear it is but the offense improves just to an ordinary level.

this team in NOT that bad folks. If we get a collective 5.22 out of the "other three" slots, and the same results from Doc and Jesse along with that offensive performance we'd be looking at the same pythag as 2008.

So I'd make the range of expectations 82 wins on the low end, 92 on the high end, and about 87 for a mean.
Barring a radical departure from pythag like last year.

More to come in a bit.

Matthew E - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 02:32 PM EDT (#197800) #

It CAN'T be WORSE than that - and I'll go ahead and postulate the offense CAN'T be WORSE than 2008 - so bottom line, on pythag at least, this team CAN'T be WORSE than .500ish

I think Bill Cosby said it best when he said, "Never challenge Worse."

TamRa - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 03:20 PM EDT (#197801) #
Jays relievers who should be in the majors during this year, their 2008 ERA as a reliever, their IP/ER from 2008 and what it would be in 2009 if they got 20% more innings and had an ERA one full run higher (as close as possible mathmatically) than their 2008 rate:

Ryan - 2.95 - 58 / 19 - 70 / 31 - 3.99
Downs - 1.78 - 70.2 / 14 - 85 / 26 -2.75
Carlson - 2.25 - 60 / 15 - 72 / 26  -3.25
Tallett - 2.88 - 56.1 / 18 - 67.2 / 29 - 3.86
Frasor - 4.18 - 47.1 / 22 - 57 / 33 - 5.21
Camp - 4.12 - 39.1 / 18 - 47 / 27 - 5.17
League - 2.18 - 33 / 8 - 40 / 14 - 3.15
Wolfe - 2.45 - 22 / 6 - 26 / 10 - 3.46
Accordo - sample size issues

totals - 2.79 - 387 / 120 -  465 / 196 - 3.79

so that's +76 against our differential, and 78 IP off of that 605 innings. So - if I'm doing this right - in order for the collective ERA over those 605 innings to be 5.95 as i suggested in my last post, the "other three" starting slots would account for 322 runs in 527 IP, or an ERA of 5.50 collectively.

So even a serious regression by the pen - albeit not a total collapse - doesn't affect my previous conclusions enough to matter. Especially when you consider that if Frasor and/or Camp went that far south their innings would likely go to Accardo or Wolfe or even someone from the minors.

I'm still pretty confident in my earlier conclusion.


TamRa - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#197802) #
The other problem with this analysis is that the division is likely stronger overall this year than last.  With the unbalanced schedule, that makes a significant difference.  Last year the division as a whole was almost 30 games over .500; this year it might be 35.

I wonder about that conclusion. Yes the Yankees will win more (presumably) but the Rays will lose at least that many more.

2008 -
Tampa - 97
Boston - 95
NY - 89
Toronto - 86
Baltimore - 68

total wins - 435

Reasonable guess about 2009 -

Boston - 95
NY - 94
Tampa - 90
Toronto - 86
Baltimore - 70

total wins - 435



TamRa - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#197803) #
Here is their ranking of their bottom ten teams:

Any prediction that has us worse than the Mariners is VERY suspect on the surface..


Mike Green - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#197804) #
Of course, the offence could be worse.  Marco Scutaro might show signs of age or get hurt and John McDonald could get 300-400 at-bats.  Aaron Hill might not hit as well as Joe Inglett did last year.  Vernon Wells' injuries might cause him to have a season like 2007.

I don't think that it is likely that the club will score fewer runs, but it certainly is possible.

85bluejay - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#197805) #

You keep dreaming with your PYTHAG wins - I tend to put more stock in ACTUAL wins  - That's why they play the game.

In addition to Baseball Prospectus, Ken Rosenthal has listed the JAYS in the NO HOPE division of his predictions.

I will enjoy following the jays this year - no expectations -   no delusions - enjoying the youngsters -  awaiting the new President & GM

 

 

TamRa - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 03:57 PM EDT (#197806) #
Last year with their Holinesses AJ, Marcum and McGowan and the Saintly Pen we finished 11 games out of the AL East and 9 games out of the Wild Card. This year we need Purcey to do what he did last year + make some of AJ's real good starts. We need Romero to be Marcum and we need Richmond to be McGowan.

I totally disagree with this outlook.

Lat year we finished 11 games behind an overachieving team while seriously underachieving. By all rights the Jays and Rays should have been virtually tied.

And that with a VERY sucky offense. So first of all you are under-rating how good we were last year.

Second, the Jays last year lost significant time from both Marcum and McGowan last year and if you don't include the results of those starts, you don't have an accurate representation of the situation.

The Jays had 101 games started last year by someone other than Doc or Jessie. in those 101 games, the starters collectively posted an ERA of 4.07 (as opposed to the collective ERA of 3.92 of the "Big Three") That's the comparison for the Replacements.

Now, if we were to assume that the Jays collective ERA for starters fell all the way to the league median, and that we lost the number of innings I assumed in my previous post to the bullpen because the starters didn't hold up for as many IP (78) then:

Doc and Jesse (JL pro-rated to 32 starts) = 65 starts, 446 IP, 156 ER, 3.11 ERA
All others: 97 starts, 497 IP, 5.34 ERA

Total - 943 IP, 451 ER, 4.30 ERA

(conincidentally, if you add the extra runs I gave the pen and the extra runs in this rotation, that's 105 more runs than we gave up last year, against a differential of 104)

Are we to assume that the Replacements can't, collectively, hit at least 5.34 (giving us an essentially league average staff)?

I don't assume that.

TamRa - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#197807) #
Another log on the fire, after Cito took over the team went 51-37 (.580, which by the way works out to 94 wins which is very close to what pythag suggested)

how did they do it?

hitters OPS after Cito was hired in 2008:

Wells - .892
Rios - .876
Lind - .792
Rolen - .777 (.882 after the DL in a somewhat small sample)
Overbay - .775


We get something like that performance out of those five, plus something reasonable from Snider and Hill, that's not an all-star lineup but it'll produce considerably more runs than 2008.

And that's with other busy hitters posting .751 (Inglett) .714 (Scoot), .622 (RB), .736 (Stairs), .539, (Wilky), .503 (Zaun), .694 (Eckstien), and .721 (Mench) which apart from Mighty Joe is a sad, sad group.

So, you say, they must have done it with pitching....

Doc - 2.54 (19 starts)  - Do again?
AJ - 3.12  (18 starts)
Jesse - 3.47 (15 starts) - Do again?
M&M - 4.30 (14 starts) - Purcey can?
others - 5.09 (23 starts) - Janssen or Cecil can?

So what we lose on pitching in this comparison is the difference in what AJ did and what the other replacement can do. Even if that's two full runs in ERA for a guy who throws 180 innings that's only 40 runs different which the improved offense could balance.
Of course there's no guarantee that players will do this year what the did for over half a year down the stretch last year - but they CAN (outside the allowance for the downgrade in AJ's turn)


mathesond - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#197808) #
"All I know is that the Jays are going to have to take it one game at a time, stay within themselves, give 110% and so on and so forth."

Brilliant, Johnny
SaskJays - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#197809) #

"When somebody says they almost pulled a muscle, how do you almost pull a muscle? What's a twinge or a tweak? I tweaked my hammy. What does that mean, you tweaked your hammy? I don't understand that. Maybe I'm not smart enough. Either you pull a hammy or you don't. If you're worried about getting hurt, then we're in for a long season." - Charlie Manuel on the psychology of the modern professional ball player

TamRa - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 04:40 PM EDT (#197810) #
You keep dreaming with your PYTHAG wins - I tend to put more stock in ACTUAL wins  - That's why they play the game.

If you had put stock in "actual" wins this time last year you'd have been excited about the Upcoming seasons of the Diamondbacks and mariners based on their actual wins in 2007.

It's not a perfect system, obvviously....but many quote it specifically because it has been a solid predictor of success.

There IS such a thing as bad luck and it DOES tend to even out over time (not to say that you get "karma" and get good breaks to make up for the bad,  just to say that almost never does a team have "bad luck" EVERY season)

TimberLee - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#197811) #

Thanks for this little analysis . It's  nicely done as it manages to steer somewhere between realistic and optimistic. And the timing is perfect because it's helping psych me up for the season.

 Is Mag related to Felix?

robertdudek - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#197812) #
I disagree with the sentiment that the Jays seriously underachieved last year.

It is true that in pythag terms they underachieved. But I think many of the players on the club overachieved. I'm looking first and foremost at the bullpen. Then I look at guys like Joe Inglett and Vernon Wells (when he was playing). And Roy Halladay was ridiculously good. So was, relative to talent level, Jesse Litsch.

Some people will talk about injuries, but the truth is that the Yankess were hurt by key injuries to Wang and Posada (for whom they had no adequate replacements), the non-development of Hughes and Kennedy and Melky, and the down year of Robinson Cano. You can't count on those kind of things happening again.

As for outlook this year: a .500 record will be a daunting task, as all the teams in the division have improved. Baltimore will shortly add future superstar Wieters to an already decent offense, and Matusz and Tillman could shore up the rotation in the second half. The Rays overachieved last year, but they will also have Price to boost their overall talent level. The Red Sox, of course, already possessed the most talent in the division and have added veteran "stopgaps" Penny and Smoltz. They have so much pitching talent that they currently have no use for Buchholz or Bowden, two guys that could easily be #2 starters in the Jays rotation. And the Yankees have added a few players you might have heard of.

But I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Cecil, more than any other Jays pitching prospect since Halladay. PECOTA has him down for 118.1 IP, 44 W, 109 K and a 3.54 ERA. I am also looking forward to seeing whether Snider is going to be a superstar, or merely very good.

Add in Halladay, Wells, and Rios and there is plenty of reason to watch the Jays try to fight the league to a standstill.
 


westcoast dude - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#197813) #
Allow me to be sarcastic just once and I promise never to be so inclined again. Blue Jays will win an extra 20 games this season over last because there is nobody named John Gibbons or Ernie Whitt in the vicinity, not to mention the third base coach who single handedly cost the team at least three wins. Frank Thomas is gone and forgiven, but not forgotten.  Thank uou, I feel better already. On the plus side, Romero is good. How good? Maybe King Felix good. Maybe 18 wins good and that would be the Burnett difference.  In summation: 95 wins.  Playoffs.
brent - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 07:14 PM EDT (#197814) #

This is going to be a great season to sit back and enjoy. I really can't wait to see what the team has in all of these young starters and starters to come. I just hope that they can keep them healthy and avoid major injuries like TJ surgery and torn muscles. BTW if Barrett works out, that is going to be a real steal for the Jays because of that second year option the team has on him.

Glaus     Rolen

-1.2         13.3

1.7           12.5

5.2           5.7

These are their fielding values for the past three years. Are scorers in St.Louis over-valuing players or is Toronto under-valuing? Glaus had his career year last season apparently and Rolen had his worst. This means that the Jays fielders could be better than we think they are (possibly ^^)

Mylegacy - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 07:34 PM EDT (#197815) #

Well, I made it from Nanaimo to the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel - fly tomorrow at 10 AM to TO!

Delighted to see so many Jays Fanatics drinking the koolaide. Pour me a glass! On the Ferry to Vancouver I got thinking about the rotation vs last year - I NOW think that the only BAD loss is AJ and that IF Purcey plays to the level he could - we just might surprise. NO QUESTION that Cecil or Mills and/or Janssen HAS to FORCE his/their way up by late April.

Offensively - I expect Rolen and Hill to be BIG improvements over last year. I expect Lind to grow into his manstrength. I expect Snider to hit 280/330/560 with 100 RBI's and 30+ taters.

Somehow just one double scotch in the Hotel Pub has me seeing the world in a much more mellow way. Now - bartender -er - make it another double - single malt of course. Eighteen year old Glenfiddich - yes that would be fine!

Magpie - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 08:48 PM EDT (#197816) #
what if one or more of the new starters totally melts down and posts an ERA of 10+ after five starts?

Someone else will get a shot. Gaston's patience with starters struggling out of the gate is notoriously limited. Ask Mike Flanagan or Denis Boucher.
Dewey - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 09:11 PM EDT (#197817) #
Nice piece about Doc in the New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/sports/baseball/05halladay.html

Mylegacy - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 09:48 PM EDT (#197818) #
Dewey - you've underestimated that article - It's wonderful, absolutely fantastic - just like Doc.
Magpie - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 10:00 PM EDT (#197819) #
I'll second that. I especially enjoyed this observation:

Learning that the worst E.R.A. for a pitcher throwing at least 50 innings belongs to the great Roy Halladay is like opening Mozartís desk drawer and discovering the worst sonata in history.

Here's the link, I hope
Magpie - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#197820) #
Meh. Darn Firefox 3...
Dewey - Friday, April 03 2009 @ 10:24 PM EDT (#197822) #
I like the NYT baseball coverage in general, though of course it's predominantly Yanks and Mets.  Often there's an interesting 'general interest' item about the game that *is* interesting.

I'm curious, MyLegacy, (hey, that's too long to type:  from now on you're legs.) are you keyboarding your hotel-room comments on a new MacBook Pro, or did you slide back into the PC murk?

TamRa - Saturday, April 04 2009 @ 12:02 AM EDT (#197829) #
A set of Spring Training numbers for you:

.417 - .533 - .889 - 1.422

It fascinates me that the Jays online fan base drools long and loud over the (supposedly)  under-appreciated Jason lane has next to nothing to say about the author of that line:

Behold the Greatness of Scott Rolen.

(Yes I know ST numbers don't prove anything but if folks can pimp for lane I can certainly crow about Rolen in the same context)
along about June the lineup will probably be:

Scoot
Hill
Rios
Wells
Snider
Rolen
Lind
Barrett
Overbay

Which I think is going to be a rocking lineup




ANationalAcrobat - Saturday, April 04 2009 @ 12:39 AM EDT (#197830) #
Thanks for the link, Dewey. Enjoyed that piece.

Here's a passage from the April 3 edition of the Globe that I found interesting:

Halladay, 31, who went 20-11 last season with a 2.78 ERA, made it clear he wants no part in mentoring the younger charges. "I've never been a huge fan of mentoring," said Halladay, a steely competitor who prefers his own private space within the often boisterous Blue Jays clubhouse. "I feel like you should be learning together as teammates," he added. "Any time you get caught up in mentoring, you may lose sight of what you're supposed to be doing and the job at hand."

It's pretty much what you'd expect from Halladay and there is no way it can be held against him. It's just interesting.

SheldonL - Saturday, April 04 2009 @ 01:19 AM EDT (#197831) #
To me, Doc is the best pitcher on the planet and more so, the best there has ever been.
I realize that on the basis of statistics, people could pull out seasons by Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Schilling, Smoltz and so on that make Halladay's pale in comparison, but here's why I think he's better:

Halladay has just as much talent and stuff as these guys and any before him. He could dominate hitters by striking them out just as these pitchers and other greats have, but what sets him apart is his efficiency.
He realizes that pitching to contact is a form of dominance in itself, and that ability to pitch into the 8th inning on just over 100 pitches is a feat in itself.
He realizes the importance of his pitching deep into games and he realizes that he can work more efficiently by inducing grounders.

That's something that stats cannot take into account in deciding his worth in comparison to the all-time greats. Yes, you may argue that GB% vs. FB% takes care of that but that is just a smidgeon of the whole story.

Doc's awesome! I just hope that we keep him until the end of his career which I think could very well stretch out into his early 40's like Maddux!

As for Doc's introversion/lack of teaching, well, quite frankly, the media has wrongly labelled him as teacher... as a guy who pulls young pitchers under his wing. It has never been the case. Doc has experienced the failures of major league pitching and his ascension to the majors taught him the importance of conditioning and practice, and he takes that very seriously.
Pitchers like Burnett have seen this intensity in training and have tried to emulate him.
Doc's never been a teacher in the traditional sense but people learn just by watching/being around him.

His quote is perfectly honest and quite right!
Why should Doc help people around him when there's no commitment to team and teammates anymore (on the same token, there's no commitment on the team's part toward players!) as a case is seen in Burnett. He passed on $11 mil a year for two more seasons to sign with the hated division rival for more money. Why should Doc help a guy like that or guys who are generally taught to emulate people like Burnett's contractual practices.
Note that I'm not saying who's right or wrong here... I'm merely explaining Halladay's perspective.

So, keep doing what you're doing, Halladay! You're doing me and all the Jays fans proud!
sduguid - Saturday, April 04 2009 @ 01:27 AM EDT (#197832) #
SheldonL - I think you've misinterpreted the whole scenario regarding Halladay not "mentoring" young pitchers.  I think it is more of a case of him preferring to lead by example in a quiet fashion.  I don't get the sense that it has anything to do with him not liking the way other pitchers act or anything to do with commitment on the part of others.  Nor do I think it has anything to do with a guy like Burnett going elsewhere for more money.


As for Halladay being one of the best if not the best ever - I have to say I disagree with that as well.
I love Halladay as much as the next guy - he's my favourite Jay ever and has made the team worth watching for years but I'd say there are clearly a number of pitchers who have been in a class above him.  I don't think I need to get into a list at this point.  If Halladay has another 10 brilliant seasons - maybe you mention him in the upper tier of all time.

Nolan - Saturday, April 04 2009 @ 03:07 AM EDT (#197834) #
Learning that the worst E.R.A. for a pitcher throwing at least 50 innings belongs to the great Roy Halladay is like opening Mozartís desk drawer and discovering the worst sonata in history.

A couple days ago there was a thread on BTF discussing an article that opined that Mozart would have never lowered himself to something as childish as a toothpaste jingle.  One of the posters took up the challenge presented by this asserting and came up with this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leck_mir_den_Arsch_fein_recht_sch%C3%B6n_sauber

Sorry about the link...I don't think I've tried to link anything here since this site was revamped.  Anyway, go and take a look, you will not be disappointed.

grjas - Saturday, April 04 2009 @ 12:07 PM EDT (#197845) #
"I think you've misinterpreted the whole scenario regarding Halladay not "mentoring" young pitchers.  I think it is more of a case of him preferring to lead by example in a quiet fashion. "

Exactly right. Look no further than AJ for the impact of Halladay's quiet leadership. Couple that with Arnsberg's talent, and there is some hope for #'s 3-5.

Some.
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