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From the second place team in the NL East to the leader, the Jays tough interleague schedule continues. Most of the team's misfortune has occurred in NL parks; nevertheless they have the third worst interleague record of any AL team, behind only the lowly Royals and Orioles. It won't be an easy task to right the ship, as Toronto faces a Nationals team led by the most exciting young pitcher and hitter in baseball, both of whom are en fuego. Will the (not so cold anymore) north be enough to cool that heat? That's what the Advance Scout is here to tell you (plus next week's winning lotto numbers).


The Nationals lead the majors in pitching by a country mile: they are first in FIP, at 3.20 (incidentally the Jays are last, at 4.68) and first in ERA (2.99), at least 2/10 of a run ahead in both categories. They strike out almost one of every four batters (ML rank: 1st), allow a .217 batting average (1st) . They're getting it done with their starters, as they roll out four guys with sub 3.15 ERA's. Gio Gonzalez, who the Jays missed, has been the best of the bunch, while Jordan Zimmerman (also missed) has probably been the worst of the core four; he has a 4.31/1 K/BB. So, yeah.

Monday: Edwin Jackson vs. Brandon Morrow

Jackson, the former for-a-minute Jay, was the Nationals big off-season signing. He signed for 1 year at $11 million. I guess there's no more point in whining about how this was exactly the type of signing the Jays should have made to bolster a pretty mediocre rotation, but, well, they should have. He's been very good for the Nationals so far, going ~6.5 innings a start with a K/BB over 3. He's been a bit hit lucky, with a .244 BABIP, and is somehow 2-3 so far in 11 starts despite a 3.11 ERA, though this is because the Nats are last in the NL East in runs allowed (to be fair, they've allowed 65 fewer runs than the next best team in their division). As you may know by now, Jackson has electric stuff but often struggles with his consistency (a pretty decent comp to his opponent on Monday). He's been a model this year though, going at least 5 every start (though rarely making it into the 8th) and allowing more than 3 runs just twice. He's down a tick on his fastball so far this year, working around 93-94 as opposed to 94-95, although he got up to 95 in his last start. He throws both a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball, both at around the same speed, and it mostly serves as a setup pitch for his hard (86 MPH), wicked slider. He throws it a quarter of the time, and in his last start against the Mets he got 7 swinging strikes in 21 pitches, which is about the same number Henderson Alvarez gets in a month. Jackson will mix in the occasional change and curve, with the curve in the high-70s and the change at the same speed as his slider; he usually throws them against lefties. Still, he is at heart a slider-fastball guy. He was born and spent the first eight years of his life in Germany, as his father was stationed with the U.S. Army there. Lifetime Jose Bautista is 4/11, Rajai Davis 1/10, Colby Rasmus 6/10 with 2 triples and a homer.

Tuesday: Chien-Ming Wang v. Henderson Alvarez

Chien-Ming Wang hasn't pitched a full season since 2007, when he won 19 games. After a strong start to 2008, he tore a ligament in his foot, while running the bases during an interleague game. (I am sympathetic even though I love to see pitchers hitting - though I still prefer the DH. However, it was running, it's not like it's a foreign concept.) Wang came back in 2009 but his mechanics were messed up, and he has basically struggled with rehab since, making only 22 (mostly unsuccessful) big league starts since 2008. Wang has always walked a tightrope as a starter, and like Monday's matchup, is a good comparison to the Jays starter, Henderson Alvarez. Wang has struck out 10.8% of the batters he's faced in his career, while walking 6.9%; in his best year year, in terms of results (not strikeouts) he struck out 3.14/9 IP. He was able to succeed doing this because he didn't allow home runs (12 in 218 innings in his heyday), and got a ton of ground balls (high 50s/low 60s, percentage-wise). Since his return for part of 2011 and his two starts in 2012 (he was out for the first part of this season with a hamstring injury) he has not gotten as many ground balls (low 50s) and allowed a lot more home runs, in conjunction with his previous anemic strike out rate. The result is not an especially effective package, though he is probably hanging around borderline as a starter. Wang doesn't throw a straight fastball, instead relying almost exclusively on a 90 MPH sinker that can run up to 92. He throws it 70% of the time, augmenting it with a slider, splitter/change and curve (a pitch he's added in the last couple of years). The slider's been good in the past but he doesn't quite have the snap back to it. Really, he's all sinker. If a non-Vizquel Jay swings and misses at one of Wang's pitches he should be buying the rounds after the game: he got one swinging strike in 84 pitches his last start.† The career numbers won't mean much at this point, but no current Jay has played more than one game against Wang anyway.

Wednesday: Stephen Strasburg v. Kyle Drabek

Well, another well-suited pair, though mentioning Kyle Drabek in the same sentence as Stephen Strasburg is kind of an insult to Strasburg. At this point I would venture to say that Strasburg is the best pitcher in baseball, at least on a per-pitch basis. Therein lies the rub - Strasburg throws a ton of pitches, limiting him to 5, 6 or 7 innings per start (7 is his season high, and he's never been removed mid-inning), thus limiting his overall value. Still, they're pretty good innings when you can get them - is his 12 starts he's allowed 0 runs 3 times, 1 run 4 times, 2 runs 2 times, 3 runs 1 time, and 4 runs 2 times. I'm going to try to hold back on the superlatives, but here are a few #StrasFacts: he leads the majors in K% (32.7%), with Gio Gonzalez the only other starter above 30%. He's 7th in K/BB, 10th in ERA, and third in FIP (despite having a .313 BABIP). He throws three pitches - both a 2-seam/4-seam fastball, a slurvy curve and a change up he uses against lefties. He can get swinging strikes with all three, something basically no one else does. Against the Red Sox on Friday his fastball hit 99, and averaged around 96-97. It's easily the hardest fastball of any starter in baseball, and on a per-pitch basis is the 14th most valuable in baseball amongst qualified starters. His circle change up runs in at 89 miles per hour, also the hardest in baseball, and better than several pitchers fastballs; it only gets him on the leaderboard. His 80 MPH curveball rates as the third most valuable in baseball on aggregate, and he gets the second most swinging strikes in baseball (Hamels is first). Basically you can't say enough good things about him. He struck out 13 of the 24 Red Sox he faced in his last start; he threw 16 curveballs for strikes, 9 of them swinging. He's even 7/21 on the season. The kid can do it all!

Lineup

Stephen Lombardozzi LF
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Michael Morse DH
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Rick Ankiel CF
Jesus Flores C

Against lefties Harper generally plays CF, with Xavier Nady and Tyler Moore in corners, though of course they dodge Romero. Morse and LaRoche could be flipped. Jhonatan (actual spelling) Solano is handling the backup catching duties at the moment, as poor Wilson Ramos is out for the year, along with about 9 other Nats catchers.

Ryan Zimmerman has been pretty lousy of late, "stinking" in his own words. The $100 million man is struggling to keep his OPS around .700, and was bad even before missing two weeks with a shoulder injury in May... Bryce Harper has not had these problems. The phenom is hitting .282/.368/.521 in 163 PA since being called up, without any huge BABIP (.312) or home run luck (14.6% HR/FB). Harper takes pitches, walking 11.7% of the time, and has a good eye, striking out fewer than 1/5 at bats. You can read Richard Griffin's (very nice!) take here or Will Leitch's pre-season GQ piece here. Harper sat to start Sunday's game against the Red Sox with a back issue, but pinch hit in the 9th, walking and scoring. I would guess he starts Monday...† Random tidbit: by wOBA, 2 of the Nationals top 4 hitters (min: 20 PA) are starting pitchers)...The Nationals, Harper aside, aren't really hitting, thanks to injuries to Jayson Werth and poor performances from Michael Morse (who's mostly been injured) and Ryan Zimmerman... The Nationals are in the middle of negotiating their TV rights, but the Orioles, who own the cable network Nationals games are shown on, are holding things up. Peter Angelos strikes again!.. Fangraphs has some good quotes from Nats GM Mike Rizzo.

Infirmary: The Nats injury list is a mile long, to use the American parlance. Mark DeRosa (3B), Carlos Maldonado (C), Ryan Mattheus (P), Henry Rodriguez (P), and Chad Tracy (3B) are all on the 15-day DL, while Cole Kimball (P), Sandy Leon (C), Chris Marrero (1B), Drew Storen (RP), Wilson Ramos (C) and Jayson Werth (OF) are all on the 60-day DL.

Song to Advance Scout By: For some reason, I just thought of this song when I thought of the Nationals. If you want a more thematically resonant song, there is always National Hum by the Constantines. It is not as radio friendly, though.

Chart: All hail Fangraphs data.


Oh yeah, the lotto numbers: 7, 13, 14, 19, 24, 40. Cut me in if you win though, please.

Advance Scout: Nationals, June 11-13 | 121 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
subculture - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 04:53 PM EDT (#258358) #
My fearless prediction:  Jays 3-1 tonight, 5-3 Tuesday, and Nats salvage a win 5-0 on Wednesday.

Could the Nats be buyers for a bat?  That seems to be all they're missing this year...

Santos, where are thou?  Am fighting back repressed memories of Sirotka... say it isn't so Kenny...

re: Lawrie vs Harper and Trout.. at the end of last year, I think a lot of folks would have had a hard time choosing between them... and in the next couple years, this debate will occur several times imo.
greenfrog - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#258360) #
I'm sure Kenny isn't feeling all that bad, as Nestor Molina is having a very mediocre 2012 (5.11 ERA and 103 H allowed in 79.1 IP in AA and AAA combined).
Anders - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#258363) #
re: Lawrie vs Harper and Trout.. at the end of last year, I think a lot of folks would have had a hard time choosing between them... and in the next couple years, this debate will occur several times imo.

Well, I think people are going to have a hard time choosing between 2 of those players...

sam - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#258366) #
Thank you Anders for the realism. I agree.
Glevin - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#258369) #
"re: Lawrie vs Harper and Trout.. at the end of last year, I think a lot of folks would have had a hard time choosing between them... and in the next couple years, this debate will occur several times imo.
Well, I think people are going to have a hard time choosing between 2 of those players..."

Think I'd take Harper pretty quickly over the other two. (And Trout ahead of Lawrie) I love both Trout and Lawrie as players, but being an excellent hitter in the majors at 19 is something else entirely. Being an average hitter in the majors at 19 is incredible. The last player I remember to hold his own in the majors at 19 was Griffey and Harper has been a lot better. Trout was up at 19 last season and was poor. Again, would love all 3 of the players, but I think Harper's upside is unlimited.
Anders - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 05:59 PM EDT (#258373) #
Think I'd take Harper pretty quickly over the other two. (And Trout ahead of Lawrie) I love both Trout and Lawrie as players, but being an excellent hitter in the majors at 19 is something else entirely.

Not that I necessarily disagree, but Trout is only 14 months younger than Harper, and a better defender and baserunner. He's also put up better numbers so far (albeit massively BABIP dependent.) I would take Harper, but I would say it's a 1a 1b situation, with the next closest young player coming in at #4 or #5.

Glevin - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 06:38 PM EDT (#258374) #
"Not that I necessarily disagree, but Trout is only 14 months younger than Harper, and a better defender and baserunner. He's also put up better numbers so far (albeit massively BABIP dependent.) I would take Harper, but I would say it's a 1a 1b situation, with the next closest young player coming in at #4 or #5."

I agree, it's not a huge gap, but for me it's enough where the choice wouldn't take me long to decide. 14 months is a huge difference in development at 19/20 and Harper's power and batting eye would be exceptional for someone 5 years older.
Anders - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 07:40 PM EDT (#258380) #
Well, Morrow out after facing the leadoff batter with an apparent back issue.

Not to be overly dramatic, but if he misses an extended period of time, the Jays might have the worst rotation in the majors.

neurolaw - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#258381) #
Anders that is a little over dramatic!

By traditional stats - the pitching staff is average.

By advanced stats..... well I guess its not that over dramatic!

Hey remember when Edwin Jackson was available all flipping off season.
Thomas - Monday, June 11 2012 @ 10:33 PM EDT (#258391) #
Not to be overly dramatic, but if he misses an extended period of time, the Jays might have the worst rotation in the majors.

John Farrell just said that it looked like Morrow was dealing with something "substantial" in the oblique area. While he said that further tests were needed, he didn't sound optimistic.

Re: the quality of Toronto's rotation, I agree. It looks very shallow without Morrow's presence.

Thomas - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 12:31 AM EDT (#258402) #
The Jays optioned Beck to Las Vegas after the game and recalled Laffey, which doesn't come as any surprise given Beck's pitch count today and the state of the pen.

The Jays also recalled Evan Crawford, but haven't announced a roster move yet. I assume it will be Morrow to the DL, once his test results are in.
85bluejay - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:08 AM EDT (#258404) #
The Jays don't need a 5th starter until next Tuesday against the Brewers - I imagine it will be an opportunity for either Chavez or Coello .
85bluejay - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:22 AM EDT (#258406) #
If Morrow is out for a substantial amount of time, the Jays could become sellers & may give Lind,Snider an extended run to help with offseason decisions. 
TamRa - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:40 AM EDT (#258408) #
the Jays recalled Crawford and....Laffey

God please tell me Laffey never makes a start for the jays.

Of note, if Morrow looks to be out, say, a month or more - Brett Cecil is on the same rotation as Morrow, if they patch crap like Laffey into the rotation instead,, I'm going to go ahead and assume that Cecil is done as a starter in Toronto.

TamRa - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:47 AM EDT (#258411) #
As for being sellers-

I'd love to find a taker for Cordero, lol.

Francisco can go, you might consider a good deal on a middle infielder and take your look at Hech

Davis is expendable if you are gonna give Snider a run

You have to ask yourself about EE. you might get a nice return for him and if you want him on the 2013 team yu can probably tell him to be looking for an offer in the winter.

Could either trade Mathis, or perhaps more sensibly market Arencibia and bring up d'Arnaud and let him learn from the veteran for half a season



IF they are clearly going to be hamstrung this year, then I'm one who favors turning over the non-core players and making as much preparation to try again next year as possible
Anders - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 02:36 AM EDT (#258414) #
IF they are clearly going to be hamstrung this year, then I'm one who favors turning over the non-core players and making as much preparation to try again next year as possible

What's our d'Arnaud hashtag going to be?

robertdudek - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 07:34 AM EDT (#258419) #
as Toronto faces a Nationals team led by the most exciting young pitcher and hitter in baseball, both of whom are en fuego.

Since this is a largely aesthetic question, no correct answer exists - but I would take Trout as the most exciting.
Hodgie - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 10:11 AM EDT (#258424) #
Wow, and here I thought the ledges were crowded in Boston.
uglyone - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 11:28 AM EDT (#258432) #
I wouldn't freak out too much about one injury. Especially since I was expecting Morrow to fall back a bit in performance anyways, and I expect a number of other players to improve going forward as well.

If it's a season-ender, though, that would really suck. If it's a month or a month and a half, though, that's just 5-10 starts he misses, and that shouldn't be a season killer.
China fan - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 11:37 AM EDT (#258435) #
I wonder if Coello might be up soon, instead of Laffey. His stats as a starter (although only 3 games) are far superior to Laffey, and he looked good in his brief two-inning stint in the majors recently. He also has 43 strikeouts in 42 innings, best ratio of any current Vegas pitcher. If he hadn't pitched last night, maybe he would have been promoted last night.

Among the other options to replace Morrow in the rotation are Cecil, Chavez, and Carreno. There was a report last night that Cecil might be heading to Las Vegas, but I'm not sure if that's true. His stats recently have been good, but his velocity is still unimpressive, as many people have noted.

Then there are some options on the current roster: Perez and Villaneuva. But given the weakness of the Jays bullpen, they might be more useful as relievers.
uglyone - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 11:56 AM EDT (#258439) #
Games Rested in brackets

JUN 12 - Alvarez (4)
JUN 13 - Drabek (4)
JUN 14 - offday
JUN 15 - Hutchison (5)
JUN 16 - Romero (5)
JUN 17 - Alvarez (4)
JUN 18 - Drabek (4)
JUN 19 - Emergency Starter ---- OR ---- Hutchison (3)
JUN 20 - Hutchison (4) ---- OR ---- Romero (3)
JUN 21 - offday
JUN 22 - Romero (5) ---- OR ---- Alvarez (4)
JUN 23 - Alvarez (5) ---- OR ---- Drabek (4)
JUN 24 - Drabek (5) ---- OR ---- Hutchison (4)
JUN 25 - Hutchison (4) ---- OR ---- Romero (4)
JUN 26 - Emergency SP OR Romero (3) OR Alvarez (3)

I'd personally lean towards the right column option there - pitch Hutch and Ricky on short rest next time through and avoid bringing up another SP for the 19th, and then worry about bringing up another starter for the 26th (and we'd definitely need another starter for the 26th either way).

Cecil, Carreno, and Coello would be my three top choices for an emergency start.

I don't think the Jays think of Laffey as an emergency SP, though - he's just here as filler for now I think.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#258445) #
Since Valdy's on the outs, does A.A. find us a big bat or has he decided not to bother?
ayjackson - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#258452) #

The Jays have a 160IP limit on Hutchison this year; I doubt they will be sending him out on short rest.

That brings up another topic though - who will replace Hutchison toward the end of August?  We are really short on pitching.  None of the Vegas retreads should be considered options.  All of the depth we thought we had at the back end of the rotation is gone.  We really need a quality pitcher.  I wonder if the Morrow  predicament is the catalyst to a deal.

China fan - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:21 PM EDT (#258453) #
"....Since Valdy's on the outs...."

So it's not just Morrow and Guerrero. Now the Jays have lost the services of the famed Ottawa-born folk singer. That's a serious blow to the team's chances this year.
uglyone - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 03:27 PM EDT (#258467) #
The Jays have a 160IP limit on Hutchison this year;

Did the say this somewhere specifically, or is that speculation? Hutch pitched 150ip last year, I'd speculate he's good to go 170-180 this year at least.
uglyone - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 03:59 PM EDT (#258468) #
John Lott @LottOnBaseball
Reply Retweet Favorite ∑More
AA: Jays don't need to make quick DL decision on Morrow b/c off Thurs day off. Sanchez would be leading candidate to come up if necessary.



Is AA talking about 19 year old Aaron Sanchez there?
Original Ryan - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#258469) #
Lott (or Anthopoulos) likely meant Chavez.
China fan - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#258470) #
Lott got his Latinos mixed up. It's Chavez, per other tweets, and I'm sure Lott meant to write Chavez.

Which means that the Jays are going with the 8-man bullpen again, with Laffey assigned to the pen in addition to Crawford. Cue apoplectic comments about the thinness of the Jays bench, which is reduced to McCoy and Vizquel and the spare catcher. (Although tonight JPA is the spare catcher, which is not a bad pinch-hitter to have available.)
China fan - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#258471) #
And here's the good news on Brett Cecil, in a tweet from Shi Davidi:

"Cecil promoted to Vegas. Farrell says velocity at 88-92, up from 84-86 in spring. Candidate to fill in for Morrow, along with Jesse Chavez."

Interesting. Had anyone noticed such a big increase in Cecil's velocity at NH? From what I recall, most observers were saying that his velocity had still not improved much.
Mike Green - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#258478) #
The NH stadium gun had Carreno sitting at 92 and touching 94.  Cecil sat at 86 and touched 87.  I don't know where Farrell got the 88-92 business, unless Cecil had extra forte cheese some other time.  Nonetheless, he is probably the best in-house option for the rotation, which really has two openings.

I have been away for awhile. Seeing McCoy-LF in the starting lineup in the boxscores (facing a RHP) was hard to stomach. 

At this point, I admit that I am puzzled by Anthopoulos' inability to obtain better depth options for the rotation.  It was clear to me (and many others) in the off-season that the organization needed greater depth there, and with the injuries to McGowan and Litsch, it should have been obvious to anyone.  I really do not understand why so much money was spent on the bullpen (again) during the off-season.  The strategy of flipping relievers at the deadline seems to me to have run its course.

Chuck - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#258480) #

Seeing McCoy-LF in the starting lineup in the boxscores (facing a RHP) was hard to stomach. 

That was not the plan. Dave Berg was simply unavailable.

uglyone - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 05:25 PM EDT (#258483) #
At this point, I admit that I am puzzled by Anthopoulos' inability to obtain better depth options for the rotation. It was clear to me (and many others) in the off-season that the organization needed greater depth there, and with the injuries to McGowan and Litsch, it should have been obvious to anyone. I really do not understand why so much money was spent on the bullpen (again) during the off-season. The strategy of flipping relievers at the deadline seems to me to have run its course.

You're forcing me to chime in here. The Jays' SP has seen potential depth in McGowan and Litsch injured all year, as well as another expected SP Cecil implode and lose all velo and effectiveness. Despite those hits, the Jays' SP have combined for the 3rd best ERA in the AL, in the 5th most IP (0.1ip behind 3rd there). Yes, ERA does not tell everything about a staff, but it is the most important thing, and the other stats are far from infallible themselves.

3rd best actual results stats in the AL for our rotation, despite Cecil, McGowan, (both projected as part of the rotation in ST), and Litsch (projected as injury depth at some point) being completely unavailable.

As for our Bullpen, it costs us about $18m this year, and takes up about 20-25% of our payroll. I'm not sure if that qualifies as "so much money" spent.
Anders - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#258487) #
You're forcing me to chime in here. The Jays' SP has seen potential depth in McGowan and Litsch injured all year, as well as another expected SP Cecil implode and lose all velo and effectiveness. Despite those hits, the Jays' SP have combined for the 3rd best ERA in the AL, in the 5th most IP (0.1ip behind 3rd there). Yes, ERA does not tell everything about a staff, but it is the most important thing, and the other stats are far from infallible themselves.

Okay, but Dustin McGowan has thrown 56 total innings since 2008, Litsch was still not far removed from TJ surgery (and somewhat ineffective the year before), and Brett Cecil's velocity decline last year, when he was awful. So our rotation was Romero, Morrow, Alvarez, Cecil, Drabek/Litsch/McGowan before Cecil sucked and Litsch and McGowan got injured (all very predictable) and we ended up going with Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, who's pitched 31 innings above A ball. Pitching was an easily identifiable weak spot before the season.

3rd best actual results stats in the AL for our rotation, despite Cecil, McGowan, (both projected as part of the rotation in ST), and Litsch (projected as injury depth at some point) being completely unavailable.

Again, super predictable that at least one would miss time, and each of those three projected as league average at best. As for the results to date, the ERA is very misleading, as the Jays starters, Morrow aside, have actually been quite awful (second last in AL starters in FIP, second in walks in baseball, 4th last in Ks. ). The team just has a very good defense - they have by far the lowest BABIP (.255) of any team in baseball.

sam - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#258489) #
I think it's a little telling here of what the Jays think of Arencibia/Alvarez that they've given the start tonight to Mathis and not Arencibia.
scottt - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 07:36 PM EDT (#258490) #
ERA measures results. FIP is just a predictor.

Mathis doesn't always catch the last game of a series and is more or less due. There are several reasons to use Mathis tonight.

China fan - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#258491) #
Griffin tweeted the following numbers for Alvarez with the two catchers:

"With Arencibia 5.01 ERA in 50-1/3 innings in '12. With Mathis in 28-1/3 innings 1.57 ERA."

If those numbers are accurate, it's quite a startling difference. I realize that not everybody buys into the idea of "catcher ERA" so the implications of those numbers are debatable.
Mike Green - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 09:08 PM EDT (#258492) #
That was not the plan. Dave Berg was simply unavailable.

Fred Hatfield was a utility infielder in the 50s. Whenever I see McCoy's name in the lineup playing the outfield, I see the possible benefits of a family feud.
dan gordon - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 10:21 PM EDT (#258493) #

I didn't agree with sending Gomes down instead of McCoy.  Don't see the purpose of having both McCoy and Vizquel on the 25-man.  No bats to use late in games when you need one.  Vizquel batting in the 9th today, down by 2 runs, for example.  With the 8-man pen, plus Vizquel and McCoy, there is no hitting depth on the roster at all.

It's going to be tough for the Jays to stay close to a playoff spot with Morrow out.

Petey Baseball - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 10:33 PM EDT (#258494) #
Frustrating stuff.

The Ricciardi method to add depth in the rotation was to sign a slew of castoffs (Thomson, Ohka, Zambrano, Hentgen, Sturtze, Wasdin,) to avoid exposing the kids (McGowan, Cecil, Janssen, et al) to the AL East too early. AA seems to have intentionally gone away from this (avoiding signing vets in favor of the kids). And here we are complaining that the Jays aren't running out a couple of past their prime vets every 5 days while Hutch, Alvarez, Drabek and company wait in the wings.  It seems a happy medium hasn't been found the past 10 years, (with the exception of 2008, in which the pitching was fantastic).

 Meanwhile, while the Tigers, Indians and White Sox pad their record with A.L. Central teams the next two weeks, the Jays are left to face 3 of the top 4 teams in the N.L.  Griping about Interleague is old and tired, but this is getting ridiculous. 
scottt - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 10:38 PM EDT (#258495) #
Wang got 4 swinging strikeouts and caught Encarnation looking.

greenfrog - Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 11:26 PM EDT (#258496) #
I notice that the people so vehemently opposed to signing pitchers like Jackson or Kuroda (who inked one-year deals last off-season), arguing that the Jays had plenty of SP depth, are being oddly quiet at the moment.
neurolaw - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 12:22 AM EDT (#258497) #
In the last 6 games the Jays have scored these many runs:

3 3 2 12 3 2

Their record 1-5. The record would probably still be the same if veteran pitchers were pitching those games.

On another somewhat related note after watching Kelly Johnson strike out at what seems like virtually every at bat I went and looked up the player Toronto traded him for.

Kelly Johnson -.250/.342/.402 wOBA.332 wRC+ 108
Aaron Hill - .277/.350/.446 wOBA.343 wRC+ 109

Aaron Hill is walking a little less (9% vs 12%) but KJ is striking out way more (29.5% vs. 16%). Nearly 30% and it has increased each month of the season to the point that in June he has struck out 37% of the time. And he is currently the Jays 5th hitter.

John Northey - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 12:32 AM EDT (#258498) #
Well, there were lots of guys out there but none jumped out as 'wow, there is an ace'. Right now the Jays are 5 1/2 out in a division where things are totally nuts with Baltimore playing well and Boston in last place. That is very competitive especially when, by OPS+, David Cooper is now the 2nd best hitter and Encarnacion the best (might have shifted after tonight's game with Bautista moving into the #2 slot).

If pre-season you were told Escobar, Thames, Lawrie would all have OPS+ sub-90 at this point, that Snider would be spending all this time in the minors, that Lind would have a 58 OPS+ and now is off the 40 man roster, our new closer would have just 5 IP, our backup would suck royally (74 ERA+ thanks to 1.8 HR/9) you'd be thinking 'dead last, well off the pace' not 'ahead of Boston, 4 1/2 out of playoffs'.

The rotation has 5 guys with 90+ ERA+'s, 3 over 100. That was pretty much the situation we all hoped for, especially with 3 guys sub-25 in the rotation.

Hiroki Kuroda was not really available - as I recall he wanted to either be west coast or on a 'sure thing' like the Yankees. Edwin Jackson is counting on a very low H/9 situation - his BB/9, SO/9, HR/9 are all about the same as last year when he was a 108 ERA+ guy and lifetime he is a 99 ERA+ guy - league average. I still wouldn't want to see him in the rotation over Drabek or Hutchison or Alvarez as those 3 could be 120+ guys regularly while Jackson will likely regress to his 99 level by seasons end.

Signing inning eaters is only good when you have nothing. Right now one of those guys would be nice to fill in for a start or two, but I'd rather see what Carreno can do or give Cecil another shot (he is only 25). The Jays have a shot this year, but it is one that still needs a lot to go right and now that the Yankees are playing well, the Angels are moving up, and Tampa is doing well I'd say the Jays _really_ need to see a lot more from what they have before blowing the farm or budget on a stopgap. If they can get a starter who is ace level and signed long term (ala King Felix) great but otherwise stick to the plan, build up kids and maybe add in the winter.
Thomas - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 02:15 AM EDT (#258499) #
I still wouldn't want to see him in the rotation over Drabek or Hutchison or Alvarez as those 3 could be 120+ guys regularly while Jackson will likely regress to his 99 level by seasons end.

If you want to prioritize development far ahead of competitiveness in 2012, that's your preference. However, you just spent the first two paragraphs of your post explaining how open the division was and how competitive the Jays have been to date, despite some anticipated and some unanticipated underperformance.

The rotation has 5 guys with 90+ ERA+'s, 3 over 100. That was pretty much the situation we all hoped for, especially with 3 guys sub-25 in the rotation.

Hiroki Kuroda was not really available - as I recall he wanted to either be west coast or on a 'sure thing' like the Yankees. Edwin Jackson is counting on a very low H/9 situation - his BB/9, SO/9, HR/9 are all about the same as last year when he was a 108 ERA+ guy and lifetime he is a 99 ERA+ guy - league average.

Also, you're being a bit disengenious by posting ERA+s from the Jays staff, to show they've been as good as we could reasonably expect and then breaking down Jackson's peripherals to suggest he isn't as good as his numbers indicate while ignoring Alvarez and Drabek's peripherals. If you use a measure like FIP, Jackson is 1-2 full runs better than Alvarez, Drabek and Hutchison. Sure, he's been a slight bit lucky, but so have Alvarez and Drabek.

BlueJayWay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 08:19 AM EDT (#258500) #
Well here's an interesting stat.  Only New York and Texas have a better run differential than the Jays in the AL.
BlueJayWay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 08:21 AM EDT (#258501) #
*check that, Chicago as well.  Still 4th out of 14.
85bluejay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 08:21 AM EDT (#258502) #
Hope the Jays don't overpay for a veteran pitcher, this team is more than 1 player away - We do have some nice pieces to offer at the trade deadline - EE,Johnson,BP help and even Escobar/Bautista in the right deal.
ogator - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 08:41 AM EDT (#258503) #
The players in Vegas are hitting. The players in Toronto are not hitting very consistently. It may be time for some changes. Yes, the PCL is a hitters' paradise but it is time to see if any of that can translate to Toronto. Lind, Gose, Sierra, D'Arnaud, Sierra, Hech. It may be time to see what they can do. If it turns out they can only hit in Vegas, then learning that will be more interesting than watching the current guys trot back to the dugout.
BlueJayWay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:03 AM EDT (#258506) #
Anybody else here like to see a change in hitting coach?  Chad Mottola maybe?  I wanted Murphy out last year.  Getting sick of the swing for the fences and try to homer on every pitch approach.  The team consistently has a low obp.  This team hits homerun but doesn't really do anything else offensively, so you end up with a lot of solo shots.

Maybe it's time for a different face, a different voice working with the hitters every day.



greenfrog - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:20 AM EDT (#258508) #
I would actually rather have Jackson at 1/$11M for a playoff run + likely 2013 draft pick (via qualifying offer) than acquire King Felix in exchange for a huge haul of the Jays' best prospects.

Why assume that Jackson is going to regress? He's squarely in his prime, and at an age (28) when lots of pitchers really get untracked. His ERA+, FIP and peripherals are excellent this year. In any case, he's been quite a valuable player over the last three years. And his contract hardly amounts to "blowing the budget" - on the contrary, it provides excellent value with minimal risk and doesn't impede future development (the draft compensation would actually promote development).
China fan - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:20 AM EDT (#258509) #
Murphy was reportedly a key influence in helping Rasmus to fix his swing this year. That alone may justify his salary.

If you consider the hitters who have improved (or bounced back) in a Jays uniform, it's a pretty good list: Bautista, Encarnacion, Rasmus, Johnson. The problem areas are at LF, 3B and C, where the Jays have been going with young or inexperienced hitters. It's not too surprising that those are problem areas. The other problems this year have been Lind (who might be unfixable, unless you believe his Vegas numbers) and Escobar (who still has a chance to bounce back to his 2011 performance level). Again, I'm not sure if those can be blamed on Murphy.
85bluejay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:22 AM EDT (#258510) #
I second that opinion, BlueJayWay - Farrell made a big deal about improving OBP being a top priority this season and it's gotten worse, opposing managers are quoted as saying the Jays are a dead pull hitting team, always going for the homerun  - time for a change.
BlueJayWay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#258511) #
China Fan, Bautista was "fixed" by Cito, wasn't he?  I recall he was the one who got him to change his approach and "getting started earlier" etc.  Encarnacion has had a good start, yes.  Rasmus has looked good since his hitting adjustment, but Johnson is basically the hitter he's always been.

I don't know.  It seems to be the overall approach of the team that bugs me.  Year after year under Murphy's tenure they have a bad OBP.  Is it just the players they acquire, or what?  It seems players go to Vegas and Mottola fixes their swings right quick (we always see it with Snider, now Lind looks like he's doing the same thing, Hech...).  Is this just the Vegas effect or is Mottola doing something.  I remember when Snider came up last year his swing looked different and much better, then after a couple of weeks here he was back to the one-armed flail.  It also seems players walk rates (and hence OBP) drop when they get here, even when they come from other major league teams.

I don't know for sure Murphy is THE problem with the offense.  But I would sure like to try someone else at this point.  Eventually the things a coach says just gets stale and you need something fresh.

BlueJayWay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:37 AM EDT (#258513) #
I second that opinion, BlueJayWay - Farrell made a big deal about improving OBP being a top priority this season and it's gotten worse, opposing managers are quoted as saying the Jays are a dead pull hitting team, always going for the homerun  - time for a change.

Yeah.  Just coming into this Washington series their manager had a quote that was something like, "we know this team always swings for the fences." 

AA and Farrell both have indeed aknowledged OBP was a problem last year.  They know it needs to improve.
John Northey - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:38 AM EDT (#258514) #
Good point Thomas - writing stuff when dead tired to try to get myself to fall asleep probably isn't the best way to make a good argument. :P

My main point is that this past winter the Jays had a choice to make - see what the kids can do or sign cheap vets to fill in (best of the non-cheaps were not interested in coming here as they wanted 'contenders' or close to home iirc - the situation for Kurdoa and Wilson).  I still would've liked the Jays to go for Darvish but his stats (5.4 BB/9 in particular) do show why paying around $20 mil a year for a guy from Japan is not always a great idea.

Jackson was possible but, like I said, he is a lifetime mediocre pitcher who this year is getting lucky.  Good filler (better than some past Jay choices) but his time in an ace role would always be limited by how long the luck holds out.  The Jays need high end starting pitching to win in this nightmare division - not 100 ERA+ guys with a probable peak of 120, but guys who will be 110+ regularly with 150 potential in peak years.

Drabek, Alvarez, Hutchison, Morrow, and Romero all have potential still to reach those heights, Jackson does not.  Heading into 2012 it looked like the Yanks, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, and Angels would be in a nuclear arms race to get 4 playoff slots with at least one missing out while Detroit looked like a lock in the AL Central.  The Jays meanwhile were a 500 team with tons of kid pitchers and major iffyness at 1B/LF/2B/3B (Lawrie coming off a rookie season, Johnson off his worst season, Snider/Thames has been debated to death, and Lind we hoped would recover but obviously didn't).  To use up a rotation slot on a guy with minimal potential to surprise in that situation would've been silly imo.

Today the Jays are still in eyeshot of the playoffs despite worst case situations at 1B and LF (Lind/Snider/Thames in minors).  This gets a few hoping for a mediocre pitcher to fill in a rotation slot or two hoping the offense will be enough.  It wouldn't.

Jays record when scoring 3 or fewer runs: 3-20
Jays record when scoring 4 -6 runs: 13-10
Jays record when scoring 7+ runs: 15-1

Reverse...
Jays record when allowing 3 or fewer runs: 22-2
Jays record when allowing 4-6 runs: 8-16
Jays record when allowing 7+ runs: 1-13

Clearly the issue is the 4-6 range - if the Jays score that many they are a 565 team, but allowing that many they are a 333 team.  Would a 100 ERA+ guy have helped there?  I doubt it - from what I've seen it seems the pen has been the killer and given our starters generally have gone 6+ and their end results (if not FIP and the like) have been in the ballpark of what a mediocre pitcher would've done.

Now, if I had time I'd dig into those 10 losses in the 4-6 run range and see what the killers have been.  I intend to run a study on the pen usage which I think has been poor (ie: using bad relievers in pressure while leaving the best for the low-leverage situations) which would lead to more losses and the usual Jay situation of a record that is worse than it should be based on runs for / against.
John Northey - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#258515) #
Just noticed something... via B-R

Jays record when tied innings 7-9: 2-14 (some double counting there if tied in multiple innings, not sure how to correct for it)

Look at that: 2 wins, 14 losses when tied in late innings.  Now that is horrid.  1-6 when tied in the 9th, 1-5 in the 8th, 0-3 in the 7th.

Extras are better at 2-4 (easy to remove double counting there) but not good.

Meanwhile in the range starters would still be in the game (innings 1-6) you get a sub-500 record only for inning #2 (20-22) and a 500 record for inning #1 (matching the overall team total).  Tied after 3/4/5/6 you get 571 to 714 winning percentages.

What does this tell us?  Basically that the pen is really, really, really killing this team.  Better pinch hitting options would help, but better relievers (or use of) would help a heck of a lot more.
BlueJayWay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#258516) #
I second that opinion, BlueJayWay - Farrell made a big deal about improving OBP being a top priority this season and it's gotten worse, opposing managers are quoted as saying the Jays are a dead pull hitting team, always going for the homerun  - time for a change.

Oh I wanted to add one more thing here.  The inning that really highlighted all this for me was that game against the Mets.  Down by one in the ninth inning, Escobar works a walk, Bautista cut his swing down on two strikes and singles the other way.  Okay, two on none out.  Then what?  EE, Arencibia, Thames come up and each one looked like they were trying to hit the ball to Hudson Bay.  I'm gonna be a hero and win this game with a homerun!!!  Err, no.  Big swings, big hacks, three straight strikeouts.  Argh.
92-93 - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#258517) #
If any of Alvarez, Drabek, and Hutchison become as consistently good as Edwin Jackson that will be a success.
greenfrog - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 10:03 AM EDT (#258518) #
The irony is that the teams who recognized the value in adding starters like Jackson and Kuroda on short-term contracts are both in first place (Washington 37-23 and NYY 36-25), while the Jays are yet again playing .500 ball. Meanwhile, the Yankees have received nil value from their "potential ace" (Pineda).

As someone (Voltaire?) once said, "le mieux est l'ennemi du bien."
Kasi - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 10:49 AM EDT (#258525) #
I'm sure Vegas "fixes" a lot of people's swings. Take any results there with a huge grain of salt. Competition in that league isn't that great either from a pitching standpoint, since most teams who have teams in the PCL tend to leave their best starters at AA.
Paul D - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#258536) #
For those of you watching last night's game on tv - do you think Lawrie was out on his stolen base attempt in the first? Looked to me like he beat the throw, but then popped off the bag. I was in the 500s though, so it was tough to tell.
Gerry - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 11:40 AM EDT (#258538) #
Lawrie - bang, bang play.  Probably out.
John Northey - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 11:40 AM EDT (#258539) #
Jackson consistently good? Sure doesn't seem that way on the surface to me...

Since 2007 when Jackson became a regular starter his ERA+'s are...
79-100-125-95-108-131 - who is he?  the average guy or the 120-130 guy?

But checking his FIP's (taking some of the luck factor out)...
4.90-4.88-4.28-3.86-3.55-3.50

Huh.  Much better and a perfect progression over the years, dropping each year with a few major drops there.  If the Jays kids could do that then yes, that would be impressive. 

Of course, one major factor with him is his one year deal - AA has shown a strong desire for multi-year deals at below value (ideally team options).  If he keeps this up this year he'll get a qualifying offer and Washington gets a draft pick but odds pre-season were against that happening (given a one year $11 mil was his best offer).

Funny how my first though was 'ugh' to the Jays kids being like him but now it is 'yeah, that'd be good'.  Always good to do some research.  Still, to get there you have to suffer through some tough times - which is what we are doing right now with the kids - unless you are willing to pay $10+ mil a year to vets

I still say the biggest issue, by far, is the pen and effectiveness/usage of it not the rotation and a need for rentals.
Mike D - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 03:45 PM EDT (#258555) #

After this series, the team is now certainly irrelevant for 2012.  June 13 and it's already Wait 'Til Next Year For Meaningful September Games, Vol. XIX.  Sigh.

bpoz - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:04 PM EDT (#258557) #
I too think the pen has to improve.

Maybe Cordero has a good 2nd half like FF last year.

Anyhow this weakness will provide opportunity for some unknown to grab onto.
85bluejay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#258558) #
This is the 3rd year of Jose Bautista greatness going to waste - the young players are not developing as quickly as hoped - I think the Jays should make Jose available -He would not only make the Rangers offense unbelievably this year but his friendly contract would provide some protection against potentially losing Hamilton/Napoli. I wonder what that's worth to Texas?
Mike Green - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:18 PM EDT (#258560) #
I don't quite agree, Mike D.  It's June 13.  The club is 6 games out and with a significant positive run differential.  The club had a choice to make a good effort to try to win in 2012 and that choice is still reasonably open to them.

I do however agree that it is unlikely that the club will make that choice now, preferring again to wait until next year.   

Mike D - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#258561) #

I think the Jays should make Jose available

Clearly, I'm very pessimistic for this year and on board with the team being a seller, but that's still a terrible idea.  Can you explain why the Jays should trade somebody with four more years of below-market team control and no short- or medium- term replacement within the organization for a power hitting corner outfielder?  And how you can step outside the organization to replace 40 homers for $14 million/year?  I'm not even mentioning the fact that he's bilingual, can play 3B and 1B, happy to play on turf and in Toronto, etc.

There are a number of holes that need to be filled with core players.  Not sure why you would create a massive new one when your payroll is already low and your farm system is already top-3.

Mike D - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:31 PM EDT (#258562) #

It's June 13.  The club is 6 games out and with a significant positive run differential.

In a vacuum, Mike G, that's true, but when I said "after this series" I was not only referring to the slide in the standings but the two starting pitcher injuries suffered during the series.

The Jays have to make up 5 games on Baltimore AND catch the Angels AND catch the second-place Central team (with its soft schedule) AND not get caught by either the Red Sox or Tigers, all while replacing Morrow and Drabek with two pitchers that will surely be replacement level for a number of starts.  Sadly, they're done in '12.

greenfrog - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#258564) #
As AA has said, you can't force contention. You just keep executing the long-term plan and add complementary pieces when you're close. Of course, you could argue that the Jays were close enough to make a couple of complementary moves in the off-season. The team would likely be in the thick of things had Beltran accepted the Jays' offer and Escobar hit around his career average (285/360/393). Had they also added one of the more effective SPs like Jackson, Gio, Wilson, or maybe Kuroda, they would be right there.

But hindsight is 20/20, and for now I'm glad the Jays didn't win the bidding for Darvish. He could still turn out to be a very good investment, but his control issues in year 1 would be making me nervous if I were a Texas fan.
Mike Green - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#258566) #
Whoever replaces Drabek can be expected to perform about as well as he did.  I know that the ERA under 5 looks better than replacement, but replacement level with this defence is about how Drabek performed.  I suspect that Chavez or Cecil will do as well or better.

Morrow's lost starts will hurt, of course, but on the other hand, there are a couple of options available in Las Vegas that could make the club better over the next 3 and 1/2 months from the position player perspective.  I am not throwing in the towel just yet.

92-93 - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#258567) #
The towel was thrown in before the season when the GM didn't fill the needs he himself said were the biggest.
92-93 - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 04:58 PM EDT (#258568) #

I notice that the people so vehemently opposed to signing pitchers like Jackson or Kuroda (who inked one-year deals last off-season), arguing that the Jays had plenty of SP depth, are being oddly quiet at the moment.

This.

China fan - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 05:05 PM EDT (#258569) #
Who was opposed to signing Jackson or Kuroda? I remember perhaps 2 or 3 people on this site. But the majority consensus was that Anthopoulos should do exactly what he aimed to do -- acquire a big power bat and a solid starter. Only a small minority of people said the Jays had adequate pitching depth already. And those were mostly people who saw 2012 as a development year, and wanted to see what the young pitchers (Drabek, Hutchison, Alvarez etc) were capable of doing. Although I disagreed with the "development year" viewpoint, it is entirely defensible.
John Northey - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 05:25 PM EDT (#258571) #
Sheesh - glad I don't work with/for you 92-93.  The biggest needs (big bat, ace for rotation) are extremely hard to get and 99% of the time every team wants those added in somewhere.  To address them the most popular choices were Prince Fielder (hitting nicely now at 142 OPS+ for $23-24 mil a year from now until 2020) and Yu Darvish (119 ERA+ but 5.4 BB/9 for roughly $20 mil a year for 6 years.

Few expected Lind to totally collapse (90 OPS+ sure, but in the 50's?), or for Cecil/McGowan/Litsch to fail to throw a single inning so far in the majors.  Romero dropping to the 100-110 range for ERA+ wasn't a total shock, offset by Morrow doing so well.  We thought Cordero/Santos would be a solid combo in the pen but instead they have been ineffective or injured.  Thames vs Snider should've produced one decent outfielder, instead LF is now Davis' area.  Yet despite all of that the team has a great run differential - among the best in the game which should've been a winning combo.

Losing Morrow hurts, losing Drabek shouldn't hurt too much as he was a tightrope act lately and we've all been waiting for the total collapse.  Who comes up will tell us a lot about AA's view though - if he is scared we might see a 'ML vet' or panic trade.  If not we'll see a kid with potential who (hopefully) is ready.
Anders - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 06:01 PM EDT (#258576) #
I think things are getting heated because the Jays have been playing so poorly of late, but if you thought they were, say, an 85 win team before the season (which I did), that still looks pretty reasonable, recent interleague stretch notwithstanding. They had pretty identifiable holes going into the season, especially in the rotation, and are paying the price a bit now. Not to get into I told you so, but Kuroda and Jackson would have both been excellent signings for the team, probably 2 and 3 win upgrades over whoever was going to win the 5th starter job, injuries aside. I won't speculate as to why they they weren't more active in trying to fill them.

The rest of June might get a bit ugly with Morrow on the shelf, but there are several natural areas for the Jays to improve. The team would be hard pressed to get worse production out of LF, C and SS, and Edwin is the only regular one would say has dramatically outperformed past results. Rasmus and Bautista have both started hitting well, and while I don't think all of them are ready, the team does have several hitters in AAA they can roll the dice with if they get desperate - Hech, Snider, d'Arnaud, Gose. I think the Jays chances of making the playoffs have decreased since the start of the season, but on balance it wasn't a playoff team before things started anyway.

85bluejay - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 06:34 PM EDT (#258580) #

Kuroda wanted to pitch on the West Coast or a strong contender - all reports was that he never considered the Jays. Jackson was not coming to the Jays on a 1 year contract - Scott Boras put his client on 1 year "pillow" contracts with teams he has a good relationship with - Boston/New York/Washington - certainly not Toronto - I don't expect Boras & the Jays to get together as long as Beeston is President - it's why I never understood the Fielder buzz & the Jays.

Last year, some criticized the Jays for not signing Crawford / Dunn - when they had disappointing seasons, those posters had amnesia - this year, when Darvish was hot, the Jays should have signed him - when Pena was hot, Jays should have signed him - of course when Bell or Pujols got off to poor starts, you didn't hear "the Jays should have signed him" - maybe the Jays should have signed every FA & Traded  for every player who was moved.

I'm not giving up on the season yet - it's another month or so until trading is up to speed and by then hopefully we'll have a much clearer picture - but if the jays become sellers, then I'm all for listening on Bautista.

Gerry - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 07:10 PM EDT (#258582) #
Well said 85bluejay. I agree.
joeblow - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 07:49 PM EDT (#258583) #
June 13 and I'm completely baffled by this team. They are not bad but they are not good either.To this point it has been a pretty regular lineup, rotation and bullpen going out there. Too many players having average years. Not many glaring duds (Coco is the only obvious one) so I don't know how you improve this team quickly. I guess we should settle in for the long haul and hope to be regular contenders by 2015.

scottt - Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 10:36 PM EDT (#258589) #
Morrow is a huge loss. He's leading with 3 complete games, but I don't think he was pushed too hard. He was given extra days of rest recently.

I can't see anyone pitching on short rest this year.

The next 2 weeks are going to be tough, but the schedule is markedly easier in July.

dan gordon - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 01:04 AM EDT (#258592) #
Just a quick shout out for my SF Giants and Matt Cain, who pitched the 22nd perfect game in mlb history tonight.  He had 14 strikeouts, too.  That's got to give him one of the highest game scores ever.
TamRa - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 02:11 AM EDT (#258593) #
am I the only one wondering where the buzz is for throwing Murphy under the bus for the hitting woes?
BlueJayWay - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 09:08 AM EDT (#258595) #
We were talking about that a bit upthread ^^^^^
85bluejay - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 10:04 AM EDT (#258604) #

I think that the Jays are cognisant of the Murphy problem but maybe he has strong relations with some of the hitters so it may be a delicate matter - maybe at the allstar break - remember the jays had Chad Mottola up in September as a second guy & the jays floated the idea of having a 2nd hitting coach during spring training - maybe there was pushback from Murphy as that rumour quietly died.

BlueJayWay - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 10:45 AM EDT (#258610) #
I remember Mottola in September, and hoping maybe that meant he'd get a shot coaching the big club, if not alone then maybe as co-coach.  But obviously that just withered on the vine.

If the players really like Murphy then it could be difficult.

Chuck - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#258611) #
Regardless of who the hitting coach is, the players are the ones who are ultimately accountable. They still have to execute, swinging at good pitches and letting the bad ones go.

I do concede that it drives me crazy seeing players not making adjustments with 2 strikes and men on base, where they still swing from the heels. But that appears to be a league-wide hitting strategy and has been for a long time, with only a handful of players taking it on themselves to alter their approach in such situations.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#258612) #
Our quiz for today.  Which reliever for the 2012 Blue Jays who has thrown more than 5 innings has the highest leverage index?  The answer is here.
Ryan Day - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#258613) #
It's worth remembering that the Jays have a few players - Rasmus, Escobar, and Johnson - who were only available because they were having terrible seasons; in Rasmus' case, it was compounded by his disagreements with the coaching staff over what he should or shouldn't be doing.

So Kelly Johnson was already slump-prone (see his 2009 & 2011 seasons), Rasmus may or may not listen to his hitting coach, and Escobar was perfectly fine under Murphy for a year and a half.
Hodgie - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 11:38 AM EDT (#258614) #
The Blue Jays, as a team, seem to be suffering from a lack of quality contact. They are roughly in the MLB median most of the plate discipline and contact categories but currently own the worst LD% and second worst BABIP in baseball. I don't know if this can be attributed to coaching or not, but it appears that many here do. I didn't know the old axiom went "Those that can do, those that can't teach and receive all the blame."

Even Bautista's resurgence over May and June has not left him immune to the BABIP gods. His June line in particular is thus far both incredible and incredibly strange:

20.8 BB% | 13.2 K% | .434/.854/1.288 | .517 wOBA | .179 BABIP

I guess it helps when 7 of your 12 hits for the month leave the yard and pitchers on the whole would rather just not pitch to you.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#258615) #
The three trailers on the club in LD% are Bautista, Mathis and Encarnacion (at a paltry 10.6%).  Encarnacion is off his career mark by 8% which is a lot, but has been very successful overall.  The one obvious disappointment in this regard was Lind.  When he's right, his LD% should be 20% or higher; it was under 19% this year and he had no compensating benefits. 

It does seem strange to talk of firing the hitting coach when the club is 3rd in the league in runs scored, and was anticipated to be in the middle of the pack.

vw_fan17 - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#258617) #
It does seem strange to talk of firing the hitting coach when the club is 3rd in the league in runs scored, and was anticipated to be in the middle of the pack.

My thoughts exactly.. If the point of offense is to score runs, the Jays are doing pretty well, peripherals notwithstanding.

Now, it may well be that their runs are bunched (i.e. feast or famine) and that's a sign of a bad team, or whatever.. But, if Runs Scored is a reasonable approximation for the offense, then the Jays are doing ok, IMHO.
MatO - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 01:40 PM EDT (#258619) #
Am I wrong that the Jays have tended to underperform their Pythagorian a lot recently including a time or two where the underperformance was historic in nature?  I was hoping the teams' overall luck would improve with AA but it doesn't seem to be the case.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#258622) #
Am I wrong that the Jays have tended to underperform their Pythagorian a lot recently including a time or two where the underperformance was historic in nature?  I was hoping the teams' overall luck would improve with AA but it doesn't seem to be the case.

You are not wrong.  However, if you are going to run out a reliever with an ERA over 5 in the highest leverage situations, it should not be a shocker that you fall a little short of the Pythagorean.  Luck being the residue of design and all that.
MatO - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 02:34 PM EDT (#258624) #
Pythagorean.  I thought it was wrong when I wrote it.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#258625) #
You have earned many mulligans, MatO. 
Magpie - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 03:19 PM EDT (#258628) #
if you are going to run out a reliever with an ERA over 5 in the highest leverage situations, it should not be a shocker that you fall a little short of the Pythagorean.

It's fun to blame Francisco Cordero for everything that's wrong with this year's team - why not, he hasn't been very good - but I think the real reason they're so far below their Pythagorean is because of their 3-11 record in one-run games. Which is pretty horrible, but hard to lay at the feet of Cordero, even if he's taken the L in two of them. He's pitched in 8 of those 14 games (the team is 3-5 in those games) - he's allowed 2 ER in 7.1 IP. He's 1-2 with a couple of holds (his W was just as cheap as his second L.)

By the way, the Toronto offense has not been piling up runs in blowouts, thereby making themselves look more potent they actually are.They have the fourth best runs per game in the league because... that's how they are. Here's a little data table (my first of the season!)of AL distribution of runs scored by game:


Team	GPL	R	R/G	0	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10	11+

TEX	63	332	5.27	1	6	8	8	10	8	4	5	2	1	4	6
BOS	63	319	5.06	2	8	6	10	7	3	8	7	1	1	3	7
CWS	62	297	4.79	6	2	7	7	11	6	5	7	4	2	2	3
TOR	63	300	4.76	1	3	10	10	10	8	5	7	3	3	0	3
NYY	62	293	4.73	4	7	5	8	3	9	12	4	4	3	1	2
BAL	62	278	4.48	2	3	9	11	7	10	8	3	6	1	2	0
Lg Avg	62	276	4.45	4	5	9	10	9	7	6	5	3	2	2	2
DET	62	274	4.42	0	6	9	13	11	5	5	6	1	1	4	1
CLE	61	265	4.34	1	7	10	8	11	6	6	3	4	3	0	2
MIN	61	264	4.33	6	6	9	8	6	5	7	4	3	1	2	4
TBR	62	263	4.24	2	5	9	13	10	9	1	5	4	2	0	2
LAA	64	262	4.09	8	2	9	10	7	8	10	4	1	3	1	1
SEA	64	261	4.08	7	7	10	8	10	6	3	3	4	2	3	1
KCR	60	230	3.83	4	3	10	14	10	5	4	6	2	2	0	0
OAK	63	229	3.63	11	7	8	8	6	8	5	3	2	2	1	2
Toronto looks blindingly normal to me.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#258629) #
Actually, I am not blaming Cordero for anything.  He is what he is, which (at this stage in his career) is a slightly below-average middle reliever.  The manager is the one who decides on usage.  What I am saying is that the design of the club from bench to reliever usage is not optimal for a team that wishes to win as many one-run games as possible.  Luck, of course, plays a large role when a decent club goes 3-11 in one run games.
China fan - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 03:53 PM EDT (#258631) #
Further to our earlier discussion about Dwayne Murphy: there's an interesting analysis by Shi Davidi which makes some provocative points. He quotes Murphy as saying that the Jays hitting woes (especially early in the season) are partly because their hitters have been too passive -- taking too many pitches, especially early fastballs -- and not being aggressive enough. Murphy argues that Rasmus and Bautista began to hit better when they became less passive and more aggressive.

Davidi notes that the Jays are too often hitting when they are behind in the count. He notes that the single most frequent count for the Jays to hit on is 1-2. And of course they're hitting very badly on this count. Here's the money quote from the article:

Whatís collectively lacking, in Murphyís estimation, "is the Iím going up there to hit swagger. The Iím not afraid to go up there and hit, where a guy has the confidence that heís going to hit and not worrying about if he should take pitches, or if he should do this, or if he should do that, etc."

Of course this analysis can be read in several different ways. Critics of Murphy will say that he is wrongly encouraging hitters to swing for the fences. Supporters of Murphy will say that the Jays are being too patient, letting too many pitches go by, in defiance of Murphy's advice, and that's the reason for their problems. A third interpretation could be: the Jays are trying to boost their OBP by being overly patient at the plate, and they should forget about OBP and just look for their pitch, even if it's early in the count.

Here's a link to the Davidi article, and I'd be interested in any reaction to it:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/2012/06/14/dwayne_murphy_blue_jays_hitters_approacvh/


BalzacChieftain - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 04:04 PM EDT (#258634) #
My gut reaction to Murphy's quotes are how similar they sound to Buck and Pat's analysis of the Jays' offense as well. I would contend that when the hitting coach's philosophy is mirrored by this particular broadcasting crew, it doesn't speak well of him. As a side note, I believe Bautista has walked more often since he's gotten hot, as he's gotten himself into better hitting counts. I felt he was too aggressive at the start of the season, swinging at a lot of tough pitches.
Magpie - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 04:06 PM EDT (#258635) #
A quick description of those 11 losses:

1. Carreno staked to a 3-2 lead, gives up two runs in the fifth. Final was 4-3.
2. Hunter beats Alvarez 2-1
3. Hutchison falls behind 4-1, team gets close but lose 4-3.
4. Drabek and Villaneuva fall behind 6-2, team gets close but lose 6-5.
5. Romero falls behind 4-0, team gets close but loses 4-3
6. Alvarez has 3-0 lead, but errors help give it away and they lose 4-3.
7. Alvarez falls behind 6-2, team gets close but loses 6-5.
8. Oliver in a 4-4 in the 11th inning allows a HBP and an RBI double, loses 5-4.
9. Igarashi (walk, double) and Frasor (3 run HR) blow 7-5 run lead in extra innings and lose 8-7.
10. Cordero, 9th inning 3-3 tie allows single, WP, RBI single and loses 4-3.
11. Cordero, 9th inning 3-3 tie allows single, WP, stolen base/error and loses 4-3.

They came from behind (deficits of 1-0, 2-0, and 5-0) in the three games they won.
Magpie - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#258637) #
As a side note, I believe Bautista has walked more often since he's gotten hot,

Well, it might be a little more complicated, as Bautista actually started to heat up when he began walking less. Then, once he got hot, he started to draw an insane number of walks. He walked 16 times in April, when he hit .181/.320/.313 and 13 times in May (in more plate appearances) when he hit .257/.342/.552. He's been en fuego in June, of course, and he's drawing a walk in every five PApps. How much any of this might have to do with changes in his approach, or changes in how he's being pitched, or simply the laws of BABiP reverting to something more normal is - as always - clear as mud.
China fan - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 04:25 PM EDT (#258639) #
Magpie, those statistics would tend to support Murphy's theory that Bautista began to improve his hitting when he became more aggressive. Of course, you're also correct to say that we cannot be sure about the reasons for his improvement, and it's difficult to prove any theory about it.
Magpie - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 04:34 PM EDT (#258640) #
I think myself that what probably happened was that he started to get some better pitches to swing at, and they started falling in.

I do believe that a hitter has to be who he is. Some guys just naturally work the count. Some guys like to wait for a certain pitch in a certain spot. Some guys have great strike zone judgement. But most don't. And some guys need to tee off on the first good fastball they see because the change-up ruins their day.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 04:47 PM EDT (#258641) #
I agree with that generally.  I do think that incremental changes in approach can work, but almost always the changes are gradual.  You don't try to take a young Vladimir Guerrero or Yogi Berra and try to make him into Joe Morgan.  You may however be able to persuade him to lay off that 0-2 pitch in the dirt that he chased too much when he was 21. 
92-93 - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#258644) #
I enjoy watching Colby Rasmus pounce on first pitch fastballs. He's someone who really needs to hit when he's ahead in the count to be effective.
BlueJayWay - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 06:05 PM EDT (#258646) #
Am I wrong that the Jays have tended to underperform their Pythagorian a lot recently including a time or two where the underperformance was historic in nature?  I was hoping the teams' overall luck would improve with AA but it doesn't seem to be the case.

They did constantly in the Ricciardi years.  They've outperformed their Pythag slightly in both 2010 and 2011, though.  But they are under this year (so far).
Magpie - Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 07:04 PM EDT (#258650) #
Am I wrong that the Jays have tended to underperform their Pythagorian a lot recently including a time or two where the underperformance was historic in nature?

Oh, I've been over this ground! The 2005 Blue Jays were just the third team in history to lose more games than they won (80-82) despire outscoring their opponents by at least 70 runs (775-70). The first two teams were the Cincinnati Reds in 1955 and 1958. The Reds and Jays have since been joined by the 2006 Cleveland Indians.

The 2009 Blue Jays lost 10 games more than they won (75-87), despite actually outscoring their opponents (641-633). They were just the eighth team in recorded history to pull that off. (Remember, in both cases, we're considering roughly 2400 team-seasons.)

The 2008 Blue Jays weren't nearly as historic. But they did finish with a record of 86-76 despite scoring 714 runs and allowing 610. That was the fourth-best run differential in the major leagues that year, and could reasonably be expected to go along with a 94-68 record.
Mike D - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 08:44 AM EDT (#258663) #
Mags, it's a little misleading to use one-run games as a proxy for analyzing The Cordero Effect. Remember the Brandon Inge Game, when he was handed a one-run game and gave up five in the ninth?

If there's been one particular weakness Cordero's had out of the bullpen this year, it would be "pitching." There are 25 pitchers in the majors to have made 30 appearances this season. Of the 25, Cordero has:

* the worst ERA
* the most runs allowed
* the worst batting average against
* the worst slugging percentage against
* the worst K/BB ratio
* tied for the most blown saves
* tied for the most wild pitches
* the second-worst OBP against
* the second-worst WHIP
* tied for the second-most HR allowed
* tied for the second-most SB allowed

It's amazing that a pitcher with this performance and used this often (and, as Mike G notes, as crucially) would be right-handed, aging and declining, and not signed to an expensive or long-term contract. What is the argument for putting him anywhere near a close game?
Moe - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 09:18 AM EDT (#258664) #
and not signed to an expensive or long-term contract.

1 year at 4.5m hardly qualifies as that.

I agree that signing him was probably not the smartest idea as last year's advanced metrics are not nearly as good as his shiny ERA and he pitched in the NL and not in the AL East. Having said that, it was still a low risk signing and he was not expected to carry as big of a load.

May I remind all of you who are now complaining about the pen that before the season the Jays were considered to have a greatly improved pen. In fact, the pen overhaul was considered the best thing accomplished over the offseason.

China fan - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 09:45 AM EDT (#258667) #
In fact, Anthopoulos was criticized by many fans for investing so much money in the bullpen. At the same time, he was praised for dumping several of last year's relievers in trades or as free agents, which certainly compelled him to look for bullpen acquisitions this year.

I think AA had the right idea: bolster the bullpen with trades (Santos) and free-agent signings. He may have erred in signing Cordero, but the overall strategy was correct. Oliver, for example, has worked out well. And AA can't be blamed for the Santos injury. In general, AA had the right idea, but he made a mistake on Cordero. (And some Bauxites were absolutely correct in the off-season when they pointed out Cordero's declining performance last year.)

Looking around the majors, however, it's clear that a number of other teams also made mistakes in their bullpen acquisitions. Predicting a reliever's performance is a tricky business.
Mike Green - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#258668) #
The bullpen should be adequate with the personnel on hand.  Janssen and Oliver get the highest leverage work.  Perez and Frasor get the medium leverage work.  Villanueva is your long man and Cordero gets 1-2 innings of low leverage work whenever required. 

Farrell seems to be confounded by the makeup of his rotation.  He's had 4 right-handed starters and Romero with the severe reverse splits which many teams have finally figured out.  In the result, the club faces more LHB than RHB.  Farrell hasn't really figured out how to use Perez in this situation, where he could be very valuable.  He should never be used in low leverage situations unless he needs the work.  Let's say it's 3-3 after 5 innings and Alvarez has thrown 75 pitches and is facing 6 LHBs in the lineup.  That's a Perez for 2 innings situation. 

There seems to be an organizational philosophy that starters should be given every opportunity to go 7 innings (and get the win).  It hasn't been working well.

Magpie - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#258673) #
Hey, all I'm saying is that as frightening as the Cordero Effect has been, and as mystifying as it is that he leads the staff in appearances, the team has lost a lot of games without his special contribution. Most of 'em, in fact. There are bigger problems.

In something not completely unrelated, has any team ever had a rotation starter give up as many homers as walks? It seems like that would be really hard to do, and certainly a really bad idea. Alvarez might be up to it.
Chuck - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#258675) #

has any team ever had a rotation starter give up as many homers as walks?

My first thought was Bob Tewksbury. He came awfully close in his final year. There must be someone who pulled this off.

Mike Green - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 12:06 PM EDT (#258678) #
Alvarez' HR/FB is over 20%.  It would be unusual for that figure to be sustained over a season.

The home run that he gave up to Solano on Tuesday night was an example of the kind of thing that ought to be avoided.  He's down 3-2 in the 7th inning.  There are two outs and nobody on.  The one thing that you do not want to happen is a home run.  You have a hitter who is extremely unlikely to hit a homer the opposite way or to centerfield.  Alvarez does need to pitch up and in sometimes to right-handed hitters to be effective, but this is one instance where you absolutely do not want to be up and over the plate on the inner half, which is exactly where the pitch was. 

You really have two choices- go up and in off the plate a bit and not worry about the possibility of hitting Solano, or avoiding the area entirely in that situation.  This is all part of Alvarez' learning process, and I have a lot of confidence that he will eventually master the art of pitching. 

Spifficus - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 12:32 PM EDT (#258681) #
My first two guesses were Jamie Moyer and Bret Saberhagen, and they were each able to post a year where they let up precisely as many HRs as walks, though only Saberhagen pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title ('94). Blyleven was close enough to make it amusing the year he gave up 50 HRs (to 58 BBs, in '86).
fozzy - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#258682) #
Looking at the pitch f/x data points, it seems for Alvarez both his slider and change-up are being thrown with a higher velocity, and his fastball with a very slightly decreased velocity. With less of a speed change between pitches, it may be leading to his struggles.

So what's a solution? Time and patience? Or would he benefit from straightening out his fastball from time to time (or can he)? New pitch - cutter or a curve? Converted to relief? I have no idea, but I hope he figures it out, he has time and all the talent in the world, and I think he's becoming a fan favourite pretty quickly.

92-93 - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#258683) #
Cliff Lee in 2010 threw 212 innings with 16 HRs, 18 BBs, and 185 Ks.
John Northey - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#258685) #
Bigger problems?

Check my post earlier about the Jays record when tied at the start of inning...
1: 31-32 (overall record)
2: 20-23
3: 14-10
4: 9-5
5: 8-6
6: 5-2
7: 0-3 (don't get worse)
8: 1-5
9: 1-6
Extras: 2-4

A winning record if they are tied pre-the 7th inning, then losing from then on.  Given the pen takes over around the 7th that strongly suggests the pen is killing this team (vs other teams pens).  With a decent offense (3rd in runs scored) the Jays should be in a positive situation when tied in late innings but instead do very poorly.

Why would this be when there are decent options in the pen?  One has to suspect poor choice of who to use and when is the cause.
Spifficus - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 01:14 PM EDT (#258690) #
The master so far has been ole friend David Wells. 4 times he posted at least as many homers as walks. I thought I'd have some luck with the Greg Swindel, John Smiley or Zane Smith types, but no. I had also forgotten that Eric Milton was an all-star. Huh.
Magpie - Friday, June 15 2012 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#258739) #
Bigger problems?

Oh, I agree completely that the bullpen has been bad, worst in the league, if not the majors. But it's the bullpen. Of all the problems a team has, this is (or certainly ought to be) the easiest to fix because, as I love saying, there is no shortage of pitchers who can help you in that role. Whereas if you're losing games because you don't have a shortstop, or you can't find two reliable starting pitchers - that's a real problem.
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