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The Blue Jays need to draft and develop talent successfully to drive winning at the major league level.  Alex Anthopoulos adopted this as a core belief and when he was hired as general manager he focused on improving the Jays drafting and player development.  How successful has this new approach been? AA has been on the job for just four years, which is too early to fully judge his drafts, but we can make some observations. 

When Alex Anthopoulos was hired as general manager of the Blue Jays in 2009 he announced an increased focus on scouting and that included a rebuild of the amateur scouting department.  Jeff Blair, in his book Full Count, says one of AA’s first moves was to increase the size of the amateur scouting ranks from 28 to 54.  Today the website of the Blue Jays lists 23 US amateur scouts, 6 cross-checkers, two Canadian scouts and 12 international scouts.  I emailed the Jays Director of Amateur Scouting, Brian Parker, about the department size and he responded “I believe we still have the most full-time area scouts of any club in baseball.  I know the philosophy that Alex started back then of having smaller areas is something that we still believe in and follow with our current staff.   I truly believe it gives us an advantage.”


More Scouts

The objective of this increase in amateur scouting was to improve the Jays ability to find major league players, to up the “hit” ratio from the normal ratio of one established major leaguer per draft to two.  Players drafted and developed by a club are the cheapest form of talent and one path to on-field success.

So I wondered how would the Jays decision to increase the number of amateur scouts impact the draft?  Would it help more with the top picks or the lower picks?  And how would we see that change?

What would be the expected impact of increasing the size of the amateur scouting department?  In my opinion more scouts should help as follows:

- more views of the top picks, leading to more certainty around the choice

- more views at mid-round picks, again leading to better choices

- more views at lower round picks, to find the gems lower down in the draft

- a scout with more time should be able to get to know the player better, to get a good understanding of the players “intangibles” and as a result cut out players with personal issues that can get in the way of them realizing their potential.

One of the benefits of having more scouts is to get more views of a player.  Will that help?  For the top players in the draft an interested team will have a scout at every game they play in their draft year.  The team can only get more scouts to see the player, they already will have seen all his games.  But will those extra views help the process?  Let’s say a regular team, the Royals just to pick one, were interested in Phil Bickford.  Lets assume they have the local scout, two cross-checkers, an assistant GM and the GM see him play.  That equals to five separate Royals employees seeing the player.  Now assume the Blue Jays have the local scout, three cross-checkers, two assistant GM’s and the GM see the player.  That equals to seven views.  Will the seven views be better than five?  Or to put it another way, will the Jays have more success with their number one choice than another team?

Once we get past the first round the number of views starts to decline but the Jays should still have more views than any other team.  To put it simply:

More scouts = smaller territories = more views of a player = more certainty of selection

Brian Parker said in an email that he believes the big advantage to the Jays will come in those first ten rounds, unless the Jays punt some picks for strategic reasons.  He also mentioned one other advantage to me.  The Jays can afford to spend more time looking at “unsignable” guys to put a more accurate valuation on the player and to see if it’s worth meeting their price.

But more scouts does not necessarily mean better scouts.  There was some talk, around the time that AA was hired, that other teams were offering better pay to their scouts to stop them jumping to the Jays.  It is unclear to me now whether the Jays have better scouts, but they do have more.

A scout might want to work for the Jays if the pay was better, or if the territory was smaller so they could be home more often.  But as I see it there might be reasons that a scout would not want to work for the Jays.  For one, the smaller territory would mean the scout would have a lesser chance of having a selection in the draft.   If you think of a team making 40 picks in the June draft, some scouts could have 3 or 4 players selected from their area, others might have none.  It can be tough to work for a year and see no contribution from you to the team you are covering.  Also signed players are a scouts resume, no signees means a weaker resume.  If a scout works for the Jays he has a statistically lower chance of having a player drafted.

Draft Experts and Scouting

Over the last five years there has been an explosion of information on the web about draftable players.  Baseball America used to have the field to themselves but now there are several competing groups that offer their top 200 or more lists.  The top players in the draft are not a surprise by draft day, sometimes the order is, but draft pundits can usually forecast somewhere between 25 and 28 of the first thirty picks.  We can always find the story of a Mike Trout who many teams passed over, and there are numerous stories of top picks who were not successful, but it is hard to find a hidden gem anymore.

The first thing to understand of the first round of the draft is that despite all the scouting that put on these players, there is a lot of uncertainty involved in their post draft performance.  Some 1-1 picks are busts while some number 30 picks deliver better value.  The question is this: is the uncertainty a feature, as in unfixable, or will better scouting reduce the uncertainty?  I believe AA was trying to reduce the uncertainty when he increased the size of the scouting department.

Another change in the last ten years has been the proliferation of showcases to help high school players be seen.  There are few high school players now selected in the top rounds of the draft who have not had this showcase exposure.  The showcases let scouts see the player perform against better opposition, thereby increasing their confidence in their evaluation.

So, where are we?

The Jays hired more scouts to increase their draft success rate
That increased hit rate could come at all levels of the draft through increasing the success of the number one pick and being more successful all the way through the draft
The Jays decision to hire more scouts should mean that a scout should see a player more often, and a higher ranked player should be seen by more scouts and cross-checkers.  It also means that the Jays amateur scouts should have more views of most players drafted
The draft still has a lot of uncertainty built into every pick
There are fewer surprises or unknown players in the draft today than there was ten years ago



Over the summer Baseball America ran a story where they had calculated the odds for players to make it to the major leagues.  The chances of making it for at least one game, and for accumulating three years playing time, are as follows:

1st round    - 73% chance to make it, 39% chance of getting 3 years worth of appearances
Supplemental 1st round -52% and 16%
2nd round    - 49% and 16%
Rounds 3-5   - 34% and 10%
Rounds 6-10  - 21% and 6%
Rounds 11-20 - 13% and 3%
Above        - 7% and 1%

Players drafted in the top ten rounds have a one in three chance to make it to the major leagues but just over a one in ten chance to survive for three years.  Getting to the big leagues is an achievement but staying there is the biggest achievement.

By hiring extra scouts the Jays expect to improve those odds and have more players reach MLB.

It takes five to seven years to evaluate a draft, particularly drafts where a lot of high school players are selected.  When an 18 year old is drafted the normal expectation is that he could reach the major leagues at age 23 or 24, or to put it another way 5 or 6 years after he was drafted.  That is why it takes such a long time to evaluate a draft.  However we will press on regardless.

There has been a concern in my mind that the Jays drafting has not been good, at least not as good as we hoped with AA’s increased emphasis on scouting.  The Jays have drafted several players in high rounds who have never got out of short season ball.  Many prospects, in general, hit a wall at AA or sometimes high A.  You expect a top 100 selection to get to Dunedin without too many struggles.  They might struggle after the big jump to AA.  That hasn’t happened with several Jays selections.

First Round

So lets get into details, who have the Jays selected in the first round since AA took control of the team?

2010 - Deck McGuire
2011 - Tyler Beede
2012 - DJ Davis
2012 - Marcus Stroman
2013 - Phil Bickford

Leaving Beede and Bickford aside, if the Jays were to equal the MLB averages, they would need to have two of their three draftees reach the major leagues and one to have a three year career.

Marcus Stroman seems to be the best bet at this time to meet both those qualifications bearing in mind the attrition rate for prospect pitchers.   Deck McGuire has a decent chance to make it but would be considered a longshot to get three full years in.  It’s early to say what will become of DJ Davis, he is raw but talented.  He strikes out a lot.  He could have an Anthony Gose type career if he can improve his hitting but that might be his upside.

In summary, although it is really too early to have a definitive opinion, it looks like the Jays might just about hit the mark for the MLB norms for a first round selection.  Stroman needs three years and if he fails to do that the onus would be on DJ Davis.

But that ignores the Beede and Bickford non-signings.  One of the objectives of having more scouts is to get a better feel for the player, and by extension his family.  The fact that the Jays twice failed to sign their first round pick shows that the presumption that the Jays would have better information on the players to be drafted is false.

First Supplemental Round

What about the supplemental first round?  The Jays picks were:

2010 - Aaron Sanchez
2010 - Noah Syndergaard
2010 - Asher Wojciechowski
2011 - Jacob Anderson
2011 - Joe Musgrove
2011 - Dwight Smith Jr.
2011 - Kevin Comer
2012 - Matt Smoral
2012 - Mitch Nay
2012 - Tyler Gonzalez

The Jays have signed ten first round supplementary picks in AA’s reign.  Based on the BA expectations, we would expect 5 of these players would play in the major leagues and 2 would be three year players.

As of today, I would expect that Sanchez, Syndergaard and Wojo would be major leaguers and one or two of them to make it to three years.  At this stage, as fans, we expect all these pitchers who are close to the majors to be successful but the rate of attrition for prospects is high.  In addition one or two of Smith, Nay and Smoral might make it but it also could be zero.  This is the challenge in trying to evaluate the draft early.  I don’t see Musgrove, Smith or Gonzalez making it.  Jacob Anderson appears unlikely to meet either of the categories, he was drafted two and a half seasons ago and still has not graduated out of complex baseball.  So three players have an excellent chance to make it, four are very doubtful and that leaves three to make or break the Jays success for this round.  On average just 1.5 of the remaining three would become a major leaguer.  The Jays need two of the three to make it for this to be an average draft.

On a three year basis where the expectation is two three year players I could see the Jays doing somewhat better with Sanchez and Syndergaard as the anchors.  The Jays should hit the BA level of two and just need one of the others to make it three.

Summary: The Jays could hit the BA expectations for major leaguers but seem unlikely to exceed them.  The Jays could exceed on the number of 3 year players.

On another note, picks in the supplemental round have a 50% chance to make the major leagues.  One has to expect some of these players not to be major leaguersl but I would expect players selected this high in the draft to fail in high A, AA or AAA.  As of now four of these players have made minimal progress since they were drafted.  Musgrove, Comer and Anderson have not played full season ball yet, they will all be 21 next season, time is running out and their lack of development must be a disappointment for the team.  Tyler Gonzalez barely played in 2013 before being suspended for unspecified issues.  Again that reflects poorly on the Jays drafting.  However reports from instructional league were that he finally seems to be getting his act together but he has essentially lost two years.

Most supplemental round picks are top 50 picks in the draft.  Those are premium picks.  To see four of them struggle so early in their careers does not reflect well on the Jays drafting ability.

Second round

The chances of success in the second round are the same as the supplemental round, 50% reach, 16% for three years.

2010 - Griffin Murphy
2010 - Kellen Sweeney
2010 - Justin Nicolino
2011 - Daniel Norris
2011 - Jeremy Gabrzyzwski
2012 - Chase DeJong
2013 - Clinton Hollon

The Jays have drafted seven players in the second round, 3-4 should be major leaguers, one or two should be 3 year players.

Summary: The chances of three of these players becoming major leaguers is slim, I am talking about Murphy, Sweeney and Gabrzyzwski.  That leaves four who have all started well in their careers.  Nicolino is the most advanced, but the others, Norris, DeJong and Hollon, are all top 30 prospects.  The Jays could hit the expected major leaguer levels if all of these pitchers reach the majors, it is too early to say whether the Jays will have 1-2 three year players.  Remember that pitchers have a high attrition rate and all of these pitchers still have questions about their ability to be successful major leaguers.  Expecting all of the remaining four to be major leaguers is unrealistic.  As a result the Jays are likely to fall short of expectations with their second round selections.


Third to fifth round (BA - 34% and 10%)
2010 - Chris Hawkins, Marcus Knecht, Sam Dyson, Dickie Thon Jr
2011 - John Stilson, Tom Robson, Andrew Chin
2012 - Anthony Alford plus two throwaway senior signs
2013 - Patrick Murphy, Evan Smith, Daniel Leitz

The third to fifth round had 13 selections but two were senior signs as overdrafts as part of the draft plan of the Jays.  In addition Andrew Chin did not sign, so we will say the Jays made 10 picks for our calculation.  Per the BA expectations the Jays should realize 3 major leaguers and one 3 year player.  Sam Dyson has already made it, John Stilson is close with Tom Robson as the next best hope.  Knecht, Hawkins, Thon and Alford are all very long shots to reach the major leagues.  The 2013 draftees have not shown much yet. 

Summary: Four players are doubtful, two are likely.  The Jays need one of the remaining four to make it to reach the BA averages.  One of the pitchers could have a three year career, likely as a reliever, as stilson is the closest to that.


Rounds 6-10.

The Jays have had 20 picks here over the four years.  Four should reach the majors with 1.2 having a three year career.  Sean Nolin and Anthony DeSclafani seem to be the Jays only prospects with a chance at reaching the majors.

Rounds 10-20

Out of 40 picks the Jays should find 5 major leaguers and one three year player.  Andy Burns appears to be a good bet to reach the majors.  The best potential to also reach are Dalton Pompey, Matt Dean, Jon Berti, Zak Wasilewski, Ryan Borucki and Shane Dawson.  Most of these players have longer odds to reach the major leagues.  It would be realistic to expect 2 to 4 to reach the majors.

Rounds 21 plus

The Jays have selected more than 80 players in these rounds although a lesser number actually signed.  The Jays should find 4 major leaguers and one 3 year player here.  The major leaguer and likely three year player is Kevin Pillar.  The next best chance goes to Derrick Chung.

Extra Picks

The Jays have had a lot of picks over the last five years.  By my count the Jays have had 14 extra picks between the supplemental and third rounds.  These are compensation picks for losing free agents.  When we apply the BA metrics just to those 14 extra picks the Jays should produce seven extra major leaguers and 2.2 extra 3 year major leaguers.

Do you see seven extra major leaguers in the pipeline?


 Bottom Line

Here is a table of the Jays picks and their expected value:

            Picks    ML    ML*3
Round 1         3   2.2    1.2
Round 1s       10   5.2    1.6
Round 2         7   3.4    1.1
Rounds 3-5     10   3.4    1.0
Rounds 6-10    20   4.0    1.2
Rounds 11-20   40   5.2    1.2
Rounds 21-50   60   3.6    0.6
Totals        150   27.0   7.9

The Jays would be expected to generate 27 major leaguers from the 2010 through 2013 drafts with 8 of them being three year players. 

If we remember the introduction to this piece the Jays hoped to better their hit rate in the draft.  Is there evidence that they have done that? 

Round 1 - Jays might reach the BA average but missed on two picks
Round 1s - Trending between average and below average on MLB players with several early flame-outs.  Big hits on Sanchez and Syndergaard mean the Jays could exceed on three year players if they can find one more
Round 2 - Jays are likely to be below average
Round 3 to 5 - Jays are between average and below average
Rounds 6 to 10 -  Jays are likely to be below average
Rounds 11 to 20 - Jays are between average and below average
Rounds 21 to 40 - Jays are likely to be below average

If I run the above summaries through a mental filter I get 21 major leaguers and seven 3 year players.  When AA has hired he expected to increase the Jays hit rate on the draft.  As of today I find no evidence that the Jays will increase their hit rate and indeed it can be argued that the Jays have been below average drafters since AA was hired.


If we assume that the Jays have not exceeded the normal hit rate on the draft then why have they not had the success they hoped for?  Those of us who are not insiders may never know but here are some potential reasons for the draft results.

First, an explanation of the drafting process.  Over the course of a year the Jays scouts, cross-checkers and front office staff will turn in hundreds of evaluations.  In the week before the draft the scouts, cross-checkers and front office get together to rank all these players from one to the end.  There were 1200 players drafted last summer, the Jays likely ranked at least 600 of them.  The ultimate skill in the draft is deciding between several equally ranked players.  It’s like looking at a first round projection, deciding your favourite, and repeating several hundred times.  Except it not just you, it’s you and forty of your co-workers.  For any one pick, you can have half a dozen scouts arguing for their player, you can half a dozen cross-checkers also preferring their choice and maybe front office people with an opinion too.  As scouting director how do you decide?  Of course you will have your own opinion too.  But ultimately how do you decide?  It could be political, the first rounder is who the GM likes best.  Or as scouting director you might have some on staff who you trust more.  This level of uncertainty, the mastery of group decision making, is the cornerstone of the drafting process.

And now to the Jays possible draft issues:

The Jays have had three different Directors of Amateur Scouting over the last four years, Jon Lalonde, Andrew Tinnish and Brian Parker.  Turnover does not allow teams to develop consistency.  Each Director might have preferences for certain kinds of players.  In addition a big part of the job of the scouting director is deciding which scouts judgement to believe.  Turnover does not let you develop that knowledge base from year to year

All of the scouting directors had limited experience before being appointed.  None had previously been a scouting Director.  It would be sad if AA’s investment in scouting was undermined by under-investing at the top

It is possible the Jays have too many voices in the room.  The Jays have several former GM’s on staff.  They all look at amateur talent leading up to the draft.  When they all have an opinion who does the scouting director listen to?

The wrong voice in the room might be too influential

Even though the Jays expected to do better the element of luck might be too strong

Some of the scouts might not have been that good.  The Jays changed up some scouts over the
last year since Brian Parker was appointed with Bob Elliott leading the howls of protest.  Maybe those changes were justified.

And finally, could the Jays have out-thought themselves?  Many of the Jays first round selections have been unexpected.  In some ways it seems that the Jays think because they have so many scouts they will know things that no other team will know.  But as we have seen that expectation might be incorrect, the Jays might have done better by sticking with the wisdom of the crowd.

What are my take-aways?

I do not think the Jays have done a good job of drafting over the last four years

There is no evidence that the extra dollars allocated to amateur scouting by the Jays has led to a better hit rate

I think the Jays have squandered their extra picks

I think there is something wrong in the drafting process that sees so many high selections fail so quickly

I have not looked at a value for money analysis for free agents but I think the Jays prospects have been helped by some good latin talent that did not have to be drafted.  The Jays top 30 includes Franklin Barreto, Roberto Osuna, Alberto Tirado, Dawel Lugo, Richard Urena, Jairo Labourt, Santiago Nessy, Miguel Castro and Adonys Cardona.  That is a lot of contribution from free agents instead of the draft.

Some have said this is a development issue rather than a scouting issue.  My opinion is that talent should get you through the first year or two or three and development becomes key when a player starts to struggle.  The Jays don’t like to make any major changes to players until they have played a season, unless circumstances dictate it.  As they say a player has to want to change, sometimes they need to hit a wall to have to want to change.  Because many of the Jays draftees have struggled right out of the gate, I tend to put more blame on the drafting rather than on the development.  We may never know, it’s hard sometimes to tell them apart, but in my opinion the drafting is the bigger problem.


Finally, from the pages of Moneyball, I leave you with a quote from Billy Beane.  If you recall one of the key chapters in Moneyball revolved around Beane’s dissatisfaction with his scouts and Beane’s move, with Paul DePodesta, to look at college statistics to try and improve his success rate.  Beane said “The draft has never been anything but a f*&^ing crapshoot.  We take fifty guys and we celebrate if two of them make it.”  Michael Lewis notes that Beane had come to believe that baseball scouting was at roughly the same stage of development in the twenty first century as professional medicine had been in the eighteenth.

Has anything with the draft changed since Moneyball?

Blue Jays Drafting in the Anthopoulos Era | 83 comments | Create New Account
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John Northey - Tuesday, March 11 2014 @ 12:08 PM EDT (#283204) #
As you state, it is way too early to say 'yes' for success, however it is not too early to put a few players into the 'nope' pile as you did.

What about JPR? If they were to make it they should've by now.  Years 2002-2009
Round 1: 8 reached, careers for Hill, Romero, Snider, JPA out of 9 players drafted 89% made, 44% significant
1 sup: 5 picks, Paxton didn't sign of course so 4 for this, 3 reached, Cecil only significant one 75% reach, 25% significant (higher if you count Paxton for reach, could be higher for significant too in 3 years)
2: 7 picks, Eliopolis didn't sign so 6 count. 3 made it, Bush had a career so 50% make, 17% significant
3-5: 25 picked (not sure who didn't sign) reached is 10 (40%), careers are Marcum, Lind, Janssen, Rzepczynski and maybe Marisnick and Goins in a few years. so 16% to 24% (!)
6-10: 40 picks, 8 made it (20%), shots at 3+ are Loup, Gomes, and maybe AJ Jimenez but none have done it yet, so 20% make, 0% 3+ but should be 2.5% (if just Loup) to 7.5% (if all 3)
11-20: 80 picks, 8 made it, Ryan Roberts did 3+, Hutchison could, that's about it. so 10% make, 1.25% made it, could be 2.5%
21-50: 240 picked, 6 made it,  Litsch did 3+, Kratz is close, also drafted but didn't sign Brett Wallace and Drew Butera (both 3+) So 2.5% reached, 0.4% with 3+ could be 0.8% or max of 1.6% if you count Wallace & Butera.

Fun exercise... so JPR actually didn't do so bad by this standard.
1: 89/44 vs goal of 72/39: win for JPR
1+: 75/25 vs goal of 52/16: win for JPR
2: 50/17 vs goal of 49/16: tie
3-5: 40/16-24 vs goal of 34/10: win
6-10: 20/2.5-7.5 vs goal of 21/6: tie or loss depending on Jimenez/Gomes
11-20: 10/1.25-2.5 vs goal of 13/3: slight loss
21+: 2.5/04.-0.8 vs goal of 6/1: loss
Bonus: Tim Collins - undrafted but now has 3 full seasons and pretty much a lock for season 4 this year in KC (JPR's dad found him iirc)

So it appears JPR was solid in rounds 1-5, OK in 6-20 then for 21+ (faint hope guys) was in trouble.  Makes sense...if you cut on scouting that you'd have trouble the later in the draft it gets as you won't know who the best guys are by then since your scouting time would be devoted to the top picks.  Seems funny, as we all see JPR as having done a poor job but he seems to have done a slightly above average one in the draft.
John Northey - Tuesday, March 11 2014 @ 12:45 PM EDT (#283207) #
One thing of note: with the current system I wouldn't count unsigned round 1 picks as a big negative due to the replacement pick the following year. The Jays didn't 'lose' picks, they just delayed them by a year which is a lot like the old draft and follow that was done in the 80's/90's before it was banned due to the signing deadline (players would be drafted, then watched over the next year and signed days before the next draft).

Also of note is how the draft has changed drastically in the 2010 to now vs previous drafts.  Once the cap was put into place everything changed as now there is value in skipping picks in rounds 4-10 (where it is sign or lose pick and draft money) and there is value in playing hardball with picks in rounds 1-3 since you don't lose the pick, just delay it a year. 

Something that might be worth digging into is value from the picks.  IE: a guy who is a backup catcher for 20 years has value, but could also be replaced for around $1 mil a year over minimum whereas a guy like Roy Halladay is extremely hard to get outside of the draft.  Looking at JPR's first rounders I see Hill, Romero, Snider, JPA - only Hill added a lot of value, with Romero having some but lost due to his collapse.  Compare that to the first rounders via Gillick, who was known for poor first rounds, 19 picks, 13 made it (68%) but 7 had 3+ year careers (37%) both of which are slightly sub-par but of those 7 we had 4 guys with 20+ WAR which is exceptional (only Hill did that for JPR) with 2 over 30 (Green & Carpenter).  Gord Ash had a killer first round record - 9 picks, 8 reached, 6 3+ years, 3 over 20 WAR, 1 over 60.  89% reach, 67% significant, 33% 'wow' - IE: his 'wow' players were equal to what would've been expected for 3+ years.  Strangely there were just 2 picks in the supplimental round, but 1 was Dustin McGowan so that did well (50% made it, 50% 3+ years).

FYI: love McGowan as he was a pick for loss of Graeme Lloyd, who was acquired for Roger Clemens thus the Clemens signing from way back when still has value for the Jays in 2014.
Mike Green - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 12:13 PM EDT (#283252) #
5 of the 22 picks in the first 2 rounds are position players.  The remainder are pitchers. My view has been for a long time that this drafting philosophy is a mistake, and that a better balance gives a club more flexibility.  The absence in particular of middle infielders is not something that I would do over a period of years.  Beede over Kolten Wong would be an example of the kind of decision that was made that I disagreed with at the time and still do. 

As for how it will all turn out vis a vis the BA standards, I think that it is too early to tell.  Tyler Beede, Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard might turn out to be the best pitchers in the league in 5-7 years.  That doesn't mean that the drafting strategy was a good one.

John Northey - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 04:10 PM EDT (#283266) #
Hmm.. One wonders, is the value from getting a top pitcher higher than the value of a top hitter?  Is one harder to get than the other? Not sure how you'd go about studying the issue, but it is worth asking.  If top starting pitchers are harder to get then going with a pitching heavy draft, even with a lower success rate, might be a valid method to use.
Mike Green - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#283267) #
Well, the club has basically been doing that (drafting much more pitching) for the last 10 years.  It has not had spectacular results so far. 

My reasoning for opposing the Jays' drafting approach is as follows.  Firstly, pitching as a whole is 35-40% of the game.  Secondly, pitching is inherently more variable and less predictable.  It is much more likely that a good pitcher (starter or reliever) will emerge from a lower pick because of the importance of arm health in pitcher development.  I'll rapidly concede that a very good/great starting pitcher is an extremely valuable commodity. I just think that it is practical to draft on average 50% pitching in the first 2 rounds and in the first 10 rounds (more than would normally be required in terms of the importance of pitching to the game) and end up with a balanced set of prospects.

lexomatic - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#283269) #
If you think of a team making 40 picks in the June draft, some scouts could have 3 or 4 players selected from their area, others might have none.  It can be tough to work for a year and see no contribution from you to the team you are covering.  Also signed players are a scouts resume, no signees means a weaker resume.  If a scout works for the Jays he has a statistically lower chance of having a player drafted.

While I get the above, it's a shame. The contribution to the team is the scouting - the knowledge of whether to draft a player or not, not the player selected. It's all ego. Making sure people are on the same page and eliminating that viewpoint would be a great thing for an organization.
greenfrog - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 09:23 PM EDT (#283276) #
Very interesting overview of the Jays' drafting under AA. Thanks for this.

You know what was a weird draft pick? Anthony Alford. He doesn't particularly seem to want to be a professional baseball player.

I think the Jays deserve some credit for targeting Beede a couple of years ago. When they drafted him, the selection pretty much came out of nowhere. Now he's pitching well and is being touted as a top-ten pick in 2014.

I still can't get Farrell's comments about the Jays' system out of my head (good at talent acquisition, heavy emphasis on tools, not great at developing complete players / skillsets). They ring true to me.
John Northey - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#283277) #
Yeah greenfrog, that does seem to be an issue. Seeing rookie coaches at the major league level just ups my worries on that front.  Via Wikipedia...
Pete Walker: current pitching coach (2013/2014) previous experience was bullpen coach in 2012 for Jays, 2011 AA pitching coach (left majors after 2007 so not sure about 2008/9/10) - no ML pitching coach experience
Bob Stanley: bullpen coach, previously a minor league coach after long ML career
Kevin Seitzer: hitting coach, previously hitting coach for Arizona for 1/2 a year, 3 years with Royals
Luis Rivera: 3B coach, ML coaching experience is all in Toronto (2011 to present)
Tim Leiper: 1B coach, never coached in majors but tons in minors
DeMarlo Hale: bench coach, lots of experience at 1B/3B/bench with Texas/Boston/Baltimore
Alex Andreopoulos: bullpen catcher for Jays since 2003
John Gibbons: manager, all managing experience here, bench coach in KC for 3 years

So Hale, Seitzer, Gibbons all have experience elsewhere but the rest are purely Jays for the majors. Gibbons was viewed as a cheap & easy pick at the time, Seitzer needed a lot of convincing from the sounds of it (he wanted to stay in KC but they didn't want him).  Seems it isn't just players who are hard to get to come here if they have choices.

I think the Jays really need to invest in the minors more - find a way to get the top coaches to sign up, or to find a new method of coaching (professional coaches who didn't necessarily play pro ball for example) to gain an advantage rather than seeing 'fruit wither on the vine' so to speak. They might be doing this now, but given the results recently it doesn't seem they had been doing that to the degree they need to.

As with most things my first thought is 'poach the best from Tampa...NOW'.  Tampa keeps producing players year in, year out it seems. They lose a few to other clubs and replace them. For example, 5 of the 6 guys with 20+ starts for Tampa were under 28 years old last year.  Only 2 of those 6 started 10+ games 2 years ago.  Go back 3 years and just 1 started 5+ games for them (Price).  Only 2 hitters had 300+ PA both in 2010 and 2013 for them, a 3rd had 250+ both years.  Lots of turnover, but 92+ wins and playoff appearances both years (90+ in both middle years too with 1 more playoff appearance).  That is impressive and requires strength at all levels.  The Jays really should've stolen as many coaches as possible from them, but have yet to poach a single one from what I can tell.
greenfrog - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 11:43 PM EDT (#283279) #
Well, the Jays lost Mottola to the Rays, so the coaches seem to be going in the wrong direction in that regard.

Also, the Jays really seem to like hiring and promoting GMs, coaches, and scouting directors with little to no experience. Why is that? Perhaps it's the lustre of "potential"...

One further thought. To what extent do the consistently successful organizations (e.g., the Cards, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, A's, Rangers, Tigers, Braves) have a few talent evaluators (maybe just one or two) who can really separate the wheat from the chaff? I bet most or all of these organizations have one or more of these super-elite guys -- personnel who can tell the GM straight up, yes to player A, no to player B, etc. The type who identifies Doc Halladay and says, draft that one. (Was it Tim Wilken who championed Doc?) Do the Jays have any of these types (the "Mike Trout" of evaluators) in the organization?
metafour - Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 11:58 PM EDT (#283281) #
The absence in particular of middle infielders is not something that I would do over a period of years.  Beede over Kolten Wong would be an example of the kind of decision that was made that I disagreed with at the time and still do.

I dont think this point in particular is valid because if you look at our IFA signings over the past few seasons you will see a clear trend of big money being spent on high-profile Latin American middle infielders every single year.  It is the equivalent of adding one or more top 2-4 round SS "draftees" every year.  I dont think we are shutting out draft-eligible middle infielders per say (we almost drafted JP Crawford in Bickford's spot last year), but there seems to be a clear organizational belief that Latin America is where we need to focus on for impact middle infielders.  They may be on to something considering how heavily the Latin Americans have dominated SS/2B historically...even if you look at BA's Top 100 you will see the majority of the top SS prospects in baseball are former IFA signings.  Of course this "strategy" isn't likely to yield any quick results by any means, but then again that seems to mesh with the Jays' minor-league strategy in general (high emphasis on HS pitching and athletes in the OF).

2013: Yeltsin Gudino ($1,290,000), Jesus Ramirez ($400,000), Miguel Almonte ($400,000)
2012: Franklin Barreto ($1,450,000), Richard Urena ($725,000), *Luis Castro (failed physical, ended up signing with Rockies)
2011: Dawel Lugo ($1,300,000)
2010: Adeiny Hechavarria (4 years, $10 million)
greenfrog - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 12:09 AM EDT (#283282) #
Speaking of middle infielders, I wonder what Drew will end up signing for. Seems like some team is going to land him at a reasonable cost (eventually).
sam - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 06:02 AM EDT (#283284) #

This is an excellent piece. I have a couple comments.

1. I agree, something is wrong with the Jays and there amateur scouting. I tend to think it's a personnel thing. Since Ricciardi, many of the organizations long term talent evaluators have moved on in one way or another. The result has been a complete over haul of their scouting networks. The Jays' scouting staff is young and relatively inexperienced. Most clubs have guys who've been scouting their amateur beat for decades and can be relied upon. The Jays have been in the process of trying to "create" these guys. The volume is nice, but the quality doesn't seem to be there in my estimation.

2. The Jays are also too quick too promote. A function of all these young guys is everyone is gunning for that promotion. Andrew Tinnish is now an AGM after a couple (as you point out substandard years). There are not enough older scouts who've been around the block and know what they want in the game and have a mental database of prospects and what to look for.

3. I question who the Jays are bringing in--they're not hiring guys away from teams as most scouts were either unemployed or on the outs with their organization. Again, I say all this, much like Gerry without much knowledge of the inner workings of the industry--but I don't think many of the guys we added were had many celebrated signings.

4. Gerry alludes to the benefit of seeing a guy multiple times/seeing a guy who many people think is unsignable. What happens with scouts, especially ones who are unsure of their abilities, you see a guy multiple times and start to convince yourself that this guy is a player. Good scouts will see tools--and tools don't hide. The cleanness of a delivery, good arm action, or live arm--that stuff doesn't hide. I'm convinced that a scout convinced himself and the organization from following around Daniel Norris for a while that he could turn it around (maybe saw him make a minor adjustment and said look this is a kid who can make changes)--when anyone worth their dime saw someone with delivery issues on his first pitch and was never going to have any long term success and moved on. I mean--I imagine there were some scouts who probably wouldn't even get their radar guns out.

5. Part of the issue has to be on the development side as well. Some of the guys the Jays have drafted have been toolsy and universally liked, but they've bombed out quite quickly. Those early years are formative and a lot of guys are just not cutting it. I note that the Jays often make wholesale adjustments to prospects almost immediately. For example, take Tyler Gonzales. The Jays drafted him high a year or two ago and gave him significant coin. They've since completely--and I mean completely overhauled the way he throws a baseball. Why? If you give a guy that money and draft him that high, you should not be making these kind of changes so soon--there has to be an element to it where the kid is good enough the way he is, but maybe he needs some minor adjustments here and there. Call it the Roy Halladay effect, but the Jays on the development side are really into wholesale mechanical changes. You're not going to be able to consistently change the way a guy throws and have success. You're essentially stripping a kid of everything he knows.

6. With that being said, I think where you do see the benefit of the extra scouting and amateur policy is in the drafting of injured players. Patrick Murphy looks a good prospect, Clinton Hollon had a dynamite half season, and MItch Nay might just be the best hitting prospect this organization has seen in a while. It's definitely an area the Jays have done well to exploit in recent years.

In sum, Gerry's report is bang on. The real travesty with the Jays drafting is that they didn't just sign everyone they drafted those first two years before the new rules took effect. As we will see this year--there will likely be 3 first rounders this year who were Jays draft picks out of high school.
Mike Green - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 09:05 AM EDT (#283285) #
Metafour, one of the problems with the pure IFA approach to dealing with middle infielders is the longer development window.  The result of this approach is that the club has a shortage of middle infield talent from high A through the majors.  There is nothing wrong, of course, with using the IFA approach on a complementary basis.
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 10:19 AM EDT (#283287) #
"Leaving Beede and Bickford aside…"

In analyzing what AA's draft record says about the quality of the scouting, though, we can't really ignore these two picks, can we? Both picks are looking good so far, judged in terms of the ability of the scouting organization to home in on top talent. Bickford especially, perhaps, since he was something of a surprise at #10.

"But that ignores the Beede and Bickford non-signings. One of the objectives of having more scouts is to get a better feel for the player, and by extension his family. The fact that the Jays twice failed to sign their first round pick shows that the presumption that the Jays would have better information on the players to be drafted is false."

Could be. But they might have known it'd be difficult to sign them (Bickford more so than Beede, I suspect) and still considered them worth the risk given their talent and given the make-up pick available the following year.
metafour - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 10:23 AM EDT (#283288) #
Metafour, one of the problems with the pure IFA approach to dealing with middle infielders is the longer development window.  The result of this approach is that the club has a shortage of middle infield talent from high A through the majors.  There is nothing wrong, of course, with using the IFA approach on a complementary basis.

I brought that up at the end of my post.  I dont think the Jays particularly care, as their youth-development as a whole favors impact upside over fast-movement (obviously).  Their intuition is absolutely correct, for SS's at least, because there is a major lack of available legitimate talent at the position coming from the draft on a yearly basis.  Any real starter-worthy talent at the position is gone within the first ~10-15 picks, everything after that is nothing more than luck in finding someone who turns out to be much better than perceived, which doesn't happen very often, or hitting randomly on an unknown HS kid who explodes developmentally...also rare.
Gerry - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 10:34 AM EDT (#283289) #

The methodology I used was to compare the chances of being in the major leagues with draft position.  Given that Bickford and Beede are still in college it is hard to judge their chances of becomming major league players.  I understand that Beede is looking like a top pick in June but Bickford has made one college start so it's a bit early to say that he was a good pick.  Beede was a first round pick so he would have a high expectation of making it to the majors anyway.  I don't think including Beede would change my opinion of the Jays drafting or the scoring.  You would have to assume that Beede would have at least a three year major league career to have any impact for a first round selection.  Again, given that he is in college, I don't feel comfortable projecting a 3 year major league career for him.

If we include Beede what do we do about Stroman?  Stroman replaces Beede, we don't get both.

John Northey - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#283290) #
I think it all depends on what you are measuring. If you are seeing if the Jays are drafting better quality players, then both Beede and Stroman count in the respect they both show the Jays are finding talent regardless of signing.  If you care about how much they actually help the Jays then only Stroman counts and Beede is a negative since he didn't sign.  How to measure depends.  I'd probably go with...
Full version: 5 first round picks (McGuire, Beede, Stroman, Davis, Bickford), maximum of 3 will be of value to the Jays with only Stroman looking strong right now of those 3.
Alternative version... 3 first round picks signed, 2 likely to make it (figure McGuire will get a shot at some point) but only Stroman likely to have a career.

The problem is that it is far too early to know for certain on any of them.  Romero was viewed as a flop early on, 4 years in the minors with a 4.55 ERA in AAA/AA with 4.1 BB/9 vs 6.4 K/9 his final full season there yet somehow he made the club the next season and had 3 straight years of 100+ ERA+'s with 178/210/225 innings before his collapse in year 4 in the majors and total disaster in year 5.  Deck is a year older with 3 years pro experience but last year he had a 4.86 ERA with 3.4 BB/9 vs 8.2 K/9 which suggests he might be ahead of Romero's final minor league year. Could he burst onto the scene this year?  His first spring outing didn't suggest it, but who knows?
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 10:54 AM EDT (#283291) #
"If we include Beede what do we do about Stroman? Stroman replaces Beede, we don't get both."

Well, it depends what we're trying to measure. If we're talking about AA's draft record, I agree he shouldn't get any special points for Beede (or Bickford). But if we're trying to assess the quality of the scouting organization, then I'd say we absolutely should count Beede and Stroman, or consider them both somehow. The larger the sample, the better. Ideally we'd like to see how they ranked all the available draftees for every given year; since we're not going to get that, the best we can do is look at who they actually chose as first round talent.

I agree with you, though, that it's too soon to call either Beede or Bickford a success. I'm just saying that so far at least, the Jays may have been ahead of the curve in recognizing their talent.
Mike Green - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 11:04 AM EDT (#283292) #
Their intuition is absolutely correct, for SS's at least, because there is a major lack of available legitimate talent at the position coming from the draft on a yearly basis.  Any real starter-worthy talent at the position is gone within the first ~10-15 picks, everything after that is nothing more than luck in finding someone who turns out to be much better than perceived, which doesn't happen very often

The evidence that starter-worthy talent is more likely to come from a pitching prospect than a SS or 2B prospect in the first 2 rounds does not exist.  That is actually true for a later round pick; it is much more common for a less heralded pitching prospect to succeed than for a position player.  The Rays starting pitchers of the last few years behind Price included Hellickson (4th round), Cobb (4th round), Archer (5th round), Moore (8th round) and Shields (16th round). The A's had Griffin (13th round) and Straily (24th round). 

Last year, the Jays chose Bickford over (among others) shortstop J.P. Crawford, who went at 16.  Was he not a starter-worthy talent? I have no idea whether Crawford will succeed or not, but the concept that Bickford was both more likely to succeed and easier to sign seems to me to be a difficult one.
gabrielthursday - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#283294) #
My impression is that Gerry is underestimating the chances that lower-level prospects will get a taste of the majors. Take the supplemental guys like Comer, Musgrove, Tyler Gonzales, Jacob Anderson - while they're all very unlikely to be significant contributors, I would bet one of them works their way through the system (or the Astros system) and gets a MLB call-up at 26.
John Northey - Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 11:57 PM EDT (#283299) #
The draft is interesting as is the thought process the Jays follow for it.  Just downloaded all the drafts for the Jays from B-R and will write an article at some point (when I have time) but a couple of tidbits...
There used to be a secondary June draft, a January draft, and a secondary January draft up until 1986.  Results?
June Secondary: 40 picks, 7 made it, 20+ WAR Todd Stottlemyre, 10+ Oddibe McDowell (did not sign), plus Mike Sharperson (557 games), Benny Distefano (240 games) and John Briscoe (100 games pitched)
January: 101 picks, 11 made it, 2 with WAR over 10 (Mark Eichhorn, Mark Whiten), 2 more with 800+ games (Geno Petralli, Dwight Smith), and 2 more with 100+ games (Mike Richardt, Eric Yelding)
January Secondary: 22 picks, 0 reached

So the secondary picks in June were of value, as was the main January one but the 2nd January was useless for the Jays.

As to the positions picked in June 1st round...
AA: 4 pitchers, 1 OF
JPR: 3 pitchers, 1B, 3B, CA, OF 1 each, 2 shortstops (Hill being one of them)
Ash: 2 pitchers, one 3B, 3 OF, 2 SS
Gillick: 6 pitchers, one 1B, one 3B, 2 CA, 4 OF, 4 SS
Bavasti: a shortstop (did not make it)

So no question AA has been by far the most one way drafter yet, taking more pitchers in 4 years than JPR did in 8 and double what Ash did in 7.

Did pitchers do better when drafted early?  Of the 5 best (by WAR) pitchers drafted by the Jays (not counting Stieb as he was an outfielder when drafted) 2 were 1st rounders (Halladay & Carpenter) while the others were 2nd (Wells), 3rd (Key), and 5th (Hentgen) round picks.  The next 4 (19.9 WAR and above) were 13th round and later although 3 didn't sign here (Lilly, Erickson, Abbott).  Steve Karsay is the only other 1st rounder to be worth 10+ WAR (Romero was but fell below it the past 2 years).  10 of 15 made it, 2 with 30+ WAR, then Karsay/Romero, then Cerutti, Koch and Purcey with significant playing time (100+ games).  All but one (Earl Sanders) still have a chance (2 not signed here but viewed as likely high picks again for someone else).

For position players the top 3 (not counting Stieb, a 5th round pick) were rounds 3 (Olerud), 20 (Kent) and 9 (Barfield) before you get to Shawn Green (highest 1st round hitter).  Overall 6 first round hitters picked had 20+ WAR (all signed), with another 12 reaching (5 over 350 games thus played in at least 3 seasons).  Just 8 of 26 didn't reach the majors with just Davis (AA's 2012 pick) still around (unless you think Kevin Ahrens can find a job) among those who haven't made it.

So similar percentages made it (67% of pitchers, 69% of hitters) with hitters having more quality but pitchers with a higher peak (Halladay).  Hard to read too much into it though.
rfan8 - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#283312) #

Shouldn't we expect AA's hit rate to be lower than the BA study but the expected contribution over time (i.e. WAR) to be higher since he's drafted a lot of HSers?

greenfrog - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 06:19 PM EDT (#283317) #
Another nice start for Hutchison today. It's looking more and more like he'll be heading north in April.
mendocino - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 07:31 PM EDT (#283324) #
Beede vs Nola for those interested
Lylemcr - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 07:49 PM EDT (#283325) #

Hutchinson looked great today.

We just need one more pitcher to step forward...

greenfrog - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 07:50 PM EDT (#283326) #
I wonder if this is Marcus Stroman writing in to Klaw. I agree with Law's assessment completely (he didn't answer the question, though):

Marcus (Toronto, ON)

What do the Jays do now? Not that Ervin made them world-beaters, but after pushing their chips all in last year, how can they go into the season with a rotation of Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, Hutchison and someone like Todd Redmond or JA Happ when there's a legitimate upgrade out there for a one-year deal?

Klaw (1:23 PM)

I'm disappointed that they didn't sign any of the FA starters. Garza I understand because of the medicals, but they needed to acquire a quality starter this offseason and didn't do so. Even adding Stroman and a healthy Hutchison isn't an adequate replacement for what someone like Santana or Ubaldo would have provided for them.
Gerry - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#283327) #

Shi Davidi has a story tonight saying the Jays pitching woes are partly due to their bad drafting record. I wonder where he got that idea for his story?

greenfrog - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 08:21 PM EDT (#283329) #
Hmm...the timing is curious, that's for sure. Take it as a compliment, I guess. If it's any consolation, your piece is more interesting.

Also, Davidi misspelled Syndergaard ("Syndegaard") and described Nicolino as someone who (along with Syndergaard and Sanchez) "had the potential to pillar the rotation for an extended period," which, in addition to being an awkward turn of phrase, seems like a questionable assertion, given Nicolino's struggles in AA last year.
Original Ryan - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 08:40 PM EDT (#283330) #
Davidi also inaccurately stated that "from 2000-09, under former GMs Gord Ash and J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays drafted just one all-star pitcher (Romero)[.]" Brett Cecil was drafted in 2007 and made the all-star team last year, albeit as a reliever.
greenfrog - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 09:35 PM EDT (#283333) #
If the Jays have an extra $14M on hand, as they evidently do, maybe they should just offer it (or most of it) to Drew. He isn't a perfect fit, but it's only a one-year commitment. He could start at 2B and play SS or 3B (with Goins/Izturis/Kawasaki filling in at 2B) if/when Reyes or Lawrie gets injured or needs a rest.

Alternatively, they could offer the money (or most of it) to Morales. I still think he would be a useful addition to the team, providing more flexibility at a number of positions, more platoon flexibility, and a stronger bench.

It would have been better to spend the money on Kazmir (2/22), Santana (1/14), Ubaldo (4/48) or maybe even someone like Capuano (1/2.25) -- the Jays probably would have had to add 5-15% to those figures to bring them to Toronto -- but there are no more SPs on the market. Might as well shore up some other positions and aim for a stronger offense/defense with tolerably good pitching.
greenfrog - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 10:47 PM EDT (#283335) #
One more comment on Davidi's piece. It's true that the Jays' drafting of pitchers has left something to be desired. But the Jays could have had a very good rotation in 2014, had they simply added a quality FA starting pitcher or two over the last few years. If they had outbid the field for Darvish (or Sanchez or Kuroda), the rotation would currently be Darvish / Dickey / Morrow / Buehrle / Hutchison, with Redmond, Happ, Rogers, Stroman et al. for depth.

That's a fine starting rotation with decent depth beyond the top five. So arguably the weak drafts are something of a red herring. The problem is that the Jays built up the farm, then "went for it" without fully going for it. They went halfway instead of going all the way with one strategy or the other.
John Northey - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 11:23 PM EDT (#283336) #
There is the big question, what is the best thing to do now.  WAR figures are via FanGraphs Oliver projections over 600 PA/143 games

A) Sign Drew to play 2B - he sounds like he needs a multi-year deal to play a position other than SS at $10+ mil a year, especially to come here I suspect. FanGraphs (at SS) has him as a 1.8, 1.7 and 1.4 WAR player the next 3 years which is nowhere near $10 mil in value, let along after shifting to 2B.
B) Sign Morales to be the RH DH, mix and match at 1B/DH with Lind & Encarnacion vs RHP - adds offense, reduces flexibility as we'd have 3 guys who are best at DH.  His projected WAR the next 3 years are 1.5, 1.3, 1.0 (600 PA per year)
C) Save the cash and hope a trade opportunity arises that might suck up a chunk of it

To be honest, at this point I'd be most tempted to go with C.  A & B would each cost a high 2nd round pick.  The projections for guys who'd lose playing time or jobs...
Ryan Goins: 0.7, 0.6, 0.5 WAR (ML minimum wage)
Adam Lind: 1.9, 1.7, 1.4
Moses Sierra: 0.8 per year

It basically looks like a 1 WAR improvement for Drew vs Goins and the same for Morales vs Sierra.  Are those 2 wins worth up to $10 mil per win plus a draft pick each? Not to mention eating up any financial flexibility for the rest of the season.

For a long time I thought that Drew would be a solid signing but the more I look at it the less I like it. He wants to be in Boston, he wants to play SS, and he wants a lot of money and a long term commitment. That just doesn't fit.  Morales I haven't been high on at any point unless the Jays could get something of value for Lind as I just don't see both being on the roster when the Jays tend to go with a 7 or 8 man bullpen.

At this point the best way for the Jays to improve is via a trade, although those are scary as many good prospects have vanished and you can only send away so many before the future looks dark.

John Northey - Friday, March 14 2014 @ 11:59 PM EDT (#283338) #
What made me laugh loudly was the line near the end of Davidi's piece...
"Those two and Sanchez, all 2010 draft picks, had the potential to pillar the rotation for an extended period the way Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar did at the turn of the century. "

Did he check anything about that time frame? 
1999: Escobar 30 starts 86 ERA+, Carpenter 24 starts 111 ERA+, Halladay 18 starts 125 ERA+
2000: Escobar 23 starts (19 relief) 95 ERA+, Carpenter 27 starts 81 ERA+, Halladay 13 starts 48 ERA+
2001: Escobar 11 starts (48 relief) 131 ERA+, Carpenter 34 starts 112 ERA+, Halladay 16 starts 145 ERA+ (best year combined)
2002: Escobar 0 starts (76 relief) 108 ERA+, Carpenter 13 starts 88 ERA+, Halladay 34 starts 157 ERA+
2003: Carpenter released, thus the end of the 'big 3'. Escobar was gone after the 2003 season ended while Halladay lasted until the end of 2009 - at least they kept the right one.

So over the 4 years the 3 were here not once did all 3 get 20 starts in the same season, and just once did all 3 have ERA+'s over 90.  30+ starts happened just once for each of the 3 over the 4 year stretch. Hard to call that a 'pillar' or 'extended period' imo.

Boy looking back you sure can see how the Jays mismanaged Escobar eh?
christaylor - Saturday, March 15 2014 @ 08:25 AM EDT (#283342) #
An alternate history: Keep Halladay and Escobar, sign Gil Meche, re-institute the reserve clause in the 1993-94 strike, and add pythagorean luck -- then Shi Davidi could be onto something... that is if turn of the century includes 2007.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda...

The Toronto sports media is so Bush.
rotorose - Saturday, March 15 2014 @ 04:01 PM EDT (#283345) #
To change the subject, I just got back from a beautiful day sitting in the sun at the Phillies minor league complex watching R.A. Dickey pitch for the Bisons vs the Iron Pigs ( including Ryan Howard). Dickey went over 8 innings to get his allotted 100 pitches in. Too many fly ball outs and not enough strikeouts, but on the positive side Kratz looked very comfortable catching him and the 2 runs scored on a fly ball that Bautista would have caught. For the Bisons, Kenny Wilson looked fast and even laid down a bunt.
Gerry - Saturday, March 15 2014 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#283348) #
Thanks rotorose and keep the news coming.

In case you missed it the Jays re-signed Mike McDade yesterday.
greenfrog - Saturday, March 15 2014 @ 05:02 PM EDT (#283349) #
Has anyone seen Izturis play this spring? It would be helpful if he had a bounceback season this year.
rotorose - Saturday, March 15 2014 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#283350) #
From the four games I have been at this spring, it seems clear that the Jays are giving Goins the bulk of the 2b at bats and a couple of starts at SS, with Izturis starting at 2b once and 3b once. Kawasaki has filled in at 2nd and 3rd after they have pulled the starters, and Getz has started and filled in at 2nd. Getz, to me, is clearly inferior defensively. Izturis had made the routine plays and Goins has made a couple of jaw-dropping plays. Since Izturis costs more than Kawasaki, and has outhit him, I expect he will be the backup to 2b and 3b and probably the starter against a righty. Or they may give up on Goins because he hasn't hit his weight.
SK in NJ - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 12:02 AM EDT (#283352) #
I feel for Chad Jenkins. He has pitched well in his brief MLB experience (3.77 ERA as a starter and 3.58 ERA/117 ERA+ overall) and has outpitched everyone but Hutchison in Spring Training so far, yet still has no shot of making the team as the 5th starter. I'm not a fan of his, don't get me wrong, but at least attempt to get some mileage out of a former 1st round pick. Is he really a worse option than Rogers, Redmond, Romero, Drabek, or McGowan at this point?
Gerry - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 09:35 AM EDT (#283353) #
And now Jenkins, along with Drabek and Nolin, has been sent to minor league camp.
John Northey - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:19 AM EDT (#283354) #
One way to look at guys is to check the quality of opposition.  BR has a 'OppQuality' scale which is up to 10 (ML) with 8 being AAA, 7 AA, 5 A+, 4 full season A, 1.5 to 3 for short season A/Rookie (depending on league), and 1 for pitchers.

Jenkins had an average of 8.4 - barely over AAA level, 6 2/3 IP 5 H 1 HR 0 BB 5 SO - very solid but really not given a shot vs major leaguers. For him to get a shot I think he needs to kill AAA hitters. So far he has a 7.48 ERA in AAA over 21 2/3 IP (last season), and a 4.35 ERA in AA over 229 2/3 IP.  His overall K rate in the minors is 5.8 per 9 IP vs a 2.1 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9 rate.  Solid in the HR rate, very good in the walk rate, but poor in the K rate which tends to be the best indicator of how a pitcher will do in the majors.  I suspect the Jays intend him to be in AAA as an emergency backup (the #8-10 guy I think).  He actually has progressed quickly - from A to A+ to AA to AAA over 4 seasons plus 2 stints in the majors. However, he is old (this is his age 26 season) so speed was critical for him. I suspect this year is to be mainly AAA with some ML but next year he has to make this (or another) team out of spring. My bet is on him being a minor part of a trade, partially as the Jays giving him a shot somewhere else and to clear a 40 man slot if they don't see him as a ML starter.

Top OppQual guys are Bobby Korecky (an NRI at 9.5 but just 1 2/3 IP 1 H 2 K), then a batch at 9.4 (Stroman, McGowan, Buehrle, Happ, Dickey, and Morrow) with 9.0's for Mickey Storey, (2 G 3 IP 2 H 1 R 3 K) and Santos.  Redmond, Delabar and Hutchison all were over 8.5 as well.  Those are the guys getting to face ML hitters the most.  Most names are no shock (McGowan, Buehrle, Happ, Dickey, Morrow, Santos, Delabar) as they were locks for the ML team.  Hutchison we knew the Jays were watching closely.  The odd ones are Storey and Korecky as neither are on the radar but obviously the Jays were somewhat curious or they wouldn't have faced such strong opposition (and did well).  I suspect both are guys the Jays figure will be high on the 'to be called up in event of injury' and wanted Gibbons and his staff to get a good look at vs real competition. Stroman having the high ERA vs ML quality (9 IP, 13 H 8 ER, 3 BB 7 SO 2 HR) but decent K suggests he is close but has some issues to overcome - good for him to learn first hand, as it gives him a feeling for how he can compete but needs to keep the ball in the park.

Interesting low guys are Loup, Cecil, Nolin, Romero, Jeffress, Wagner  (all 8.0 to 8.2, basically AAA opponents), and for sub AAA you get Rogers (7.9), Drabek (7.4), and below AA you get Stilson (6.8) and Sanchez (6.5).  A bit surprising there as you figure the Jays wanted a bit tougher competition for these guys. Stilson has been in 5 games, 6 1/3 IP 2 H 3 BB 5 SO 0 runs - so effective but a touch wild...but with that low quality of opponent did it tell the Jays much?  Drabek being very wild vs AA/AAA quality hitters sure doesn't speak well of him. 

For positions by Opp Quality...
CA: Navarro, Kratz, Thole, Chung, Jimenez, Nickeas
1B/DH: LaRoche (1 PA), Lind, Encarnacion, McDade (big drop after him), Murphy, Johnson, Goedert
IF (2B/3B/SS): Reyes, Izturis (both over 9), Goins, Lawrie, Getz, Tolleson (end of 8+), Nolan, Burns, Kawasaki, Diaz - interesting that Kawasaki has faced such weak opposition, sub AAA, but has a poor OPS at 558.
OF: Cabrera, Bautista (end of 9+), Newman (1 PA), Glenn, Sierra, Pillar, Rasmus, Gose (end of 8+), Wilson, Nanita.  Glenn is one that jumps out - 2 games, 6 PA 3H including a 2B & HR, 1 BB 2 SO.  A 23rd round pick in 2009 he has progressed a level a year (A-, A, A+, AA, AAA/AA) and has shown a bit 254/318/465 with 28-13 SB/CS overall, 837 OPS in AAA in 70 PA last year.  A RH hitter he won't make the team out of spring but will have a chance if he opens eyes now at a call-up should Sierra flop or get hurt. Pillar's 511 OPS isn't doing him any favors and will force him to play well at AAA to move back into the battle, not that Gose (630) or Sierra (713) are exactly forcing the issue.  Glenn has an opportunity to jump ahead, but really needs a career year (to date) to force the Jays hand and is off to a good start to do so.

I love seeing the opp quality so I know if a guy like Glenn is just facing A ball pitchers (which he isn't). It also gives an idea as to who the Jays are seriously looking at (like Hutchison and Stroman) and who they are not (Drabek surprisingly enough).  Not perfect since many ML'ers will pitch in AAA games but it does help a bit.
92-93 - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#283355) #
Jenkins may not have been facing the toughest competition this spring, but he has pitched well in the majors the last 2 years with half of his innings as a starter, probably better than you remember - 65.1ip 63h 8hr 17bb 31k 3.58era 1.22whip. The HRs are high and the strikeouts are low, but you can survive with those numbers if you can continue to not walk too many batters and keep the ball on the ground when you aren't giving up gopher balls. I'm surprised he was optioned down this early, and I really don't like this game AA plays of holding on to marginal talents just because they are out of options. Enough of this nonsense. If the players that you're scared to lose have any value, trade them for a C prospect. If you can't then you shouldn't hesitate at all to put them on waivers and take the best team north with you. How is this happening again, even when AA specifically said it wouldn't?

China fan - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#283356) #
Do we have a projected Buffalo rotation yet? Just with the obvious names, the rotation would have to include Stroman, Drabek, Nolin, Jenkins and Romero, and I'm probably forgetting some other previously-announced names. Looks rather crowded, but should be a very interesting rotation to keep a close eye on.
China fan - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:46 AM EDT (#283357) #
"...I really don't like this game AA plays of holding on to marginal talents just because they are out of options..."

Who specifically do you think will be in the major-league rotation who should be dumped to make room for Chad Jenkins?
finch - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#283358) #

IMO, I don't think anyone should be dropped to make room for Jenkins however, as a former 1st round pick, he deserves to be given a fair shot. There is a 5th rotational spot up for grabs. I'd love to see Romero earn it but if it's been Happ and Jenkins, I give Jenkins a shot. In my mind, Hutchinson has the 4th spot locked up.

92-93 - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 12:21 PM EDT (#283359) #
Why can't Jenkins pitch out of the bullpen, like he did effectively from August 24th and on last year? 18.1ip 13h 2hr 2bb 9k 1.96era 0.82whip

I don't understand clinging on to Redmond and Jeffress like they are precious commodities, nor do I understand JA Happ seemingly having a guaranteed roster spot. That just sounds like doubling down on a terrible contract.

I assume Jenkins was optioned down today for a specific reason, something about it being 2 weeks before the season starts. Can anyone shed some light? Otherwise why wouldn't AA just wait another week or two to see how the arms race shuffles itself around?
SK in NJ - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#283360) #
Gibbons: #BlueJays protecting out-of-options pitchers. Said Jenkins "should be pitching in the big leagues,” but has options.

That was a tweet from John Lott.

Apparently, the risk of losing Jeremy Jeffress and Todd Redmond is too great to take a deserved pitcher to the big leagues.
China fan - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 01:15 PM EDT (#283361) #
Gibbons said that Jenkins deserves to be in the majors, somewhere, not necessarily on the Jays -- and it was a polite comment that he would probably make about 10 starting pitchers in the Jays system. It certainly doesn't mean that Gibbons believes that Jenkins is a better pitcher than Happ or the 8th pitcher in the Jays bullpen. He only said that Jenkins deserves to be in the majors. I'm sure he would say the same about Redmond and Jeffress, if he was asked.

Jenkins had injury issues last season, and only pitched 71 innings, mostly as a starter. The Jays, presumably, still think he has potential as a starter, and they're not ready to consign him to the bullpen. If he has starter potential, it makes sense to let him do that for at least a half-season in Buffalo to establish himself in that role, after his injury-shortened season last year.

As for Redmond and Jeffress: they won't both make the roster. At most, one of them might, and only if the Jays opt for an 8-man bullpen at the start of the season. The only way to keep Redmond and Jeffress both on the roster is a 9-man bullpen, which won't happen.

The fact that Jenkins was demoted before any decision was made on Redmond and Jeffress is meaningless. Jenkins has options, so he can be sent down any time. The Jays knew that he needed more work in the minors, after the injury-shortened season in 2013, so it would be pointless to keep him in the major-league camp to the bitter end. Redmond and Jeffress don't have options, so they have to be kept in the major-league team as long as possible, so that there's a chance of sneaking them through waivers on the final day, at the time when every other team is cutting players too. It doesn't mean that the Jays have a higher opinion of Redmond and Jeffress than they do of Jenkins, it's just a personnel juggling thing.

As for Happ: 92-93 and I have disagreed about Happ many times in the past, so there's no point in rehashing the disagreement, but I'll just say that Gibbons (not Anthopoulos) has been praising Happ endlessly this spring, and I think the Jays still believe that Happ's performance in September 2013 was not a fluke. For the rotation, they see Happ as a more experienced starter than Jenkins (or Redmond), and that's reasonable enough, in my view. But certainly Happ would have been bumped from the rotation if Santana had been acquired, so don't assume that the Jays are forever in love with Happ. They're realistic about the fact that he's probably a number 5 or 6 in a rotation.

Nobody really thinks that Happ is getting a rotation job to justify his salary. If that was the case, Romero would have been in the rotation last year and this year too.
Mike Green - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 01:30 PM EDT (#283362) #
Jenkins' performance in the minor leagues and in the major leagues to date suggests that the best case scenario for him is to be a middle reliever.   It shouldn't matter that he was a 1st round pick all those years ago; he's done nothing since to suggest  that he could manage in the major league rotation. 
John Northey - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#283363) #
Well, if you are going on results...
Redmond: 95 ERA+ over 77 IP with 8.9 K/9 (very good), 2.7 BB/9 (solid), 1.5 HR/9 (poor).  Outside of HR rate he was extremely good.  5.06 ERA in AAA in 26 2/3 IP but HR/9 of 0.7 BB/9 of 1.7 and K/9 of 9.8 suggesting that ERA wasn't a true indicator
Jeffress: 485 ERA+ over 10 1/3 IP with 10.5 K/9, 1.39 ERA in minors with 8.4 K/9 and 0 HR/9 in minors (1 HR given up in majors)
Jenkins: 153 ERA+ over 33 1/3 IP with 4.1 K/9 (very low) 1.6 BB/9 (very good) 0.8 HR/9 (good).  In AAA/AA/Rk though... 4.54 ERA 1.4 HR/9 1.4 BB/9 4.3 K/9 over 39 2/3 IP

All 3 showed good results in the majors, Jeffress was 'wow' in the minors, Redmond had great HR/BB/SO ratios in the minors and only issue in majors was that HR rate.  Jenkins had great BB figures throughout but his K/9 and HR/9 don't suggest a lot of future success - he has a very small margin of error.  Based on these stats for 2013 I'd put Jenkins 3rd of the 3.  Mix in that Jenkins has options and the others don't (I think) and the choice is easy.
John Northey - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#283364) #
So, where do we all see the Jays rotation and pen right now?

Rotation: Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow - dead on locks if healthy
Bullpen: Janssen, Cecil, Delabar, Santos - dead on locks too

Remaining for rotation....
Hutchison - getting great press, 1 BB vs 16 K in 9 2/3 IP
Rogers - facing weak competition, 4 BB vs 12 K but 3 HR in 9 IP
Happ - just 1 1/3 IP for ML team, 6 runs given up 5 BB 3 SO...ugly
Redmond - 9 IP 2 BB vs 5 SO but 4 HR (ouch)
McGowan - 4 IP 3 BB vs 2 SO...lock for pen, no real shot at rotation imo
Romero - 7 IP vs AAA competition, 5 BB vs 6 SO but just 1 run given up

Remaining for pen...
Above plus...
Loup - should be a lock, 4 IP so far but has options so might not be (sad as that is)
Jeffress - 6 IP 5 BB vs 2 SO 10 H 3 R - not doing well, but was lights out in AAA and majors last year

I figure Rogers, Happ, McGowan will be on the team in some capacity although given how little Happ has pitched I wonder if the Jays are setting him up for a DL stint.  Hutchison had to pitch 'wow' to make the team given he has options but he sure seems to be doing just that. Redmond might make it, his first 3 1/3 today were scoreless before giving up a run on a double, but he has an uphill battle too.  Right now though the best for the pen, imo, would be the 4 locks plus Loup & Jeffress plus McGowan and Rogers for long relief.  Rogers is probably the weakest of the batch. The rotation right now is probably the 3 locks plus Happ & Hutchison but Redmond getting a start today suggests the Jays are in deep thought on him. I really don't see Romero on the team opening day.

I keep thinking we're going to see a trade where AA clears out a few guys for someone he can demote to A or AA or something but I guess we'll see.  I'm sure they want Hutchison in the rotation but to do so they'll have to let someone go.  Right now I'd put Happ on the 'goodbye' list.
China fan - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#283365) #
Speaking to the media today, Gibbons hinted pretty strongly that Hutchison and Happ will be in the rotation, since Happ looked good in his last start (a minor-league game). That means McGowan and Rogers in the bullpen. I'd be astonished if Loup is not in the bullpen as well. (Loup had options a year ago too, and they could have optioned him to the minors to make room for Jeffress, but they didn't do so.)

So that would decide the 5 rotation spots, plus 7 spots in the bullpen. I suspect that the Jays will keep either Redmond or Jeffress in the bullpen as the 8th reliever. It will come down to the wire, because there's always the possibility of a last-minute injury, or a setback for Happ's health status, or something like that, which would mean that someone might need to go to the DL, allowing both Redmond and Jeffress to stay in the bullpen. But if everyone's healthy, I think the Jays will probably try to sneak Redmond or Jeffress through the waiver wire -- and will probably lose him.

A trade is another possibility, and that could clear up the bullpen surplus. From the strong hints by AA last week, it seems that the Jays were counting on getting Santana, and they thought they had him on the dotted line -- two days before he signed with the Braves. Having lost Santana, I assume AA is still trying to acquire another starter. Could still happen.
greenfrog - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 05:19 PM EDT (#283368) #
Losing Redmond and Jeffress would be the capstone to a confusing off-season for the Jays. Not only did the team fail to add quality at several positions of weakness (SP, 2B, fourth OF/bench), but the team is failing to maintain the depth needed to sub in when the starters get injured.

There is a fairly good chance that the 28-year-old Redmond will provide serviceable (90-100 ERA+) innings for some team, somewhere.
greenfrog - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 05:52 PM EDT (#283369) #
Question: is the Blue Jays' lack of moves this off-season simply a reflection of the front office's belief that the team is unlikely to be competitive in 2014? The fact that it's Goins at 2B, that the rotation is thin, that the bench is weak, etc….could it mean that the team is already taking a step back, with a view to focusing on the team's long-term future?

Here is a list of the 2013/14 free agent spending by team to date (the Jays ranked 29th, ahead of the Pirates):

Here is Bob Elliott on the Jays' failure to sign Santana:

Would Santana have made the Jays rotation better? Yes. He would not have made the Jays a contender.
SK in NJ - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 06:27 PM EDT (#283370) #
I think the Jays are preparing themselves for either a rebuild or a retool, probably with a new GM. I'm not sure why they are essentially punting a season (2014) to accomplish it, but that is the only explanation for the lack of activity. I guess a rebuilding phase after the 2013 season would have crippled ticket sales, so they'll probably see what happens in 2014, and if/when the team falls short, they will start to move pieces accordingly.

Makes me wish the Jays never had that big off-season last winter. I'd much rather have d'Arnaud, Syndergaard, Alvarez, Nicolino, Marisnick, etc, instead of Reyes, Dickey, and Buehrle on a last place or 4th place team.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#283371) #
Ask why Chad Jenkins only gets three starts and just a few relief appearance each year. Only A.A. knows why. Some people forget that all you have to go on is small samples.

Making decisions on Spring Training Stats is usually very unwise. Comparing all Drew Hutchison stats indicates he deserves a chance at Starting. No one else is better.

I would like to see those other pitchers who can be sent down, go down. Happ, Rogers and Redmond are 5th Starter types for most teams, but this team?

greenfrog - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 07:32 PM EDT (#283372) #
SK: yes -- last off-season's moves don't make much sense if they were essentially a one-season shot at making the playoffs.
greenfrog - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 07:45 PM EDT (#283373) #
that is the only explanation for the lack of activity

The other explanation is financial constraints (in 2014 and/or beyond 2014). The Jays were willing to spend 1/$14m on Santana, so they were apparently to increase short-term payroll for a better chance in 2014. There may be less uncertainty around the payroll in subsequent years (perhaps in part because of the weaker Canadian dollar).
John Northey - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 08:23 PM EDT (#283374) #
I really don't get the love for Jenkins here.  He is a guy who has 65 1/3 IP in the majors with a great ERA+ but a bad K/9 figure. In AAA he has a 7.48 ERA from last year (21 2/3 IP) while in 3 seasons in AA he has a 4.35 ERA.  Yeah, his 65 IP in the majors are nice, but enough to go 'save him a spot and write off completely another guy'?  No.

Hutchison had a 92 ERA+ before he went down with injuries in 2012, and had a mediocre 4.84 ERA in AAA last year but his K/9 in AAA was 10.7 vs 3.6 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 suggesting it was more bad luck than lack of skill creating that ERA. 

The others fighting for a slot have different issues, but Redmond showed a lot of talent last year with a very solid K rate and a good walk rate.  I'd put him ahead of Happ, Rogers, and Jenkins easily. 

The Jays biggest issue with the rotation is they have a ton of guys who are good #5's in Jenkins, Hutchison, Redmond, Happ, and Rogers but one has to be the #4 guy this year and odds are one will be in the #3 slot for a chunk given Morrow's past injuries. Our top 2, Dickey & Buehrle, have shown #1 talent before but both are late in their careers and far better suited to a #3 role (ERA+ high 90's and near 200 IP). 

So, what should they have done and what should they do? They should've got Darvish a couple years ago, no doubt on that one. But this past winter? None of the free agents were solid #1's or even guys you could count on to be more than Dickey/Buehrle were in 2013.  Blowing the wad on any would've been a mistake imo - a one year deal? Sure, but none were willing to do that here for an assortment of reasons.

The Jays desperately need to develop in-house. Trading Syndergaard and the other pitching prospects was probably a mistake, but at least it produced two solid #3 guys.  The Happ trade was odd at the time and odder still as time goes by. The Jays need to think seriously about cutting him loose soon as I don't see him as more than a #6 guy. I hope they are talking him up for a trade.  I want to see Hutchison this year in the majors.  I hope to see Sanchez, McGuire, Nolin, Stroman, and other prospects make the leap to the majors at some point this year.  We need another ace and it has to be via in-house or an amazing trade as they just won't sign here until the team is a regular contender.
Ron - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 08:49 PM EDT (#283375) #
Here is a current list of remaining free agents:

Rich Harden
Stephan Drew
Kendry Morales
Chad Gaudin
Dave Bush
Rafael Betancourt
Octavio Dotel
Jon Garland
Nick Green
Kevin Gregg
Joel Hanrahan
Brandon Inge
Jair Jurrjens
Jeff Karstens
Casey Kotchman
Ryan Madson
Jason Marquis
Brett Myers
Jeff Niemann
Laynce Nix
Juan Pierre
Placido Polanco
Clayton Richard
Kelly Shoppach
Dewayne Wise
Barry Zito

Besides the big 2, could any of these guys help the Jays or Bisons?
smcs - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 10:07 PM EDT (#283376) #
There is a fairly good chance that the 28-year-old Redmond will provide serviceable (90-100 ERA+) innings for some team, somewhere.

If a team is relying on Todd Redmond, it doesn't matter how serviceable those innings are. That team isn't going anywhere.
John Northey - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 10:27 PM EDT (#283377) #
If Redmond is your #5 then you could be going somewhere as a 90-100 ERA+ out of your 5th slot is extremely good.

KC had the best ERA in the AL - their had 3 guys with a 125 ERA+, then a 102, then two guys in the 70's for 5+ start guys. 
Oakland was next - just 7 guys used as starters, just 2 with ERA+'s over 100, the rest in the 90's
Detroit had a top 4 all over 115, #5 was a 97 with #6 at 73
Boston had 8 guys with 5+ starts, 4 had ERA+'s over 100, one in the 90's and 3 lower than that.
Tampa Bay had 6 with 20+ starts then 4 or less for the rest...grr... 4 had 114+ ERA+ then two in the 70's
Cleveland had 6 with 10+ starts, 4 had 100+ ERA+'s with the other 2 in the 90's.

That was a quick and dirty sample. In each and every case Redmond would've been a solid #5 for them with his mid-90's ERA+. And those are 5 who made the playoffs and a team that had the best ERA in the AL.  Texas just missed the playoffs and Redmond's 95 ERA+ would've been #5 for their rotation too (5+ starts). 

So a team counting on Redmond to be their #5 or even #4 guy (which is what he'd be here, the 4th or 5th) can quite easily make the playoffs. In fact I found 5 who did along with a 6th who played a game 163 and a 7th who had the best ERA in the AL.
electric carrot - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 10:28 PM EDT (#283378) #
Not so sure about Redmond.  I got a feeling for Rogers this year myself.  I'd like to see Hutchison and Rogers settle into the 4/5 slots with Happ in the mix as the long-reliever and let's hope a couple of the younger guys force our hand mid-season.  Also, no injuries by top three pitchers.
Parker - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 10:54 PM EDT (#283379) #
While I don't personally think that a 90-100 ERA+ is actually a realistic projection for Redmond, I think it also remains prudent to point out that all of those other teams mentioned had true #1 and #2 starters, whereas the Jays have nobody better than a #3 starter. The problem with the Jays' rotation isn't the depth guys, it's the fact that they don't have anyone putting up 120-130 ERA+'s to make up for the fact that that back end guys are only good for 80-90 ERA+ seasons.
greenfrog - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 10:58 PM EDT (#283380) #
I'm not arguing that Redmond belongs in the Jays' rotation (although he would likely be better than many of the #5's the Jays have run out there in recent years, and he -might- be better than Rogers this year). I think he would be useful as a #6/7 guy to be on call in Buffalo.

Rogers has better stuff than Redmond, but I'm not sold on him yet. He needs to become more consistent, relentless, focused, stingy. Given that he has shown himself capable of excellence for multi-inning stretches, it would seem to be a mental thing.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:05 PM EDT (#283381) #
Because Dickey is the Opening Day Starter, and Morrow is the Home Opener Starter, the Rotation will be strange.
R.A. Dickey pitches Monday in Tampa, followed by Drew Hutchison on Tuesday, Mark Buehrle on Wednesday and someone finishes the Tampa stand on Thursday. Brandon Morrow starts Friday in Toronto followed by Dickey and Hutchison before an off day Monday.

Hutchison might learn to be a very good pitcher following in the Rotation behind Dickey. Check Fangraphs for some details.
smcs - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:23 PM EDT (#283382) #
If Redmond is your #5 then you could be going somewhere as a 90-100 ERA+ out of your 5th slot is extremely good.

The problem is that Redmond just can't go deep into games. Mark Buehrle can rock a 90-100 ERA+ because he can throw 200 innings a year and work into the 7th inning every once in a while, meaning the weaker relievers aren't needed (or aren't needed as often). Redmond, though, can barely get through 5, meaning a weaker reliever will probably appear at some point. Taxing the bullpen for Redmond starts (as Gibby was very willing to pull him early and often) has a domino effect for the rest of the rotation.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:26 PM EDT (#283383) #
My apologies, check Jays Journal/Jeff Blair show.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, March 16 2014 @ 11:37 PM EDT (#283384) #
Toronto has every Monday in April off, so whomever the fifth guy chosen for the Rotation could miss a start or two. So there is some time to "try him out" - 27 games.

But come May the Rotation had better be right because the 19th is their only off day - 29 games.

Redmond could get a trial with Happ on the D.L. and Rogers in the 'Pen.
Oceanbound - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 05:38 AM EDT (#283386) #
The main reason Redmond's ERA looked reasonable last year was the minuscule BABIP lefties managed against him. He pitched to an FIP over 5 against them but somehow kept them to a lower woba than righties. With managers likely to continue stacking the deck with lefties against him, it's pretty unlikely he can maintain those results. He could get very bad, very quickly.
scottt - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 06:33 AM EDT (#283387) #
Having those large bullpens makes up for a starter that can only go 5 innings. There is no point in having somebody you don't want to use in the pen.
John Northey - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 06:49 AM EDT (#283388) #
Well, lets check what FIP and xFIP say about the rotation candidates (skipping Dickey/Buehrle/Morrow as they are locks)
Happ: 4.31, 4.82
Redmond: 4.40, 4.16
Rogers: 4.73, 4.06
Jenkins: 3.95 4.25 (out of contention)
Hutchison 4.48 4.03 (2012 figures)

Skipping Romero and others with just a few IP last year (trust me, numbers are ugly in all cases at that point anyways).

What do we see?  Redmond, Rogers and Hutchison all had higher HR rates than their fly balls given up suggest they should have had, while Happ and Jenkins were the opposite.  The best xFIP are Hutchison, Rogers, Redmond (less than 0.15 spread) then a slight rise to Jenkins and a big jump to Happ.  By FIP we get Jenkins, big jump to Happ/Redmond/Hutchison (0.17 spread), then another jump to Rogers.

What I see is a batch of figures in the 4's and none in the 5's suggesting the spread between these guys is small and that it won't make a big difference which you pick if you go on past performance.  The question becomes who projects to improve due to 'stuff' and that is always a tough one to predict.

92-93 - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 08:19 AM EDT (#283390) #
"Gibbons said that Jenkins deserves to be in the majors, somewhere, not necessarily on the Jays -- and it was a polite comment that he would probably make about 10 starting pitchers in the Jays system. It certainly doesn't mean that Gibbons believes that Jenkins is a better pitcher than Happ or the 8th pitcher in the Jays bullpen. He only said that Jenkins deserves to be in the majors. I'm sure he would say the same about Redmond and Jeffress, if he was asked."

Three arms were optioned down yesterday; Nolin, Drabek, and Jenkins. About one only of them did Gibbons say "He should be pitching in the majors, but he has options". Now, you can read into the tea leaves however you wish and believe Gibbons was blowing smoke up Jenkins' ass, or you can take his comments (and lack there-of regarding the other two) at face value and discern that Gibby thinks Drabek & Nolin need more minor league seasoning, whereas Jenkins is only being shipped out because of the numbers game. The latter seems far more logical to me, and I'm concerned by it.

Does anybody know anything about Dan Johnson's defense? I'm starting to like the guy more and more. His MiLB numbers suggest a very strong backup to Lind vs. RHP; he really controls the strike zone well in that he walks more than he strucks out. He's the kind of guy I'd love to have on the roster instead of an 8th RP.

I remain perplexed as to how Todd Redmond gets MLB hitters out; he does not have the stuff to do so.
John Northey - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 09:58 AM EDT (#283391) #
Well, Nolin was lit up big time in his one ML start last year and has all of 3 starts in AAA (17 2/3 IP).  Drabek was lit up in his 2 1/3 IP last year in the majors and is recovering from Tommy John still.  It is easy to see why those two need time in the minors.  Jenkins has had some success in the majors, but has just 5 games in AAA to go with his 65 ML innings.

Of those 3 Jenkins should be the most ready for the majors right now.  Nolin clearly wasn't ready last year, thus needs to impress.  Drabek has had issues with wildness that are obvious as well.  Jenkins I suspect is who he is - more time in the minors won't change him one way or the other. Basically, if he isn't ready now he never will be while Nolin still has stuff to learn and Drabek has serious control issues.
eudaimon - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 10:38 AM EDT (#283392) #
As long as we're clamouring over Jenkins' tiny MLB sample size last year we should also mention the also tiny time in Buffalo when he amassed an awe-inspiring 7.48 ERA and 3.3k/9, or perhaps we can go back to 2012 when he managed a 4.96 ERA (in 100+ innings) as a 24 year old in his second time through the level. Does anyone seriously think we owe this guy anything, or that his smoke and mirrors show last year is any indicator of future success?
Lylemcr - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#283394) #
If Happ, Redmond,etc do not have much value for the Jays, they do not provide much value for someone else.  The only suitor I can think of is the Mariners and trying to get Ackley.
greenfrog - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#283395) #
A team like the Angels could use some rotation depth in case of injuries.
whiterasta80 - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#283396) #
I don't think that we owe Jenkins anything, and I don't think he should be on the team right now. But I do believe that he should have been given a legitimate shot at the rotation last season and the last. All he has done at the major league level is produce, in my opinion that is worth riding until he stops (ala Gustavo Chacin).
Gerry - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#283397) #
Redmond does have a lot of movement on his fastball.  When the fastball is moving it's tough for hitters to square up his fastball, leading to Redmond being a successful pitcher.  It remains to be seen whether that will work with repeated match-ups with the hitters.
greenfrog - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#283398) #
A best-case scenario for Redmond might something like Colon-lite. Heavy reliance on good command of a 90 MPH fastball, with some sliders and changeups mixed in.

Over the last few years, Colon has had 2.8, 2.4, and 3.9 fWAR seasons. Redmond is more or less at his peak performance age. Maybe he can eke out a 1.2 - 2 WAR season. That would be useful.
China fan - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 03:05 PM EDT (#283417) #
"....Jenkins is only being shipped out because of the numbers game..."

Not "only" because of the numbers game, but yes, largely because of it. Same thing with Neil Wagner. In fact, Gibbons said both Jenkins and Wagner deserve to be pitching in the majors. Gibbons also said that all of the "on the bubble" pitchers are equally valuable. All else being equal, he said, you demote the one who has options. His key word: "equal." So he's not saying that Jenkins is superior to Jeffress or Redmond, he's saying that they're all about the same. (In addition, as I've said before, Jenkins could still use some work in the minors after his injury-shortened season last year, and I think the Jays still believe there is a not-zero possibility that he might still transform himself into a major-league starter, not just a middle reliever.) I don't see this as a scandal, it's just logical roster-juggling for the roughly equal talents at the bottom of the bullpen and the bottom of the rotation depth chart.

Here's exactly what Gibbons said, with the word "equal" deserving italics: ""The guys we choose to keep are very good pitchers, too. It's not like we're keeping somebody that can't pitch; we wouldn't do that. If all's equal, the guy with options -- tough luck, guy, that's just baseball."
92-93 - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 06:13 PM EDT (#283423) #
I sat behind home when Redmond got shelled by the Yankees D squad in Dunedin so it definitely colors my perception of him right now, but what I saw was a guy with not much of anything. He followed Esmil, and the contrast in their stuff was very visible. Esmil's fastballs looked like they had sink to them, whereas Redmond's appeared slow and flat.
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