Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
"Better teach this Vaughn kid some control before he kills somebody..."

After salvaging one game of the four game set versus the Angels, the Blue Jays open up a series tonight against the Cleveland Indians. The Clevelands have been consistently mediocre all season, though the club is clearly missing the dependable innings of starting pitchers Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez, both departed via free agency. Beyond the threesome of Masterson, Kluber and McAllister, Cleveland starting pitching has been as ugly as Cerrano swinging at a breaking ball. The bats, particularly Bourn, Swisher and Carlos Santana have also been scuffling all season, which hasn't helped. Santana is "batting" an astonishing .148, and he isn't exactly Goinsian with the glove.

Pitching Matchups!

Tuesday: Justin Masterson (2-1, 3.86) versus R.A. Dickey (3-3, 4.72)
Wednesday: Corey Kluber (3-3, 3.48) versus Dustin McGowan (2-1, 4.63)
Thursday: Danny Salazar (1-3, 5.65) versus J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.63)

Injury Report

Blue Jays catch a break with Jason Kipnis out for another few weeks with an abdominal injury. Jason Giambi is also on the disabled list with a case of I Can't Believe This Old Guy is Still Playing. Er, I mean a calf issue.

Assorted Nonsense

With this three man bench and Reyes and Rasmus battling minor hurts, the bench tonight with R.A. Dickey pitching could very well be just Dioner Navarro. Yeah, that's really great. I hope Dioner has an infielder's glove lying around somewhere. Hey, Adam Lind has played left field before! That thing on his chin is practically a second glove, this will work out fine.


Will Michael Brantley stop abusing our pitchers already? (Seriously, we must've run over the dude's puppy or something). How many times will we fans curse the Rogers/Gomes trade when Yan does something good? Will Steve Delabar, or "Delabeard", shave? (I sure hope so). Will J.A. Happ's high pitch at-bats drive us completely crazy or just a little bit crazy? How many times will Chad Jenkins actually stand up? Lets find out.

Series Thread: Cleveland Comes To Town | 101 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#286200) #
Jason Giambi is also on the disabled list with a case of I Can't Believe This Old Guy is Still Playing. Er, I mean a calf issue.

Perhaps the term of art is a gastroc, which afflicts middle age "weekend warriors"
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 04:18 PM EDT (#286201) #
Gibbons switches up the batting order.  Bautista 3rd, Lind 4th, Encarnacion 5th, Francisco 6th.  It's not a bad idea to separate the lefties. 
uglyone - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#286203) #
That's the 2nd time he's done that and i also don't mind it one bit vs. Rhp, even regularly, given how well lind is hitting.

Nice to see pillar get the call. I hope it's not only because colby is gimpy, but because pillar has a legit chance to stick if he hits a bit. Though i'm pretty sure they've wanted pillar as the 4th of all along, just that his horrific camp and start forced their hand. At least i hope.
uglyone - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 08:13 PM EDT (#286214) #
Get comfy at 2B, Lawrie.
uglyone - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 08:58 PM EDT (#286215) #
man that error hurt.

reminds me of just how rare errors have been for us this year.
Gerry - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 09:04 PM EDT (#286216) #
Anthony DeSclafani who was part of the big Jays-Marlins trade has been called up and will be the starting pitcher for the Marlins tomorrow.
uglyone - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 09:39 PM EDT (#286217) #
hopefully the rest of the bullpen feels as better as I do with Janssen back.

Nice to have the closer back. Let's never speak of replacing him ever again.
scottt - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 09:45 PM EDT (#286218) #
Jimenez seems to have gotten his stuff together lately. Baltimore 1 Detroit 0
greenfrog - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#286219) #
Dickey probably goes at least 7 IP if Lawrie doesn't make that error in the 7th. Nice start by RA and a good team effort overall. Francisco has been a revelation.

I still think the Jays could use a good, experienced #2/3 starting pitcher to help propel them well above .500.
92-93 - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 11:16 PM EDT (#286222) #
It's always been obvious they needed another solid starting pitcher because Morrow couldn't be relied upon, no matter what smoke AA was blowing this winter. The question is what you're willing to part with for a guy like Jeff Samardzija, and right now that price is too high for AA (Sanchez & Stroman?). I hope the team puts the GM into a position this summer where he's forced to think long and hard about a trade like that.
John Northey - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 11:32 PM EDT (#286224) #
Ick. Trading Sanchez and Stroman for anyone would be a big, big risk right now as both are close and it could look almost as bad as the Randy Johnson & 2 for Mark Langston deal the Expos made in the late 80's (Brian Holman was part of who the Expos sent, had 2 1/2 solid years then his arm blew out).   Trading pitchers who are in AA/AAA and look like they could be in the majors now is a big, big risk.
ayjackson - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 11:42 PM EDT (#286225) #
My recollection of the Sanchez & Stroman for Big Sam rumour was that it was hack journo speculation and was widely ridiculed. Big Sam's looking pretty good now though.
uglyone - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 11:43 PM EDT (#286226) #
Sanchez and Stroman?

That's more than Shields got in return, and Samardzjia is no Shields.
greenfrog - Tuesday, May 13 2014 @ 11:45 PM EDT (#286227) #
The reports on Sanchez this year have been mixed. The question is whether he can put it all together, or whether he'll be just another great stuff, mediocre control/command, inconsistent pitcher. If he gets hot this summer, he could still be a very desirable trade chip. If he has trouble throwing strikes and his delivery continues to raise concerns, I imagine teams like the Cubs will be less interested.
grjas - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 02:42 AM EDT (#286230) #
The parity to date in the league this year is remarkable. Jays are a half game out of the wild card and 8 teams are at or within 1 game.
AWeb - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 06:24 AM EDT (#286232) #

 From the intro: the club is clearly missing the dependable innings of starting pitchers Scott Kazmir...

I've clearly gone mad, because this sentence actually seemed reasonable. It gives hope to my constant pessimism about McGowan. To those who don't see McGowan ever lasting a significant number of innings for even one year - healthy returns after lengthly, almost out of baseball injured stretches actually do happen. Still seems unlikely, but youneverknow.

92-93 - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 08:37 AM EDT (#286233) #
"That's more than Shields got in return"

Wil Myers was a consensus top 10 prospect, if not top 5, so it isn't.

Shields definitely had a better track record, but Samardzija is a more extension-friendly pitcher (less mileage on the arm) and his 1.5 seasons would be much cheaper than the cost of Shields to the Royals.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 09:18 AM EDT (#286234) #
We are now 40 games in, at the quarter mark, which seems like a good time to take stock. 

The club is 20-20.  The record is exactly what I would have expected, but more questions I had at the outset of the season have been answered positively than negatively so far.  Cabrera is definitely better after the spinal surgery.  Lawrie may or may not be an All-Star but is very likely to be a solid contributor on a winning club (assuming that he is not injured seriously at second base).  Francisco is a very pleasant surprise.  Hutchison has been good, Morrow and Santos are injured, and McGowan is pretty much where one would anticipate but the fact that he is now using the insulin pump and was late to the rotation in spring training gives one hope that he might be able to give the club 6 decent innings on a regular basis.  Marcus Stroman passed the triple A test with flying colours and has looked good in a relief role.  You can easily imagine him as an effective starter very very soon.

Average home attendance is down to 24,000, 21st in MLB.  Last year's letdown is probably being felt at the box office.

PeteMoss - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 10:00 AM EDT (#286235) #
The attendance issue is on Rogers/AA. The team tanked last year but it still gained some momentum in the market place. The winter of nothingness - whether due to the GM or ownership tightening the wallet - killed all that momentum.

The market is so desperate to support a winner (look at the Raptors suddenly getting boatloads of people watching their games on big screens) that even a team that looks like its trying to win will gain support. Sitting on your hands and giving the appearance of cheapness (whether true or not) killed all momentum the Jays had built up last year.
jerjapan - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#286237) #

Morrow couldn't be relied upon, no matter what smoke AA was blowing this winter

I do think that health is a skill, but isn't Morrow's injury purely a fluke that could have happend to a #3 type like Santana, had we signed him?

BlueJayWay - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 10:59 AM EDT (#286239) #
I agree about the Jays and attendance. A lot of people jumped on the bandwagon last year, and they feel burned. The disaster season followed by a do-nothing off season really drove away the casuals.

It will improve as we get into the summer and the kids get out of school, and the longer this team stays in a race the better. If we get to August and they're still in the playoff hunt we'll really see crowds pick up. If we get to Labour Day and this team is (finally) in contention, the city will go berserk. The bandwagon will be full again.

92-93 - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:02 AM EDT (#286240) #
I have a hard time believing that jerjapan. There has to be a reason other than bad luck that Morrow has never taken the ball every 5th day in a season. Maybe Seattle saw something the Jays didn't.
bpoz - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#286241) #
Thanks for your opinion at the 40 game mark Mike G. Very nice details & reasoning.
After the last 2 seasons, I was expecting a weaker record. The teams offense & defense have surprised me pleasantly. Hutch is doing as I thought he would, Mark B...too incredible to be expected, happy with McGowan, disappointed with RA & more disappointed with Happ & Morrow. The pen's melt down was totally unexpected, we should have about 5 more wins. So, I am very disappointed.

So I will wait for the next significant mark of this season. If this team is good then the record will show it. How many wins? I do not know, but much better than .500. At that point I can accept adding 1 or 2 pieces if we are good and it will cost us, I am sure. Pay for a David Cone but not a Doyle Alexander.
Chuck - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:10 AM EDT (#286242) #
Further to Mike's comments...

offense (4.97 R/G) is 3rd in AL
OPS+ is 3rd
OBP is tied for 8th
SLG is 1st
HR is 1st

defense (4.58 R/G) is tied for 9th
FIP is 10th
ERA+ is 9th
BB/9 is 14th
K/9 is 6th
defensive efficiency is 10th

Juan Francisco, a one-time seemingly innocuous depth acquisition, has had an unpredictably huge impact on the team. Not only is he hitting far beyond his career rate (tempting everyone to want to lump him in with fellow late bloomers Bautista and Encarnacion), but he has been, indirectly, the solution to the team's second base problem. Subjectively he has not looked as bad as I thought he might at third base, and this, combined with his hitting and Lind's recovery, means that Lawrie will continue to serve as the team's second baseman, at least against RHP.

So how long does Lawrie continue manning second base? Is this a short term thing or a long term thing? While I still see Lawrie as the team's long term third baseman, I can't see a scenario that would preclude him from spending a majority of his time this season at 2B, absent an injury to one of Encarnacion/Lind/Francisco or a major regression by Francisco. It's not like there are any second basemen in the system that will force themselves onto the roster.

Many, including myself, fear for Lawrie at second base because his style of play makes him especially vulnerable to injury. But should we lighten up? Are these concerns overblown? And what of the fact that he's now playing two positions regularly? Is that really a concern? When Joe Maddon moves players all over the diamond, we praise his ability to leverage the modest resources he has rather than fret about the potential consequences. Should we all just get comfortable with the idea of Lawrie, second baseman (until his first injury at the position, where we can then go crazy with the I told you so's)?

Mike Green - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#286244) #
Maybe we should get comfortable with the idea of Lawrie at second base, Chuck.  He definitely seems to be more mature this year.  I do however think that there is a difference between the positional flexibility that Maddon has and the one that we are speaking of here.  Running out an infield of Francisco, Reyes, Lawrie and Encarnacion most nights is preferring O to D to a great extent. Unless you've got a staff that is generating a lot of Ks and few Ws, I think that there is a price to pay in the long run- wearing them out because balls in play are more likely to end up as hits.  Maddon rarely uses positional flexibility in such a way that a below average defence results.

I think that I'd almost prefer if Lawrie were used as a Cesar Tovar-type player (assuming that you have to find a regular place for both Francisco and Lind), with Goins getting most of the starts against RHP, and Lawrie filling the role of supersub.  My instinct is that he would be better at either shortstop or in the outfield than at second base.

bpoz - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:46 AM EDT (#286245) #
Lawrie has been hitting very well after a very slow start. If he can have a great season offensively, then he will finally be the super or good player that we thought we were getting. I do not want to move him around if it has a negative impact on his offense.
Ryan Day - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#286246) #
I think Lawrie's play style makes him likely to be injured no matter where he plays. He's more likely to be taken out in a double play at second, but he's more likely to crash into a wall at third. And the danger of ramming a catcher or punching a wall remains consistent.

The main disadvantage to Francisco is that he's another left-handed bat who should probably be platooned, along with Lind and Rasmus. That's tough to work with, even without an excess of relievers on the roster. (Rasmus at least has enough defensive value to leave him in against LHP)

Still, Francisco vs lefties may not be significantly worse than any of the second-baseman-of-the-week options.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#286247) #
If you are going to run out this kind of infield (Francisco, Reyes, Lawrie, Encarnacion), you definitely want the pitchers to have a different attitude than they have shown to date.  They should absolutely not be afraid of the solo homer.  What will kill the club is the long-sequence offence from the opponent.  Go after the opponent.  Don't be afraid to pitch up.  Throw strikes.  Ferguson Jenkins would be the role model.  Hutchison can do that.  Buehrle somehow will find a way.  McGowan is throwing many fewer ground balls this year and maybe can adapt.  Redmond or Hendriks might be OK with this.  It's murder on someone like Happ though. 

If you had a larger bench, you could have Goins there to play second base some of the time, but I don't think that that is happening.

Hodgie - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#286248) #
A quick question regarding Maddon, does he really move players all over the diamond or is it just that he moves Zobrist all over the diamond? I can't for the life of me think of anyone else that Maddon has deployed in such a manner. While Zobrist has shown himself to be a plus defender in the corner OF spots and second base, Maddon also hasn't hesitated to use Zobrist at short where he is quite underwhelming. Of course, that is probably offset by having Mr. Longoria beside him as opposed to someone like Francisco.

soupman - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 12:18 PM EDT (#286250) #
I thought I'd seen a quote around the time Morrow went down (i think from Gibbons) along the lines that "some guys malinger"...which I noted as being fairly harsh and candid given the clear inference you could make. Sorry I can't find the quote - perhaps not the greatest contribution to the MOrrow debate...especially since I have always liked him as a player and seemingly interesting guy in general.
electric carrot - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#286251) #
I don't mind Lawrie playing 2nd base every once in a while but I think it's a big mistake to put him out there regularly both for injury reasons and for the fact that I think it will mess with his hitting. I think playing 2nd regularly will be a tough mental adjustment for Lawrie. I think the best solution is actually to trade Lind. There are a few teams who could really use him and we could sure use a decent hitting 2nd baseman or a starter.  I would keep Francisco just because he's got more flexibility than Lind since he plays 3rd and Lawrie appears to be injory prone.
Chuck - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 12:26 PM EDT (#286253) #
A quick question regarding Maddon, does he really move players all over the diamond or is it just that he moves Zobrist all over the diamond? I can't for the life of me think of anyone else that Maddon has deployed in such a manner.

You're right that I probably overstated Maddon's m/o. Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez get moved around a lot, to accommodate whoever else is in the lineup. And Logan Forsythe has been used at a number of positions this year as well.

jerjapan - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 12:32 PM EDT (#286254) #
When you look at Morrow's injury history on top of his diabetes,, he's hit the DL with shoulder soreness, right bicep tendinitis, right forearm inflamation, a left oblique strain and an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm.  Im no medical expert, but I can see the connection between these different injuries, along with his velocity - but this latest injury is a hand injury -  a severely torn tendon sheath in his right hand, to be specific.  I see this one as a fluke. 
uglyone - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 02:01 PM EDT (#286263) #
Despite his rushed error last night, i have been nothing but impressed by lawrie's D at 2B. And that's acknowledging that he absolutely did look awful out there last year.

i'm not even saying he looks good there now with any caveats on it - its not that he looks good "for a third baseman" or "for a guy with no experience there" - he just looks plain good IMO. Even showing plus potential.

Though that could be just tiny sample fluke.

And i'm even starting to get excited about his bat again. Much was made of his new batting stance near the end of last year, and there was plenty of talk in spring about further adjustments under Seitzer. And it seemed to be working with a hot spring....but then he was embarassingly bad to start the year, with a .308ops thru 13gms. But man he's turned it around in the 20gms since then:

20gms, 88pa, 6hr, 20rbi, 6.8bb%, 15.9k%, .311babip, .313avg, .364obp, .575slg, .939ops

His rookie year power has returned, and his contact rates too. No huge outlier fluke numbers over that stretch, and not even an unsustainable babip which most hot streaks are based on. And this has been a consistent level over this stretch, not just a handful of great games.

If that stud bat comes back consistently he's a star no matter what position he plays....but if he can handle 2B defensively then that kind of bat puts him amongst the elite.
PeterG - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 02:01 PM EDT (#286264) #
the roster solution here is to trade Lind....

a 4 man bench could be possible by sending Loup to Buffalo for awhile...he appears to be really struggling and has to re establish his focus. I believe he has all 3 option years remaining.. Before anyone jumps on me, take a look at his last 4 appearances.

uglyone - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 02:25 PM EDT (#286266) #
"Running out an infield of Francisco, Reyes, Lawrie and Encarnacion most nights is preferring O to D to a great extent"

Not sure it's as severe as that.

We may be spoiled with lawrie's crazy range at 3b but francisco rates just about average there (-0.6uzr/150 in 1009 innings at 3b), and seems to have good hands and a good arm, though a lack of range.

Lind is also near average at 1B at -2.1uzr/150 over 2187 innings there.

Lawrie hasn't played anywhere near enough to even look at his uzr but if we cheat and look anyways he has very strong initial numbers at 2b this year (and had horrific initial numbers there last year).

The weakest link actually might be reyes. Despite his great arm and good glove his complete lack of range has turned him into a bit of a liability defensively. He hadcgreat numbers early in his career but hus last 4yrs prior to being a jay he averaged around a -4.0/-4.5uzr/150, which is well below average....but as a jay that's dropped even further to around a -9.0...which is really bad. Almost unplayably bad. We probably should be looking for an SS, not a 2B. Though hopefully its been his injuries holding him back and a little bit of health can get those numbers up to not-disgraceful again.

uglyone - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#286267) #
Loup last 5gms: 4.0ip, 4h, 0r, 1bb, 4k, 9.0k/9, 2.3bb/9, 1.25whip, 0.00era
PeterG - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 02:36 PM EDT (#286268) #
seems like many inherited runners have been scoring or am I imagining that does not look nearly as effective as he was to me.....
uglyone - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 02:42 PM EDT (#286269) #
Wagner up, jenkins down, finally.

Navarro has a family emergency so kratz is called up too.
Jonny German - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 04:17 PM EDT (#286273) #
The main disadvantage to Francisco is that he's another left-handed bat who should probably be platooned, along with Lind and Rasmus. That's tough to work with, even without an excess of relievers on the roster.

It can be done! Tolleson plays second, Pillar plays an outfield position, with one of the regular outfielders DHing.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#286274) #
That would get two of the lefties platooned.  I personally don't have any issue with Rasmus playing against most lefties because of his defensive capabilities. 
uglyone - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#286275) #
Goedert and his .381obp/.931ops vs. LHP in AAA the past 3yrs might be a fit to platoon with Lind.

Pillar platoons with Rasmus.

Tolleson platoons with Francisco.

could work.
scottt - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 06:54 PM EDT (#286283) #
I never expected Jenkins to throw 1 pitch while here.
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 07:48 PM EDT (#286286) #
A costly leadoff walk and a costly error for the Jays so far in tonight's game. The boys need to tighten things up.
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 07:56 PM EDT (#286287) #
Dodged a bullet.
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 08:30 PM EDT (#286288) #
McGowan's good fortune just ran out. 4-0 may be enough of a cushion for the Indians, given the way Kluber is throwing.
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 08:59 PM EDT (#286289) #
For those eager to replace Lind with a lower-cost alternative, it's worth noting that he's now hitting 315/431/537 (following a 288/357/497 season).

Yes, he has his flaws (slow runner, mediocre defense, can't hit lefties, has back issues from time to time). But over his last 600 PA or so, he has delivered elite overall offense. It could be that he's finally fulfilling the promise he showed during his 326/388/524 minor-league career.

Also, subjectively, he looks much better at the plate than he did during his years in the wilderness (2010-12).
electric carrot - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 09:34 PM EDT (#286291) #
it's worth noting that he's now hitting 315/431/537 (following a 288/357/497 season).

Agreed, a perfect time to sell!
scottt - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 09:35 PM EDT (#286292) #
Lind is fine, but he needs a platoon mate, not an 8th reliever.
scottt - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 09:37 PM EDT (#286293) #
So, Stroman down soon?
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 09:39 PM EDT (#286294) #
Too bad the Jays didn't sell on Bautista after his age-29 spike. Look at him now -- all washed up. Sell high!
electric carrot - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 09:49 PM EDT (#286296) #
Too bad the Jays didn't sell on Bautista after his age-29 spike

Bautista isn't redundant and he's also a pretty rare case.  In Bautista's case I was super happy to see the extension when he got it.  A pure joy to watch club the ball and also throw it.
Thomas - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 09:58 PM EDT (#286297) #
Anthony DeSclafani makes his major league debut tonight for the Marlins against the Giants in a few minutes.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 10:02 PM EDT (#286298) #
If this Team gets behind, I don't know if they can come back. Is it because they are not good enough or do they just quit?
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:26 PM EDT (#286299) #
At least the Jays are relatively healthy. So many teams this year have been hammered by injuries. The Rangers are the latest to get hit with more bad news on the injury front (Harrison, Perez).
Thomas - Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:53 PM EDT (#286300) #
Sorry, DeSclafani is making his debut against the Dodgers and doing reasonably well through 3 innings..
dan gordon - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 12:59 AM EDT (#286302) #
Yah, DeSclafani went 6, giving up just 2 runs with 7 K's vs only 1 BB. Plus, he singled in 2 runs. However, he had a 4.19 ERA in AA prior to the call up, and he'll probably have some struggles in the majors. Had a very good K:BB ratio though, as in prior years, and that's an important indicator, and his home park will help him. He'll get himself a W tonight, the Marlins are up by 11.
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 02:48 AM EDT (#286303) #
What do you all make of this?

You can see the title there in the link, which looks encouraging right up to the moment you start reading. Sentence one: "Very quietly during the off-season the Toronto Blue Jays added a second member to their analytics department…." Two guys? Wouldn't you think they'd have a whole slew of them by now? Later, Anthopoulos explains why the second guy joined: “It was maybe a better career opportunity for him here because the Indians have a much larger department.” Yeah, so some teams have a whole slew of them.

There's also this:

As for replacing Sartori, who specialized in contracts and the collective bargaining agreement, nothing is imminent on that front. “If the skill-set was available, sure, but right now we’re in the season, you rarely do things in the year,” says Anthopoulos. “Maybe in the off-season you look at it.” The same goes for additions to the analytics department since, “there’s so much information out there and only so much manpower to analyze and study things,” says Anthopoulos.

Good grief. There's so much information and so little manpower, and so… let's just wait till next off-season.
John Northey - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 06:15 AM EDT (#286304) #
That does worry me about the Jays.  When AA first came on he was hiring scouts left right and centre. Scouts, analysts and others in the front office cost very, very little compared to the potential value they could provide.  Having a full team for analysis should be a must - someone dedicated to digging through the numbers for the minors, the majors, and for just your team should be the bare minimum.  There is a ton of data out there and to stay on top of it you need multiple people with clear jobs.  Ideally you'd have an analyst with each of the minor league clubs - someone digging through pitch f/x and field f/x numbers every single game, looking for any small details that could be passed along to help in the development of the players and for holes in players on the other clubs to put into notes for the future should those guys make it to the majors.  I know doing that by hand for my old university club back in the early 90's I was able to find holes in a few guys games that no one noticed day-to-day that once known were easily adjusted (the guys were quick to adapt as it made sense when I explained it).  There is so much data now that you need people who specialize in it to provide results as Joe Average will get lost and give up.

Developing specialists in analysis and collective bargaining stuff shouldn't require inbred MLB guys - it should be people from outside coming in. Ones who might have dumb questions early on but quickly adapt due to strength in knowledge from other areas that are related.  IE: for the analysis you want people with degrees in statistics who happen to enjoy baseball.  For the collective agreement you want a lawyer who enjoys baseball and both areas have many, many options out there.  High end options.  Ones who would come at a discount to do their dream job.  To leave that until the offseason is just silly.  Grab recent university grads right now if you want to go cheap and have them learn during the season and then focus hard in the offseason.  The cost would be so much less than not having them when you factor in the difference it could make if you save just a small amount on a contract ($200k should be easy to save if you have someone who knows the collective agreement well) or if it helps move a guy from suspect to prospect or to identify a 'false' prospect a year earlier than otherwise would happen, or even a few months earlier (trade before others know he is suspect, or promote earlier due to his turning a corner for sure even though traditional stats don't show it yet).

Parker - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 08:12 AM EDT (#286305) #
You know, that whole thing about the Jays having only one statistical analyst actually kind of makes sense to me. Everyone has this idea of Anthopoulos as this "hybrid" GM, where he's supposed to combine the best of both worlds. I'm not sure where that came from; maybe Anthopoulos said it himself at some point, or maybe it was just an assumption based on the fact that he worked under a pure stats guy before getting the GM job, and then immediately hired every single scout in the industry who couldn't hold a job with any other organization.

There's no doubt he values scouting (at least in quantity; quality is another matter entirely) but there isn't really any evidence at all of his belief in statistical analysis for player projection. He seems to love his toolsy position players, whether they can actually play baseball or not, and he also loves hard-throwing guys who don't seem to have a clue where the ball is going once it leaves their hands.

I think all the evidence points to Anthopoulos' being a pure scouting guy, and not a very good one. It'd certainly explain his baffling fixation on J.P. Arencibia, who is certainly a "good-looking ballplayer."
Mike Green - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 09:19 AM EDT (#286307) #
There have been quite a few minor dropped balls by management this season.  Maybe that relates to being short-staffed. Downsizing, phooey...

The Indians are hitting .264/.344/.420 against RHP and .209/.282/.321 against LHP.  When Gibbons used both Loup and Cecil on Tuesday night, he was basically leaving last night's game in the hands of McGowan and the offence against Kluber and saving his bullets for tonight's game. I wonder whether he'll run out the same infield defence with Happ pitching. 

TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 09:30 AM EDT (#286308) #
John, very well-said, and I especially like your point about studying other minor league teams. I hadn't thought of that, but yeah. And you'd want analysts not only looking for holes in opposing players but also trying to identify what certain teams are doing right, for example in their player development process. Let them study what the Rays or Cardinals might be doing right, what pitches they're teaching, for example, and how that affects the development of their pitchers. There's loads of stuff they could be researching once you start thinking about it, and that leads me to another point, which is that having a group of guys who can exchange thoughts, offer advice, bounce ideas off each other, etc. is kind of important. That's how real knowledge develops, and you wouldn't get much of that under the current arrangement which consists of having two (probably overworked) guys in the office and then outsourcing the rest.

And Parker, I think you're spot on. I mean, he talks about the importance of sabermetrics, so to that extent he's using a hybrid philosophy. But everybody is using sabermetrics to some extent these days. I listened to Keith Law recently contrasting the state of front offices today with 2002 or whenever it was he was with the Blue Jays. He said they thought they were advanced then but compared to what team's know now, they didn't know anything, and even the team making the least use of sabermetrics today is far more advanced than teams ten years ago. So given that shift in the game, yeah, it looks like Anthopoulos is waaay behind. Maybe when he goes on the radio with Bob McCown and whoever else, and talks about RBIs or pitcher wins, it's not because he's talking down to the audience but because he actually -- to some extent, anyway -- believes it.
christaylor - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#286311) #
A question -- why care about how many analysts the Jays have on staff permanently? One or two seem sufficient to me -- here's why:

It makes sense to have a couple of highly skilled people who could contract out analytical work/research ideas that they have and find people with a specific statistical skill set up to the task, sign an NDA with them, and then have the analysis come back as deliverable ready for the internal people to translate to AA as suggestions on the baseball side.

Hiring an army of recent graduates to do the work internally has the down-side where one has to pay benefits, find something for them to do in the off-season, and so on. Even Nate Silver started out doing his baseball research as side job -- many folks are around North America doing this research for fun. Contract work is a good way to take advantage of surplus of talent and cheap labor willing to do baseball analytics.

I'd rather the Jays spend their support dollars for the team on physicians, trainers, kinesiologists, nutritionists, and sports psychologists -- these employees would need to work with the players, unlike analysts, and the ability of the organization to develop players seems more of a glaring weakness than any statistical short comings.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#286312) #
I wonder if some young players are more involved in the analytics process- eg pitchers wanting specific information about batters' tendencies in specific situations. Is everything filtered through the coaching staff?
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 12:26 PM EDT (#286313) #
Contracting everything out means no exchange of ideas within the analytics department. As I mentioned, that's a crucial part of the whole process. You need guys sitting around sharing ideas with each other, asking questions and thinking things through together. Even disagreeing with each other (really hard with only one guy). Also, when you contract out, you get an answer to the question you asked but you miss out on other insights that might occur to the researcher in the process. And you completely miss out on anything the analyst dreams up on his own. You can tell a guy to research this or that but what about everything else?!

So that's partly why you need in-house analysts and plenty of them, and then there's the sheer amount of things that could be studied. Who knows what little gems might turn up in the process. There's no way you can do it with one or two people, as Anthopoulos was getting at in his "manpower" comment, and if you try, you're going to fall far behind teams like (I'm guessing) the Rays and Red Sox that have whole departments of people devoted to this stuff.
uglyone - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#286315) #
"at least the Jays are relatively healthy. So many teams this year have been hammered by injuries. The Rangers are the latest to get hit with more bad news on the injury front (Harrison, Perez)."

DL Stints (8): SS Reyes, 1B Lind, SP Morrow, CL Janssen, RP Santos, SP Happ, RP Wagner, IF Izturis

Plus Lawrie, Rasmus, Navarro have all been injured though not quite enough to warrant DL stints.

I get that this might SEEM healthy, but that's only relative to our insane normal level of injuries every year.
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#286316) #
I'd rather the Jays spend their support dollars for the team on physicians, trainers, kinesiologists, nutritionists, and sports psychologists -- these employees would need to work with the players, unlike analysts, and the ability of the organization to develop players seems more of a glaring weakness than any statistical short comings.

As for this, a few good analysts could pay for all those guys you mentioned and then some. Avoiding the $5.2M extension to J.A. Happ, for example, would've done the trick. In any case, it doesn't have to be analytics guys or physicians, etc. -- you can have both. And furthermore, I don't agree that player development should be considered separate from analytics. In the coming years, I suspect a lot of the most innovative research will come in the area of player development. There's just a whole lot we don't know and a whole lot to learn.
uglyone - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#286317) #
AL East DLs comparison;

BOS (3): RF Victorino, 3B Middlebrooks, RP Breslow
BAL (3): 1B Davis, 3B Machado, C Wieters, (OF Peguero?)
TB (4): SP Cobb, SP Moore, SP Hellickson, RP Oviedo
NYY (8): SP Sabathia, 1B Teixeira, SP Pineda, SP Nova, RP Kelley, RP Robertson, C Cervelli
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#286318) #
Looks like you can add Rasmus to the list also. Well, he's "probably" going to the DL, says Gibbons.

In other news, Chris Getz didn't report to Buffalo, so speculation is he's decided to retire.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#286319) #
The Pirates have Dan Fox as Director of Baseball Systems Development, Josh Smith as Data Architect and Mike Fitzgerald as Quantitative Analyst.  The Cardinals seem to have 3 or 4 people.  The Orioles have an Analytics Department. The Rockies don't seem to.  The Tigers seem to have one person. The Red Sox, of course, have Bill James, Tom Tippett and Greg Rybarczyk.  The Rays have Dan Turkekopf, Josh Kalk and Shawn Hoffman.  The Dodgers seem to have one person. Even the Giants have someone whose role is Director, Minor League Operations/Quantitative Analysis.  The Braves have a Baseball Systems Operator/Bullpen Catcher!  The Nationals seem to have two people.

It is possible to win without significant use of analytics, I suppose, but if you're going to try to do that, it really helps have a lot more money than your divisional opponents. 
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 01:10 PM EDT (#286320) #
I thought I heard the other day that the Rockies were quite into analytics. In any case, the team often cited these days is the Houston Astros. They "now employ five analysts with advanced degrees."
Thomas - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#286321) #
I reviewed a few of the front offices that Mike linked to and I noticed that the Cardinals employ Deric McKamey as a professional scout. McKamey used to publish an annual prospect book and it was well-known for being one of the first books to integrate both a scouting and sabermetric approach, broadly speaking, when evaluating minor leaguers. 
Doom Service - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#286322) #
Rasmus to the DL, retroactive to May 13. Gose up.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#286323) #
Gose up and batting ninth today.  Kratz catching.  Same infield setup as last night except EE back at 1st base. 

Opposition batters have a .317 BABIP against Jay pitchers despite typical LD and IFFB rates.  That's a high figure.  Opponents have really been doing well at the RC with a .339 BABIP there as compared with .300 on the road.  The Jays are .295 BABIP at home and .285 on the road.  The 2014 home/road BABIP splits might arise from a sample size issue- last year Jay opponents had a BABIP of .292 in the RC and .299 elsewhere while the Jays' BABIP was .289 at home and .280 elsewhere. The Jays as a club hit fewer line drives than average. The overall opposition figure in 2014 is worrying and suggestive of a team defensive problem that doesn't seem to be captured by DRS or UZR, or perhaps that opponents have been "hit-lucky". 

Gerry - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#286326) #
McGowan to the bullpen, Stroman or Redmond to start. McGowan admitted that it was taking him time to heal from the rigours of starting, he said he was relieved when he got the news.
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 05:43 PM EDT (#286327) #
Helps explain why they've kept Rogers, Redmond, and Happ around. The front office has a lot more information than we do sometimes, and in this case probably knew McGowan might not last. It's important to note that it was his body, not his shoulder, that was having trouble recovering after each start -- that's the good news. The bad news is the starting rotation is filling up with guys like Happ and perhaps now Redmond.
Richard S.S. - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 05:59 PM EDT (#286328) #
But now we know McGowan can pitch up to 4 innings if needed to do so from the 'Pen.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 06:18 PM EDT (#286329) #
Helps explain why they've kept Rogers, Redmond, and Happ around. The front office has a lot more information than we do sometimes, and in this case probably knew McGowan might not last. It's important to note that it was his body, not his shoulder, that was having trouble recovering after each start -- that's the good news. The bad news is the starting rotation is filling up with guys like Happ and perhaps now Redmond.

That is the charitable take on it.  The less charitable view is that McGowan was not ready to start at the outset of the season (pretty much said so himself); on this view of the situation, the club ought to have worked him up to the starting role and given Redmond a start or two at the start, with McGowan on for progressively longer relief stints to see how he managed. 

I am optimistic that Redmond will be perfectly fine in the role.  It's Happ that I really worry about. 
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 07:48 PM EDT (#286333) #
By the end of Spring Training, McGowan was up to 85 pitches or so. It's pretty hard to get stretched out more than that unless you're in the rotation. And once Santana didn't sign, McGowan was clearly the best choice for the 5th spot.
scottt - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#286334) #
Me, it's Stroman I worry about.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 07:56 PM EDT (#286335) #
That play by Gose didn't look like much, but he covered quite a bit of ground.  That was a play Rasmus was making early in the season time after time, but not so much the last two weeks or so. 
uglyone - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 08:00 PM EDT (#286336) #
Yep, gose made a tough play look easy.

And so did lawrie the play before - not sure a whole lotta 2b have the range to make that play without leaving their feet.
neurolaw - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 08:17 PM EDT (#286337) #
Based on what scottt his grand total of 6.1 innings.
greenfrog - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 08:18 PM EDT (#286338) #
Could it be that Francisco is for real? As in, a good, competent, inexpensive DH/3B who is under control for several years?
uglyone - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 08:52 PM EDT (#286340) #
Competence seems to be a pretty safe bet.

Career before tonight's HR:

Francisco (26): 863pa, .247/.308/.448/.756, -0.6uzr/150@3b

Vs. RHP: 740pa, .262/.326/.486/.812

That's competence already.

More interesting is whether his spike in BB% is sustainable, because then he might be much more than competent.
TangledUpInBlue - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 09:14 PM EDT (#286341) #
He's now at 92 PAs on the season, which is enough to say there's been a statistically significant change in his approach/ability, as measured by O-Swing. The next milestone to look for is 120 PAs, which is where walk rate is supposed to stabilize. (FanGraphs, and I guess others, use "stabilize" when they really mean "statistically significant," so it's important to note that numbers can still change throughout the year.) But, actually, Uglyone, as you pointed out, his walk rate has been consistently good since the middle of last year. So that's plenty of PAs for us to conclude he's a different and better hitter now.

For what it's worth, this topic came up in Dave Cameron's latest chat at FanGraphs:

Comment From Jays Fan II
Hi Dave. Thanks for doing the chat today. What does it take for you to see before you become a believer of certain players? Take for example, Juan Francisco. Virtually every single writer expects him to fall off a cliff soon enough, and while he likely will, I’m just curious as to what it would take for him to change all your minds? I remember hearing similar negativity years back when Jose Bautista first started mashing, and now he’s considered one of the top power bats in the game.

Dave Cameron: More than 88 plate appearances. It’s not impossible for a guy to make wholesale substantial changes and improve later in his career, but you shouldn’t assume every guy who has a good month has done just that. Time bears these things out.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#286342) #
I guess the other thing with Francisco is that his IsoP is up 100 points this year so far.  Is it a fluke?  Maybe.  But he'll be turning 27 next month and he does look like a beast.  It probably does correlate a bit with the increased walk rate.  With the kind of power he  has displayed, pitchers are definitely pitching on the edges more than they might have before.
greenfrog - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 10:32 PM EDT (#286343) #
Congrats to Happ on a good, workmanlike start.
smcs - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 11:44 PM EDT (#286344) #
Heading into tonight, Francisco's BABIP vs. RHP is .485. Let's all pump the brakes a little.
uglyone - Thursday, May 15 2014 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#286345) #
His .386babip will come down for sure, but remember that he's posted a career .339babip so far, and a .355babip in AAA.

he has bigtime contact issues...but when he does make contact, he hits it hard.
Richard S.S. - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 12:17 AM EDT (#286346) #
Whether Francisco becomes another Bautista or Encarnacion, or becomes a pumpkin shouldn't matter. Just enjoy him while it lasts.
uglyone - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 12:26 AM EDT (#286347) #
I'll go on record saying I hope Stroman gets the first shot at McGowan's spot in the rotation. Hoepfully he does better in a more familiar role...if not, then we got to Redmond plan B.

McGowan sounds like he's 100% committed to never being an SP ever again. Which is fine. Forget health - he just wasn't missing any bats as an SP. Hopefully he can do as well in the 'pen as he did last year - would be a nice boost given the struggles of all the other fireballing righties Santos, Delabar, Wagner.

JB21 - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 12:59 AM EDT (#286348) #
If there's a perfect time to give the tandem start approach a try I'd say it's now with Redman and Stroman.
scottt - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 06:31 AM EDT (#286349) #
Perfect  is not the word that comes to mind when I think of auditioning for a starter job at Fenway.
ayjackson - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 07:10 AM EDT (#286350) #
If we're going on the record, my vote would be Rogers. I still like the kid. I think he can be a very useful fifth starter. I'd like Stroman to pitch out of the bullpen for at least another 3-4 weeks, learning how to get ML hitters out. Redmond is a fine alternative for a spot start or two, but giving him a run of games will end badly.
TangledUpInBlue - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 08:09 AM EDT (#286352) #
The two years that Rogers has been a reliever, he's had a very good K/9 rate. This year he's at 9.3 and in 2012 he was at 9.5. That's compared to 6.3 last year as a part-time starter and a career mark of 7.6. He's also missing bats better than ever this year with a 10.1% swinging strike rate (7.2% last year, 8.3% for his career), though that's similar to his 2012 mark of 9.7% as a reliever. His 3.1 BB/9 this year is solid (he's at 3.6 over his career) and gives him a good K/BB ratio.

So the big question is how much his performance is going to drop off should he become a starter. I'd guess a fair bit, given his track record. And that's assuming we ignore some of the uglier numbers from this year as bad luck. I'm talking about the 5.75 ERA, which has been driven largely by the gopher ball (5 in 20 IP). He probably has been somewhat unlucky, as reflected in his 4.01 xFIP, but even a 4.01 xFIP doesn't inspire much confidence when you consider he'll likely be worse as a starter than a reliever.
AWeb - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 08:09 AM EDT (#286353) #

Way late to the conversations, but as someone who has formed several one-person research (stats) units in a few different organizations, I can say from personal experience that having at least one other person around really helps - talking things through aloud can be an important part of the process of figuring out what the hell you are doing. Having an entire team? That would seem likely to be even better, but I've only been in two-person units situations (in big organizations - there are very few large concentrations of stats/analysis types around).

MLB teams, unless I am mistaken, have access to way more information and data than the internet types have at this point. Teams have Field F/X and Hit F/X data,  I think, as well as internal information about each player (health related, internal scouting and coaching reports). You can't rely on outsider consultation to go through data sets like that, because either: 1) the outside consultant is unfamiliar with the data and will have to "waste" time familiarizing themselves with it, or 2) you keep hiring the outside consultant, and end up wasting money (consultants cost way more than salaried employees if you use them all the time). 

Apart from better analysis, the main thing a larger research/analytics division accomplishes, to my mind, is that if you have 4-5 people, you have a specialized manager in place. And management has the ear of other management (that's why middle management exists). If you have two people, they are being managed by someone who isn't familiar with this type of work and has other things to do; in baseball, I'd assume they are reporting to a scouting director or something like that. It's possible the Jays have attracted the extremely rare combination of expert analyst+expert internal communicator, but it's very unlikely (MLB pay is crap, from all reports I've ever seen - it's a "prestige" job). 

Mike Green - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 08:46 AM EDT (#286354) #
Last night's game was a good old-school effort all the way around.  Lawrie running all the way to an easy double on a ground ball up the middle.  Cabrera going hard from the outset on a routine ground ball to third; Santana bobbled and made a good recovery but Cabrera beat the throw. 

While the bench is short, the club has managed to get Reyes and Rasmus some rest through minor injury call-ups. It's not how I would do it, but it does achieve the purpose.  Bautista and Cabrera could also use a day off soon (at least from playin the outfield).  With both Pillar and Gose up, now would be a good time.  Facing a lefty, you could play Pillar in the OF and DH one of Cabrera/Bautista. Alternatively, you could just give Jose the day off tonight.  He's a world of grief against Darvish so far and he needs the rest anyway. 

And as for the choice between Stroman, Redmond, Rogers and Hendriks to replace McGowan in the starting role, my preference would be one of Redmond or Hendriks.  I agree that Stroman needs a little more time in the pen.  As for Rogers, he has an ERA of 4.9 in a Blue Jay uniform and it was worse before that.  He has pitched better in the pen than in the rotation.  It is true that he is likely to give up fewer home runs in the future, but I still think that it'll add up to an ERA of about 5 in the rotation and that either Redmond or Hendriks can do better. 

Hodgie - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 10:05 AM EDT (#286358) #
Encarnacion seemed be swinging the bat with a little anger last night. I can't remember the last time I saw him release his top hand on the bat on a homerun, much less twice in the same game.
Mike Green - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 11:56 AM EDT (#286368) #
Darvish's pitch distribution has apparently been much different so far in 2014, many more fastballs especially but also change-ups and sliders.  The results have been fewer swings, fewer swinging strikes, more contact, but still a K rate over 10, much better control, more fly balls but fewer home runs.  That doesn't look sustainable to me, but time will tell.
Richard S.S. - Friday, May 16 2014 @ 07:50 PM EDT (#286391) #
After listening to various Media People over the last year or more, I understand Esmil Rogers more. If he's throwing a 2-seam fastball as his primary, he's been very good. If he's throwing his 4-seam fastball as his primary, it's been an adventure.

As to who's Starting for McGowan, I'd suggest either Rogers or Redmond. Stroman needs to get through his "growing pains" and learned to be an effective MLB Pitcher first. Adding McGowan to the Bullpen is a huge gain, as he can be really effective over multiple innings if needed. Whomever doesn't make the Rotation will do well in the bullpen.

Now we need to see if the Lineup gets hot again. When it's smokin' the Jays seldom lose. They just need to learn how to come back from a deficit; any deficit, any time.
Series Thread: Cleveland Comes To Town | 101 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.