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"If I'd told you in April that they'd be 3.5 games back of--"
"Oh just stop it already. I am so sick of that line. I don't care if they exceed my expectations, I'm not going to lower the bar retroactively every single day to make sure I can call the season a success no matter how lame or qualified. That's so stupid. They make the playoffs or they don't. And seriously, how big does the number have to get for you to quit saying that?"
"I... I don't know."
"Sounds like you've given up."
"Well..."
"You know what? If you told me they'd be 3.5 games back of the second wild card on August 15, I'd be disappointed. You're selling this team short. Big series this weekend."


✶✶✶✶

At least nobody on the South Side has to endure that conversation. The White Sox may not be mathematically eliminated yet, but they're getting close to white flag territory. They're almost as cold as the Jays - they've lost 8 of 11, which has put them seven games under .500. They've been outscored by 60 runs. Right now I think the Jays could use a series against a veteran team that's just going through the motions, and Chicago may fit that bill. Unfortunately, they will probably be a bit fired up given the outcome of their last game.

The Sox led San Francisco 1-0 before this play, probably the most absurd correct application of Rule 7.13 yet. Catcher Tyler Flowers caught a throw from first base as Giants speedster Gregor Blanco ran home from third. Blanco was running on contact, and the throw beat him by a mile. Unfortunately for Flowers, his back foot was blocking the plate when he caught the throw, so after video review the umps decided that Blanco had been denied a pathway to the plate, and they ruled him safe. The play triggered a seven-run outburst for the Giants. Robin Ventura threw an impressive tantrum. The noted feminist intellectual Hawk Harrelson prophesied that before long, catchers will wear skirts. Flowers was your voice of reason, railing against the inconsistent interpretation of the rule and the consequences of a super-literal reading: "Iím supposed to be able to make sure I donít block the plate, catch a ball and make a tag, all within two seconds on an infield dribbler. Itís just not realistic. If itís an outfield throw itís one thing. I think most people are getting that. When youíre talking about such a short time period there, on a play like that, it just doesnít make any sense. And that had no impact on Blanco being able to score. Itís one thing if he makes contact with me before I have the ball, but that wasnít the case. He was still seven-plus feet away. It had no impact on him whatsoever." So you'll see almost everyone running from third base on contact from now on, right? Why not? The catcher's job is very difficult, and the offense's potential payoff if he can't pull off the highwire act is enormous. At the very least, they need to redraft the rule so that there's an objective definition of "blocking the pathway."

Flowers seems pretty bright. Earlier this year, he also gave a very detailed interview to Fangraphs about the art of pitch framing, and all the variables that affect the way umpires call balls and strikes.

Starting pitchers: Third team's been a charm for tonight's starter, 27-year-old Dominican righty Hector Noesi. He opened 2014 with two lousy relief appearances for Seattle and was promptly DFA'd and sold to Texas, where he had three lousy relief appearances and found himself on waivers. I swear I will never understand how teams can be so eager to immediately pull the plug on pitchers they thought worthy of their opening day roster. The White Sox swooped in and found themselves a player. Noesi's started 19 games for them with a 4.15 ERA. (Oh, you thought it was just the north siders relying on the scrap heap for pitching?) Noesi's flying high after shutting down the Mariners for 7.1 innings in his last start with the help of his revenge hat; this season, he's actually pitched 18.1 innings against Seattle with a 0.00 ERA. Maybe he just needed a fresh start.

Saturday, John Danks takes on his old mentor Mark Buehrle. A left shoulder strain zapped Danks in 2012, and the past two years of recovery have been rough - he's barely been any better than Jose Lopez. Fortunately, everyone thinks Danks' signature cut fastball is finally starting to regain its effectiveness of old. After the Mariners dinked their way to a win against Danks last weekend, he said, ďThis is the best cutter Iíve probably had since before I had surgery. Definitely some silver lining. Unfortunately, we are not in rookie ball. Itís all about winning ballgames.íí If he's right, I'm not thrilled about the prospect of seeing him face an army of righty hitters. On the other hand, righty hitters have actually hit Danks harder than lefties in recent years. This is true even though Danks was once the poster boy for pitchers with exploitable reverse splits, and even though he's still a cutter-change-curve pitcher. So who knows. The one Blue Jay who's always owned him is Dioner Navarro, who's 10/23 with three homers and only one strikeout against Danks.

On Sunday, it looks like the skies will part, angels will sing, and the Jays will finally dodge an opponent's ace starter. Not only are the White Sox giving unhittable wordsmith Chris Sale an extra day of rest - Chicago's next opponents are the first-place Orioles. Win-win. In Sale's place will be 29-year-old rookie righty Scott Carroll, a sinker artist whose performance depends on fastball movement. The White Sox signed him as a minor-league free agent before the year, and he's rewarded them with 91.2 competent innings. Carroll is struggling with lefty hitters (.305/.380/.500) and with blisters - the blisters didn't help him in his last outing, when he got bombed by the Mariners, and the White Sox had to skip his start Wednesday in favor of Jose Quintana (another pitcher we fortuitously won't see this weekend). Carroll's sense of humor grades out as an 80* with plus-plus faux sincerity, and he would like you to know that Scott Carroll will endorse anything!

*Searching Google for "grades out as a 70" returns 13,200 results. Searching for "grades out at a 70" returns 11,900. Which one is correct? If they're both okay, which one is better?

As for the bats, this is Jose Abreu's team, and it will be for the foreseeable future. He still leads the AL in homers, RBI and slugging. Everyone raves about how level-headed Abreu is, a quality which will serve him well if pitchers continue to pitch around him. He's in a bit of a power slump - hitting .262/.380/.286 in August, hasn't homered in two weeks. It seems that most righty rookie power hitters have a stretch like this, where the pitchers collectively embargo the strike zone because they're sick of getting pounded by this guy, and his walks or strikeouts go up. (And if it's the walks, the homers return pretty quickly.) So far, Abreu is doing OK - 5 walks, 8 strikeouts this month. I'd never realized how strong the Cuban presence on the White Sox is - Abreu, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, and even backup catcher Adrian Nieto are all expats. Abreu may not be a gold glover, but they still play him at first base most of the time, since they need Adam Dunn's big lefty bat in the lineup.

For a guy who was once accused of not really liking baseball, Dunn has certainly carved out a respectable career. In his 14 big-league seasons he's hit 459 home runs, more than any active big-leaguer* except Albert Pujols, and drawn 1308 walks, more than anyone except Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu. After a disastrous first season in Chicago, Dunn has been a productive hitter three years running. Tons of walks, tons of strikeouts, tons of homers; some of the homers are starting to turn into walks, as they often do for power hitters in their mid-30s. Dunn usually occupies the DH slot. That's his natural position, of course, and being the regular DH on a team that also starts Abreu and Viciedo every day is quite the honor. Dunn was pressed into outfield duty on the Sox' trip to San Francisco this week, with predictably amusing results - he doesn't know his own strength. He's also the eighth or ninth man in the Sox bullpen (Dunn and jack-of-all-trades Leury Garcia have both pitched this year), and he features a nasty breaking ball in the high 70s. Here's more on Dunn's pitching escapade from Fangraphs and August Fagerstrom.

*Manny Ramirez is actually ahead of Dunn on both leaderboards, and he plays for the Iowa Cubs, so Baseball Reference considers him to be an active player, but that's a pretty generous interpretation of "active." Ramirez is hitting .191/.208/.340 in 48 plate appearances as a bench player, and seriously, the Cubs of all teams are going to call him up? Perhaps Theo Epstein goes on a nostalgia trip. I'd be surprised.

The White Sox on-base percentage leader is neither Abreu nor Dunn - it's speedy centerfielder Adam Eaton, who just landed on the disabled list with the dreaded strained oblique. Tough break for a guy who was hitting .304/.370/.401 in his first real shot at an everyday gig in the majors. This has created an opportunity for Jordan Danks, who's 28 - only 16 months younger than John. Jordan has the dubious distinction of owning the Charlotte Knights record book: he's their all-time leader in games played (458), hits (446), runs (250), triples (12), walks (211) and at-bats (1664, tied with Joe Borchard). Unfortunately, in 60 big-league plate appearances this year, his strikeout rate is higher than Juan Francisco's. The corners are manned by Dayan Viciedo, a big, slow, rocket-armed power hitter who Hawk Harrelson refers to simply as "Tank," and by Alejandro De Aza, a speedster who fields the corners very well and is usually one of the most prolific line-drive hitters in baseball, but for some reason simply cannot buy a hit this year. He might be an ideal fourth outfielder for the 2015 Blue Jays. Most importantly, anytime De Aza is on a team that gets the advance scout treatment, you get the obligatory link to Dave Rutt's immortal 2008 Marlins preview.

Gordon Beckham is trapped in a polar vortex, hitting .138 in July and .175 in August, and he's not an especially great fielder. I think his ship has sailed. At this point I'd rather have Ryan Goins. On the other hand, third baseman Conor Gillaspie is finally enjoying the breakthrough season that some statistically-minded prospect watchers had been expecting for a while.

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez has been a mainstay on the South Side for seven years. He's one of the best fielding shortstops in the game, and a super-aggressive contact hitter who's more powerful than he looks. (But last week, Seattle's Yoervis Medina did this to him.)

The bench includes Paul Konerko, whose retirement tour has been less glamorous than Derek Jeter's. Leury Garcia is a switch-hitter who can probably play every position on the diamond. Old friend Moises Sierra will likely start against Buehrle on Saturday. Chicago may also get outfielder Avisail Garcia back from the disabled list at some point during the series. He tore his labrum while attempting a diving catch earlier in the season, but has recovered much faster than anyone expected.

This is an interesting bullpen. For one thing, there are no lefty pitchers, which should make John Gibbons very happy. The de facto lefty specialists will likely be the two guys with reverse splits: the best ever major league arm out of Denton*, Javy Guerra, and an erstwhile Jays prospect who was traded for Jason Frasor in 2012, Daniel Webb.

*With apologies to Brian Bohanon, Scott Atchison and John Darnielle.

Where most bullpens are full of high-strikeout flyball pitchers, the Sox have populated theirs with wild but aggressive groundball machines, from closer Jake Petricka on down. It's sort of like a less overpowering version of the Jansen/League/Belisario/Wright unit in Los Angeles the last few years. This White Sox staff includes that very Ronald Belisario, who's been the unluckiest pitcher on the face of the earth this year. He's stranded only 52% of his baserunners; his line in the chart is absolutely not a misprint - I've quadruple-checked. 52% seems impossibly low for any pitcher, let alone one with a sinker as good as Belisario's. It won't last. Rounding out the bullpen are Matt Lindstrom, who's not quite the 98-mph fireballer he once was; Zach Putnam, a journeyman rookie whose splitter has proven effective in the majors; and Maikel Cleto, who throws extremely hard but has been discarded by several teams.  

Song to Advance Scout by: That was some week...

Credit section: The usual.


Advance Scout: White Sox, August 15-17 | 115 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#292042) #
Thanks, Alex.  The Cell with a park factor below 100?  I guess the polar vortex got it too.  I was expecting Foreigner's "Cold as Ice" as your song to scout to, but I guess something held you back.
soupman - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 04:58 PM EDT (#292043) #
no chris sale? about time this team ran into some luck in that regard.
uglyone - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#292045) #
Seems like Gibby couldn't help himself, and had to make one unnecessary tweak to the full lineup.....

....once again, Valencia starting v. RHP, Francisco on the bench.
Alex Obal - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#292047) #
Noesi's got big reverse splits this season, but not for the rest of his career. (He's throwing way more changeups than he ever has - might have figured something out against LH that doesn't work against RH?) I guess that's good enough for Gibby. With Francisco running cold as ice it might be good enough for me too. Valencia's hot blooded check it and see his wRC+'s already up to 103.
Mike Green - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#292048) #
As long as Gibbons isn't too willing to sacrifice...
hypobole - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#292050) #
Mike, he will. I've seen it before, it happens all the time.
ayjackson - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 06:43 PM EDT (#292051) #
Really? Feels like the first time.
Ryan Day - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 07:28 PM EDT (#292052) #
Manny is not merely a bench player with the Iowa Cubs - he's also a player-coach. Manny is being Manny, and also helping to form future Mannies.
John Northey - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 08:51 PM EDT (#292057) #
Well, that was a disaster.  2 outs, 5 runs on 5 hits and one strikeout.  Stroman wasn't fooling anyone (other than K victim Flowers).  Hopefully Jenkins can repeat his extra inning performance.
Thomas - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 09:18 PM EDT (#292058) #
There was no disaster in Triple-A tonight. Thirteen strikeouts for Norris in 5.2 innings with no walks.
greenfrog - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 10:07 PM EDT (#292060) #
I was a fan of Redmond's work last year, and this spring I thought he might be a useful depth arm in 2014. This is what I wrote in March:

There is a fairly good chance that the 28-year-old Redmond will provide serviceable (90-100 ERA+) innings for some team, somewhere.

Redmond did me one better: it's mid-August and he's rocking a 204 ERA+ in 63.2 innings (going into tonight). You have to be happy for a guy like that. Last year and this year combined, he'll have earned $995,700 in the majors. Pretty good for a (former) journeyman minor leaguer.
Richard S.S. - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 11:14 PM EDT (#292062) #
A.A. needs to sit down with the"Bosses" and rip Rogers a "new one". This was the ideal year to say to A.A., in June, "No limits, get us into the Postseason".

Without that vote of confidence, I don't blame A.A. for saying he couldn't see a deal that made us better. Without the ability to take on cash, nothing significant could happen.
TangledUpInBlue - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 11:15 PM EDT (#292063) #
Valencia starting v. RHP, Francisco on the bench.

And sure enough, Valencia thus far is 0-for-3 with 2 Ks, his one non-K being a double play with the bases loaded in the 6th. If Francisco isn't going to start against RHPs, then there really isn't much point in having him on the team.
Alex Obal - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 11:47 PM EDT (#292064) #
By my unofficial count (of Fangraphs' play log), Valencia is now 6/25 against RH pitchers since joining Toronto. He started 3/5 and is 3/20 since. Insert your own narrative.

What happened to Stroman? I missed the first few innings and see he got whacked around. Just didn't have it?
TangledUpInBlue - Friday, August 15 2014 @ 11:59 PM EDT (#292065) #
Do you think the Jays are getting ready to call up Norris? Chad Jenkins has been optioned to Buffalo and I'm guessing Rob Rasmussen will be the one to get the call. But I wouldn't be surprised, three or four days from now when Norris is rested, to see Rasmussen sent down and Norris called up.
hypobole - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 12:00 AM EDT (#292066) #
I am not enjoying the ride.
TangledUpInBlue - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 12:04 AM EDT (#292067) #
Sergio Santos also struck out the side (no hits, no walks) in his one inning of relief with Buffalo tonight. So he's also a possibility.
85bluejay - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 08:07 AM EDT (#292070) #
If the rays come back and win a wildcard spot - what a story that would be!
Mike Green - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 12:02 PM EDT (#292075) #
What happened to Stroman? I missed the first few innings and see he got whacked around. Just didn't have it?

He did seem a bit shaken up after hitting Ramirez with the pitch.  It looked worse than it was, I think. 
Gerry - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 01:43 PM EDT (#292076) #
Kyle Drabek is back up to replace Chad Jenkins.
uglyone - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 02:03 PM EDT (#292078) #
depressing.

I guess we have our prospects to look forward to.

woot.
greenfrog - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#292080) #
Just start winning ballgames. They're in deep trouble, but they're not done yet.

It's true that the Jays have an interesting farm system and some promising young pitching for next year. That's something. But the last two years have been largely a disappointment (so far), no matter how the front office try to spin it.
christaylor - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#292081) #
Enh. 2014 is what it is -- with the benefit of hindsight, it seems obvious that the Jays ought to have made an upgrade sometime in July (insert favorite reason/upgrade here).

That is on someone's head and I am not certain it is AAs, be it that the deal and/or the resources not be there...

That being said, I'm rooting for Drabek. A serviceable high-leverage reliever or a backend starter would mitigate how lousy the Halladay trade was (I would have preferred the Jays running him out there until he decided to leave, again, given the benefit of hindsight).
TangledUpInBlue - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#292082) #
Just checking Drabek's game logs on FanGraphs -- he's gone 11 consecutive appearances (14 IP) without a BB. He's not striking out a whole lot (15 K in 21 IP since moving to the bullpen), but I guess with his control of late and his ability to go multiple innings, they figured he was the guy.
TangledUpInBlue - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 05:54 PM EDT (#292083) #
... with the benefit of hindsight, it seems obvious that the Jays ought to have made an upgrade sometime in July...

Well, that depends first of all on the price they would've had to pay, but I'd be inclined to think the opposite of what you say -- with the benefit of hindsight, it's probably good they didn't make a move. Even if they'd struck early and got Jeff Samardzija at the same time the A's did, Samardzija's been worth 0.9 fWAR to the A's thus far. That's been virtually cancelled out, by the way, by Jason Hammel's -0.8 fWAR, but even if we assume we picked up Samardzija and not Hammel, that's still only one extra win. (Not even that probably, because he wouldn't be replacing a replacement-level pitcher.) If we push things later into July and imagine we picked up David Price at the deadline -- well he's been worth 0.1 fWAR to the Tigers thus far. Nothing. We'd still be looking at 7% playoff odds, and Sanchez and/or Norris and/or Pompey, perhaps Brett Lawrie, would be gone.

There's a perception that adding a big name at the deadline is going to add 5 or 6 wins to a team's performance but it's just not the case. The Tigers might not even make the playoffs; the A's might not win their division.
christaylor - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 06:01 PM EDT (#292084) #
I understand the premise and realize I wasn't clear. I am glad the Jays didn't do those deals either. We'll never know know but was Zobrist available? A 3B?

The pitching rotation has been good, but I think many recognized that when Lawrie went down a position player was needed. Perhaps, nothing better, even with unlimited dollars, than Reimold was out there.
Richard S.S. - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#292085) #
Once upon a time, after a disastrous season (from Hell), an aspiring GM is involved in trade discussion with another GM about a Starting Pitcher (with an expiring contract - possible Q.O.). He`s also negotiating with a Free Agent Starting Pitcher. He`s planning in his on words "to acquire two Starters and a Bat". That might or might not be "going for it", but it would give him some idea of what he needed going forth.

Then two things happen that change the Blue Jay's world. The Trade falls through as Starter sign extension. The Free Agent changes his mind, but suggests a former Teammate. And with that it all changed, and I do mean all.

If you'd paid attention to the contracts the Marlins were signing with their "new acquisitions", you'd realize they would all be traded by the following offseason, if not the actual one.

I believe the World Baseball Classic caused Toronto more problems than it's worth. It's possible Josh Johnson could have been a better pitcher if he doesn't pitch in frigid Detroit in his second Start. Because until then he'd been pitching very well. This is where I think he got hurt. Is it possible a more aggressive promotion of prospect (like this year), changes things? I don't know, but I've never seen so much go so very wrong for so many.

With Rogers setting the limits they've apparently have I believe they are not Baseball fans, just business people. That's a mistake, and they will understand that very soon. Baseball Fans have a way of making people notice, one way or another.
greenfrog - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#292086) #
It may be that the Miami and Mets trades (along with Rogers' financial restrictions) have made Anthopoulos more reluctant to deal prospects for veterans. This may be a good thing.

Ultimately, though, might it be time that the Jays hired a new team president and GM? How does the pool of potential candidates stack up with Beeston and AA? I don't know, but I imagine there are a lot of strong candidates out there. I like some things the Jays have done on the amateur talent acquisition front, but is that enough reason to stick with the current front office?
TangledUpInBlue - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 07:52 PM EDT (#292088) #
How does the pool of potential candidates stack up with Beeston and AA?

There's probably a number of good candidates out there, but the problem is in trusting Rogers to identify them. If it's a choice between Beeston and Anthopoulos or the mystery replacements Rogers might come up with, I'll stick with the former. I'd be happy actually to see Anthopoulos around here for a long time to come, and I think we're going to see that kind of trend in front offices anyway (we already are, in fact). There aren't many twits left in GM chairs, which means fewer people who need to be replaced. In the future, I'd expect most GM firings to be over issues of company politics (e.g., new owners or team presidents wanting their own guy in there). I expect that's how Anthopoulos will eventually leave rather than for poor performance.
acepinball - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 08:59 PM EDT (#292089) #
Not to mention, if the play is to rebuild, AA did an exceptional job acquiring assets and young players. I'd want him in charge of the next rebuild if that's what direction they go.

But I suspect 2015 is a retooled team that leans heavily on young starting pitchers and a (still) dynamic offense. Hope you're healthy.

And by no means am I writing off 2014. But the time to go on a big run is now.
greenfrog - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 10:06 PM EDT (#292090) #
Good day for the Jays from a scoreboard-watching perspective.
uglyone - Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 11:05 PM EDT (#292092) #
and the win streak begins!
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 10:42 AM EDT (#292093) #
No two ways about it - the Jays need to go on a run. 14-6, 15-5, 16-4, something like that. They're five back in the loss column with two teams to pass. Playing .520 or .540 ball won't cut it.

Seems unlikely, but the Jays have a chance to prove the naysayers wrong.
John Northey - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 10:46 AM EDT (#292094) #
Yeash - first time since 2000 we've had a team in contention in July, let alone August and people are lining up to fire AA and Beeston or curse Rogers for giving the Jays a top 10 payroll instead of a top 5.

It seems clear the Jays 'went for it' a year or two earlier than they should've.  Last year the kids weren't close enough to help, this year a few were ready, next year we should see a lot ready.
2013 kids (25 or under): Gose 153PA 86 OPS+, Lawrie 93 OPS+ 442 PA, Pillar 57 OPS+ 110 PA, Sierra 124 OPS+ 122 PA, Goins 65 OPS+ 121 PA
2013 pitchers (25 or under): Nolin 1 1/3 IP 6 ER, Drabek 2 1/3 IP 2 ER, Jeffress 10 1/3 IP 1 ER, Jenkins 33 1/3 IP 2.70 ERA, Loup 69 1/3 IP 2.47 ERA

That's it for kids in 2013 - 1041 PA, 116 2/3 IP.  Not enough playing time  to drastically change anything with the biggest impacts being Lawrie (who had experience) and Loup (reliever).

2014 hitters: Gose 205 PA 76 OPS+, Lawrie 282 PA 99 OPS+, Sierra 35 PA -59 OPS+, Pillar 41 PA 43 OPS+ (Goins now 26)
2014 pitchers: Sanchez 15 IP 227 ERA+, Stroman 87 IP 105 ERA+, Hutchison 137 IP 87 ERA+, Rasmussen 11 1/3 IP 4 ER, Hendriks 13 1/3 IP 9 ER (Jeffress, Jenkins, Loup all 26 now)

So this year 563 PA, 263 2/3 IP.  A lot more contribution from the pitchers (currently 2 in rotation and 1 in key relief role),  less from the hitting (none on the active roster right now).  Right now the youngest hitters on the roster are all 27 (Francisco, Thole, and Rasmus).

Next year we have a stack of pitchers who might be jumping in (Sanchez, Stroman, Hutchison all still qualify, Nolin, Norris, Graveman, Cole, Boyd all are close enough to be factors), Pillar 'graduates' out of the kid group, AJ Jimenez might contribute in his last 25 and under year, Gose should be a near regular next year (semi-platooned I suspect), Pompey might make it for 100+ PA, and that's about it for hitters.  So the pitching staff is about to be overrun by kids in the support roles if not in key roles (ala Stroman & Hutchison).  Now the Jays know that pitching isn't the long term worry, hitting is.  That is extremely valuable and allows better use of assets going forward. 

Now, how much of this did AA anticipate?  His big trades got 4 new pitchers (Buehrle, Dickey, Happ, and one year of Johnson) and a new hitter (Reyes) who are all here for 2015 outside of Johnson but the other three pitchers could vanish after 2015 right when the kid pitchers should be able to fill 3 or 4 slots in the rotation (they already claimed 2).  On offense he also signed Cabrera cheaply (worked nicely this year) but he could be gone after 2014.  He went out and grabbed for next to nothing a stack of guys who had some value (free agents low cost no comp in Navarro, Francisco, Tolleson, Izturis, Kawasaki [after releasing, resigned via FA], Johnson; waivers Reimold, Mastroianni; traded Valencia;) - that batch (the super-cheap) has added a net of 3 bWAR for about $3-4 mil over the minimum. 

The big question for 2014 was could the Jays recover from the disaster of 2013 where everything went wrong.  Clearly, the team has recovered and is in contention (6 1/2 out in East 2nd place, 3 1/2 out of wild card in 3rd place).  Next year with any luck with the kids this team could be a 'wow' team that is getting cheaper as the flops (Romero, Morrow) start coming off the payroll and after 2015 start losing bigger payroll items (Buehrle) thus creating flexibility even if the payroll 'only' is a top 10 payroll.

Shoeless Joe - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 11:21 AM EDT (#292096) #
When they signed Alex the plan always was to sign high impact high school arms. He needs to have the opportunity to run out Norris, Sanchez, and Stroman to really see how his plan works out before he gets canned.
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#292099) #
John, the Jays are below .500 for the 280 or so games since the big trades. The Jays currently have a 10.8% chance of making the playoffs this year. The O's, Tigers, M's, Royals, A's and Angels are in a much better position than the Jays (the Yankees probably would be, too, if their entire rotation not gone down to injury). The Jays have yet to finish with a competitive record under current management. I think it's fair to ask whether Anthopoulos and Beeston's record deserves some close scrutiny, especially in light of the expectations they themselves set for the team (playoffs "two or three times" in five years, etc.).

Ultimately performance, not payroll or "trying," is what matters in major-league sports.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#292101) #
Still don't get why you keep trying this "yanks' whole rotation went down" schtick.

Kuroda has been healthy all year.

Pineda they always knew would be out most of the year.

Tanaka has missed a month.

Nova was injured last year, and crap the year before.

Sabathia went down but everyone knew his health was a huge issue coming into the yeat, not to mention performance.

There's nothing surprising about their SP health situation, and the rest of the team has been very healthy.
soupman - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 01:13 PM EDT (#292102) #
the system aa inherited was basically empty of impact talent, and the organization was, at least imo, gutted from the inside out in the early days of the jpr years.

aa hasn't just rebuilt the team, he's rebuilt the organization.

if they can get some grass in the dome, i think they'll be fine going forward as long as they keep doing what they've been doing...maybe don't let the yankees/bosox/anyone else in the division buy all the ifas in the future...but other than that, hard to be too down on him
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 01:20 PM EDT (#292103) #
I really think everyone was so caught up in the moment, they forgot how to prepare for the 2013 Season. The World Baseball Classic cause problems untold for this team. No one bothered to really practise the basics, at any time, and it showed. Pitchers were left to progress at a slower pace than normal, and it showed. The Bench was inadequate and unprepared, and it showed.

If they worked harder in Spring Training, does Jose Reyes get hurt, that bad, if at all? If Josh Johnson, is protected a bit as the oft-injured Starter he is, should he pitch in frigid Detroit in very early April? I don't think so, this is where he got hurt. If Brett Lawrie gets a full week of at bats instead of one day's at bats, does he remain an offense disaster for another two months?

I think 2013, was more a compilation of bad decisions that bad luck, though they had enough of that. I think it's possible Toronto could have been in contention in 2013, if they'd done things better.
grjas - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 02:34 PM EDT (#292104) #
"the system aa inherited was basically empty of impact talent, and the organization was, at least imo, gutted from the inside out in the early days of the jpr years. aa hasn't just rebuilt the team, he's rebuilt the organization."

This is exactly right. The JPR era was a disaster in terms of teams (excluding Halladay starts, the Jays played .460 in the JPR years), talent nurtured and developed (little left on team- Lind, Janssen, Cecil etc.) and minor league talent.

AA deserves kudos for trying to leverage the somewhat fluky emergence of Bautista and EE from that quagmire, while still in their primes. He was largely done in by the implosion of 3/5's of his original starters (Romero, Johnson and Morrow)which still hurts the team to this day and ongoing injuries that the team seems unable to overcome. Few were predicting that outcome when the big deals were made.

But rebuilding the minor leagues not once but twice is pretty impressive, and I'd like to see how that develops over a few more years before throwing in the towel on him. May be there's a better option out there, but supposed hotshots like JPR aren't necessarily an improvement
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 02:51 PM EDT (#292106) #
When you google "2014 yankees team preview," the first hit (CBS Sports, Feb 2014) has the team's projected rotation as Sabathia, Kuroda, Tanaka, Nova and Pineda.

Four of those five are now injured. Total # of starts from those five: 59 (average starts per pitcher: 11.8). (Tanaka has been injured since July 9, getting on a month and a half with no estimated return date.) And David Phelps, who has been a decent sub in the rotation this year, went down in early August with elbow inflammation.

That's five of their best six starters currently down.

Also, if you're going to dwell on Encarnacion's absence as an excuse for the disappearance of the Jays' "elite" offense, you might as well note the fact that Teixeira has played 89 games this year - one less than EE's 90.
Original Ryan - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#292107) #
Yeash - first time since 2000 we've had a team in contention in July, let alone August and people are lining up to fire AA and Beeston or curse Rogers for giving the Jays a top 10 payroll instead of a top 5.

Having a shot at the second wild card spot isn't what a lot of people had in mind when the trades/signings in the 2012-13 offseason occurred. As things stand now, any team slightly above .500 is technically a contender. Considering how weak the A.L. East was for much of this year, and all the talent that was added two years ago, it's disappointing that the team wasn't able to make a stronger run at the division title and bypass the wild card altogether.

Also, AA and Beeston did a poor job of managing expectations back in the 2012-13 offseason. Things got way out of hand, and Beeston in particular seemed quite content to fan the proverbial flames.

It seems clear the Jays 'went for it' a year or two earlier than they should've.

I can understand why AA made the moves when he did. Bautista and Encarnacion weren't getting any younger, the division looked relatively weak, and the ability to acquire a bunch of major league talent in one trade doesn't come around every day. There seemed to be an opportunity there.

Having said that, in hindsight it may not have been the right opportunity. I agree with you that it was probably premature for AA to go for it when he did. It's hard to turn a 73 win team into a contender in one offseason. The supporting cast behind Bautista and Encarnacion just wasn't there yet, and some of the holdovers were big question marks. I think it's also arguable that the Marlins trade wasn't that great of a deal at the time due to the amount of risk involved stemming from the ages, injury histories and/or contracts of the players coming Toronto's way.

I suspect AA will be back in 2015, but if he is, he's going to have to earn back my confidence. I'm certainly not as high on him as I was during his first few years as GM.

John Northey - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#292108) #
Well, if you are going by projected rotations...
Jays: Buehrle, Dickey, McGowan, Morrow, Hutchison was what started the season.  Morrow had 6 starts before blowing up, McGowan 8 before the Jays went 'yeah, not such a great idea'.  Romero some held hope out for (totally false hope of course).  Every year there are pitching injuries.  The key is having backups and the Yanks had them, the Jays have them (even if Stroman and Hutch have had bad starts in a row now).

As to offense, Teixeira has not had an OPS+ over 124 since 2009 and the last 3 years has been below 120 each year with just 13 games played last year.  He is hardly comparable (at this point) to Encarnacion as far as expected value to the team goes just like Morrow is not worth as much as Sabathia, Kuroda or Tanaka.  Comparable to Pineda as to expected value going into 2014 (neither to be counted on being healthy...McGowan lands in this area too).
John Northey - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#292109) #
Good point that we all had super-high expectations in the 12/13 offseason but this past offseason I suspect it was a lot lower.  I think the big question is how good is this team and how good is it going forward.  AA has rebuilt the pitching in the farm system but not the hitting (yet).  Some good signs in the lower minors but we'll see what happens as those kids get to AA/AAA. 

It is impressive to still have as much pitching depth as we do see given the trades leading to 2013 - losing kids in Noah Syndergaard, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Asher Wojciechowski, and Joseph Musgrove.  That is a lot of pitching talent there to give up, yet still having Stroman, Sanchez, Norris, Nolan, among others helping or almost ready to help at the major league level. 

Funny - most didn't think losing Alvarez was a big deal, but he has a 158 ERA+, leads the NL in shutouts (3), and is just reaching his first arbitration year this winter.  Oh yeah, and this is his age 24 season.  Dang nice for millions less than Buehrle.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#292110) #
I can't believe A.A. fully believed Brandon Morrow, with his injury history, would pitch 200+ innings. If he did, what happened with Morrow is his fault.

As I said earlier with Johnson, better handling of your prime asset, might keep he healthy for most of the season. That it was not done is A.A's fault.

Romero gave all indications that he was in serious trouble in 2012, especially his wonky knees. For A.A. to consider him ready/healthy for 2013, is bad judgement.

Not breaking the Season with 7 bona fide Starters is always bad decision. It matters not which year it is. At least two of those could pitch long relief until needed as a Starter. Of course, A.A.'s problem with acquiring out of options players will bite him more often than not.


Poor decisions are always punished, no matter who makes them, or when they are made.
eudaimon - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#292111) #
What are the odds Norris starts in Hutchison's place next time around? Just throwing it out there. Hutchison's been mostly brutal for a while now and I could see him going to AAA
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#292112) #
John, the thing is, three-fifths of the projected Jays rotation (Buehrle, Dickey, Hutchison) has been fully healthy this year, and another projected starter (McGowan, who was never expected to last long in the rotation anyway) has turned into a competent reliever. So I would say that the Yankees' rotation has had a lot more health issues than the Jays' rotation has had.

I'm not trying to make a thing out of the Yankees' injury issues, contrary to what one poster has suggested (although I don't really get contesting the obvious fact that New York's rotation has taken a major health hit this year). My larger point is that the Jays' playoff chances are relatively slim, that a number of other teams are in a much better position to make the postseason, and that the Yankees might also be ahead of the Jays right now, but for the SP injuries.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:25 PM EDT (#292113) #
How does someone go from a 1-0, with a runner on 2nd and two out to:
BB with wild pitch, BB, Grand Slam HR, single, HR, K.

The opponent's Pitchers don't need to be that good with that kind of lead, average is good enough.
Shoeless Joe - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#292114) #
Even a swap with Sanchez is possible..even though he's turned it around a bit.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#292115) #
Hutch

First 1ip: 38 pitches
Next 4ip: 40 pitches
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#292116) #
"When you google "2014 yankees team preview," the first hit (CBS Sports, Feb 2014) has the team's projected rotation as Sabathia, Kuroda, Tanaka, Nova and Pineda.

Four of those five are now injured. Total # of starts from those five: 59 (average starts per pitcher: 11.8). (Tanaka has been injured since July 9, getting on a month and a half with no estimated return date.) And David Phelps, who has been a decent sub in the rotation this year, went down in early August with elbow inflammation.

That's five of their best six starters currently down.

Also, if you're going to dwell on Encarnacion's absence as an excuse for the disappearance of the Jays' "elite" offense, you might as well note the fact that Teixeira has played 89 games this year - one less than EE's 90."


It's amazing to me how easily you make excuses for the yanks. They were an ancient, injury prone team coming into the season, and have been less injured than than the jays this year.....yet you continue to excuse their performance while refusing to do the same for the jays.

And why compare tex with ee? They aren't comparable. Compare tex to lind maybe, and you still won't find injury equivalents to ee, lawrie, reyes, rasmus.


And what's with the quotes around elite? Do you have a problem using that word to describe an offense that is top 5 in mlb in all of runs, obp, slg, ops, woba, and wrc+......and top 3 in most of those?
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#292117) #
Just fricken brutal, reyes.

You better make up for it, because that's a massive run you just cost us.
JB21 - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#292118) #
Jose Reyes who is HOT at the plate post ASB is not so hot in the field. Frustrating to give up that 7th run like that.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#292119) #
Before I try Daniel Norris in anyone's spot, I'd really like an extended look at what a healthy Sean Nolin could do first. He keeps up with what he's doing and he should be up soon.

I am amazed at how people disregard September stats, because they're playing bad teams and/or minor leaguers. When the Jays are fighting for their playoff dreams against Teams doing the same. Tampa and New York still think they are in it. Seattle and Baltimore know they are in it and want to stay there. Boston and Chicago (NL) should be playing for pride if nothing else. Everything the Jays do this year is important, as is every game, and every at bat.
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#292120) #
You mean, the offense that has been decidedly mediocre, apart from May of this year? The one that has seen them go 26-36 since June 6 (26-37 if they lose today)? And that completely tanked in the two weeks after the deadline (despite your assertions that it was completely fine as is), reducing the Jays' playoff % to 10.8?

But by all means, keep the excuses and rationalizations coming.
acepinball - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:26 PM EDT (#292121) #
Don't give up on this offense just yet. Granted, they've been stymied by some damn good starters lately, but there are a lot of tough outs on this team right now.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#292122) #
I don't think you know what "excuses" and "rationalizations" are.

That they are top 5 in every offensive category, and top 3 in most, is a fact, not an excuse or a rationalization.

Excuses and rationalizations are what you are using to try and ignore that fact.
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#292123) #
Jays' wRC+ by month:

March/April 104
May 129
June 97
July 112
August 71

The offense had a great May, inflating their season stats. They really haven't been anything special otherwise. For sure, the injuries have hurt the team. But they haven't been anywhere near elite since May, and the team has been in a huge swoon since June 6.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#292124) #
This woe is me stuff is getting old.

Toronto went 12-15 in April, losing 6 of the last 7 games in the month.
Toronto went 12-9 in May, being swept by the Los Angeles Angels early in the month.
Toronto went 12-15 in June, being swept by New York, losing 2 of 3 to Cincinnati and losing 3 of 4 to Chicago.
Toronto went 15-11 in July, losing 8 of 10 going into the ASB.
Toronto is presently (not counting the August 17th game) 4-10 in August, losing 6 of their first 7 games and then being swept by Seattle. With 11-12 more games this month, they have a chance as long as everyone does what they are supposed to do. Just being average will win a lot of games.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#292125) #
Before today's game:

1st half: 107wrc+ (5th)
2nd half: 105wrc+ (4th)

MAY: 129wrc+ (1st)
JUL: 112wrc+ (3rd)
APR: 104wrc+ (10th)
JUN: 97wrc+ (12th)
AUG*: 71wrc+ (27th) (* - only half a month so far)

uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#292126) #
AL-only rank:

1st half: 4th
2nd half: 2nd

MAY: 1st
JUL: 3rd
APR: 6th
JUN: 8th
AUG: 14th (half a month)
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 04:58 PM EDT (#292127) #
One month does not a season make, not matter how good that month was. I'm not disputing that the Jays have a respectable offense when healthy; I'm just pointing out that over the last two and a half months, it hasn't been anything to write home about. And we all knew that injuries were a big risk factor for the positional players on the team.

Looks like the Jays are going to have three teams to pass in the race for the second WC spot after today.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#292128) #
Welp, you couldn't ask for a better threesome in baseball to be due up this inning.
ISLAND BOY - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#292129) #
Being average can land you 4 games out of the second wild card position which is not an enviable place to be which ever way you slice it. I think you need to be an above-aveage team to make the playoffs, something the Jays have only shown in spurts this year.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#292130) #
"One month does not a season make, not matter how good that month was. I'm not disputing that the Jays have a respectable offense when healthy; I'm just pointing out that over the last two and a half months, it hasn't been anything to write home about. And we all knew that injuries were a big risk factor for the positional players on the team. "

Do you think if you keep on repeating this enough that even in your very own splits analysis we can then ignore that the jays offense is elite in both the july and 2nd half splits, and nit just the one month of may?
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:06 PM EDT (#292131) #
I would pinch hit reimold for valencia here.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:08 PM EDT (#292132) #
Gibby > ugly
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:11 PM EDT (#292133) #
Just can't lose that game.
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#292134) #
What is the Jays wRC+ over their last 63 games (i.e., since their high-water mark, and over which they've gone 26-37)?

If it's elite over this stretch, I'd be happy to concede your point. I'm not sure how to calculate it over a specific date range, though.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#292135) #
Bases loaded and only one out, and they get nothing? Who was swinging at the pitcher's pitches and not his own.
soupman - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#292136) #
good game, all considered - they had a few chances to win despite the bottom of the first.

edwin being back really shortens that lineup a lot. i could easily see another big stretch coming from our boys.

can't lose hope just yet...but it sure is getting dark out.
BlueJayWay - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#292137) #
Bad series. Lose 2/3 to the White Sox, without having to face Sale. Had to take this one.
TangledUpInBlue - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 05:50 PM EDT (#292138) #
The offense had a great May, inflating their season stats.

Yeah, well getting a lot of hits and scoring runs generally does inflate your stats. Doesn't make those stats illegitimate somehow. May happened. It counts. And it counts not in some oh-they-got-lucky-let's-be-happy-we-banked-all-that way, but in a no-really-that's-a-reflection-of-their-ability way.
Original Ryan - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 06:33 PM EDT (#292140) #
Good point that we all had super-high expectations in the 12/13 offseason but this past offseason I suspect it was a lot lower.

When the team's payroll jumped and the trades/signings were made, it was sold as a multi-year run as a contending team. Heading into this season, the team was largely the same as the one that was supposed to contend last year. Even though my expectations coming into this season were not very high (I believe I predicted 79 wins in Da Box's pre-season contest), I've been frustrated by the fact that the team hasn't been much of a contender to this point. As a result, I can understand why some might not be very happy with AA, Beeston and Rogers right now -- the team they put together hasn't delivered.

soupman - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 06:52 PM EDT (#292141) #
i would easily call this the best season under rogers' ownership. i mean, there's a case for 2006, but this year isn't even over.

i would count that as a deliverable
JB21 - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 06:53 PM EDT (#292142) #
The Jays were 14 games over .500 and the Rays were 18 under, maybe not at the same time but not far apart. What are the chances the Rays finish with a better record than the Jays?
Original Ryan - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#292143) #
i would easily call this the best season under rogers' ownership.

You're not setting the bar very high.

soupman - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 07:12 PM EDT (#292144) #
you're the one that said aa hasn't "delivered". the point being that's clearly not the case, unless you think those teams were better.

as i said earlier - aa basically had to rebuild the entire org. i'm impressed with what he's done.

greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 07:19 PM EDT (#292145) #
I think Anthopoulos has made a number of good moves. I'm not trying to run him out of town. I do think the front office's record deserves some scrutiny, though. If this was the team's plan to win in 2013 and 2014, and these are the results, what is its plan for 2015?

Probably the most costly moves (or non-moves) for the FO have been (1) playing on concrete; (2) staying out of the IFA (non-draft) market; (3) trading Gomes; (4) not signing a low-cost FA or two like Kazmir (on the flip side, they've avoided BJ Ryan-like blunders). The Rule 4 draft record seems to be mixed, as well. There have been missed opportunities.
John Northey - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 07:27 PM EDT (#292146) #
Right now the Jays are 64-61, a 512 winning percentage (83 win pace).  Last time the Jays did better was 2010 (85 wins, 525 winning percentage). 

Since 1993 the Jays best years...
88 wins: 1998
87: 2006
86: 2008, 2003
85: 2010
84: 1999
83: 2000, 2007

All other years were 500 or worse.  So this year fits in the 'well, not too bad' years which we've seen 8 times in the past 20 seasons.  We've yet to see a 'that was a good team' year though. 

On July 31st the Jays were 60-50, a 88 win pace - the best they have done since 1993.
On June 6th the Jays were 38-24, a 99 win pace - the best the Jays have ever done (1985 they won 99, the only time they have won that many).
On May 3rd the Jays were 13-17, a 70 win pace - many were calling for heads to roll.

That is the disappointment. A weak start, then a 'wow' stretch (25-7) followed by a 'meh' stretch (22-26), followed by a 'crap' stretch (4-11 up to today). They desperately need another 'wow' or this season will fit in nicely with 98,99,00 (end of Ash era), 03/06/08 (end of JPR era), and 2010 (start of AA's time).  If you go by the '5 year plan' stuff then AA might be on schedule with 2015 being the year for 'wow' results but really we've heard enough of that.

Right now we have a ton of prospects on the mound near the majors.  Right now we have a few sluggers on the wrong side of 30 and a few kids who might be something.  After the disaster that was 2013 this year was a 'lets get this stable' year.  Things went great for awhile and our hopes skyrocketed.  Sadly, the holes ended up being bigger than we knew.

CA: 13th out of 15 in OPS+
1B: #2
2B: #11
3B: #6
SS: #2
LF: #1
CF: #13
RF: #1 by a lot (133 sOPS+ vs #2 LAA at 117)
DH: #9

So league leaders in LF/RF and close at SS/1B.  4 positions with either the best or 2nd best offense.  But dragged down at CA/CF/2B.  CF and 2B you can live with due to the 'wow' defense from Gose & Goins, but CA makes me nervous.

Still, that is very solid offense and all but 1 of the big 4 are signed for 2015.  Even with declines from all of them the Jays still have a nice core.  Trick now is to improve elsewhere and keep growing that pitching staff.  We need to see more hitters in the high minors and not AAAA guys but decent prospects.

In the end though 2014 looks to be another 'sigh' year after showing promise in early June.  That is what kills us all - that hope being taken away.
uglyone - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 07:33 PM EDT (#292147) #
"What is the Jays wRC+ over their last 63 games (i.e., since their high-water mark, and over which they've gone 26-37)?

If it's elite over this stretch, I'd be happy to concede your point. I'm not sure how to calculate it over a specific date range, though."


Yeah, I don't think I need you to "concede" that an offense that is 2nd in baseball with a 107wrc+ on the season, and 2nd since the all star break with the same 107wrc+, is elite.
BlueJayWay - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 07:34 PM EDT (#292148) #
Sometimes I think the Jays are destined never to get to that next level. It seems there's a ceiling of like 84 wins or so.

Fuck, if Baltimore can do it, we should be able to. It's amazing how quickly Baltimore went from a shitty team to a pretty good one. A decade and a half of losing 90-95 games a year to: 93 wins and WC, 85 wins, and this year looks like 90+ and a division title.

Original Ryan - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 07:45 PM EDT (#292150) #
you're the one that said aa hasn't "delivered". the point being that's clearly not the case, unless you think those teams were better.

I want the team to contend for a World Series, and preferably win one. Despite adding players and payroll two years ago, the team has fallen well short of doing that. Sitting 64-61 and four games out of the second wild card spot, it can't be said that a legitimate contender has been delivered yet. The point I was making is that it's perfectly legitimate for people to be frustrated with team's management as the results simply haven't been there.

I don't see what being better than a bunch of underwhelming teams since 2001 has to do with anything.

greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 08:27 PM EDT (#292152) #
The Jays have played 125 games so far. I'll concede that the team's offense was elite for the first half of those games. However, I suspect that it was not elite for the last half of those games.

This seems no less arbitrary than a "first half / second half" breakdown. To me, it's pertinent, because the team was great over the first 62 games (elite offense), but very poor over the last 63 (mediocre offense). That's my hypothesis.

Happy to be proved wrong, if you're willing to take a look at the actual data.

Mike Green - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 08:57 PM EDT (#292153) #
As I said a while ago, I would have skipped a start with Hutchison to take advantage of all the off-days, moved him to the pen and had an extra body on the bench (Gose probably).  That might have worked out well today. 

I am pleased that Brett Cecil has been put back on track.  He hasn't walked a batter over his last 4 outings (5 innings) and only 2 batters over his last 11 outings (10 innings).  When he throws strikes, everything else follows.

TangledUpInBlue - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 09:07 PM EDT (#292154) #
The Jays have played 125 games so far. I'll concede that the team's offense was elite for the first half of those games. However, I suspect that it was not elite for the last half of those games.

In the latter 60 or so, you're mostly talking about an offense with no Encarnacion, Lind, or Lawrie. So I don't think anyone would try to call such an offense elite and I don't really know what point you're trying to make. If it's that the Jays offense isn't particularly good, then the best measure of that is the season-long statistics, including that pesky month of May, and if you do that (as Uglyone has done), they look pretty good -- maybe not "elite" but pretty darn good.
TangledUpInBlue - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 09:22 PM EDT (#292155) #
As I said a while ago, I would have skipped a start with Hutchison to take advantage of all the off-days...

Well, Mike, I hope you wouldn't have skipped the great one and given us all the duds! No, actually, I agree -- not just for one start,though, but for the rest of the season. I think it's time to get his arm some rest and hopefully bolster the bullpen at the same time, and then let him come back as a starter next year.
greenfrog - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 09:24 PM EDT (#292156) #
Uglyone has been arguing that the offense has been elite all year - both in the first half and in the second half.

That's fine as far as it goes.

But if you look at the season pre- and post-June 6 (which just so happens to divide the total # of games played so far), it's really the tale of two seasons. Yes, the team has sustained injuries since June 6, but we all knew that was a very real possibility this year. The offense has been very good this year in the aggregate, but I suspect it has fallen off a lot over the last 63 games - hence (in part) the team's poor record over that stretch.

It seemed to me the general claim of an elite offense was being used to support an ideology of optimism based on the status quo, even as the Jays were losing a large amount of ground in the division. So I became interested in unpacking that claim.

As I said, happy to be proved wrong. Eliteness of the offense over the last 63 games: have at it.
TangledUpInBlue - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 10:06 PM EDT (#292157) #
The offense has been very good this year in the aggregate...

So this is just a dispute over whether to call the offence "elite" or "very good"? Because obviously it's the aggregate that matters most. You want to dismiss May for some reason and focus instead on the last 63 games, for... what? If you can go to FanGraphs and find something explaining that 63 games are a better sample than 126 games, or that stats from May should be ignored, I'd love to read it. Put a question to Dave Cameron in a chat and see what he says. Now you're right that we should expect injuries from a team like this, so it wouldn't be fair to argue that the first 63 games are a truer representation of what we should expect of them in the future. We want to include statistics for games where key players were injured, that's true. But that just takes us back to the point that it's the aggregate that matters most.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 10:38 PM EDT (#292158) #
Hey guys, I'm the only one who should be talking about the Offense, because while I'm not always right, I'm never wrong:)

Offense was slow to develop in April 2014, possibly costing the team one or two games. Without that disastrous Bullpen collapse early in April, Toronto should have won 4 or 5 more games.

From June 7th through the 22nd with one exception, offense had issues. They went 4-11 during this time. Slightly better/more consistent might win 3 to 5 more games.

From 27 June - 13 July, they won 4 of 15 games, where offense was an issue. Slightly better/more consistent might win 3 to 5 more games.

August has been the biggest issue, with seven games lost due to bad Starting pitching. Five of those games had dismal Offense. Three more losses had good Starting Pitching and bad Offense.

Saying the Jays have an elite offense and then being so inconsistent with it mean little. The Offense is good, but it has it's issues. Elite, in comparison to what, is nonsense. Nothing's elite about this team.
Magpie - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 11:15 PM EDT (#292160) #
You're not setting the bar very high.

No kidding. 2006 was the year Ricciardi brought in two expensive free agents (Burnett and Ryan), traded for a Big Scary Bat (Glaus), threw all his chips on the table and Went For It. The team went 87-75 and finished in second place. Ten games out of first place, eight games out of the Wild Card.

And I gotta say - while there are still six weeks remaining, I don't like the chance of this year's squad matching the achievements - such as they were - of the 2006 team.
Magpie - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 11:37 PM EDT (#292162) #
When they signed Alex the plan always was to sign high impact high school arms.

Was that actually "the plan?" I ask partially because I often have difficulty determining just what "the plan" is from one week to the next, and partially because I'm curious as to whether Anthopoulos actually said this was how he hoped to build a team.

If that is "the plan" - well, gosh. Not sure there are words to express how much I hate this plan.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 11:42 PM EDT (#292163) #
In 2006, the J.P. Ricciardi acquisition can after a January announce of a $270.0 MM 3 year budget for the Team (basically two months late.

A.J. Burnett was the only pitcher of any consequence left on the market and even with his great stuff, he was at best a good number three Starter. So they team had a Roy Halladay, an A.J. Burnett and three other cheap pitchers.

The B.J. Ryan signing was a gamble on the only top Closer left available, one who`s experience was limited.

The Troy Glaus trade was a huge acquisition at the time.

The Lyle Overbay trade was a gamble because his great First Base came without much HR power.

The team did not have very much else, when he went for it.
Eephus - Sunday, August 17 2014 @ 11:43 PM EDT (#292164) #
Things could always be worse, after all. We could have a manager who stubbornly insists on using J.J. Hoover in crucial situations.



Thomas - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 12:06 AM EDT (#292165) #
If that is "the plan" - well, gosh. Not sure there are words to express how much I hate this plan.

And, aside from that, it doesn't make much sense to trade away the most talented of those arms for a knuckleballer pushing 40 (if you want to argue him versus Sanchez at the time of the trade, that's fine, but it's clear Sydergaard was about as high a potential impact arm as one could hope for out of a sandwich pick).

And that's leaving aside the trading of Justin Nicolino, Asher Wojciechowski, Kevin Comer, etc..... Now, some of those trades may have worked out, relatively speaking, but then AA needs to be evaluated on those moves and not held to the standard of some fictional "plan", from which he made the decision to deviate himself.

uglyone - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 01:47 AM EDT (#292166) #
"The Jays have played 125 games so far. I'll concede that the team's offense was elite for the first half of those games. However, I suspect that it was not elite for the last half of those games.

This seems no less arbitrary than a "first half / second half" breakdown. To me, it's pertinent, because the team was great over the first 62 games (elite offense), but very poor over the last 63 (mediocre offense). That's my hypothesis.

Happy to be proved wrong, if you're willing to take a look at the actual data."



Again.

The jays have the second best wrc+ in mlb and al this year at 107wrc+.

The jays again have the second best wrc+ in al (4th mlb) since the allstar break at....107wrc+. That's the last 30 games.


Why you think that your personally tailored selection of arbitrary endpoints is relevant in any way is beyond me, and you're nuts if you think i'd bother looking up a tailored sample selected only to support your own specific argument.
Richard S.S. - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 01:47 AM EDT (#292167) #
The R.A. Dickey acquisition, or any other acquisition will always have it's detractors. Toronto's biggest problem with handling a Knuckleball Pitcher is that you need another Knuckleball Pitcher to do so, because no one else can understand.

If Gibbons ever decides, earlier in the year, to limit Dickey's Starts to just 6 innings, it's possible the team wins 5-10 more games, both years.

Drew Hutchison was drafted in the 15th round in 2009 and was in the Major Leagues, to stay, in 2012. Marcus Stroman was drafted in the first round in 2012 and is in the Major Leagues as an effective Starter in 2014. Aaron Sanchez was drafted in the supplemental first round in 2010 and is in the Major Leagues as an effective late inning Reliever in 2014.

J.A. Happ has turned out to be an effective end of the rotation pitcher, perhaps a good #4. As for who was traded, where are they now?

Daniel Norris was drafted in the second round of 2011 and is in AAA pitching very well in 2014. Kendall Graveman was a senior bargain pick in the eighth round of 2013 and is in AAA, pitching like it's so very easy in 2014. Of all those traded, where are they now?

Where they important, other than in a trade?
uglyone - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#292187) #
Updated after last night:


Full Season (125gms):

Runs: 558 (4th mlb, 3rd al)
OBP: .329 (2nd mlb, 1st al)
SLG: .419 (3rd mlb, 2nd al)
OPS: .748 (3rd mlb, 2nd al)
wOBA: .330 (2nd mlb, 1st al)
wRC+: +107 (2nd mlb, 2nd al)
oWAR: +33.9 (5th mlb, 3rd al)


Since allstar break (30gms):

Runs: 127 (5th mlb, 3rd al)
OBP: .340 (2nd mlb, 1st al)
SLG: .409 (4th mlb, 3rd al)
OPS: .749 (2nd mlb, 2nd al)
wOBA: .330 (2nd mlb, 2nd al)
wRC+: +107 (4th mlb, 2nd al)
oWAR: +8.7 (3rd mlb, 1st al)
China fan - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#292189) #
Okay, uglyone, you've made your point: the Jays have an elite offence.  I agree with you.  And the pitching, overall, has been pretty good this year too -- certainly better than expected.  So how come they're only 3 games over .500?  I suppose there are a range of reasons.  Bad luck and injuries have been part of it.  (I know that sounds like pathetic excuse-making, but let's acknowledge that these are factors, if not necessarily the main factors.)  The relatively poor performances of Hutchison and Buehrle since the beginning of July are also definite factors.  Lack of injury depth is another factor -- Anthopoulos should have had better options available when Encarnacion and Lind and Lawrie went down.  What else?  What am I overlooking?  Because if the Jays have an elite offense, combined with pretty good pitching, they should be in the middle of the pennant hunt, not lagging 4th in the chase for the 2nd wild-card spot.
uglyone - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#292191) #
Well, the pitching hasn't been pretty good. 4.15era ranks 24th in mlb. Not good.

ERA: 4.15 (24th mlb, 11th al)
FIP: 4.06 (26th mlb, 12th al)
xFIP: 4.16 (28th mlb, 13th al)

Of course, that's more the fault of the bullpen, which has been awful.

ERA: 4.25 (26th mlb, 12th al)
FIP: 4.08 (26th mlb, 12th al)
xFIP: 4.17 (29th mlb, 14th al)

But the starters haven't been great either. Below average. (note: the fip #s are less important here because the two biggest innings eaters are guys who have always significantly outperformed their peripherals).

ERA: 4.10 (22nd mlb, 9th al)
FIP: 4.07 (24th mlb, 11th al)
xFIP: 4.16 (26th mlb, 12th al)




Also, on the hitting side, we've suffered a bit from mediocre performance with runners in scoring position.
uglyone - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#292192) #
And i don't think we can complain too much about depth this year. We've received about 2war total from the guys who were not projected starters this year. Nothing wrong with that.
Alex Obal - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#292194) #
Here's a fun stat: the Jays' hitters' collective WPA. Guess first. (Hint: Offense is down compared to the 2013 run expectancy tables, so the MLB median is around -1.90 WPA.) Then look. Just unlucky? Or is someone doing a lousy job of leveraging all this elite production?
uglyone - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#292196) #
Gotta think its luck. After all, Joey Bats seems to be our worst offender, with a pathetic 33wrc+ in high leverage situations and a -2.17 clutch rating...by far thecworst of his career. Like 2.5 times worse than his previous career low.

From worst to best clutch:

Joey -2.17
Francisco -1.53
EE -1.07
Melky -0.74
Rasmus -0.30
Lind -0.21
Lawrie +0.84
Navarro +0.86
Reyes +1.30

Thole -0.54
Kawasaki -0.42
Kratz -0.03
Valencia +0.01
Tolleson +0.02
Gose +0.06
Goins +0.08
Reimold +0.11
Pillar +0.22
Mike Green - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 04:01 PM EDT (#292197) #
I wondered how the A's could have scored so many more runs than the Blue Jays with a poorer slash line.  The key seems to me to be bunching, and in particular batting with the bases loaded.  The Blue Jays are at .258/.288/.340 with the bases loaded.  The A's are at .295/.333/.495. 
China fan - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#292198) #
Thanks for the numbers, uglyone.  Yes, I should have specified that I was talking about the pitching rotation (not the bullpen) when I said it was "pretty good" (with the exception of the recent declines by Hutchison and Buehrle). And I should have included the bullpen when I listed the reasons why the Jays have failed to take advantage of their excellent offense this season.  Still, the points about "leverage" and clutchiness are a reminder that the Jays just haven't taken advantage of their abilities and potential as much as they should have this year.
Mike Green - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#292199) #
Incidentally, some of these issues (bullpen performance, lack of clutchiness) are relatively easy to turn around in a six week period.  Things are not quite as black as they seem.
uglyone - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#292200) #
Yeah, the A's are the real outliers. They've been punching way above their weight offensively this year thanks to clutch perfirmance.

But as mike points out, that can turn on a dime.....and the A's offensive luck may have started to run out. In their last 20gms they've only scored 3.7runs per game, and gave gone 8-12. Last 15gms its 3.6r/gm and 6-9. Last 10gms its 4.0r/gm and 3-10. Last 5gms its 2.2r/gm and 0-5.

They might regret trading one of their few proven consistent above average hitters in Cespedes at the deadline, whichbwad probably influenced by the luck they've had iffensively this year.


But again its the As that are the real outliers. The Angels have scored 16 more runs than us, but they've been overall better than us offensively too at a 110wrc+. Detroit has scored two fewer than us with the same 107wrc+, though they have some games in hand.

The jays have produced a bit below where they "should", but nothing too crazy. Not as big an outlier as the As have been.
TangledUpInBlue - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#292203) #
Lack of injury depth is another factor -- Anthopoulos should have had better options available when Encarnacion and Lind and Lawrie went down.

Really? Guys like Johnson, Reimold, Gose, Kawasaki, Valencia, Goins -- those are pretty good back-ups. To lose three regulars and still be able to cover the positions with a decent platoon, that's actually very good. You can't expect Anthopoulos to have back-up all-stars waiting in Buffalo, but he did have guys who can give better (or much better) than replacement level performance, with the possible exception of Goins.
vw_fan17 - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#292204) #
Not to mention that, according to bbref, the Jays are .098/.159/.171 with the based loaded and 2 outs in 44 PA. That's an sOPS+ of 12 for the season. A little better here, and we easily score 10 more runs (1 win?). Other glaring holes.
2nd/3rd 2 outs: 58 ( 45 PA)
1st/3rd 2 outs: 68 (72 PA)
0 out, 2nd/3rd: 36 (18 PA)
0 out, 1st/3rd: 41 (24 PA)
2 outs, 2nd: 60 (159 PA)

Fangraphs supports this same conclusion, giving the Jays the WORST clutch rating in all of MLB (sort the previous table someone posted by "Clutch"). Jays are at -4.26. White Sox (coincidentally) are #1 at +4.51.

To me this says: Jays just can't hit with 2 outs, RISP.

China fan - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#292205) #
They're good back-ups, but they've really come nowhere near the kind of production that the Jays were getting from Encarnacion and Lind.  And some of those back-ups have looked good in short stints, but they've also been injury-plagued (Reimold, Johnson) so their production has been minimal.  I don't think it's completely a coincidence that the Jays performed much worse when Encarnacion and Lind were gone from the lineup.  Still, I agree with you that AA has done a good job of picking up good back-ups for free or nearly free.
TangledUpInBlue - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 06:23 PM EDT (#292207) #
But ChinaFan, no one has back-ups who hit like Encarnacion and Lind. I mean, how many teams have starters who hit like them? When you lose guys like that, there's going to be a drop-off. As for the injuries to Reimold and Johnson, you're right of course, and so I suppose you can criticize Anthopoulos for not having good back-ups to the back-ups, but even if that's true (I don't think it is, actually), that's really pushing the argument. Any team that gets into it's third-string at a position is going to have holes.
China fan - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 06:41 PM EDT (#292208) #
Yes, of course you're right, you can't expect to have hitters as good as Encarnacion and Lind available to replace them.  But you listed these hitters as their replacements:  Johnson, Reimold, Gose, Kawasaki, Valencia, Goins.   Three of those hitters have an OPS of .485 to .648.  That's a huge drop-off of 300 to 500 points from Encarnacion's OPS.  Really no replacement at all.  The others have had relatively few ABs with the Jays -- only 34 to 47 at-bats -- so you can't really consider them to be replacements either. You could consider Francisco as a relatively good replacement, but he's actually replacing Lawrie more than Encarnacion or Lind.

When the pitching faltered this year, the Jays had excellent replacements such as Stroman and Sanchez available.  They've had nothing like that on the offensive side.  They didn't have any hitting prospects who were ready to step into the majors this year, and that's a problem.

Anyway, it's really not a big part of my argument.  My real point was that the Jays have suffered from poor luck and injuries -- a point reinforced by the statistics on "clutch" hitting and poor "bunching" of hits.  The elite hitting numbers have not translated into game results to the extent that you might expect.
Mike Green - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 06:41 PM EDT (#292209) #
You can't expect Anthopoulos to have back-up all-stars waiting in Buffalo, but he did have guys who can give better (or much better) than replacement level performance, with the possible exception of Goins

Goins was your everyday starting second baseman at the start of the year.  It was a weakness of the club, but really what club does not have one weak position? At every other position, this club had an average or better player, save for centerfield due to Rasmus' off-season.  Unfortunately, we knew at the start of the season that the way this club could win was by battering the opponents into submission (i.e. leading the league in runs scored) and they haven't quite done that. 
uglyone - Monday, August 18 2014 @ 07:49 PM EDT (#292211) #
I don't get the depth criticism at all.

The lineup has been hammered with injury, and has still been one of the very best in baseball this year. You can't do that with poor depth.
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