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As you may have read, the Jays were in the hunt for pitcher Matt Clement until the last minute. (Or maybe the fourth-last minute. Or maybe 11:07 or something.) The question: how much would Clement have helped the team had he been signed?

My claim is that signing Clement, or any middle-rank starting pitcher, is a bad idea for the Jays. Why? Because almost all established pitchers acquired by the Jays get worse in a Toronto uniform. And this has nothing to do with J.P. Ricciardi, Rogers Communications, the current Jays coaching staff, or anything like that, as this has been happening for a generation now.

The following table lists all the significant pitchers acquired by the Blue Jays since 1983. “ERA-B” (B is for “before”, natch) is the pitcher's ERA the year before the Jays got him; if he was acquired in mid-season, it's the pitcher's ERA at the time of the trade. “ERA-A” (A is for... you guessed it) is the pitcher's ERA when the Jays acquired him.

Terry Adams2.653.98+1.332.65 was likely a fluke
Doyle Alexander6.353.93-2.42grudge against George
Miguel Batista3.544.80+1.26Note: the plate is that-a-way
John Candelaria3.395.48+2.09
Tom Candiotti2.242.98+0.748.22 ERA in postseason
Bill Caudill2.712.99+0.28lost fastball due to illness
Roger Clemens3.632.05-1.58grudge against Bosox
David Cone2.882.55-0.33K/W ratio significantly worse
Ken Dayley3.566.23+2.67vertigo
Mike Flanagan4.942.37-2.57
Joey Hamilton4.276.52+2.25no GM job for Stew, thanks to Joey
Dennis Lamp3.714.55+0.84bounced back the next year
Gary Lavelle2.763.10+0.34walked more in Tor; runners likely stranded by Henke
Kerry Ligtenberg3.346.38+3.04seeing this raises blood pressure; everybody calm down
Ted Lilly4.344.06-0.28yay, Ted!
Randy Moffitt3.023.77+0.75crashed in second half
Jack Morris3.434.04+0.61144 pitches on opening day
Randy Myers1.514.46+2.95ick
Robert Person4.525.61+1.09
Paul Quantrill4.675.43+0.76got better when moved to bullpen
Justin Speier4.053.91-0.14coming from Colorado; hurt first half in Tor
Dave Stewart3.664.44+0.78K/IP off
Tanyon Sturtze5.185.94+0.76mega-ick
Jeff Tam5.135.64+0.51super-mega-ick

As you can see, most of the pitchers got worse when they came to Toronto (though some eventually bounced back). The exceptions are: the one-time Cy Young winners (Clemens, Cone, Flanagan); a couple of useful J.P. acquisitions (Lilly, Speier); and Doyle Alexander, who never fits easily into any classification whatsoever, since he was apparently an ornery cuss.

So what can we conclude from this? Choose any or all of the following:

- The sample sizes may be small.
- I may have conveniently forgotten some pitchers who improved in a Jays uniform.
- Some of these guys were coming off fluke years.
- Some pitchers just get old or worse regardless of whether they change uniforms.

But you can also conclude that arriving in Toronto is, and always has been, a somewhat discombobulating experience for an established pitcher. The turf is bouncy, the ball flies out of the park more easily in springtime, the currency is a funny colour, and everything is just a little bit disconcerting. This is why I think that the Jays have to grow their own pitching: for the kids coming up from the farm, Toronto is the normal major league experience. Think of all the homegrown pitchers, or pitchers acquired as minor leaguers, who have flourished here: Stieb, Key, Clancy, Ward, Henke, Halladay, Guzman, Timlin, Hentgen. The list of imported talent isn't nearly as impressive as this list.

So what would Matt Clement have achieved in a Jays uniform? Well, he had ERA's of 4.11 and 3.68 in a Cubs uniform, so he would have probably compiled an ERA of 4.75 or so in a Jays uniform. Is this worth $9 million a year? Naah. The Jays are better off without him.

We're Better Off Without Him | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_David Wang - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 06:02 PM EST (#7360) #
Wow, nice stuff. The Jays should use teh money for a bat and let their AAA depth help them out in the pen, and send Batista back to the rotation.
_Cory - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 06:16 PM EST (#7361) #
Using stats to explain how a player's season will be before he has even played is ridiculous. " he would have probably compiled an ERA of 4.75 or so in a Jays uniform" This post is so stupid I would've sworn this is the Jays messageboard and not Battersbox. Let's move on and scrap the geeky mathematical projections.
_Paul D - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 06:30 PM EST (#7362) #
Dave, shouldn't we look at changes in ERA+? Or some other metric that accounts for park effects? If Toronto causes a pitcher's ERA to increase by a certain amount, and the Jays know that in advance, it's not a problem. It depends on fluky that is I guess.

Also, do pitchers normally see their stats increase, decrease, or stay the same after a move? Particularly if they've come from the National League?
_Moffatt - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 06:40 PM EST (#7363) #
I think you guys are taking this "analysis" a bit too seriously.

Great article Dave. I enjoyed it tremendously!
_Justin B. - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 06:44 PM EST (#7364) #
Actually this exact topic was discussed in a great thread over at BTF a few weeks ago (COMN). There are a bunch of results looking at the effects of pitching coaches specifically, but MGL also did some analysis to look at how pitchers and batters fare overall before and after playing for each team. Definately worth a read.
_Ryan B. - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 06:47 PM EST (#7365) #
The Jays should spend more money on coaching it would seem. Mel Queen was the last good pitching coach they had. He's been out of the big leauges for what, 5 years now?
_Pete Warren - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 07:13 PM EST (#7366) #
I am okay with the Jays not getting Clement, but if he wins 16 games this year with the Sox and has an ERA under say 3.90, then don't say we shouldn't have paid for him.

Do the Jays really need more than 1 right handed big bat? If Koskie hits 25 and Vernon hits 25 and the pickup hits 20 ( or the which is not a stretch at all !), then we get decent production from Cat, O Dog, and Rios, that will be adequeate run support for a solid rotation the Jays can throw out there with the right moves. Am I wrong to assume this?
_Jim - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 07:14 PM EST (#7367) #
See JP, spend all the money on bats!!!!

_Paul D - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 07:47 PM EST (#7368) #
I think you guys are taking this "analysis" a bit too seriously.

Probably right, my sarcasm detector hasn't been working very well lately.
_Cristian - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 07:53 PM EST (#7369) #
At least you have a sarcasm detector. Cory doesn't appear to have one.
_Mick - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 07:55 PM EST (#7370) #
Using stats to explain how a player's season will be before he has even played is ridiculous.

Cory, the Player's Association just called and they've asked that you keep this on the hush-hush lest any free-spending GMs believe you.
_Cory - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 08:08 PM EST (#7371) #
If only the calculator could've predicted the monster season of Beltre :)

*Forgive me for being rude about calculations, it's -32 here today and my smoke stuck to my lips. Nevertheless, when I tugged the cig out, it also decided to bring some skin with it.
_Left - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 08:24 PM EST (#7372) #
Yeah, chill out cory.;)
_Mylegacy - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 08:45 PM EST (#7373) #
Dave you're right, Hogtown is a tough place to pitch for outsiders but our homegrowns seem to be OK.

I'm drooling over: Banks, McGowan, Rosario, League, Chacin, Houston, Vermilyea, Marcum, Perkins, Ramirex, Romero and Thorpe all DUE before the end of 06 NOT TO MENTION Purcey and at least 5 or 10 others!!!!

Some bats, some bats, my kingdom for some bats!!!
_Jonathan - Monday, December 20 2004 @ 09:23 PM EST (#7374) #
The Jays are better off without Clement. He's a flyball pitcher coming to a flyball park. He's never been known as a pitcher of great consistency and really, that is what the Jay would have been paying for - a veteran that can hold down the number two slot, while the team's prospects develop. I don't think he would have been up to this simple challenge. Spend the money on bats (alou!).
_Benj - Wednesday, December 22 2004 @ 11:34 AM EST (#7375) #
We must include Erik Hanson, who was the big free agent signing in 1996, a guaranteed three-year contract. He was the Jays' biggest free agent bust ever. His ERA went up a run and a half, and the year before he was pitiching in the hitter-friendly Fenway Park, which negates any ballpark effect.
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