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The great Dave Till took care of this for us, year after year. I don't have Dave's fine sense of the classroom (it's been a while since I was actually in one, you know) but I'll do what I can.

Something to do while I wait hopefully for Jim Balsillie to give up on his NHL dream (they don't want you, Jim, can't you see?) and turn his attention to baseball.

Here's what the grades mean to me:

A - Outstanding
B - Good
C - Average
D - Below Average
E - Fail. (Replacement Level)
F - Epic Fail

There is no grade for Jesse Litsch or Michael Barret (on the Sick Leave List), or for Russ Adams and Bryan Bullington (on the Nobody Cares List).

As for team management...

I'll give J.P. Ricciardi gets a D- for this year. He made what looks like a decent trade for Rolen and he didn't get bullied into a Halladay deal he didn't like. On the other hand, he didn't do anything else that actually... you know, helped.

And Cito Gaston gets an E. It's true that two of the best things abut the 2009 team (Lind and Scutaro) follow directly from Gaston's work in 2008, but 2009 gave us a good, long look at all the things Gaston doesn't do well as a manager. He was the right guy in 2008, he may be the right guy next year. But he was the wrong guy this year.

Okay, on to the players. Rather than go through the roster by position, we'll go from the Top of the Class to the bottom.

Adam Lind    A
Without question, the best thing about the 2009 Blue Jays. Took a nice step forward from his 2008 half-season (which was impressive enough), mainly by adding a lot of power, and by significantly improving his plate discipline. Just turned 26 - he may have better seasons than this ahead of him. What's not to like? Well, he's a really bad outfielder. He may have delusions of adequacy, but they are delusions. He hasn't played first base since college, and I don't know if I'd want him touching the baseball a few times every inning. He's just geeky and awkward at all things. Except hitting.

Scott Rolen    A
He sure looked like a gruff and miserable guy to be around - did anyone ever see him smile? - but he played just great. Gaston took a little bit of heat for his stubborn insistence on following his Pre-Determined Rest Program with Rolen, but you can't argue with the results. Rolen stayed healthy and productive until they traded him away. You'll notice that Rolen hasn't hit nearly as well in Cincinnati, and that Dusty Baker has given him exactly one day off since he returned from the beaning.

Roy Halladay   B+
Was pitching as well as he's ever pitched in his life and was cruising to his second Cy Young Award. And then he tweaked something in his groin against the Marlins in mid-June. Since coming back from the DL, he's gone 5-9, 3.43 in 16 starts, and given up an alarming 16 HRs in 118 IPT. Half his season is A+, half his season is B-. Split the difference and here we are.

Jason Frasor   B+
Just a really fine season. I've spent his entire tenure as a Jay finding holes in Frasor's performance. There are no holes in his 2009 season. He was hard to hit, he didn't walk people, he got his strikeouts, he kept the ball in the park. And he did it all the time.

Aaron Hill    B+
When you have a good defender at a key position who hits 33 home runs... you're just picking nits, I suppose. The only problem with Hill is the enormous number of outs he makes. Which is actually a pretty significant nit, when you think about it. Ah, hell. Nobody's perfect. But if he could improve his plate discipline just a little...

Marco Scutaro    B+
Cito Gaston deserves quite a bit of credit in the talent assessment department for his decision that Scutaro could indeed play shortstop and lead off every day. It had never occurred to any of the half dozen managers Scutaro had played for that he could do either of those things. Unfortunately, Gaston proceeded to play Scutaro until he (quite literally) dropped. By the time September rolled around, he was running on fumes and a bad heel. And it's not like there wasn't a backup shortstop on the roster.

Shawn Camp   B
For a guy picked up off the scrap heap who's supposed to be the very model of a generic, replacement-level arm - he had a really nice season. It would be hard for a professional athlete to be less flashy and charismatic and impressive. He just gets through his innings without allowing the other team to do much of anything.

Mark Rzepczynski   B
Everyone who looks carefully at these things says Brett Cecil has way more upside. They may be right, but Rzepczynski is quite a bit better right now and he's only eleven months older than Cecil. He fights his control from time to time, but he's really, really hard to hit. Only Jason Frasor (.211) held opposing hitters to a lower BAVG than R-Zep and only Brandon League struck out more guys per nine innings. And I didn't notice Frasor or League starting any games this year.

Scott Downs   B
Remains a very effective pitcher when you can actually get him in the game. I'm not sure how key a role you'd want to assign to a guy who regularly hurts himself simply fielding his position.

Ricky Romero   B
His monthly ERAs since he came back from the DL are 2.36, 4.26, 5.03, and 6.26 - you normally don't want to know what comes next. I think he's run into a little of a rookie wall and I think the league has adjusted to him a little bit. But I think he's going to adjust to the league and be just fine. I believe in him, without reservation. He's a pitcher, and he's young, so you never know - but he's got a chance to be really, really good.

Lyle Overbay    B
He's just a good ball player. He gets on base, he has some pop in his bat, he plays good defense. The only hitter on the team with a better OPS+ is Adam Lind. Unfortunately, he has completely lost his ability to hit LHP, so he now needs a platoon partner.

Randy Ruiz     B
Well, hello there. He's too good for the Pacific Coast League, and on this team he's blocked at his natural position, which is DH. If he doesn't fail another drug test, he's earned a chance to be Overbay's platoon partner. In other words, he'll end up in Kevin Millar's roster spot. Now if Adam Lind could play even a passable left field - well, forget it. Not going to happen.

Jeremy Accardo   C+
He had options remaining, so he was the guy on the yo-yo to Las Vegas when someone was ready to come off the DL, or they felt like looking at someone  else for a couple of weeks. Had a very nice-looking ERA (2.49) but while Carlson and League were both better than their ERAs, Accardo was nowhere near as good as his suggested. He walked 14 guys in 21.2 IPT, which is... Purcey-ish.

Jesse Carlson   C
Had an awful patch in the middle of the season, when he suddenly found himself the only LH in the middle of the pen. Ryan was useless, Tallet was starting, Downs was either closing or hurt. Carlson couldn't carry that load by himself, and got hammered regularly. He eventually got himself straightened out, and regained his effectiveness. Important to realize that he's not a true LOOGY - like Tallet, Carlson has a reverse platoon split. He's a bit tougher on RH batters

Alex Rios   C
What did the teacher always say? He doesn't always seem to pay attention in class? We're not sure if he's really applying himself? Well, Alex is someone else's problem now. I'd note that, like a lot of tall hitters, Rios has a long and complicated swing. A lot of things can go wrong, and it can get quite totally out of sync. And unlike, say, Frank Howard or Dave Winfield, Rios doesn't have the brute strength to power the ball even when he had a lousy cut.

Dirk Hayhurst   C
No one seems to take him seriously as a pitcher, and the ERA (1.31) is a fluke. But there's no reason at all to dismiss him yet.

Brandon League   C-
A very strange season for the Jays own Nuke LaLoosh. On the one hand, there's that none too attractive 4.77 ERA and our memories of some pretty epic failures along the way. But League made quite a bit of progress in 2009. He's got the walks down to 2.5 per 9,and he's striking out more batters than ever before. He did this without allowing more hits or more home runs. I think he's almost got it figured out. He'll probably just explode on the league one of these days. Probably just in time for his free agency...

Jose Bautista   C-
An odd player. Obviously a very handy guy to have around. In the day of the 12 man bullpen, a guy who can play all three outfield spots, both corner infield positions, and probably the middle infield in an emergency is pretty useful. He doesn't hit for much of an average, but he gets on base more often than Aaron Hill (not to mention Vernon Wells.) Doesn't have much power to start with, and he showed less than usual this season.

Joe Inglett   C-
A left-handed version of Bautista. Bautista's a better outfielder, but Inglett has proven he can play a passable second base on a regular basis.

John McDonald    D+
He is what he is.

Bill Murphy   D+
Kind of strange. Made 8 appearances early on and allowed 4 H in 11.1 IPT. Went back to the minors and was never heard from again, even while the bullpen lost 3 of the 4 southpaws who had played such a key role in 2008.

Rod Barajas    D+
His defense is adequate enough, at an important defensive position. But that bat. Yikes. All he does - quite literally - is hit home runs. It's not like he hits a lot of them, either. He has scored just 22 runs this season when he didn't actually drive himself in. Which is what you'd expect from someone who never gets on base and can't run at all once he gets there.

Vernon Wells   D
Off his 2009 season, he's still good enough to be on a major league roster. He can get by at all three outfield positions, he chips in a bit with the bat. He'd make a fine fourth outfielder, the new Reed Johnson.

Brian Tallet   D
The injuries and the Purcey demotion gave Tallet his first real chance to start in the majors. Seeing as how he went 7-8, 5.49 he may not get another chance. He's a useful guy to have on a staff. He's left-handed, he's versatile, he can be effective in spots. But he's not a major league starter.

Travis Snider   D
He's probably going to be an outstanding hitter some day, but he isn't even a good one yet. It's pretty obvious that he's been rushed to the major leagues before he was remotely  ready. But what can you do? He's way too good right now for the Pacific Coast League.

Edwin Encarnacion    D (?)
It's been a lost year for him, an injury year. His bat does seem to be recovering these last few weeks.

David Purcey    D
It seems to me that one of the worst decisions the Blue Jays made this season was sending Purcey back to AAA after five starts. I suspect Gaston was responsible - I think he got tired of watching Purcey hunt for his command and throw a zillion pitches. But this is who Purcey is. All pitchers struggle at times. Some guys give up three home runs in an inning, some guys give up ten hits in four innings. This is how Purcey struggles. He's the new Al Leiter. Anyway, they sent Purcey out when they were already down two starters (Litsch and Romero). I think that was dumb.

Raul Chavez    D-
He might be to catchers what John McDonald is to middle infielders. His defense is quite impressive, but it's just impossible to put up with his bat. We don't have a very good sense of the actual impact on the game of a catcher's defense - we have a much better sense of an infielder's impact.

Brett Cecil   D-
The pitching version of Travis Snider?  He's got a chance to be really good, I guess, but there's no way he should have been in the major leagues this season. Gave up 17 HR in 93.1 IPT, which brings back memories of the late, lamented John Cerutti.

Scott Richmond   D-
Since returning from the DL, he's gone 1-5 8.52 in nine starts. He's so tough on RH batters that you could see him carving a bullpen role that suits his abilities. But if he's starting, the opposition is just going to load up the lineup with LH hitters and let the good times roll.

Casey Janssen   E
I don't believe in him. He's just too easy to hit. Richmond's edge on Janssen is that Richmond at least has one thing - retire RH batters - that he does really, really well. I don't see anything for Janssen.

Josh Roenicke   E
Throws really, really hard. Doesn't have a clue where it's going, or much of an idea about where it should be going. So who gives a damn how hard he throws?

Kyle Phillips   F
Too soon to tell. Might make it up to replacement Level.

B.J. Ryan   F
His career is almost certainly over.

Brian Wolfe   F
Actually pitched worse than Ryan. Opposing batters hit .407 against him, which pretty much speaks (speaks? Screams!) for itself..

Brad Mills   F
Actually pitched worse than Wolfe. The good news is that he likely has a better future.

Brian Burres  F
Actually pitched worse than Mills. No future for you.

Kevin Millar   F
Better than Dellucci.

David Dellucci  F
Better than me.

Blue Jays Report Card | 66 comments | Create New Account
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Mike Green - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#206423) #
The teacher gets an A+.  Well thought out grades and comments.  I had been thinking that Vernon Wells makes an excellent 4th outfielder in the Reed Johnson mold, but didn't post it.  It sure would take a lot of guts for a manager to say "I don't care what they are paying you, this is the role that fits your current talents".  Personally, I would have rated Lind lower and Hill and Scutaro higher due to defence.  Fangraphs orders them Scutaro, Hill and Lind by overall value for 2009 and I agree with that, although the differences are probably small.  I would have given Rolen an A and the other three all an A-.

christaylor - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#206424) #
I disagree with giving Rolen an A and in fact, I'd be inclined to give him an incomplete given that he wanted out of the organization - or to push the school metaphor wanted a transfer to a school that is easier and that he didn't have to take the bus to. His requesting a trade out of town was (for me) a low point of the season.

Hill deserves more than a B+ -- sure his OBP could be higher, but according to plus/minus he's the best defensive 2nd baseman in all of MLB. I strongly disagree wit this grade. This argument on the flip side for Lind. His -11 in limited work in LF is atrocious. Hitting he's an A but fielding he fails. Unless he can become passable at position, I don't see him ever deserving an A, unless he starts hitting like Papi in his prime.

Halladay also deserves an A. Sure since July he took a step back but he's one of the top pitchers in all of MLB and hasn't had great run support. The 5-9 record is meaningless. Giving him anything less than an A on the season looks silly, kind of like the teacher who gives out a B to top student because the teacher know that the student can do better. If any other pitcher on the Jays had handed in the performance it'd be an easy A. Couldn't disagree more here and I think the grade is symptomatic of the fact that many Jays fans don't appreciate just how awesome Halladay is...

Camp/Downs don't deserve B's -- they've got negative WPA. They cost the Jays wins this year. There's no one in the pen that deserves more than a D. They've been awful and need to be revamped.

EE's grade of D might be justified but he definitely shows some promise. I think he deserves a shot at the full time 3rd base job. He's like the student you pass because they've shown promise and signs of getting it together going into next year.

Lastly, I couldn't agree more about Purcey... it was a waste having him in AAA when the Jays were trotting out stiffs like Tallet and Richmond (who if they're in the rotation full time next year again, the Jays just might see last place).
Chuck - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 02:45 PM EDT (#206425) #

Roy Halladay   B+

Roy suffers from being compared to himself. Given the number of A's that would need to be meted out among AL starting pitchers, Halladay would surely deserve one. The expectation of an A+ makes anything less seem a disppointment.

Rod Barajas    D+

Kudos for this. This assessment surely flies in the face of how he is perceived by many fans and, seemingly, the organization. I fully expect him to be the starter again next year. You hit a few homeruns and people have no trouble looking the other way when your OBP is .264.

It sure would take a lot of guts for a manager to say "I don't care what they are paying you, this is the role that fits your current talents". 

It may well come to that... under the next regime. No way this happens with either Ricciardi or Gaston still in place.

Personally, I would have rated Lind lower and Hill and Scutaro higher due to defence. 

I agree. Drafting these guys for a Strat-O-Matic league, you'd choose the middle infielders first. In this case, they've got both positional adjustments and defensive acumen working in their favour. Lind takes a hit on both fronts. Another year entrenched as Cito's DH and I think any talk of him becoming a first baseman will evaporate altogether.


John Northey - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#206428) #
I disagree on Purcey.  He couldn't find the strike zone in AAA - what do you think would've happened in the majors?  Quite honestly, I'm amazed how well he has done since being called up - I fully expected around 5 IP per start and 3-5 runs allowed each time.  It made a lot of sense to me to keep calling up whichever kids appears to be putting it together and give them their first ML taste this year.  Next year Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepczynski, Ricky Romero, Brad Mills, and Robert Ray will benefit from their time (brief or not so brief) this year in the majors.  Forgot that Jesse Litsch is just in his age 24 season this year too (younger than Mills, Ray & Purcey). 

So next year we have 5 guys 25 and under (in 2010) who started a game this year potentially available.  Mix in Ray, Purcey, Richmond, Tallet and that is a lot of bodies to toss out there after Halladay.  Plus of course guys in AAA and lower.  I just hope they can do well by some miracle as only Rzepczynski, Romero, and Halladay have 10+ starts with ERA+'s over 100.  Tallet, Richmond, Purcey, and Cecil are all 81 or 82 for ERA+.
Magpie - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#206429) #
Hey, fair enough. I think when Doc was sitting at 10-1 with more than 100 games left to play, I couldn't help but have 23 wins already pencilled in. But yeah, Doc is competing with himself...

As for Hill and Scutaro... well, I had the team's BBRef page open the whole time I was putting this together. And one guy's got an OPS+ of 113, and the other guy is at 109. Which is good, but it's not all that great. Even for middle infielders...
Mike Green - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#206430) #
A 110 OPS+ (especially one weighted to OBP) is very, very good for a middle infielder.  That is Alan Trammell's career number, for reference. As for Lind, his offensive performance was good for a DH but not outstanding.  He basically had the same numbers as Matsui and Kubel but played more.

Ron - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#206431) #
Raul Chavez    D-
He might be to catchers what John McDonald is to middle infielders. His defense is quite impressive, but it's just impossible to put up with his bat. We don't have a very good sense of the actual impact on the game of a catcher's defense - we have a much better sense of an infielder's impact.

Actually for a backup Catcher, Chavez’s bat is pretty decent. He has a better OPS than some starters and a whole bunch of other backup catcher’s (Laird, Kendall, Schneider, Navarro, Teagarden, Mathis, Bako, Hill, Alfonzo, Johnson, LaRue, Marson, J. Molina, Miller, Nieves, M. Hernandez, Whiteside, Cervelli, Redman). You can do a lot worse than having Chavez as your backup Catcher.
Ryan Day - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#206433) #
You hit a few homeruns and people have no trouble looking the other way when your OBP is .264.

I think it's got less to do with the home runs - though they certainly help - than it does with him being regarded as a strong defensive catcher who works well with pitchers.
Chuck - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#206435) #

It is certainly true that baseball is littered with unimpressive backup catchers (and has probably always been thus). Chavez's rating should be within the context of all catchers, as Magpie has done, rather than just backup catchers. Chavez could certainly lord his D- over numerous backup brethren who are E or F students, but that shouldn't overstate his contribution.

Two things about Chavez: 1. His OPS overstates his offensive ability because of his low OBP (as it does for all low-OBP players). 2. I would not bank on this level of offense again. He's 36 and his career OPS is even lower than McDonald's. This was his career year with the stick.

Ryan Day - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#206436) #
The bar for catcher offence is pretty low. Among catchers with 200 PAs, Barajas is 33/42 in MLB. Not impressive, obviously, but 19 of those catchers have an OPS under .700. Only six are over .800. So depending on how you value his defence, he's probably roughly interchangeable with half the catchers in baseball.

(If you drop the PA qualifier to 150, Chavez ranks 39/49 - and two of the guys below him are going to the playoffs)

Chuck - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:40 PM EDT (#206437) #
I think it's got less to do with the home runs - though they certainly help - than it does with him being regarded as a strong defensive catcher who works well with pitchers.

I ask this in all seriousness, and not to be a wiseass. Are there any weak-hitting catchers in baseball who do not have the reputation of being good defensively and working well with pitchers? It seems like a baseball truism. I'm not saying that these are untrue assessments of Barajas, only that you rarely hear anything to the contrary about similar players.
Ryan Day - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#206438) #
Most of them have the reputation for good D, it's true. I was merely replying to your assertion that people ignore Barajas' offesive helplessness because of the home runs. I don't think anyone would be looking the other way if Barajas was the DH. (Though Cito did keep playing Joe Carter in 1997, when Carter's offence was Barajas-esque.)
Chuck - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#206440) #
Fair enough, Ryan. He certainly did get a lot of praise for dealing with all the young arms that cycled through the clubhouse this summer, and I'm not going to pretend it was undeserved.

You're right that were he to DH, someone might take notice. That said, not enough hackles go up whenever he bats fifth (on those admittedly rare occasions).
Ryan Day - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#206441) #
I think we've been too numbed by Kevin Millar's 43 ABs hitting cleanup to care who's batting fifth.
Gerry - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 07:05 PM EDT (#206444) #
Good news about Dustin McGowan from Jordan Bastian.  Also an interesting quote from Ricciardi about Ricky Romero.
brent - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 09:24 PM EDT (#206448) #
 I don't think 2B is a particularly key position. Tango has it rated basically as equal to 3B. What else is left below is just 1B, DH and the corner outfield spots. A GM should be putting a decent bat in that spot.
Gerry - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 09:57 PM EDT (#206449) #
Chalk up another bullpen loss and another one run loss for the Jays.  
AWeb - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 10:00 PM EDT (#206450) #
To end the game tonight, down one run in the ninth and a man on first:
- R. Chavez flied out to center
- J. McDonald flied out to left
- J. Bautista struck out swinging

Gaston is earning that "E" grade tonight. Bautista has been better lately, but surely you pinch-hit for Chavez or McDonald with Ruiz. These aren't youngsters building confidence. They suck at hitting. That's who they are. I'm sure they are aware of it. And the fans who came out deserve better.  Sigh.

I like the grades, BTW, they are fair appraisals of the players versus the league in most cases, rather than expectations. I prefer that, it's more a more realistic way to look at the year.

TamRa - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 10:00 PM EDT (#206451) #
I have more faith in Purcey than most but how to get him out of AAA was tricky. Tallet had a 3.90 ERA as a starter between the time he joined the rotation and June 9 over 11 starts - and if you take away the 10 run disaster in KC, it was 2.71

Then he had another disaster, followed by two solid starts. Now it's 4.20 in 14 starts and 2.43 without the two exceptions. And it's June 23. He had three more starts before the break, two of them suckish. but he had earned that much rope. After the break he had two more starts before September...basically spot starts during a section of the schedule where a fifth guy was hardly needed.

Now they are just patching things together, though I do wish they had gotten Purcey up on 9/1 to give him as many September turns as possible at least.

Tere's also Ray's spot (Ray came up basically to fill Purcey's) but they held that open for Janssen (and seeing wehat Casey could do was a valid reason) and that presisted until doc got hurt.

Mills got those starts, in relief od Doc, and I anted Purcey to get those even though Mills was making more progress at AAA. From there on out, they were just prefering Cecil and Zep.

Now, IMO, it was probably more important to figure out Purcey's future than rush Cecil up here because Cecil WASN'T owning AAA like Snider. But we all know that if Purcey was here it would have been Zep kicking AAA behind and Cecil in the majors and I can't bring myself to grumble about Zep being up here.

I just hope they either get some value from one of these guys in a trade, or else give Purcey a legitimate shot next spring.

On another note, concerning Hill's walk rate, here's his BA and OBP by month, and the difference:

APR - .365 - .412 - .057
MAY - .307 - .331 - .024
JUN - .245 - .294 - .049
JUL - .235 - .291 - .056
AUG - .274 - .292 - .018
SEP - .301 - .363 - .062

Usual caveats about September stats apply but if Hill could settle into at least that 60 point area consistantly he'd be acceptable in that department.

If his 38 walks were...say 58, that would be plenty.

westcoast dude - Thursday, September 24 2009 @ 10:59 PM EDT (#206452) #
The Wisdom of Crowds Report Card.  These are all astute comments--and then Vernon has a great night against probably the best pitcher in the league this year, building on a solid September with the stick.  So maybe next season he'll be back yo his old self again.
ramone - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 12:09 AM EDT (#206454) #

I think this is Ricciardi giving Rogers an F:

"The biggest thing that people forget is that when Toronto won the World Series, they had the highest payroll in baseball. There's a direct equivalent to that. If we're going to play in the big man's division, and we're not going to spend that money, it's going to be really hard for us to compete with those teams."


Mick Doherty - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 12:22 AM EDT (#206455) #

David Dellucci  F
Better than me.

Mags, I hate to disagree with you (oh, hell, no I don't) but it wasn't until this very last line that I thought to myself "that's not right." I do believe you'd cost the Jays Dellucci and at least a couple of prospects.

Nicely done, sir. B+ for the author. (Ask any of my ex-students, I was always a mean ol' sumbitch with the gradebook.)

Schad - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 01:24 AM EDT (#206456) #
Not a huge quibble, but I might rank Snider a little higher than a D. The strikeout totals are frankly frightening, but a 21 year old with an OPS+ in the 93-95 range isn't terrible...though with fewer plate appearances it places him in the same conversation as Colby Rasmus and a notch above Jay Bruce. With his walk rate improving dramatically since his call-up (which, if sustainable, makes him a very useful player even if he never learns to make contact consistently) I'd pencil him in as low-average, if only because it assuages fears that he might flame out.
jerjapan - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 07:48 AM EDT (#206457) #
Thanks for the link Ramone, although it's very frustrating to hear JP insist that "really, it's not my fault".   

Here's his best quote:

"Your strengths are Hill, (Adam) Lind, Wells - even though he's had a bad year, I think Vernon is going to bounce back and have a good year

Wells is our third strength?  Really?  Even if he does bounce back somewhat, that sounds blatantly like spin.  Worth noting too that Wells is actually slightly better this year than he was in 2007.  So, with him entering his age 31 year, with two of his last three seasons in the 'terrible' category, we should expect him to be a big strength next year?

JP, if you ever quit baseball, you've got a career in politics just waiting for you. 

Chuck - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 07:49 AM EDT (#206458) #

I think this is Ricciardi giving Rogers an F

Sounds like a guy who is pretty sure he's going to be canned.

Dave Till - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 07:50 AM EDT (#206459) #
Cool article (and it's nice to be remembered :-)). Some thoughts:
  • I may be the only one who thinks this, but I don't think that Vernon is done yet. He hit reasonably well on the road this year, and is .321/.370/.440 in September. He'll be grotesquely overpaid, but I think he'll hold down a regular job on merit.
  • I've never been high on Frasor. He seems to melt down too often when given the closer's job. He reminds me of Mike Timlin that way.
  • Purcey was dumped because of high pitch counts - he needed 100+ pitches to get through five. No bullpen can handle that.
  • The Jays could have a decent post-doctorate rotation if they get a couple of breaks: Marcum, Romero, Cecil and Rzep could be a good front four. Of course, it's more likely that two of them will get hurt, one will get bombed, and one will sort of muddle through.
  • I agree that Cito didn't do a great job, but I'm not sure what anyone else could have done better. It's not like he was leaving any surplus talent rotting on the bench.
  • As a hitter, Hill has basically turned into Joe Carter. If he can take one more step forward, he could have a Jeff Kent career.
  • Snider is going through his speed bump year (or two) - it takes a bit of time to adjust from AAA to the majors. Wells went through this, and so did Lind - the Jays nearly gave up on Lind. All the available evidence suggests that Snider will go nuclear on the league starting sometime in the middle of next year.
  • Championship teams, as the saying goes, are strong up the middle. The Jays aren't (except for Hill). If they let Scutaro and Barajas go, they might not have anybody to play shortstop or catcher who isn't replacement level.
  • I like Ruiz, but there are lots of guys like him out there. Which makes playing Millar all the more mystifying. Millar must be a heck of a guy, given that (a) he can't play any more, and (b) he was originally a scab. Would making him a first-base coach rob him of his aura?

brent - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 08:25 AM EDT (#206460) #

I hope my prediction can hold and Wells continues doing well next year.

FisherCat - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 08:33 AM EDT (#206461) #

re:VW...He hit reasonably well on the road this year, and is .321/.370/.440 in September

I honestly think this is more proof that Wells definitely CAN'T be the centerpiece of ANY offense!  I've pointed out in the past, that VW only has good offensive numbers when the pressure is OFF him (i.e. Delgado or Glaus batting behind him or season is winding down).  That is why the Jays either have to hope that Snider becomes VW's protection or they dive into the free agent market for that big bopper.  I suspect the former is more likely to happen than the latter :(

I've never been high on Frasor. He seems to melt down too often when given the closer's job.  I agree with this assessment 100%.  If the Jays go into 2010 with Frasor as thier closer, I suspect by May 1st people will be asking for his head on a platter!  Frasor in the 7th or 8th?  GOOD!  Frasor in the 9th? BAD.  I say sink or swim with a relative unknown like Roenicke or Stewart!

Mike Green - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#206462) #
Ricciardi's comments are a bit of an oversimplification. The Jays were very competitive between 1985 and 1989 without the largest payroll, or anything like it.  It seems that the connection between payroll and performance is getting tighter.  The baseball rich, by and large, are apparently getting smarter.  In the American League, the Angels, the Yankees and the Red Sox are all smarter ball clubs now than they were in the 80s or early 90s.

Matthew E - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 09:32 AM EDT (#206463) #
Plus, let's always remember that there's a big difference (in both absolute and relative numbers) between the largest payroll in 1992 and in 2009. Apples and streetcars.
Mike Green - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 09:53 AM EDT (#206464) #
Vernon Wells' career line is .281/.330/.471.  He turns 31 in December. There are players who beat their career lines consistently in their early 30s, but they are a very distinct minority.  That line is absolutely fine for an adequate defensive centerfielder, but for a full-time corner outfielder, it is subpar.  If Eric Thames and Moises Sierra develop as I think they might, the issue will (thankfully) have to be faced in 2011 or 12. 
AWeb - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#206465) #
Another hopeful sign for Wells hs been that his defensive stats (UZR anyway) have been holding steady in the second half. He was worth about 20 runs below average on the season a few months ago, which has more or less held steady since then. I was ripping Wells a lot earlier in the year, but if he can play average defense, or even slightly below average defense (instead of awful), he becomes a lot more acceptable. Why, he's almost been worth a replacement level player now, after his hot streak.But yeah, he's not likely to exceed an .800 OPS by very much again.
Mike Green - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 10:38 AM EDT (#206466) #
That's way too fine for me, AWeb.  UZR includes arm and error ratings.  Wells has made 0 errors this year, and has a positive arm rating.  His range rating this year and last year are remarkably consistent at about -25 runs/150 games.  On the other hand, his RZR is merely bad over the last 2 years, instead of terrible. 

AWeb - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#206467) #
Yeah, I know splitting already noisy fielding data into two months worth isn't a great way to get accurate projections, but it is a good way to convince myself that maybe Wells isn't doomed to be the worst CF in the league again. Maybe he can just be bad next year, is that too much to hope for?
christaylor - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 11:16 AM EDT (#206468) #
The problem with blaming Well's 2007 (shoulder) 08 (hamstring and wrist) injuries on his 2009 performance is that his 2008 numbers were quite good.

I can buy that VW now has chronic hamstring injuries that have sapped his range in CF, but I don't buy that the wrist is a problem. In fact, if the 2009 Jays had 2008 Vernon, I doubt we'd be talking about VW very much aside from the fact he's being paid pre-2009-offseason FA bust numbers.
Mike Green - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 11:34 AM EDT (#206469) #
Sure.  I am not really crazy though about having a poor fielding centerfielder behind a young pitching staff, from a development perspective. 
Thomas - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 12:44 PM EDT (#206470) #
Great job Magpie. Thanks for continuing Dave's work.

And Cito Gaston gets an E. It's true that two of the best things abut the 2009 team (Lind and Scutaro) follow directly from Gaston's work in 2008, but 2009 gave us a good, long look at all the things Gaston doesn't do well as a manager. He was the right guy in 2008, he may be the right guy next year. But he was the wrong guy this year.

However, this might be one of the few comments I disagree with. I don't think Cito did several things well this year. We've beaten them to death (Millar, running Scutaro into the ground, etc...), but they shouldn't be forgotten. However, I think Cito might have been the right guy for the team this year in the long picture.

This team wasn't good enough to contend this year with the performances it received on the field. Even if Wells had played well there simply wasn't the pitching depth to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. So, in my view, if Cito cost the team a few wins over the course of the season, that's irrelevant if he improved the team's position for the coming years.

Hill. Lind. Rolen. Scutaro. Wells. Those are the five most important developments on the field this year, in my mind. To deal with the last first, I don't think it's fair to hold Cito responsible for Wells' poor year. Wells is simply an aging player (who was never that good to begin with) who is having a terrible year at the plate displaying the same hitting weaknesses that he's always had and which no coach has been able to correct. I'm also not sure what effect Cito's had on Hill (I don't think it can have been negative), so I'll hold off on that.

I do think that Cito's had a very positive effect on Lind. From radio interviews to in-game footage, Lind seems to be very receptive to Cito's teachings and encouragement and in a couple of interviews he's spoken about Cito very positively when asked about Gibbons. At the very least, the simple confidence shown in Lind over the course of the season seems to have been very beneficial.

As Magpie spoke about, it's hard to argue with the way Cito handled Rolen. Sometimes the rules seemed to rigid, but I wouldn't be shocked if Rolen never hits as well as he did this year. The evidence isn't conclusive yet, but I would suspect that if Dusty tries to play Rolen 150 times next year then his numbers will take a substantial dive. In large part because of Cito's handling (and reworking of his swing) the team was able to trade Rolen for Zach Stewart, who is going to be one of our best prospects this offseason.

Magpie spoke well about Scutaro above, but Cito deserves credit for recognizing what Scutaro could do and then should be deducted points for not recognizing his limits. However, handling Scutaro the way he did is possibly going to result in compensation draft picks and that is better than handling Scutaro the way he's been handled in the past.

On a side note, I'm not going to spend much time on Snider, but I don't think he was handled perfectly, but nor do I think he's going to be hurt long-term by sitting a bit too often against lefties. So, if we give Cito a negative for Snider, I'd still give him a neutral on Wells, a neutral/plus on Hill and Scutaro and a plus on Lind and Rolen.

Cito's mistakes this year shouldn't be forgotten and the nightmares of Kevin Millar in the cleanup spot will haunt my dreams all winter. However, in three to five years I think the most important things of 2009 will be the development of Hill and Lind, the acquisition of Stewart and (hopefully) the draft picks the team get for Sctuaro. So, in that sense, maybe he was the right man for the job this year, even if he left us scratching our heads too frequently.

Mike Green - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 01:29 PM EDT (#206471) #
I'd give Cito a negative mark for his handling of Rios and Wells this year.  Rios ought to have been moved to center and Wells to right.  No one expected Cito to do this, but if one is going to give Cito credit for his strengths (patience and understanding of the needs of veterans in the case of Rolen and Scutaro), the flip-side of those same strengths need to be recognized.
TamRa - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 01:42 PM EDT (#206472) #
Plus, let's always remember that there's a big difference (in both absolute and relative numbers) between the largest payroll in 1992 and in 2009. Apples and streetcars.

More than that. But I think the difference reinforces JP's point rather than nulifies it.

See the image i posted here:

Going back as far as 1988, I have charted the Yankees on one line, and the #5, #10, #15, #20, and #25 team in the league.

you can see that as late as '95 the spread between the #1 team and the #25 team was under $25 million. Up until that point the high and low pay teams are closely bunched, relative recent years.

Even from '95 to '01 the increase in the spread runs at a fairly consistant rate, both from year to year and between the various levels.

THAT was the history JP was looking at when he was hired with the claim we could compete.

In 2001, the difference in the top payroll (NY of course - at roughly $110 million) and the #25 team (roughly $40 million) was about $70 million.

But then look what happens after that. While all the other lines continue to gradually spread apart from each other at a relatively slow rate (the difference in #5 and #25 in '01 is about $50 million and in '07 it's about $55 million) the Yankees take a quantum leap off the pace of the rest of the league.

In '01 they were $15 million ahead of the #5 team and $70 million ahead of the $25 team.
In '08 they were $90 million ahead of the #5 team.

THAT is a result that neither Jays ownership nor JP could have reasonably foreseen. And of course, the Red Sox did the smart thing and kept best they could.

So, no, having the #1 salary in '93 isn't the same thing as being #1 today, and in the most obvious sense his analogy doesn't hold. but the truth is much much worse than that.

John Northey - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 03:09 PM EDT (#206473) #
I recall the luxury tax being called the Yankee tax at the time, but now it needs a lot of strengthening if the Yankees are to be brought back to earth.   They have revenue streams at such a high level that things are grossly out of whack now. 

Generally I am on the libertarian side of things but when one group goes so far beyond what anyone else can do things need adjusting. 

Mike Green - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#206474) #
MLB could handle the thing without offending any libertarians in the audience by allowing one or two more teams to play in New York.  Level the playing field by permitting more rather than taxing more- Ron Paul would be pleased.

A team in Brooklyn?  What a novel idea...

John Northey - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 04:34 PM EDT (#206475) #
It would help to have more teams in NY but it wouldn't be easy.  First you need stadiums (ideally they'd share the ones there already but the local government has given control to the Yanks and Mets from what I understand).  Then you need to figure out how to get those new teams competitive enough to steal from their rich cousins.

I'd love it (same with adding a 2nd or 3rd team to the GTA in hockey) but it would take time to have any effect.  IE: a couple of decades.

brent - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#206476) #
Chris Taylor, the thing about the injured hand or wrist is that the player comes off the DL and is doing their rehab. They come back and stop strengthening it and lose their power stroke. See Lyle Overbay as an example of that.
christaylor - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 06:33 PM EDT (#206477) #
That's doesn't make any sense in the case of Wells. In the last two months of 2008 his line was .318/.365/.566 -- if he was going to show effects of the wrist injury would it not be in the same season?

The explanation that Vernon struggles are from a wrist injury he suffered in June of 2008 doesn't hold any water and makes no sense at all. Overbay's situation was quite different -- he broke his hamate bone (not wrist) and he showed now sustained power production like Wells did in the final two months of 2008.

I've heard people spout the Overbay/Wells comparison before, it makes as much sense now as it did then - namely, very little.

Don't get me wrong, I think Wells will bounce back to his 2008 levels next year and in fact, people seem to forget that the 2008 Wells was quite good (unlike the 07 and 09 versions).
Ryan Day - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 07:18 PM EDT (#206478) #
Even this year, Wells is hitting a respectable 307/340/454 on the road, which suggests it's not a physical problem. I'm not sure how you explain the 216/289/356 line at home, mind you.

Another oddity: Wells is only hitting 207/280/331 vs. left-handers, after compiling a career line of 307/366/498. If he was going to struggle, I'd have expected it to be against right-handed pitching (as in 2007).

I don't think Wells is done by any stretch, but I have no idea what's wrong or how to fix it.

ramone - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 09:34 PM EDT (#206479) #

Well if that's Doc's last game at home, can't think of a better way to go, complete game shut out. 

Here some rumour fodder supplied by Bastian concerning the new president from Bastian's twitter account.  Bastian is quoting Bob Nightengale from USA Today:

“Hottest rumor among baseball scouts is that Pat Gillick will be returning to Toronto to become president of club, not GM.”


Matthew E - Friday, September 25 2009 @ 09:44 PM EDT (#206480) #
Aha! Did I not predict Gillick's return? Okay, the details are different...
greenfrog - Saturday, September 26 2009 @ 08:25 AM EDT (#206482) #
I think you have to give Doc an A- at least, and probably an A. He's singlehandedly going to give the Jays close to 240 innings of 2.90 ERA pitching (that in a season in which he was injured for a couple of weeks). His K:BB ratio is currently at 202:33. The hits and HRs allowed are a little high, but overall he will have posted some fine, fine numbers this year. If the Jays' had fielded a better offense, he likely would have 20 wins by now.
Thomas - Saturday, September 26 2009 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#206483) #
I'll concede you can take issue with Cito's handling of the defence. I'm not going to hold him responsible for Wells's hitting, but you can possibly argue he should take negative points for not having the bravery to switch the outfielders or because of Rios's down year (although Guillen is doing no better).
bball12 - Saturday, September 26 2009 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#206500) #
Vernon Wells gets about $32,000 -per at bat. Guaranteed for many years to come.

Think about that for a second.


And he isnt even a good defensive player.

Any team carrying that type of load has an uphill battle. And a very rough one at that.

Richard S.S. - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 03:09 AM EDT (#206507) #

Not if you're the Yankees or the Red Sox. No shortage of mistakes, no shortage of bad trades. No problem.

To be fair, neither the Red Sox, nor the Yankees had Payroll restrictions, while trying to buy their Home Field.  They didn't restrict draft picks to the total exclusion of High School Players.  They didn't follow the blind adherence to the Slot Toronto did.  There are more problems inherrent to Toronto than a sound Management Structure and an extra $50.0 M - $125.0 M in cash. That should cover almost anything.

Gerry - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 08:46 AM EDT (#206509) #
Richard Griffin in the Star delivers his 2009 Blue Jay report card.
ayjackson - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#206512) #
I disagree with Griff's assessment of Snider.  He now has 327 PA in his Blue Jay career and his OPS+ is 100 (97 on the season).  He's a league average hitter at the age of 21.  That's impressive.  He gets on base more than Aaron Hill.  If he had as many plate appearances, he'd have 26 HR and 34 doubles - those are numbers Griff could have sunken his teeth into.
ayjackson - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 12:01 PM EDT (#206514) #
btw, Friday night's gem by Doc was the second time this year (by my count) he's gone through nine without going to 3 balls on a hitter.  That's an amazing stat to me.
Chuck - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 12:12 PM EDT (#206515) #
I'm quite sure I'd be more interested in Peter Griffin's take on the Jays than Richard Griffin's. Gerry, did you not violate a Box by-law by linking to that article?
Mick Doherty - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#206517) #

Peter Griffin:

The Jays are freaking AWESOME man. Hey Brian, did you see that Hill thing over by the base? Down at the Clam, that Red Sox loser Quagmire must be going bat-<bleep>!

ayjackson - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#206518) #
Brian:  Peter, that assessment of defensive ability was worse than Hitler's at Stalingrad.
CaramonLS - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#206519) #
I'd give Cito a negative mark for his handling of Rios and Wells this year.  Rios ought to have been moved to center and Wells to right.  No one expected Cito to do this, but if one is going to give Cito credit for his strengths (patience and understanding of the needs of veterans in the case of Rolen and Scutaro), the flip-side of those same strengths need to be recognized.

I don't think it is fair to hold this against Cito.  It is very likely that he had no say in this decision.  JP was hoping and praying that he could find a sucker for Wells and the best way to keep his value up was to keep him in center.
TamRa - Sunday, September 27 2009 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#206520) #
All you need to know about Griff's take:


Signed through 2010, $15.75 million guaranteed

Expected: As the anchor of the rotation and with the reputation as one of the best starters in the game, a minimum of 20 wins and a possible Cy Young were forecast.

Delivered: Came out in the first semester right on target for greatness. Kept up that standard of excellence through an all-star start. Was later betrayed by his offence and the distraction of trade talks, finishing his Jays career in disappointment.

Yeah, a sub-3 ERA, over 200 Ks and 16 wins while getting almost no support many times is clearly a "disappointment"

Even for Doc, that's a fine year.

China fan - Monday, September 28 2009 @ 04:55 AM EDT (#206532) #

I'm not sure if I agree with the D+ rating for Barajas.    I accept that his OBP and OPS are lousy.   On the other hand, he has 68 RBIs in 407 ABs, which speaks to the clutchiness of his hitting, if anyone still accepts clutchiness as a concept.   Among AL catchers, he ranks 5th for RBIs, ahead of many better-known catchers.  Considering that he plays for a 4th-place team, with guys like Millar and Wells often hitting ahead of him, I'd say the RBIs suggest that he's able to get the job done when there are runners in scoring position.

Of course, if we're saying that Snider ranks a D and Richmond and Cecil are D-, then I guess the D+ for Barajas might be respectable.  In any event, given the difficulty in finding strong-hitting catchers, I wouldn't be upset if the Jays sign Barajas again for 2010, as long as they upgrade the offence at other positions in the lineup. 

Magpie - Monday, September 28 2009 @ 12:30 PM EDT (#206548) #
Barajas has indeed hit much better with runners on base (.287/.327/.500). The downside there is how utterly awful he's been when there's no one on base (.188/.209/.341).

He gets a pass, but the only AL catcher he's been quite clearly better than is Dioner Navarro. He's in that group with Shoppach, Varitek, Saltalamacchia, and Laird. Barajas played more than any of those guys and has some better counting numbers.
John Northey - Monday, September 28 2009 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#206552) #
To Griffen's way of thinking anything less than a Cy Young - ideally with all 1st place votes - is a disappointment for Halladay.  A very, very good example of why I actively avoid Griff's columns as his quality is so low as to be virtually unreadable.
Dewey - Monday, September 28 2009 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#206557) #
A very, very good example of why I actively avoid Griff's columns as his quality is so low as to be virtually unreadable.

I catch him every now and then when I pick up a free Star somewhere.  Griffin reminds me of Marty York in his last days as a Jays reporter at the Globe.  The man (York) was so personally antipathetic to everything about the Jays then that his columns became embarrassing.  Just repugnant vitriol.  Poor Griffin simply cannot leave his hatred for JP alone.  Every column (of those I've seen) seems to be tainted by it.  He should be moved elsewhere.  Except for Stephen Brunt, Toronto's sports writers (and radio 'commentators') are a very sorry lot.
John Northey - Monday, September 28 2009 @ 04:10 PM EDT (#206569) #
No kidding.  I click onto 590 sometimes then within a minute or two (unless a Jay is being interviewed) I leave as it is just impossible to listen to it for long.  Mornings and night.  I am so thankful that Moore is taking over 1010 in the mornings as I can enjoy his show but I worry about Tory in the afternoon as I find the Leafs station (640) hard to put up with for the drive home.  I guess I could get some CD's or fill a pen drive with music or something.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, September 30 2009 @ 12:03 AM EDT (#206603) #
Delivered: Came out in the first semester right on target for greatness. Kept up that standard of excellence through an all-star start. Was later betrayed by his offence and the distraction of trade talks, finishing his Jays career in disappointment.

Errrr... I just see it as a poorly worded sentence.  I think you guys are singling out Griff too much for this one.

For example:  You can run a great race and still finish in disappointment. 

He should have said:  "A disappointing ending to an otherwise great season for Halladay."  Which would be true (and that is what I took as his overall, yet poorly worded meaning).
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