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After 54 games, 1/3 of the season, the Jays sit at 28-26. They've won four in a row, their second longest streak of the season (they also swept a 2-gamer with Boston, had Bautista unleash his 5 HR weekend against the Twins and took the first from Detroit.) After the next two with Cleveland (Mitch Talbot, 3.77 FIP, Josh Tomlin, 4.42 FIP) they travel to Baltimore and Kansas City for 3 game sets before a difficult stretch to reach the All-Star Break - 3 each against Baltimore and Boston, before a 10 game road trip in the NL, where they get one of if not the most difficult schedule - Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta (plus a rain out against Detroit). They then get six at home against Pittsburgh and Philly, before closing out the first half with 3 at Boston and 4 at Cleveland. So, if you're scoring at home, after this upcoming road trip they play 6 games in 5 weeks agaisnt sub-500 teams, and those teams are a combined 8 games under. Suffice it to say, this is a make or break point in the season.

So, how's the team doing at the third mark then?



Well, not bad. They are 2 behind both Boston and New York for the Wild Card/Division, with Tampa a half game ahead of them. They've outscored opponents by 30 runs so far, the 7th best run differential in the majors, and are 5th in Baseball Prospectus' 3rd Order Standings.

Offense: The Jays have the 4th best wOBA in the American League so far, though Jose Bautista is responsible for a lot of that. That happens when you're having one of the best offensive seasons of all time. Adam Lind (expected back as early as this weekend, though that is tentative), Yunel Escobar, Corey Patterson and the catchers are having impressive years, all in different ways. We'll ignore Bautisa's Bautistianess and take a look at the other guys.

Yunel Escobar has been the player we all hoped we could be when he was acquired. Subjectively, he is a fine defense shortstop (UZR doesn't see it that way so far), and objectively, he is showing more plate discipline and better plate coverage than he has at any point in the majors. He is swinging at by far fewer pitches than he has in any other year (41.5% v. 45% career), and making contact more (87.2% v. 85.7%). He's swung at missed at just over 5% of the pitches he's seen, which is also a career low (and pretty low in general). As a result, he's posting the best walk rate of his career (just under 11%), hitting for average, and displaying the same kind of pop he had for three years with Atlanta before 2010. By WAR he's been the Jays second most valuable position player (and this is with a -UZR; he's been in the black the four years prior). In his last 21 games (99 PA) he is hitting .363/.448/.550. That'll play (and go #arbitraryendpoints)

Corey Patterson is the man Yunel's tied with for second on the team in WAR, and he's having his best season in 8 years, hitting .294/.325/.467 at this juncture. While Yunel's batting line seems somewhat in keeping with his previous performance, Patterson's looks a little less sustainable. For one thing, he doesn't walk - 4.7% of the time, which is just a smidge above his career rate. His average on balls in play is also high, at .343 (.300 career), and he is hitting for more power than he has in 7 years, though being a Jay can do that for you. Still, a return to form - he hit .269/.315/.406 last year for Baltimore - coupled with adequate defense and fewer baserunning errors (it seems there have been fewer in the last couple of weeks, anyway) and that's still an okay player, and his numbers have improved over the course of the season. Plus, what do I know.

JP Arencibia has been one of my favourite Jays so far this year. He's 10th amongst catchers with 100 PA in wOBA, and T-3 in home runs. More impressive, at least to me, is that he's gotten his walk rate up, to 8.6%, which mirrors what he did last year in AAA (his best year, by far). He still strikes out a fair amount (about a quarter of the time), but if he can draw a few walks and display his prodigious power, he'll be an asset. Throw in what looks like at least adequate defense, and perhaps we've been thinking too much about the Jay's awesome catching prospects (though that hardly seems possible).

While these three guys have been good (and Lind, but he hasn't played for 3 weeks), the rest of the team has been middling to poor. Juan Rivera has moved up from the later to the former with a recent hot streak, and the sooner he doesn't play every day the better. If he DH'd 1 time a week and played first twice and perhaps pinch hit, that would be alright with me. That's because he's actually been one of the best of the Jays unimpressive 3B/1B (non-Lind)/DH gang. Edwin Encarnacion basically can't be put on the field at this point and has an OPS in the low .600s. Jayson Nix has done a fair bit better than that, and John McDonald a fair bit worse. David Cooper showed nothing whatsoever in his brief trial, and Eric Thames looks like he might be a player, but doesn't appear entirely ready to face big league pitching (he's walking plenty, but essentially no one can strike out ~35% of the time, unless they hit a lot of dingers). Rajai Davis hasn't lit the world on fire, but has hit adequately for a CF, where man can he fly. About the only difference between this year and previous ones has been fewer walks, otherwise, this is pretty much who he is. Which brings us to Aaron Hill. I have no $*@(ing clue what Thrillho's deal is. He's never walked much, but he's walking even less now. He's never struck out much, and that's pretty much the same. He's hitting more line drives, but popping out a ton. I really don't know how to make head's or tails of it.

The pitching has been more of the average variety so far this year, falling around the middle of the pack in the AL depending on how one measures. Of the starters, Bradon Morrow's been phenomenal (as long as you aren't measuring by ERA), while Ricky Romero has "only" been really good. Kyle Drabek is scuffling, I don't think there are any two ways about it. He's walked and struck out the same number of guys, which isn't going to get him anywhere. To his credit, he's battled, and maybe the team just has to take it's lumps with him, but right now he's mostly potential and not so much finished product. Meanwhile, Jo-Jo Reyes has moved up from bad to passable, a category in which Jesse Litsch also resides. Speaking of Jesse, he is out indefinitely with shoulder pain, which doesn't sound very good. Not to be harsh, but if one looks at the silver lining, the club knows what is has with Litsch more or less at this point, and his injury (along with Brett Cecil's minor league work) allows them to give other pitchers a shot. I'm not sure that Villanueva is  the guy that should be getting it, but there are worse options. I would go with Zep, or possibly Brad Mills at this point. I think that the team is reluctant to move Scrabble out of the pen given how good he's been, and with the only other lefty option is Luis Perez. I suppose it's a bit hypocritical to demand that the team bring up Lawrie right away, development be damned, but then want them to give an extended try to Zep to see if he can do it in the rotation, when Villanueva might be the guy that gives them the best shot to win. Now, I happen to think that Zep would make a fair to good starter, so... I also thought the team should trade Reyes for a bag of balls, but he is showing enough that I am willing to admit I am wrong, for the 19234924 time.

The bullpen has statistically been strong, 2nd in the AL in ERA and xFIP (but much lower in FIP. Go Fipgure.) As Alex pointed out recently, they are also second in WPA. Still, it's hard not to feel a little disenchanted at this point. The pen blew the first game in the White Sox series, imploded 2 games before that in allowing the Yankees to come back from a 4-1 deficit, blew a game badly against Houston, etc. Scrabble was a victim in their a couple of times, but has probably been the team's first or second best reliever. I didn't appreciate this either, but Casey Janssen has been gangbusters as well. Shawn Camp and Frasor have been good, and Villanueva has done about as well as you could ask for in a long man role. Which leaves the three big offseason acquisitions, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel and Frank Francisco. Despite a couple of well documented meltdowns, I am not that worried about F-squared. He is getting fewer swinging strikes than in the past, but is throwing just as hard. He's just had some control problems, and has been very home run unlucky - 4 of his 15 fly balls have gone over. I think it may take some time, but I don't see why he couldn't match his perfomance over the last 3 years, which has been semi-dominant. Rauch, on the other hand, has been pretty mediocre. For one, he was never actually that good to begin with - certainly not as good as Francisco. He's lost almost 2 MPH on his fastball, and isn't striking out a ton of guys. Still, his numbers trend more towards mediocre than bad. Octavio Dotel on the third hand, has been outright bad. He's always struck out and walked a ton of guys, and this year is doing a lot of both, whiffing 12 batters/9 innings. It's easy to do that when you are facing six batters an inning though. Dotel is walking almost 7.5/9, which is fine if you let guys hit .100 off you. Dotel's actually not too far off from that - .226 - but the cumulative effect, 23 baserunners in 13.1 innings. Overall, it's a pretty good pen, and Farrell's done a pretty good job of getting his best guys in the highest leverage situations.

Overall, this is a pretty decent team, albeit with clear room for improvement. They are getting terrible production out of 3B and 2B, and have two above average major league starters. At least one of these holes is fixable (Free Brett Lawrie!), but it seems unlikely that they will get another second baseman or deal for a pitcher. They need someone else on the staff to step up. Getting Adam Lind back will help things all around, as he is both a lefty and the team's second best hitter. The next six weeks are going to be tough, and to make the playoffs the Jays will have to win 6 of every 10 games or better from here on out. I don't think the task is impossible, but at some point they are just going to have to start beating up on people. The past four days have been a good start.

One Third of the Way Done | 67 comments | Create New Account
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92-93 - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 11:40 AM EDT (#235809) #
Great work Anders.

I view the Rzepczysnki-Lawrie comparison a little bit differently, which is why I have a problem with the current situation. If this year is about development for the future, Rzepczynski shouldn't be in the bullpen before it's established he can't start. However, if we are entertaining the possibility of contention then the organization's best option for 3B, Brett Lawrie, should be up with the team, development be damned (especially with perhaps the most crucial part of the schedule on the way). Having some players on the development path while the others are on the win-now path makes very little sense to me.
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#235812) #
I did not expect this.  The club is actually in a position to compete in 2011, thanks largely to Bautista carrying the team on his shoulders for the first 1/3 of the season.  In order for it to happen, the starting pitching has to come around some.   The talent is there- Morrow, Drabek, Zep, Cecil, Villanueva- but whether it will happen in 2011 is anyone's guess.  My hunch for Drabek at the start of the season was that he would take a step forward by July 1, and that's not a bad guess for Morrow too.  If this happens, I expect that reinforcements from the farm (and deadline acquisitions!) will help the club be around in September.

 
uglyone - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 12:05 PM EDT (#235816) #
Great writeup - I just want to reiterate how good our offense has been this year. We're 2nd in the AL only to the Yankees in runs (and runs/gm), and 4th in MLB. We're top-5 in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ in MLB. The fact that we've done this despite Bautista missing 8 games and Lind missing close to 20 is even more impressive. As for our "weak" hitters, offense is way down this year overall, which may mean we're underrating what some of the struggling hitters have done for us this year. The "mediocre" and even "poor" numbers that some of our hitters are posting are actually not really bad when we compare to the league (using ops+);

Bautista: 254ops+
Lind: 135
(Molina: 133)
JPA: 125
Escobar: 121
Davis: 90
Rivera: 89
(Thames: 87)
Nix: 84

Those bottom few numbers are far from good, but they're not absolutely awful, either. And most of those bottom numbers are boosted by very good recent performance after horrible starts and are trending up. There's only been three real disasters at the plate so far this year:

Encarnacion: 72
Hill: 68
Snider: 51

I'd bet on EE getting back to normal, and Snider I have no worries about...and we have Thames, Patterson, Rivera taking their spots anyways for now, so no biggie if they don't recover soon. But I've given up on Hill. We need to start looking for a replacement 2B asap, IMO. In the short term, after Lawrie is called up, I hope that Nix is given plenty of chances to take the job at 2B this year at least.

The bullpen has been as advertised - probably the deepest in baseball, but without a true closing type at the top. Excellent 'pen, but I'm thinking blown saves will continue to be a problem this year.

The young rotation is the biggest weakness on the team right now, though as the youngest rote in baseball that's not too surprising. I think the success of this rotation rests entirely on how good Morrow and Drabek can be this year. Romero i think is solidifying himself as a top-tier starter (I won't say ACE, but I'll think it loudly), while the 2 best of Litsch/Reyes/Cecil/Villy shouldn't have much problem giving us solid 4th/5th starter production. It all comes down to whether Morrow and Drabek can give us legit #2/#3 starter production this year....they both have the arms for it, but their heads are a question mark. I think those 2 are the real X-Factor in how good this team can be this year.
rtcaino - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 12:32 PM EDT (#235819) #
He's always struck out and walked a ton of guys, and this year is doing a lot of both, whiffing 12 batters/9 innings. It's easy to do that when you are facing six batters an inning though.

Which is why we should measure pitching performance by plate appearance as opposed to innings.

Guys who allow a lot of baserunners get credit for increased K/9, when their K/PA is not as impressive.
Anders - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#235820) #
I view the Rzepczysnki-Lawrie comparison a little bit differently, which is why I have a problem with the current situation. If this year is about development for the future, Rzepczynski shouldn't be in the bullpen before it's established he can't start. However, if we are entertaining the possibility of contention then the organization's best option for 3B, Brett Lawrie, should be up with the team, development be damned (especially with perhaps the most crucial part of the schedule on the way). Having some players on the development path while the others are on the win-now path makes very little sense to me.

This is basically what I was trying to communicate - if the team is trying to develop, Zep should be starting, as he is one of their better pitchers, and they need to figure out if he can start, and then it makes sense that Lawrie's staying in AAA. If they want to win, they should bring Lawrie up, but perhaps this justifies leaving Zep in the pen as the lefy ace. I happen to be of the opinion that Zep is one of the five best starters the organization has now, so him in the rotation kills two birds with one stone.

I think the team is doing well enough, and it's far enough in the season, that whatever the original plan, the team should try to go for it. This doesn't mean cashing in all chips, but orienting thinking more towards the short term than long term. Really, the only guy it affects dramatically is Lawrie.
Anders - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#235822) #
As for our "weak" hitters, offense is way down this year overall, which may mean we're underrating what some of the struggling hitters have done for us this year. The "mediocre" and even "poor" numbers that some of our hitters are posting are actually not really bad when we compare to the league (using ops+);

Bautista: 254ops+

Lind: 135
(Molina: 133)
JPA: 125
Escobar: 121
Davis: 90
Rivera: 89
(Thames: 87)
Nix: 84

Those bottom few numbers are far from good, but they're not absolutely awful, either. And most of those bottom numbers are boosted by very good recent performance after horrible starts and are trending up. There's only been three real disasters at the plate so far this year:


Encarnacion: 72

Hill: 68
Snider: 51


Davis is doing fine for a CF, but Rivera is a corner outfielder/1B and in that context his performance is pretty weak. Nix has been okay, more than adequate for a bench guy. Hill who knows, Snider hopefully recovers/rediscovers at some point.  I am less optimistic about Encarnacion. After seeming to stabilize for a bit last year, he has basically been historically bad in the field. I believe Dave Cameron made the point, but he's now made 11 errors in 200 defensive innings, which prorates to about 90 over a full season. He's walked 4 times in 145 at bats, and hasn't particularly improved in 5 years. His game is pretty walk and power oriented, as he has never hit for average, and so if he's not walking or hitting home runs, and has to play DH... I'm not optimistic, unfortunately.
rtcaino - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#235823) #
From what I understand, the team feels Rzep can be a plus reliever or a solid starter. They feel they have other guys that have a better chance of being plus starters, and want Rzep to establish himself in the role he will pesumably be in when the Jays are competing for the play-offs (perhaps as early as 2011).

I don't think the Lawrie and Rzep situations are so closely comparable that we should expect logical consistency between the handling of the two.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#235824) #
Nice article. First gut reaction to the Rzep/CV issue: everyone's heard the concerns about how Rzepczynski's weird mechanics will hold up throwing 100 pitches a game, but I also worry about Villanueva's thumber tendencies. Breaking balls are painful, and he throws many; I'm curious how many of them will start to hang in the middle innings. Over his career he's been demolished beyond the 75-pitch mark, but in just barely over 100 PA so the jury is clearly still out. Maybe you could put him on a short leash and unofficially pair him with Janssen, or reliever of your choice. Either way it's nice to see him come into his own.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 01:24 PM EDT (#235825) #
PS. Cooper showed the ability to work the count (but no ability to run with that ability). Thames has tagged balls and swung hard, and I expect the power stats to come soon. PPS. FIP is for losers. Talbot is not worthy of carrying Tomlin's jockstrap.
Jonny German - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#235826) #
Great recap.

I'd be happy to see AA sell high on Corey Pat, a la Sea Bass last year. Probably a lot harder to do with an outfielder rather than a middle infielder tho.

Playing arbitrary end points with Rajai Davis gives us a .359/.398/.487 line over his last 20 games. Slightly less arbitrary is that his May has been night-and-day better than his April (only 9 games).

And now a public service announcement on the subject of "it's", brought to you by Strong Bad:
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greenfrog - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#235828) #
I think the Jays can compete for a playoff spot if the following things happen:

- Drabek finds his command
- Morrow gets a bit more comfortable/focused out there (allowing him to be more efficient)
- Lawrie gets called up to play 3B and has a solid rookie campaign (say, 270/330/450)
- The team stays basically healthy

This would give the Jays a solid front 3 in the rotation, a balanced lineup (with Lind and Lawrie it could be quite good), and a strong bullpen - in other words, a good foundation. AA could then sort out the details at the deadline. All this is a long shot, but it's certainly not beyond the realm of contemplation.

However, I disagree that there should be pitching reinforcements on the way later this year. There are good prospects in the pipeline, but it sounds as though they're pretty much all at least a year away.
Ron - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 02:16 PM EDT (#235831) #
Who would have thought before the season you would have a lengthy 1/3rd of the season recap without mentioning Travis Snider. This was suppose to be his breakout year. He showed up at camp in great shape and played well in Spring Training. If this is a rebuilding year, the Jays need to find out what Snider can do over a full season at the major league level. Despite what the front office says, I'm wondering if we have already seen Snider's last time in a Jays uniform.

Dewey - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#235833) #
As one who often grumbles, Iíd like to send a shout-out to Anders and to the posters in this thread.  Itís the sort of intelligent, thought-out discussion I come to this site for.   Itís not just a data-dump.  Well done.
dan gordon - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#235838) #

If the Jays are in contention this year, it is because the top teams in the division aren't doing as well.  With the Jays at 2 games over .500 at the 1/3 pole, that works out to an 84-78 record for the year at the same pace, which would not be contending in the AL East in past years.  I think an important question is whether or not the underperformance of Boston, NYY and Tampa, compared to the last few seasons, can be expected to continue the rest of the way.  The Sox seem to have gotten their offense in gear lately, and they may go on a roll here and be out of reach by season-end.  The Yankees and Tampa are another matter.  If Tampa continues to muddle along, and the Yankees don't find a bit more pitching, then a playoff spot may be up for grabs, in which case, trading Marcum for Lawrie may end up costing them a post season appearance this year.  Is it worth it?   Lawrie is certainly giving every indication he's going to be an excellent player, with the possibility of being a true star. 

Somehow, I think NY will manage to score enough and cobble together a reasonable enough staff to have a pretty good record when all is said and done.  For the Jays, a lot depends on how the young pitching develops.  Right now there seem to be a lot of question marks among the starters, and the top starting prospects in the minors are stil a ways away from being candidates for the majors.  Can Drabek improve his control dramatically?  Should Rzepczynski be in the rotation?  Can Villanueva be a starter?  Can Litsch get healthy and pitch like he did pre-surgery?  Can Mills pitch in a big league rotation?  Is Reyes a viable starter?  Right now, there are more questions than answers in the rotation.  Questions that may linger into next season as well. 

If they are going to contend, they will need to do a better job of closing games than they have done.  Maybe Francisco can be the guy.  Maybe they need somebody else.

ogator - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#235839) #
  I like the idea of Villanueva in the bullpen where he was very effective.  Who then becomes the fifth starter?  I'd like to suggest that Joel Carreno may not be that far away.  Obviously, his walk total is a serious concern but his results with respect to batting average against and and his strike out totals suggest that he has major league stuff.  He may not be ready right now, but he might be very close.
Kelekin - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#235841) #
I rather see Mills get another shot than Carreno.  Carreno is a future reliever, I think.  Mills may end up with a Dave Bush-esque career. 

Great post.

Mylegacy - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#235842) #
I've seen every game so far this year - and with few exceptions - I've really enjoyed them. That's a good way to value their play so far.

OFFENSE:

We've been LUCKY to discover a combination of great play and meshing strengths that have given us one of most dangerous 1 - 2 - 3 hitters in the game. Escobar has been a great lead-off guy. Patterson, a lefty hitter, is PERFECT as the number two hitter, he is a fast ball, pull hitter with pop. PERFECT with Escobar on first and a hole between 1st and 2nd. Not to mention that given who's batting 3rd Patterson HAS TO GET fastballs at some point in each of his at bats. Batting third is this Dominican Kid, Jose something or other. He's not doing that bad - given his career stats. IF - Lind had not gotten hurt - I predict we might actually be in first now.

Further down Rivera is starting to hot up (since Lind is injured thank goodness for that!). Arencibia is turning into a freakin' scary hitter. Thames is a very strong, very rare talent. Davis is way too good to be a number 9 hitter - but not good enough to be a number one - so - it's great to have his hitting/speed combo that far down the line-up.

Coming to an MLB park near you soon - will be Lawrie and Gose. Lawrie will be replacing a void but Gose is going to have to fit in around Patterson and Davis, but - he'll force his way in. Hechaverria will be an interesting case. One would think he'll come in at SS and Escobar will go to 2nd. - BUT - I think it'll be the other way around. Escobar has EARNED SS as long as he can excel there. For a BIG BODIED man he looks fluid, skilled, masterful and 100% UNDER CONTROL. The kid has become a spectacular(ish) mature SS. It's a JOY to watch him - brilliant - and in command of his play and his mind. Bravo to him and Bautista - as I think Jose's mentoring has been a big help for Escobar on the mental side of the game.

PITCHING:

Consider this - no Roy Halladay - no Shawn Marcum - no Brett Cecil - suppressed results from Morrow - Drabek showing great stuff but very poor command - Stewart struggling in the minors and YET - we're still in the chase. WOW. It says a lot about the intrinsic talent of Romero, Morrow and Drabek that their results are as good as they are. As these guys mature - struggle - through this year they will form a great 1 - 2 - 3 at (or near) the top of a contenders starting  rotation for years to come.

On the horizon is the next ACE - 21 year old Henderson Alvarez and his 98 mph fastball presently at AA. Behind him are at least 10 other guys that most every other team in MLB would KILL to have.

The bullpen has been been SPECTACULAR - except for the three great off-season signings Roach, Dotel and Francisco. Who when gone, will not be lamented. Oh yes - McGown is back up to 95+ in extended spring training.

The WTF:

With Arencibia looking fearfully good and with D'Arnaud looking spectacular - not to mention Jimenez and Perez ... AA will clearly be able to use some of that wonderful catching talent as part of a MAJOR - BLOCKBUSTER - trade. Which I suspect will be done by the trading deadline.

The Bottom Line:

Our starters are not realistically ready to lead a serous shot at glory this year. Really a pity. However - this team smells to me like the 1982 - 1983 Jays - very young - very talented and VERY CLOSE to a decade of contention and dominance. I'm ready - I've lots of scotch and a very comfortable seat in front of my new - 55", Sony, HD, widescreen, 3d, - seriously kick ass tv. Time for a double.

Kasi - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 05:09 PM EDT (#235844) #
Interesting post by Shi Davidi in one of his tweets today. They're planning on stretching McGowan back out in order for him to be a starter again.
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#235847) #
I don't understand that.  He's got great stuff and the key barrier to him being a success is arm health.  The starter route has been tried over and over again and failed.  Why not leverage his talent into fewer and more important innings?
woodman663 - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 05:18 PM EDT (#235848) #
Uhm, Mylegacy, I'd suggest you take a look at the stats for Patterson: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=300&position=OF

He is getting LESS fastballs than last year, and the amound of pitches he gets in the zone are the lowest of his career. Once Patterson's BABIP regresses to his career level, his pretty poor OBP in front of Bautista is not exactly ideal.

Henderson Alvarez could very well have the potential to become an ace, but bringing the heat does not make you an ace. He has a long way to go.



scottt - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 05:54 PM EDT (#235849) #
McGowan will have to go back to the big club or be lost on waivers and I don't see him starting any games for the Jays this year.

We shall see soon enough.

I would think that the plan is for Gose to replace Davis.  It's good to have some depth in AAA in case of injuries, but  the roster cannot stretch to contains both the prospects and the veterans.

The key to competing is for Bautista to maintain his MVP numbers.  I don't see the club staying in contention otherwise no matter what everybody else does.

Are Boston, NY and Tampa worse than expected or is the league more balanced than in previous years?



TamRa - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 06:06 PM EDT (#235850) #
Davidi also posted this:

Farrell adds that McGowan has hit 95 on gun. Expects him to start rehab assignment when extended spring ends, around June 20


And on another note:

AA says Brett Lawrie is close. Only thing remaining is for team to make decision.
AA says Lawrie has done all team has asked of him at plate, made big strides on field. Team now must decide when to call him up.


My guess: the "decision" in question is now to make a spot for him on the roster.

If Johnny Mac bumps McCoy, and Lind bumps Thames (sadly) then Lind has to either bump Perez out of the pen, or one of EE or Nix.

That choice - probably whether it's time to designate EE again (it's not like he's going to be claimed) is likely the hold up.

TamRa - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 06:53 PM EDT (#235853) #
Playing arbitrary end points with Rajai Davis gives us a .359/.398/.487 line over his last 20 games. Slightly less arbitrary is that his May has been night-and-day better than his April (only 9 games).

I'd argue that a date on a calendar - whatever said date - is equally arbitrary. Just because it's "by months" as the custom is doesn't make it less arbitrary.

On the other hand, looking for "landmarks" in a player's season or career is considerable less arbitrary. Before or after a demotion or injury, for instance, or from some noteable turning point (like When Bautista changed his mechanics, or when some player got to start every day instead of being a bench player).

in Davis' case, since he came back from the DL on April 29 (28 games) he's hitting .312/.359/.422/.781 which OPS would rank 8th among all major league CF this year if it were a full season  (Patterson is 7th, BTW)

Since Lind has been out, Escobar has been hitting like a superstar (.998 OPS) if it were not for a 2 week slump leading into that his name would be on everyone's lips.

Now, for a completely arbitrary date - Patterson since 4/24 has an OPS of .860 and Rivera is at .777 since 4/22

Hill had recovered fairly well, with a .743 OPS over 21 games, but he's 3 for 21 over his last 5 and he's down to .704 overall since April 15 (which is still 100 points better than his season line.

Looking ahead, I can see Bautista cooling mildly, but not in a major way. and Patterson will eventually revery pretty hard, but otherwise i don't see a huge potential for regression. (Escobar will cool from the current hot run but his season line is a reasonable expectation for a good year)

On the other hand, you get Lind back - outside of one 7 game slump (in which he went 2/26) he's hit .373/.387/.627/1.014 - albeit that's just 20 games. in any case, adding Lind's bat surely counterweights Patterson's decline all by himself, and likely any you see from Bautista as well.

You get Lawrie at some point (soon) and that wipes from the stat page almost all the empty AB of EE and Nix (and McDonald as a starting 3B) - postulating Nix taking AB from Hill is for the most part a wash, it doesn't matter. Except that Hill MIGHT improve and i don't think Nix's ceiling is much higher. Rivera's history would lead you to think this is about his level (the recent work) and we can hope JPA is not in for a regression.

Davis' current level of performance (since the injury) is likely sustainable. I'm reasonably confident that JPA-Lind-Hill-Esco-Lawrie-Bautista-Davis-Rivera is a solid group - and if the jays are willing to get Thames and/or snider in place of Patterson when the magic wears off, there's not a real weakness there.

I expect Romero to hold, Morrow to hold but get better stat-page results (he's pitching well but that one crazy inning skews his stats), Drabek to gradually improve as his control refines and the bullpen to be fine.

Then out of Reyes, Litsch, Villianueva, Cecil, even McGowan you have to scrape up at least average work in the other two spots.

That's a reasonably good team. My suggestion for one move to perhaps leverage it into the heart of the race is as follows:

Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers are in a massive flux, and Kemp stands to make a ton of cash next year. We have the depth to make a good offer without seriously damaging the future.

Adding Lind and Lawrie is like adding two stretch run acquisitions as it is. it might be enough to contend. But throwing in one big buy would still be excellent.
Kelekin - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 07:42 PM EDT (#235855) #
I really don't want them to stretch McGowan out.  The guy said himself that he refuses to go through any other major surgery, and I'd like to strongly believe relief is a much better route for him at this point in his career.
uglyone - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 08:28 PM EDT (#235856) #
I don't understand that. He's got great stuff and the key barrier to him being a success is arm health. The starter route has been tried over and over again and failed. Why not leverage his talent into fewer and more important innings?

I think this is why:

ayjackson - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 08:33 PM EDT (#235857) #
Perhaps the experts believe it is more important for McGowan to rest four days between pitching, rather than limit the pitches thrown per outing.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 09:40 PM EDT (#235860) #
According to John Lott's piece on McGowan, the Jays think it'll be easier to regulate McGowan's workload - and therefore keep him healthy - as a starter. I have no clue whether that's a good idea or not; keeping pitchers healthy is not an exact science.
Gerry - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#235861) #
Brett Lawrie is in the lineup for the 51's tonight.
scottt - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:16 PM EDT (#235862) #
That's like the ultimate non-news. Or did I miss something?
Jonny German - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:17 PM EDT (#235863) #
Playing arbitrary end points with Rajai Davis gives us a .359/.398/.487 line over his last 20 games. Slightly less arbitrary is that his May has been night-and-day better than his April (only 9 games).

I'd argue that a date on a calendar - whatever said date - is equally arbitrary. Just because it's "by months" as the custom is doesn't make it less arbitrary.


It's less arbitrary to talk about calendar months because they don't let you pick an exact date to make a player look better or worse. For instance, I went 20 games on my arbitrary Davis sample (.359/.398/.487) because 21 games would not have been as good (.346/.384/.469) and 19 would have been a smaller sample.

If your point is that a single month is still too small of a sample to be highly meaningful, I agree.
adrianveidt - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:24 PM EDT (#235864) #
Sportsnet says Lawrie is being called up for Friday's game vs. Baltimore.
Jonny German - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:25 PM EDT (#235865) #
AA dropped a major Lawrie hint in an interview with Mike Wilner today. Wilner asked him what Lawrie needs to do to get promoted and AA said "You can read between the lines on this, but I'm a believer that it's better for a hyped prospect to get started on the road rather than at home". So Wilner speculates Lawrie will be up for Friday in Baltimore.
TamRa - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:25 PM EDT (#235866) #
It's less arbitrary to talk about calendar months because they don't let you pick an exact date to make a player look better or worse.

In a sense - but then the great majority of the time when someone quotes a calendar month they do so because a player did remarkably good or bad in that month. if a guy had an ordinary month, that usually won't get cited.

uglyone - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#235867) #
Brett Lawrie got hit by a pitch in the forearm in the first inning, was pulled from the game, and is going for X-Rays.

Gerry - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:41 PM EDT (#235868) #
In his first at-bat tonight Lawrie was hit on the forearm by a pitch. He was taken out of the game and is going for x-rays on it.
scottt - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 10:44 PM EDT (#235869) #
In any case, I read that Lind starts rehab with Dunedin tomorrow and could be back Saturday. Assuming mlb.com is a reliable source.
92-93 - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 11:00 PM EDT (#235871) #
Those are the risks you run when you have players who are MLB-ready playing minor league games.
bcool - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 11:20 PM EDT (#235872) #
Forearm is definitely better news than being hit on the hand as was reported by Mike Wilner.
pooks137 - Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 11:38 PM EDT (#235873) #
92-93,

Your opinion on Lawrie's rightful place is clear, but I find this statement confusing. Lawrie's risk of getting HBP and hurt seems equally likely wherever he happens to be playing including the majors.

And if this had happened in the majors, Lawrie would be sitting on the DL collecting both MLB salary and service time, as witnessed by Robert Ray a few years back.

I'm really not sure where Lawrie should he playing at the moment, but this argument on a freak occurence seems flawed.
uglyone - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 12:21 AM EDT (#235874) #
blawrie13 Brett Lawrie
Just a BRUISE !!! #yaaaaabudddddy
1 minute ago

well, that's a relief.

PeteMoss - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 12:25 AM EDT (#235875) #
Assume they'll want him to have a few games in AAA to make sure everything feels ok before bringing him up... may delay his arrival a bit.
hypobole - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 01:21 AM EDT (#235876) #
May only be  coincidence, but in the top of the 5th in Vegas, Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch and was subbed for defensively in the bottom of the 6th.
TamRa - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 01:58 AM EDT (#235878) #
Grif tweets that Lawrie will join the team in B'more and will be officially activated on the day they think he's ready to play.


92-93 - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 09:58 AM EDT (#235887) #
It's pretty simple - when a guy is ready or needed for the major leagues, you take him out of your minor league games. Every single team does this with an impending call-up. Sure, a guy can just as easily get injured at the major league level. That isn't the point. You are unnecessarily risking injury to a player you've already admitted you want on your MLB roster. When it comes to pitchers, people will say something along the lines of - "A guy has a limited number of bullets in his arm, you don't want to waste any of those at the minor league level if he's ready". This desire to start your prospects on the road is a load of crap and typical AA justification that I'm sure everybody likes and believes. Starting Arencibia out at home worked just fine.
Jonny German - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 10:23 AM EDT (#235890) #
Load of crap or no, Arencibia isn't a great case in point. He was called up when Buck was injured.
Spifficus - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 10:29 AM EDT (#235891) #
Setting aside the mounting evidence that Anthopoulos must have ran over your puppy, I'm not sure if your "Save the bullets" thesis holds up. I remember countless cases of 5th starters getting optioned to start a year just because the team wouldn't need a 5th starter for a couple turns. I mean, if it were one turn, maybe, just like if it were one game for Lawrie, sure. The more time in between, the need to play to keep the skills sharp begins to factor in. In this case, say they made the decision on Sunday... That's 1/10th of his season to date. He could sit on the bench, or he could continue to work on the things that he had been for the first 50 games.
85bluejay - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#235892) #
Most teams actually consider super 2 just as the jays - also I think AA said hyped prospects and I agree - the pressure on Lawrie will be tremendous esp. with all the media request he is likely to receive - I wouldn't be surprised if he struggles initially.
92-93 - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#235893) #
Or, since he was ready for MLB and the team needs a 3B, he could have been called up for last night's game (or tonight's) and there's no time in between games for his skills to dull. Comparing him to 5th starters who the team doesn't really need (like Minor in Atlanta who was just sent down for 10 days) doesn't really help.
Spifficus - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 11:19 AM EDT (#235898) #

"Save your bullets" was your analogy. It's still dealing with players you've deemed major league ready that you play in minor league games.

Like it or not, if rumors be true, they have deemed Friday as the target recall date. In that case, playing Lawrie last night makes sense. If he didn't get his bruise, I'd probably have him play tonight, too.

As to the merits of the Friday recall, it might not be the decision I'd make, but with all the factors (21 year old, high intensity player with past makeup/maturity questions, getting a lot of attention from the Toronto media compared to their other prospects due to his Canadianness) I can understand their thought process, erm, I mean, the load of crap and typical AA justifications.

92-93 - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 11:33 AM EDT (#235901) #
I guess that's where we differ. I can't understand the thought process behind leaving a MLB-ready player in the minors and letting him risk injury down there just because you think it's better for him to open up his MLB career on the road.

If Arencibia was brought up as an emergency because Buck was injured, I think that's even worse. So basically AA believes prospects should open on the road, but out of necessity he'll fasttrack it to a home date? So much for development being at the forefront.
rtcaino - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#235902) #
Setting aside the Canadian thing, Lawrie is a significantly more highly touted prospect than JPA was.
Spifficus - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#235904) #

If Arencibia was brought up as an emergency because Buck was injured, I think that's even worse. So basically AA believes prospects should open on the road, but out of necessity he'll fasttrack it to a home date? So much for development being at the forefront.

You're obviously not going to be convinced of anything on this front; either it's Anthopoulos' fault, or it's really his fault. One Size Fits All doesn't fit in player development or clothing. By comparing the two in this regard (one a 21 year old with ~50 games in AAA, and the other a 24 year old with 2 years in AAA), you're really comparing apples and elephants.

uglyone - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#235907) #
playing him last night in the minors or the majors carries the exact same injury risk.

are you advocating that they just sit their top prospect out?
Jonny German - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 12:46 PM EDT (#235908) #
You gotta save your best players for the playoffs.
92-93 - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 01:22 PM EDT (#235912) #
Alex Obal - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#235913) #
I just hope we can win another game.
Mike Green - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#235915) #
It will be good to have Lind and Lawrie in the lineup.  I am hoping that Eric Thames hits a little more over the next few days, and makes the club think about players and roles for the DH/LF/4th OF slot.
Matthew E - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#235916) #
leaving a MLB-ready player in the minors and letting him risk injury down there

If you're scared of having your baseball players play baseball you're probably in the wrong business.
subculture - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 02:46 PM EDT (#235922) #
Yeah, in addition to the 'no motorcycles, skydiving, or extreme fighting' clauses, MLB contract folks should consider adding the clause 'no actual baseball'.
92-93 - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#235924) #
There's a reason Escobar and Bautista were removed from a 10 run game the other day.
Original Ryan - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#235925) #
There's a reason Escobar and Bautista were removed from a 10 run game the other day.

But I doubt the reason was injury avoidance, which you seem to be implying. Neither player had had a day off since the rainout in Detroit, and Farrell was likely just giving them some rest. Managers often do that.

The timing of the Lawrie beaning was a fluke, and the pitcher who beaned him normally has good control (a career BB/9 of 2.3). Had Lawrie been called-up a couple days ago, for all we know Mitch Talbot could've drilled Lawrie in the wrist, forcing the latter to spend a couple months on the disabled list. This type of injury can happen at any level.
92-93 - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 04:17 PM EDT (#235927) #
Rest and injury prevention are the same thing. Catchers don't sit on a day game after a night game because they didn't get a good night's sleep.
Original Ryan - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 06:17 PM EDT (#235933) #
Rest and injury prevention are not the same thing, and particularly not in the context that youíre talking about with Lawrie. Sitting a player to keep him fresh so that his performance doesnít suffer is entirely different from sitting a player because he might suffer a freak injury.
Spifficus - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 06:25 PM EDT (#235934) #
I occasionally get an afternoon off. I don't think my boss is thinking about injury, so much as performance-affecting fatigue.
bpoz - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 06:44 PM EDT (#235935) #
Great comments by everyone.

I am getting the feeling:
1) More Bauxites are thinking playoffs than before. Good reasons too, weaker opposition & potential better results from the rotation.
2) Some disagreement on winning with vets or kids (still developing players). IMO Romero is almost fully developed, he needs to handle the very tough line ups like NYY & Bos. The other 3 in the rotation Morrow , Drabek & Reyes are still developing, they should do what Romero has done given 2 full years in the rotation. Also we have no one or a short list that can replace them, the new guys will also need development time.
I don't know how our offense has such good results, other than the Bautista contribution being a major factor. An unexpectedly good player like Patterson & currently hot Rivera, who heats up as the season progresses will be given a long time to work out of any slumps. So kids like Thames & Cooper may have a long wait. I don't know about Snider, his situation is different, he has proven that he can do well but this years results are a concern that is being addressed.
TamRa - Wednesday, June 01 2011 @ 08:38 PM EDT (#235938) #
Point of order: Rivera is NOT "currently hot"

His OPS since Lind was hurt is under .700

Escobar is the hero that's being overlooked.
rjfxvii - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#236025) #

You forgot perhaps the worst of all the bullpen implosions -- giving up the ghost in Seattle with a 7-0 lead!!!

The bullpen needs to be addressed for this team to have a chance to contend this season. Perhaps dump guys like Dotel and give some of the young arms on the farm a chance to break into the majors thru the bullpen.

Drabek, for one, might benefit from such a move.

My two centavos

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