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Yesterday there was a debate raging about how close the Jays are to being a competitive team. Let's examine that question in a little more depth.

I especially liked Anders' way of looking at it: the Jays, particularly on offense, are a team of extremes. They have superstars on the one hand, and black holes on the other. Check this out:



Bautista and Lind have hit at superstar levels and Escobar has been well above average for a shortstop. Arencibia and Patterson have been fine. Hill, Nix, Davis and Encarnaciůn have been terrible.

It's precisely this dichotomy in the offense that leads one to think the team is close to contention. After all, acquiring even average players for each of those positions would significantly improve the offense, and it isn't too hard to find average players. This is in contrast to a hypothetical team of only average players, which would be difficult to upgrade, as one would need to acquire superstars to see the same effect.

Well, how feasible is it to upgrade these positions?

Third base should have already seen its upgrade, but then Brett Lawrie was plunked and broke a bone on the day he was told he'd be called up. While rookies don't always succeed immediately, it would have been difficult not to improve on the Jays' pathetic third-base output. He'll be up later this year.

Left field is another position that I think could be upgraded immediately, and I'm not necessarily referring to Travis Snider, who is out with a concussion right now anyway. Eric Thames hit while he was briefly up here, and we all know he's been killing AAA all season. This would even have the added effect of upgrading center field by allowing Corey Patterson and Rajai Davis to platoon to some extent. Davis was brought in to be the regular CF, but at some point plans have to change. Davis just hasn't hit at all.

Designated hitter might have to continue to suck life out of the line-up for the time being, with no obvious replacements for Juan Rivera and/or Edwin Encarnaciůn. Long-term, one would hope that Snider gets back on track and DH is filled by Thames, Arencibia, someone external... there are lots of possibilities, but for this season, or at least for now, I think we're stuck.

And then we come to Aaron Hill. There's nothing to be done with Hill at this point, except to hope he remembers how to hit like he used to. I can't see him losing his job this year, but if he keeps on as he has been the last two years he may be out of a job by 2012. If that's the case then yes, an average player would provide a significant upgrade here as well.

The pitching is trickier. While the offense can be upgraded significantly by making personnel moves, an improvement in starting pitching is mostly based on the hope that Cecil, Drabek and Morrow get their acts together, and who knows if that's going to happen. While it seems like the Jays have a lot of arms at or near the major league level, only one has consistently been an above-average major league starter (Romero). Given that, I would not be opposed to the acquisition of another starter, through whatever means AA deems prudent. Whenever you have a bunch of guys "trying to figure it out", odds are that some will and some won't. Should the club be happy if they get two above-average starters out of Cecil, Drabek, Morrow, Litsch and Stewart? I'd say so. Adding those two to a rotation that already includes TWO solid starters as opposed to just Romero would make a big difference.

As for the original question of "how close are the Jays to contention?", once again it's harder to answer with respect to the pitching, as we can't predict the time frame for pitcher improvement. But the club has at least the rest of 2011 to throw those guys into the fire and hope that it gets sorted out sooner rather than later. I hope to see Cecil back up soon.

So, to answer my own question, I think the club can be competitive in 2012. The offense should be upgraded at 3B and LF as outlined above, at 2B by either Hill's improvement or some acquisition, and at DH (I'm not gonna list the ways DH can be upgraded because there are so many options, but I expect it to improve somehow). The pitchers will have had another half-season to sort themselves out, and perhaps there will be some currently-external options in the fold, depending on how that sorting goes.

On the other hand, though the club isn't too far out of the race at the moment, I can't see an extended stay in the race in 2011 without a lot of luck. The rotation would need to see immediate improvement from more than one pitcher, and a couple hitters would need to really step up (maybe Hill and Lawrie). None of those things are out of the question, but all of them happening at once is very unlikely.

(A point I've failed to address here is whether the Jays who have performed well this year have performed over their heads. It's a worthwhile analysis but I had to stop somewhere. If you think that's a big concern, raise it!)
How Close Are The Jays to Competing? | 107 comments | Create New Account
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BlueJayWay - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#237143) #
I agree with pretty much everything there.  The Jays have a lot of crap in the lineup, which theoretically should be much easier to upgrade than a bunch of average players.  I'm bullish on the pitching, and with the prospects bubbling under, plus a trade deadline this year and then an offseason of trades & signings, I think the Jays can be an 88-90 win team as soon as next year, which should at least put them in contention for that second wildcard spot.
Matthew E - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#237151) #
It's not that you're wrong about any of the above, but there's one thing you don't mention, and that's this:

What about the other two or three problems that are going to show up out of nowhere between now and then? Some of the guys you're counting on there, Romero-Arencibia-Lind-Escobar-Bautista-whoever-else, two or three of them are going to have bad years or get hurt or something like that. Running a baseball team is a constant struggle against entropy.

So I think the Jays are farther away than you do. I'm notoriously pessimistic about it, of course, but even allowing for that I think my point is a valid one.

sam - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 02:16 PM EDT (#237152) #
I just don't see how you can say the Jays are close to competing when there's really only three or four players on the entire roster who have shown any resemblance of superior play for a prolonged period of time. 
jester00 - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#237153) #

If the Jays wanted to upgrade 2 of those positions immediately without spending much more than money, they could go out and get Fukudome and plunk him in left, and Carroll from LAD for 2B/3B.  Those two guys and their ability to get on base would be huge for this team right now.  Short, short term solution.  Even if you brought Snider and Lawrie up when they are healthy there would still be room.

Neither player would cost much of anything going the other way, and both contracts expire the end of this year (I believe).  And they both have an OBP of about .375.  Not saying the Jays should or anything, but they could if they were willing to spend a bit of cash.

Glevin - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 02:20 PM EDT (#237154) #
Not close really but largely because in this division, you can't have many weaknesses...I don't see how you can call Patterson "fine" either. A .698 OPS from a LFer (which is right at his career level) needs replacing. I think Hill will turn it around eventually but that still leaves 3B, LF, CF, and DH as offensive positions that need upgrading. 2013 seems like a realistic year to be in contention.
uglyone - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#237155) #
I think the theory is sound - if you have a core of 4-5 elite players, you're pretty much by definition a contender.

Right now Bautista, Lind, and Romero certainly look like elite players, and Escobar is pretty close. If those 4 don't implode, then adding just one or two more top players would make us a contender almost automatically, with us only needing to fill in the rest of the holes with average players.

Ideally we'd be able to add a third stud bat to the middle of the order, and a 2nd stud pitcher to stand beside Ricky. We get that, and I think we're ready to roll. Whether that 2nd ace comes from the group of Morrow/Drabek/Cecil or from the FA market, and whether that 3rd big bat comes from lawrie/snider/Thames or from signing Prince fielder, I'm not sure - but either way, IMO if we add those two more pieces then we're definitely a contender....and a contender for years to come.
John Northey - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 02:47 PM EDT (#237156) #
Taking a look at interesting trade possibilities. Last year AA surprised everyone getting Escobar by taking advantage of a team on the edge who had a slumping player.

Atlanta has a few weaknesses but none that match up nicely with the Jays strengths. Philly though is interesting. Their catchers are weak - OPS+ of 88/48/90 for the 3. They have one top prospect who isn't quite ready for prime time in Dominic Brown (151/246/345 in June after a hot 924 OPS in May) who the Jays have wanted for awhile. Brown is the only guy under 27 who has hit for them. This is a team that needs to keep winning now. Sadly, it would work better if Patterson, Davis, or Rivera were hitting well as Philly could use more outfielders as well as catchers. But Molina's 132 OPS+ and JPA's 98 must look tempting to them.

Could AA pull off a shocker and grab Philly's last major prospect? Right now Philly has a 4 1/2 game lead, but it doesn't take long for leads that size to vanish when you have holes. After getting anything for Wells and grabbing Escobar last year I can't help but wonder.

Another interesting contender is Milwaukee with Casey McGehee who is pulling an Escobar. Last two years were OPS+ of 126 + 114 but this year is a 70 while playing 3B. Milwaukee is 1/2 a game out despite his slump. Their pen is decent but no left handers with over 15 IP. Their top backup catcher has an OPS+ of 2 (yes, two). So Rzep & Perez & Molina would have value but that much? Hrm. Pre last year I'd never bother suggesting it, but as I said, AA has the ability to shock.
James W - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#237157) #
Philadelphia loves Carlos Ruiz. While I'm sure I've got a little hyperbole here, what the hell: They have no interest in Jose Molina or J.P. Arencibia.
Kasi - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#237158) #
The thing here is too much of the thinking of what "superior" play is is based off conceptions from previous years. Offense was down last year and is even lower this year. Those numbers from plenty of our starters look horrible, and in some cases they are. But that's going around. Yes we need to get rid of Hill and Nix. But other than that there is not a lot of huge upgrades around for this offense.
BalzacChieftain - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 03:31 PM EDT (#237159) #

OPS+ is based on the league average OPS, though. That's why Corey Patterson's OPS+ is 91 even though it's .698, which looks pretty brutal. But then you look at guys like Hill, Davis, and Nix, who are all 73 or below, and it really reflects just how poorly they're hitting, whether offensive numbers are in general decline or not.

Kasi - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#237161) #
Sure those numbers are bad. I agree. But there are far better players than Patterson with an OPS+ this year below 91.

My belief is that we will get batters better than Nix and Hill, and even better than Patterson/Davis. (although not hugely better, since I don't see Gose or any other prospects being a stud offensively in CF for a few years yet) But that will be balanced by poorer production from Bautista and Lind. It should leave us mostly where we are in offense now. Top 4-5 in the AL, so above average but not near the top. Still that is pretty good.
subculture - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#237165) #
We've talked about offense and pitching, now how about defense?  I think 3rd base will benefit from an upgrade, how about 2nd?  Hill seems to have lost some range, is this accurate?  Is Lind a long-term answer at 1b?  I'm willing to give JP at least this year and next to show he can be at least average, but if not does he move to DH and D'arnaud or Perez take over at C?

Our OF defense appears to be at least average, will this change with Thames/Snyder on-board?

Has our pitching actually been better than we think this year, but let down by our team 'D'?
Chuck - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#237168) #

After all, acquiring even average players for each of those positions would significantly improve the offense, and it isn't too hard to find average players.

Now, that passage I bolded, isn't that exactly the myth that leads to false expectations?

Perhaps it's legit to say that it's not hard to find players who slot in between average and replacement level, but average? The term average is too often used as a pejorative. In very simple terms, average means player #15 out of the 30 starting players at that position. And that is nothing to sneeze at. Or something sitting at the end of someone's bench or trapped in AAA.

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#237170) #

<slow clap>

Thank you, Chuck. SO many people don't get that! "Average" is really quite good. For example, and  ih ave no numbers to back this up off the top of my head, Ricky Ro is probably average or below average among "ace"-level #1 starters. That ain't bad at all!

</slow clap>

 

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#237171) #

Incidentally, Dave, outstanding piece. Very well-thought-out, presented and balanced.

Now back to this idea of "average" -- not sure how we'd work this outs statistically -- if you could build a team of the 15th-best player at every position in MLB, would its Pythagorean record be 81-81? I suspect it'd actually be a shade or five better than that ...

uglyone - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#237172) #

1) 2B K.Johnson?
2) SS Y.Escobar
3) DH P.Fielder?
4) RF J.Bautista
5) 1B A.Lind
6) 3B B.Lawrie
7) LF T.Snider / E.Thames
8) C J.Arencibia / T.D'Arnaud
9) CF R.Davis


1) LH R.Romero
2) LH C.J.Wilson?
3) RH B.Morrow / LH B.Cecil / RH D.McGuire
4) RH K.Drabek / RH J.Litsch / RH C.Villanueva
5) RH Z.Stewart / RH H.Alvarez / LH B.Mills



Is Rogers ready to up the payroll by $40m? Because if they did, we could contend next year, with all that money invested in young enough players that they should be good for years.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#237173) #
It isn't too hard to find average guys in December - you just have to overpay. That's why this team is much preferable to the 2008 team. Of course, it's damn hard in midseason, and also arguably less worthwhile since you're already five games underwater.
Chuck - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#237174) #

Now back to this idea of "average" -- not sure how we'd work this outs statistically

You have to consider the way talent is distributed in professional sports.

While the distribution of baseball talent can be modelled via a normal curve for the population as a whole, this does not come close to modelling the distribution for major leaguers. They make up the far right end of the normal curve. There is a large supply at the left end of this section (replacement level) with an even larger supply to its left (near-replacement level). Moving rightward, the supply starts dropping prohibitively (quicker even than at a linear pace) to almost nil as we get to the far right edge: the true superstars.

If you were to rank the 30 starting players at a position, you'd find that the median player is actually below average (where average=mean) because replacement level talent is closer to the median than the top talent. So for those 30 players, you'd probably wind up with 13 above average and 17 below average. Of course, you'd have 15 above the median (by definition).

Jose Bautista is pulling the RF average up far more emphatically than RF #30 can pull the average down. This causes more than half the RF to be below average.

Average is thus quite far from a pejorative. Average slots in higher than #15. There are not enough average players to go around. You find average, you keep it. You don't overpay it. But you recognize its worth.

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#237175) #

2) LH C.J.Wilson?

Never going to happen.

Alex Obal - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#237176) #
For the purposes of this discussion, I think 'average' means 'median' not mean.
dan gordon - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 05:27 PM EDT (#237177) #

I think the Blue Jays have a lot of things to get straightened out to become a 90+ win team, which is what it will take to be a contender barring a realignment of the divisions, or an increase in the number of playoff teams.  85+ might do it if they go to 5 playoff teams, but that hasn't happened yet, so I am going with the status quo for these purposes.

The starting pitching needs to get positions 2-5 figured out, after Romero.  I think Morrow has a pretty good chance to be an excellent starter - he was very good for a long time last year, and I'm thinking all the missed time this spring hurt his control.  After him though, it's a bit of a puzzle with a lot of pieces.  I don't even know who I would say is the best bet for 2012 - maybe Cecil.  If we're talking 2013, maybe Drabek.  Certainly the potential is there for a good rotation, but I think it is highly questionable for 2012.

The bullpen has lots of good pitchers, but I think the game last night highlighted what it is missing.  The Braves took out their starter when he was working on a 2-hit shutout and brought in Kimbrel who struck out 3 in a row, including Bautista and Lind.  Having a guy like that at the back end of your pen is a major asset the Jays are missing.

As many have mentioned, the offense needs upgrading at a few spots.  Similar to the starters, there are some internal candidates like Thames, Snider and Lawrie.  I expect Lawrie to be excellent.  He may be a huge plus to the offense next year, or it might take him a while - he's still very young.  I have long thought Snider was going to be a terrific hitter, albeit with a bit of an injury history which might mean he would have a problem getting into 150+ games.  I still think so, but my confidence in him is starting to take a little bit of a hit.  The 2B position is a major issue, with no internal candidates for 2012 or even 2013, with Hechavarria hitting the way he is in AA.  Lind has been amazing this year, but keep in mind he has gone .755, .932, .712, .974 in OPS from 2008-2011.  Which Adam Lind is going to show up next year?  I wasn't impressed with the acquisition of Davis when the trade was made, and so far, he has been much worse than I thought.  Again, there are no real in-house CF candidates for 2012 or 2013.  Gose is a great prospect, but he is not hitting very well in AA, so I think he repeats this level next year, and goes to AAA in 2013.  Arencibia has been a nice addition this year, and Escobar is well above average at SS.  DH continues to be an issue.

Seems to me like a team that has a rather wide range of possible outcomes next year, with the biggest question mark to my mind being the starting pitching, which is so important - look at how far starting pitching is taking a mediocre hitting Rays team.  If a lot of things go right next year, sure they could contend, but it seems unlikely to me.  Too many question marks have to go their way   

Chuck - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 05:46 PM EDT (#237180) #

For the purposes of this discussion, I think 'average' means 'median' not mean.

Fair enough. But that means that an OPS+ of 95 or so then becomes "average".

bpoz - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 07:01 PM EDT (#237185) #
IMO Chuck you are brilliant. I will never understand what you said but I believe you.

Dan G, you did read all that stuff about a closer not being as important as most believe. Well I agree with you, about closers. I think an opponent deflates when they see a stud closer & the closer's team get extra confident when he comes in. This is swagger & arrogance VS fear & defeatism. Joey M & Mitch Williams.

Wine & Battersbox!1 CHEERS!!!
baagcur - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 07:05 PM EDT (#237186) #
Davis was signed as 4th outfielder wasn't he. I hear the angels have a leftfielder having a down year. Perhaps if they paid 90% of his contract he might be available
Dave Rutt - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 07:29 PM EDT (#237187) #
I'll agree to an extent, Chuck - it isn't easy to find average players, but it's a hell of a lot easier to find an average player to upgrade Hill's 73 OPS+ than it would be to find a similar upgrade over Arencibia's 98 OPS+. As Alex said, you just have to overpay in December. Alternatively, you can overpay (with prospects) in July. Point is, those guys are available, while the Bautista's of the world (bad example) generally aren't.
TamRa - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 07:43 PM EDT (#237188) #
I'll take the contrary view - a pitcher can only develop so much in the minors, particularly when a level too low or alternately in the PCL.

the Jays NEED every available slot to maximize the potential of their young pitchers. it is not, in my opinion, about adding a pitcher (unless we are speaking of Josh Johnson or some such) because we don't now know WHICH ofthe young ones will succeed and which won't - so taking away one rotation spot with which we would explore the answer to that question is bad news - it's short circuting long term quality for the illusion of contention today.

to wit, five spots:

1. romero
2. Morrow - not nearly in such disarray as is implied by the OP and utterly without recorse to develop in any other setting in this organization. He is on the cusp of BEING that second dominant pitcher we need.
3-5. for these spots we have Listch, Cecil, Drabek, Stewart, Reyes (remember when the vast majority couldn't wait to run him out of town?) and yes, possibly Villianueva and Zep (albeit the latter two only appear if we have disasterous results from the former five)

If we assume that any of these even without much further development is a competent #5, then what you need is 2 of the 5 to become above average guys. they might not, but you will never know if they are in the minors.

furthermore, by the time you have a satisfactory answer to that you are going to be asking the same questions about Alvarez, McGuire, and maybe Jenkins.

Who are wegoing to add, who is in fact available, who is so very good, established, and controlable that we are going to get in the way of that?

again, can i get josh Johnson or Jered Weaver? Sure - do it. But we just dealt a guy who'd be ideal for what the OP seeks - Marcum - in part to clear that path.

it makes no sense to reverse that plan now.

As for the offense, that has room for a lot of work.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, we can reasonably assume that over the short/medium range:

Lawrie > Nix
Snider > EE
Loewen > or + Rivera
Thames > Patterson

OF COURSE there's the potential for failure but unless you have the opportunity to trade for a clearly better option, you pretty much have to promote them and find out.

That gives you this result:

C - JPA (rising d'Arnaud)
1B - Lind
2B -
SS - Escobar
3B - Lawrie
RF - Bautista
CF -
LF - Snider/Thames
DH - Thames/Snider

Which is the same conclusion most everyone reaches. Gose is the approaching CF and while he might be some years from being above average you more or less have to play that out given his tools.

Thus the only real opportunity for importing an upgrade is Hill - and one of three things happens:

1. He rebounds and there is no hole
2. we retain him at some price and live with a hole for lack of a better opportunity
3. We sign Kelly Johnson or trade for some other upgrade.

how this plays out is anyone's guess.

but my conclusion is that other than 2B and possibly a more reliable closer, what this team needs most is simply time. Impatience gets you the same sort of results everyone professed to hate under the previous GM.


TamRa - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 07:47 PM EDT (#237189) #
oh, I meant to add something when I mentioned CF and failed to do it:

CF IS the spot where a short/medium term upgrade is appropriate because Gose is a couple of years away from even reaching Davis-level.

My favorite solution? Matt Kemp. It MIGHT be possible to take advantage of the train wreck in LA to score Kemp for a package of prospects.
Admittedly, that's a reach. Beyond that I'm not sure what the available options are, but there is a clear window of opportunity there.

whereas at 2B, the ideal solution would be to acquire a prospect like Kipnis or some such who could grow with the kids.


Ron - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 08:34 PM EDT (#237191) #

On the other hand, though the club isn't too far out of the race at the moment

The Jays are currently in 4th place in the AL East and 8.5 games back. The Jays are 7 games behind in the Wild Card race with 3 teams ahead of them. The Jays would need to go roughly 59-30 the rest of the way to make the playoffs. Itís a real stretch to say the Jays arenít too far out of the playoff race right now. Itís not even the end of June yet and the Jays are basically already eliminated from the playoffs.

BlueJayWay - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 08:39 PM EDT (#237192) #
Itís not even the end of June yet and the Jays are basically already eliminated from the playoffs.

Too true.  And by the way, this is not good for a baseball when a team with a respectable .500 record is basically eliminated from the playoffs 2.5 months into a 6 month season.
TamRa - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 08:43 PM EDT (#237193) #
on all this discussion of Average/median//mean

I'm too lazy to look up what the average player at a given position in the AL is hitting, but just looking at some samples from the ESPN stat page...

13 left fielders have at least 150 PA - the middle guy, #7, has an OPS of .659 (Carl Crawford, BTW)

To reference Chuck's point - the bottom guy (Wells) is only .076 below that, while the best guy (Hamilton) is .187 above it. The midpoint between Hamilton and Wells is .715 which is very close to the .718 which ranks fifth of the 13 (Willingham)

Expand the sample to the entire major leagues and you have a sample of 31 players, #16 is Hinske (!) at .734, and the mid-point of the range is .803 (Cody Ross at #9 is at .804)

So in one sense, the average LF in terms of production is a Top 10 player at the position.

Now, switch int to CF since it's a position of need and adjusted to 175 PA to get an odd number of players, the middle guy of 29 is Michael Brantley (.742) and the median (or is it mean, I forget) OPS is .806 which is precisely what the #6 guy, Chris Young has.

(By the way, like LF, an expensive ex-Jay is last on this list too - things could be worse)

Looking from the top of the list at availability:
1. Kemp - maybe
2. Granderson - right
3. Victorino - one would assume Philly is not downgrading
4. McClutchen - why would they?
5. Elisbury - same question
6. Young - they don't seem ;like sellers
7. A. Jones - no way
8. Sizemore - not while they are contending
9. Byrd - is this really what we want?
10. Rasmus - that all seems to have died down

We're already down to .750 OPS (and in this case a .316 OBP) so if you can't score Kemp, or a hot prospect as with Lawrie, how do you get a significant upgrade here?

It's significant to note that some of the most highly regarded young CF (Brantly, Rasmus, Bourn, Stubbs for instance) are right their pretty much in the statistical middle. (acknowledging that OPS is a bit of a gross stat to measure this sort of thing by)

Turning attention to 2B:

Sample of 25;
Middle guy is Kelly Johnson (.712)
Middle OPS is .702 which is not close to anyone really, it falls between Johnson and Barney at .679

Hill is at .623, though it's .684 in the 44 games he's played since April 15 - in that sense for most of the season he's been right around the "average" 2B production in the majors this year.

The top of that list - everyone above Johnson - is another collection of guys who in most cases you wouldn't logically be on the market. Unless perhaps you assume the Reds will decline Brandon Phillip's option.
the exceptions are:

Macir Izturus - you could overpay to convince the Angels to let him go
Adam Kennedy - do we really believe he's an upgrade?

So, as I've said before, outside of adding a 2B prospect that you hope develops nicely (as you hope with the other rookies) there's a very narrow range of opportunities to make a significant upgrade on Hill. Or Davis.

But then, let's be fair, most contenders have a couple of below average bats in the lineup. The Red Sox and Yankees are thre exceptions (aqlbeit, on the season total Crawford and Drew are "below average" and so is Jeter and Posada)
Even if they are the direct competition, it doesn't change the fact that putting an above average player at every position is the exception, not the rule.


greenfrog - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 08:56 PM EDT (#237194) #
This is a hard question to answer, because so much is in flux right now. The Jays have a lot of interesting prospects, and the 2011 draft could provide another solid infusion of talent, but there seems to be a gap between the bulk of the prospects and the major-league club. Most of the top talent is at least a year or two away, and there is always so much uncertainty about prospects (look at Snider and Drabek).

It's possible that AA makes another deal or two (maybe for a SP or CF), but at the moment there are probably too many question marks both in the rotation and at the positions to say that the team is close to contending.
Mike Green - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 09:00 PM EDT (#237195) #
OPS+ is a crude tool. Arencibia (due to injury) has been passable and Patterson has been a little less than that.

It boggles my mind that the 7 man pen and the lack of platoons are considered to be necessary elements of the modern game. It is a reminder of the prevailing view of leadoff men in the 60s, speedy ballplayers who hit .280-.300 but with little pop and plate discipline.
knuckeler - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 09:05 PM EDT (#237196) #
H. Alvarez just tossed another strong 7 innings for NH tonight allowing just 2 hits with 1 walk 5 SO and 0 runs. He has lowered his ERA down to 2.30. He has pitched so well recently I wonder if they might call him up if he can put together another couple of good outings?
Alex Obal - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 09:06 PM EDT (#237197) #
And then with an eight-man bullpen you don't pinch-hit for a struggling pitcher in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded. And two out. Down three runs. On the other hand, I can't bear to imagine what damage a 3.0 IP on Stewart's game log might have done to his confidence.
TamRa - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 09:47 PM EDT (#237198) #
I need to clarify something I've said a few times which is in error:

"Rivera is the only reserve 1B"

No, actually Encarnacion can play 1B in an emergency, if not more often - but the team has to decide if his defense is sufficent to give Lind the amount of rest they think he needs. it's true he can't hit except when DHing, but Rivera can't hit period so that's kind of a wash.

Still, if the Jays can live with the glove, then you could argue that snider bumps Rivera, Lawrie bumps Nix, and EE is your every day DH - then you can make room for Thames if you find a smart way to get back to a seven man bullpen.


ayjackson - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 09:50 PM EDT (#237199) #
Was a better hitter than Stewart available on the bench?
;p
smcs - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 09:54 PM EDT (#237200) #
It boggles my mind that the 7 man pen and the lack of platoons are considered to be necessary elements of the modern game.

I miss Freed Johnalanotto.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 09:56 PM EDT (#237201) #
a/k/a Frank Johnson. That guy was good.
scottt - Tuesday, June 21 2011 @ 10:06 PM EDT (#237202) #
It isn't too hard to find average guys in December - you just have to overpay. That's why this team is much preferable to the 2008 team. Of course, it's damn hard in midseason, and also arguably less worthwhile since you're already five games underwater.

It's not really that much harder since many of the FA to be will be available at the trade deadline. Technically, you still need to overpay to extend the guy and you have to send some prospects over instead of losing a first round pick, but it's not necessary damn hard.


Moe - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 03:28 AM EDT (#237205) #
It's not really that much harder since many of the FA to be will be available at the trade deadline. Technically, you still need to overpay to extend the guy and you have to send some prospects over instead of losing a first round pick, but it's not necessary damn hard.

Actually, even that is harder than we fans think.  Even average players (#10/30) don't become FAs that often/early. Teams lock good players up early, especially at key positions.  So once they become FA, they are no longer average or the decline has started.  Yes, you have a few good FAs every year but rarely ever one at every position.  This year, you have one above average SS, no above average 2B/3B/C, at least none that you would count on being above average for the next 3-4 years.  The distribution of talent is such that even an OPS of 90 is not that easy to upgrade at many positions.  If that weren't true, we wouldn't argue about what to do with Hill as much as we do.

Where does that leave the Jays? Exactly following the path they have taken.  Build a great rotation, i.e. 5-6 pitchers that would be classified as #2 guys; a solid bullpen, i.e. no holes better than 1 top guy and then a big drop-off (although I see the appeal of having one super shut-down arm in the pen) and keep the offense more or less as is, i.e home-grown players that don't set the world on fire but no major black holes with a few above average players.


Spifficus - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 06:58 AM EDT (#237206) #
I may have been enjoying beverages "too much" this evening, but I can't help but wonder if Fowler has fallen enough out of favor in colorado to represent a buy low opportunity... Could just be my man-crush on rangy young CFs that have shown OBP skills in the past. I wonder if a reliever could be sacrificed at the altair of The Tracer to save him.
China fan - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 07:12 AM EDT (#237207) #
I agree, Moe.  But the other key part of AA's strategy is to develop a surplus of pitching so that the Jays can trade for key position players to fill the holes.  He did this once already (Marcum for Lawrie to fill the 3B hole) and he's also used the pitching surplus as chips to seal the deal for other players (Escobar and Davis).  Clearly AA realizes how difficult it is to fill every hole through free agency, and he has said that he sees the trade route as a better option than free agent acquisitions.  This helps explain why AA drafted so many pitchers last year and this year.  And it explains why I'm so interested in the development of Reyes, Villanueva, Stewart, Litsch etc.  Even if they never become top-of-the-rotation pitchers, any of those guys could be packaged for a 2B or CF or whatever the Jays need.   This will also require, however, that Drabek and Cecil return strongly to the rotation by 2012 at the latest, with Alvarez and McGuire not far behind,  so that AA can trade pitchers such as Reyes or Litsch (or both) to fill a hole in the lineup.
AWeb - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 07:59 AM EDT (#237208) #

The Jays are currently in 4th place in the AL East and 8.5 games back. The Jays are 7 games behind in the Wild Card race with 3 teams ahead of them. The Jays would need to go roughly 59-30 the rest of the way to make the playoffs. Itís a real stretch to say the Jays arenít too far out of the playoff race right now. Itís not even the end of June yet and the Jays are basically already eliminated from the playoffs.

I wholehardedly disagree. The Blue Jays may have to go something like 59-30, but that isn't unattainable. The Twins - the freaking Twins, the worst looking team I've seen this year, are currently on a 15-2 stretch. A 59-30 stretch isn't done by going 6-3, 6-3, 10 times, it's done by ripping off extremely good stretches and avoiding what is happening right now, an awful looking losing streak. Is it likely? No. But almost every year one or more of the teams in MLB makes a surprising surge late in the year. Few teams are good enough to go 59-30 on average (107 win pace), but teams manage to do it every year anyway for extended periods. Also, if the Jays did get that hot, the number of wins they need to make it drops by a couple, because they would almost certainly have to defeat the teams in their way more than usual.

All that said, I don't think this team is going to do it this year. But a team is never as bad as they look during a losing streak, right?

Kasi - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 08:39 AM EDT (#237210) #
I have a question. Why are the Jays so bad at facing pitchers they've not seen before? I know that is not really a strength of any hitter, that in initial matchups that pitchers do have the advantage, but the Jays seem to be incapable of doing much of anything until they've seen a pitcher a time or two. I'd rather have us face Lester or Felix at this point than some random rookie pitcher from the NL.
sweat - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 09:24 AM EDT (#237213) #
With Lawrie soon to be at 3rd base, and Snider back up to play left field, CF, 2B and DH are where the Jays truly need help.  I am still hopeful that Hill can figure it out, and I think they Jays will at least offer him arbitration so I think that spot is the least likely to be changed.  As far as DH goes, some combination of Cooper, Thames, Lowen would probably be best fit going forward.  I think the key spot might be at CF, and I would love to see the Jays go out and get Carlos Beltran for a few years.  Davis looks like a bech guy out there, and I think that Beltran represents the (potentially) biggest upgrade the Jays could have in that line up.  Obviously getting Pujols would be incredible, but I don't think the Jays want to move Lind away from first.

CF - Beltran
SS - Escobar
RF - Bautista
1B - Lind
3B - Lawrie
LF - Snider
C - JPA
DH - thames/cooper/Lowen
2B - Hill

Bench: McCoy, Davis, Encarnacian, Molina.

Kasi - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 09:34 AM EDT (#237216) #
I'd love Beltran too, at least old Beltran. But he's not a CF anymore, and certainly not on the turf of Toronto. He could be a good corner OF here, but that seems to be a tight position already.
hypobole - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 10:14 AM EDT (#237222) #

I wholehardedly disagree. The Blue Jays may have to go something like 59-30, but that isn't unattainable. The Twins - the freaking Twins, the worst looking team I've seen this year, are currently on a 15-2 stretch.

59-30 may not be unattainable, but it's certainly close to it when 32 of those games are vs the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays and Phillies.  FWIW, exactly none of the Twins 15 wins on their current hot streak were against those opponents.

Gerry - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#237224) #

Bautista is a key to the Jays competing and Joe Posnanski at SI has just profiled Jose.

"I am starting earlier," he told Murphy, but the batting coach shook his head. Before the game in which Bautista would face Baker, teammate Vernon Wells sat next to him in the clubhouse.

"You know what you should do," Wells said. "Think about starting as early as you can possibly imagine, so early that it seems ridiculous. And then start even earlier than that. What do you have to lose? If you look like a fool, you look like a fool. It's just one game."

It was just one game. Bautista stepped in against Scott Baker in the bottom of the second inning. O.K., he would remember thinking, I'm going to start so early it will be ridiculous. Baker pitched, and Bautista felt as if he started his swing before Baker even let go of the balló"I thought, You want early, I'll show you early." He expected to miss everything, but he felt his bat hit ball. It was more than that, though, because the feeling of hitting a baseball hard, really hard, doesn't feel like anything else in the world.

The ball smashed against the leftfield wall so hard, Bautista thought he could hear the impact over the sounds of the cheers.

Holy s---, Bautista remembered thinking as he stood at second base. What was that?

Ron - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 10:47 AM EDT (#237226) #

I wholehardedly disagree. The Blue Jays may have to go something like 59-30, but that isn't unattainable. The Twins - the freaking Twins, the worst looking team I've seen this year, are currently on a 15-2 stretch. A 59-30 stretch isn't done by going 6-3, 6-3, 10 times, it's done by ripping off extremely good stretches and avoiding what is happening right now, an awful looking losing streak. Is it likely? No. But almost every year one or more of the teams in MLB makes a surprising surge late in the year. Few teams are good enough to go 59-30 on average (107 win pace), but teams manage to do it every year anyway for extended periods. Also, if the Jays did get that hot, the number of wins they need to make it drops by a couple, because they would almost certainly have to defeat the teams in their way more than usual.

All that said, I don't think this team is going to do it this year. But a team is never as bad as they look during a losing streak, right?

The Twins are chasing the White Sox, Indians, and Tigers while the Jays are chasing the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees within the division. The competition within the division makes a huge difference. When was the last time the Jays went on a stretch where they won something like 18 out of 22 games or something like this?

I don't see how anybody can think the Jays are in playoff contention right now.



D. King - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#237227) #

Does anyone have a sense of how Charlie Manuel is likely to handle is starting rotation with respect to their off day on Monday and the spot starts given to Vance Worley? 

Not that I have any particular interest in whether their ace is pitching on next Friday or Saturday...

whiterasta80 - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#237228) #

In my opinion the Jays are/were very close to competing.  If we had addressed our team faults early enough I think we could have competed this season.

A late May strategy would have gone something like this.

DH:

Keep Eric Thames up and rotate him, Davis, Patterson and Bautista (if he's ok with it) through the DH slot and OF

3B/SP:

Deal Cooper + McGuire + Carlos Perez + Cash for Casey Blake + Ted Lilly (Blake DH's once Lawrie is up)

Alternatively (3B)

a. Deal Hechevarria, Stewart, and Thon for Mark Reynolds (he becomes the DH once Lawrie comes up)

b. Deal Jenkins, Marisnick and Jiminez for Michael Cuddyer (he becomes 2B or DH once Lawrie comes up)

Alternatively (SP):

Deal Alvarez + Casey Janssen + Vlillaneueva + Litsch for Carlos Zambrano (assuming he'll waive the NTC)

CF:

Deal some sort of prospect package (I'm getting lazy) for either Coco Crisp or David Dejesus.

The Jamey Carrol/Fukudome strategy interested me too.

IMO that would be enough to get us close to the big boys.  At this point in the season however I don't think there's anything we can do other than hope for a miracle.  Even with mass additions we'd need some serious help to catch up.  Now we should be looking for deals that impact us long term.

I like Dexter Fowler as a target, he has alot of what we'd be looking for in a CF and, much like Escobar is insurance for a slow/not developing Hechevarria, Fowler would be the same insurance against Gose.

Other guys who I like as options now that we are likely looking near term rather than this season are Ian Stewart who we might be able to "Jeff Kent it" into 2B, and might have the bat to stick at DH anyway. I wouldn't mind trying to buy low on Joakim Soria and extending him, I'd look at Gordon Beckham, I'd look at Chris Coughlan (I still think he's a decent piece at 2B of LF), and I'd be willing to give Kila Ka'aihue a shot at DH one more time. I'd take a look at the White Sox SP situation too and see if we can take advantage. Edwin Jackson (who we might be able to extend) would be nice. 

Kasi - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#237229) #
I don't understand. Why would we trade a bunch of strong prospects for marginal MLB players? Heck Roy freaking Halladay only got us 3 players. I don't see it being a winning prospect trading a top prospect plus 2 others for marginal players, when we could just sign players just like them in the offseason for straight cash.
uglyone - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#237231) #
I agree with the sentiment that looking at the rest of the season as needing to play .667 baseball is a bit misleading. Baseball is a game of streaks. A month ago we were virtually tied for 1st and the WC. Within one game or so at least. One hot month can get us right back there.

It's not like the Red Sox are going to continue on winning at a .750 clip the rest of the year like they have the past month or so.
smcs - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 01:05 PM EDT (#237238) #

Not that I have any particular interest in whether their ace is pitching on next Friday or Saturday...

Saturday.


It  has been mentioned a few times earlier, but the Jays should be going hard after Prince Fielder this off-season. It will be a lot of money to pay for a DH, but he can designated hit the crap out of the ball.


subculture - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#237240) #
I'm with Kasi.  If AA made any moves like that, I'd be wondering when he'd been abducted.  Packages of prospects should be getting you at least near star-quality players... not guys that will have difficulty matching their current salaries when they are next free agents...
uglyone - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 01:34 PM EDT (#237241) #
Is Hanley Ramirez a star player or a guy who'll have difficulty matching his current contract?
bpoz - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#237245) #
Brandon League is doing OK, so that trade worked out for both teams. Seattle is as far away from the wildcard as the Jays but they are right there for the West Division unless Mr Pythagoras messes them up.

They should be buyers, and really go for it. They probably will too since they have Felix & did get a piece of Cliff Lee as he moved from contender to contender. They are not shy.
whiterasta80 - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 02:32 PM EDT (#237246) #

I think it has been so long since we've competed that we've lost perspective on what "going for it" costs.  B and C prospects don't get you stars when the other team's GM knows you'll be going for it. Heck, the only B+ prospects moved were Stewart and Perez (who I'm not sold on yet). 

I'm not a big proponent of selling the farm for any single season, and particularly not the year before we add an extra wild-card slot. But those were close to what we should expect to have to pay for the guys I listed. With Reynolds I adjusted since BAL was trading within the division and with Zambrano I assumed a bidding war. I didn't even move Gose, Snider, Thames, Crouse, or our young 95-throwing SPs in any of these deals. 

We're dreaming if we think "loading up" means adding Matt Kemp or Prince Fielder to this team.  You're likely giving up 2 of Snider, Gose, or Drabek plus one of our C's or SPs. 

Rich - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 02:35 PM EDT (#237247) #
IMHO the team will need to do something about its consistent mediocre-to-poor OBP.  This is an organizational issue methinks.  From 2006 - 2011 the Jays have never been better than 7th in the AL in OBP.  Hardly any of the homegrown hitters have been able to maintain their plate discipline as they moved through the minors, Snider being a good example.

The lineup has too many holes right now and won't become a contender by continuing to acquire unproductive players like EE, Rivera, Nix, Patterson, and Davis.  None of these guys are starters on playoff clubs.  For the Jays to turn the corner they need JP to keep developing, Snider and Lawrie to be the hitters we thought they'd be, and AA to find someone who can produce at DH.

In the long run I am optimistic the organization has enough talented arms to have a championship-calibre staff.

Ryan Day - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 03:38 PM EDT (#237248) #
...unproductive players like EE, Rivera, Nix, Patterson, and Davis.  None of these guys are starters on playoff clubs.

While I agree that most of those guys should be gone, I think you have an overly rosy view of the quality of "playoff clubs". It's true the Yankees & Red Sox have very few holes, but they also have payrolls of a gazillion dollars. On the other hand, Tampa is just a smidge behind those two, and they've had some lousy performances by Sam Fuld & Reid "177/229/211" Brignac. Cleveland's got Travis Buck, Austin Kearns, and Jeff Hannahan scuffling about. Detroit is living with Brandon Inge & Ryan Raburn. Texas has Yorvit Torrealba and David Murphy, and the talented-yet-awful Elvis Andrus. Philly is playing Wilson Valdez. Milwaukee has Yuniesky Betancourt and Casey McGehee..  (These are all just from skimming BB-ref; may not 100% represent all starting lineups)

Don't get me wrong, I'd really like to avoid having the likes of Nix & Rivera in the lineup, and only one of Patterson/Davis should be playing at one time. But almost every team comes up with a gaping hole or two, for one reason or another. It's just a question of having enough talent around them to balance it out. Obviously, having 3-4 lousy-to-awful hitters makes that particularly difficult.
Magpie - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 03:53 PM EDT (#237249) #
Deal Jenkins, Marisnick and Jiminez for Michael Cuddyer (he becomes 2B or DH once Lawrie comes up)

I rather like Cuddyer (although not that much) - but I do think we'd quickly find out why Cuddyer hasn't spent much time at second base since 2004. I also believe he has a limited no-trade clause, and the Toronto is on his don't-send-me-there list.
Kasi - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#237250) #
Which is fine. You give up quality if you get quality. If the choice is between giving up 2 top prospects and 1-2 second level ones to get a star or 1 top prospect and 2 minor ones to get a scrub, you take the first option every time.

Most star players don't even get some of the hauls you were suggesting there. Look at what the Indians got for Cliff Lee, or what Seattle got for Cliff Lee when they traded him to Texas. If you're going to give a top prospect like Alvarez then sure send him along with another top guy to get someone with some real quality.
Chuck - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#237251) #

...unproductive players like EE, Rivera, Nix, Patterson, and Davis.  None of these guys are starters on playoff clubs.

Patterson is currently outhitting the Yankees' DH and SS. He is also outhitting both Red Sox corner outfielders.

cybercavalier - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 04:39 PM EDT (#237252) #
I agree with Ryan Day; but the issue seems to be the management of these "mediocre-to-poor" OBP players. At the beginning of this season, EE was brought back on a lesser price tag than that of last season, with a wish that he could improve. But he is still himself. IMHO,

1) if the Jays could trade Nix to another team (say for the sake of discussion, the Rangers for Michael Young, and Nix is a Texan)
2) some MLB veteran stuck in AAA. Trade from another AAA team to Vegas, then promotion.
Chuck - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 04:41 PM EDT (#237253) #

It will be a lot of money to pay for a DH, but he can designated hit the crap out of the ball.

It's a rare player who at that age consents to DH. That said, I have no idea where Fielder stands on this. I imagine that Pujols will return to St. Louis making Fielder a prime target for the Cubs.

Chuck - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 04:44 PM EDT (#237254) #

if the Jays could trade Nix to another team (say for the sake of discussion, the Rangers for Michael Young, and Nix is a Texan)

You couldn't trade Nix for a bag of snot, and you think he might net the state's favourite baseball player?

 

Mike Green - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#237255) #
Aw c'mon, Chuck, some team would pony up a couple of buckets of balls.  Anyways, the major point for the Rangers (if they were so inclined) would be salary dump.  It seems unlikely that they would be in that mode right now.
uglyone - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#237257) #
yeah, people have to realize what's in every other "contender"s lineup. Here's a list of weak spots using career OPS:


BOS:

SS Scutaro .722
C Saltalamacchia .707


TB:

1B Kotchman .729 / Johnson .738
C Jaso .709 / Shoppach .743
LF Fuld .668 / Ruggiano .696
SS Brignac .622 / Johnson .557

TEX:

C Torrealba .704 / Teagarden .703
CF Chavez .686 / Borbon .682 / Gentry .593
SS Andrus .668 / Blanco .631

DET:

LF Raburn .763 / Dirks .702
CF Jackson .720
3B Inge .696 / Worth .691 / Kelly .634
2B Santiago .648

CLE:

2B Cabrera .712 / Phelps .717
1B LaPorta .705
3B Hanrahan .658 / Everett .640

CHI

2B Beckham .724
3B Teahen .742 / Vizquel .692 / Morel .610
LF Pierre .709 / Lillibridge .644


compared to the "holes" on the Jays:

DH Rivera .781 / Encarnacion .780 (shouldn't really be a hole)
LF Thames .743 / Snider .737
2B Hill .742
C Arencibia .704 / Molina .628
CF Davis .700 / Patterson .697
3B Nix .652 / Lawrie ---




cybercavalier - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#237258) #
Patterson is currently outhitting the Yankees' DH and SS. He is also outhitting both Red Sox corner outfielders.

According to Farrell, "This has been a relatively new position for him and he is involved in nearly every play on the infield. So in some ways, it has maybe energized him".. So IMHO, delegating Davis to the bench would be a good move. Patterson could play CF for now. Could Nix play in LF, with McCoy coming in as a late inning substitute? Recalling from a suggestion by a poster here, Rivera would be taking groundballs at 3B if Tony LaRussa is the manager. So if Rivera is energized while playing on the infield, playing 3B is a happy medium among the situations at hand.
uglyone - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:18 PM EDT (#237260) #
My preferred lineup for next game:

1) SS Escobar
2) LF Thames
3) RF Bautista
4) 1B Lind
5) 3B Encarnacion
6) DH Cooper/Rivera
7) C Arencibia
8) CF Patterson/Davis
9) 2B Hill/JMac
cybercavalier - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#237261) #
Re uglyone:

So your lineup means demoting Nix and McCoy for Thames and Cooper.

uglyone - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#237262) #
yep.
Magpie - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#237263) #
So your lineup means demoting Nix and McCoy for Thames and Cooper.

That works for me. We already know Nix and McCoy are marginal bench players, either the 25th or 26th man on a roster.
Mike Green - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:36 PM EDT (#237264) #
It works for me too. Platoons!
cybercavalier - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:38 PM EDT (#237265) #
Re magpie:

BUT it seems Nix would be staying in the majors at least for now. So how about trading him to another team for a MLB veteran stuck in AAA. A poster suggested trading Josh Roenicke for Josh Fields, so how about Nix for Fields: both 28 and play 3B: values for values.

Mike Green - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 05:39 PM EDT (#237266) #
Thames, incidentally, is 4-4 in the 4th inning today.  That could only happen in Vegas or Reno, where the 51s happen to be playing.

The 51s lead 16-2 and have 18 hits so far.

TamRa - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 06:42 PM EDT (#237267) #
Patterson is currently outhitting the Yankees' DH and SS. He is also outhitting both Red Sox corner outfielders.

So is Juan Rivera, and EE is right there
Magpie - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 06:48 PM EDT (#237268) #
how about trading [Nix] to another team

That also works for me, because one can always use another bag of baseballs. (Mediocre defenders hitting .176 can't be expected to bring you much else. They're waiver-wire fodder.)

One assumes that sometime around the All-Star Break, Brett Lawrie will take over third base and our long national nightmare - Edwin Encarnacion!~ Jayson Nix! - will be over. And sooner or later (the sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned) some combination of Thames or Cooper or Snider or Loewen will get a serious crack at filling the holes in LF and DH.

Which leaves two large holes, right up the middle, where champions are built (as the old cliche goes.) Second base and centre field. I have no idea what happened to Aaron Hill, but it's beginning to look incurable. I suppose a Patterson/Davis platoon works as a holding action until Gose is ready. (Assuming Gose actually becomes ready, which is by no means a sure thing.) I'm not wild about how Patterson plays CF, but outfield defense can certainly be improved - there are drills and stuff - and this team does have a Gold Glove centrefielder on its coaching staff.
Magpie - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#237272) #
Running a baseball team is a constant struggle against entropy.

I wish I'd said that. Maybe I will!

Anthopoulos did very well last season bringing in veterans on a short-term basis to hold the fort until a:) a kid was deemed ready to take over, or b) he could cash in said veteran for something tasty. Alex Gonzales became Yunel Escobar, John Buck bought time for Arencibia, did a good job with the young pitchers, and became a draft pick. He hasn't done as well (been as lucky?) this time around.

And while Arencibia is having a nice rookie season, one of the big problems this season has been the failure of the young pitchers to develop. The Jays went into this season with exactly one starter - Ricky Romero - who had ever spent a full season, April through September, in a big league rotation, who had ever started 30 games in a season. In retrospect one wonders if it was really the best idea ever to turn such a green group over to a rookie catcher and a rookie manager. I don't see that there were a lot of options to proceeding this way, but we probably should have anticipated some of these problems as a result...
Shane - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 08:55 PM EDT (#237275) #
"You won't believe who has the No. 2 AL Outfield" by Fangraphs

1. Yankees (Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher): 7.8 WAR.
2. Royals (Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur): 5.6 WAR.
3. Blue Jays (Jose Bautista, Corey Patterson, Juan Rivera: 5.4 WAR.
4. Twins (Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel): 5.2 WAR.
5. Indians (Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore): 3.9 WAR.

Good gawd. Bautista is real real good, and AL outfields are having a real rough start.

Rich - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 09:04 PM EDT (#237276) #
Patterson is currently outhitting the Yankees' DH and SS. He is also outhitting both Red Sox corner outfielders.

You've completely missed the point.  The argument is not about Patterson specifically - it's about the club giving regular at-bats to at least 5 non-productive hitters.  Not one of the players I mentioned is, at this point in his career at least, a quality starter on a playoff club.  That's simply too many holes to contend.

If you want to talk about Patterson specifically, would you trade Jeter, Crawford, or Drew for him, even now?  All 3 of those are far better players who are having lousy years, at least thus far and all have been productive players on playoff teams.  Patterson hasn't ever really been productive on a bad team, and has never been thought highly enough of to be a obtained by and given a regular job on a contender.  But again, that's not really the point. 

If you'd like to make the argument that the Jays can contend with Nix, Patterson, Davis, EE, and Rivera getting regular AB's I'd be very interested to hear what you have to say.
Kasi - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 09:28 PM EDT (#237277) #
Well how many positions is that? EE and Rivera share the DH, and Nix is the 3B right now with Mac, both being bad at offense. And Patterson/Davis share CF and a bunch of the LF duties too. So it is lets say 3.5 positions. Yes that is too much to be giving to non productive hitters, but lets say bring up Lawrie, bring up Snider and then leave those guys just for CF/DH and we'd be fine.

It is a fallacy to think one can't compete with a couple bad bats. Every team who competes has a couple bad bats. There is no mythical pure lineup of strong hitters from 1-9 anymore. Not even the Yankees and Sox have that.
Rich - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#237279) #
I never said the Jays can't compete with a couple of week spots in the lineup.  I said they can't compete with 5 of them and that's exactly what they have now. 

I agree that Snider is absolutely crucial to the team's future but unfortunately the jury is still very much out on him.  If Snider turns the corner and Lawrie turns into who we think he will there are still sinkholes in centre and at second and DH.  If either Snider or Lawrie don't become above-average big league hitters the team is even farther away IMO.  For the team to compete in their division AA is going to have to find at least 1 more quality hitter and the team's OBP is going to have to improve.
Rich - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 09:44 PM EDT (#237280) #
To clarify what I mean by 5 positions, the Jays are unproductive at:

  • DH
  • LF
  • CF
  • 3B
  • 2B
This is regardless of who on the current roster is playing these positions on any given day.  The team is still near the top of the AL in runs but that's solely on the shoulders of #'s 19 and 26 and that is not going to get the club into the playoffs.

cybercavalier - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 10:12 PM EDT (#237281) #
To clarify what I mean by 5 positions, the Jays are unproductive at [...] The team is still near the top of the AL in runs but that's solely on the shoulders of #'s 19 and 26 and that is not going to get the club into the playoffs.

I agree. The D-backs called up Wily Mo Pena recently, and he responded with his first HR. Based on history, his plate discipline was not good (1K per 3AB, 1BB per 15AB). I think there are always these kind of guys in AAA every year who appears to be ready to chip in their hot bat and also brings with them some holes in their swings. IMHO, Mike McCoy was excellent in plate discipline, versatility in playing multiple position and base-stealing in AAA when he reach the big league with the Jays in 2009. By the same token, if Nix was given the chance to shine and he didn't deliver, another guy can step in. From the IL and PCL batting leaders boards, there are a few guys who were MLB veterans. From management standpoints, it is low risk potentially high reward.

I am not sure, but recalling from a quote by Caston in 2009 that the major league is not a place to practise or work on weakness; minor league is. But Las Vegas is not exactly a good place for pitching development.
BlueJayWay - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 11:06 PM EDT (#237285) #
I agree that Snider is absolutely crucial to the team's future but unfortunately the jury is still very much out on him.  If Snider turns the corner and Lawrie turns into who we think he will there are still sinkholes in centre and at second and DH.  If either Snider or Lawrie don't become above-average big league hitters the team is even farther away IMO.  For the team to compete in their division AA is going to have to find at least 1 more quality hitter and the team's OBP is going to have to improve.

I agree.  DH, though, shouldn't be hard to find someone who can swing a bat decently there, which means the only real sinkholes would be 2B and CF as long as Snider becomes what we thought he'd be and Lawrie can handle third defensively and hit like he can.

This is where AA has to get creative.  The Jays now have a highly thought of farm system to deal from, and tons of payroll flexibility.  Utilizing those two things in the trade and free agent market can go a long way.
uglyone - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 11:10 PM EDT (#237286) #
Just want to do a quick check on what we've actually done position-wise:

RF 1.001ops (1st AL) - .762 AL AVG (+.239)
C .772ops (2nd AL) - .678 AL AVG (+.096)
1B .896ops (4th AL) - .804 AL AVG (+.092)
SS .779ops (4th AL) - .705 AL AVG (+.074)
DH .762ops (7th AL) - .753 AL AVG (+.009)
CF .675ops (10th AL) - .726 AL AVG (-.051)
2B .601ops (11th AL) - .683 AL AVG (-.082)
LF .600ops (12th AL) - .669 AL AVG (-.069)
3B .536ops (13th AL) - .684 AL AVG (-.148)

Surprisingly, DH hasn't actually been a "hole" this year - it's just been mediocre. EE has actually been pretty great as a DH this year so far (74ab/.880ops), while Thames (35ab/.867) and Lind (21ab/.908ops) have helped too.

So far this year, we've had 4 plus positions, 4 minus positions, and 1 mediocre position....but the 4 pluses have been much higher than average than the 4 minuses have been below average.

Thankfully we have some very good MLB-ready prospects at two of those minus positions that should be able to step in ASAP and hopefully give us at least league average production at their positions (though I think we'd all be dissappointed if Lawrie/Snider/Thames couldn't do better than the average LF .669ops or 3B .683ops.

Decent chance that once the kids are called up that we're only left with 2 "holes" in the lineup - CF and 2B.
Jim - Wednesday, June 22 2011 @ 11:13 PM EDT (#237287) #
Should the club be happy if they get two above-average starters out of Cecil, Drabek, Morrow, Litsch and Stewart?

If they get two above average starters out of that group, AA should volunteer to bungy jump naked from the CN Tower. 


92-93 - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 12:33 AM EDT (#237291) #
Moving Bautista back to 3B until Lawrie is ready sounds like a very good idea.
Magpie - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 06:04 AM EDT (#237297) #
Moving Bautista back to 3B until Lawrie is ready sounds like a very good idea.

I dunno. If it was September 1, and you were in a pennant race, and your fourth outfielder was a much, much better option than your backup third-basemen... okay. But to cover a sub-.500 team for three weeks? Don't really see the point.
dawgatc - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 08:01 AM EDT (#237298) #
The jays will compete when they have their starters in order. The players are either in the minors or waiting to be signed from the last draft.If the jays get norris,beede,stilson etc. ;they will have the most piching depth in the minor leagues of any team in baseball and maybe of any team ever in baseball. Not all of them will turn out but they should be able to get 5 good starters out of what they have. The starting nine can be easily fixed to a level to get by with 5 good starters.Pure conjecture but how about a starting 5 of Romero,Morrow,Alvarez,Drabek and Beede - Might be good enough to get it done.Up to the Jays to get those draft picks signed and then to get them developed.
Dave Till - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 08:12 AM EDT (#237299) #

Bautista is a key to the Jays competing and Joe Posnanski at SI has just profiled Jose.

I read the profile, and one of the things that I found fascinating about it is that inside fastballs used to be Jose's weakness. This partially explains why Jose hit so many home runs in such a short period of time: pitchers all around the league were looking at old notes, and were pitching Jose inside. The result: goodbye, Mr. Spalding. Now, pitchers don't throw Jose anything even close to a fastball in his hitting zone. 

This leads to the distinct possibility that Jose's days as a huge power hitter may be numbered. (Of course, he was streaky last year too - watch him hit seven home runs in the next eight games and make me look stupid here :-).) Even the mightiest of swingers can't put up monster numbers if facing nothing but low and outside breaking pitches all day.

In the longer term, I have faith that Jose will earn his contract. He's very smart, very analytical, and works hard. He also has a broad range of skills (you probably saw the footage of him taking a home run away yesterday).

Shane - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 09:01 AM EDT (#237301) #
"Moving Bautista back to 3B until Lawrie is ready sounds like a very good idea."   "If your fourth outfielder was a much, much better option than your backup third-basemen" (Magpie) + Batista's bat is worth more than anything he can do with the glove. I'd rather leave him alone in RF to focus on his AB's. This team's offence is putrid without the two elite hitters, I wouldn't mess with Batista.
92-93 - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#237305) #

The point is that we're far enough into the season where the casual sports fan has already lost interest in the Blue Jays and thinks they have been doing very poorly for awhile now (mostly because Bautista hasn't been good in June so a lot of the Jays chatter has ceased). While most of the readers here may be patient with what they conceive as an overall plan, the average fan most certainly is not, and I suspect the bean counters have already begun to notice a decline in ticket sales and TV #s. We are almost halfway into the season and it's a slap in the face to people who watch Blue Jays games to continue to roll out those guys at 3B when the lineup can't support a .177/.241/.289 hitter. Any 4th outfielder WOULD be a "much, much better option" than that crap, and moving Bautista to 3B would give the team an opportunity to get a look at Thames or Loewen before Snider is ready to come back. As well, many talent evaluators are very shaky on Lawrie long term at 3B and he may very well need to end up in an outfield corner - I wouldn't want Bautista getting TOO comfortable out in RF, considering the dearth of organizational options at 3B beyond Lawrie and with the plethora of potential corner OFs in the system.

John Northey - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#237307) #
Right now, if the Jays wanted to, they could look at Thames or Loewen easily as I doubt Patterson, EE, or Rivera are viewed as major roadblocks. All 3 performed weakly enough that a benching or release could be done at any time (EE DH stats notwithstanding).

In truth I suspect the Jays view Loewen & Thames as having some potential but not enough to justify ML playing time at this point. If they keep hitting, and improving, in AAA then they might get a chance post-ASB but I suspect we are at a WYSIWYG status until that time.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#237308) #
It's easy to give Thames an opportunity without moving Bautista.  Platoon Patterson and Davis in centerfield.
As for the organizational lack of depth at third base, there's a catcher or two who is developmentally between Lawrie and Sweeney who could helpfully be converted to either third base or second base.  I am pretty sure that Travis d'Arnaud's bat would develop much better if he was moved out from behind the plate.  The same goes for Carlos Perez.

I would leave Bautista right where he is.  It aint broke.

Mike Green - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#237309) #
I would however second 92-93's point about the effect of "wait 'til next year" thinking on fan interest.  Thames is 24 years old, and is at this point a better player than Patterson.

Last year, the equivalent situation was Arencibia/Buck, but with the important difference that John Buck was having the best year of his career. 

Jonny German - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 11:21 AM EDT (#237312) #
I'm with Mike in favour of Thames in left and a Davis/Patterson platoon in centre - it would improve both positions. I suspect the real roadblock may be getting upper management to accept that Rivera is a sunk cost and allowing AA to release him.
Shane - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#237318) #
  •  "As well, many talent evaluators are very shaky on Lawrie long term at 3B and he may very well need to end up in an outfield corner"

Last week either in his ESPN chat or on Twitter, Keith Law reiterated that longterm he thinks Lawrie ends up in a OF corner. So hopefully Lawrie can play/work well at 3rd for a few years, Batista and Snider in the corners, and who knows in CF in the next couple years. Moseby maybe.

  • "In truth I suspect the Jays view Loewen & Thames as having some potential but not enough to justify ML playing time at this point."

AA obviously has some plan/opinion why Thames isn't in MLB, who knows what it is. Loewen has the 'no options' thing which totally screws things up for everybody in trying to develop the guy. But Patterson & Davis are the suck. Someone in print wrote somewhere this week that Davis is a mess, well obviously. When Davis swings his front leg is heading right up the thirdbase line (as well, he to me, stands too far away from the plate).

DaveB - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 11:51 AM EDT (#237321) #
1. Leave Bautista in RF.
2. Start EE at 3B until Lawrie is ready, sub in Nix if leading.
3. Call up Thames to start in LF, demote McCoy.
4. When Lawrie is ready, DFA Nix.
5. When Snider is ready, trade or DFA Rivera.
6. Call up Cecil, send Stewart to to LV.
7.
On a hunch, give Davis 15-20 games in the leadoff spot. 




Shane - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 12:06 PM EDT (#237324) #

It all sounds good. Slight adjustment though:

"7. On a hunch, give Davis 15-20 games in the leadoff spot." And then promptly DFA.  

uglyone - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#237330) #
Last year, the equivalent situation was Arencibia/Buck, but with the important difference that John Buck was having the best year of his career.

good call on the JPA/Buck comparison.

but not only was Buck good all year long while Corey is fading, but there's only room for one catcher, while Patterson could get plenty of time in CF if Thames was the full time LF. And of course, there's also room for Thames as DH, too. And moreover, Thames is hitting better than JPA was hitting last year anyways. And he hit better the year before than JPA had the year prior to last, too.

kee-rist, I can't think of any reason why thames is not on this roster right now. It makes no sense whatsoever.
ayjackson - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#237346) #
Davis should exclusively bunt or slap bunt.
Chuck - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#237348) #
Davis should exclusively bunt or slap bunt.

And stop swinging at curveballs low and two feet outside.
Shane - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 05:37 PM EDT (#237353) #
And up comes Eric Thames via Wilner:   Wilnerness590 Mike Wilner And so it begins.....Eric Thames is back! Recalled from Vegas to join #Bluejays in STL. Back down goes Mike McCoy. #jays
Mike Green - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 06:19 PM EDT (#237356) #
Good. Next up: Cooper and Cecil.
cybercavalier - Thursday, June 23 2011 @ 09:48 PM EDT (#237372) #
I agree with Mike G. But why are we so concerned with converting catching prospect to third baseman. Could AA flip a prospect or two to increase the organizational depth at 3rd base ? Last season, Canadian Shawn Bowman was playing for New Hamsphire. He was later invited to the Braves' spring training and now is playing with their AAA team (.278/.319/.461).
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