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Yesterday we looked at the offense. Today we look at pitching and defense. Feel free to chime in in the comments.

(Note: these comments were mostly made in advance of today's Cecil-related news.)

We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?

John Northey: Iíll keep saying yes until he does it.  3.50 ERA.

Matthew E: Iím going to say yes not because I have any idea but because thatís what I want to have happen.

Obal: Yes. I am such a sucker.

Gerry: Define put it together?  The talk this spring has been about Morrow becoming more efficient and using his off-speed pitches more.  But his major problem has been pitching out of the stretch.  I think he will get better but not Cy Young better.

Thomas: I used to drink Ricky Nolasco kool-aid. Now itís Brandon Morrow flavoured. So, yes.

Anders: Morrow really just needs to learn to pitch out of the stretch, which is not something Iím sure you learn at this point. If he can continue to lower his walk rate it may not matter. Iíll say a 3.80 ERA and 10 Kís and 3 BB per 9 IP.


How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other.

Gerry: A.  Strikeout pitchers are generally more successful in the majors and Alvarez needs his third pitch to get them.  We havenít seen his new and improved slider yet this season so the jury is still out.  Without the strikeout pitch Alvarez will have some days where the ball goes straight to the fielders and some where they find the holes.

Anders: All of the above, except for E. Seriously though, If all goes well he pitches 175 innings, with a 120/35 K/BB and gives up 12 home runs. I hope.

Obal: He really is a distinctive player. I keep trying to think of someone who succeeds like Alvarez did last year, as a sinker/changeup high GB low BB guy, and the only name that comes to mind is Brandon League. If he finds a slider, heís Tim Hudson. If his fastball command deserts him, look out below. Hard not to be optimistic for his future.

John Northey: B) Like, really a lot - expect him to be a solid #3 and some years will be the Jays ace (ERA wise).

Matthew E: E) Other. I hope he does well but I want to see him start striking out more guys.


Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.).

Thomas: McGuire. His impact wonít be as strong as Hendersonís was, but give him 10 starts and thereíll be the signs of a guy who could be a very reasonable #4 starter in the AL East, although I also view him as one of the prospects most likely to be moved if the team deals minor leaguers for an MLB player.

Matthew E: Drabekís as good a guess as any. We may see McGuire and Hutchison but who knows what weíll get from them. Iím not a huge believer in McGuire anyway.

Anders: I would have said Drew Hutchison, but given that reports on Drabek in Spring Training are good, and that there is an obvious reason for this (that the team made a mechanical change (making him focus on landing correctly in his delivery), I am optimistic and will choose him.

Gerry: Henderson moved from AA to the majors (technically he moved from Dunedin to the majors but he only started in Dunedin because he had an injury at the start of the season).  Hutchison is the obvious guy to replicate Alvarez.  But one of McGuire or Jenkins is likely to step up too.

John Northey: Iíd bet on Hutchison as the spring reports have all been great.  Drabek pitching early in the season almost disqualifies him as Henderson came up mid-season.


In 2011 the Jays graded out as slightly below average in Ultimate Zone Rating and slightly above average in Defensive Runs Saved. How will the teamís defense perform in 2012?

John Northey: Better defense, as no EE or Bautista at 3B, but not drastically so.

Matthew E: Same story; different year.

Gerry: Slightly better, Rasmus is better than Patterson, Lawrie is better than EE/Nix.  But the improvement wonít be material.

Anders: I agree with Gerry - there will be some improvement but not enough to matter. Yunel and Rasmus and Lawrie are the only guys I think are probably good defenders, and the metrics havenít always been kind to the first two. And Jose Bautista actually graded out really well at third in his brief stint, for what it's worth.

Thomas: Thanks, Gerry. Iíd temporarily rid myself of any memories of Patterson.


Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5

Gerry: I will go with the over, 38.

John Northey: Iíll go with over - 40

Matthew E: Neither. He will save exactly 34.5 games.

Anders: I think the Jays will win enough games to get him over - maybe 38 (I am just copying Gerry for the most part).

Thomas: Over. 41. Nervous 9ths no more.


The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).

Thomas: Iíve repeatedly said the Jays could be asking for trouble with the back-end of their rotation and Iím not going to back down from it now. Assuming they have a timetable in mind for the minor league pitchers (or are at least waiting on McGuire, Hutchison and Jenkins to prove they are ready) and everything theyíve done this offseason suggests the priority is 2013 and beyond, fans may have to endure a couple of ugly months from Drabek and, particularly, Cecil. In the worst possible scenario, Romero puts up numbers more in line with his peripherals, Morrowís incurable problem of pitching with runners on continues and Alvarez has a sophomore slump. It wonít all happen. Most of it probably wonít. But, the downside is real. Then again, thereís no Jo-Jo. 752 with the bullpen improving and the starting pitching regressing.

John Northey: Iím betting on getting down to 700.  Yeah, yeah, too optimistic I know.


Matthew E: Theyíll improve relative to league but give up about the same number of runs in total.

Gerry: Among the question marks this season are Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek.  The bullpen should be better.  The rotation could still be an adventure and the sixth starter, or seventh, could be a challenge in the first half of the season.  Injuries in the rotation could really hurt the Jays before McGowan is better and before one of the AA starters is ready.  I think the Jays record will be better so the defense needs to be better, say 737 runs allowed.

Anders: That 2011 mark is actually pretty abysmal, so I think the Jays have to improve given that I think the bullpen is better. Iím not really sold on the rotation - I have confidence in Romero, Morrow and Alvarez, but Romero was pretty lucky last year and Alvarez has less than 70 major league innings under his belt. I thought/think Cecil was/is going to be a trainwreck, and I like Carreno a bit better but I'm not sure he grades out well over his first full season; the team already appears to be counting on Kyle Drabek as their fifth starter... oy. Still Drabek seems to have made some mechanical adjustments in his landings, so that inspires some hope, well, at least more than "best shape of his life," and he canít be as bad as the 2011 version, but thatís a pretty small fig leaf... Offense goes up, the Jays allow 740 and improve to slightly below middle of the pack.  

2012 Blue Jays Preview: Pitching and Defense | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Lylemcr - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#253807) #

We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?
- AJ Burnett part 2

How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other.
He is going to be good, real good.  But he needs a 3rd pitch.  He is going to struggle a bit in about June.  They send him down, he develops his slider and comes back to be the #2 we need.

Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.).
There will be two guys.  Drabek and Hutch.  Cecil is going to the pen.  Because of injuries, we see one of the others.  I really like McGowan this year to come back.

Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5

42 - only because I own in him my draft

The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).
725...  Oh! please let this be true.  No Jojo Reyes.  This is based on the assumption that Cecil is not Fat Cecil(with a short leash) and Drabek's head is screwed on a little tighter.  Can we be that bad still? 

The bullpen is alot better too.

whiterasta80 - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#253816) #

We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?
Yes, but next year he'll regress

How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other.
I'm undecided on this.  But I feel like he adds that 3rd pitch and puts it all together.  Basically Morrow last season with less walks and more hits given up.

Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.).
Henderson was technically just pulling a Jesse Litsch, Gustavo Chacin.  Lets hope he progresses a little better than those two.  I like Jenkins to be the guy actually, but I'm not sure he gets the chance.

Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5

I'm guessing 37, over

The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).
We won't mess around with pitchers this season so I predict it goes down... alot, I have us in the upper half.

Mike Green - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 04:10 PM EDT (#253817) #
Alvarez has Kevin Brown's profile (as a late 20s pitcher).  Very good control, average number of strikeouts and many groundballs.  Brown threw a splitter rather than a change-up to keep LH hitters off balance.  Satchel Paige had the fastball/change combination (but that is simplifying things). 


TamRa - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#253819) #
Mick, hows your little piece of north Texas? Everything in place?
gabrielthursday - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 06:58 PM EDT (#253827) #

We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?


Almost certainly yes, with the minor risk of Morrow buying too much into the quick outs/pitch to contact philosophy that gets endlessly peddled by the coaching staff.

How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other.

A) A lot.  We don't know how his slider will play, and we don't necessarily know if Alvarez can continue to be successful while attacking the strike zone as much as he did last year.  If he starts getting hit hard, he might have to start nibbling at the corners, with a subsequent increase in his walks.  If his slider starts working, though, he could be equal to Romero.

Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.).

Any of our erstwhile AA-rotation (Carreno, Jenkins, McGuire, Hutchison) could pitch well in an extended look this season.  But Henderson started last year in Dunedin- so I'll take Noah Syndergaard as the guy who could blast through the system, get a late-season promotion, and impress.

Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5

Over, but I wish it were under- Santos is substantially the best pitcher in the bullpen, and should be used in the highest-leverage situations (tie-games, 7th and 8th inning crises) rather than two and three-run ninths.

The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).

Relative to the league, I think we rise to league-average.  I think our defense will be better, and I think JP Arencibia and Colby Rasmus will represent the biggest improvement.  I shouldn't be surprised if Thames and Bautista put up better advanced defensive numbers than last year as well. Pitching should be better, but there's a lot of downside risk in the back half of the rotation.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 08:18 PM EDT (#253833) #

Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow combined to win 26 Games (62 Starts) in 2011.   Anything less than combining for 35 Games won by this duo is unacceptable.   The Zoo that was our 3, 4, 5 Starters (10 Starters with 100 Games Started) won 26 games in 2011.   Anything less than combining for 37 Games won by them is unacceptable.

The Bullpen won 29 Games, saving 33 Games, while losing 19, not a sterling formula because most of those are blown saves.   Just 20 or more Games won, 40 or more saves, and 10 or fewer losses should make life easier for this Team, anything less is unacceptable. 

Chuck - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 08:55 PM EDT (#253834) #

Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow combined to win 26 Games (62 Starts) in 2011.   Anything less than combining for 35 Games won by this duo is unacceptable. 

Roger Clemens got wins in 50% of his starts. Greg Maddux got wins in 48% of his. You are suggesting that it is unacceptable if Romero and Morrow do not better these rates?

hypobole - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 09:06 PM EDT (#253835) #
Re: Alvarez. I keep hearing people say "if he can just improve his slider", but it may be more difficult than people think. A rather interesting discussion occurred on Sickels website claiming the problem lies with Alvarez pronating rather than supinating his wrist during release of his pitches. Good for fastballs or changeups, not good for sliders. This discussion (and explanation of above terms) starts about halfway down the comments thread when someone posts his name.

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2012/3/29/2912420/more-favorite-young-pitchers-25-or-younger

The next day Sickels did pick him up as he said he would, which immediately started another Alvarez discussion (which turns a bit nasty) but also raises the interesting question of what exactly the terms command and control mean.

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2012/3/30/2914017/yet-more-young-pitchers-age-25-and-below
Mike Green - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 09:30 PM EDT (#253836) #
Hmm, it got a little heated there.  Alvarez really impressed me with his pacing on the mound last year and his ability to locate pitches within the strike zone.  It seemed to me that he was mostly pitching to contact, but out of choice rather than out of necessity.  He was pitching like a right-handed John Tudor, and if you gave him Ozzie Smith and Tommie Herr in the middle infield, he would put up a sparkling ERA.  I think that he's got the ability to dial it up a notch; my major concern with him is durability.
TheBunk - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 09:50 PM EDT (#253838) #
Jays placed a couple guys in the 2011 top 20 for the DSL/VSL

Jairo Labourt(350,00) and Yeyfry Del Rosario(70,000). Both were signed on the same day. Good to see two under the radar international acquisitions bearing fruit.
earlweaverfan - Tuesday, April 03 2012 @ 11:15 PM EDT (#253839) #

We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?
Yes he will, with quite a lot fewer strikeouts, but more ground balls, even GIDPs! 

How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other.
B)  He does have a third pitch, at least according to the Jays staff.  He can hit his spots, and can keep it down.   I think he will rapidly be seen by all and sundry as the third Jays ace.

Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.).
Let's start by saying that you can't pull an Alvarez unless there is a slot to fill.  i do think Carreno will be okay, but only okay, and someone in the bullpen will get injured, and they will move Carreno in there, somewhere during the season, where he will do much better than as a starter.  Meanwhile, Drabek will be much better than he was last year, with plenty of promise, but still not better than a fifth starter this year.  Will McGowan come in and take the open slot for the rest of the season?.  Yes, even though he will impress the Jays coaches with his stuff more than he will succeed in terms of WAR..  Sometime in September, they will bring up Hutchison and give McGowan a rest, and he will shine, but with just a few starts to show for it.  Can I say here that I am thrilled the Jays called a spade a bleeding shovel with Brett.  I had high hopes for his comeback, but I do find the disappearance of velocity utterly pivotal, but also something needing an explanation.  If the coaches can't explain it and he can't explain it, I am happy to see him buried in the minors until it turns around, or until he develops pinpoint control in the lower half of the strike zone.  QED

Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5

45!!

The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).
 
730 runs

hypobole - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 01:36 AM EDT (#253845) #

We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?

I imagine the pitching coaches spent a good part of the winter figuring out how to enable Morrow to pitch effectively out of the stretch. If theyíve succeeded, the answer is yes.

How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other.

E) I like him enough to let him get to 2nd base, but he has to put up an ERA+ over 100 for a full season before I let him go any further.

Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.).

No rookie will put up an ERA+ of 121 this year.  I think Drabek will be in the 90ís, possibly the high 90ís.  This is a tough division for starting pitchers.

Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5

Under, but not by much. 32.

The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).

If Romero and Morrow stay relatively healthy, weíll be better.  Alvarez should be league average,  Drabek slightly below and Carreno just behind Drabek. McGowan might put up weaker numbers than any of the others I mentioned, but I canít see him being bad enough or pitching enough innings to affect the overall numbers dramatically. I do like our bullpen much more than last years.

uglyone - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#253882) #
"We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?"

I'm encouraged that Morrow is trying to work off his offspeed stuff and keep hitters off balance, and impressed by his results this preseason, but I'm not sold at all. I think he'll be better than last year but I'm skeptical he'll really get his ERA completely in line with his peripherals.


"How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other. "

I'm very confident in this kid, especially given how different he is from guys like Morrow and Drabek - namely, because he has amazing command and efficiency, and with his wicked sinker and change, that should be enough to be a very good starter. I think he'll be our 2nd best SP this year.



"Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.)."

I think all 4 of Carreno, McGuire, Jenkins, and Hutch have the possibility of pulling an Alvarez this year, and I don't know which one it will be. I know most are down on Jenkins but I think he had an underrated year last year and with his new/improved changeup this spring he was pretty much dominant.


"In 2011 the Jays graded out as slightly below average in Ultimate Zone Rating and slightly above average in Defensive Runs Saved. How will the teamís defense perform in 2012?"

Average is the best we can hope for here, I think. I think Escobar, Rasmus, Lawrie, project to slightly above average, Bautista and Johnson to average, and Thames, Lind, and JPA to below average.


"Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5 "

no idea. saves depend on the team more than the pitcher, and we have plenty of guys capable of earning saves on this team.


"The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league). "

I think our rotation will perform similar to last year, with a chance at slightly better. Romero probably regresses a bit (but still very good), but Morrow should regress the opposite way and balance that out. A full season of Alvarez should help, but the backend of the rote is still all question marks.

The 'pen should be much better, not only because the backend is improved, but also because we'll be keeping guys like Villy and Perez in relief roles this year where they excel. I also doubt we'll be trading away half our bullpen at the deadline like we did last year.

Overall moderately improved in the runs allowed department, IMO.
Magpie - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 03:06 AM EDT (#253893) #
I confess I've barely thought about baseball these past few months - it's possible I've been distracted by Newcastle's titanic struggle with Chelsea for the fifth spot in the Premier League. Let's assume I'll get interested again. In the meantime, I'll address these here questions:

We asked this last year, but weíll ask it again - is this the year Brandon Morrow finally puts it together, at least in the ERA column?
- Well, seeing as how I pretty much guaranteed this would happen in 2011, I'm a little reluctant to walk down that road again. I do think we'll see some growth, but I don't want to say "he's going to explode on the league." Once bitten, and so on...

How much do you love Henderson Alvarez? A) A lot. B) Like, really a lot. C) He is the greatest thing since sliced Wieters. D) Marry me Henderson. E) Other.
Other. I agree that he'll be very good if - if - he finds a third pitch. But here's the thing - do you have any idea how hard it is to develop a new pitch at this level, while you're trying to deal with major league hitters? I've seen guys try, and fail, for their entire careers (and meanwhile Miguel Batista roams the earth, with more pitches than he can possibly use.)

Speaking of how great is, does anyone pull a Henderson this year? Who is your favourite candidate ( Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, other, etc.).
- Maybe, but I wouldn't have any idea who. I like what I've seen of Carreno, so let's go with him.

Sergio Santos Saves (SSS) over/under: 34.5
- Over, but I'd point out that it's got little to do with how good the team is, and much more to do with how many fairly close games they're involved in. It can be much easier to save 40 games for an 85 win team than for a 105 win team.

The Blue Jays allowed 761 runs in 2011, 6th worst in baseball (4th worst in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).
The total figure will be shaped largely be what happens to overall league offense. Relative to the league, I think any improvement will be slight. I just can't see Romero actually improving on his previous MLB performance for the third straight year. The law of Large Numbers, and just random chance, suggests he'll be off a little bit. And if Morrow doesn't explode on the league... this is one pretty untried and untrue rotation.
2012 Blue Jays Preview: Pitching and Defense | 14 comments | Create New Account
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