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Not enormously interested in the bench, were you. But you've been waiting for this one!

The starting pitchers, boys and girls.

The original group featured:

Ricky Romero
Brandon Morrow
Henderson Alvarez
Kyle Drabek
Joel Carreno (really and truly)

As always, I grade on the following curve:

A - Outstanding (You could be an MVP, and ought to be an All-Star)
B - Good (You too could be an All-Star)
C - Average (You're getting by, there are probably bigger problems)
D - Below Average (You passed. Big deal.)

E - Fail. (You don't belong at this level. Not at this moment anyway - not yet or not anymore)
F - Epic Fail (You need to look for a new line of work.)

Blue Jays Report Card: Fifth Preliminary! | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#263337) #
Ricky Romero- D (not as bad as the ERA, as the bullpen didn't pick him up when he left runners on)
Brandon Morrow- B (would be an A if he threw 180 innings at this level)
Henderson Alvarez-D (he did pitch as bad as, or even worse, than his ERA)
Kyle Drabek- D (he did pitch worse than his ERA)
Joel Carreno- Incomplete

(Drew Hutchison would have been a C or C+)

BalzacChieftain - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#263338) #
Ricky Romero - E - wasn't exactly major league caliber this year.
Brandon Morrow - B - probably an A if he pitched the whole season.
Henderson Alvarez - E - didn't seem quite ready to pitch in the bigs.
Kyle Drabek - E - can't control the injuries, but he didn't provoke much inspiration.
Joel Carreno (really and truly) - E - if anything, a relief role is in his future.

Gerry - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 03:53 PM EDT (#263339) #

Ricky Romero - D

Brandon Morrow - B+ ....... when he was fit.  Obviously we didn't get enough of that level of performance.

Henderson Alvarez - C- .......... I am probably giving him a higher grade due to his youth and my expepctation he will learn to pitch better.  His results were more of a D.

Kyle Drabek - C-

Joel Carreno (really and truly) - E

John Northey - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#263341) #

Ricky Romero: E-: a 74 ERA+ would get you AAA time if not for rep and long term contract, tempted to give an F

Brandon Morrow: B+: Would be an A without injury time if he kept it up (137 ERA+)

Henderson Alvarez: D: Surprised to see his ERA+ is at 87, almost acceptable for a bottom of rotation guy (I put 90 at acceptable, 95 as decent for a 4/5 guy)

Kyle Drabek: D: ERA was OK (93) but his HR/9, BB/9, K/9 all were screaming 'luck!' then he was hurt

Joel Carreno: E-: needed more time to move to an F - no sympathy for a guy who could've been in the rotation had he shown anything
CeeBee - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#263342) #
Romero : D-
Morrow : B
Alvarez : D
Drabek : C-
Carreno : E
whiterasta80 - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 07:23 PM EDT (#263351) #
Romero: E

I still think he is hurt but cant adjust grades based on theory.

Morrow: B-

Like Bautista he gets dinged for health. Definitely optimistic for next year though.

Alvarez: D+

Seemed like he lost some movement and the league caught up with him after the first month. Id like to see more but will take that out of the 5 slot... Just not the 3

Drabek: D

Didnt see any progress from the previous year really. That said he reminds me alot of Chris Carpenter with the raw talent coupled with early career injuries and control issues. Hence Im not ready to give up just yet.

Carreno: E

Never want to see him in the rotation again. Iffy bullpen arm.
hypobole - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 09:02 PM EDT (#263354) #
Romero E-, One of the most brutal years ever by a Jays SP.
Morrow B+, More consistently good than the glimpses in prior years.
Alvarez D-, Should have been in the minors.
Drabek D, Promising April then a downward spiral prior to injury.
Carreno E, took a huge step backward this year. Minimal MLB innings limited his suckage score.
rtcaino - Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 11:20 PM EDT (#263356) #
"(Drew Hutchison would have been a C or C+)"

Tough marker!

Unless he looses points for his elbow breaking on him.
hypobole - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 12:12 AM EDT (#263357) #
Hutch finished with an ERA+ of 94. FWIW, Drabek finished at 93 and Aaron Laffey is at 98. Hutch seemed to be finding some consistency prior to his injury, but even a C seems to be slightly generous for his body of work in the majors,
John Northey - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 12:37 AM EDT (#263358) #
The difference between Hutch, Drabek, and Laffey is the non-luck based stuff.
Pitcher: K/9, BB/9, HR/9 - FIP, xFIP
Hutch: 7.5, 3.1, 1.2 - 4.48, 4.04
Laffey: 4.8, 3.1, 1.5 - 5.42, 4.74
Drabek: 5.9, 5.9, 1.3 - 5.62, 5.08

Hutch is by far the best in K/9, leads in HR/9 and tied with Laffey for BB/9. That leads to a much better FIP and xFIP than the other two. This suggests he took over Morrow's old 'good skills, poor results' role. Now, should this affect marks for this year? Depends on how much you believe in the luck vs non-luck thing I guess. Btw, for guys with double digits in starts he is 3rd for xFIP behind Morrow & Villanueva (Happ was best among all starters).
Oceanbound - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 01:36 AM EDT (#263359) #
Romero: E
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, except he didn't get injured. His ERA did underperform his peripherals, but a 5.10 FIP won't cut it in the majors either. A mystifying season, who knows when or if he will be cured.

Morrow: B
Results are a lot better than in previous seasons, but struck out and walked far less, so his peripherals stayed about the same. Have to ask whether he actually has a new approach, or whether it's small sample size; the injury didn't help. His bouts of inconsistency would have prevented him from getting an A anyway.

Alvarez: E
Provided replacement level performance. Should really have been pitching in the minors. The question of whether Alvarez could continue to be effective with his tiny strikeout rate has been mostly answered. If you can't strike anybody out, you need to limit home runs to have any sort of success, and Alvarez couldn't do that either. Right now there's no way he should be given a spot in next year's rotation.

Drabek: D
Had an encouraging beginning, but then turned back into his old "walk everyone" self. He was easily walking his way to an E until the injury ended his season.

Carreno: F
Fun with tiny sample sizes: Carreno put up a 3.18 HR/9. Of course, he did only have 17 IP. It was really hard to pitch any worse than he did over those innings though.
scottt - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 07:10 AM EDT (#263367) #
Romero E

Reverted to the guy who struggled in the minors.

Morrow A

I' m not decking him for the injury.

Alvarez E

Needs more time in the minors.

Drabek C

He started well, struggled and his arm snapped.

Carreno F

More likely to return in the pen. A trade wouldn't surprise me.
John Northey - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 09:00 AM EDT (#263370) #
Now this I don't get - why so many rank Drabek ahead of Alvarez.

Drabek, literally, walked batters at more than twice the rate Alvarez does. Alvarez: 2.7 BB/9 vs Drabek: 5.9. That is crazy stuff. Their HR/9 is a virtual tie (1.4 vs 1.3) while Drabek K's more (3.3 vs 5.9). Drabek's ERA was slightly better but I'd put that into the 'dumb luck' category over this sample size. Alvarez has a shutout and 9 times went 7+ vs Drabek getting 7+ 2 out of 13 times and never having a game without allowing a run. Twice Drabek walked 6 batters in 6 or fewer innings and both times allowed just 2 runs by some miracle. Alvarez never walked more than 5 (once walked 5).

To me Alvarez is the better pitcher, even though I gave both the same score due to Drabek's slightly lower ERA (in retrospect I probably should've made it a D for Alvarez and D- for Drabek). But to give Alvarez a grade more than 1 notch off Drabek to the bad seems weird to me.
AWeb - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 09:10 AM EDT (#263371) #

Ricky Romero - E. Time to rebuild another pitcher - can they not just end this year for him already (I guess there's not many innings left in the org as a whole to play with)? Results about as bad as a lefty who throws 92 mph and gets righties out can possibly be. Just a terrible year. Control issues for a non-strikeout pircher are a bad, bad thing.

Brandon Morrow - B. Seemed to figure out how to locate a lot better. Still reminds me of Burnett more than anyone. Only guy on the list who I would want starting a meaningful game right now.

Henderson Alvarez - E+. A hard moving fastball is not enough for MLB. Can't strike out anybody. Reminds me of Brandon League. Needs to find, perhaps, less movement on his primary fastball to make a secondary pitch more useful. I don't know, that sounds crazy. But he's young, and shouldn't have been here this year. No control issues (or at least strike-throwing issues) is a huge building block.

Kyle Drabek - E. Also couldn't strike anyone out, or throw strikes. I suspect if his arm can't handle throwing a curveball more (isn't that why he shelved it for the most part), he'll never be any good. Toronto needs to let pitchers throw their best stuff and hope they don't get hurt. At least you might get some good starts out of them before they burst into flames.

Joel Carreno  - E. All I remember is that he didn't seem ready to start and was the backup backup backup plan. Great sign for the opening rotation...

Holy heck, that's a terrible rotation, even on reasonable projections, rather than Romero collapse and injuries.

Mike Green - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 09:12 AM EDT (#263372) #
Personally, I take a middle road on the runs allowed/fielding independent issue with progressively more weight being attached to runs allowed over a period of seasons. 

I guess the notion with Drabek is that he was pitching much better until his injury recurred and he tried to pitch through it.  I don't buy it- durability is a key issue and especially for pitchers. 

Mike Green - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 09:54 AM EDT (#263374) #
Is about 5 runs a game a "fail" for a starter?  Phil Hughes had a FIP of 4.74, Bruce Chen 4.89, Jeremy Hellickson 4.94, and Ervin Santana 5.56.  Personally, I set the benchmarks roughly for D, E and F at roughly 5, 5.75 and 6.5. 
greenfrog - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 11:06 AM EDT (#263376) #
To me, these quotes make it pretty clear that the Jays are unlikely to re-sign Villanueva (from the team website). You don't put this stuff on the record unless you're already starting to gently placate the fan base in advance of his departure via FA.


"Obviously, part of the criteria, and that's not to take anything away from him, but that's the unknown with Carlos," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "He has never had 200 innings, he's never had 32 or 34 starts. I think we'd all say we love what we see with what he has done for us. He's a great teammate and all of those things, but we've only had bits and pieces of him starting."

Those bits and pieces included last season, when Villanueva made 13 starts but eventually had to go back to the bullpen following a stint on the disabled list with a right forearm strain.

He trained as a starter this offseason, though, and it looks like it has paid off. But manager John Farrell and Anthopoulos have consistently said they aren't sure how Villanueva will hold up over an entire season in the rotation, and Farrell has expressed a desire to see him go deeper into games.

Villanueva has only gone more than six innings and thrown more than 100 pitches four times this season.

Whether the Blue Jays are being overly protective with him or see signs of fatigue in the later innings remains to be seen, but they only have a few weeks left to come to a conclusion before he hits the market.

"We don't have enough information, but that's not to say we don't like him or don't want him back," Anthopoulos said.

"I don't want to doubt him. But I also have to be objective and realistic too. It's more how do you value a player. ... We've seen a lot of starters do well for two or three months and then the second half of the season the workload and all of that ends up having an impact. That's the unknown, and there's not enough time left in the season to have Carlos be a starter from Day 1 to see the body of work.

"But off the sample we have now, it has been great."
Oceanbound - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#263380) #
Is about 5 runs a game a "fail" for a starter?  Phil Hughes had a FIP of 4.74, Bruce Chen 4.89, Jeremy Hellickson 4.94, and Ervin Santana 5.56.  Personally, I set the benchmarks roughly for D, E and F at roughly 5, 5.75 and 6.5.

I know you know this, but Jeremy Hellickson has always vastly outperformed his FIP, so bringing him up is sort of disingenuous. But more to the point, the average AL starter has a 4.32 FIP. A 5 would thus be significantly below average, probably enough to classify as a fail.
Mike Green - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#263381) #
It's harsh, to my mind.  Teams typically use 7-8 starters in a year.  The average performance for a 1-3 starter is (obviously)  a lot better than 5.  The average performance for a 4-6 starter is probably a little less than 5, and for the 7-8 starters, it's undoubtedly quite a bit worse.  A team (obviously)  is not likely to succeed if four of their starting pitchers pitch like slightly below average #4 starters and the other throws 100 innings of good ball, but it seems to me harsh to describe that as "fail".  To put it another way, I had huge issue with sending out Romero or Alvarez out for more innings, but sending out Adam Lind to bat clean-up against a LHP is a whole other story. 

Now, I do see an epic fail in the bullpen. 

Oceanbound - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#263382) #
I guess I should add that I don't really agree with Magpie's definition for an F, because I don't think anybody who's played in the majors this season is someone who shouldn't be playing baseball for a living. Even Jonathan Sanchez. My F is more like "watching this guy play baseball has been a bad life experience".
John Northey - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#263383) #
4.40 is the AL average ERA for starters right now. I tend to view 4.5 as 'acceptable', sub-4 as 'very good', and sub-3 as 'woohoo'. 5+ gets me nervous and 5.5 and up is 'screw this, get another guy in here'.

I've suspected most of the season that Romero is hiding an injury - playing through it due to the massive injury plague the Jays have had. In his first 6 starts he walked 3 or less every game with a 3.64 ERA. His next 4 were all 4+ walks each but just a 4.24 ERA. Next 4 were all sub-3 walks but somehow he had a 5.48 ERA and won all 4 games (22 baserunners, 17 runs - horrid luck). After that he has gone 2-13 with a 7.67 ERA 52 BB vs 49 SO in 78 2/3 IP. Could he have decided, after every baserunner he allowed seemed to score for a stretch, that he needed to be perfect thus screwing up his mechanics? Impossible for us to say. It is interesting though.
Richard S.S. - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#263384) #

Ricky Morrow wasn't as effective early this season as he should be.  From that point forward, he gradually, exponentially, became terrible.  He has no idea how to fix what's wrong - little idea of what's actually wrong.  Knowing Romero's reported makeup, I don't believe he figures it out this offseason.   He may not fall totally out of Baseball (as is possible), but I don't think he's more than a # 3 Starter (I use this for reference) , at his best, for the balance of his career.  He could be possibly worse.

Brandon Morrow is a top # 2 Starter.  He's shown enough for us to know he's a front-of-the-rotation type Pitcher.   He'll fight with A.A.'s acquisition (top #2 / borderline #1 Starter) for the Number One position on our staff.  They won't block any young pitchers coming up.  If a Prospect is good enough to pitch at this level, he'll show it.  Keep the #1s and #2s, and trade the rest.  This team's biggest problem is having Pitchers with inning limits.  If they can't get their pitchcount up to 200+ innings in the minors, why bring them up (baring injuries).

Kyle Drabek apparently has a delivery problem (two Tommy Johns) that needs to be sorted before he's back.  (I don't believe in bringing a less than totally effective pitcher back before 16+ months after surgery).  He's shown he's an effective #4/5 Starter, and should continue to do so.

Henderson Alvarez pitchers well with just two pitches.  The problem is, a third good pitch is needed for him to be effective.  He could become a #2/top 3 Starter as soon as next year, if he improves.  Depending on A.A's acqusitions, he may be fighting for a spot on the Rotation next season.  Right now I think he might be better than Romero.

A guy named Who?.  A.A.'s biggest mistake last offseason was his unwillingness to pay the price for what he needed.  He does that this offseason, he must be re-evaluated as to his long term status with this team.


Dave Till - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#263388) #
Ricky Romero: D-
My belief is that he crashed and burned because he was too heavily burdened by the weight of his own expectations. When Morrow and everybody else went down, he felt compelled to step it up a notch, and then lost the plot completely. The comparison with the 1986 Dave Stieb is also relevant, I think: both pitchers lost just a bit off their stuff, and it was enough to completely throw them off. Romero still has quality stuff, at least some of the time, so there's hope that he can regain his form if given a chance to just hide in the shadows for a bit.

Brandon Morrow: B+
Would grade higher if he had stayed healthy. For some reason, he reminds me of Juan Guzman - a tremendous talent who hasn't completely mastered the craft of pitching. From what I've heard, both Morrow and Guzman are/were thoughtful, coachable players who might have been better off just winding up and throwing it in there.

Henderson Alvarez: D-
He doesn't have enough pitches - hitters have figured him out. He throws hard, but his numbers right now resemble those of Josh Towers. This is not good.

Kyle Drabek: Incomplete
He's one of many. The minors are filled with pitchers who haven't mastered command or proven that they can handle a starter's workload without arm damage. These are the two requirements for major league success - and, at present, young Mister Drabek is 0 for 2.

Joel Carreno: Whatever
The Jays brought up about 38 pitchers who threw about 10 ineffective innings before being sent out on the Vegas shuttle. He was one of them, I guess. I can't tell them apart. I hereby dub them all Carpenters, as there are already two of those. There's David Carpenter, Drew Carpenter, Joel Carpenter, Evan Carpenter, and Scott Carpenter (no relation to the astronaut). And - wait for it - "we've only just begun". (You see what I did there?)
Magpie - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#263390) #
[Alvatrez'] numbers right now resemble those of Josh Towers. This is not good.

Now there's a comparison that never occurred to me! Towers career WHIP was 1.381 and Alvarez is at 1.380, which is an intriguing place to start. Alvarez ERA and ERA+ is a bit better (4.55, 95) than Towers (4.95, 92). The one thing Alvarez does better than Towers? Keep the ball in the park - it's actually one of his weaknesses as a pitcher but 1.3 per 9 is still better than 1.5 per 9. Towers struck out more batters (4.8 to 4.0) and walked even fewer (1.5 to 2.2).
grjas - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 09:48 PM EDT (#263405) #
"the Jays are unlikely to re-sign Villanueva".

I find AA's attitude on Villaneuva concerning. Not that i think that carlos is the second coming of strasbourg, but this is a team with queation markas at all 5 starting positions (sure morrow has the least concerns, but he has yet to put up a full, big season). In a sellers market for starters, strikes me as naive that AA thinks he can execute on 2 or 3 starters better than carlos for a last place team in Canada with a cheap owner.
John Northey - Thursday, September 13 2012 @ 10:27 PM EDT (#263407) #
There are various reasons for AA to be talking like he is. Villanueva was fungible just a year ago - a mediocre reliever who was an emergency starter. K/9 dropped from a career high of 11.4 to 5.7 in his first year here. This year his BB/9 is higher than his career average, his HR/9 is also higher than his career (1.3 vs 1.2), while his K/9 is up by one (8.8 vs 7.8). Those stats suggest a solid pitcher as a starter, decent in the pen. $5 mil a year isn't unreasonable, but would be as far as you'd go if you felt he'd spend a big chunk in the pen. If you feel he can start then the value goes up as high as $10 million. 3 years would be as far as I'd consider as well, 2 ideally with an option.

What is Villanueva asking/expecting? With the year he's had he might be able to get 3 years/$30 mil or even 4/$40 from someone. Given the silly money some teams have (Texas, Dodgers, Anaheim) he might get even more. If I was his agent I'd be pushing for 4/$40 to avoid free agency, and wouldn't accept less than 3/$30. Baring injury or a really poor September I suspect he'll get it and whoever gets him might be disappointed by mid-2013 or might be very happy. AA won't take that kind of risk. He wants cheap and potential or if he spends he wants established value. Villy is still at potential level until he has a full year as a starter, thus unless cheap AA won't sign him.
Richard S.S. - Friday, September 14 2012 @ 12:57 AM EDT (#263411) #

As I wrote in the Relievers thread, Villanueva is doing everything in his power to sour his relationship with the Team. 

I could, prior to this, see him get 3 years w/wo option(s) and $6.0 - $7.0 MM per year, to do the job he's been doing.  He's an ideal longman in the Bullpen and #6 or #7 Starter.   Now I wouldn't make an offer for another innings-limited Pitcher again.  They place too much strain on the Bullpen.  Give me 5 Starters who can pitch 200+ innings or 32-34 starts.  Villanueva isn't good enough to make an exception.

greenfrog - Friday, September 14 2012 @ 07:54 AM EDT (#263413) #
As I wrote in the Relievers thread, Villanueva is doing everything in his power to sour his relationship with the Team.

Right, his 124 ERA+ is making everyone else look bad. No one likes the guy who messes with the bell curve.

Give me 5 Starters who can pitch 200+ innings or 32-34 starts.

You mean, more meat-and-potatoes SPs like Romero and Alvarez?
grjas - Friday, September 14 2012 @ 05:41 PM EDT (#263446) #
Yeah that's the problem. I'd love 5 meat and potatoes 200+ innings pitchers too. Right now, it's not clear we have more than 1. Agree with the comment we may have to over pay to keep him, but likely the case with any SP. the question is can AA really find 2 or 3 pitchers better than CV thru trades or signings. Suspect it will be tough.

Based on the media war of words, looks like now, that's his only option. Sigh.
John Northey - Friday, September 14 2012 @ 05:48 PM EDT (#263447) #
If Villanueva is for real in his 13 starts this year then here is what you'd get...
1) 6 IP per start (his exact average), 5-7 per start
2) A 3.58 ERA

That is very good production, worth roughly (based on Fangraphs) $5 mil for his 13 starts plus relief suggesting a $10-15 mil a year rate is the max he'd be worth.
panz04er - Wednesday, September 19 2012 @ 12:56 PM EDT (#263596) #
Joel Carreno has looked a lot better in bullpen than as a starter. Career ERA as a starter is 9.00 (9IP/9ER) and is 1.88 as a reliever (24IP/5ER).  Better K/9 as a reliever (6.75 v 6), lower BB/9 (3.38 v 6) and lower H/9 (6.38 v 11), and a lower WHIP as a reliever (1.08 vs 1.89).
Blue Jays Report Card: Fifth Preliminary! | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.