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We're not happy.

Well, vengeance is mine. Vengeance, and retribution. For the day of disaster is near at hand, and doom is coming quickly.


Could be. Let's find out.

Here's what the grades mean to me:

A - Outstanding
B - Good
C - Average
D - Below Average
E - Fail
F - Epic Fail

As always, a great many fellows wore the uniform for a period so brief that even I, unrepentant champion of the small sample size, have nothing to say about it. This time around the INC for Incomplete goes to Andy LaRoche, Mike Nickeas, Ryan Langerhans, Edgar Gonzalez, Jeremy Jeffress, Ricky Romero, Thad Weber, Mickey Storey, Luis Perez, Dave Bush, Aaron Laffey, Kyle Drabek, Justin Germano, and Sean Nolin. Jeffress was lights-out in September, but lots of guys have pitched well for 9.1 innings. Romero needs a fresh start somewhere else. Drabek and Perez spent most of the year rehabbing from injury, and just making it back to a major league mound was enough of an accomplishment (although Drabek's 35-6 K/W ratio in 43 minor league innings got my attention.)  Nolin got mugged in his only major league appearance but pitched very well in New Hampshire and Buffalo.

We begin with the guys who don't play...

John Gibbons D-
I am uncomfortable about this grade, which I suspect is an instance of Generosity Run Amok. As you all know, the Magpie is a tender-hearted creature, of infinite forgiveness. But I have an uncomfortable precedent to deal with here. In 2009, Cito Gaston managed a team that was supposed to lose 90 games to a 75-87 record. For which I gave him an E. Well, John Gibbons' 2013 team was supposed to win 90 games, and they couldn't even match that non-performance. You see my dilemma? I can't think of anything good to say about Gibbons' work in 2013. The best I can offer is that I don't think Gibbons did anything to make the situation worse (unlike Gaston in 2009.) Obviously he didn't do anything to make things better, but that's not what he was hired to do. This was the wrong type of team and season for what Gibbons brings to the table. Whatever that is...

Alex Anthopoulos D
It really wasn't a bad strategy - it certainly made much more sense than what he tried the year before. There was indeed every reason to believe that the team would have good starting pitching. Before they started actually playing the games, there was giddy speculation that Anthopoulos may have assembled the best starting rotation in franchise history. It didn't work out that way. Stuff happens. In this case, lots of stuff happened. The bigger concerns are the ongoing problems with helping young men graduate into contributing major leaguers, and helping them get better once they've done that. That certainly isn't one of this organization's strengths. And clearly, this organization has a serious problem when it comes to keeping players healthy, These issues make one wonder if there's something fundamentally wrong with how this organization does things. It's one thing for the Yankees to have injury problems - the Yankees lineup includes a multitude of elderly athletes, some of whom peaked more than fifteen years ago. That doesn't apply here. I sometimes think it might be helpful for Anthopoulos to make use of some of the game's traditional, if often conventional, wisdom. He's got the new thinking covered , but this year he assembled a team with no apparent recognition of the fact that defense matters. Which is something any grizzled old school baseball lifer would have growled in a heartbeat, while spitting some tobacco juice on your shoes. One assumes that some of these issues will be addressed this winter.  They had better be. Anthopoulos has still fielded exactly one winning team since taking the reins, and that was the team he inherited (and promptly stripped of its best player.) If a little discontent, a little impatience, is beginning to manifest itself, all one can say is why wouldn't it? 

Edwin Encarnacion A
Ended up on the DL, because that appears to come with wearing the uniform. Was anyone worried that 2012 was a fluke? If you were, worry no more. He was obviously the team's MVP, their best player, and no one else is even in the conversation. His 2013 season was almost exactly like the his 2012 season. I thought  he did a better job running the bases this time around. That's about the only difference. He's not a good first baseman, of course. But neither was Carlos Delgado, and while I value defense at this position more than most people, if you can hit like Encanacion or Delgado, I'm willing to live with sub-par defense...

Adam Lind B+
Adam Lind had the sixth best OPS in the entire American League against RH pitchers (behind Davis, Ortiz, Cabrera, Trout, and Cano.)  What happened? Well, Lind has had two problems these last three years. One of them is the very existence of LH pitchers, and there isn't much anyone can do about that. Lind had some success against them early in 2013, so Gibbons gave him a chance to show that it wasn't a fluke. But it was a fluke, and Gibbons quickly stopped exposing Lind to the sinister fellows. (He made just 16 starts against LH pitchers.) Lind's other problem has been the lengthy slumps he falls into. Slumps happen to everyone, but Lind's tend to drag on and on for two or three months. In the past, Lind has always responded to his struggles by expanding his strike zone, as if being more aggressive would solve his problem. It never did - his walks would drop to essentially nothing, he'd hit even less, and he'd expand his zone some more. This year's slump hit in July (.195/.263/.356) and what Lind did this August was different and interesting. He became much more selective than he normally is. He drew more walks than usual, he stopped driving the ball entirely, and just scratched out a few singles. It wasn't pretty, but it worked - rather than falling deeper into the abyss, he was able to arrest his decline, fight his way out of the slump, and start pounding the ball again in September. So maybe he's figured out something about himself. In other news, Lind has improved as a first baseman, and while he could never be described as good I think he's a little better than Encarnacion now. This is actually relevant because Lind hit quite a bit better when he was in the lineup at first base than when he was the DH (it made no difference at all to Encarnacion.) So ideally, against RH pitchers, I'd want to see Lind at 1B and Encarnacion at DH; against LH pitchers, I'd want Encarnacion at 1B and Reyes/Cabrera at DH.

Jose Bautista B+
Ended up on the DL and obviously missing more than a month of the season reduces his value. Bautista isn't Brett Lawrie, but he plays hard, and he's getting to the age where that begins to work against him a little. Gibbons tried batting him second for much of the season. This apparently makes good sabermetric sense, but I didn't much like it (and neither did Bautista, apparently.) Anyway, in 59 games in the 2 hole, Bautista hit .252/.332/.488; he hit .267/.385/.510 in 59 games (oh, happy coincidence!) batting 3rd. While that's probably just random happenstance, we've seen signs that Bautista takes this stuff seriously. You may remember that before Baustista had established himself as a great HR hitter, Cito Gaston tried him out as a leadoff hitter (Bautista being the only guy in sight with decent on-base skills.) Bautista dutifully worked very hard at getting on base, drew almost a walk per game, but didn't hit at all (.163/.327/.256). In other words, I think that when Bautista was batting second, he tried - just a little, and probably not even consciously - to do the things that two-hole hitters are supposed to do, like advance the runner. It's just his baseball DNA.

Aaron Loup B+
The team's hardest working relief pitcher also turned out to be its most effective. He's got a huge platoon split, which should be obvious to anyone after you've seen him throw one or two pitches. Pitchers who throw from that angle always have huge platoon splits. It wasn't obvious to John Gibbons for some reason, who chose Brett Cecil as the LHP who needed to shielded from RH batters. Which was not entirely unreasonable, as Cecil has developed a pretty significant platoon split of his own these last few years. Anyway, while Loup dominated LH batters (.200/.286/.220), RH batters had themselves a much better time of it (.299/.325/.461)

Sergio Santos B
Spent almost three months on the DL, but was utterly awesome when he returned. From mid-August forward until the final weekend, over 15 appearances, he allowed exactly one baserunner - that's right, one - and even that was a walk to the NL's RBI leader, Paul Goldschmidt, with first base open and one out. (Santos then got the inning-ending double play four pitches later.) He obviously has a chance to be the team's best relief pitcher. On the other hand, he's pitched less than 30 innings in his two years with the team so he's still not someone you'd want to count on.

Colby Rasmus B
Spent a month on the DL. Rasmus' season was obviously something of a fluke. I like lucky players - it's just that you can't count on them staying lucky. Rasmus had a .356 BABiP this past season, which is extremely unusual. No matter who you are. And when you remember that Rasmus had a career .287 average on his balls in play coming into 2013, it seems extremely unlikely that he'll be able to do it again.  I won't be holding my breath, at any rate. He's still a good player, though, and the team might want to consider giving him some more time off. Maybe that way he can avoid his annual injury.

Jose Reyes B
Spent almost two months on the DL and all the leg injuries are beginning to seriously compromise his raw speed, which was pretty awesome a few years ago. Now, to Reyes' considerable surprise, he's finding himself getting thrown out on the basepaths on plays where he probably expected to be safe quite easily. His first step quickness is also fading, which is a problem for a middle infielder. I'd really like the team to find a permanent caddy for him, so that he could DH at least once every home stand and get his wheels off the damn turf. I'd also like to see him position himself a little deeper in the field. He's still got a fabulous arm, which would allow him to take the Ripken approach to playing short. Meanwhile, of course, there is nothing wrong with his bat.

Brett Lawrie B
Opened the season on the DL, played hurt for a while, and went back on the DL. I spent much of the first half of this season musing that Lawrie might be no more than the next Aurelio Rodriguez, and brooding about how his career arc seemed to be matching that of Jeff Francoeur. So what Lawrie did when he returned in the second half of the season (.279/.340/.408)  was something of a relief, even if it's not quite what we're really hoping to see from him. We also need to see him avoid the DL and play well for a whole year. He's still just 23 years old. The grade is basically an A for the glove and a C for the bat.

Dustin McGowan B
Dustin certainly pitched very well when he was out there, but  he was used so sparingly it's hard to know what it means. If anything.

Casey Janssen B
In some way, Janssen is the ideal closer. After all, while he had a good season, there were still times when he seemed more like the fourth best relief pitcher on the team. Which in turn meant that better pitchers than he (Cecil and Delabar in the first half, Santos and McGowan in the second half) were the ones who were getting many of the higher leverage opportunities in the 7th and 8th innings. Leaving  the 9th inning to Janssen, who is a good, reliable relief pitcher - and one who has established himself in the closer's role sufficiently that his teammates believe in him. As I trust we all understand, there's a reason that managers hate to lose games in the ninth inning with anyone but their closer on the mound. The second guessing from the fans and media is mostly an irritation, but the second guessing from the players can be fatal. Anyway, Janssen was steady and dependable from the first week of the season to the last. Unlike the next two guys.

Brett Cecil B
Over the first three months, posted an ERA of 1.54, and for some weird reason was invited to the All-Star Game. Over the last three months, posted an ERA of 5.49 and ended up on the DL. Cecil has always had big platoon splits; as noted above, Gibbons protected Cecil from RH batters to such a degree that Cecil actually faced almost as many LH batters as righties. LH batters hit .191 against him, RH batters just .212; however all 4 HRs he allowed were to RH batters, and he managed to walk 19 of the 127 RH batters he faced (he walked just 4 of of the 123 LH batters he saw.)

Steve Delabar B
Over the first three months, posted an ERA of 1.62, and for some weird reason was invited to the All-Star Game. Over the last three months, posted an ERA of 6.41 and spent most of August on the DL. I was really impressed by Delabar after he came over in 2012, and his first half didn't surprise me at all. I'm not sure what went wrong, but we do know he was still out there pitching even though his arm was starting to bother him. To which, we can all say, and with gusto - "what the hell for?"

Chad Jenkins B-
Seems to be emerging as the David Cooper of the Jays' pitching prospects - someone who gets absolutely no respect, of whom very little is expected, but manages to play better than people getting much more hype. (Let's hope some weird, career-threatening injury doesn't bite him.) No one believes in him very much, but I always figure that if the guy is doing the job, you let him do the job. Don't let the fact that you don't think he should be able to do the job get in the way. Maybe he knows something you don't know.

Moises Sierra B-
Still not quite sure to make of him, as he's making a habit of doing the unexpected. After hitting just .289 in Las Vegas, I didn't think he'd be hitting .290 in the American League a year later. After drawing just 16 walks in 100 games at Buffalo this year, I didn't think he'd draw 14 walks in 34 games for Toronto. Is it that AAA pitchers have superior control? Doubtful. But they're probably easier to hit and Sierra was ending his at bats sooner by putting the ball in play. Last year, I said he seemed to be a kind of George Bell-lite. This year, I'd like to point out that it took Bell years and years to devolve into this bad a defensive player. So Sierra's certainly a step ahead of the original in one area.

R.A. Dickey C+
There appears to have a lengthy, and difficult, adjustment to the new league, the new home park, the new defense.  He went 6-8, 5.15 over his first 16 starts, when he may also have been pitching through some physical discomfort. But adjust he did, going 8-5, 3.46 the rest of the way. I think he should be be fine next year, but I don't expect him to ever contend for a Cy Young again. While knuckleballers have been known to last a long time, they don't always. They can also be pretty erratic from year to year in their baseball dotage. Dickey will be 39 next year - Phil Niekro's ERA+ at ages 39-41 was 142, 119, 102; Joe Niekro went 109, 91, 93; Tim Wakefield went 103, 100, 112; Tom Candiotti went 108, 94, 64 and was done.

Mark Buehrle C+
It's impressive what you can accomplish when you know what you're doing. Like a lot of pitchers who don't have impressive fastballs, Buehrle has learned to do everything else that can possibly help him. As everyone knows, Buehrle is one of the finest fielding pitchers in the majors. He also - practically alone on this staff - takes away the opposition's running game. Opposing base stealers managed just 4 SB against 5 CS this year, which is a typical Buehrle season. (Among the others - Dickey does an outstanding job of holding runners, but he throws an 80 mph pitch that is difficult to catch, which enables the guys who do run on him to do so pretty successfully. Johnson, Redmond, and Happ were all horrid - a combined 28 SB against 1 CS. In the pen, Janssen and Loup are tough to run on. McGowan is famously terrible at holding runners, and Santos, Perez, Lincoln, and Cecil weren't much better.) I'm sure some of you have noticed that Buehrle has scuffled in his own division- this season he was 2-8, 5.20 against AL East teams, 10-2, 3.29 against everyone else. He was actually just fine in his five starts against the Red Sox (2-1, 3.31) - it was the other three teams that made his life miserable (0-7, 6.02), despite one strong start against Tampa and two good ones against the Yankees.

Todd Redmond  C
The Jays might have stumbled onto someone useful here - he was better than both Rogers and Happ, never mind Johnson and Morrow. Redmond was drafted even later than noted 38th round pick Mark Buehrle, having been selected by Pittsburgh in the 39th round back in 2004. The Pirates traded him to Atlanta just as he was reaching AA. The Braves soon pegged him as a Josh Towers type, a RH pitcher with superior control and an inferior fastball.  Like Towers, Redmond was always willing to challenge any hitter any time, and like all such pitchers, he gave up more than a few home runs. Redmond never quite had Towers' control, but unlike Towers he did have a genuine third pitch that represented a change of speeds. The Braves obviously didn't believe those tools would play at the major league level but they did think he was a fine guy to have at AAA. So Redmond spent years and years in Gwinnett County, on the outskirts of Atlanta, watching Beachy and Medlen and Hanson and Venters and Kimbrel leave him behind on their way to the show. Redmond himself was called up a couple of times, and returned to the minors before actually getting into a game. But in 2012 - this is crucial - he suddenly added a few mph to his fastball velocity. It didn't make much of an impression on the Braves, who by now must have felt pretty sure that they already knew what they had in him. Needing infield help in mid-season, they traded him to Cincinnati. He finally got to appear in a major league game with the Reds. As always, he was instantly sent back to the minors and the Reds cut him loose when the season was over. He spent most of the past spring with the Orioles until the Jays claimed him on waivers, presumably to provide what he had always provided before - organizational depth. Except he wasn't quite the guy everyone thought he was anymore.

Mark DeRosa C
Not bad for a 25th guy. As a hitter, he's basically J.P. Arencibia in a good year - except with three times as many walks. He's not really a good defender anywhere at this stage, but at least he knows how you're supposed to play his various positions. On this team, that counts for something.

Juan Perez C
Spent almost the last two months on the DL. Too bad - in his old age, Perez discovered a two pitch combination - a very hard sinker and a slider - that basically made him unhittable for about an inning. Unfortunately, he was asked to become a multi-inning pitcher, something he hadn't been in at least six years. Just as he was starting to lose his effectiveness in this unaccustomed role, his elbow blew up.

Darren Oliver C-
Spent three weeks on the DL back in May and June. As Mick Jagger once observed, time waits for no one, and while it gave Oliver the benefit of the doubt for a long time indeed, it couldn't last forever. That said, he was hardly bad. He was merely Ordinary, and since returning to the AL in 2007 at age 36, he'd been assorted shades of Outstanding.

Anthony Gose C-
I think some patience is going to be required, by the fans, by the organization, and by Gose himself. It may take this guy a while. He's a wonderful athlete, with lots of talent. But he doesn't really know how to apply that talent and athleticism to playing baseball. (That's right - he doesn't know how to play the game.) I'd stick with him, though. While I think he'll be a late bloomer, I think it'll be worth the wait.

Neil Wagner C-
Looked good for a while there, and should probably be able to serve as your generic Relief Pitcher. His month-by-month ERAs were 2.45, 6.35, 2.92, 7.11 so maybe there's something going on with his biorhythms.

Rajai Davis D+
He didn't irritate me nearly as much this season, possibly because he was used much more often in the roles to which he's best suited.  He can steal bases more or less at will, which is a useful thing to bring off the bench. And he can hurt LH pitching, so he'd be useful as part of a platoon. (It's too bad he doesn't play the same position as Adam Lind, or vice versa.) He's presumably gone off in search of a full-time job somewhere. Good luck with that. He doesn't play centre field well enough to justify keeping his bat in the lineup every day, let alone one of the corner positions.

J.A. Happ D
Spent three months on the DL, but we're just happy he got out of there alive. Happ went 5-7, 4.56 this season - his evil twin Esmil Rogers was 4-7, 4.89 as a starter. (Those two sets of numbers, by the way, were almost identical before Happ came up with his best start of the season on the final weekend. Just to mess me up, no doubt.) While it's probably true that the most significant difference between these two guys is that one of them is left-handed and one of them isn't - I think Happ is the opposite of Esmil Rogers, I think Happ really does have a repertoire that is best suited to starting. He just doesn't have a starter's command, or any of the assorted secondary skills that go with the job. Which makes him something of a tweener.

Esmil Rogers D+
I don't believe in him, not as a starting pitcher. Not yet, anyway. I don't think Rogers has enough in the toolbox to make it as a full-time starter. He has something closer to a  reliever's repertoire. His secondary pitches come and go. But I like his arm and  I like him on the mound. If he gets to the point where his secondary pitches become more reliable, and if he finds a catcher who knows how to work with him from one game to the next....I know, I know. If, if, if.

Ryan Goins D
You may have noticed that Goins drew just 2 walks in more than 100 plate appearances in the majors. It's because AL pitchers aren't messing around with him - they're just challenging him with fastballs. There's little reason to do anything else, so it's unlikely he'll ever walk as much as he did in the minors. Not that he was walking a whole lot down there, anyway. It does suggest that it'll be a real struggle for him to manage an OPS of more than .600 in the majors. Still, on this team, I'd probably be willing to put up with a non-hitter - and Goins does look a lot like the new Johnny Mac - if I was getting a genuine defensive whiz at a key defensive position.

Munenori Kawasaki D
He can fill in defensively, he chips in a little with the bat. And shucks, people just like having him around. There's a role for a guy like that on a major league bench.

Melky Cabrera D-
Spent the last two months of the season on the DL, after missing almost a month earlier in the year. I have no idea what to expect from a tumour-free, PED-free Cabrera next year, and neither does anyone else. I'll say this, though - Esteban Loaiza's wife had a tumour on her spine back when Voldemort was a Blue Jay, and she spent most of her time in Toronto in a wheelchair. 

Brad Lincoln D-
Walked almost as many batters as Casey Janssen and Aaron Loup combined. Which is the heart of his problem.

Kevin Pillar D-
Didn't hit as much as was hoped, and it's not like we were hoping for a lot. Fortunately, he was able to break off his career-commencing oh-fer before it reached career shattering, Rich Dauer-like dimensions. But even so, he still hit just .247/.297/.400 afterwards, which isn't going to cut it in left field. He was better against LH, but not to the degree that it would be worth finding a platoon arrangement for him. And I think I'd want a little more from a fourth outfielder. So he's still got some work to do.

Macier Izturis E
Spent the final 6 weeks on the DL. I think we just saw him go over the cliff - I think he's finished as a useful major leaguer. He's a DFA candidate to me. I'd rather have Goins or Kawasaki on next year's team than this guy.

Brandon Morrow E
Spent the last four months on the DL. Sigh. I like Morrow, but my goodness... It's always something with this guy. This year? Well, apparently Morrow fell in love with his new cutter and threw too many of them. Different pitches are tough on the throwing arm in different ways, remembering that everything is tough on the shoulder. Sliders tend to eat up the elbow - throwing a slider is a little like throwing a nice football spiral. But you're not supposed to throw a baseball that way, and it's the elbow that generally objects the loudest. Whereas a cut fastball puts a lot of strain on the forearm. This is something you can quickly discover for yourself by trying to throw one. You're throwing a fastball with an off-center grip, and the forearm tends to automatically compensate to maintain your grasp on the ball. The cutter comes naturally to some pitchers, and the rest quite often hurt their forearms until they figure out how to do it.

Ramon Ortiz E
Spent the last three months on the DL, and I'll bet you he's furiously rehabbing away right now.  You have to love this guy. He's 40 years old. He's earned more than $16 million dollars playing baseball. That's a lot of money, folks, especially if you're a barber from the Dominican Republic. And yet he's spent most of the last five years of his life riding buses in the minor leagues. The only possible explanation is that he simply loves playing baseball. Which was made obvious to all of us as we looked on at his naked pain and distress when it looked like the game was being taken away from him forever last June. No, I wouldn't want him on my major league team either, but I sure wouldn't mind having him around, one way or another.

Josh Johnson E
Spent most of the last two months on the DL, after losing a month earlier in the season. What a disaster that was. For the team, and for the player. Just how much did this season cost Josh Johnson, anyway? $ 60 million? $70 million? I've speculated that Johnson was going through The Change of Life, which happens often to RH power pitchers around the age of 30. Their stuff changes just enough that the way they've pitched before is no longer effective, and it takes them some time to adjust and learn to how to get batters out with what they now have. I believe that what Johnson has left is quite good enough - I think he just hasn't figured out how to use it, and his frequent injuries aren't making the adjustment process any easier. I expect he'll be an effective pitcher again, and it could very well happen as soon as next year. But I sure wouldn't want to be counting on it. 

J.P. Arencibia F
Only three of his teammates made more plate appearances, which is unusual for a catcher - only one other AL catcher ranked higher on his own team in number of plate appearances and that man (Carlos Santana) made 70 starts at DH or 1B. I said last year that Arencibia was more likely to improve defensively than as a hitter. The defensive improvement didn't happen in 2013, and just for good measure he led the league in errors and passed balls (this last despite making just one start with Dickey on the mound.) Meanwhile, as a hitter, he seems to be going backward with all possible speed. This was an historically awful season, one that actually strained credulity. There simply can't have been very many major league teams in the last 50 years that have had a player this awful in their starting lineup. The 1962 Mets didn't have anyone this bad. Arencibia scored only 24 runs this season when he wasn't driving himself in. On the road, he hit an unfathomable .147/.185/.269, which is... well, I don't know what it is. It's a phenomena quite outside my experience. More than 20 major league teams received more offensive production from their backup catcher than the Jays got from Arencibia, and Arencibia is only in the majors because of his bat.  I suppose the Yankees and White Sox had catching situations as generally distressing as Toronto's, but beyond that I can identify just five teams where Arencibia could have made the roster as a reserve catcher: Baltimore, Miami, St Louis, Milwaukee, and Colorado. And yet, and yet, and yet... as bad as he was, as questionable as his very presence on a major league roster was - his backups were even worse.

Emilio Bonifacio F
Evidently his baseball talent was confiscated by some over-zealous customs official and only returned to him when he went off to Kansas City. Not that it was all that impressive to start with.

Josh Thole F
Did a better job throwing out opposing baserunners than Arencibia, despite the fact that Arencibia got to catch almost all of Buehrle's innings and Thole got to catch almost all of Dickey's. Hey, I wanted to say something good about his season.

Chien-Ming Wang F
Wang hasn't pitched well in the major leagues since he hurt himself five years ago, but I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. It worked about as well as most desperate measures - AL batters hit .351/.398/.553 against Wang in 2013. That's right - he turned everyone into Mike Trout. Could have been worse, I guess. He could have turned them into Miguel Cabrera.

Henry Blanco F
I don't understand why he opened the season with the team, either. Of course, after seeing Thole play for the last three months I suppose it didn't matter nearly as much as we all thought it did at the time.
Blue Jays Report Card | 69 comments | Create New Account
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China fan - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 07:52 AM EDT (#279471) #
Excellent stuff, Magpie. One small quibble: it's not really accurate to say that Anthopoulos "stripped" the Jays of their best player in 2009, is it? He had little choice on the Halladay situation, and didn't exactly choose to "strip" the team of its best player. He had to make the best of a bad situation, and as for the players he acquired in the trade: the jury is still out.
Mike D - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 07:54 AM EDT (#279472) #
Excellent stuff, Magpie.

I think a D-minus is about right for Gibbons, although the in-way-over-his-head Pete Walker would deserve an F. Luis Rivera also gets an F in my book for his job replacing Butterfield.

I am more sympathetic to Anthopoulos, and I don't know how much blame he can reasonably take considering the team he put together on paper (both hitting and pitching). I think I'd have him as a C or so on your scale, although you're right about the defensive blind spot this year. He also had a very poor year in the drafting/amateur signing department, I think.

For players, I think Buehrle and Davis are graded somewhat harshly here. But if F means "Epic Fail," then I can't understand how Josh Johnson can be anything but an F.
Magpie - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 07:56 AM EDT (#279473) #
Agreed, but the effect was the same. His first team went into 2010 without its best player from 2009. With nothing received in exchange that helped in 2010. It's different now, of course - the Jays have Gose, Drabek, and ... I guess a chunk of R.A. Dickey. And all that sure looks a lot more valuable than Roy Halladay right now.
Magpie - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 08:07 AM EDT (#279474) #
I can't understand how Josh Johnson can be anything but an F

Now that you mention it... Maybe I got his numbers confused with someone else... Hey, he kept his ERA below 7.00!

Yeah, that's the ticket. I've handed out just seven F grades to pitchers these last five years, and only one of the offenders had an ERA below 7.00 (B.J. Ryan at 6.53 in 2009.) Johnson squeezes under that bar...
Lugnut Fan - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 08:21 AM EDT (#279475) #

I thought the grades on Goins and especially Pillar may have been a little harsh.  I don't think either of them was projected to spend any time at the MLB level and both are far from finished products.

Pillar has been an extremely fast riser through the system.  I wasn't shocked that he struggled with the bat as he is a very aggressive hitter.  I wouldn't write him off as a 4th outfielder yet, but there is still some development to be done with him.

Parker - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 08:24 AM EDT (#279476) #
They should've given Cabrera a wheelchair too; there is no way it could've HURT his outfield range.

Great report card as always, Magpie, even if there isn't a grade low enough to truly express the godawful depths of Arencibia's Folly.
Chuck - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 08:39 AM EDT (#279477) #
I thought the grades on Goins and especially Pillar may have been a little harsh.

I like that the grades are dispassionate. They are based on actual performance, not on whether performance met expectations or whether expectations should have been modest.

John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 09:04 AM EDT (#279478) #
JPA on the road: .147/.185/.269
All pitchers: 132/164/169
NL Pitchers: 135/166/174

So he out hit the average pitcher while on the road.  Mainly due to his power as his OBP was just 21 points better and average just 15 points more.  Ugh.  When you can reasonable be compared to the average pitcher then you know you had a bad year with the bat.
85bluejay - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 09:13 AM EDT (#279479) #
Those are some pretty generous grades, especially for AA & Gibbons, both of whom richly deserve an F in my book - The BJ's season was not surprising to me in the least, I expected them to battle the Yankees for last place (though my expectations were more along a 79 win season) - Starting with the Happ trade, I've not been impressed with any of AA's moves & spring training was a disaster as Gibbons completely failed to prepare the team for the season , he simply is not a manager who commands respect nor is he innovative - more like an "aw shucks"  manager from the 70's (though he seems a swell guy).
Esmil Rogers, I would give a C grade as he seems like a useful BP arm.

Magpie - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 09:45 AM EDT (#279481) #
Esmil Rogers, I would give a C grade as he seems like a useful BP arm.

But he wasn't all that useful out of the pen this year. He made 24 relief appearances, and had a 4.35 ERA out of the pen. For a relief pitcher, that's just plain bad. Of the 11 most used relievers on the team, he ranks... 11th. He made a more significant contribution as a starter; he was merely below average in that role.
Chuck - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 09:45 AM EDT (#279482) #
Esmil Rogers, I would give a C grade as he seems like a useful BP arm.

How can you justify calling a pitcher average when his ERA was 4.77?

John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:00 AM EDT (#279484) #
Gibbons caught me off-guard when hired as well. I thought with the vet team and goal of going for it they'd be after a manager who would instantly have the respect of the players, one who has experience winning.

Checking the old threads here is the one about Gibbons being hired.  My big concern then, as now, is Gibbons controlling the clubhouse as he had issues with Hillenbrand and Lilly originally. His strength was the pen and again that appears to have been a strength. Most were positive but some negative (electric carrot, Mike Green)

Btw, near the end of the thread uglyone did a nice prediction that the pen would be A-OK despite the fears of most of the box although he had Cecil as a bonus item (nice bonus). Can't imagine anyone saw Wagner and Perez (the first one used this year) as being key parts.  McGowan we all had listed as 'lets see him actually throw a pitch without the arm falling off'.
Mike Green - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:14 AM EDT (#279485) #
Rasmus was too low.  He was actually the best player on the team and I don't see the argument for rating Bautista over him.  Encarnacion and Loup were too high; Edwin did everything you could ask of him, but he's still an A- or B+ player unless he's one of the top two or three hitters in the league.  He wasn't.  Don't let the ERA fool you; Loup was the second best left-handed reliever on the club.  Cecil was among the league leaders in stranding inherited runners; Loup was far from it.  Personally, I'd give B+ to Rasmus, Encarnacion and Bautista; nobody deserves an A in a season like that.  I'd give Loup a B-.

I'd give Gibbons an F; he contributed to the team's poor showing by filling out the lineup card with the wrong names on them.  I agree with Anthopoulos' grade and would add that he did a very poor job of finding replacements for underperforming talent in-season.  I don't agree that Anthopoulos has adopted too much sabermetric teaching and not enough old-time wisdom.  The club needed more defence and more OBP because Anthopoulos was spellbound with power hitters, stolen base numbers and relief pitching.  Bill James, c. 1983, would not have been happy with the construction of this club. I can think of three or four candidates for the Omar Moreno of 2013.

BlueJayWay - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:17 AM EDT (#279486) #
Arencibia: grade Z
John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#279487) #
For bWAR and fWAR you get Rogers at 0.4 which is just over replacement value (funny to get an identical score for both) which is worth $1.8 million via FanGraphs.  Average may not be the best word, but useful is certainly there.

By bWAR you get 2+ for Buehrle and Dickey (barely, 2.1 and 2.0) while Loup is at 1.5 with Janssen/Cecil/Santos also over 1.  All others are 0.6 or less.  fWAR is similar with Buehrle/Dickey over 2 (2.5 and 2.0) but next is Delabar at 1.4  with Janssen/Happ/Cecil all at or above 1 and Santos just shy at 0.9 and Redmond & Loup at 0.8.  They actually have Johnson at 0.5 WAR as they use FIP not ERA.  Looking at Johnson's FIP (4.62) and xFIP (3.59) he looks like a major bargain for someone in 2014 as it strongly suggests he was just extremely unlucky this year.

To judge 2014 I'd use fWAR (FIP), to judge how they did in 2013 I'd use bWAR (ERA) as I think FIP has been shown to be better for predicting the future (if not someone please provide a link).  Using that of the guys with 10+ starts only Morrow is negative (odd for him). Going to guys with fewer starts you get lots of negative fWAR (Wang, Ortiz, Romero, Laffey and Nolin).  The likely rotation (the one we ended with) of Dickey/Buehrle/Rogers/Happ/Redmond had 2.0/2.5/0.4/1.2/0.8 fWAR respectively = 6.9 WAR which is not great (an ace can get most of that themselves).

Meanwhile the big 4 of the pen (Loup, Cecil, Janssen, Delabar) had a total 4.5 WAR while others likely to be there in 2014 (Wagner, Santos, McGowan) had 1.3 between them.  5.8 WAR from the pen would be extremely sweet.  To get an idea of how good, Rivera cracked 3 on his own just 4 times in his career with only one of those cracking 4 (when he was used like Duane Ward used to be 100+ pressure innings).

The pitching might actually be OK but boy would I like to see a real ace added or to see Dickey push up to a 3-4 WAR level.  10+ from the rotation is needed for 90+ wins I think (FYI Clemens did that on his own one year here).
Ryan Day - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#279489) #
The depressing thing is that I don't have much faith in Anthopoulos' ability to improve things. He's talked about bringing in another starting pitcher, but he already did that - Dickey, Buehrle, and Johnson were all acquired last offseason, and Happ a few months before that.

Similarly, Gibbons was bemoaning the poor performance by the team's second basemen, but whose idea was it to acquire Bonifacio and play him at second? I'm more inclined to give the team some slack on Izturis, who looked like he'd be a reliable player; but then, what are scouts for if not to spot the warning signs of a player about to fall off a cliff?
Mike Green - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#279490) #
And Lind a B+.  You've gone soft, Magpie.  He's a platoon DH who runs poorly.  Even with the very good offensive season, it still adds up to an average player.  B if you are feeling kind.  Giving Adam Lind a higher grade than Colby Rasmus is just weird.  Colby Rasmus added about as much value to the Blue Jay club in 2013 as Adam Lind has in his career.  Defence and baserunning matter...
Chuck - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:41 AM EDT (#279491) #
For bWAR and fWAR you get Rogers at 0.4 which is just over replacement value (funny to get an identical score for both) which is worth $1.8 million via FanGraphs.

I have expressed my reservations before about a linear system where each incremental WAR is worth exactly the same, say $4M. To my mind, the first WAR, the one that takes you from 0.0 to 1.0, is worth very little as that level of talent is abundant. All subsequent WAR are then worth incrementally more than the last, as per an exponential valuation system. This reflects the increased scarcity in talent availability which is not distributed linearly but rather per the right end tail of the Normal curve.

The existing Fangraphs valuation system has a team of 25 1-WAR players as "worth" $100M, but they would only win about 75 games. That is problematic on its face.

Wildrose - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#279492) #
Excellent writing Magpie, you won't find anything better in any newspaper.

I agree with Mike, defence and base running do matter, unfortunately they are still somewhat hard to measure with the same confidence one has with hitting. I think this is reflected in the grade marking.
Mike Green - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 11:06 AM EDT (#279494) #
This is where fangraphs WAR and BBRef's WAR help out.  Rasmus is at 4.8 by both measures; Lind is at 1.8 and 1.9 respectively.  In this case, it is not really controversial.  Rasmus is by all the metrics and by observation an above-average but not great defensive centerfielder and baserunner.  Lind is by all the metrics and by observation a below-average defensive first baseman and baserunner.  Lind added 6 more runs with the bat than Rasmus in 2013 according to BBRef.  If you don't believe that all the rest make up for these 6 runs and then some, we have a problem.

As usual, this was an enjoyable read.

92-93 - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 11:24 AM EDT (#279496) #
Always enjoy reading these, thanks.

Before I browse through the comments, let me throw out a minor quibble (it's the difference between a B and a B+) and say that I'm very perplexed by Adam Lind & Jose Bautista being graded higher than Colby Rasmus. I can't think of any justification on either account.

Also, I think Ricky Romero deserves an absolute F. The fact that he was in uniform for so brief a period should be seen as nothing less than a failure, especially for a team that was so desperate for pitching and would've used him if he remotely resembled a MLB pitcher.
AWeb - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#279497) #

I'm reading an implied triple F- (and may god have mercy on their souls) for the Jays training staff, and not giving the players a lower grade for missing time. Coaching and training staff seem like the biggest concerns for the entire organization.

Also, a comprehensive List of pitchers with an ERA+ over 100 and who made a start for the Jays in 2013 - Chad Jenkins (3 starts, 3.60 ERA, 15 IP in those games).

Buehrle made it to 200 IP and 10 wins for the 13th year in a row. And he's every bit as exciing as those milestones would imply. Still the most reliable pitcher on the team. This starting staff made me sad.

ogator - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#279499) #
I liked the tone of the writing--let's call it, "kindly curmudgeon."
I don't want to quibble with any of the grades but I'd like to divide a GM's job into two parts--what he does in the off season and what he does during the season. I think in the off season, Anthopoulos did some things that might have worked but didn't. I didn't agree with all of the moves but I understood why he made those moves. But during the season, he seemed to sit by and use patience as an excuse for doing very little to address the obvious problems (C, LF, 2B) that appeared. The Yankees kept trying to address their problems. The Blue Jays kept saying that things weren't working out the way they had anticipated.
Mike Green - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 12:44 PM EDT (#279500) #
The comment about Anthony Gose was interesting.  I agree that Gose has talent, perhaps like Lloyd Moseby 1980, although the shape of Gose's talent is different. 

The problem is that he has regressed in the minor leagues (something about triple A doesn't agree with him) and watching him develop slowly in the major leagues while Bautista and Encarnacion age doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  One year of the team's three year competitive window has passed and there isn't a lot of reason for hope that Gose will be very good in 2014 or 2015.  He, like Aaron Sanchez, may have value in the next competitive window, but the only problem is that if it happens, he'll be hugely expensive.  His cheap years look like they'll turn out to be pretty unimpressive. 

Chuck - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#279501) #
I am not optimistic about Gose (though I am rarely optimistic about toolsy guys who can't play the game).

* He was 26 and 16 stealing bases, minors and majors combined.
* He looked a little more adventurous in the outfield than I'd have hoped (though that is purely a subjective evaluation).
* His arm is strong, but is very wild.
* While a third of his hits were for extras bases, he walks less often than Arencibia.

Lots of raw material to work with if he can ever harness it. But it will take a while. That is, if it ever happens.

China fan - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 01:55 PM EDT (#279503) #
One of the interesting things about Magpie's report card is his relatively high grades for Jenkins and Sierra. I like that he's ignoring the conventional wisdom on both of those players (the standard view that they are not really prospects any more) and assessing them objectively on the basis of their actual contribution on the field. I've got to agree with these words of wisdom: "...I always figure that if the guy is doing the job, you let him do the job. Don't let the fact that you don't think he should be able to do the job get in the way. Maybe he knows something you don't know...."
Ryan Day - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#279506) #
Sierra's an interesting player in that he seems to have the tools, but has no real sense of how to play the game. I'm not sure if it's more of a condemnation of him or the Blue Jays that he's spent 8 years in the organization and doesn't know what a cutoff man is or how to run the bases.

I don't know how good he'll be, but he certainly adapted to MLB better than his Buffalo teammates. That's something.
Mike Green - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 02:33 PM EDT (#279508) #
Sierra has now had two major league trials- last year and this year.  Last year, he had a BABIP of .278 and put up a .224/.274/.374 line.  This year he had a BABIP of .385 and put up a .290/.369/.458 line.  Sample sizes of 157 and 122 PAs respectively.  It all adds up to .257/.315/.409 over the two years with a BABIP of .326.  If anything, that is on the high side of what he is likely to achieve, both because of the BABIP and the minor league performance.  He doesn't field or run well, so he is going to have to do better than that to be useful...

The evidence that he is a better player than Pillar, say, is scanty.  Not that this means that either of them has much of a shot at being an everyday player. 

85bluejay - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#279509) #
I'm happy Sierra got some playing time & did reasonably well - hopefully, it improves his marketability as I expect him to be in another organization come spring
John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#279514) #
Good catch on the BABIP for Sierra. He is a mystery as originally he was highly touted as having a killer arm and potentially being a plus defensive outfielder.  After 2 trials and 554 2/3 innings in the outfield (mainly RF) he has a UZR/150 of -11.0 which is very poor.  Gose also has been hyped as a Devon White calibre defensive player but his UZR/150 in the outfield is down to -6.6 (785 1/3 innings), with a +3.3 in CF (415 2/3 Innings).

Right now if I was in AA's shoes I'd be having an ugly discussion with the minor league evaluators, trainers, coaches, etc.  Whoever is supposed to be training these two in outfield defense has failed and failed miserably.  Maybe the two players don't listen, or maybe they really didn't have the talents all the scouts raved about.  But in the end if either of those is the case then other heads need to roll.  No matter how you cut it two guys who were supposed to be pluses on defense have not shown that in two trials in the majors covering hundreds of innings and that is a bad thing.

Now, on the flip side you have Pillar at +20.4 but in the fewest innings (251 or less than half of either of the others) mostly in LF.  His issue is his bat was pretty ugly (583 OPS in 110 PA) knocking his WAR to 0.0 (now you know what a replacement level player looks like).  Gose was -$1.5 mil in value, Sierra +$1.4 mil so the 3 kids pretty much combined to create the equivalent of a replacement player over 385 PA.  Hard to see any one of them being more than that in 2014 right now.

So now what? The big 3 outfield prospects appear to be busts, so do you resign Davis and if so for how much?
China fan - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#279515) #
"....The big 3 outfield prospects appear to be busts....:"

Really a bit premature to reach that conclusion.
John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#279516) #
China fan - might seem so but...
Pillar: entering age 25 season, flopped with the bat in the majors has shown a decent bat for the minors but knock 100 points of OPS off (not unreasonable) and you have a 4th outfielder at best
Gose: still young, entering age 23 season but struggled big time in AAA (652 OPS) without showing progress in strike zone judgement and a drop in baserunning and defense.
Sierra: Also entering age 25 season, poor AAA campaign (737 OPS) but a good ML one on offense thanks to a high BABIP while defense (supposed to be good) was poor.

Gose has time to grow, the other two need to make it now or their best hope is as a Rajai Davis type but without his raw speed.  Pillar showed 'wow' defense in the majors but I don't recall him having that kind of rep before (could be wrong) so it might not hold.  Right now Sierra is most likely to get a shot early in 2014 with Pillar most likely to get a bit of a career (ala Davis but defense based) while Gose is hard to say...2014 will be critical for all 3 as Gose will either become a ML'er or be looking at backup at best status while the other two try desperately to get a Davis type role.

Magpie - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#279517) #
Fair enough about Rasmus. I think because I'm so convinced his offensive output this season was a fluke - and it was a fluke, boys and girls - that I'm not giving him enough credit for it. My bad. Fluke or no, it's what he did. It's exactly like Chad Jenkins. I also know it irritated me that Rasmus didn't throw out a single baserunner trying to advance all season. Not a one. You know - "hit the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball" - he was useless at the last part. And he missed as many games as Bautista....

Other people are going to have to fill me in on how everybody did with regards to WAR, offensive or defensive. Not being much of a believer, I didn't even look at it.

I don't know how you would grade coaches, but I agree that this wasn't a glorious season for Pete Walker. And as for Luis Rivera... in retrospect, perhaps the most damaging thing about hiring Gibbons was that it led to the automatic departure of Brian Butterfield. The 2013 Jays had grievous problems with infield defense. And without looking it up, it sure seemed like the third base coach was waving a lot of runners onward into outs at the plate.

But I think the guy they may have missed just as much as Butterfield was Don Wakamatsu. This team has something of a project in the lineup at catcher and no one on the current coaching staff appears to know much of anything about catching. The only one who actually was a catcher is the manager, and managers generally have too much on the plate to work all that extensively with an individual player. And this manager doesn't actually have much coaching experience - most of his post-season career has been spent as a manager.
Chuck - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 05:18 PM EDT (#279518) #
no one on the current coaching staff appears to know much of anything about catching.

I'm sure Arencibia would love some advice from Zaun.

Beyonder - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 05:23 PM EDT (#279519) #
Lumping those three into the same pile is pretty harsh John. Pillar had 110 PAs. Pretty tough to "flop" on 110 PAs. If five more balls had found gaps he would have hit over 250. Would he be any more or less of a prospect if that had happened? 10 more hits and he would have hit 300.

He has maintained an OPS over 800 in the minors despite having been promoted aggressively. I think he is the type of guy who is going to learn to make adjustments. Defensively, I have seen a lot to like from Pillar, at least when it comes to the fundamental slike hitting the cut-off man.

Next year I expect Gose to get full time at bats at AAA, and for Pillar to back up Melky. I wouldn't be surprised if Pillar is our everyday left fielder by the end of next season.
John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 05:27 PM EDT (#279520) #
AWeb - wow, didn't catch that Buehrle's final start pushed him back under 100.  12 pure relievers though were over 100.  The 6 pure relievers with ERA+'s sub 100 appeared in a total of 17 games covering 24 1/3 IP so the Jays did a decent job keeping the worst from the pen.  I strongly suspect this would've been the team that tandem starters (or Johnny-All-Staff) would've been a good approach with for one or two rotation slots.

In purely a starting role Jenkins was the only sub 4 ERA, with Buehrle, Dickey, Redmond under 4.5 and Happ just over.  Rogers was the only other one sub 5.  For the rest 5.51 ERA and up over 40 starts.  Yikes.

In the past I've done a quick and dirty 'perfect split' for starts.  IE: your #1 is the lowest ERA, #2 is the next lowest and so on with 33 starts for #1/2 and 32 for your #3-5.
#1: Jenkins (3) + Buehrle (30) = 12-9 200 1/3 IP 4.11 ERA
#2: Buehrle (3) + Dickey (30) = 13-12 216 2/3 IP 4.20 ERA
#3: Dickey (4) + Redmond (14) + Happ (14) = 10-9 167 2/3 IP 4.45 ERA
#4: Happ (4) + Rogers (20) + Ortiz (4) + Morrow (4) = 7-12 165 1/3 IP 5.01 ERA
#5: Morrow (6) + Johnson (16) + Laffey (1) + Wang (6) + Romero (2) + Nolin (1) = 4-15 149 1/3 IP 6.84 ERA

That... is not good.  That is maximizing the potential for the #1/2 starters yet we still see barely any difference in ERA for 1/2/3, then a big drop to #4 and scary for the #5's. 
Average innings: #1: 6, #2: 6 2/3, #3: 5 1/3, #4: 5, #5: 4 2/3

How the heck did the bullpen survive that?  The Jays and Twins were 1/2 in innings pitched in the AL with the Jays #4 in pen ERA and Twins #5.  The 3 ahead of them had at least 60 fewer innings needed.  Wow.  Amazing more relievers weren't on the DL by the end.

Mike Green - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#279521) #
in retrospect, perhaps the most damaging thing about hiring Gibbons was that it led to the automatic departure of Brian Butterfield. The 2013 Jays had grievous problems with infield defense


WAR in a nutshell for position players.  You combine batting runs (using some form of run estimator which uses the player's standard offensive statistics), baserunning runs (using bases advanced/outs made compared with par), some measure of defence (UZR/DRS or something else) and position adjustment.  You'll generate a total runs above average, by summing the various figures.  You then have to figure the difference between average and replacement and add that in to get runs above replacement- you then divide by a little less than 10 to get wins above replacement. 

You can see it on Colby Rasmus' BBRef page in the Player value section.  For 2013, the figures are batting runs- +14, baserunning-+1, GIDP-+1 (GIDP is not included in BBRef's run estimator),  fielding- +11, position-+2, average to replacement-+16 totalling 45 runs above replacement or 4.8 wins above replacement.   For Adam Lind 2013, the figures are bat- +20, baserunning- -2,GIDP- -2, fielding-  -7, position- -10, average to replacement- +19, totalling 18 runs above replacement or 1.9 wins above replacement. 

There are a number of arguing points. Evaluating defence using one year statistics is questionable.  The average to replacement number can be debated.  There is a fair margin for position adjustments, particularly for catchers.  The only number in the above that I am uncomfortable with, though, is Rasmus- +11.  He was +7 in 2012 and -4 in 2011.  Subjectively, he was good but not that good in 2013 and I am happier with a number in the +7 range.  If you have an error bar of about 1/2 a win, you won't go too far wrong at least with position players.  Pitchers are a whole other story...
John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 05:38 PM EDT (#279522) #
Beyonder - saying '5 more hits' or '10 more hits' is a bit fanciful with a guy who had 110 PA.  Saying it with a guy who played all year with 600 PA I can see, but 110?  Might as well add 20 more and get him to 400. 

Pillar started late, rookie ball at age 22 is very late to be there.  A+ at 23 is old as well.  24 in AAA or the majors is OK but this year was the first time he wasn't old for his league so earlier stats need a big grain of salt.  Now, he did do well in AA/AAA with a total line of 307/353/461 but generally you lose 10% going to the majors so if he only loses that he'd be down to 276/318/415 which would be solid in CF but a backup elsewhere.  Given his age and ranking over the years (32nd round pick, never ranked by BA in the top 100, #21 among Jay prospects by BA this spring, #19 by Batters Box, just on 'worth looking at' list by BB in 2011). 

Now, Pillar is the type who has surprised, as evidenced by his climbing all those lists from nowhere.  If he can keep pulling rabbits out of his hat he might be one of those rare players who establishes themselves as solid ML'ers in their age 25+ season.  Lets hope.

Magpie - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 05:58 PM EDT (#279523) #
Yeah, I probably should have looked at WAR. Counting numbers will always, always, be preferable. But I could have at least looked. Sure, it alarms me that WAR is based at several important parts on a theory of the game (what is replacement value, how important is defense, how important is defense at a particular position) and I don't know how well some of those theories jibes with mine. I know some don't at all. And I have the distinct impression that WAR gets confused assessing level of present performance with indicators of future performance. But if nothing else, the single digit that it spits out, however crude, is interesting to see if only because it can alert you to things you may have otherwise missed, when peering over dozens and dozens of counting numbers.
Magpie - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 06:32 PM EDT (#279524) #
Having just slimed Luis Rivera up above ("it sure seemed like the third base coach was waving a lot of runners onward into outs at the plate."), I thought it behooved me to actually... look it up.

Sorry Luis. Only one team in the AL had fewer runners thrown out at home than the Blue Jays.

Team             Outs  Outs     Leader
on Base at Home  
Los Angeles    66    18    Kendrick 10
Texas     64    17    Andrus 9
Boston     59    25    Pedroia 10
Detroit     57    20    Hunter 8
Houston    57    12    Altuve 11
Toronto    54    11    Reyes 8, Bautista 8
Cleveland     54    16    Cabrera 10
Chicago    53    17    de Aza 11
AVERAGE    51.9  15.7   
Kansas City     49    13    Moustakas, Escobar 6
Minnesota    49    14    Doumit 9
New York    48    13    Cano 9
Oakland    48    18    Bogard 9
Baltimore     42    10    Jones 6
Tampa    39    16    Escobar 8
Seattle     39    15    Seager 7

Yes, that was Brian Butterfield waving all those Boston runners into outs at home. The really aggressive team was Texas, though. Boston had lots and lots of baserunners, which will lead to more of them making outs on tha bases. So did the Angels. Texas was about near the league average in getting men on base.

Hey - what I said about Reyes running into outs he never expected to run into is looking pretty good!
92-93 - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 07:37 PM EDT (#279525) #
I still think you were correct about Rivera being a poor 3B coach. That chart could be like evaluating defense based on errors.
92-93 - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 07:57 PM EDT (#279526) #
"I think he is the type of guy who is going to learn to make adjustments."

I worry about Pillar's bat speed. My eyes didn't see MLB-quality bat speed in this brief cameo. I hope you're right, though.
smcs - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 08:53 PM EDT (#279527) #
Couldn't you roughly judge the ability of a 3rd base coach based on things other than just outs? If he is bad at waving guys in, wouldn't it also show up in frequency of runners scored from 2nd on singles, and frequency of runners scored from 1st on doubles? This chart says that the Jays were an aggressive team, leading the league in Extra Base Taken%, and that they ran into a lot of outs (relative to the league) at 1st and 2nd.

Just eyeballing it, but it looks like Oakland was the only team that had a higher ratio of runs scored from 1st on doubles (which makes sense, based on their ballpark), and that the Jays were pretty close to the top in scoring runners from 2nd on singles. The difference is the Jays just didn't have as many base runners, which makes the errors or outs made on the bases look more egregious than they actually are. Again, I get the feeling that the basis for the belief that the Jays make lots of baserunning errors is an example of confirmation bias.
Magpie - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 09:32 PM EDT (#279528) #
Sure, this is nothing like an evaluation. I'm just shocked that only 11 guys were thrown out at home. Subjectively, it felt like they were losing that many guys at home every month.
Intricated - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 09:50 PM EDT (#279529) #
Interesting chart on Jays baserunning vs. the league.  If I did the math correctly, the Jays had ~273 XB chances, whereas league average was ~390.  That's 117 less chances over the season (~0.7 chances per game).  In other words, the bluebirds had only 70% of the XB chances as the average AL team.  A bit strange for a (believe it or not) basically middle-of-the-road team in PA (6152 vs 6179 league average), OBP (.318 vs. 320 league average), doubles (273 vs 279), and total hits (1398 vs 1421).  They even were 4th best in total LOB at 1065 (Houston "leads" with 1007, makes sense; less sensible is BAL at 1053 and NYY at 1064).  Maybe all those triples/HRs clears the bases (which explains BAL in regards to their AL-leading HRs, but not so much the second-lowest HR totals of the NYY).

In any case, in the relatively smaller XB chances sample set, the Jays led the league with at 45% XB taken.  If the Jays had more chances, say 117 to get to the (prior to playing with numbers in a spreadsheet) league average, and they were merely average in those extra chances (i.e. 39%), that would still put the Jays at 43% XB taken for the season, which would be 1st to 3rd in the AL (depending on the rounding).  Even if the Jays were as bad as the Tigers were in those extra chances (e.g. 33%), that yields 41%, still top 5.  The extra chances would have to be a bad 24-26% success rate to bring down the hustlin' Jays to AL league average for the season.

Small sample sizes?  Or perhaps the Jays aren't as bad in some aspects of baserunning as they are made out to be (pun mostly intended).  I don't think they keep stats on getting doubled off on a line drive, falling down going to the next base, or doubled off at 1B/2B/3B on a fly ball, but maybe the Jays "lead" the league in those departments.
John Northey - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#279530) #
For fun I thought I'd check where a few ex-Jays ended up...
Bonifacio: 285/352/348  - his last 10 games the pumpkin came back, 214/267/238 after 310/382/388 his first 32 games as a Royal
Blanco: 125/215/240 for a 31 OPS+ after his 45 here - yeah, he was done
Sam Dyson: 5 games, 1 start for Miami 9.00 ERA in 11 IP with 5 BB and 5 SO
John Buck: 219/285/362 for an 84 OPS+
Travis d'Arnaud: 202/286/263 in 112 PA
Henderson Alvarez: 3.59 ERA in 17 starts 102 2/3 IP including a no-hitter, big change is HR/9 down to 0.2 (just 2 HR given up this year)
Escobar: 257/331/368 plus 0-2 tonight so far
Hechavarria: 227/267/298 in 578 PA - full season just didn't hit
Marisnick: 183/231/248 in 118 PA - ugly
Mathis: 48 OPS+ vs career 53, anyone surprised?
Aviles: 252/282/368 - we'd have been unhappy with that, but it sure beats what we got at 2B
Gomes: 294/345/481 41% CS- isn't having 1000 scouts supposed to find you gems like this instead of trading them away?
Lyon: 4.98 ERA in relief then released
Frasor: 2.61 ERA for Texas but BB/9, SO/9 and HR/9 all in range of his normal here just a tiny bit better
Villanueva: 97 ERA+ vs 101 last year, 128 IP vs 125, 15 starts vs 16. Yup, that's him.
Johnson: 235/305/410 for a 99 OPS+ vs his 85 last year and 103 lifetime but mainly in LF instead of at 2B leading to a 1.3 WAR vs 1.7 last year
David Carpenter: 1.78 ERA in 65 2/3 IP for Atlanta with 10.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 but don't feel too bad, Boston let him go via waivers.

Think that about covers it.  So we'd like to have mulligans on Carpenter, Gomes, and Alvarez I suspect while others could be useful but not a big deal.  d'Arnaud and other kids would be nice to still have too of course but in 2013 wouldn't have helped.
Intricated - Monday, September 30 2013 @ 10:13 PM EDT (#279531) #
Came to the pretty much the same conclusions as I did, though I did neglect to mention Carpenter (but did have Casper Wells and some AAA fillers).  Didn't realize from his gamelog that Dyson had a start; looked like he came in for the SP down 5 runs and gave up another 7 in 2.2 IP; I'll pay more attention next time.
jerjapan - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 07:25 AM EDT (#279532) #
I more name John Northey,

Danny Farquhar has 79k in 55 innings and emerged as the closer in Seattle.  turns out he just had to give up on pitching sidearm to become effective. 

John Northey - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 08:43 AM EDT (#279533) #
Thanks jerjapan, although I was just looking at last offseason and Farquhar was let go in June (lost on waivers to Oakland, then lost on waivers to the Yankees, then traded for Ichiro).  August 3rd he was made Seattle's closer and had 16 saves vs 2 blown after that, 22 2/3 IP 8 BB 29 SO 2.38 ERA and a 475 OPS against.  Sweet eh?  Hopefully he keeps it up.

It would be fun to put an 'ex Jays' team together.  I remember years ago some baseball paper (BA or USA Today) did a summary of who each team drafted or signed as an amateur and did a simulation season with those players - basically a permanent reserve clause and no trades allowed.  The Expos were amazing (always a good drafting team) as I recall.  Wonder how the Jays would do now...probably not so well.
Mike Green - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#279536) #
Fangraphs is running crowdsourcing on contract costs for the free agent catcher class.  I'll bet that the going rate for a decent catcher is $7-$11 million per year, with most of the variance being on the # of years. 
hypobole - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#279540) #
The one big quibble I have is the grade for Goins. Whether or not he will become JMac is immaterial. He was JMac at 2nd. Maybe I'm overvaluing defense, but in my opinion, Goins merited a B-, C at worst despite his offensive shortcomings.
Mike Green - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#279542) #
It's a tough one. Goins was unquestionably very good to excellent at second base (which isn't the same as being very good to excellent at shortstop). UZR had his season as +33/150 games, which would be much better than Bill Mazeroski.  DRS had his season as even better than that.  Using the UZR number he was 0.4 WAR for 120 PA or roughly 2.0 for 160 PA.  That's average or a C.  Personally, I'd make him a C-, as I don't believe he performed better than Mazeroski, but it should be noted that if you take the UZR number, he was proportionately roughly as valuable as Adam Lind. 

Measurement of the impact of defence over a short span of time is exquisitely hard.

Mike Green - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 01:11 PM EDT (#279543) #
Using the UZR number he was 0.4 WAR for 120 PA or roughly 2.0 for 160 PA.  That's average or a C.

Ack.  He was 0.4 WAR for 120 PA or roughly 2.0 for 600 PA proportionately.
ayjackson - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 01:53 PM EDT (#279545) #
Goins definitely passes the eye test on defence, but let's not ever discuss UZR on such a small sample size.

I agree on the Rasmus assessment, though not the grade. He strikes me as Lind-like in his streakiness, and would not be opposed to selling high.

I think that Rasmus, a pitcher and a few prospects on the trade block might be the offseason key to our rotation problems. I don't really see any other option.
Mike Green - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 02:29 PM EDT (#279546) #
UZR for Goins was for illustrative purposes only, ayj. 

So, you want to go into 2014 with Gose as your centerfielder?  And you figure that Gose + proven ace pitcher is a better bet than Rasmus + Drew Hutchison (say)?  Personally, I am happier with Drew Hutchison earning a spot in the rotation than Gose as an everyday centerfielder, but it is definitely a judgment call.

Wildrose - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#279547) #
Goins definitely passes the eye test on defence, but let's not ever discuss UZR on such a small sample size.

Exactly. Essentially you need 3 years of defensive data ( about 4500 innings) for the numbers to settle down. To give you some context, using 4500 innings as the cutoff , the highest career UZR/150 since 2002 ( we don't have UZR data before that) for a second baseman is Chase Utley at 12.7.

Could Goins do better ? Perhaps, maybe in the + 15 range, he's real good. I guess the question is would his defence offset his below average bat?

AA has made several interesting comments around infield defence. He's flatly stated it needs to improve and they are concerned about how fast the artificial turf plays at the Roger's Centre, in fact he's mused about needing 2 shortstops up the middle. I could see them giving Goins a shot, maybe using a second guy, a righty hitter like Bryan Roberts ( ?) as a road/platoon partner.
Wildrose - Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 02:51 PM EDT (#279548) #
Interesting tid-bit from Davidi on the turf at the season ending AA presser.

- Stadium staff are looking at installing a new artificial turf within the next two years or so as a stop-gap before the Toronto Argonauts leave and natural grass can be put in for 2018, as hoped. The operations people are also trying to find ways to keep the rug from compressing while rolled up, allowing it to have more give.

I've never been on the turf at Rogers Centre, I've been on artificial turf at McMahon Stadium and Molson Stadium in Montreal, it's sort of spongy. Is the Roger's turf that compressed and worn down?

Eephus - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 12:18 AM EDT (#279570) #
Excellent job as always. I really do love reading these every year.

In the case of Todd Redmond, I wonder if starting pitchers who throw from a sidearm angle (like Redmond) are kind of viewed with the same kind of mistrust as knuckleball pitchers. Both are, in a way, "trick" techniques of pitching and so don't seem to have a strong reputation within baseball circles. As far as MLB starters who throw from such an angle, only Justin Masterson really springs to mind as somebody viewed with considerable respect.

Mylegacy - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 12:41 AM EDT (#279572) #
Introducing your 2014 Toronto Blue Jays... In LF fully recovered from his spinal tumor and mostly past the effects of his favorite drug of choice: Cabrera. In CF - the Jays next SUPERSTAR (seriously - I mean it) Rasmus. In RF our fading (but still compelling) SUPERSTAR: Bautista. At 3rd - the Kid (in every sense of the word) who will grow into a SUPERSTAR (hopefully before the team get disgusted with him and ship him out to Cleveland where he will instantly sober up and become - He - who he could be...). At SS the great bat (declining range of) Reyes. Second is going to Goins. 1st will be manned (in every sense of the word) by a true professional and a real he-man SUPERSTAR: EE. The DH is in the safe hand of a STRICT platoon of Lind/Davis. The catcher is: (wait for it) ABJPA (Anybody But JPA).

BY AUGUST, the Rotation is: Sanchez, Stroman, Dickey, Buehrle, and most likely Hutchison (or Nolan, or any of the half dozen others we've got stashed in hospital wards around North America). Before AUGUST - seriously - who give a flying f*ck... losers are losers.

The PEN will indeed be mightier than the sword - and in the Jays case our 32 man Pen will see us through nicely...even after we've traded a half dozen of them for a catcher - in the rye - or otherwise - we're not fussy.

bpoz - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 10:50 AM EDT (#279578) #
I suppose guys fall off a cliff, bounce back or have a career year.
So over 2 or 3 seasons they could do something like that. A grade of A-D. Maybe A Lind.
How about a team ..... Boston.
Chuck - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 02:33 PM EDT (#279588) #
both are, in a way, "trick" techniques of pitching and so don't seem to have a strong reputation within baseball circles.

I don't know that I've ever seen a sidearmer being viewed suspiciously because of his technique (I can't say the same for knuckleballers). Now, submariners like Chad Bradford are another matter (not that they deserve the suspicion, they just get it). I imagine if Tekulve and Quisenberry were around today, they'd have to go to great lengths to prove their legitimacy.

As for Redmond, is he truly a sidearmer? I know he occasionally does the Henke thing and comes from the side, for a moment of deception, but isn't he normally a three quarters type? I would think the suspicion around Redmond is his track record and nothing more.

Magpie - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 05:02 PM EDT (#279592) #
but isn't he normally a three quarters type?

I hadn't noticed at all, but upon further review... it's a little like Redmond's arm angle drops just before he brings it forward and it does end up pretty close to sidearm. His arm never comes over his head, never gets much higher than his neck. He's not quite as low as Aaron Loup, but much closer than I'd realized.

I do think minor league coaches and instructors - at least in the USA - do their best to remove any non-standard delivery that crosses their path. The thing about throwing sidearm or from down under is that hitters with the platoon advantage get an extra long look at the ball coming in, (although I think coaches just don't like anything different.) Anyway, Redmond had a pretty significant reverse platoon split this season, which is exactly the last thing you'd expect from a guy like that.
Mike Green - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 05:12 PM EDT (#279593) #
According to fangraphs, Redmond's two most effective pitches this year were a slider (which he will back door to lefties) and a change.  He does throw the fastball up and in to a lefty pretty effectively.  I am doubtful that the reverse platoon splits will hold, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if he ends up pretty much equally effective against both. 
Intricated - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 05:22 PM EDT (#279594) #
Can't remember if it was through here that I came across this Fangraphs article on Remond's fastball, but looks like it's worth (re)sharing.  Generally, there is a perception of deception on how he throws it.
Alex Obal - Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 07:59 PM EDT (#279595) #
Redmond only throws the changeup like 6.5% of the time, though. It's a good sign that it worked this year, but we'll see what happens when the hitters are told to beware. Anyway, it's not hard to picture Redmond (or Jenkins?) succeeding as the Long Man we've all wished for this year while watching the 1-man bench perform its terrible magick. That's one role where gopherballs aren't particularly damaging (except in 14th innings, I guess).

I wonder whether the optimal pitch selection in a vacuum is one that, in theory, makes each of your pitches equally effective.
McNulty - Thursday, October 03 2013 @ 06:58 PM EDT (#279599) #
Probably inconsequential, but I didn't realize Redmond was the main agitator in this dust up with Dominic Brown.

The things you find when looking for highlights of a pitcher's old windup and delivery....
cybercavalier - Sunday, October 06 2013 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#279623) #
Would the Jays be interested in Canadian 2B Taylor Greene to play in Buffalo, especially when the Jays is still looking for a legit 2B-man  ?
[....] Taylor Green placed on waivers by Brewers.
John Northey - Sunday, October 06 2013 @ 11:29 PM EDT (#279624) #
Greene might be OK in AAA but his AAA stats are inflated as he was in the PCL so don't expect much.

Another interesting tidbit is that Milwaukee might be trying to trade Braun.  Now there is a tough one - he is owed $117 million over the next 7 years.  Lifetime he has killer numbers (312/374/564 146 OPS+) but the steroid issue...oh yeah, that big kaboom thus why he is up for trading.  Makes me think of another killer hitter who was caught but avoided suspension - Jason Giambi. He hit better (302/415/549 151 OPS+ pre getting caught), then had a 90 the year things blew up. After he hit 240/380/477 124 OPS+ but he was age 34-42 for post and 24-32 for the pre period.

So if you cut 30 points of OPS+ off you get a 116 OPS+ but you also get a few tail end prime years (30-32 using the old 25-32 prime range) which hit right in the Jays dream period.  Not worth $117 million of course, but what is he worth? How much could you get them to eat and how?  Perhaps a 'clear out the old' trade for Milwaukee where they get rid of big salaries like Braun ... I was going to add Weeks (1 year $11 mil) but he dropped to an 80 OPS+ last year after a 93 last year and his UZR/150 is below -15 for 2 years in a row.  If you think Lawrie can handle 2B then you coudl get Aramis Ramirez who had a 125 OPS+ last year, lifetime 117 signed for $16 mil next year and $4 mil buyout after ($14 mil mutual option) but he is a -16 UZR last year and negative lifetime and is entering his age 36 season.  Taking 2 of those 3 would fill in two big holes potentially (LF, 2B via someone moving if Ramirez or 2B straight via Weeks) as long as they'd take Lind and Cabrera (cutting $15 mil off next years budget, adding $10 for Braun and $16-20 for Ramirez or $11 for Weeks).  Might not work, might need a stack of cash from Milwaukee to make it work (if they feel Braun is too toxic to keep now) but also could give a boost to the club if Braun is for real post-PED's ala Giambi.  Risky, but might work.  Could put Ramirez at 1B or DH even (hits well enough) if you get rid of Lind in the trade.  Milwaukee is hurt short term but clears out massive cash and a ugly reminder of the steroid era (get one back, but one that has just 1 year left).

Now, that would be a major risk for AA to take, but if he shuffles cash correctly he might open up space for 2014/15 (Braun is just at $10 in 2014 and $12 mil in 2015) which is when he needs it while making it a bit harder for 2016-2020.  But if things don't work in 14/15 then he might not have to think about 16-20.  The 3 kids don't seem ready for prime time yet, so they can spend another year in AAA waiting for either Bautista to move to 1B/DH in 2015 or for Rasmus to leave via free agency post 2014 or be traded in 2014 or this winter.
Richard S.S. - Monday, October 07 2013 @ 08:06 AM EDT (#279625) #
When Jose Bautista is traded we can talk about the kids in AAA. I think Sierra taking RF before Gose or Pillar are used.
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