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I have talked with some of my minor league contacts over the last few days to get updated on winter news before they head to Florida at the end of this week for spring training.  Here are some notes from those conversations.

The Jays committed to the weighted ball program last year but the Jays always described 2013 as an evaluation year.  They did not have the program working prior to the season and so they did not have a full formal plan.  It seems like the evaluation went well, I was told that 30 of the Jays minor league pitchers are on an off-season program with the weighted balls.  The coaches are very interested to see the results this spring.  Obviously health is one benefit but added velocity will be a benefit for some pitchers.

Matt Wright and Joe Spano have retired.

It looks like we will have tandem starters again in Lansing.  The Jays went with tandem starters in 2012 with Sanchez, Syndergaard and Nicolino but did not go that way in 2013.  I thought I had seen AA say that the Jays would not use tandem starters again, but I was assured that if there are enough starting pitcher candidates the Jays will go back to tandem starters at least for the first half of the year.  Potential candidates for the Lansing rotation include Chase DeJong, Tom Robson, Jairo Labourt, Alberto Tirado, Jeremy Gabrzyzwski, Shane Dawson, Zak Wasilewski as well as some of the college pitchers.  Barring injury I would expect most of these pitchers to be in a tandem role in Lansing.  Given that Robson and Gabrzyzwski have pitched in Vancouver and given that Vancouver is supposed to be of a similar standard to Lansing I asked if any of these guys could jump to Dunedin and skip Lansing.  I was told that is unlikely, the team feels that every level has its own challenges and that players need to progress through each level before the next one.

Ryan Tepera is now a full time reliever.  Tepera was invited to the Jays winter camp for players who might be called up this season.  Now that Tepera is a reliever he is throwing harder and has a chance to be a major league quality reliever.

Marcus Walden will probably remain a starter and, with the expected logjam of starters in AAA, Walden will likely return to AA.  Walden probably will eventually become a reliever due to his arsenal, sinker, slider stuff, and his size, he is under six feet tall.  If Buffalo did need another reliever Walden would have a chance to take that slot.

I know of no position changes but one thing the organization wants to do this year is to develop more positional flexibility with their prospects.  I was given the example of Ryan Goins who played almost exclusively shortstop until he was called up the majors.  Prospects who get called up might have to fill in for an injury at a position they are not familiar with.  This year look for more players to move around the diamond.  A guy like Andy Burns will see time at second base and shortstop as well as third, and he won't be the only one.

Jacob Anderson had rib surgery in 2013.  He was not ready for the instructional league but he did return for the Jays minor league strength and conditioning camp held last week.  By all accounts he looked very good and fully recovered.

Dickie Thon will have to fight for an infield job in Lansing.  There was some talk of Thon getting some reps in the outfield but that was never really a formal decision.

On the TJ front, Ryan Borucki was recovered enough to participate in the instructional league.  Patrick Murphy, the Jays second round pick last season, was not.  He will be brought along in the spring.

It seems unlikely that Franklin Barreto will get to be on the Lansing opening day roster.  Although his bat could handle it the Jays will be cautious due to his youth.

Tyler Gonzalez was a bust in 2013.  Gonzalez was the 60th overall selection in the 2012 draft but couldn't command his fastball last season plus he received a suspension late in the season.  He was back for the instructional league and reportedly looked a lot better.  Gonzalez was selected ahead of De Jong, Borucki, Dawson and Wasilewski.  It would be big for the Jays if he could find his form.

I was puzzled when Keith Law  included Adonys Cardona on his top ten prospect list.  Cardona does have an electric arm but he was never healthy enough to show it off for long.  I wondered if Cardona had done something exceptional during instructs but no, he was injured.  Law's inclusion of Cardona seems like a long shot particularly when Law has downplayed the Jays surplus of talent lower in the minors noting correctly that it has low value.

I always find it interesting to see which minor leaguers receive invitations to major league camp.  Most of the AAA players are invited.  Players expected to start the season below AAA and invited include, at catcher, AJ Jimenez, Jack Murphy and Derrick Chung were invited.  With so many pitchers in camp there is always a need for catchers.  Andy Burns and Kevin Nolan were invited for the infield and Kenny Wilson for the outfield.  Marcus Walden was also invited.

Finally, Clayton McCullough will work primarily with the teams from Dunedin down and be another source of instruction and support for the coaches.  Clayton was recently appointed as coordinator of instruction.  He will work with those lower teams to make sure the right instruction is getting to the right players.

Minor League Update | 79 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mylegacy - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 03:10 PM EST (#282472) #
Gerry - many thanks (as always) for your "inside" updates.

As to the "weighted ball {in a sock that is not let go of} experiment I am very excited to see the results. I REALLY hope Dickey has used it over the winter - like to see me some 90 mph "floaters." Gives me the willies just thinking of it...

Ryan Day - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 03:46 PM EST (#282473) #
Andy Burns could be an interesting player if he was able to fill in around the diamond. If he could play a competent second base, he might deserve to make the team out of spring training.
finch - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 03:58 PM EST (#282474) #

Many thanks Gerry! So on point with your minor league updates! I'm very excited about Jacob Anderson this year...I'm expecting BIG THINGS! Any idea where they'll start him? Although he's missed essentialy 1.5 years, any chance he starts at Lansing?

Gerry - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 04:15 PM EST (#282475) #

As I mentioned, the first comments I received on Jacob anderson were that he looked great, fully recovered from the surgery, maybe this is the year.  I asked a follow up, has he shortened his swing?  The answer I got was that last weeks camp was mainly for strength and conditioning and that Anderson's swings were in the cage so my contact could not say for sure.  When I saw Anderson last season i thought his swing was a little long.

I think Anderson has a chance to make the Lansing squad, he needs to be there if he truly is a prospect.  The outfield positions in Lansing are not all spoken for.  DJ Davis and Carlos Ramirez have the inside track on two of the spots, Anderson is in the mix for the third.  His high draft position might get it for him.  Then it will be sink or swim.

ayjackson - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 04:38 PM EST (#282476) #
I think Kevin Ahrens signed with the Braves today, thus ending the Arencibia-Ahrens era.
Eephus - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 04:48 PM EST (#282477) #
Speaking of minor leaguers, Daniel Norris is definitely one to watch (in more ways than one):

finch - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 05:54 PM EST (#282478) #

The draft of 2007 is quite horrible given all the 1st and Comp A picks. What could have been...

Thanks for the additional info on Anderson, Gerry!

85bluejay - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 07:06 PM EST (#282479) #
Thanks Gerry, especially regarding the injury updates - Shane Optiz injured his shoulder in the ABL, do you know his prognosis?
I was a fan of the Anderson pick in 2011, making the Lansing team out of spring would be a nice start - still expecting big things.
The news on Gonzalez is encouraging - I wonder if the tinkering done to his mechanics was a success or if it's been abandoned.
Mike Green - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 08:16 PM EST (#282480) #
Youneverknow, finch.  Brett Cecil may go on to have a great career in the rotation. Still, at this point, you'd have to say that the 2007 draft had pretty poor results including a big fat 0 on the high upside prep picks. 

Gerry - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 08:34 PM EST (#282481) #
I didn't ask about Opitz but the team might not know until he shows up in camp. If the injury was serious he might have had it inspected by a doctor in Australia and maybe back in the US too, but if it just needed rest they will wait to see him in camp.
greenfrog - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 08:39 PM EST (#282482) #
A lot of players selected in the 2007 first round and supplemental round now look like duds. However, there were a few gems available from the #16 pick on (which is where the Jays selected Ahrens). Some of the players who were available at that point and who were subsequently chosen in the first and supplemental rounds include Rick Porcello, Ben Revere, Todd Frazier, Travis d'Arnaud, Sean Doolittle, Tommy Hunter and Cory Luebke.
Mike Green - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 08:53 PM EST (#282483) #
Rick Porcello was the one everybody wanted instead of Ahrens.  It all came down to $...
greenfrog - Monday, February 10 2014 @ 09:18 PM EST (#282484) #
It's funny - the Jays didn't want to spend a few extra million on Porcello in 2007. Now they're desperate for a starting pitcher and are trying to figure out how not to spend $40m or $50m on someone who might be worse than Porcello in 2014.

We'll probably be saying the same thing about the 2014 IFA market in a half-dozen years or so. Why didn't the Jays exceed their CBA spending limits in a year with abundant IFA talent (as the Yankees are reportedly doing in 2014) before an international draft was instituted? The Jays have had their chances along the way over the last six or seven years; they've just always been a bit too cheap and a bit too lacking in foresight to turn the corner.
TheBunk - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 02:57 AM EST (#282485) #
Guys who could be pitching in Lansing:

Shane Dawson
Tom Robson
Chase Dejong
Jairo Labourt
Alberto Tirado
Adonys Cardona
Zak Wasilewski
Jeremy Gabryzwski
Brady Dragmire
Yeyfry Del Rosario

And that's not including college guys whom I can't think of.

Seems like their hands are kind of tied with tandem starting. Oh well, didn't do any damage to the Lansing trio.
short - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 07:54 AM EST (#282486) #
Great job as usual!

Have you heard anything about the guys who played winter ball?
85bluejay - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 08:20 AM EST (#282487) #
Unless Adonys Cardona made a magical transformation during the offseason, I'd be shocked if he made the Lansing team - He's regressed IMO.
It's exciting to dream about all those young arms, even when history say few will reach the show - I guess that's why you collect as many as possible

Regarding the utter failure of the 2007 prep class - not surprised given that the organisation was so college centric for so long that maybe preparation and knowledge was lacking - as others have noted quality prep players were selected - I would add also that Stanton & Freeman were both selected in the 2nd rd. - Justin Jackson, now as a pitcher may offer a tiny salvation to that group.
85bluejay - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 08:23 AM EST (#282488) #
Thanks again Gerry, hope Optiz is Ok.
Gerry - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 09:09 AM EST (#282489) #
Other than seeing what has been posted at about the guys in winter ball I do not have any feedback.  I did not specifically ask about them.  I am not sure how much information you can draw from winter ball, I think what matters is how the players perform once the leagues start back in North America.
finch - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 09:11 AM EST (#282490) #

Even had we taken other bats, do you really think we could develop them to the point where those players are today? I don't think so. At this point, I have zero faith in the Blue Jays' ability to develop elite bats. Maybe Mitch Nay proves me wrong.

I don't understand why the Jays aren't giving more at bats to Opitz. He seems to handle the bat fairly well but it looks like they're, for the moment, grooming him as a utility player at best. Give the guy some ABs! He was a high school draft pick with above slot bonus and he's 22 with a shot at AA this year, maybe finishing the year in AAA. I consider him a solid prospect still at this point.

Ryan Day - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 09:34 AM EST (#282491) #
In Porcello's case, it wasn't just the money, but the fact he wanted a major league contract. Even in hindsight, that seems insane - he's had a solid career, and he may indeed blossom into an elite starter, but he'll be a free agent before that happens.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 10:31 AM EST (#282492) #
In hindsight, Porcello's deal worked out fine for the Tigers, and if he has a big year in 2014 and/or 2015, it will have turned out very well.  His age 24 BBRef comparables are excellent- Greg Maddux at the top end, Jeremy Bonderman at the bottom and Rick Wise, Jon Garland and Alex Fernandez in the middle. 

It is true that it was a significant gamble by Dombrowski.  Porcello's arm might have blown out three or four years ago and there would have been a huge financial obligation left. 
92-93 - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 11:21 AM EST (#282493) #
"Even in hindsight, that seems insane"

Does it? It seems insane in the context of the draft, but was Aroldis Chapman's contract insane as well? I can see why one might have called the Darvish or Tanaka contracts insane, but Porcello?
whiterasta80 - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 12:22 PM EST (#282494) #
I remember thinking that Porcello was a no brainer move for the Jays and being furious that they didn't have the stones to pull the trigger.

I was supremely confident that he would make the majors based on the video and scouting that I'd seen/heard. He wasn't quite Strasburg, but he was a prep pitcher that seldom comes along.

No he hasn't developed into a staff ace, but I sure as hell would like him on the Jays right now.
Hodgie - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 01:43 PM EST (#282495) #
"they've just always been a bit too cheap and a bit too lacking in foresight to turn the corner."

Seems like an odd thing to say about the front office that has been among the most aggressive in baseball in Latin America during AA's time at the helm and who's strategies many attribute for the recent changes in draft pick compensation and the clamour to change the waiver process. Whether you agree with the strategy or not, even their hard line stance with their first round picks in recent drafts is pretty unique. The Jays may not be forward thinking or daring enough in all aspects of their operations but I am surprised at how much that is good is so easily dismissed.

greenfrog - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 05:46 PM EST (#282496) #
I agree that the front office adopted some smart, forward-thinking strategies early on in AA's tenure. I just think that they've too consistently gone with a "value" approach when they could have strategically augmented it with a few more ambitious moves (for example, when the pre-CBA flood of IFAs like Chapman, Darvish, Iwakuma, Soler, Puig, Cespedes opened up), and now with the opportunity to dominate (or co-dominate, with the Yankees) the 2014 Latin American IFA market.

Porcello was an example of the same problem under the previous regime.

Under AA, the team had amassed quite a bit of talent in the minors, but instead of having a Porcello or Darvish on hand, they had to deal a lot of that talent to acquire a starting pitcher. Instead of Dickey, the Jays could have had Darvish (or Porcello) *and* Syndergaard, d'Arnaud and Becerra.

It's not an unreasonable approach (try to amass talent on the cheap and spin off prospects for useful ML talent), but it may turn out to be too tepid to produce a championship team.

Of course, the Jays have also whiffed on some draft picks, which has made executing AA's value strategy more difficult.
greenfrog - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 05:58 PM EST (#282497) #
In hindsight, the Jays have also been hurt by a few trades (the Mets and Miami trades are looking a bit shaky (we'll know more in a couple of years), and the Jays more or less gave away Hill and Gomes). AA has also made some nice moves. Win some, lose some, but if you're relying heavily on trades to build your team, then you probably need a somewhat better track record in the trade department.

And of course, there might be a player development / coaching issue, as Farrell alluded to a while back. Time will tell on this front as well.
stevieboy22 - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 09:21 PM EST (#282498) #
Something I think about from time to time, is that if you were to assemble a team based on players who started their career with the jays (either through the draft or through international signing), where would this team stack up, based on guys currently in the majors (or have touched the majors):

C - Gomes
1B - Lind
2B - Hill
SS - Goins?
3B - Roberts?
OF - Alex Rios
OF - Reed Johnson
OF - Travis Snider
DH - Vernon Wells

SP - Shaun Marcum
SP - Henderson Alvarez
SP - Drew Hutchinson
SP - Ricky Romero???
SP - Chad Jenkins???
SP - Sean Nolin???

RP - Brandon Lyon
RP - Dustin McGowan
RP - Brandon League
RP - Brett Cecil
RP - Casey Janssen
RP - Marc Rzepcynski
RP - Aaron Loup
RP - Sam Dyson

Eric Kratz
Darrin Mastroianni
JP Arencibia
Jake Marisnik
Kevin Pillar

I think I got everyone????

So where does this team stack up? 65 wins?
Is this a fair way to rank an organizations system?
greenfrog - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 10:19 PM EST (#282500) #
A couple of years ago, that rotation would have included Doc and Carpenter. In a year or two, it might well include Syndergaard, Sanchez, Stroman and maybe Nicolino. So the current snapshot is potentially a bit misleading.

Also, Tim Collins (career ERA+ 118) should be in the bullpen.
greenfrog - Tuesday, February 11 2014 @ 10:55 PM EST (#282501) #
Arroyo's recent signing brought back memories of this doozy (I remember watching it live):
Doom Service - Wednesday, February 12 2014 @ 12:39 AM EST (#282502) #
A few other suggestions for peripheral improvements... Danny Farquhar and/or Daniel Webb probably improve the bullpen. Or maybe John Stilson. Brad Mills (stuck in AAA) probably improves that rotation. Joel Carreno? Tyler Pastornicky at SS or utility. Ditto Cesar Izturis. Maybe Eric Thames or Moises Sierra or even Anthony Gose in the outfield. Marginal improvements....Michael Young until a week ago. It doesn't feel like a lot of talent..probably the residue of a couple of lean draft years in the JP era. Adams, Purcey, Jackson, Snider, Ahrens, Cooper, etc..
soupman - Wednesday, February 12 2014 @ 08:48 AM EST (#282503) #
i've been thinking about the fact that pitchers have started to report and the big guns left on the market haven't signed. i think the jays are risking something.

it's one thing when the jays game the market in the draft, or with the ifa field, to pay a guy MORE than what the others can offer. it's quite another when they're gaming the market to pay a guy well BELOW what he is expecting (and which the status quo would dictate).

point being: if you have a guy with questionable make up, they show up to collect a pay check and do the bare minimum, rather than a guy that gives it all.

i know statsheads will have a field day with that sentiment, but based on how people generally perform in any workplace, it's certainly something i'd consider.
Ryan Day - Wednesday, February 12 2014 @ 10:44 AM EST (#282504) #
People have been saying that about all Free Agent contracts for ages - the conventional wisdom is that players play hard in their contract year, and then slack off once they get a big, guaranteed paycheque. I'm not convinced any of it is particularly meaningful.

That said, it's conceivable that AA's "let them come to us" position could backfire. Players want money, but they also want respect; given a choice between two similar offers, they might opt for the team they felt made more of an effort to woo them.
bpoz - Wednesday, February 12 2014 @ 11:58 AM EST (#282505) #
On the depth chart for the Jays bullpen Ryan Tepera must be practically invisible. Maybe you should stop counting at 9 or so. Then the list becomes a Show Me affair. IMO. Tepera throws in the high 90s I believe.
John Northey - Wednesday, February 12 2014 @ 11:09 PM EST (#282512) #
I suspect these free agents might feel AA is showing more respect than others though.  He came to them, said 'this is what I can do' and left it there rather than jerk them around with offer/counter offer/take it off the table/final offer and so on.  Telling someone 'I want you but can only afford it if you can take $x which I know is less than you want, but if you cannot get what you want and we don't sign someone else at that price level then come on back and we'll make it happen' is a sign of honesty which might help.

Also, a guy who goes onto the market and is told by many clubs that he isn't worth a draft pick might get pissed and work out even harder.  The old 'what is my incentive' can easily become 'show them they all made a mistake'.  Of course that also can lead to throwing too hard (thus losing movement) and getting pounded.  It is a fine line.

Regardless, at this point AA's wait and see strategy hasn't blown up yet.  Burnett is gone, but at $16 mil might not have fit anyways.  Tanaka got a nutty deal (Yanks take on all downside risk with limited upside).  Arroyo made little sense (age, gives up lots of dingers).  Garza would've been nice but also has a high HR rate. For everyone missed I can see negatives, although I still would've loved Tanaka.  If he gets Jimenez I'll be happy.  Ervin Santana would depend on the deal (shorter the better).  Others are just filler at this point I think.
Michael - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 03:49 AM EST (#282516) #
"In hindsight, the Jays have also been hurt by a few trades (the Mets and Miami trades are looking a bit shaky (we'll know more in a couple of years), and the Jays more or less gave away Hill and Gomes)."

Don't forget we basically gave away Mike Napoli too when it was obvious at the time he was a great hitter.

But given we also gave away the Rios contract and the Vernon Wells contract I think you have to say the Jays have been net winners of trades over the AA time, even if there are some losers with the winners.
Sister - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 08:02 AM EST (#282517) #
Thanks for the update Gerry.

I am happy to see Tepera has been invited to the major league camp, he had some serious stuff last year out of the pen.

I saw him live in August in Portland and he was impressive striking out 5 of 6 batters he faced. I noted at the time:

"Tepera was firing tonight. He hit 96 on the gun and I asked the NH announcer if this was his normal stuff or if the gun was hot. He said this was his usual stuff since coming out of the pen. He was overmatching the Portland players, particularly after he started off with the walk. Impressive."

If he pitches like he did the night I saw him, there is a spot for him in a major league bullpen.

jerjapan - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 08:08 AM EST (#282518) #
But given we also gave away the Rios contract and the Vernon Wells contract I think you have to say the Jays have been net winners of trades over the AA time, even if there are some losers with the winners.

It was JP who gave away Rios but I concur, AA is definitely a net positive in the trade department.  Regardless of his health, Morrow for League is still a steal, a was Delabar for Thames.  Last years offseason put a dent in his reputation though ... giving away Gomes for nothing in particular sticks in my craw.  I may be in the minority on this, but I'm optimistic that both of last seasons blockbusters will look better than they currently do after this season. 
Mike Green - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 08:21 AM EST (#282520) #
Thanks for the report on Tepera, Sister.  I would never have guessed that Tepera might throw 96 in the pen, but it is well known that there is a difference between pitching in the rotation and out of the pen.  I have seen him throw a couple of times at lower levels in the system (in the rotation) and he was not overpowering. 

I guess that it's all right to have too much of anything, even right-handed relievers!

92-93 - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 08:22 AM EST (#282521) #
I'd be a little more hesitant to celebrate AA's trade history at the moment. On the positive side you have Morrow, Rasmus, and Lawrie, but on the negative side you have Miami, Dickey, Hill, Gomes, and Napoli. Not one player involved in the Halladay trade is a bona fide major leaguer yet. It's close. One might also blame AA for the trades he didn't make, like allowing Arencibia & Snider's value to absolutely crater before getting rid of them.
James W - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 09:11 AM EST (#282522) #
Trading Vernon Wells for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera is a big win, even if Rivera provided nothing and Napoli etc. :(
SK in NJ - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 10:06 AM EST (#282523) #
Trading Napoli for Francisco defied logic. At least the Hill trade made some sense at the time (he was terrible here and AA thought he could get a pick for KJ), but the Napoli trade is inexcusable. A catcher who can hit like that falling on your lap for the worst contract in baseball and you throw him away for a reliever? Terrible.

In other news, the Orioles sign Yoon, and the suitors for Jimenez and Santana continue to shrink.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 10:10 AM EST (#282524) #
but on the negative side you have Miami, Dickey, Hill, Gomes, and Napoli

It's true...Jimmy Miami did have a nasty fastball-split combination.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 10:20 AM EST (#282525) #
A catcher who can hit like that falling on your lap for the worst contract in baseball and you throw him away for a reliever? Terrible.

Delusions of Nathan, I call it.  Any resemblance between Mauer and Arencibia is purely coincidental.
Jdog - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 10:24 AM EST (#282526) #
I love the hate for these trades. The Miami trade netted them there current number 2 starter and starting SS while what they gave away may not amount to much at all. AA can't take all the blame for Johnson's performance while he was here, he had a track record of success combined with an injury history, it just didn't work out. I would hope AA would continue to take the risk to acquire high upside talent when possible. Gomes had 322 at bats, the jury is still out on whether he is anything more than a backup C with below average D. It may be a loss but its still too soon to decide.
China fan - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 10:41 AM EST (#282527) #
"....A catcher who can hit like that falling on your lap..."

Except that Napoli was not really regarded as a catcher, especially in the long-term. Everyone knew about his defensive issues and the likelihood that he would be mostly a 1B and DH in the near future. And the Jays didn't need another 1B and DH at that point. But yes, the trade looks bad in retrospect because of Francisco's failings.

At the time of the Vernon Wells trade, for what it's worth, I actually thought that the Jays might keep Napoli as a catcher. I wasn't sold on JPA as the catcher of the future. But people at the time kept reminding me that Napoli's defensive abilities were in decline. And they were right.
stevieboy22 - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 10:51 AM EST (#282528) #
I think they are going to come to regret trading Henderson Alvarez... He probably wasn't ready to be in the majors at the time they brought him up, but man I love that arm....

In that ball park, it wouldn't shock me if Alvarez emerges as a star this year..
finch - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 11:01 AM EST (#282529) #
SK in NJ...If my memory serves me correctly, the Comp Pick the Jays received, for losing Frank Franciso, was Mitch Nay so it just may not be that bad in the long run...
Mike Green - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 11:14 AM EST (#282530) #
Napoli for Francisco was bad.  It was pretty clear that the club could have used Napoli in a C/1B/DH role.  Lind, at minimum, needed a RH platoon mate.  Arencibia did not merit a full-time job.  In the long-run, Napoli has turned out to be a decent defensive first baseman.  The Blue Jays could be sitting on Napoli at first base and Encarnacion at DH.

Hopefully, Anthopoulos acknowledges that it was a bad move and understands the misconceptions that led to it.  As the saying goes, you learn more from your mistakes.

BlueJayWay - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 11:26 AM EST (#282531) #
"Trading Napoli for Francisco defied logic."

No kidding. At the time it happened I couldn't believe it and I still can't. Trading a good everyday player for a relief pitcher is weird enough, but it wasn't even an elite reliever. Francisco was pretty much 'just a guy'. 
John Northey - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 11:29 AM EST (#282532) #
Of course, for losing Francisco as a free agent the Jays got a draft pick they used on Matt Smoral so that it a mitigating factor as we all knew AA was chasing picks back then.

Other bonus first round picks in 2010-2012...
  • Aaron Sanchez for Marco Scutaro
  • Noah Syndergaard for failing to sign James Paxton
  • Asher Wojciechowski for Rod Barajas
  • Jacob Anderson for Scott Downs
  • Joseph Musgrove for John Buck
  • Dwight Smith for Kevin Gregg
  • Kevin Comer for Miguel Olivo (the guy AA paid $500k to get then let leave immediately)
  • Marcus Stroman for not signing Tyler Beede
  • Matt Smoral for Frank Francisco
  • Mitch Nay for Jon Rauch
  • Tyler Gonzales for Jose Molina

Boy did AA take advantage while he could eh?

greenfrog - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 11:51 AM EST (#282533) #
Delabar was also a nice trade by AA.

While I understand the logic behind the Napoli trade, it's kind of crazy - in recent years, the Jays have gone with Arencibia (and now Navarro), while trading away Napoli, Gomes, d'Arnaud and Mathis. Something is wrong with this picture!
John Northey - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 12:12 PM EST (#282534) #
Well, Mathis was demanded by Miami in their trade iirc and he isn't the type of player one should let scuttle a trade imo (48 OPS+ last year, 53 lifetime.  His 72 in Toronto was his best in a season with more than 3 PA by 8 points). Napoli isn't really a catcher (61 and 72 games behind the plate in Texas but was viewed as very poor defensively and didn't catch at all last year).  d'Arnaud was a necessary piece to get the previous years Cy Young winner - it is hard to fault trading an injury prone catching prospect (plus a solid pitching prospect) for a Cy Young winner who you can have for 4 years at $41 mil total (the last year a team option).  Gomes was a mistake, just poorly evaluated by all but Cleveland, although Esmil Rogers wasn't exactly a waste of space.
Ryan Day - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 12:17 PM EST (#282535) #
Gomes is the interesting one for me, because the Jays didn't even seem to think he was a catcher - he spent less and less time behind the plate as he moved through the minors.

Though to be fair, I can't remember anyone else ever getting excited about Gomes. BA never even ranked him as one of the Jays' top ten prospects.
stevieboy22 - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 01:01 PM EST (#282536) #
If the jays don't make the Indians trade, would that mean that Aviles at second base?

I know last year wasn't great, but he's probably a better option than Izturis or Goins?
greenfrog - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 01:07 PM EST (#282537) #
Was Napoli really that bad as a catcher? Both BRef and fangraphs rate his defence in 2011 and 2012 as quite passable, especially given the level of offense he provided. I'm sure the Rangers were happy to have the 7.4 fWAR he amassed (in only 221 games, 133 at catcher) during those seasons. (By way of contrast, in 231 games in those same two seasons, Arencibia netted the Jays 2.6 fWAR.)

And of course, d'Arnaud (who has a chance to get back on track this year) wasn't the only prospect traded for the 2012 NL Cy Young...
85bluejay - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 03:53 PM EST (#282538) #
The Mariners have Iwakuma with a finger strain & now Walker with shoulder soreness (ouch!)- I wonder if they may jump the shark and bite on Santana/Jimenez.

I am hoping the Jays get in on the Cuban ss Aledmys Diaz and move him to 2nd - though with Jeter retiring, the Yankess may jump in.

stevieboy22 - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 05:15 PM EST (#282539) #
"The Mariners have Iwakuma with a finger strain & now Walker with shoulder soreness (ouch!)- I wonder if they may jump the shark and bite on Santana/Jimenez. "

Its an interesting point, because they are in a similar compensation position as the Jays..

That being said, I would wager they won't be adding another 13 million to their payroll in pitching, if they are looking to add it's gotta be on the offensive side doesn't it?
Jdog - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 06:24 PM EST (#282540) #
Its important to remember the state of the team when AA made the Napoli trade. It wasn't really in lets try and compete mode. He was still in the process of strengthening the system and yes Francisco was just a guy, but I believe AA was more interested in the comp pick associated with him than Francisco himself. In his mind he basically was dumping a horrendous salary and being rewarded with a comp pick in the long run.
greenfrog - Thursday, February 13 2014 @ 07:16 PM EST (#282541) #
Fair point, but maybe AA should have been looking for more than just Francisco in return for Napoli? In hindsight, a Type B pick for Napoli seems a little light.

Of course, Texas fans probably feel that Uehara was a pretty light return for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. Hindsight is 20/20...
Ryan Day - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 10:01 AM EST (#282544) #
You could also wonder why no other team made much of a move for Napoli. The Angels gave him away in return for a massive salary dump, and the Jays flipped him a few days later, so you've got to think everyone knew he was available. We don't know who offered what, of course, but you'd think someone could have beat Frank Francisco or Vernon Wells.
bpoz - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 10:50 AM EST (#282545) #
Very nice list on the additional comp picks, John N.

I would be interested in peoples opinions of why both Frank Francisco & Jon Rauch were given so many chances to be the closer. IMO they kept failing too much. I remember 3 unknowns that were given the job and did quite well. J Fraser, J Arcaardo, but cannot remember the 3rd he was before these two. I would have made changes sooner. The 3rd guy was not T Henke.

We did have Dotel, J Fraser, Janssen & Carlos V. Even Zep was given 3 save opportunities but converted none. I understand not to give the job to Fraser because he seemed to fail in that role.
bpoz - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 11:18 AM EST (#282546) #
If healthy IMO T Ybarra goes to AA in NH. I have always had high hopes for him as well as D Farquhar.
Thomas - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 01:35 PM EST (#282547) #

Ryan, who is to say that another GM was given an opportunity to beat either or both of the Wells and Francisco offers? Remember AA's comments re: the Fister trade. It could be that AA never gave another team an opportunity to beat the Francisco offer. I know it was a contract dump, but I imagine many GMs, upon seeing a team acquire a player in a trade, do not immediately assume he'll be flipped. Maybe AA went to Texas and made the proposal and did not formally shop Napoli. There is no guarantee that he was placed on the market and all offers were solicited and evaluated.

Ryan Day - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 02:38 PM EST (#282548) #
Who knows, obviously - it's entirely possible AA acquired Napoli with the specific intent of flipping him to the Rangers because he really wanted Francisco and/or the draft pick that came with him. But AA's cultivated a reputation for talking to anybody about anything; even if he didn't formally shop Napoli around, why wouldn't other GMs at least give him a call?

I think there was a general sense among many people that Napoli was underappreciated/underused in LA, where he was behind Jeff Mathis on the depth chart. He was included in a trade where "talent" was clearly not the top priority, then flipped for an okay reliever.

So no, you're right that we don't know what went on behind the scenes. But it hardly looks like either the Angels or the Jays were enamoured of Napoli, or that anyone had to pry him away. GMs don't just wait for players to be formally shopped around - they're actively asking around if players are available, and what their team wants for them. So I don't see any reason why a smart GM - Tampa, or Oakland, perhaps - couldn't have called up the Angels or the Jays and made an offer. Most teams could have beat "Frank Francisco" or "Vernon Wells' Contract" pretty easily.
Original Ryan - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 02:44 PM EST (#282549) #
I would be interested in peoples opinions of why both Frank Francisco & Jon Rauch were given so many chances to be the closer. IMO they kept failing too much.

I suspect it was largely due to the fact that they had been closers previously. I personally think experience in the closer role is of negligible value (actual ability to get guys out should be the primary consideration), but teams consider it important when assigning bullpen roles. Past experience also had a lot to do with Francisco Cordero being given first crack at closing the following year after Sergio Santos went down with an injury.

Francisco and Rauch were competent relievers over their careers, but they weren't guys you wanted pitching in high leverage situations. Casey Janssen really should have been a shot at the closer role earlier.

I remember 3 unknowns that were given the job and did quite well. J Fraser, J Arcaardo, but cannot remember the 3rd he was before these two. I would have made changes sooner. The 3rd guy was not T Henke.

I can think of a few guys who might fit this description. Kelvim Escobar, Darren Hall, Aquilino Lopez, Billy Koch and possibly Tony Castillo could be considered unknowns who were thrown into the closer role and performed reasonably well.

Eephus - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 03:05 PM EST (#282550) #
While we're on the subject of Janssen, I'm still baffled all these years later by what the organization did with him in 2009.

As some of you may recall, Casey had missed the entire 2008 season with a labrum(?) injury after a meh 2006 debut as a starter and an excellent 2007 as a setup man. So what do they do with this good reliever coming off a serious injury? Why throw him back in the rotation of course, for seven innings in his first start. (Janssen rehabbing in the minors that year had pitched 18 games, but only 4 as a starter and 3 of those were at Dunedin).

Naturally, he got beaten around for five major league starts (It's hard to make giving up 40 hits in 26 innings work) and they put him back in the bullpen where he still pitched poorly the rest of the season. That Casey has still emerged as a stellar pitcher is all the more impressive.
Original Ryan - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 03:17 PM EST (#282551) #
Casey Janssen really should have been a shot at the closer role earlier.

That should say "been given a shot at the closer role earlier." Darn editing.

ComebyDeanChance - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 03:40 PM EST (#282552) #
Trading Napoli for Francisco defied logic.

If what you mean is that the trade defied reason I disagree. Francisco was eligible for arbitration after a year, and according to the rules of the time was likely to garner a draft pick. The focus of the team at the time, and the FO was straightforward about this, was building a farm system after having been left a wreckage in that area by the former GM. The plan was then to be able to trade to make a contender, and once the team was in contention, be able to attract free agents. So a player more likely to garner a draft pick was important.

Francisco was not only more likely to garner a draft pick but was indeed the only one of the two to do so.

Napoli had a great 2011, and his performance in that year would nave meant little to the Jays playoff chance. His 2012 on the other hand, was not nearly as good. The Rangers did not make a qualifying offer and neither would have anyone else. Had he been a Blue Jay he would have walked for nothing, as he did with the Rangers.

The likely net of that is that the Jays gain a pick one way and gain nothing the other. That seems like reason to me.
92-93 - Friday, February 14 2014 @ 08:56 PM EST (#282553) #
I was re-reading the Napoli trade thread, and one of the benefits of the deal wasn't visible at the time - it may have had a big impact on Encarnacion's future with the Jays. If they had retained Napoli they wouldn't have had PAs for Encarnacion once it became clear that he couldn't play 3B effectively. I didn't understand the cries declaring the trade a clear loss back then, and I still don't understand them. AA had plenty of logical motivation for the trade.
SK in NJ - Saturday, February 15 2014 @ 11:21 AM EST (#282554) #
Francisco was a Type A free agent after the 2010 season, but accepted arbitration. Then he was traded for Napoli. So Francisco had already shown that offering him arbitration as an impending free agent did not guarantee a pick, although luckily with the Jays he fell to Type B and it resulted in a pick.

As far as Napoli, coming off a "down" year in Anaheim, he had a .784 OPS, and while his OBP in 2010 was .316, the four years prior to that they were .350, .374, .351, and .360. He hit 26 home runs while playing in a pitcher's park, so it was reasonable to assume he was a 30 HR bat in a better park (i.e. Toronto/Texas). When a good player like that falls on your lap, why would you trade him for a reliever and a comp pick? It doesn't make any sense. Why keep Bautista then if the intention was not to field a competitive MLB team?

In baseball, a team can be a top 5 team and a top 5 farm system at the same time. There are no rules indicating that you have to sacrifice one for the other. If Napoli helped the 2011 and 2012 team, that doesn't mean AA's drafting was going to suffer for it. They could have easily kept Napoli and remained in "system building" mode. Napoli had a 5.4 WAR in 2011 while JPA was a 0.5. That's a pretty big difference.

The only reasonable argument against the trade, in hindsight, is what it would have meant for Encarnacion, but IMO, the logical thing to do would have been to put Napoli at catcher (with the occasional start at 1B when sitting Lind against lefties) and figuring out what to do with JPA later. Napoli could catch up until 2013, so the Jays could have used him in that role for the two years he was under team control. Even the biggest JPA fanboy knew that his upside as a player (even in 2010) was no where near Napoli's MLB performance, so trading JPA would have made just as much sense. It's not like Napoli's $5.8M was a big deal, especially considering who AA traded to get him in the first place.
smcs - Saturday, February 15 2014 @ 11:37 AM EST (#282555) #
AA had plenty of logical motivation for the trade.

Citing the current success of Encarnacion as something AA foresaw isn't right. Encarnacion was DFA'd in 2010, spent 2 weeks in the minors, and came back up and then was picked off waivers by the A's at the start of the 2010-11 offseason, then dropped by the A's in December, and then signed as a free agent with the Jays 2 weeks later. The Napoli move was made so that Arencibia could get more ABs and more reps behind the plate. It's certainly true that Napoli would have taken ABs from Molina, Encarnacion and Lind (and Rivera and Nix and Cooper and Lawrie and...) in the C/DH/1B role, but Encarnacion just wasn't highly valued by the Jays, or any other team. Heck, if they kept Napoli, they might have realized Adam Lind should never ever ever start against a lefty.
Richard S.S. - Saturday, February 15 2014 @ 08:40 PM EST (#282556) #
Any trade is immediately evaluated by everyone. Some will always be in favor while others will be opposed. How much "some" is could vary from a few to most. What a person's opinion was at the time seldom changes no matter how much time has passed. Opinions seldom change because that's like admitting you are wrong. Some people are never wrong and they'll let you know it.

G.M.s have a need/want for a player for a specific purpose. They "will try to acquire him by whatever means possible, not always succeeding.

The Wells trade was as big a wow moment as the the Miami trade was. Wow moments are not always perfect, sometimes just reactions in response.

A.A. asked for Anthony Gose and J.A.Happ in the Doc Halladay trade and was turned down. That might have been more of a reason to acquire them than any other reason.

The offense of this team has always been decent while the bench always sucked. The Bullpen was always more of an issue than the Starters, until the last few years.
christaylor - Sunday, February 16 2014 @ 07:46 AM EST (#282557) #
I re-read the thread and I'm not sure whether I regret writing "I'd really like to see the Jays try and make a play for Josh Reddick. "

As we know, he'd go on to kick around in BOS in 2011 during that wonderful season of collapse, then be banished to OAK where he was great and meh last year according the the stats. He's still only 27... maybe the Jays should try to swap pitching prospects for Reddick?

Throw him in left and have him play RF if (when the bleak side of me moans) Joey Bats gets a wrist injury. Melky to the scrap heap.
bpoz - Sunday, February 16 2014 @ 12:00 PM EST (#282558) #
The Lansing tandem starters should be interesting.

I am guessing that there will be a 50 pitch limit, 3 inning limit so the pen will pitch the last 3 innings. Later in the season the starter will go 5 innings and there could be promotions. Does anyone remember if this is how it went in 2012.
A Sanchez DOB July 7, 1992 pitched in Lansing at the age of 19/20. Tom Robson DOB June 27, 1993, to compare will be older in Lansing, has gone 6 IP per game quite easily IMO last year. I suspect but am not sure that these limitation rules may slow down certain pitchers. 8-10 pitches to get out of an inning is V good if you are going 7 innings but not if you get pulled so that the next guy gets his work in. Finishing off in the pen afterwards is not the same IMO.
I would love to see fast promotions and then see the guy successfully handle it. I think D Hutchison is one of the few that got moved fast in the minors, being a HS pick. S Nolin also moved fast due to success but was older and a JC pick.
gabrielthursday - Sunday, February 16 2014 @ 04:19 PM EST (#282559) #
Gerry, do you know if Anderson's rib problem was present in 2012, the underwhelming season that took him off of so many of our prospect radar screens?
Richard S.S. - Sunday, February 16 2014 @ 07:58 PM EST (#282560) #
Blue Jay Pitchers and Catchers finally report. At least now we might get fresher material on this site.
Gerry - Sunday, February 16 2014 @ 09:26 PM EST (#282561) #
Anderson: I don't know if the injury was there but he did play in extended spring this season. I was in Florida in May and I saw him play, he had surgery sometime between mid-May and end-June. I would have thought that if he had problems then they would have done something in the off-season between 2012 and 2013. I never heard about it until it happened.

So I am not willing to blame the injury on his performance. Having said that, he was a high draft pick and sometimes a player takes off at age 20 and in his case 21. But that is a long shot.
gnor - Sunday, February 23 2014 @ 06:56 AM EST (#282783) #

gnor - Sunday, February 23 2014 @ 07:11 AM EST (#282784) #

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