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The rotation appears set now, Dickey - Hutchison - Buehrle - Happ - Morrow.  Set that way so Morrow will start vs the Yankees in the home opener.


The Sun reports that Happ has made the team for certain.  The 'out of options' team includes Brett Cecil, Jeremy Jeffress, Luis Perez, Esmil Rogers, Sergio Santos, Todd Redmond and Moises Sierra.  With an 8 man bullpen likely and Janssen, Delabar, Cecil all locks that leaves 5 open slots.  Rogers and Santos should be dead on locks with the other 3 listed so that leaves 3 slots for Jeffress, Perez, Redmond, Loup and McGowan (who is way past the option stage).  If options are key then Loup is doomed to AAA.  Jeffress and McGowan showed good stuff last year and I can't imagine the Jays letting either go.  That leaves 1 slot for Perez and Redmond to fight over, with Redmond being the favorite imo.  Loup should be on the staff in an ideal world, but unless we see a few put on the DL or the Jays are willing to risk losing someone I expect him to be in AAA.  For now I'd be on 'roster sickness' sending Perez off and maybe something similar for McGowan given his limited innings this spring.

Sierra has to be the 4th outfielder/RH DH I think. Goins at 2B seems a lock, with Izturis as the backup. Kratz seems to have won the backup catchers job so that should end all the battles.  Not a perfect team by any stretch, but that is what we have.  Your 2014 Toronto Blue Jays...

CA: Navarro/Kratz
1B: Encarnacion
2B: Goins
3B: Lawrie
SS: Reyes
LF: Cabrera
CF: Rasmus
RF: Bautista
DH: Lind
OF: Sierra
UT: Izturis

Rotation: Dickey - Hutchison - Buehrle - Happ - Morrow
Bullpen: Janssen - Cecil - Delabar - Santos - Rogers - McGowan - Jeffress - Redmond

Loup being the first to slip into the pen once someone gets hurt.
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Richard S.S. - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#283399) #
At or near the end of Spring Training, all Team's Rosters are set so sneaking someone down (waivers) should work. Barring injuries, there will be an Issue on who makes it.

Hutchison will do well following Dickey in the Rotation. He might learn how to be a Number Two Starter in the process.

The Bullpen will carry two LHP so Luis Perez may make the team while Aaron Loup can go down.

Season starts Monday, March 31st, in Tampa Bay for four games then 3 games At Home to New York. With every Monday off in April, the Team has an opportunity to make changes if someone is not working out.

They play 27 games in Mar/Apr and need to win at least 17 somehow, because they play 29 of 30 in May.
Paul D - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#283400) #
If they decide to send Loup down they should just shut down the team. At some point you have to try to win.
grjas - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 01:06 PM EDT (#283401) #
Would be nice to turn some of the excess relievers into Minor League depth through trades. They have so many pitching options in the minors, trying to slip someone through at the wire makes little sense. And of course there are lots of holes in the minors to fill, especially position players.
Richard S.S. - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 01:18 PM EDT (#283402) #
People forget Aaron Loup of 2013 was just Luiz Perez of 2011/12. Before Tommy John, Luiz was the go-to-guy in the 'Pen that Loup became.
Lylemcr - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#283403) #

I bet Happ (and maybe Perez) gets a mysterious back injury and goes on the DL...

I am a L. Perez fan.  We do have a glut of lefties in the pen.  I do think Loup\Perez\Cecil could get us something nice. 

It is nice having this depth, but I would hate to lose them on the wire.

Eephus - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#283404) #
If they decide to send Loup down they should just shut down the team. At some point you have to try to win

Seriously. If this team can't find room for a guy who walks nobody (15 BB in exactly 100 ML innings) and turns left-handed batters into pitchers (career .491 OPS against, over 100 points better than Cecil) than it's obvious this organization is more obsessed with asset accumulation than winning. Not having a weapon like Aaron Loup available because you wanna see if Jeremy Jeffress can learn to throw strikes is just silly.
John Northey - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 01:35 PM EDT (#283405) #
That is the challenge for AA - what to do with depth when you can't send it to the minors. Ideally find a way to send 2 or 3 pitchers without options to Seattle for one of their kid 2B who cannot play 2B anymore.  At least then you get something.  Wonder if any team has spares at 2B who are out of options and a 'my option problem for yours' could be done with Goins going to AAA or Izturis released/traded with cash.  Years ago the Jays did that with Frasor - getting him for Jayson Werth which looks bad (122 OPS+ for Werth lifetime vs Frasor's 120 ERA+) but fit the two teams needs at the time.
ayjackson - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 01:41 PM EDT (#283406) #
You'd think there has to be a deal around Cecil, Gose and Ackley to be had.
85bluejay - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 01:50 PM EDT (#283407) #
- My biggest concern is the black hole offensively at 2nd - if you don't have the rotation to contend, then you have to try and bash your opponent & I don't think the Jays can afford Goins even with his plus defence - Ackley has had a good spring, so likely Seattle's LF - I hope the Marnier's effort to sell Franklin as a SS fails & the Jays can swing a deal for him - likely will require a 3rd team as Jays do not match up well with Seattle

- Earlier, I was thinking that Loup would lose out because of his options but with Perez set to open the season on the DL, I think the Jays will want a 2nd lefty - I expect the Jays will probably find a home for 1 of their RH relievers.

- While I was not a fan of the Jenkins pick, he has improved his command & control, but I don't think he's such a much better choice than others to risk losing assets which the team will need over a long season - most teams construct their rosters much like the Jays, trying to retain assets and options do matter - just look at the Braves losing 2 starters within days - I hope Jenkins gets a chance to start in AAA, could become an innings eater - if he pitches well, he'll get his opportunity.

- I'm hoping the Jays can move some of their BP assets & go with a 7 man pen - looks like AA again read the market wrong regarding the value for relievers - I like Dan Johnson as a bench bat - but that would mean 3 guys limited to DH/1B.

- I'm concerned that the Jays have said there's no restrictions on Hutchinson coming back from TJ - pitching in the AL east with those small parks & potent offences is no picnic - there are no easy innings - with the recent flurry of 2nd TJ surgeries required for young pitchers, if Hutch pitches more than 160 innings, I would be fearful he might follow the same path.
mike in boston - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#283410) #
Not having a weapon like Aaron Loup available because you wanna see if Jeremy Jeffress can learn to throw strikes is just silly.

To make matters worse, this is a problem of AA's own creation. I understand that he wants to hedge as many bets as possible, but at some point you have to exercise some self-control to avoid creating roster crunches down the road. To make matters worse still, this problem could be seen in the distance this time last year. Yet no deals to clear up the logjam were made last trade deadline or in the off-season. Not a lot of wisdom being shown from the top.
ComebyDeanChance - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#283411) #
I've seen Jeffress pitch this spring. My late father who died more than 3 decades ago, had a saying to describe wildness that someone 'couldn't hit the broad side of a barn door'. I never really understood the 'broad side', but I don't think Jeremy can hit it. I think he may well be released if no one hits the dl to save everything.
Gerry - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#283412) #
Luis Perez will start the season on the DL.  He still hasn't fully recovered from last years TJ surgery.  I believe he has numbness in his fingers.
John Northey - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#283413) #
Weird Star article by Griffin today. Says Loup is a mortal lock for the pen, and has the sentence "The truth is, if the starting nine, including Ryan Goins, is healthy, there is nobody in the lineup that you would wish to replace defensively in late innings, or that you need to pinch-hit for."  Uh...he does know that Goins hits about as well vs everyone as Lind does vs LHP right?  IE: a bit better than a pitcher but not by enough to make you go 'yeah, I won't hit for him'.  Also Cabrera he lists as the backup for CF which is scarier than putting almost anyone else out there in CF.  Yikes.

He has 2 slots for Redmond, Rogers, or Jeffress and says all teams have someone like Redmond (K rate over 8 who can start? Really?) and that Rogers ability to start or relieve makes him valuable (err... as a starter he has a lifetime 5.59 ERA, 4.89 last year vs Redmond's 4.41 as a starter last year 4.71 lifetime).  I agree that Jeffress 97 mph fastball would be taken in a second by someone - especially given he really turned it around last year (42 1/3 IP between AAA/majors with 18 BB vs 42 SO and 1 HR given up) and might be a solid guy now...more wild than ideal but solid.  He also forgets about Perez, not once mentioning him.
PeterG - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 02:36 PM EDT (#283414) #
I would keep Redmond over Jeffress any day and believe the Jays will see it the same way and do a repeat of last year with Janssen starting on DL for 10 days more in Florida...when he comes off, AA will try to sneak Jeffress through waivers...of course, a trade could change everything.
China fan - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#283415) #
It's weird that people in this thread were getting worked up about Perez, Jeffress and Loup. Perez is injured and hasn't played a single inning of spring training. He'll obviously start the season on the DL. Loup will certainly make the major-league bullpen -- there's been really zero doubt about that, all along. As for Jeffress: the Jays waived him a year ago, why wouldn't they be willing to do the same thing again this year? They'll just wait until an opportune moment to try to sneak him through, unless they decide to waive Redmond instead.

The only reason for the question marks is the health status of Janssen and Santos, both of whom have been a little slowed down by minor injuries. Happ is a bit uncertain too. So the Jays keep Jeffress and Redmond around in case one of those other three guys isn't ready. And to provide a little competition for the others. It's not "hoarding" -- it's just prudence in case of injuries.
gabrielthursday - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 03:05 PM EDT (#283416) #
I think it's a little too early to be certain that Happ fills the fifth spot in the rotation. Two poor starts from Happ and two good starts from Rogers or Redmond or (possibly) McGowan and I expect Happ will be moved to the pen.

While AA has shown little interest in making last-minute preseason trades or acquisitions in the past, rarely is a team more logically positioned to make some trades. More than in past years, the actual opening-day roster may be significantly different than what we can project at this moment.
ComebyDeanChance - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#283418) #
To make matters worse, this is a problem of AA's own creation. I understand that he wants to hedge as many bets as possible, but at some point you have to exercise some self-control to avoid creating roster crunches down the road. To make matters worse still, this problem could be seen in the distance this time last year. Yet no deals to clear up the logjam were made last trade deadline or in the off-season. Not a lot of wisdom being shown from the top.

I suspect that the 'logs' in the jam that we'd value are the only ones with any trade value. And the front office hasn't really been shy about making trades since the present GM was hired. If them 'logs' coulda been dealt for something that improved the team overall, i suspected they would have been, but I can't see the FO simply getting rid of some combination of Janssen, Delabar, Cecil, Loup to leave the rest unjammed without improving the team overall.

Second, I wouldn't mind having a couple more logjams, one in left field say, and one at second, instead of what we'll apparently have there this year.
China fan - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 03:50 PM EDT (#283419) #
It's not a log jam. If you have Wagner and Jenkins stashed away in Buffalo, and maybe Jeffress or Redmond too if they can be sneaked through waivers, you don't have a log jam, you have valuable depth for the inevitable injuries that will arise in the regular season. The Jays don't want to be forced to promote Stroman or Drabek or Stilson if they're not quite ready. Better to have experienced pitchers who can step onto the team immediately. It's depth, not a "roster crunch." (And it also creates more options for trades, if the opportunity arises.)
Paul D - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#283420) #
It is a log jam if you believe that better players are in Buffalo while inferior players are in Toronto. I'm all for depth, but not at the cost of the major league team. (And yes, we don't know if this is what's actually happening).
BlueJayWay - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 05:50 PM EDT (#283421) #
Welp, we're boned.
Parker - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 06:06 PM EDT (#283422) #
They could easily solve this issue by going with a ten-man bullpen. Who needs bench players when Gibbons doesn't think any of the starters should ever be pulled for a pinch hitter?
Mike Green - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 06:30 PM EDT (#283424) #
I am pretty sure that the bullpen will not look like this when the bell rings.  One left-hander and seven right-handers kind of defeats the purpose of the long pen (match-ups to get the platoon advantage). In this particular case, it would be bizarre because Loup is obviously a better pitcher than others listed.

It would not surprise me at all if Happ is in the bullpen when the bell rings.  The temptation to have one left-handed long man and a short man (Cecil) and a LOOGY (Loup) might be too powerful for management to resist. We'll see who is on the DL soon enough; the odds are good that one or two of the names listed will be there.

rotorose - Monday, March 17 2014 @ 07:03 PM EDT (#283425) #
Re Redmond's future: At the game on Sunday in Dunedin  I sat directly behind two scouts from NL teams. I won't name the teams  or their potential trade bait,  to protect AA, but the scouts were there specifically to watch Redmond with an eye to a trade. They both charted his pitches, measured pitch speed and quickness of delivery, and made copious notes.  Presumably they are also scouting other potential pitchers that might be on the block, and certainly no trade has been made to this point, but it was fun to watch.
Eephus - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 04:35 AM EDT (#283426) #
If you were guaranteed excessive depth at one aspect of your baseball team, the bullpen is the last place I'd want it. Give me starting pitching, middle infield, speedy outfielders, catchers, anything! else. To have quantity at one spot, a bullpen is a great complementary piece, just not a strength I'd want to build an season around.
gnor - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 06:32 AM EDT (#283427) #
Good Morning John Ė
IMO, they have to keep Sierra on the team this year, mainly to replace Melky next year, and eventually switch places with Joey Bats.
I'm thinking Loup makes the team, because otherwise they only have one lefty in the pen. Although they have some right handers that work well against lefty hitters, Loup is just too reliable to send down. Pretty sure AA will move someone through trade before the rosters are set, and I bet it will be for players with options left similar to Lincoln = Kratz + Rasmussen.
For once, it's not The Jays with a rash of TJ surgeries, so Rogers or Redmond could be turned into a prospect. Atlanta, San Diego, and Oakland are all looking for pitchers, and there are a bunch of teams that could use a long reliever.
John Northey - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 08:36 AM EDT (#283430) #
I suspect we'll see a trade for a C level prospect (likely to become a backup or platoon player if they make it) or maybe a B (slight shot at being a regular someday...need a combination of guys to get that though) involving Redmond or Rogers or some combination of relievers (maybe a couple of trades) with a contending team. Why with a contender? Because waivers work in reverse order of standings thus no incentive for, say, Houston to make a trade as they'll have 'pick of the litter' out of the guys who are on the bubble. But teams like Boston, Texas, Tampa, Atlanta, St Louis, Dodgers, etc. need to make a trade as good waiver wire guys will be gone before they get a chance at them.  The challenge is for AA to decide if a low level prospect is better than risking sending a guy down who might be claimed.
jerjapan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 08:41 AM EDT (#283431) #
a bullpen is a great complementary piece, just not a strength I'd want to build an season around.

But they aren't building around the pen ... the depth their just shows good asset management by AA.  Even the 'big ticket' reliever, Santos - who still has a reasonable contract - was acquired at relatively low cost.  The rest of the pen are failed starters, low level draft picks and shrewd trade pick-ups (although I'd agree that Rogers wasn't that shrewd ...)


greenfrog - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#283438) #
Words of wisdom (AA: take note), from Christina Kahrl's ESPN article on the A's recent pitching injury woes:

[T]his serves as an immediate reminder of how every teamís winter shopping list canít stop at five or six pitchers for stocking their rotations. Every team needs to think in terms of going eight deep because the chances one guy could miss a month, another an entire year, and somebody else might simply pitch poorly is a real-world scenario all 30 clubs have to confront, not just mull as a contingency.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/45148/parker-injury-puts-as-in-big-trouble
92-93 - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#283439) #
"the (bullpen) depth their just shows good asset management by AA."

Oh god, please stop. Every team has an assortment of bullpen arms just like the Jays. AA's "asset management" in the bullpen led to trading Yan Gomes for Esmil Rogers.
greenfrog - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 12:37 PM EDT (#283440) #
To be fair, AA also traded League for Morrow, Thames for Delabar, Molina for Santos, and E-Jax and fungible relievers for Rasmus. He was ahead of the curve in turning relievers into extra draft picks, before the "screw you Anthopoulos" rule (as Keith Law described it), putting an end to the practice, was implemented as part of the new CBA. He also lined up a trade for Uehara (one of the best relievers in the game) a couple of seasons ago, which unfortunately was nixed by the player, who had a no-trade clause.

Apart from Gomes (admittedly a pretty big "apart from"), the front office's asset management vis-ŗ-vis the bullpen has been solid.
John Northey - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 01:21 PM EDT (#283441) #
Agreed Greenfrog.  Did a bit of a check and it seems Gomes still had an option left when traded so that makes it even stranger.  Guess the Jays just really liked Rogers for some reason.

As many know the Jays were 4th in ERA for relievers in the AL.  By OPS the Jays were 6th (of 15).
2012 though?  ERA was 14th (dead last pre-Houston by 0.34 runs), and OPS was also dead last (by 33 points!)

Wow.  Now that was a turnaround. What happened?  New manager (Boston went from 11th to 10th under Farrell so it seems bullpens aren't his thing) would be a big factor.  Other changes...
Common guys (20+ games): Janssen, Oliver, Loup, Lincoln, Delabar
Old guys gone (20+ games): Frasor, Cordero, Luis Perez, Lyon, Villanueva
New guys here (20+ games): Cecil, Wagner, Santos, McGowan, Rogers with Juan Perez at 19 games 31 2/3 IP

Janssen and Oliver were (by ERA) a bit worse, Loup & Delabar a bit better in a lot more playing time, Lincoln a lot better (but still sent down).  So probably a break even on the guys who were here both years.  The big difference is the playing time (far more for Loup & Delabar) and being able to separate the good from the bad.  Rogers is the only guy with an ERA over 4 as a reliever to get 10+ innings last year, while the year before Frasor, Cordero were #3/4 in appearances with bad ERA's with Lincoln, Beck, Cecil, Jenkins, Carreno, and Chavez getting over 10 IP with ERA's over 4.  Is it a matter of talent or ability to figure out which guys should be out there and which shouldn't?  Putting them in situations they can succeed at vs putting them out there because you want a warm body on the mound.

Preseason last year there were a lot of questions about the pen. This year people are saying too much effort is going into it. I suspect the biggest change though was the manager and his ability to not play guys like Cordero while maximizing time for Loup and the like.

China fan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 01:49 PM EDT (#283443) #
I'm still wondering if the AL pitchers might figure out Yan Gomes this year, after his surprisingly good 300 ABs last year. His spring training OPS this year, for what it's worth, is a more modest .603. On the other hand, that's almost identical to Navarro's spring training OPS this year. (And then there's JP Arencibia, who's sporting a .526 OPS and a .182 OBP in spring training this year...)
Parker - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 01:57 PM EDT (#283444) #
While we're being fair:

Morrow has given the Jays only part-time work as a starter, with one above-average half-season to his credit. He cannot be counted upon to be a full-time starter. League on the other hand was healthy and effective in his role for the M's and netted two prospects in trade, one a 3rd round pick.

Delabar has had one good season as a reliever, so let's not have his Hall of Fame plaque engraved just yet. Thames obviously didn't work out for anyone, but both players will probably be forgotten five years from now.

Santos is great when healthy, which he has been for a total of 30 innings for the Jays in the last two seasons. Mike Sirotka was great when he was healthy too.

Rasmus had a great season last year, propped up by an unheard-of BABIP. He also provided one-and-a-half seasons of 80 OPS+ production. If he doesn't tank again he'll net a draft pick when the Jays (wisely) choose not to extend him at his asking price, so I guess he does provide some value, but I would've preferred to have Jackson, who up until las season was a Buehrle-calibre workhorse at half the cost, but not under contract for almost $20M a year until he's old enough to have to buck all trends in order to provide any value at that age.

Anthopoulos can turn all the relivers into draft picks that he wants, but he has yet to turn any of those draft picks into above-average major leaguers, other than the ones where he used the organization's top prospects to take on another team's insane free agent contracts.

The only really good trade that Anthopoulos has made that I can think of is dumping Vernon Wells. Now his team is back to having contracts that are one awful season away from needing to be dumped, and on top of that the team has almost without fail gotten worse every year he's been running the show.

I think an argument can be made that the Jays under Anthopoulos don't have any idea what they're doing when it comes to evaluation of reliable major league talent.
#2JBrumfield - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#283446) #
Romero walked five hitters and gave up three runs in 2 2/3 innings today. Like Bruce Springsteen once said, "One step up and two steps back."
Gerry - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#283447) #
I think we can take Romero out of the running for the rotation.  Today against the Tigers, Romero pitched a good first inning, gave up a two run home run in the second, a lead off triple in the third followed by 4 (four) walks.  According to Wilner he threw 58 pitches, 24 strikes.
John Northey - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 02:13 PM EDT (#283448) #
Good points Parker.  Until the Jays actually win 90+ I think we have to say all GM's have flopped since Gillick in 93.

AA has enhanced the bottom line, no question.  The big trades last winter helped build massive hype which helped the Jays have the biggest attendance increase in MLB last year.  But... the flop and coming in last, the lack of movement this winter outside of JPA going away and Navarro coming in, the escalation of contracts that was known to be occurring... that makes 2014 a very, very important year.

Goals for the Jays...
1) Keep the attendance and viewership gains from last year by whatever method
2) Win 90+
3) Clear out some of the killer contracts unless those players start producing at that level.

Good news for the Jays with #3 is that most contracts are cleared out after 2015.  Reyes is the only player guaranteed over $2 mil after 2015 ($22 mil in 2016/7).  Team options exist for Bautista, Dickey, Encarnacion, Izturis, Romero for 2016 as well, some more likely to matter than others.  The window is still open through 2016 but that is it as then Bautista and Encarnacion, if productive, will become very expensive.  For 2015 they clear out Cabrera, Lind (option), Rasmus, Janssen, Santos (option), McGowan (option). 

I think it is vital for the Jays to start finding kids who can pitch and hit in the majors at this point.  Goins and Hutchison getting their big breaks is good, but we need to see a lot better prospects than Sierra move into the 4th OF role for 2015 when Cabrera will (most likely) be gone. We need more pitchers to step up so guys like Happ won't be signed for millions. We need more kids to step up into the pen to replace guys who will be leaving (Janssen, maybe Santos), but the biggest need by far is more offense/defense for the assorted positions that will open mainly in the outfield.  Losing Jake Marisnick might have been an error as Gose, Pillar and Sierra aren't showing enough to cover 2 slots for 2015.

Lets hope a couple of players emerge in the minors this year, overperforming and making the Jays into believers as they really could use it.  Gose learning which end of the bat to use, Pillar continuing to improve, Sierra hitting like he did in September...need at least 2 of those 3 or someone new to emerge or the Jays have an expensive decision to make.

China fan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 02:23 PM EDT (#283449) #
Parker's points are, in my view, hardly a fair critique. But let's take the points one-by-one.

1) Morrow has produced a fWAR of 9.4 as a Blue Jay, while League has a career fWAR of 1.9. That trade was an incredible steal for the Jays. To suggest that Morrow had only "one above-average half-season" is ridiculous.

2) Nobody said Delabar should be in the Hall of Fame, so let's drop the exaggerations. He's clearly a far more valuable player than Thames, and that's the key point.

3) Mike Sirotka never pitched an inning for the Jays, so it's absurd to compare him to Santos -- unless you're seriously predicting that Santos won't have any value for the Jays this season or in any of his three subsequent team-option years.

4) You can quibble all you want about Rasmus's BABIP, but he's a valuable player at a premium position. And to compare him to Jackson "up until last season" is an illogical argument. Why not include 2013 if you want to compare them?

5) You claim that Anthopoulos has done nothing with his draft picks except to use them "to take on another team's insane free agent contracts." That's simply wrong, because it ignores R.A. Dickey, whose contract is far from insane, and it ignores the fact that the Jays clearly have to pay above-market rates to get players to come to Toronto, as recently shown by the Santana situation. Paying above-market salaries is not "insane" -- it's the only thing the Jays can do if they want to acquire good veterans like Reyes and Buehrle.

6) You claim that the Jays are "back to having contracts that are one awful season away from needing to be dumped." Let's wait and see if Reyes and Buehrle have "awful seasons" and "need to be dumped" and then you can make that argument. And this ignores, of course, the excellent contracts for Bautista and Encarnacion, which were negotiated by the same GM that you're scoffing at.

7) You say: "the team has almost without fail gotten worse every year he's been running the show." True enough, but it's unfair to completely disregard the injuries that decimated the team in 2013 and 2012. That's why 2014 could be a better test.

8) You say: "I think an argument can be made that the Jays under Anthopoulos don't have any idea what they're doing when it comes to evaluation of reliable major league talent." Sure, an argument can be made, but it would have to ignore a lot of evidence.
Gerry - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#283451) #
And now Stroman is getting lit up.  The battle for the fifth starters job goes to whoever does not take a step backwards.
Parker - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#283452) #
Wow. Okay:

1) Any player who is even average is going to have a positive fWAR, as that metric measures a player's value over a replacement player, not an average player. I'll admit that League has been less valuable than Morrow, but Morrow has been extraordinarily injury-prone, and is collecting a full-time starting pitcher's salary to spend more than half of his career as a Jay on the disabled list. I'll stand by my statement that he's never had more than one half-season as an above-averge starter until you can point out the times other than 2012 where he has been above-average.

2) I'll concede "more valuable" but "clearly far more valuable" will have to wait until Delabar shows he can continue to be a dominant relief pitcher.

3) Santos has been injured almost the entire time he's been in the organization, and reportedly had a pre-existing condition the Jays didn't know about until after the trade. Sirotka was injured the entire time, and definitely had a pre-existing condition. Once Santos stays healthy for a couple seasons, I'll retract this.

4) If Rasmus continues that BABIP-powered premium play, I'll be happy to retract this too. I excluded Jackson's 2013 because the Jays wouldn't have had him for 2013 anyway; he would've walked as a free agent.

5) When Dickey becomes an above-average pitcher for the Jays, you can credibly make that claim. Also, paying above-market rates is one thing; paying premium prospects to bring in aging players whose contracts are already above market rates is quite another. If the Jays had signed Buehrle and Reyes as free agents, I would've been against the signings because of their inevitable drops in production, but I would have stopped short of calling the acquisitions downright stupid.

6) Each player was coming off one unprecedented good season that came from out of nowhere in his late 20's. Both sides took on risk, and in this case it worked out better for the team (so far.) That doesn't make Anthopoulos a genius, it just shows he (or someone in the front office) isn't completely incompetent.

7) You say that it's unfair to disregard the injuries as if they're not going to happen again in the future.

8) Saying that the Jays under Anthopoulos know what they're doing would also have to ignore a lot of evidence.
Paul D - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#283453) #
Isn't 224 innings of 97 ERA+ comfortably above average for a starting pitcher?
#2JBrumfield - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#283454) #
Romero, Jeffress, Stroman and Walden have all forgotten how to pitch today. 12-COB Tigers. Stroman retired just one of the 8 hitters he faced. Spring Training or not, that's brutal!
China fan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#283455) #
"....Isn't 224 innings of 97 ERA+ comfortably above average for a starting pitcher?...."

Yes, but Parker is determined to paint the worse possible portrait of every player that Anthopoulos has acquired.
#2JBrumfield - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:19 PM EDT (#283456) #
Sad when a busy signal is the best part of the broadcast. What a circus!
Chuck - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#283457) #
FanGraphs forecasts a middling season for the Jays with top shelf hitting and pitching on a much lower shelf.
ogator - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#283458) #
One Spring training game does not mean very much at all in the general scheme of things but nine walks for the Tigers vs 1 walk for the Blue Jays. The Tigers are hitting with power and the Blue Jays have really not shown much power this spring with the possible exceptions of Bautista and Johnson. There are some patterns that should raise some eyebrows.
John Northey - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 04:01 PM EDT (#283459) #
One good thing out of this horrid game today - it should end all talk of Romero coming north with the team.  0 K's vs 5 walks in 2 2/3 IP is pretty poor...plus 2 wild pitches and a HBP just to add insult to injury. Stroman showed he needs minor league time (no shock), Jeffress was wild but just one unearned run on a day like this makes him look good despite the 3 walks vs 2 K's in 1 1/3 IP plus he stranded the 2 runners he inherited which is what you want out of a reliever.
China fan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#283460) #
Hold on a moment, Fangraphs is projecting the Jays to win 82 games, only 6 games fewer than the first-place Red Sox? But wait, I thought everyone had already decided that the Jays were a guaranteed last-place team?

Let me choose this moment -- with the Jays losing 16-4 to the Tigers, with gloom and cynicism shrouding every fan website -- to lay out my ridiculously over-optimistic argument for why the Jays still have a chance at being contenders this year. Even if everyone except John Northey immediately dismisses the argument.

It begins with the 82 wins that Fangraphs is already forecasting. How do the Jays add 6 wins to that?

On the pitching side, it just requires some belief in Morrow and Hutchison to be better than Johnson and Rogers last season. Hutchison has looked fantastic so far, and Morrow is at least reasonably healthy, so neither scenario is a stretch. Then let's assume that Dickey improves on his injury-hampered April of last season, and Buehrle gets off to a slightly better start than last year. Both are quite possible as Dickey and Buehrle get more comfortable with the team and the division. The 5th spot in the rotation, whether it's Happ or Redmond or Rogers, can't be any worse than the cobbled-together 2013 gang of Wang, Ortiz, Happ etc. The bullpen, meanwhile, should be as good as last season.

As for the hitters: I think it's reasonable to expect improvements at LF, 3B, C and SS. There might be some regression in the rest of the lineup, but overall the offense should be better, and the defence should be better too, with Navarro and Cabrera and Goins all providing improvement at their positions.

Some of this, of course, has already been factored into the Fangraphs projection. And it's all very vulnerable to injuries, or an unexpected slump from one or two key hitters. But I don't think I'm outlining an impossible scenario. Most of these projections are reasonably conservative and modest. Doing a few games better than the Fangraphs projection is, in my view, a definite possibility.
ComebyDeanChance - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#283461) #
And to compare him to Jackson "up until last season" is an illogical argument. Why not include 2013 if you want to compare them?

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play.
greenfrog - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#283462) #
My sense is that it's extremely rare for a pitcher to develop full-blown Steve Blass disease and then make it back to being an effective ML pitcher. Rick Ankiel is a prime example: ERA+ of 142 and 134 in his first two years (totalling 208 IP); he went on to pitch 34 more innings in the majors (26 walks; 9 HR).
John Northey - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#283463) #
I see the big variables as...
Positive....
  • Hutchison - showing a lot, people talking him up...could he be a 110 ERA+ guy over 175+ IP?  If he does that it'd be a MAJOR improvement vs projections
  • Goins - if he can hit for a 650+ OPS with top flight defense (ie: 2+ WAR via defense alone) it'll be another big plus
  • Dickey & Buehrle - return to their previous 3 years level or close to it would add 1-2 WAR each
  • Health - Cabrera, Lawrie, Bautista, etc. - get 140+ games out of them and that would add a LOT to this team

Negative...

  • Health - they've been hurt before, what if Lawrie, Bautista, Encarnacion go down for more than a few weeks?
  • Happ - been a replacement level pitcher pretty much, what if he cliff dives and no one steps up to replace?
  • Hutchison - still recovering from Tommy John potentially, could hit issues and not perform
  • Goins - could hit in the low 500's for OPS and need to be demoted, then ... the return of Izturis ... be afraid...be very afraid

Just a few on each side, often the same players on both.  Goins and Hutchison I see as the biggest random variables this year outside of health. Neither has had a full ML season so what they are capable of is very unknown. Lets hope for the best.

To look at bright sides... Hentgen was a rookie in '92 with a 76 ERA+ then came out in '93 as a starter and won 19 games (112 ERA+) with a 120 ERA+ 3 of the next 4 years.  Pitchers can, and have, come from out of the blue to wow the team ala what we hope for from Hutchison.  For dark side there is no shortage of guys who looked good who never did make it.

jerjapan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 07:15 PM EDT (#283464) #
Oh god, please stop

92-93, I respect your opinion and read your posts with interest, but I don't think it's too much of me to ask that you speak a bit more politely to people around here. 
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 11:14 PM EDT (#283465) #
When Gomes and Avila/Aviles were traded Gomes was a distant 4th or 5th or 6th on the Catching list as he wasn't a full time Catcher because he was so low on the list. Avila/Aviles was traded because Boston wasn't 't giving up anyone of talent.

Rogers on the other hand looked (to Toronto) like he could Start. Trading probable spare parts for a possible 5th Starter is a good deal. And they needed to replace Villanueva.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 11:25 PM EDT (#283467) #
J.A. Happ was always a Jays' target since before the Halladay Trade. Basically acquiring a 4th/5th Starter and a needed top reliever in Brandon Lyon for spare parts was a steal. Both were needed at a time when the bullpen sucked.

Todd Redmond was a windfall, something for nothing. And of more value because he showed he could pitch up here.
katman - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 01:03 AM EDT (#283469) #
RE: rotorose and NL teams scouting Redmond:

It's a measure of our pathetic situation as an organization that I worry the Jays can't afford to do this. If teams need 8 pitchers, and we trade him for C prospects, it means our #5 and beyond are Happ (questionable to begin as a starter). Esmil Rogers, Chad Jenkins. #8 and we're down to Romero, Stroman, Drabek, Nolin, none of whom should be pitching in the majors.

Now, maybe Rogers ends up being better than spring so far as he stops with the changeup. Maybe Jenkins is ready to an innings-eater who can pitch at Redmond's modest level. Maybe Happ will produce an ERA under 5. But there are equally good reasons to believe that these things won't happen, and we'll continue to see results like the ones we've seen from starters other than Hutch, Dickey, and MB this spring. Throw in the likelihood of additional injuries or caution needed with Morrow, Hutch, and whatever random acts of fate come our way, and we could be back to 2013's situation really quickly, with options that are about the same as Ortiz and Wang.

The Jays built a team to win, then neither acquired nor sold, and are left with paper-thin depth that could feature Hutch, Rogers, and Jenkins for an extended combined period over 162 games. I'd rather have 1 more arm that can be relied on at a #5 starter level than a C prospect in anything. It would have to be Redmond and relievers for something that actually helps the team right now, and even then, it's a risk.

Man, I wish we had signed Kazmir (not that it means anything, but 0 ERA and 0.57 WHIP in 2 starts this spring, 7 innings), and Drew.

gabrielthursday - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 03:33 AM EDT (#283471) #
Parker: "I'll concede "more valuable" but "clearly far more valuable" will have to wait until Delabar shows he can continue to be a dominant relief pitcher.

Delabar has been worth 1.9 fWAR with the Jays in 88 innings; Thames was worth 0 WAR to Seattle. That's not just "clearly more valuable" that's "infinitely more valuable". There's simply no way to not see the Thames/Delabar trade as an excellent job of talent evaluation by the Jays' front office, albeit in a minor transaction.

Rasmus had a great season last year, propped up by an unheard-of BABIP.

Rasmus did have a high BABIP last year, but it was certainly not "unheard-of": Rasmus himself had put up a nearly equal BABIP in 2010, and while I expect Rasmus will regress, there are players who have had career BABIPs as high or nearly as high as Rasmus' last year, so it isn't even unheard-of for an individual player's peak talent level. I believe in 2012 when he had a depressed BABIP he was near the top of a leaderboard for hard-hit balls, so I expect his true talent to be somewhere north of league-average, if not at his 2010 & 2013 level. I also expect his strikeout and walk rates to improve from last year on the basis of his swing and contact rates, which while far from great, should support a K% well below 30%.

katman: If teams need 8 pitchers, and we trade him [Redmond] for C prospects, it means our #5 and beyond are Happ (questionable to begin as a starter), Esmil Rogers, Chad Jenkins; #8 and we're down to Romero, Stroman, Drabek, Nolin, none of whom should be pitching in the majors.

Actually, even assuming Redmond (or Rogers) is traded, I think we have enviable depth for our starting rotation - it's really the unexceptional top of the rotation that is the problem. Part of the problem is that you're evaluating these guys as if you have to pick them right now. In fact, we get to see who pitches well/recovers/develops in Buffalo and then promote a starter that is having success. While Stroman, Drabek and Nolin have all looked poor this spring, in Stroman you have a top prospect with excellent stuff who did well in New Hampshire last year and even better in the AFL; in Nolin you have a prospect who struggled in 3 starts in AAA last year but put up a 2.69 FIP in 93 AA innings. Drabek has good stuff and could settle down and throw strikes, as he did coming back from surgery last year. Those guys all have long-term starter potential. Rogers and Happ strike me as quintessential 5th starters - not appalling, occasionally good, reliably mediocre. McGowan could be stretched out if he's put into a long-relief role in the pen, and his stuff is probably mid-rotation stuff still. Romero, Jenkins and McGuire aren't likely, in my mind, to be replacement-level this year, but you can always be surprised, and as the 11th, 12th and 13th guys on my depth chart are just fine. Overall, it's a heck of a lot better than looking at Chien-Ming Wang and Aaron Laffey picking up starts.
christaylor - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 04:47 AM EDT (#283472) #
This is the kind of post where you need to list multiple examples of bad asset management to get your point across.

However, I sympathize, AA did seem to get caught out holding a bag on the "RP are valuable" after working it to his advantage when the Jays were in nowhere land and everybody knew it.
greenfrog - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 07:55 AM EDT (#283474) #
Gabriel, I agree with some of your post, but you lost me when you listed Drabek, McGuire and Romero as examples of the Jays' improved depth in 2014.
John Northey - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 08:59 AM EDT (#283476) #
Nolin having trouble in AAA caught me off-guard as I thought I saw a great ERA for him there - 3 starts, 1.53 ERA.  However, there is a big issue - in 17 2/3 IP he walked 10 vs 13 K's, extremely bad. Lifetime in the minors (341 IP) he has a 2.7 BB/9 vs 9.6 K/9 rate.  Hopefully his wildness was a short term thing - he walked 4-3-3 in his 3 starts ... the only time as a pro that he walked more than 4 was in 2011 (5 walked in A ball in one game - just one looking strike in that game so it might have been an off-day for the ump too).

Teams like to have someone decent for #6 but for #7 and beyond you almost have to count on prospects and AAAA guys as few guys who are decent will sign with a team just to be their #7 starter.  I see depth as a low priority, it is front line that matters.  If Dickey can get back to the 120+ ERA+ he had in NY then he is a good #1 or very good #2.  Buehrle I wouldn't hope for more than a 110, but that would be a decent #2 or very good #3.  Really, the Jays need a new #1 and those are very hard to get. Ideally you develop them but I wouldn't expect Hutchison (the only kid in the rotation to start) to be that and Morrow is so up and down with injuries that, while he could be a #1, I would expect nothing more than a decent #4 level of work from him. 

Guess we just have to hope someone steps up and gives the Jays a real #1... funny how last winter we had hopes of Romero returning to that form, had a Cy Young winner from the previous season, two guys who were expected to contend for the Cy if healthy plus Buehrle.  Sigh...
92-93 - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 09:31 AM EDT (#283478) #
It isn't funny the Jays didn't replace Josh Johnson's potential in the rotation - it's pathetic.
bpoz - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#283486) #
My random thoughts:

1) In 2008 we won 86 games. If we could have avoided the slow start to the year then maybe we would have seen our 90+ wins.

2) Relievers (the pen) is extremely valuable. I am not arguing with anyone, but I remember the pen before T Henke. Legendary IMO. Also IMO the Expos never had a good pen.

I think you have look at your teams record and then decide if you are winning.What I mean is that in July or whatever date you choose if your team is .575 93 wins, .531 86 wins or .481 78 wins then you base your evaluation on that data. I realize that some may think that this is obvious and others may think it is stupid or wrong thinking. I in most cases believe that the .575 in July indicates that the team is winning. But that is my opinion.

I understand that some may say that I am wrong to think that way. We know what happened in 2011 Boston and Atlanta had very bad Septembers and missed out by a narrow margin. The other example is the 2008 TB team that won the AL East. Then Boston in 2013. So if a team's record does not seem to validate their roster construction or something then what? I do not know what is happening or why.

greenfrog - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 11:31 AM EDT (#283487) #
Last winter I thought SP depth was a significant issue, even after the two big trades. Hence my suggestion last March that they sign Lohse. I guess the Jays didn't want to expand their budget any further at that point -- or they thought that Lohse wasn't worth 3/33.
christaylor - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 01:06 PM EDT (#283495) #
Yeah, I'd have been into exercising JJ's option, convincing Doc to pitch, and bringing back AJ Burnett back. C'est la vie, que sera sera, or something.

SP RA Dickey
SP JJ
SP AJ
SP Buehrle
SP Doc/Romero (tandem)
greenfrog - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 01:13 PM EDT (#283496) #
The Jays reportedly matched Philly's offer to AJ (1/16). AJ chose to sign with the Phillies.
greenfrog - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#283497) #
From Buster Olney's column today:

Xander Bogaerts has impressed others in the Red Sox camp with his work ethic, humility and willingness to learn. Boston coach Brian Butterfield has been working with him on quickening his actions on defense -- getting to the ball quicker, fielding it more quickly, getting rid of it more quickly.

Do the Jays have a ML coach who is similarly capable of helping their positional players improve their defence? Or are the Jays and Gibbons just letting the players "do their own thing," as they reportedly did last ST?
gabrielthursday - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 03:35 PM EDT (#283498) #
greenfrog, my mention of Romero and McGuire was simply to suggest that they are better options than most teams have as their 11th-13th starting pitching options.
Gerry - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 11:41 AM EDT (#283509) #
Fangraphs is ranking all the positions on MLB teams.  Today they ranked second base.  The Jays come in at number thirty, more than a win behind number twenty-nine, and more than four wins behind the Rays and Red Sox.
John Northey - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#283510) #
Positional rankings are fun to look at. Each has a lot of assumptions about playing time and the like, but fun none the less.

Catcher: Jays #18 (2.8 WAR)...#2 is Cleveland thanks to Gomes (3.1 WAR projected for him alone).  Rays #23 (2.5), Red Sox #25 (2.4), Yankees #5 (3.7 WAR with McCann being 3.3), Orioles #6 (3.6 via 3.3 for Wieters)
First Base: Jays #15 (2.6 WAR, just 1.8 for EE and 0.8 for Lind estimating equal time at 1B for each)... Rays #21 (1.6 WAR), Red Sox #16 (2.5), Yankees #11 (3.0), Orioles #5 (3.5)
Second Base: Jays #30 (-0.1 for Goins, 0.1 for Izturis, 0.1 overall), Rays #2 (4.4), Red Sox #3 (4.3), Yankees #22 (1.5), Orioles #29 (1.1)

Net for the first 3 positions...
Jays: 5.5 WAR
Rays: 8.5 WAR
Red Sox: 9.2 WAR
Yankees: 8.2 WAR
Orioles: 8.2 WAR

Ouch.  Not a good projection with the Jays behind by 3-4 wins already. Of course, this also gets rid of the worst position for the Jays (2B).  The good thing is that it is an obvious hole thus a bit easier to fill as AA doesn't have any doubt that he needs to fill it...I hope.  What is funny is FanGraphs lists multiple projection systems, with Oliver having Goins as being worth 0.7 WAR if playing full-time, ZiPS has him at 0.4, but Steamer has him as a -0.1 in 81 games.  Defense is the big divider - Steamer having him as being worth 2.3 runs on defense vs 15.8 for Oliver and 7.9 for ZiPS.  Regardless though even if you add a full win at 2B you are still behind at this point by 2+ wins.
Chuck - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 12:48 PM EDT (#283513) #
The Gomes forecast is interesting. The offensive regression is expected. But another strong defensive season is anticipated.

If Gomes really is such a strong defensive catcher, how did the Blue Jays' organization see things so differently? Am I misremembering?
John Northey - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#283514) #
Chuck - that is an excellent question. It seems in Cleveland he is viewed as strong defensively while here Gomes was viewed as hopeless, needing to move away from behind the plate.  Who is right, or did Gomes in one off-season change from horrid to good? I'm guessing someone is wrong.  If it is the Jays then their internal evaluations need serious questioning. If it is the reports on how good Gomes was last year then they might have been based on too small a sample size (85 games) and should regress significantly this year.  Gomes catching saw the pitchers have a 696 OPS against while Santana has a 718 OPS against in almost an identical inning count (2 inning spread).  Under 20 innings by other catchers, so no need to look at them.  So no smoking gun there either way.  Defensive measurements have always been challenging and catchers much more so ... guess we'll see if anything changes this year.
Dewey - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 03:58 PM EDT (#283517) #
. . .  here Gomes was viewed as hopeless, needing to move away from behind the plate.

Sorry, John.  I donít remember that at all.  I do recall that JPA was regarded as the Catcher of the Future, and Gomes didnít seem to be on many peoples radar.  And Gomes *could* play elsewhere; so they put him in the field a few times.  Where, incidentally, he handled things well.    Looks like they were wrong about both of them to me.
Gerry - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#283520) #
Agreed that Gomes was not viewed as hopeless.  The Jays had Gomes as a backup through most of his minor league career, he never had more than 300 at-bats in the minors.  I think everything he did was looked at as a small sample size.  He played well, its just that no-one thought a minor league backup could become a major league starter, even though he looked good when he played.
John Northey - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 04:47 PM EDT (#283523) #
OK, I could be wrong then. Just seemed that way at the time I guess.  Again, it shows very negatively on the Jays that they had a guy this talented that they ignored just because he was a 'backup'. Labels cannot be used to determine what a player can/cannot do.  You need to see what they actually _are_ doing not what you thought they could do years earlier. 

Checking Gomes closer...
10th round draft pick in 2009, thus not highly thought of but seen as useful most likely (pre-draft salary cap thus 4th to 10th rounds were not wasted to save cash for certain picks).  Mainly in A- ball year one at age 21, 807 OPS which is very good for a catcher.  Year 2 split between A and A+ but just 75 games with a 780 OPS (again, excellent hitting).  Year 3, age 23 in AA/AAA (not too old for either level) but just 83 games (mainly in AA) with a 770 OPS.  Year 4 split between Vegas (79 games 938 OPS) and Toronto (43 games 631 OPS) - his first year cracking 100 games, used mainly at 1B here.  Last year 6 games in AAA then 88 in majors with a 826 OPS/133 OPS+. 

Yeah, the Jays royally screwed up there. The offense was always there and while he didn't do as well at the ML level it could've just been the bench role (8 games playing everyday, 796 OPS, then over a week off, 673 OPS and demoted, called up and used off bench 569 OPS, called up again with mainly off bench role 220 OPS, got into 10 of final 22 games and hit 1.008 OPS).  To lose him while keeping JPA just seems like very poor judgement based more on where the guys were drafted than on what they actually could/did do.

Lets hope Gomes and JPA combine to teach the Jays a lesson about that - to pay attention to how a guy does not to what you first thought he'd do.  High draft slot is an indicator of potential but don't let that control you, as the best hitting catcher ever (in the majors) was a 62nd round draft pick.
Dave Till - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#283539) #
When I saw Gomes play in Toronto, I didn't think he'd amount to much - his swing seemed to have a lot of moving parts. I guess this is why I am not a scout.

In retrospect, I find it less easy to criticize AA for his lack of off-season moves. When I thought about it, I realized that the Jays always have had trouble luring free agents north of the border. Toronto is in a foreign country, the Jays play on artificial turf in a tough division, and they are unlikely to make the postseason. They're not likely to be anybody's first choice, unless they ludicrously overpay for somebody (as they did to keep Vernon Wells, and you know how that worked out).

Except for the 1992-1993 seasons, when free agents signed with Toronto because they were likely to make it to the post-season, I can't think of any major free agents that the Jays were able to land except for Clemens and A. J. Burnett - and both of them needed out clauses, which they exercised. The next best free agent was probably B. J. Ryan.

I think it was Paul Beeston who once said that the Jays have to use other methods of developing a team because they are never going to be able to sign good free agents. He might well be right.

greenfrog - Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 10:31 PM EDT (#283540) #
This is one reason why I criticized the Jays for not bidding aggressively on Darvish. They didn't need to persuade Yu to come to Toronto. By submitting the highest posting fee, they could have had exclusive negotiating rights with one of the best pitchers in the world.

The Darvish bidding process was a rare opportunity to use the then-existing rules to overcome the disadvantage Dave describes. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed, partly because pitchers like Darvish don't come along very often, but mainly because the rules have since been changed, making it extremely unlikely that a marquee Japanese player will ever come to Toronto.
Gerry - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#283550) #

Aaron Sanchez gets the start today for the Jays vs. the Rays.  Todd Redmond was scheduled to start but he has been pushed back to tomorrow.  Sanchez has an ERA of zero this spring although he has had baserunners.  Will his luck run out, as it did with Stroman?  If he pitches well we will hear the calls for him to take the #5 spot.

I don't think he should have a chance at the #5 spot, but the experience is good for him, as it was with Stroman and Nolin.

John Northey - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 02:23 PM EDT (#283553) #
Well, Sanchez is certainly trying for that slot that he shouldn't have a chance at.  4 IP 3 H 0 R 2 BB 2 SO.  Can't really complain too much.  Tampa seems to have their A lineup out there too.  If I was Happ/Redmond/Rogers I'd be in a bit of fear that the 5th slot could be claimed.

As to doing the big jump from A+ to the majors... it isn't unprecedented and the general rule with pitchers is that if they can handle the majors then bring them up ASAP as you never know when their arm will pop.  Tough choices for the Jays, but at least for once this is a 'good tough' with Sanchez.

China fan - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#283554) #
Sanchez just threw another shutout inning -- so it's 5 on the day. His spring ERA is still a nice tidy 0.00. He gave up only 3 singles today (plus 3 walks, which is perhaps slightly concerning).

I agree with Gerry that Sanchez needs some more time in the minors. But how much time? Drew Hutchison needed only 6 starts at New Hampshire before he was promoted to the majors at the age of 21. Henderson Alvarez needed only 14 starts at New Hampshire before he was promoted to the majors at the age of 21. How about Sanchez making a similar move to the majors at the age of 21 after maybe 6 or 10 starts at New Hampshire? Why not? I know he had too many walks last year and the year before, but it seems to be the only flaw in his game at this point.
Paul D - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 02:46 PM EDT (#283555) #
I don't think you bring a guy from A+ or even AA who's that young unless he's dominating. And despite the 0.00 ERA, you're not dominating when you give up as many walks as he does.
Gerry - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 02:53 PM EDT (#283556) #
I think Sanchez should be in the conversation by mid-season.  Sanchez was helped today by 3 double plays.  Sanchez gets a lot of movement on his pitches leading to a lot of ground balls.  He could be a pitcher that is helped more by the better defenses in the majors as opposed to in AA or AAA. 
greenfrog - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#283557) #
That has to be a confidence-booster for Sanchez. He was facing a major-league lineup that included hitters like Zobrist, DeJesus, Longo and Myers.

I'm glad AA held off on trading Sanchez for Samardzija.

Also, a recent BP column included a very positive scouting report on Sanchez: "Sanchez's consistency is better than I have ever seen itÖ.The stride, slight inversion of the elbow, and stiff leg are all there, but if he can continue to be consistent with his command, his stuff is so elite that none of that will hurt him[.]"

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23082
John Northey - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 03:38 PM EDT (#283558) #
I'd agree that Sanchez should start in AA or AAA for 5-10 starts ideally.  According to the Sun McGowan is still in the hunt too.  They also claim that Happ has an option left - I thought he ran out after last year but if he does then I'd certainly send him down after his poor spring and with the option situation.  Happ is best as the #6/7 starter option.  Redmond and Rogers have shown a bit, but not enough to give it to them.

My personal choice would be Hutchison and McGowan in the 4/5 slots as both have #2/3 potential while Rogers/Redmond/Happ are #5's and that is it, maybe #4's if they have a great year (yeah, Happ had the miracle year long ago but that isn't likely to happen again).
China fan - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#283559) #
Thanks for finding that Sun article, John. The quotes from Walker are quite strong: McGowan had no ill-effects from his 3 innings yesterday, his arm was fine today, and he'll get 65 pitches in his next start, and potentially 85 in his final spring start, if all goes smoothly. So he still has a chance.

As for Happ's options: I think he does have options, but I read somewhere that he cannot be demoted without his permission. If that's correct, perhaps it's a condition of his current contract? Or is there a MLB rule about veterans after a specific number of seasons? Maybe veterans can't be optioned without their permission if they've been in the majors for a specific minimum number of years?

I also think, as others have noted, that the DL could be a possibility for Happ if the Jays can argue that he still has lingering back issues, or maybe even lingering issues from the injuries last year.

But if McGowan makes the rotation, there would be room for 2 of Happ, Redmond and Rogers in a 7-man bullpen. Or all of them in an 8-man bullpen, if Jeffress is waived. (And the Jays will need an 8-man pen if McGowan is in the rotation, since he won't be fully stretched out.) So I suppose it still depends on how each of those 3 pitchers does in their remaining starts this spring. Or one could be traded.

Did Jeffress climb back into the picture with 2.1 hitless innings today?
Rich - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#283560) #
Personally I hate the 8 man bullpen to start with, especially when the offensive depth is so poor and the club has so many injury-prone hitters.  To go with 8 just so you can keep Jeffress, who I don't think will every be a consistently effective major league pitcher, is sheer madness. Throwing 2.1 good innings doesn't suddenly make him worth a roster spot IMHO.

The simple truth is none of the options for the spot currently occupied by Happ are good.  Happ, Redmond, and Rogers and all mediocre swingmen who will put up dismal overall numbers if they are run out there for 20+ starts.  What's the solution?  ****ed if I know; I don't see that rushing Sanchez is a viable solution either as he is just too valuable.

Greenfrog, you couldn't be more right about Darvish. 

I hate to sound so negative, but really, it's hard to be that positive about a rotation that was horrific on the whole last year and simply hasn't added anyone to the mix.
China fan - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 04:34 PM EDT (#283561) #
".... simply hasn't added anyone to the mix...."

Hutchison has been added to the mix. He was obviously unavailable last season, and now he's fully ready and has been pitching great. And arguably McGowan has been added to the mix, since he was purely a reliever last year and now is being stretched out for a possible starting role. So there's two starters added. And then Morrow was injured for most of last season, and is now healthy. You have to include him as an addition too. So three good pitchers have been added as rotation possibilities this year, compared to last season. The pitching situation is not as bad as you portray it.
China fan - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#283562) #
"...To go with 8 just so you can keep Jeffress...."

No, that's not what the Jays are doing. If they go with an 8-man bullpen, it's because they are concerned that some of their starters (Morrow, Hutchison, Happ, Rogers or whoever else is in the 5th spot in the rotation) won't be able to go deep into games at the start of the season. And that's a legitimate concern. It's quite possible that Morrow, Hutchison etc might be unable to go more than 5 or 6 innings at the beginning of the season. So that's why the Jays might opt for an 8-man pen at the start of the season -- to avoid burning out their bullpen if it's needed for 3 or 4 innings in consecutive games. Not to keep Jeffress.
Rich - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 04:44 PM EDT (#283563) #
Fair point about Hutchison.  Morrow and McGowan, as much as I like both of them, are rarely healthy so imaging healthy and effective seasons from both takes a fair bit of what I would respectfully call unrealistic optimism.  What would you say the honest chances are of all 3 of these guys getting 20+ starts and pitching better at least league average baseball?  I would say a reasonable prediction is 1 will have a healthy, productive year, 1 will pitch a half-season effectively, and 1 will get hurt again and have their innings covered by one of the mediocrities on the staff.

To me, this is the essential problem of the AA Blue Jays - you can look at the club on paper and imagine that if virtually everything goes right, the team can contend.  The problem is that things virtually never all go the right way and you have to have the depth and contingency plans in place when they don't.  I can't imagine you could find a fan of any other club that would look at the Jays rotation, even including Hutch, Morrow, and McGowan (who isn't even in the rotation btw, let's not forget that) and say it's good enough to contend.

China fan - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#283564) #
Which is probably why Anthopoulos tried to sign Santana, and why he sent 3 scouts to look at Samardzija this week, and why there are rumors that he is talking to the Tigers about Porcello. He knows the team needs another good starting pitcher, if it wants a realistic chance of contending. Otherwise, as you note, everything would have to fall into place perfectly with all of his top 5 or 6 starting pitchers. Could happen -- I'm not ruling it out -- but it seems unlikely.
92-93 - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 06:18 PM EDT (#283565) #
"I think it was Paul Beeston who once said that the Jays have to use other methods of developing a team because they are never going to be able to sign good free agents. He might well be right."

Taking on other team's massive FA deals by trading them valuable assets is probably not the way you want to go about it either, Paul.
John Northey - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 06:56 PM EDT (#283568) #
I do find it funny how negative people here are about Jeffress.  Now, at the moment he is little more than a power arm with mediocre control but as we've seen a few times guys with poor control can gain control and take off if put in the right situation.  From Duane Ward (his early days here were very ugly) to Roy Halladay (4.8 BB/9 in his first stretch with the team before he was sent to A ball to rebuild - hard as that is to believe now).  There are many, many more cases of guys who never figured out where the strike zone was of course, but the potential reward from a guy who throws hard is amazing.  Plus, of course, he did show it last year in AAA (3.6 BB/9 was his best since his first call-up season) and gave up just 1 HR over his 42 2/3 IP between AAA and Toronto.  If he has figured it out then he'd be a major asset and at 26 and not arbitration eligible until the 2016 season the Jays would be crazy to completely give up on him just to save a slot for guys who have a peak potential of marginal #5 starter/long man.

As to more bench - outside of hitting for Goins or running for a catcher what other moves would the manager make in-game? Well, hitting for Lind vs a LHP or hitting for his right handed hitting platoon partner vs RHP but those 2 cover each other and ideally the RH will be an outfielder (which Sierra is).  A backup infielder (Izturis), backup outfielder (Sierra) and a catcher (Kratz) covers the vast majority of needs day-to-day. Any regular can take a day off (Goins going to SS when Reyes needs a day off). 

Now, is an 8 man pen nutty? Yeah, generally speaking but Janssen should very, very rarely be used in back-to-back games given his history, and you should be careful with Cecil, Santos, and Delabar too in the same respect. I see roles as...
Closer: Janssen / Santos
Setup: Cecil* / Delabar
Backup Setup: Loup* / Jeffress
Long Men: Rogers / Redmond / Happ* (one has to go)

Loup, Happ, and Cecil have the * to indicate LHP.  I would avoid using Rogers/Redmond or Happ in a short role as they are all starters historically.  I could see this as a very strong lockdown relief core - the top 4 have all shown a lot at the ML level while Loup has a lot of success and Jeffress could be in the 6th/7th inning for lower pressure until he (and the team) gains confidence that he can handle it.  His game where he didn't allow any inherited runners to score despite having little (a few spring games ago) was impressive in the respect it showed he could get the job done even if it is in heart stopping fashion.

If I had to cut to 7 I'd cut Redmond and Happ at this point, just Happ to get to 8. I just don't see a ton of potential in them, although I like Redmond as a #6/7 starter I'd risk losing him before Jeffress.
Gerry - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 07:30 PM EDT (#283570) #
If Jeffress has value then someone would trade for him. If the Jays think he is fixed, even though other teams don't believe it, then trade someone else and keep Jeffress.

If the Jays don't do either of those then Jeffress doesn't have much value right now.
Rich - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 08:55 PM EDT (#283573) #
Not to be a jerk, but similarly I find it funny how rose-tinted some people can be about a guy with a career 1.67 WHIP and 6.4 BB / 9, just because he was a first round pick and can light up a radar gun.

Ward was an exception, not the rule.  As bad as his BB ratio was in the minors, Jeffress' was worse, plus you could see even then that Ward was more than just a hard thrower.  I saw his first start in Syracuse and his slider was filthy.

In 8 minor league seasons Jeffress has walked over 5 batters per 9.  In the majors it's over 6 per 9.  I respectfully disagree that 1 performance in a spring game shows anything all.  You never know with pitchers but I wouldn't waste the roster spot. 

As for the bench, there is exactly 1 player on it who might contribute offensively of the 4.  And you are assuming all the regulars will stay healthy, which they won't.  This is my point about the lack of depth - when Reyes or Lawrie gets hurt again whoever fills in for them on an extended basis will likely be a complete offensive sinkhole.  Same goes if Rasmus or Navarro get hurt.  And mark my words, someone will, and that's hardly going out on a limb.  The bench is poorly stocked with players who can hit effectively in an extended role and the organization has virtually no offensive help on the horizon in the upper minors.  Yes, I am including Gose here, who has a long way to go to convince anyone he will ever be a big league hitter.   And this is on the GM.



John Northey - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 10:44 PM EDT (#283575) #
I agree that the bench is horrid. Counting on Izturis & Sierra as your only non-catchers on the bench is terrible as one was sub-replacement last year (by a lot in every respect) and the other is a marginal prospect at this point.  The backups are not strong - mostly AAA quality players who will have trouble in the majors most likely.  I grew up in the 80's when 5 man bullpens were the norm, not 7 man pens.  Of course, the big 1985 team that won 99 games had 2 wasted roster slots in Manny Lee and Lou Thornton who combined for 118 PA (both rule 5 picks) while still having platoons at DH and 3B all year.

As to Jeffress - I know he is far more likely to flame out than be a solid contributor but remember, this is the 8th guy in the pen, probably going to be used in games when the Jays are already behind by a couple or extra innings or worn out bullpen (shouldn't be an issue, but a few extra inning games in a row could cause it).  The question is what is more potentially valuable...a guy who seems to have finally figured it out last year in AAA with a reasonable walk rate and 0 HR in the minors (just 1 in the majors) who everyone has been waiting to have figure it out, or a guy like Redmond/Happ neither of whom anyone seriously expects to ever be more than a 5th starter - at best.  As to another bench bat (which AA seems to have rejected as a possibility right now) who do you keep?  Options on the 40 man...
  • CA: Thole (couldn't hit his weight last year in the majors), Jimenez (going to AA or AAA for more experience)
  • OF: Gose (has yet to show strong signs of being ready), Pillar (looked overmatched in majors last year), Wilson (just using a slot it seems), Tuiasosopo (hasn't hit a lot in majors, only hit LHP in minors but can play a lot of positions)

Right now I'd think if the Jays went with a 7 man pen the bench would be Izturis, Sierra, and Tuiasosopo.  I doubt the Jays would have the guts to release Izturis at this point even after his 222/250/222 spring (6 for 27, all singles, 1 walk 0 K 0 SB 0 CS) and his horrid year last year, but right now I'd rather have Tuiasosopo just because it was such a disaster for Izturis last year and there really isn't any sign he won't be just as much of one this year.


Rich - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 10:49 PM EDT (#283576) #
Fair question.  My suggestion would be a 7 man bullpen and to seek a better bench bat via trade.  No one specific in mind to be honest but finding an upgrade over the current crop can't be that difficult, especially given the fact the team does have a surplus of decent relievers (something not all clubs can say). 
Rich - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 10:56 PM EDT (#283577) #
The 85 team basically had zero injuries and didn't have a single offensive sinkhole.  You can't even count losing Buck as it meant Whitt got to play every day and he had the best year of his career while doing so.  I know AA is no Billy Beane but seeing how the A's have been able to stack their roster full of productive hitters, even if lots of them wouldn't necessarily be great every day players, shows it can be done.  Yet the 2014 Jays look like they will have 8 respectable or better hitters on the entire roster and 3 of them are incredibly fragile.  This seems like a plausible area to try and improve the club as I would think a productive bench bat will help more than an 8th pitcher will help an already deep and talented pen.  Heck, how much discussion has there been on here about sending quality relievers to the minors due to options?
John Northey - Friday, March 21 2014 @ 10:57 PM EDT (#283578) #
I suspect AA will be waiver wire shopping up until opening day and maybe beyond looking for a decent backup who someone has given up on who can hit LHP and play at least one of CF/3B/2B.  The new guy might be a temporary solution but he hardly is a long term solution.  Teams always get caught in a roster crunch and as long as AA has someone he can let go (and Sierra, Izturis, Wilson, and Tuiasosopo all can be dumped from the 40 man easily and if lost would be replaceable) then he should be OK.  Heck, worst case is Kawasaki gets another shot.
scottt - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 08:06 AM EDT (#283579) #
Some teams choose to rest as many regulars as they can when they play on turf. The Jays will try to use the starting infield/oufield every game because the bench is crap?

CeeBee - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 09:04 AM EDT (#283580) #
I wouldn't say the entire bench is crap. Kratz looks like a pretty good back-up catcher and Sierra/of may do a decent job. To me it's more the thought of an 8 man pen that really stuffs things up. Ideally a 6 man pen unless they enlarge the roster size to 26 or 27 but then AA can go with a 9 man pen and we are back to square one. Also it's not just AA but baseball in general and the way they treat pitchers. I'd love to go back to the 4 man rotation with a 5th swingman type and a 5 man bullpen..... Yeah, that would be just like the 60's or 70's and then we could have our bench!
Chuck - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 09:45 AM EDT (#283581) #
I'd love to go back to the 4 man rotation with a 5th swingman type and a 5 man bullpen..... Yeah, that would be just like the 60's or 70's and then we could have our bench!

That particular pitching staff construction is surely a relic of days gone by. The present day offensive environment, even given the run reduction of recent years, is still such that pitch counts are higher (not that they were even tracked previously) and that requires more arms. And for all the intelligence and efforts aimed at reducing pitcher injuries, it's not clear that a lick of progress is being made. Injured pitchers may now be more likely to recover, and more quickly at that, but keeping them from getting hurt in the first place seems an impossible task. But I digress.

I may not have this entirely correct, but the first time I noticed a bloated relief corps was Don Baylor's Rockies, and that was because of the run environment of their park. Now, of course, everyone is following suit. Does any team even carry fewer than 7 relievers these days?

At some point, the players union will push for adding a man or two to the roster, but they'll have to decide how much they are willing to concede on other fronts to make that gain (as it is, they'll already have the greater priority of severing free agency from draft pick compensation). One could argue that the salary impact of going to 26 or 27 players need not necessarily be that great, given that these two extra bodies could make close to the league minimum (except in New York, of course, where they'd make $10M).

Would the game be better with 26- or 27-man rosters, presuming that these extra bodies are position players? It would reintroduce less versatile, more highly skilled specialists to the game, and I'm not sure that's all bad. The Terry Crowley pinch-hitter types, the all-glove no-bat defensive replacements, pinch-running specialists... That aspect of baseball would be a return to a variation of the game many of us grew up with.

I'm curious how Earl Weaver would construct a roster in today's game.

TangledUpInBlue - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 10:22 AM EDT (#283582) #
On Yan Gomes: First, my recollection is the same as John Northeyís -- the Jays didnít think he was good enough defensively to be a starting catcher. Thatís why I was surprised to see FanGraphs rate him as a quality defensive catcher with good pitch-framing skills. (Oh, and also a potential ďfranchise catcherĒ -- oops.) Itís possible, I suppose, that his game-calling leaves something to be desired, and that this is what the Jays found wanting. (Itís also possible heís a very good game-caller.)

Second, this might be another example of how being in Las Vegas messed things up for the Jays. Gomes hit 328/380/557 in 334 PAs at Las Vegas in 2012. Great numbers that may have been ignored because of where he was playing. Had he been able to put up solid (though less spectacular) numbers in Buffalo instead, he might have been viewed as a better prospect.
Chuck - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#283583) #
Great numbers that may have been ignored because of where he was playing.

Interesting. In pre-humidor days, I believe Bill James once suggested that the inflated numbers posted by Rockie hitters were subject to two opposing forms of bias: overvaluation (leading to the belief, for instance, that Dante Bichette really was a star) and undervaluation, where Coors numbers were not translated to something more neutral but instead were dismissed categorically.

uglyone - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#283584) #
As i suspected, it turns out Dustin is right in the SP mix and may indeed be the favorite.

I wanted hutch and dusty to win the spots from the start, and its looking like it might actually happen.

And i don't care what anyone says about our SP - that is a ton of upside at the back of the rotation.

I just can't feel negative about a rotation of dickey, buehrle, hutch, morrow, mccgowan, backed up by kids like stroman, sanchez, and nolin.
bpoz - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#283585) #
By the end of April the Jays will have played 27 games. If the starting rotation stays intact that would be 5 games each.
Evaluations can be made then as to who has performed well and who has not sometimes IMO. Ex catchers like Buck Martinez, Greg Zaun and Alan Ashby have the experience to make a more or less reasonably decent evaluation. Gibbons is also an ex catcher. He can brain storm with Buck and Greg on the performance of his rotation.
Chuck - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 12:05 PM EDT (#283586) #
...and Alan Ashby

Don't forget that Ashby has been broadcasting in Houston since last year.

Mike Green - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 12:14 PM EDT (#283587) #

That particular pitching staff construction is surely a relic of days gone by. The present day offensive environment, even given the run reduction of recent years, is still such that pitch counts are higher (not that they were even tracked previously) and that requires more arms. And for all the intelligence and efforts aimed at reducing pitcher injuries, it's not clear that a lick of progress is being made. Injured pitchers may now be more likely to recover, and more quickly at that, but keeping them from getting hurt in the first place seems an impossible task. But I digress.

I may not have this entirely correct, but the first time I noticed a bloated relief corps was Don Baylor's Rockies, and that was because of the run environment of their park. Now, of course, everyone is following suit. Does any team even carry fewer than 7 relievers these days?

It helps to put some numbers on this.  In 2013, the average AL team scored 4.33 runs and hit .250/.320/.404.  In 1975, the average AL team scored 4.30 runs and hit .258/.328/.377. The 1997 Colorado Rockies scored 5.70 runs and hit .288/.357/.488 and allowed 5.60 runs/game with a similar slash line.  Does it make sense to have a pitching staff that was adapted to a 5+ run/game environment any more?  It feels to me like the situation with leadoff hitters in the 1960s where clubs uniformly overvalue one aspect of the game. Herd mentality...I understand the desire for a six man pen, rather than the five of yesteryear.   The seventh pitcher is overkill and the eighth is, well, ridiculous.


Mike Green - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#283588) #
If the club opens the season with a rotation of Dickey, Hutchison, Buehrle, Morrow and McGowan with a bullpen of Santos, Cecil, Delabar, Loup, Rogers, Redmond and Happ (Janssen on the DL), I'd consider that it was a helpful spring.  While a seven man pen is generally overkill, with this rotation's injury history and the option and contract status of Rogers, Redmond and Happ, it's not a bad adaptation (if not the one that I would make).  Equally well, having Redmond in the rotation and McGowan in the bullpen would work for me. 
Original Ryan - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 01:05 PM EDT (#283589) #
So that's why the Jays might opt for an 8-man pen at the start of the season -- to avoid burning out their bullpen if it's needed for 3 or 4 innings in consecutive games. Not to keep Jeffress.

Even if having an overworked bullpen is a concern, it ultimately comes back to the option situation because it's resulted in less roster flexibility. Normally when a team's bullpen has been overworked due to a starter or two being pulled early, it will send down a gassed reliever and bring up a fresh arm. The Blue Jays don't have that luxury due to the fact that Jeffress, McGowan, Rogers and Redmond (whichever ones wind up being the mop-up guys) are all out of options and can't be sent down without exposing them to waivers.

Having an overworked bullpen is not an uncommon situation, and yet other teams have managed just fine despite keeping only seven relievers on-hand. With a AAA team that is almost always going to be playing somewhere in the northeast, calling up and sending down guys as needed shouldn't be a problem for this team.

China fan - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 01:11 PM EDT (#283590) #
Mike, you might be closer to your dream of "tandem starters" than ever before. Unless there's a trade, it seems likely that the rotation and bullpen could produce a lot of unofficial tandem starts (in April anyway): 5 innings from the starter, and then 3 innings from a long reliever, and then Janssen or Santos or Delabar to finish it off. At this point, only Dickey and Buehrle (and maybe Hutchison) seem ready to go 7 or 8 innings per start. The other starters, whether it's Morrow or McGowan or Redmond or Happ, seem more likely to go 5 innings. And the bullpen will have at least 2 or 3 pitchers who are very capable of long relief: Rogers and/or Happ and/or Redmond and/or McGowan. It could be mix-and-match time.
Mike Green - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 01:43 PM EDT (#283591) #
Sure.  I don't know why you wouldn't continue it past April though.  It's not as though any of them is a likely candidate to throw more than 160 innings in a season. 
Mike Green - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#283592) #
Is it just me or does Thole look a lot more aggressive at the plate?  He looks like he's trying to hit the ball hard rather than to simply stay alive.  I like it, and I'll give Seitzer some credit for the change.
uglyone - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#283593) #
So yeah, what are the chances that Todd Redmond is actually, you know, kind of ok?

2006 (A, 21): 160.1ip, 8.3k/9, 1.9bb/9, 2.75era, 3.34fip
2007 (A+/AA, 22): 160.0ip, 6.0k/9, 2.0bb/9, 4.39era, 3.95fip
2008 (AA, 23): 166.1ip, 7.2k/9, 1.8bb/9, 3.52era, 3.63fip
2009 (AAA, 24): 145.0ip, 6.6k/9, 1.9bb/9, 4.41era, 4.74fip
2010 (AAA, 25): 162.2ip, 7.9k/9, 2.4bb/9, 4.26era, 3.96fip
2011 (AAA, 26): 169.2ip, 7.5k/9, 2.5bb/9, 2.92era, 3.88fip
2012 (AAA, 27): 148.2ip, 8.2k/9, 2.4bb/9, 3.63era, 3.79fip ------ MLB: 3.1ip, 5.4k/9, 13.5bb/9, 10.80era, 10.29fip
2013 (AAA, 28): 26.2ip, 9.8k/9, 1.7bb/9, 5.06era, 2.56fip ------- MLB: 77.0ip, 8.9k/9, 2.7bb/9, 4.32era, 4.40fip

He wasn't really that old for the lower levels when he was there.

He stumbled a bit at A+, an then again in his first year in AAA (though neither of those were disasters), but other than that has been pretty solid to good in each year.

Seems to have legit strikeout stuff and legit control.

We know he has a limited arsenal of pitches which gives him trouble going through the order many times, but that track record there makes me think he can be more than awful, and maybe better than the likes of Happ or Rogers. He seems to K as many as they do, and doesn't ever walk himself into trouble.
China fan - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#283594) #
Unless there's a trade or injury, the Jays might have to choose between Redmond and Jeffress for the final roster cut. I think it will be hard to cut Redmond, who has pitched well in his recent spring starts. They should keep him in the bullpen, if not the rotation. Jeffress doesn't offer any rotation potential -- he's purely a bullpen guy -- so he's the most logical pitcher to be waived or traded. Redmond provides a lot more depth for the Jays -- either he's the 5th starter in the rotation or he's a long-man in the bullpen who he can step into the rotation immediately. Given the potential health issues in the rotation, he's a valuable guy to have around.
uglyone - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 03:12 PM EDT (#283595) #
I don't think Jeffress has a real shot to make this team. He hasn't pitched well and it won't be the first time they've waived him.

John Northey - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 05:17 PM EDT (#283596) #
Just noticed the FanGraphs power ratings have expanded a bit...
3B: Jays 7th (3.7 WAR), Rays #1 (6.3), Boston 19th (2.3), Yankees 25 (1.5), Orioles 6th (3.7)
SS: Jays 8th (3.1), Rays 6th (3.2), Boston 11th (2.7), Yankees 26th (1.1), Orioles 7th (3.1)
CF: Jays 12th (2.9), Rays 10th (3.0), Boston 23rd (2.0), Yankees 3rd (4.6), Orioles 14th (2.8)

So for these 3 positions we get...
Jays: 9.7
Rays: 12.5
Red Sox: 7.0
Yankees: 7.2
Orioles: 9.6

Net for CA/1B/2B/3B/SS/CF...
Jays: 5.5 + 9.7 = 15.2
Rays: 8.5+12.5 = 21.0
Red Sox: 9.2 + 7.0 = 16.2
Yankees: 8.2 + 7.2 = 15.4
Orioles: 8.2 + 9.6 = 17.8

So the Jays made up a lot of ground there, from last by 2.7 to last by 0.2.  Still last with LF/RF/DH to go though.  Spread to 2nd though is just 2.6 WAR, or how far they were from 4th before.  The Rays though...oh boy those Rays.  They lead the AL East by 3.2 WAR right now.  Ouch.
smcs - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 05:45 PM EDT (#283597) #
So yeah, what are the chances that Todd Redmond is actually, you know, kind of ok?

You can do a lot worse than him as a long/middle reliever. Use him in the 5th or 6th when the starter is struggling, like Brian Tallet in 2007, if Tallet didn't walk anybody.
John Northey - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 08:35 PM EDT (#283598) #
Agreed that Redmond is a perfectly fine #5/6 or long man in the pen. So is Rogers, so is Happ.  This team has a lot of decent guys - ones who, if given a full shot, would be in the 0-1 WAR range.  You need a few but what I really want to see is some top talent, guys who can be a closer or setup man, guys who can be #1/2 in a rotation.  Luckily we finally are starting to see hope of the farm producing some in Hutchison and Sanchez.  Sanchez should get a bit more time in the minors but hopefully he goes down and decides to force the issue.  McGowan also could be (with caution of course) as could Morrow.  This years rotation could have 4 potential #1/2 starters with Buehrle more a 2/3 type (not an all-star but a solid contributor).  Odds are against it happening for all of them of course, but it is a lot more fun than having Happ/Redmond/Rogers who will probably always be fighting to be a 4/5 guy.
Mike Green - Saturday, March 22 2014 @ 09:34 PM EDT (#283599) #
The stereotypes aren't helpful.  If Redmond can throw 180 innings at the performance level of last year (and what we saw today), he's a 2.0-2.5 WAR pitcher.  I don't know if he can, but he probably has a significantly better chance of that than McGowan or Morrow or Sanchez of throwing 150 innings with an ERA in the 3.0-3.5 range. McGowan was able to stretch it to 47 pitches, and maybe he can get it to 70 good pitches with no pain afterwords by April 1 and maybe then he will merit a starting spot. And then maybe he will throw 150 good innings for the first time in 7 years. 

Can we please dispense with the romance of upside? It's a large part of what got Anthopoulos in the pickle he currently finds himself. 
John Northey - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 12:38 AM EDT (#283603) #
Well, we could see the Jays stick with guys who have a 2-2.5 WAR upside (at best) and not worry about it.  That would be (at 2 WAR per player) about 28 WAR (9 hitters plus 5 starters) to a peak of 35 which would be (using a 52 base of wins for a 0 WAR team) 80 to 87 wins which is what we've seen on a regular basis since 1993 and won't get the Jays anything but a 'nice try'.

To win in the AL East you don't need nice 2-2.5 WAR guys.  They are nice to have as backups, but you cannot have a lot of them.  You need guys with the ability to be 3-5 WAR when things go right.  Why?  Because someone won't reach 2 WAR who was expected to leaving the team in a hole if it just wants to get to 500. Guys like Happ, Redmond, Rogers won't win you any titles or help cover the gap if someone else sucks that year.  They are the guys you have in AAA ready to call up if someone is hurt so the team can get that 0-2 WAR level performance until the real players are back.

McGowan is not a guy you can count on, true enough.  But he has shown flashes of ability to get to that 3-5 range.  Hutchison also has hinted at it.  Morrow cracked 3 WAR in just 124 innings in 2012.  Dickey cracked 3 WAR 3 of the past 4 years, Buehrle did it 6 of the past 7 (of course both blew it last year).  Sanchez really looks like he could be that type too.

Last year I think we saw about as good as we can hope for from Redmond and he produced a 0.6 WAR in 77 innings, or a 1.6 WAR over 200 IP pace.  Rogers was slower, and Happ ... well, he once had a 4.2 but that was 2009, other than that he has yet to crack a 1.0 and actually was negative in 2011.  Those 3 I expect more a 0-1 WAR, not a 2 to 2.5 level unless everything goes right for them (ie: great defense, great luck in stranding runners, etc).  I like all 3 as AAA or back end of the bullpen guys.  Using them as 5th starters is OK but only until someone who has the ability to get 3+ WAR comes along.

Gord Ash was happy to have average players everywhere it seemed.  His teams never cracked 90 wins and peaked with 88 wins largely thanks to Roger Clemens winning the pitchers triple crown (8.1 WAR - remove him and you have a 80 win team).  I would much rather see the Jays keep high risk/high upside guys like McGowan, Jeffress, and the like than to count on guys like Redmond, Happ, and Rogers as the first line.

Mike Green - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 01:12 AM EDT (#283604) #
Fangraphs had Redmond at 0.8 WAR over 77 innings last year.  Most teams struggled to get 3 WAR from their 3rd starter, let alone their fifth.  The exception was the Tigers. 

If Morrow or McGowan looks ready to roll when the season begins, then fine.  Otherwise, the club ought to take a step back from the romance of upside and focus on getting the pitchers who realistically might be very good and good to do their thing. 

John Northey - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 01:38 AM EDT (#283605) #
The old FanGraphs vs BR WAR issue.  It would be nice if they either named it differently or could match up.  Ah well. 
FanGraphs for each contender... peak WAR and peak WAR over 200 IP
McGowan: 3.5, 4.1
Rogers: 1.4, 3.9 (mainly relief)
Redmond: 0.8, 2.1
Happ: 1.7, 2.4
plus...
Morrow: 3.6, 4.9

So in absolute terms none of the 4 contenders for slot #5 (assuming Hutchison has #4) outside of McGowan have had a 2 fWAR year yet, and only one was on pace for 2.5+ and that was a year he mainly was used as a reliever.  McGowan and Morrow both have shown an ability to get over 3 on their own and projected to over 4 if they could just stay healthy (a major 'if' in their cases).  Happ's big year was more luck than skill based as far as FanGraphs is concerned obviously.

Like I said, if McGowan and Morrow are healthy day one put them in the rotation and have Rogers, Redmond, Happ either in the pen, in the minors, or on the 'roster issue DL'.  To start anyone who isn't healthy would be dumb, that I will agree with regardless of upside, history, or anything else as an injured player is a bad thing.  If McGowan can only go 4 or 5 innings I say 'so what' with the 8 man pen and just work on seeing if he can stretch out further as the season progresses.

smcs - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#283613) #
If Redmond can throw 180 innings at the performance level of last year (and what we saw today), he's a 2.0-2.5 WAR pitcher.

I don't think Redmond can throw 180 innings. Over 32 starts, that's a hair under 5.2 IP/GS. Over his entire AAA career, he averages a hair over 5.2 IP/GS. Even in the game yesterday, he ran into trouble his third time through the order after cruising the first two times through the order. If it's a regular season game, Gibby is pulling him after he gives up the lead-off home run.

If he repeats last year and averages 5 IP/GS, that's 160 IP over 32 starts. That still leaves about 120 innings for the relievers to pick up. If you stick him between Dickey and Buehrle in the rotation, you might be able to get away with it and not destroy the bullpen.
uglyone - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#283614) #
I think ignoring "upside" when all the options have similar "downside" is kind of silly. There are no safe bets, they're all similarly risky, so imo of course we go with the highest upside options.

I like redmond, but i think its fairly clear that he would fit best in a longman role, given the above mentioned innings limit his limited arsenal forces on him.

Still don't mind him starting in a pinch, though.
Gerry - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 04:07 PM EDT (#283619) #
The Jays have released some minor leaguers, namely Drew Permison, Kyle Anderson, Corey Gorman and Carlos Pina.

Jorge Vega-Rosada had been released last year by the Jays and was released for a second time by Diamondbacks this week.
China fan - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 04:25 PM EDT (#283620) #
"....If you stick him between Dickey and Buehrle in the rotation, you might be able to get away with it and not destroy the bullpen..."

The Jays prefer to put a hard-throwing pitcher (Morrow or Hutchison) between Dickey and Buehrle in the rotation, to try to keep the opposition off-balance by maximizing the contrast with the softer-throwing Dickey and Buehrle. Secondly, if you want to reduce the number of Redmond starts as a way of reducing the strain on the bullpen, you put him in the 5 slot in the rotation, not the 2 slot. Thirdly, if the Jays bullpen is constructed with 2 or 3 long-relievers (Rogers, Happ, McGowan or Redmond), you can afford to have a 5th starter who goes only 5 innings. This seems to be the direction in which the Jays are currently moving. It's not a bad way to construct the bullpen and rotation, when you are burdened with pitchers like Redmond and Happ and McGowan who might be good for only 4 or 5 innings per outing.
smcs - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 08:39 PM EDT (#283623) #
The Jays prefer to put a hard-throwing pitcher (Morrow or Hutchison) between Dickey and Buehrle in the rotation, to try to keep the opposition off-balance by maximizing the contrast with the softer-throwing Dickey and Buehrle.

Yep, I'm just saying in order to maximize (or minimize) Redmond, they would need to stick him between those two. Having Redmond in the starting rotation, and counting on him for 32 starts, is a recipe for 5th place. If he's the only question mark in the rotation, which he isn't, stick him between the guys who throw the most innings. As well, the Dickey Effect should probably be applied to the guys that need the most help.

Secondly, if you want to reduce the number of Redmond starts as a way of reducing the strain on the bullpen, you put him in the 5 slot in the rotation, not the 2 slot.

The slot doesn't matter for the Jays. If they are planning on running the same 5 guys over and over again through the season, the difference is 1 extra start for the top two guys. It might matter if the Jays thought they could contend this year, but I don't see how they can think that and think Redmond should be in the rotation. If they are planning on maximizing Dickey and just run him every 5 days, and skip a guy repeatedly, then skip Redmond as much as possible.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, March 23 2014 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#283624) #
Your first two Starters will make about 34 starts. Your next two Starters will make about 33 starts. That leaves about 28 starts for the 5th Starter.

On the average, Starters win 1/3 to 1/2 of their starts, and The Bullpen wins 1/2 to 2/3 of the No-Decisions. That is totally controlled by the losses, and it covers 70-90 wins for a time. Why, because those numbers are too general.

That being said, if the 5th Starter can win 10 or more games and lose 10 or fewer games, we should be all right.
John Northey - Monday, March 24 2014 @ 12:23 AM EDT (#283625) #
For 5th starters it is a mess for the Jays over the past few years.  If you go by the 5th most starts as your '#5' guy (not the most scientific but interesting) with ERA+ as the tiebreaker you get...
Jays....
2013: Josh Johnson 16 starts, 66 ERA+
2012: Aaron Laffey 16 starts, 93 ERA+ (tied with Carlos Villanueva for starts but worse ERA+)
2011: Kyle Drabek 14 starts 70 ERA+
2010: Marc Rzepczynski 12 starts 85 ERA+
2009: Brett Cecil 17 starts 84 ERA+

Switch to the worst ERA+ for the top 5 in games started and you get ERA+'s of 80-85-70-73-66 (in order of 2009-2013)

Ick.  What about, say, Tampa Bay?
2013: Chris Archer 23 starts 118 ERA+, worst was a 74 - note, 6 guys had 20+ starts
2012: Alex Cobb 23 starts, 96 ERA+, was the worst of the top 5
2011: Jeff Niemann 23 starts, 93 ERA+, 85 was the worst
2010: Wade Davis 29 starts 96 ERA+, 75 was the worst (via Shields if you can believe it)
2009: Scott Kazmir 20 starts 73 ERA+ by far the worst (98 next worst but #6 guy had a 64 in 18 starts)

Note how in all 5 years the Rays had 5+ guys with 20+ starts. Their worst ERA+ was in the 70's 3 times plus an 85 and a 96.  The Jays, on the other hand, never got more than 17 starts from their #5 guy and had ERA+'s from 66 to 85.

Health is a massive, massive factor here. Why can the Rays get 5 or more guys who stay healthy for 20+ starts but the Jays cannot?  Part of it is their sticking with guys (note how poorly Shields did one year) and part is their being at the head of the class in injury prevention for starting pitchers I suspect - they hired a guy who used Pitch F/X to figure out when a pitcher was likely to be injuring himself if he stayed in the game any longer back before the 2009 season...if only the Jays had instead.
John Northey - Monday, March 24 2014 @ 12:31 AM EDT (#283626) #
FYI: just noticed something odd - Shields has had 6 post season starts and in 3 of them he was pulled at exactly 100 pitches, twice more had 104 and 108 plus one game where he was pulled after just 68 pitches. That is extremely odd behaviour for a club in regards to an ace or even to a solid starter in the post season when you often see crazy stuff ... of course, the flip side is the Rays are just 2-4 in his post season starts although it was never the pen blowing it.

For the opposite extreme, you get Randy Johnson (137 pitches, 125, used in relief 3 times) and Roger Clemens (over 130 pitches 3 times in the 86 post season) and Pedro Martinez (3 times over 120 in the post season which was an extremely dumb thing to do...he lost 2 of those 3).

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