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This time it's for real.

As always, the grades (and the justifications thereof) are extracted from my nether parts.

A - Outstanding
B - Good
C - Average
D - Below Average (Replacement Level, more or less)
E - Fail
F - Epic Fail

John Gibbons A
Held it all together in the first half, when he found himself managing a team that had just one effective relief pitcher and just one outfielder. You have to like that. I've long thought that decisions work better when you commit yourself to them. Men like Bobby Cox and Dick Williams always had an unshakeable belief in their own judgement - once they made a decision, they stuck with it. (In other words, they weren't like Jimy Williams.) When Dick Williams believed a rookie was ready to take a job, Williams would get rid of the rookie's competition - say, the veteran who'd held the job before - so the kid wouldn't have to be looking over his shoulder. That's not the Gibbons way - by the end of April Gibbons had bailed on his rookie closer and rookie centrefielder and was trying other options. But the Williams approach only works if you have Dick Williams' well-nigh infallible skills as an evaluator of talent. If John Gibbons were to act that way... he'd just be a stubborn fool. And he's not. A man's gotta know his limitations.

Alex Anthopoulos B+
My problem is with the small stuff. The sunny optimism that said let's try a rookie centre fielder, a rookie starting pitcher, and two 20 year olds in the bullpen might have been pushing it just a little. When most of that didn't work out, the team was left scrambling for solutions by the end of April. The fact that John Gibbons was obliged to give more than 300 outfield plate appearances to guys who weren't even outfielders suggests a lack of foresight somewhere along the way. But his big moves worked out great. We won't know, unless he writes his memoirs someday, why Anthopoulos went for the marbles in 2015 instead of 2014. The fact that he was on the last year of his contract is the obvious explanation (in which case, it didn't really do him any good.) But he stepped up, and delivered.

Rogers Communications B
You're off the hook. That wasn't so hard, was it? All you really had to do was step up and pay for two months of David Price. From a public relations standpoint, the Anthopoulos situation was pretty badly bungled. C'est la vie. The corporation knew they had to replace Beeston, they found their guy in mid-season, and he had conditions. The team was below .500 at the time, so if the new guy wanted to run the baseball operation and maybe bring in his own GM.- these were hardly going to be sticking points. It makes sense to commit to the president before the GM, especially when you figure that you need a new GM anyway. I'm just not keen on importing any traditions from Cleveland.


Josh Donaldson A+
Obviously the team's best player. This might have been the greatest season ever by a Blue Jays player - I like it better than Olerud's 1993 season or Delgado's 2003 season, which only leaves Bautista's performance in 2011. His season reminds me a little of when Molitor came here in 1993. We all knew that coming from County Stadium to the Dome would goose Molitor's offensive numbers, but we were still taken aback by just how great he turned out to be once liberated from his old home field. Similarly, I think we all expected Donaldson to post much better numbers moving from Oakland to Toronto. But I don't think anyone quite expected this.

David Price A
Now with Boston. It sure was fun while it lasted. I don't blame the team for not matching the Boston offer, but it does irritate me a little that they apparently didn't even kick the tires on bringing him back. At least show up for the game, would you?

Jose Bautista A
He's surely slowing down just a little, and for a while there it looked like his arm might never come back (he did put those concerns to rest late in the year.) I think his future home is in left field. But he can still get out in front of a 99 mph fastball, and punish the thing. He's heading into the final year of his contract, and he just turned 35. That alone will probably be enough to discourage people from trying to re-sign him when he goes on the market, and I'll be shocked if he doesn't go on the market. In fact, if the 2016 squad is sitting around .500 at the deadline, the new management will most likely trade him for prospects. Anyway, it wouldn't discourage me. Yes, the majority of players develop, peak and decline in fairly predictable ways. But there are always exceptions to these patterns, and certainly neither Jose Bautista nor David Ortiz has taken that road most travelled. In his last six seasons, age 29-34, Bautista hit .268/.390/.555 - in his age 29-34 seasons, Ortiz hit .283/.390/.564, and it's fair to say Ortiz has earned his money in the five seasons since (.292/.382/.556). There's security in great players, that you don't get from the other ones, and Jose Bautista is a great player.  Encarnacion is two years younger, and he'll certainly be cheaper. But Jose Bautista is better than Edwin Encarnacion - and I'll bet all the money in my pockets that five years from Bautista will still be better. What the hell. We'll always have Game Five.

Edwin Encarnacion A
Encarnacion was forced to play a lot of first base early on because of Bautista's shoulder injury - he started 39 games at 1b in April and May, just 20 afterwards. As always, he was a much more dangerous hitter as the DH (.301/.397/.595) than when he had to play the field (.239/.329/.486). As you'll recall, I did some number-crunching and came to the conclusion that this past August was easily the best performance by the team in franchise history. I haven't crunched these numbers (but I am thinking about it!), but it seems possible to me that Encarnacion's work that same month (.407/.460/.919) was the best performance ever by a Blue Jays player in a calendar month.

Marcus Stroman A
It was only four starts. But still... And the fact that he was even there to make them is probably even more impressive.

Marco Estrada B+
There's a kind of fetish around the game in favour of groundball pitchers these days, which is one reason Estrada has always been somewhat lightly regarded. Which is something I find a little weird. After all, the majority of great pitchers are flyball pitchers. They always have been and they always will be. It's true that the minscule BABiP against Estrada was more than a little flukey, but flyball pitchers will always have a better BABiP than you would expect. Flyballs don't find holes between the infielders. They hang up in the air, and outfielders run underneath them and catch them.

Russell Martin B+
He's not quite Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, but he's certainly the best catcher in franchise history, and by far the most complete. His few Blue Jay predecessors who could match his offensive production (Whitt and Fletcher, mainly) couldn't carry his glove, and none of the franchise's defense-first catchers (Borders, O'Brien, Molina) had anything close to Martin's bat.

Chris Colabello B+
Toronto, that mysterious land where RH sluggers finally figure it out as they're turning 30. This is getting weird.

Brett Cecil B+
You can not pitch better than he did in the second half. You just can't.

Roberto Osuna B+
What's the plan here? Another year working short relief (maybe not quite as short as last year) and try to get him ready to try the rotation in 2017? Whatever, just as long as they don't repeat the back-and-forth, back-and-forth Kelvim Escobar experience.

Danny Valencia B+
Now with Oakland. Here we have "Toronto, that mysterious land..." part the umpteenth. He hit .296/.331/.506 as a Blue Jay and went to Oakland and did even better. He had 18 HRs and 66 RBI in less than 400 at bats. It remains a mystery why they cut him loose. Maybe they thought he was too good for the job.

Devon Travis B+
Will spend a good chunk of next year on the DL, and there are obviously two huge questions about him: a) is he anywhere near as good as he looked in his abbreviated rookie year? and 2) did this surgery solve his shoulder issues?

Mark Buehrle B
Once again, he pitched as well as he ever has for half a season and then faded badly over the final two months. Over the last two years, Buehrle has gone 20-11, 2.98 before the All Star Break, and 8-7 4.59 in the second half. This strongly suggests that while he's still a quality major league starter, his days as a workhorse are behind him.  If he decides to play in 2016 - as of this writing, the gossip says it will only be for St. Louis, and he hasn't yet decided - he needs to find a situation where he won't be expected to make 32 starts and work 200 innings. Modern rotation management is seldom that flexible. But if he sits out the first month or two and then looks to sign on with someone for the second half.... I'd sure be interested. It's probably more likely that he discovers that  "retirement is so much fun!" as Sean Connery said, when he turned down playing Gandalf. (Well, he also said he didn't understand the script...)

Aaron Sanchez B-
Don't quite know what he is, beyond "major league pitcher."  Let's find out. He wants to start, and I think you have to give him a chance to try it.

R.A. Dickey B-
More than 200 better than average innings remains enormously valuable. It'll be interesting to see if the repair to his knee makes a difference.

Kevin Pillar B-
As always, his bat drives me absolutely nuts. So often, he just doesn't seem to have a clue up there. It's why he's not getting the most out of his talent. And the talent is there. That's what gives one hope that he can figure a few things out and get better.  But in the meantime, a .314 on-base and .399 slugging is not someone who's going to go to any All-Star games unless he can play shortstop like Andrelton Simmons. It can not - no way, no how - be described as "good." That aside, everything else about his game - absolutely everything - is yummy delicious. Another guy who plays really hard - not always really smart, but still on the side of the angels. But what's especially nice is that he seems able to play really hard without hurting himself. That's a real gift. Just try not to hurt the other players this time. Hey, Mike! I'm coming around!

Liam Hendriks B-
Now with Oakland. Cheering for pitchers named Liam is part of my DNA, so I'm sad to see him gone. That said, Jesse Chavez has a real chance to be more useful than Hendriks in 2016. He also has a chance to be not as good, Youneverknow.

Ben Revere B-
Played just a little better than his established level, and was a very good fit. It's got to be a nice situation for a LH slap-the-ball-and-run-like-hell type of guy when the other team has to first of all address all the right-handed power the Jays were throwing on the field.

Troy Tulowitzki C+
Better than Reyes. On this team, he's just a complementary bat. It's his defense that had, and will continue to have, the biggest impact.

Justin Smoak C+
He's a decent defensive first baseman (mind you, after years of Lind and Encarnacion, Smoak looked like a Gold Glover out there) and his power and walks let him chip in with the bat. Nevertheless, I don't really want him back. I think Colabello has earned a chance to take the job, and I don't think you can carry a guy on the bench whose only position is first base. Someone like... oh, Danny Valencia would be much more useful.

Ryan Goins C+
This was a huge year for Goins. No manager in the history of the game ever wanted to make John MacDonald a regular. No manager ever wanted to stick that kind of bat in the lineup. Never. Sometimes they were forced to. Sometimes they just got tired of losing games because of lousy defense. But they never, never willingly chose MacDonald as their first option. Well, coming into this season, it wasn't even clear that Goins could hit at the John MacDonald level. At this time last year, I was reviewing the names of several National League pitchers who were quite clearly more dangerous with the bat. So this was a big step for Goins. His 2015 season was better than almost any MacDonald season, and his glove work, as always, was simply breath-taking. He might be the best defensive infielder this franchise has ever had.

Mark Lowe C
Now with Detroit. Big arm, had his moments. Gibbons seemed to have some trouble trusting him at first  (his awful Jays debut probably accounts for that) but he was fine after that. Only walked one guy as a Blue Jay.

LaTroy Hawkins C
Pitched pretty well when he first got here, but had obviously used up all the bullets in his arm by the time the calendar hit September. It was nice having him around. It was interesting watching him pitch, stretching out those long basketball player's arms, like an enormous praying mantis. We got to discover why he's been such a popular guy with the fans and team mates of the other ten teams that had employed him along the way. The man made a lot of friends and earned almost $50 million dollars as well. Not bad.

Daniel Norris C
Now with Detroit. Had a pretty exciting year. Made a major league rotation out of spring training, got traded, hit a home run, had to deal with cancer. Good luck to him.

Dioner Navarro C-
Now with the White Sox, where he'll fight Alex Avila for playing time. That's better for him than fighting with Russell Martin.

Ezequiel Carrera C-
Not an ideal fourth outfielder (I wouldn't want to see him play CF, would you?) but he was pretty useful on a team that found itself regularly putting career infielders in the outfield for a little On-the-Job Training.

Jose Reyes C-
Now with Colorado. His game is not aging very well, but he's got bigger problems than that.

Bo Schultz C-
He's kind of Ryan Tepera lite. Schultz doesn't allow quite as many home runs (that would be pretty difficult) but he still gave up way too many. And Schultz is not quite as impressive when he is keeping the ball in the park.

Drew Hutchison D
In the year 2525, if man is still alive, we still won't be able to make sense of Drew Hutchison's home-road splits. It is a phenomenon outside of human understanding or knowledge. Like the song the sirens sang, or the infield fly rule.

Ryan Tepera D
Allowed 8 HRs in 33 IP. The man only allowed 23 hits, and 8 of them left the yard?

Miguel Castro D
Now with Colorado. Had some trouble locating the strike zone in 2015, at all four stops. Just turned 21 in December, so he should have some time to find it.

Felix Doubront D
A left-hander with a decent looking arm? He'll be getting chances from people for another ten years. In related news. that was Jo-Jo Reyes winning a game for the Angels at the end of the season. See?

Munenori Kawasaki D
Now with the Cubs, which seems appropriate. He's always reminded me of a guy who would have been a fine major leaguer around 1908. That, of course, was when the Cubs ruled the world.

Cliff Pennington D
Now with the Angels. Pennington actually used to be a pretty good shortstop, but that was five years ago. Now he's just an ordinary second baseman, who doesn't give you as much with the bat as Kawasaki. At this point, I'd say he needs to come up with a good off-speed pitch if he expects to get by with that 90 mph heater.

Aaron Loup D
It was a very difficult year for Loup, on a number of fronts, but I expect he should be able to recover his innate ability to mess with LH batters. It's enough to give him a career.

Dalton Pompey D
It worked out so well the last time the organization tried to force a 22 year old prospect into an everyday outfield job, you can see why they'd want to to do it again. Sheesh. Don't force the kid into taking the job. Let the kid force you into giving him the job.

Josh Thole D
The reason he remains in the major leagues, and the reason he'll be back in 2016, is because it's a really good idea to have someone who can spare Russell Martin the burden of catching Dickey's knuckleball. Being the regular catcher is tough enough already. Only a handful can manage as many as 120 games a season as is. Making the same guy also catch a knuckleball on a regular basis... well, that's just mean.

Steve Delabar D-
I've always liked Delabar, but I'm not going to be stubborn about it. He hasn't pitched well since the 2013 All-Star Game, the one he was mysteriously invited to suit up for. The bases on balls had killed his game since then, but in 2015 he did something that got that under control. Alas, while his BB/9 returned to their regular levels, this happened at the expense of the rest of his game. His strikeouts fell, his hits allowed jump. Same crap, new recipe.

Steve Tolleson D-
Now with the Orioles. That was messy.

Scott Copeland E
I don't believe he can pitch in the major leagues. Useful organizational depth, because he can get AAA hitters out. But if you see him on a major league mound, things have gone awry.

Jeff Francis E
Retired. He was obviously never the same after the 2009 shoulder surgery. Because he was left-handed, and because he had been a very good pitcher (and in Coors, too!), teams kept giving him chances. He pitched in six seasons after the surgery, and went 21-38, 5.32, ERA+ of 82. He did earn roughly $17 million playing baseball, and half of that came after the surgery.

Todd Redmond E
Now with Baltimore. I think he's done. He's reached that age in a right-hander's life when The Change happens, and he's not good enough to survive what ensues.

And as advertised, we have a podcast version of the whole thing. It consists of young Eephus and I yakking away about the team. It comes in three parts, and here are the links.

Part 1 - The Hitters

Part 2 - The Relievers

Part 3 - The Starters

Because this piece went live Before Its Time, people read it and commented on grades that had not been weighed and calibrated with that precision you've come to expect from me.  (I start with a list of names, throw a letter beside them, and start commenting. When I'm done, I... make revisions!) Anyway, that's my fault.

Also - the grades given above may not perfectly match what you hear me say, should you listen to my recorded musings. For much the same reason. Science can probably be defined as "that thing I do not do."

But hey - I did tell you where I was getting them from....
Blue Jays Report Card | 35 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
ISLAND BOY - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 07:13 AM EST (#319027) #
Kevin Pillar played virtually every game, provided A+ defence and hustle, and an adequate bat in what was really his first full season as a regular. I think he earned a B or B+ in my books.
Dave Till - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 09:20 AM EST (#319028) #
Enjoyable as always.

I too would rate Pillar higher than C+: his on-base percentage wasn't good, but that was the only thing bad about his game. He had 45 extra-base hits, went 25 for 29 as a base-stealer, and had his own personal exemption to the theory of gravity. I don't know how long he can keep it up - when watching him, I see someone absolutely maxing out his talents - but he was a very good player in 2015.

I can see why the Jays let Valencia go - his primary skill is to be a right-handed hitting third baseman, and the Jays already have one of those, thank you. He could play first, but Colabello and his BABIP had that covered. (Can Valencia scoop ground balls well? Was he a competent first baseman? I don't really remember.) When Colabello returns to earth in 2016, the Jays will probably miss Valencia then.

I feel sorry for Valencia - he's been traded from teams heading to the post-season in two consecutive years. I wonder whether he watched this year's ALCS on TV, and what he thought if he did.

When talking about Colabello and his BABIP, I have to note one of my favourite stats of 2015, which was Colabello's BABIP by month:

May .477
June .391
July .222
August .481
Sept/Oct .469

What happened in July? Did he fail to make his monthly payment to the Baseball Gods?
China fan - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 09:38 AM EST (#319029) #
There are some astute insights in Magpie's report card, as usual, but I would quibble with his rating of Anthopoulos.  After the 2014 season, Magpie rated the GM as merely a "C" because he had "folded his cards" at the trading deadline and failed to bring in "a fresh infusion of talent."  (This was more likely the fault of ownership, not the GM, but we'll let that pass.)  Last year, Anthopoulos did exactly what Magpie had told him to do in 2014: he engineered a huge infusion of talent at the trading deadline, and more importantly, got the Jays into the playoffs for the first time in 22 years, and transformed the Jays into an incredibly popular team with a vastly bigger fan base and a rapidly growing revenue base.  So why would he get only a B+ for that?  And why rank Gibbons ahead of Anthopoulos when the GM is probably more responsible for the team's success than the manager?

In earlier seasons, Magpie argued that the GM has to be rated according to the team's on-field performance and won-loss record, and little else.  I disagreed at the time, because I think a GM needs several seasons to build a winner.  It's unrealistic to expect a baseball team to be a winner every year.  If the GM is taking steps in 2012 or 2013 that pay off in a very successful season in 2015, it's a little unfair to penalize him for failing to make the playoffs in 2012 or 2013.  But then when the Jays finally do make the playoffs, to give the GM merely a B+ seems rather harsh.

cybercavalier - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 09:52 AM EST (#319030) #
Richard S. S. mentioned in a past post that Delabar is weak in performance. Is it time to trade away or let go of the weak performers ?

Players left:
Todd Redmond E Jeff Francis E, Steve Tolleson D-, Cliff Pennington D, Drew Hutchison D, Miguel Castro D, Felix Doubront D, Munenori Kawasaki D, Jose Reyes C-,
Dioner Navarro C-, Daniel Norris C, Mark Lowe C, LaTroy Hawkins C, Ben Revere B-, Danny Valencia B+, David Price A.

For grades C, B-, A, the Jays gave up prospects in grades C and D. Revere B- is translated to Storen -- is the latter an at least B- performer ? Similarly, Reyes' C- becomes Tulo's C+. Price has eventually left; Valencia was lost in DFA. Revere could be acquired in trades. So players grade B- or above can only be signed with significant money investment. An economical way is seen below -- improve the team good enough and trade for these players during the season -- as a push for postseason or other reasons.

Looking at the bigger picture -- how the team performed as a whole, use strikeouts as a scale:
E-: 5 strikeout or 0; E: 4 strikeout and 2 strikes or 1, E+; 4 strikeout and 1 strikes or 2
D-: 4 strikeout; D or 3: 3 strikeout and 2 strikes... or 4
C-: 3 strikeout or 6
B-: 2 strikeout or 9
A-: 1 strikeout or 12

So less strikeout and less strikes, the better the whole team performed. The idea is to quantify the grades into numbers of multiples of 3.

The number for the whole report card: Donaldson = 14, Price = 13, Bautista = 13, Encarnacion = 13, Estrada = 11, Martin = 11, Colabello = 11, Cecil = 11, Osuna = 11, Valencia = 11, Travis = 11, Revere = 9, Hendriks = 10, Buerhle = 10, Sanchez = 9, Dickey = 9, Pillar = 8, Tulo = 8, Smoak = 8, Goins = 8, Lowe = 7, Hawkins = 7, Tepara = 7, Norris = 7, Carrera = 7, Navarro = 7, Schultz = 6, Reyes = 6, Schultz = 6, Reyes = 6, Hutchison = 4, Castro = 4, Dubront = 4, Kawasaki = 4, Pennington = 4, Loup =  4, Pompey = 4, Thole = 4, Delabar = 3, Tolleson = 3, Copeland = 1, Francis = 1, Redmond = 1

42 players were evaluated: 308 points in total. Mean performance is 7 1/3 = C+.
In transactions, the Jays lost 1+1+3+4*5+6+6+7*3+9+11+13 = 91 points
minus 8 points from Tulo because he was a player resulting from a Reyes trade and both players were evaluated.
minus 9 points by assuming Storen having a similar evaluation as Revere.
= 74.

So the Jays lost 24% or just below a quarter of performance to transactions.
During the season,
For grade B  or 9 to 11 points player -- Valencia and Revere -- trading for them need quality players or prospects. For grade C or 6 to 8 points player -- Carrera and Schultz -- waiver claim or minor league contract with spring training invitation is good enough. However, during the season, getting them requires at least prospects -- Lowe.

One deficiency in this numbering scale assumes the grading scale pick 1 step improvement from each grade. For example, Revere worth 3 Tolleson's so this numbering scale is qualitative. I mentioned looking at the bigger picture....

To sum up, the context means a good deal in transactions -- bargain is better done during offseason though it is harder during the season. For at least grade A- or above, getting them economically in trade requires giving quality players -- getting Donaldson is an example. Getting grade B's players is possible in waiver claim but require context -- the Twins let Colabello go before the he became a Jays or MLB players -- [Erik] Kratz and Hendriks for Valencia during the season. Getting grade C's player is possible in minor league signing -- Carrera. So let minor league signees perform early in the season. If they perform well, they can be traded with teammates and prospects for grade A's players. Does letting them perform mean demoting Hutchison and Pompey to Buffalo ? Or Sanchez taking a rotation spot ? Plenty of discussion occurred on this site.
Lylemcr - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 10:52 AM EST (#319031) #
I don't know how you give Valencia a higher grade than Pillar. Yes, Valencia's bat was better, but his glove was definitely not. (That being said, I understand your pain. I never understood the love affair with Smoak).

I think you are being too harsh on Pillar. Good defense in CF is very important and he was one of the best this season. Also, his bat was serviceable.
finch - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 12:08 PM EST (#319032) #
Stroman A?
PeterG - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 12:22 PM EST (#319035) #
I agree that the grade on Pillar is harsh. He should be ranked ahead of Revere, possibly substantially so. I would give Kevin a B, pushing on B+.
Chuck - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 12:33 PM EST (#319036) #
Pillar was a 4 or 5 WAR player, depending on who you consult. He cost nothing. He was healthy all season. And he bailed the team out taking over CF when Pompey struggled. That looks like a grade A performance to me.

The question of whether he can do all that again in 2016 is legitimate, but it shouldn't detract from what he did in 2015.

electric carrot - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 01:07 PM EST (#319038) #
Thanks Magpie.  Good read.  I'll join the chorus on Pillar.  I don't know how he doesn't at least get a B. But really I'm most interested in the A for Gibbons. Please sir ... can we have some more?
Mike Green - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 02:15 PM EST (#319039) #
As always, the grades (and the justifications thereof) are extracted from my nether parts.

A - Outstanding
B - Good

John Gibbons A
Alex Anthopoulos B+

Maybe my nether parts were repulsed by Gibbons' recent suggestion that he wants Donald Trump to play him in a movie, but he'd get a lower grade than Anthopoulos from me.  He gets some credit for the development of Pillar and Goins, but let's face it, the talent level on the 2015 Blue Jays was right there with the best clubs in the organization history.  93 wins and an ALCS appearance constituted par for the course, as far as I was concerned.  I'd give him a B-.  What would Cito Gaston 1989-93 be graded at?  A+++?  He did quite a bit more with less talent.  Gibbons put in a decent Sparky Anderson season...

Gloves vs. bats vs. arms?  Nope, not a porno promo.  Goins C+ isn't as low as Pillar's, but also low.  He sure added a lot more value than Justin Smoak. Hell, he added a lot more value than Chris Colabello. He also added more value than R.A. Dickey and  Liam Hendriks and...
uglyone - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 02:54 PM EST (#319041) #
I'll pile on as well - we weren't even sure Pillar would even be a good bench player for us, and then he went out and was a top 50 player by fwar and a top 30 player by bwar.

I'd give him an A+, myself.

(incompletes in brackets)

A+: Donaldson, Pillar, Estrada, (Stroman), (Travis)
A: Bautista, Encarnacion, Colabello, Osuna, (Valencia)
A-: Martin, (Price)

B+: Cecil, Hendriks
B: Buehrle, (Lowe)
B-: Sanchez, Goins, Revere

C+: Smoak, Schultz, Tepera
C: Dickey, Navarro, (Tulo), (Hawkins)
C-: (Pennington)

D+: (Pompey), (Norris)
D: Hutchison, Loup, Reyes
D-: (Saunders), (Castro), (Delabar)
jerjapan - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 03:08 PM EST (#319042) #
Thanks for the post Magpie!  I'd give AA an A myself, borderline A+ but I'd like to hear your thinking Mags, in giving him a B+ (and in giving Rogers a B)?
Lylemcr - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 06:25 PM EST (#319057) #
Soriano..nice signing
Gerry - Sunday, February 28 2016 @ 07:28 PM EST (#319060) #
You have to love this quote from Ken Rosenthal's story about Tulo. The story says that Donaldson would scream at Tulo: "This is the big boy league! This isn't facing the Phillies at Coors Field!
Magpie - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#319563) #
I abstained from even reading the (premature?) comments until now!

The only reason Pillar was ever a C is because the first thing I do is make a list of the players. I have bb-ref's page open so that I (hopefully) don't forget anyone. So I work my way down the list, and there's Pillar with his 96 OPS+ and I'm thinking "below-average bat, above-average glove - sounds pretty average to me." And C is supposed be... average.

Well, his defense is quite a bit more than above-average, so he got bumped up. I do wonder about its value, in the Grand Scheme of Things. Pillar has tremendous value over replacement level guys. But not too many teams in the AL play replacement level guys in centre field. They play guys like Adam Jones and Kevin Kiermaier. I dunno. I guess Pillar's almost as good as Kiermaier.

As for Anthopoulos - I have what may be a blind spot (or just a raging obsession) but I can't get over the outfield situation in the first half, the Colabello-Valencia follies. I just can't. That's on the GM, and it's not like there was no reason not to be prepared. No one could foresee the Bautista injury, but by the end of February, it was already known that the left fielder was having knee surgery and the centre fielder was a 21 year old kid with 39 major league at bats (in which he'd hit .231). Leaving Bautista, Pillar (who hadn't proven much of anything at that point) and... absolutely nothing.

See? I still get all worked up...
China fan - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 03:49 PM EDT (#319564) #
Colabello's bat, however, compensated for his LF deficiencies.  So the Jays opted for a strong hitter instead of a pure defensive outfielder (the only other option, because you're not going to find a back-up outfielder who is a great hitter AND a great defender).  I don't think AA can be blamed for that.  When injuries hit, you will rarely find someone who can step into the breach without losing something.   Should the Jays have put Carrera or Mastroianni into LF every day?  Then they never would have discovered Colabello's great offensive abilities -- an asset that they're still reaping today.

I think Anthopoulos clearly deserves more of the credit for the successes of 2015 than Gibbons does.  I would flip the ratings and give Anthopoulos the A and Gibbons the B.

grjas - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 06:04 PM EDT (#319571) #
No I like AA as a B+. In addition to the outfield challenges, the bullpen was saved only by the miraculous emergence of a 20 year old closer and an unheralded Aussie who learned how to relieve. These were Sizeable, predictable holes that were part of the reason they were a .500 team at the that was turned around by a trade deadline for the ages.

But Pillar looks low to me too.
Mike Green - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 06:09 PM EDT (#319572) #
John Gibbons A
Held it all together in the first half, when he found himself managing a team that had just one effective relief pitcher and just one outfielder. You have to like that

The team was 50-50 at the 100 game mark, despite substantially outscoring the opposition.  He had two effective relievers in the first half, by the way, Osuna and Hendriks. 
ISLAND BOY - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 06:37 PM EDT (#319573) #
I thought Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins' seasons were impressive in that they established themselves as major leaguers. Pillar's at-bats went from 116 the previous year to 586 last year ( At the major league level). I'm definitely not the stats mavens that a lot of the posters on here are, but I'll give you Pillar's .278 average .314 obp .713 ops and compare it with a former Jay's centerfielder in his age 26 season whose numbers were 636 at-bats .245 average .282 obp .653 ops. That former Jay was playing with the Angels at the time and his name is Devon White. White had more career major league at-bats at this point, and had his best years from age 28 onward, but his career obp is .319 . Am I saying Kevin Pillar is Devon White ? No, not yet, but the point is that he has actually better numbers at the same age, has hit well at every level and may indeed improve in the coming years now that he is established.

When remembering White, I recall his long, whippet-like body gliding over the outfield and how he made difficult catches look easy. Saying that, I will leave a few more stats. Kevin Pillar, age 26 season, 452 putouts - .996 fielding % - 2 errors. Devon White, age 26 season, 445 putouts - .989 fielding % - 5 errors.

By the way, Magpie, thanks for all the work you put into the team report card and I agree with pretty well all the grades. I've noticed a certain degree of snarkiness among some posters here recently, probably due to impatiently waiting for the real games to begin, so I'll be unsnarky as possible. I don't see why Chris Colabello playing part time with good batting statistics but not great defensively, is rated higher than Pillar who played virtually every day and provided above average defence at a premium position.
uglyone - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#319575) #
imo the team's ealy struggles were almost entirely on the starting staff, coupled with the team's best reliever imploding. the bullpen and position depth was a big reason why the team was able to tread water despite that.

jerjapan - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 07:32 PM EDT (#319577) #
That Devo comp for Pillar is interesting Island Boy! 

Devo always seemed like he was athletic enough to roll out of bed and play great D, whereas Pillar (doubless way more athletic than us mere mortals, but no Devo) always seems to max out his abilities.  I hope he ends up more Devo than Reed Johnson, but when I think of classic Jays overachievers, he immediately leaps to mind. 

Really, really not confident about Pillar leading off, but he just keeps proving me wrong ...

Magpie - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 07:36 PM EDT (#319579) #
Well, the infield depth was certainly impressive. There were days when six (or more!) of them were in the lineup. :-)

Anyway, here's another way to think about Pillar. A quick and dirty look at AL centre fielders should produce something like this, no?

Trout A+ (MVP candidates)

Cain B+ (Above-average to All-Star)
Jones B
Betts B
Kiermaier B-
Pillar B-

Eaton C+ (Average players)
Jackson C
Hicks C
Burns C-

DeShields D (Below average players)
Ellsbury D
Marisnick D
Gose D
Bourn D-

Hmmm. Maybe a few more Replacement Level guys than you'd want to see, although only one of them was in the AL East.
Alex Obal - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#319580) #
Talent is a pyramid. There should be more replacement level guys...

And Kiermaier was an A-, easy, unless Trout destroyed the curve so thoroughly that all other As are physically impossible.

(I'm halfway through the podcast! It's great!)
Alex Obal - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 08:01 PM EDT (#319581) #
... and obviously Cain's an even more obvious candidate than Kiermaier. Overachievers everywhere.
Magpie - Wednesday, March 16 2016 @ 09:49 PM EDT (#319586) #
Yeah, Cain's really an A minus. Trout and Donaldson were so great it's hard to think anyone else should even be on the ballot. They have this warping effect on the entire continuum...

(Checks the voting...)

Cain finished third? Really? (With stray down-ballot votes for Kiermaeir and Betts...)
Mike Green - Thursday, March 17 2016 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#319592) #
I've got another way to look at it.  Chris Colabello was a B+ and Kevin Pillar was a C+.  It's not  fair to penalize Colabello for his performance while a left-fielder.  He can't play the position for love or money and yet despite his struggles in the field, he kept hitting while playing the position.  On the other hand, a decent but not good defensive first baseman who hits like Colabello hit last year is of somewhat less value than a centerfielder who hit and fielded like Pillar did last year.  When you add in the fact that Pillar played 159 games and Colabello played 101, it's not really a close call between the two. 

And here's another way to look at it.  Pillar's season was very much in the Devon White style from 1991-93.  He wasn't quite as good defensively but it was close.  He hit and ran about as well.  White was much, much more valuable to the club than Joe Carter during that time and nip and tuck with Robbie Alomar as the most valuable of the Jays (depending on how you see Robbie's defensive abilities). White was a clear A player during those years.  Gloves vs. bats. 

SK in NJ - Thursday, March 17 2016 @ 11:15 AM EDT (#319593) #
Pillar was a 4.3 WAR player making the minimum in 2015. He should be an "A" right next to Bautista and Encarnacion.
Richard S.S. - Thursday, March 17 2016 @ 11:27 AM EDT (#319594) #
Rogers Communications B
You're off the hook. That wasn't so hard, was it? All you really had to do was step up and pay for two months of David Price.

When we get older the mind the body usually fails before the mind; but not always. Salary was basically still frozen for 2015, because A.A. said he had to save his money for the Trade Deadline. Rogers always met the costs of Arby raises and Salary increases, but never increased Budget for additional expenditures. A.A. didn't take on as much cash as everyone thinks, which is why the prospect cost was so high. Giving Rogers a high grade for doing nothing and being basically incompetent is ridiculous. Anything more than a C- is totally unreasonable.
Dave Till - Thursday, March 17 2016 @ 06:09 PM EDT (#319632) #

And here's another way to look at it. Pillar's season was very much in the Devon White style from 1991-93. He wasn't quite as good defensively but it was close.

I looked them both up, and I was startled to discover how similar they were. But White had more natural ability than Pillar does: he was faster and he had more power. White also had an even better ability to read fly balls than Pillar: Devo never had to dive for a ball, as he always got there before the ball did.

When I see Pillar, I see somebody who has worked very hard to extend his talents as far as he can. He has basically willed himself into becoming Devon White. I don't know how long it will last, but he's earned everything he's gotten, and I hope it keeps happening.

greenfrog - Thursday, March 17 2016 @ 06:28 PM EDT (#319635) #
This spring Pillar said that he was feeling below-average a lot of the time last year as a result of playing every day on the turf. The combination of his all-out playing style and the RC turf may limit his effectiveness and health before too long. He's already 27, so he may already be edging out of his defensive prime. Hopefully he can remain an elite defender for at least one more year.
cybercavalier - Friday, March 18 2016 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#319676) #
He's already 27, so he may already be edging out of his defensive prime. Hopefully he can remain an elite defender for at least one more year.

Looking at the Marlins' and BlueJays' today lineups, the Marlins seems to run unknown veteran outfielders except Ichiro with the young ones. How about trading Ezequiel Carrera for Ichiro ? With Ichiro, Pompey can stay in Buffalo developing his skills. If Pillar is flaming out in defense and need to move to RF -- JoeyBats to LF, Saunders and Ichiro can split time in CF. Having a veteran on the roster may help postseason performance too. Note that this is a trade idea that needs not happen now.
Dave Till - Monday, March 21 2016 @ 10:55 AM EDT (#319766) #

We won't know, unless he writes his memoirs someday, why Anthopoulos went for the marbles in 2015 instead of 2014.

My guess is that everybody wanted Marcus Stroman as part of any trade, and he kept saying no.

viktor_haag - Tuesday, March 22 2016 @ 09:25 AM EDT (#319811) #
He's basically willed himself into becoming Devon White

I guess the downside of that is it seems doubtful that Pillar is playing with much in the way of slack, at all. The minute he loses a step, or gets into a series of being nicked up, he's doing to stop being able to will himself into anything pretty darned fast.

Still, while he's youngish and healthy, he's fun to watch.

Magpie - Wednesday, March 23 2016 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#319874) #
why Anthopoulos went for the marbles in 2015 instead of 2014

Yup, everyone was probably asking for Stroman. But I really think he just didn't believe in the 2014 team, didn't believe that you'd want to go to war with that group. Whereas he didn't have the luxury of waiting another year in 2015. Another 81-81 type season and chances were pretty good that he'd be looking for a new job when it was over.
China fan - Wednesday, March 23 2016 @ 01:28 PM EDT (#319882) #
Isn't it more accurate to say that Anthopoulos went for the marbles in 2013, 2014 and 2015?  I think that was always his plan.  The plan for 2014 was sabotaged by ownership refusing to give him any money for new acquisitions, either in the off-season or at the trade deadline.  But I think he was aiming for a lot more than 81-81 seasons in each of those three seasons.  Probably it had been his long-term plan for many years to build the farm system and then go for the marbles from 2013 onward.
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