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...it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.


Ever since Troy Tulowitzki hit a foul pop fly to Carlos Santana, ending both Game Five of the ALCS and the 2016 season for the Toronto Blue Jays, the emotions of fans who follow the team have gone through some heavy turbulence. A major question that hung over (or hungover?) that same 2016 squad was the free agent status of many of their key players and whether or not the team would bring some of them back, or even if they could afford to. Of course Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were the two biggest names most fans and bloggers talked about, but the contributions and potential future absences of Michael Saunders (awful second half not withstanding), Brett Cecil (awful first half not-withstanding) and R.A. Dickey also threatened to leave the 2017 squad riddled with even more bullet holes.

Many were happy to see Dickey take his circus pitch for a go in the cushier National League East, and likewise with the departure of Cecil. Brett's April (0-5, 5.79) went about as badly as a month can go for someone expected to be a key late game reliever, yet a lot of that early badness clouded our perception of the good things an effective Cecil can bring to a ballclub, good things the Cardinals believe in enough to give him a four year/30.5 million dollar deal. In Dickey and Cecil, you have two players that many casual fans may be happy to see gone, but what they provide respectfully to a club (adequately eaten innings, left-handed relief) aren't as easy to replace as pushing a button on a trade machine.

But we all knew the big two names would dominate the Blue Jays offseason, and the success of said offseason (and the spirits of the entire fanbase) depended on how things went down on that front. Coming into this it always seemed like Encarnacion was the more likely to return of the two. Whether this is based on his seemingly more carefree personality in comparison to Bautista, the rumours of Bautista's "contract demands" in spring training (which seems like a completely absurd story in hindsight), or the unfathomable dislike some Toronto fans have of their long time star outfielder's "attitude", it really felt like Edwin was the one coming back.

Then we had the contractual song and dance: the four year/80 million deal that Encarnacion's agent supposedly turned down. Granted, this was early in free agency and was likely the opening offer of the process. From an agent's perspective at that moment in time, it made sense to explore a bit and drive up the bidding for your star slugger, at least in a vacuum it was a smart move was to be expected. What was not expected was how quickly the Toronto front office shifted into Plan B, signing switch hitting DH Kendrys Morales to a three year deal and effectively blocking an Encarnacion return. Sure, it would have been silly thinking if the Blue Jays front office honestly thought: 'We've love to have both Edwin and Morales, if only world-beater Justin Smoak weren't penciled in at first base! Oh well Ooops!!' Yet sadly, the Morales signing was as much about a signal as it was a baseball move, the signal that the team was prepared to move on from Encarnacion and now almost certainly had. It was a strange move particularly in how quickly it happened, considering Morales is the inferior player (though good in his own right) and how beloved Edwin was (and honestly should still be damnit. Cheer the man when he comes back). When they signed Steve Pearce three weeks later, another player best utilized at Edwin's old position, it felt like the final nail was hammered into our hearts.

Except it turned out there was a whole other entire box of nails nobody had even imagined. The free agent market for Encarnacion was not developing as his optimistic agent had hoped: the Red Sox and Yankees seemed more content with cheaper slugging options to stay under the luxury tax threshold, National League teams were perhaps wary of Edwin's ability to hold up at first base for an entire season (never mind three or four) and there just weren't that many contending teams out there with that specific hole to fill. Remember how for a couple days it looked like Encarnacion might wind up in Oakland? Fortunately for Edwin (because who'd wanna call that gawd awful park home for 81 games a year), an unexpected team emerged and snatched him up quickly. Blame it on a simple twist of fate, but just like that, Encarnacion joined the very same team that had knocked out the Blue Jays in the ALCS: the Clevelands. To dump even more unrefined sodium into the open wound, they got him for less guaranteed money than the Blue Jays had supposedly offered months earlier.

Even the most patient fans at this point were concerned with the way this was heading. Once it was official and Edwin put on his new Cleveland jersey (I can't even think about those pictures), the move that now made the most sense was to circle back and dance with the one who seemed absolutely certain out the door: Jose Bautista. Like Encarnacion, Bautista's market had developed slowly, in large part because of the draft pick compensation attached to his name. There was talk of the Phillies making a play for him, or the Rays, mostly a bunch of teams almost certain to not contend in 2017. Surely not a preferred destination for a 36 year old slugger hungry for a taste of the World Series. Combine that with the reality of the Blue Jays still having a large hole in right-field and in the middle of their lineup, a reunion suddenly made an abundance of sense for both sides. In fact it made so much sense that many of us (or at least myself) became increasingly restless with the team every single day it didn't seem like it was going to happen.

Yet thankfully it did eventually, a one year deal with multiple unlikely* options. The biggest 2016 offseason fear for all of us was being unable to bring back either Jose or Edwin, the biggest dream was somehow bringing back both (which considering how the market played out, may have been more possible than anybody had thought). As much as hoping for a healthy Bautista is a worthwhile gamble for a fringe contending team, for the organization this move was as much about optics as it was about improving the team. Or at the very least, it was as important in that regard. Sure, Jose could be injured/terrible in 2017, either by way of those lingering toe/shoulder injuries or by simple loss of bat speed, but at the very least Blue Jay fans will discover this reality firsthand, with Joey Bats in the uniform he belongs in. Personally, I think the odds of an ACME related plunge down the cliff for Bautista is not nearly as likely as a thunderous hurricane-return-to-form for our favourite bat flipping slugger. It's a difficult gamble to bet on a player at this particular age, since much of baseball history teaches us how many great players can simply lose "it" at any time, and the odds of that happening increase with age. But the Blue Jays and their fans believe (they have to at this moment) that Bautista is an exception to any kind of aging rule, that his best skills (plate discipline, power) are ones that age with hopeful grace. If so, 2017 will be a fun summer down by Blue Jays Way.

Once the Bautista re-signing was official, the extreme tension of the Toronto baseball fanbase eased up considerably. The strong sense of panic or desperation across internet forums or just basic casual conversation among friends was lightened. Not to say that the team still didn't have holes, such as the bullpen or the left-field situation. In the ensuing weeks beyond bringing Bautista back into the fold, the organization's patience in waiting out the free agent bullpen market worked out rather nicely, as they were able to secure a pair of steady veterans in J.P. Howell and Joe Smith to extremely reasonable one year agreements. Both Howell and Smith have their warts, sure, but a one year commitment for any reliever who has enjoyed somewhat of a level of sustained success in the recent past is a hard deal to argue against. Either one of them could be the next Jason Grilli or another Kerry Ligtenberg, but at a one year deal the results cannot be quite so disastrous. (Unless of course one of them is actually as bad as Ligtenberg was... shudder).

And so here we are. Spring Training is thankfully at our doorstop and soon we can all stop prognosticating about the 2017 team and finally just watch them in action, just enjoy their unforgettable moments while yelling at our screens/radios during those infuriating ones. It's been a hell of an offseason for this team, an emotional roller coaster for its fans (to use a lame but accurate cliche) and it is about damn time to see how much of the spaghetti actually sticks to the wall with these guys. We lost one franchise icon, yet we get to enjoy one more tour around the league of another. Lets breathe in the Dunedin air one day at a time, enjoy the great intelligent at-bats of Mr. Bautista, and remember there'll be plenty of opportunity to complain and lament in no time. It is a long season.
A Tale Of Two Offseasons | 171 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
jerjapan - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 08:05 AM EST (#338800) #
Great summary Eephus.  I was certainly riding an emotional roller coaster along with you, although this offseason played out much better than I hoped at one point.

I was bearish on EE's market due to the glut of DH options available - particularly Ramirez in Boston.  Certainly possible that we sign both sluggers in retrospect, although I get the argument for spreading money around. 

Cheer the man when he comes back. 

I certainly agree with this too, but don't imagine Toronto fans will be conflicted when EE returns - he gets a standing O IMO. 


China fan - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 08:46 AM EST (#338803) #
Gibbons was conspicuously vague in his comments on the LF situation in media interviews yesterday.  I think it's possible that the Jays are still trying to acquire another outfielder.  And I hope they do.
rpriske - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 09:09 AM EST (#338804) #
The off-season, overall, has been quite bad.

The hopeful part comes when I realize that last off-season seemed just as bad, and turned out pretty good.

Maybe things aren't as bad as they seem.

The Rotation looks pretty good! That's something!

Nigel - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 10:43 AM EST (#338805) #
I don't know, once you become zen with Rogers approach to the budget (ie contentment with mediocrity) it's hard to view the offseason as mostly bad. Most of the offseason moves make a great deal of sense if your goal is to build an 84 win team that might compete if everything breaks their way. I am honestly not being snarky about the above. I think management is just playing the hand that they are dealt.
uglyone - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 10:57 AM EST (#338806) #
partly a budget issue, but losing EE when paying nearly as much for Morales/Smoak for the same term stings regardless of budget.

Hopefully Kendrys is the Happ of hitters.
Nigel - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 11:04 AM EST (#338807) #
I don't count Smoak's dumpster fire of a contract part of this offseason. :)
PeterG - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 11:29 AM EST (#338809) #
Dan Shulman on Fan590 saying that Biagini will start in Buffalo if all goes according to plan. He made the reference more than once when discussing Jays starting rotation.

Don't shoot the messenger. Just reporting that the feeling is out there and we should be prepared for the possibility.
uglyone - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 11:41 AM EST (#338810) #
surest sign of spring, the gibby lean is here:

85bluejay - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 12:39 PM EST (#338811) #
Here are the top things I'm paying attention to in spring ( aside from injuries as the Cardinals already know)

1 - Underwhelmed by the potential Carrera/Upton LF platoon - I'm looking for an alternative - maybe Pompey steps up and wins the job, maybe Jose Tabata surprises - maybe the solution comes from outside - trade, there are still FA like Angel Pagan available - I really don't see a place for Carrera (a Gibbons favourite) as he's not a natural platoon partner for Upton. I hope Upton shows a more positive attitude in this his FA year.

2 - The Biagini watch - can enough BP candidates step up to allow the Jays the option of sending Biagini to start in Buffalo, which would be a best case scenario ( Gibby would probably be unhappy). I'm hoping Sparkman, Loup and Chris Smith make it.

3 - The chemistry between Salty and the rotation - Martin needs more rest & I wouldn't be surprised by a DH stint this year.

4 - For all the praise Shapiro/Atkins have given Gibbons, if he starts the season without an extension that would be very telling & if the team gets off to a slow start, that lame duck status will become a distraction.

5 - How the media reports the fallout from the end of the Stroman/Sanchez bromance - is it just a case of guys going in different directions or is there enmity which could effect clubhouse chemistry.

6 - I've never been a fan of Goins, so I'm looking for the infielder that impresses so that when Devon Travis takes his annual stint on the DL, who might Gibbons remember from spring.

7 - Lourdes Gurriel - any indication that he may be able to contribute later this year or is he still very rusty.

8 - Justin Smoak - He's been so beaten up by the media/fanbase that he needs a decent spring to prevent a verbal lynching - I'm in the minority, still holding out hope.
Jimbag - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 12:42 PM EST (#338812) #
If he can be an effective starter, this is the route they have to take to get him there. With Estrada's contract expiring after this season (barring an extension), that's going to leave a pretty major gap in the rotation. If that gap can be filled from within the organization, then it makes sense, as that frees up the payroll that may have bad to be spent on acquiring a free agent. Hopefully Biagini is happy about the change of roles (and not quite as posh accomodations on the road, etc that go with the new role), maybe his experience in the bigs will pay dividends with the rest of the Buffalo staff, as well.

This does leave a hole in the bullpen, though, Biagini was an amazing surprise last year. Hopefully either Smith or Howell (or both) can be effective - my fear is that if they aren't that Gibbons will keep running them out there like he did with Storen last year. It's great that he shows loyalty to his players, but asking them to do what they keep proving they can't does nobody any good.

92-93 - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 12:52 PM EST (#338813) #
"From someone on Twitter, quoting Blair's radio show:
"...Edward Rogers gave Mark Shapiro additional funds to sign Bautista - and still fill other needs...."

This may or may not be true. But it still suggests something that a lot of fans don't always get: payroll "limits" aren't necessarily unbreakable. And yes, the Jays should be able to go to the owners and ask for additional payroll money when opportunities arise. That's what Anthopoulos did (in 2013) and that's what Shapiro could be doing now. There's nothing sacrosanct about a payroll parameter such as $160-million. If circumstances arise, the executives should be able to go to ownership and ask for more money."

China fan said that nearly a month ago when the Jays signed Bautista, and was bang on about the payroll. As the season gets closer by the day it's looking more and more like the actual reason the Jays weren't going to sign Encarnacion or Bautista was pure dollars and cents. I believe that the front office never remotely considered the possibility Edwin would accept 4/80, and figured they could save some face by being able to put the offer out there on the record. Their plan failed miserably.

I can't even decide what's worse - that the Jays were actually going to not bring back Jose Bautista because they think they need Joe Smith & JP Howell that badly, or that they needed to ask for a payroll boost to be able to do so.

The team has been to 2 straight ALCSs with record revenues. I get the obsession with the sustained contention and building a strong system, but it's pathetic that the Jays payroll is equal to that of the Baltimore Orioles.
uglyone - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 01:17 PM EST (#338814) #
can't disagree. if there was ever a time for them to run up against the luxury tax limit, this was it.

and hey, even going into the luxury tax shouldn't be off limits, really.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 01:43 PM EST (#338815) #
Shi Davidi was on the Jeff Blair Show 9 AM the 14th. He hears more than we do and he says what he knows. Bolsinger, Barnes, Tepera, Dermody, C. Smith seem to be the favorites for the Bullpen unless someone really surprises.
Nigel - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 01:47 PM EST (#338816) #
While I agree with these comments about payroll, they start from the wrong presumption about Rogers - that it cares about winning. Rogers cares about making the most money possible (whether that's for the next quarterly earnings release or over the long term I don't know - only those with access to senior management compensation would be able to answer that). Whether we like it or not the last decade shows that Rogers has no interest in "going for it". The year AA did the deal with the Marlins there was a huge currency move that made those moves possible.
Mike Green - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 02:18 PM EST (#338817) #
The team has been to 2 straight ALCSs with record revenues. I get the obsession with the sustained contention and building a strong system, but it's pathetic that the Jays payroll is equal to that of the Baltimore Orioles.

Yes.  I will not repeat my "how deep is your covenant?" line.  All that said, I still like the club that heads to spring training.  I don't know if I like it 85 wins, 88 wins or 91 wins.  For now, just watching is more than enough. 
bpoz - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 02:21 PM EST (#338818) #
I agree Nigel. Rogers cares about money.

Winning factors in as a trigger for increased or decreased interest in the Jays. The late charge into the playoffs in 2015 and 2016 created higher attendance and viewership.

This is basic common knowledge to ownership and also the FO.

But how do they arrive at a budget figure? IMO after considering many things they give the FO a $ amount with a variance that they are comfortable with. I am unable to come up with a more complex way that they would make this decision.

In 2013 AA traded prospects and increased payroll. In 2015 AA traded prospects and did not increase payroll. In 2016 payroll was increased and prospects added at the July 31 trade deadline.

IMO some thought went into these decisions and their execution by the FOs involved. The resulting team performance affected the futures of the FOs in charge.

This is similar to basing the value of a player to their performance.
uglyone - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:09 PM EST (#338819) #
that seems like too many "favorites", richard, no?

Osuna
Biagini
Grilli
J.Smith
Howell

Bolsinger
Barnes
Tepera
Dermody
C.Smith

(Loup)
(Sparkman)
(Harrell)
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:17 PM EST (#338820) #
At some point Rogers figured out this Team is the face of the Company. When the Team goes good so does the Company. It's been noticeable since Shapiro's been hired. It's not unlimited monies, but it's what is needed - they only have to ask.
China fan - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:25 PM EST (#338821) #
I had forgotten about Harrell.   He's out of options, and had a better 2016 season than Bolsinger.  (Both were mediocre, admittedly.)  Harrell could potentially be a 6th starter if he's stashed in the bullpen.  I have no idea whether he would be a frontrunner for that role, however.
Parker - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:27 PM EST (#338822) #
While I agree with these comments about payroll, they start from the wrong presumption about Rogers - that it cares about winning. Rogers cares about making the most money possible (whether that's for the next quarterly earnings release or over the long term I don't know - only those with access to senior management compensation would be able to answer that). Whether we like it or not the last decade shows that Rogers has no interest in "going for it". The year AA did the deal with the Marlins there was a huge currency move that made those moves possible.

If there's meaningful baseball in September every year, I'm okay with that.

The competition in the AL East is always going to be intense. If the Jays can produce a system that keeps them in the hunt every year, they might win almost as often as the luxury-tax teams.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:31 PM EST (#338823) #
It's hard not to notice fewer complaints, fewer cancellations, less reluctance with Advertisers amongst just a few things.
Nigel - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:39 PM EST (#338824) #
I do agree with Mike that this looks to be an entertaining team to watch. One that on paper seems more evenly balanced on run scoring vs run prevention than some previous rosters. I think it's also a roster that will present some daily run scoring versus run prevention options in making out the lineup card and some matchup choices for bullpen usage. I'm not sure either of those are Gibbons strengths but we shall see.
PeterG - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:47 PM EST (#338825) #
Harrell is on a minor league deal and will all likelihood start at Buffalo.
Nigel - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 03:57 PM EST (#338826) #
Parker, Rogers isn't building to that standard; that much is obvious from the fact that we went a decade or more without meaningful September baseball before the last two years. I can comfortably say that Rogers is building to a standard that ensures that, to the casual fan, the team isn't completely out of it by the All Star break. Now, maybe they've hired the management team that can draft better than everyone else and provide a contender year in year out on a middle class budget.
Parker - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 04:36 PM EST (#338827) #
Parker, Rogers isn't building to that standard; that much is obvious from the fact that we went a decade or more without meaningful September baseball before the last two years. I can comfortably say that Rogers is building to a standard that ensures that, to the casual fan, the team isn't completely out of it by the All Star break. Now, maybe they've hired the management team that can draft better than everyone else and provide a contender year in year out on a middle class budget.

Of course you're free to comfortably say whatever you want to.

The organization is going to keep drafting, whether it's better than everyone else, or not. They're going to keep trying to develop talent, and hopefully they're not going to trade away prospect depth for the privilege of picking up other teams' free agent contracts.

Maybe you think the Jays should trade for Edwin Encarnacion.
China fan - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 04:52 PM EST (#338828) #
Kudos to whiterasta80 for suggesting yesterday that the Jays should consider acquiring Mat Latos for rotation depth and possible bullpen use.  Ben Nicholson-Smith is just now reporting that the Jays are "far long" in contract negotiations with Latos, although it's not yet settled.

It also shows that the Jays continue to have payroll room.  Now they should acquire another outfielder too.

China fan - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 04:54 PM EST (#338829) #
That last post should read "far along" rather than "far long" of course.  Wish there was an edit function here. 

Here's the Nicholson-Smith piece:
http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/blue-jays-talking-contract-right-hander-mat-latos/

eudaimon - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 04:56 PM EST (#338830) #
"they've hired the management team that can draft better than everyone else"

Shapiro's draft record is actually pretty mediocre. Maybe part of that is bad luck, but it's worth pointing out.

http://jaysjournal.com/2015/11/02/blue-jays-2015-year-review-aaron-sanchez/
dan gordon - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 06:03 PM EST (#338831) #
Latos looks like he's never fully recovered from the knee and elbow problems he had in 2014 and 2015. Before that, he was a very good pitcher. Worth a look to see if he's able recover something close to his prior form. He's only 29 - came up to the big leagues at a very young age in 2009, and from 2010 to 2014, had an ERA under 3.50 every year. Would be interesting to see the medical reports on him.
Glevin - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 06:45 PM EST (#338832) #
The furor over the Smoak contract is ludicrous. He's making $4M a year. That means he has to be worth around 0.5 WAR to be worth it. His average WAR with the Jays...0.5. Mitch Moreland was 0.3 WAR player and signed for $5.5M. I don't like the signing as I didn't think it was necessary but it's such an insignificant deal that has no effect on the Jays ability to do anything. Of course, the very same people who are outraged at the deal are the ones advocating spending massive amounts for aging players. If you don't like $4m a year for a replacement Smoak, wait a couple of years when we're spending $40M a year for Tulowitzki and Martin as replacement players.
jerjapan - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 07:01 PM EST (#338833) #
I don't really see a lot of furor - more bemusement and frustration.  And $8 million guaranteed to a mediocre at best player who didn't need to be extended and went on to stink after signing his deal, while also potentially having blocked the return of EE, seems like exactly the sort of move the FO should be criticized for.  Easily their worst thus far. 

I can easily see a scenario where the difference between Tulo's contract and the value of his decline years is, say, $8 million dollars total.  Per Fangraphs, he was worth close to $23 million last year - $3 million in surplus value.  He's owed $78 million guaranteed over the next four years - also easy to think he might continue to be more valuable than his contract, even in his decline years, and if we don't decline his 2021 team option, it's only an extra $11 million. 

Martin's been worth $42.7 million in his two years here - again, pretty easy to imagine he's worth $40 million over the next three years of his deal, making it a fair value deal. 

Not to mention our two post-season appearances, and our open window for 2017 and arguably beyond. 

Every team can - and frankly should, it means they are trying to compete - have players at the end of long contracts who aren't worth their current pay cheque.  These big-ticket vets generate their value in the first years of their contract.  The issue is timing - you can't have a bunch of declining guys at the same time signed long-term.  We have exactly two. 

Dollars are dollars.  I don't see how you can complain about 'wasted' money on long-term deals and call the $8 million wasted on Smoak irrelevant. 

Parker - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 07:10 PM EST (#338834) #
"they've hired the management team that can draft better than everyone else"

Shapiro's draft record is actually pretty mediocre. Maybe part of that is bad luck, but it's worth pointing out.


I think he was being sarcastic.
PeterG - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 07:14 PM EST (#338835) #
drafting is less important than development. That's where the gains are being made. Jays on "the cutting edge" according to Buck Martinez on PTS. He was referring to high performance, injury prevention and player development.
scottt - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 07:23 PM EST (#338836) #
I'll never see Smoak as blocking EE.

By the rankings I've seen, Donaldson is the 3rd best third baseman in baseball, Martin, the 4th best catcher and Tulo, the 8th best shortstop. No dead weights there.

scottt - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 07:26 PM EST (#338837) #
I'm not Latos intolerant, but I don't think he's worth more than Floyd, 1M on a tryout basis.
Parker - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 07:39 PM EST (#338838) #
Jays on "the cutting edge" according to Buck Martinez on PTS.

I saw that too!

My confidence in Buck Martinez's analysis is about on par with my inability to understand what causes Bob McCown to think that wearing sunglasses indoors makes him think that his utter lack of coolness falls within shouting distance of Corey Hart's.
jerjapan - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 08:36 PM EST (#338839) #
drafting is less important than development. That's where the gains are being made.

Can you back that up with any evidence or examples of other orgs gaining significantly from development?  I currently see drafting as vastly more significant, and feel that that impression is shared by most?
PeterG - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 08:41 PM EST (#338840) #
Drafting is a crapshoot. Development depends much more on skill and effort. That should be obvious. Why do low round picks like Pillar succeed while many 1st rounders fail?
bpoz - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 09:22 PM EST (#338841) #
Peter G. That is a loaded statement. Pillar is one of many that will support your statement about development.

But Steib, C Sale, Olerud will be some that support drafting.
I am in the camp of successful drafting. But I could not back that up even to my own satisfaction.
Nigel - Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 10:16 PM EST (#338842) #
Actually Parker I wasn't being sarcastic or at least not in the manner you may be suggesting. I have a legitimately open mind about this management team's drafting acumen. We haven't got any useful data about that. To the extent I was making a back handed point with that comment is that the correlation between winning and higher budgets, over the long term, is extremely high. There have been two examples in the last 25 years, the A's and KC of modest budget teams beating the odds for a multiple year window, but I think those are temporary blips. I think good drafting can create windows for lower spending teams. In the long term, budget wins. All of this is absolutely in Rogers' prerogative- they bought the team, they can run it however they like.
Vulg - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 02:20 AM EST (#338843) #
My confidence in Buck Martinez's analysis is about on par with my inability to understand what causes Bob McCown to think that wearing sunglasses indoors makes him think that his utter lack of coolness falls within shouting distance of Corey Hart's.

McCown wears them because his eyes are sensitive to the studio lights - he's always hated the glare.

I can't listen to Buck Martinez broadcast games. I'll either turn the volume off or just not watch.
China fan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 07:44 AM EST (#338844) #
"....I don't think he's worth more than Floyd, 1M on a tryout basis...."

Latos is reportedly getting $1.5-million, with incentives that could bring that up to $2-million, although it's still expected to be a minor-league contract (like that of Floyd).

In my view, Latos is a better bet than Floyd, if only because he is likely to be more durable.  Since 2012, Floyd has never managed to pitch more than 54 innings in a season. Latos pitched 116 innings as recently as 2015.  Latos is nearly 5 years younger than Floyd and hasn't had as many injuries as Floyd in the past few years. (Few pitchers have.)

Latos had an xFIP of 3.69 and an fWAR of 1.5 as recently as 2015 over those 116 innings.  It's not unreasonable to think that he might bounce back to something closer to his 2015 numbers, rather than his 2016 numbers, if his health is good this year.  It's a gamble, sure, but less of a gamble than Floyd.

One big question is whether Latos could transition to a bullpen role, so that he can be stashed there as a potential 6th starter.  The Jays tried that with Chavez last year and it didn't work very well.  I don't think we can judge much from the 9 innings that Latos threw in the Washington bullpen last year (the sample is too small) but there were reports that his velocity ticked up a bit as a reliever, as one would expect.

The Latos contract is not yet finalized and might yet fall through.  But if it happens, I think he'll be worth watching closely in the spring and he could have a good chance at the swingman role in the bullpen.
uglyone - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 08:14 AM EST (#338845) #
smoak was handed a 3yr deal (which we didn't want) and then immediately left off the playoff roster (which we all wanted).

it was a laughable deal, and worrying that our FO even considered it, let alone went through with it.
China fan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 08:26 AM EST (#338846) #
Two very picayune corrections to uglyone's post.  Smoak got a 2-year deal with a team option for an additional year (not a 3-year deal).  And Smoak was on the Jays roster for the Wild Card game and the ALDS.  He was dropped from the ALCS roster because they needed an extra middle-infielder after the Travis injury, but I see from BR that he still ended up with a PA in the ALCS so I guess he was added back at some point.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with uglyone's basic point, however.

Mike Green - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 09:07 AM EST (#338847) #
This article has some interesting bits on Marco Estrada's 2012 quadriceps injury that cost him his velocity and his adaptation to that loss (with help from Mark Buehrle).
SK in NJ - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 09:18 AM EST (#338848) #
Latos has lost a lot of velocity since his 2010-13 prime years. I think he went from mid-90's to about 90 now, so I'm not sure he comes with much upside as a SP (hence the rumored minor league deal). If his velocity can jump in a relief role, then that might be where he's most valuable.

I still think if Floyd is healthy that he's going to make the team as a RP, even though he hasn't been mentioned much. Of course, if his MiLB deal does not include an opt out, then maybe he'll be in Buffalo as a SP, but if he's healthy, then he might have the inside track on one of the jobs. Certainly if Biagini starts in AAA, then his chances improve.
PeterG - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 09:33 AM EST (#338849) #
International Latin free agents are signed young (many at 16) and developed. The developmental system is critical to any organization.

In the case of Steib, he was drafted as an OF and developed aa a pitcher

Shapiro is betting heavily on development and I think he is right.
jerjapan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 09:59 AM EST (#338850) #
"Drafting is a crapshoot. Development depends much more on skill and effort".

PeterG, nobody would argue that development is essential, and I share your optimism around the Shapiro focus on building a state-of-the-art developmental team.

But how in the world do you measure the impact? We can pretty easily evaluate the success of draft picks, but we can't untangle the two departments when it comes to who makes it and who doesn't.

Sure we have had some 1st round busts, but all teams do. I've analyzed the drafting of AA's team many times round here to show that under Parker et al we amassed tons of talent with a high-risk, high-reward approach that naturally leads to some busts.

If you feel like crunching numbers or posting links to suggest otherwise, I'd be happy to read em. Blanket 'that should be obvious' statements don't carry a lot of weight.
I'd say the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that we have failed to properly develop our 1st round picks.

Mike Green - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:01 AM EST (#338851) #
Steib

Sorry to be fussy, but ...Dave Stieb is one of the greatest players to ever wear the Blue Jay uniform; the least we can do to honour him is to spell his name right. 
PeterG - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:12 AM EST (#338852) #
Perhaps the Latos deal is contingent on medical?
85bluejay - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:19 AM EST (#338853) #
I hope the Latos deal falls through - his douchebag attitude with the teams he's played for makes him hard for me to root for especially for a marginal talent.
mathesond - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:22 AM EST (#338854) #
Heh, I wondered when someone would bring up Latos' attitude history.
Chuck - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:42 AM EST (#338855) #
Dave Stieb is one of the greatest players to ever wear the Blue Jay uniform

Perhaps, but he was no Roger Clemmons.

China fan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 11:01 AM EST (#338857) #
".....his douchebag attitude with the teams he's played for makes him hard for me to root for...."

How bad was it?  Unless it's criminal or racist or homophobic behaviour, I'm inclined to want the best possible roster, regardless of the personalities.

A lot of baseball players have political views or private behavior that I might not agree with.  As a fan, is it crucial to my view of the team?  Not really. 

In any event, Latos is today reported to be "close" to a deal with the Jays, so I think you are saddled with him, regardless of his behaviour.  Let's see how his pitches look in the pre-season games.
PeterG - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 11:33 AM EST (#338858) #
Latos deal now agreed.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 11:49 AM EST (#338859) #
Roger Clemmons

As I recall it, Clarence Clemons' name was misspelled Clemmons on one of Bruce Springsteen's early albums, perhaps Greetings from Asbury Park.  When I saw it, I did a double take.
SK in NJ - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 12:05 PM EST (#338860) #
Latos just walked into the Jays clubhouse according to Davidi so it's official.

No word on whether it's a MLB or MiLB deal but I'm going to guess the latter.
92-93 - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 12:14 PM EST (#338861) #
"The furor over the Smoak contract is ludicrous. He's making $4M a year. That means he has to be worth around 0.5 WAR to be worth it...it's such an insignificant deal that has no effect on the Jays ability to do anything."

When people say that wins are worth 8m on the FA market, they most certainly are not referring to the 1 win a 1 WAR player provides. 0.5 WAR is not even close to being worth 4m. Smoak's contract very obviously effects the Jays ability to find a competent MLB 1B and limits the $ they have to spend rounding out the pitching staff.
92-93 - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 12:16 PM EST (#338862) #
Sorry Dewey.
China fan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 12:20 PM EST (#338863) #
The Latos deal is now reported to be $1-million plus $500,000 in incentives.  So yeah, pretty similar to the Gavin Floyd deal.  Worth a flyer anyway.

Can anyone comment on how many of these minor-league contracts have "opt out" clauses for the player if he doesn't make the team?  Just wondering whether the Jays can actually stash players like Floyd and Latos in Buffalo at the start of the season, or whether they are likely to have been given a promise that the Jays will release them if they don't make the major-league roster.  I know this often happens.  Just wondering if the "op-out" clause has become the "new normal" in these minor-league deals.

China fan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 12:29 PM EST (#338864) #
And now Shi Davidi is saying that the Latos deal is $1.5-million plus $500,000 in incentives.  That makes it slightly more likely to suggest that he could make the team.
whiterasta80 - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 12:38 PM EST (#338865) #
Im on fire with predictions this offseason for whatever reason (latos, jiminez release, morales, smith).

Latos is a decent depth signing. If you dont like him then the possible outcomes are even better. Either he performs well and everyone ignores it (stieb, clemens, bonds) or he sucks and you get to celebrate his release.
China fan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 12:59 PM EST (#338866) #
Answering my own question:  there are two opt-outs that Latos can invoke in his deal.  At the end of spring training, and then again at some point during the season.
John Northey - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:25 PM EST (#338867) #
Weird choices for supporting drafting. Stieb was a 5th round pick and Olerud a 3rd. Olerud was viewed as an impossible sign thus why he fell to the 3rd round. Stieb was an outfielder with a killer arm. To support high draft picks go with... Halladay, Carpenter, Green, Wells, Rios, Moseby, Stewart, and Hill. All were Jays first round, in the first 20 picks overall who got 20+ bWAR lifetime.

Of course, flip side is the top 5 overall picks the Jays have made - Augie Schmidt, Garry Harris, Jay Schroeder never touched the majors despite being picked 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd overall. Moseby was also a 2nd overall pick. Other top 5 picks by the Jays are Billy Koch, Matt Williams (RHP got 10 games in the majors), and Wells.

Looking at the 2nd round you get David Wells, Derek Bell, and a batch who didn't get to 10 WAR.

5th is my favorite though with Stieb, Hentgen, Michael Young, Mike Timlin (just shy of 20 WAR in relief).
85bluejay - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:26 PM EST (#338868) #
Maybe someone has a better memory, but I seem to recall that when Latos got traded from the Padres to the Reds, the Jays were said to have finished as runner-up with their offer.
bpoz - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:33 PM EST (#338869) #
I like this FOs risk taking approach to filling out the roster.

Last year Stroman was our #4 because there were 3 very good performers ahead of him. They covered for him if he had under performed and is actually a better pitcher.

Cecil and Storen under performed. Biagini, Grilli and Benoit covered there.

There are about 5 experienced pen arms to hopefully do the job. Not included in the 5 are Osuna because the team probably cannot deal with him under performing. Loup too not included because he has to earn high leverage IP. Biagini not included because I am no longer sure that he is in the pen. He is good insurance for the pen or rotation if something happens.

A good risk taking approach IMO. But no guarantees.
eudaimon - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:37 PM EST (#338870) #
"0.5 WAR is not even close to being worth 4m".

Indeed. 0.5 WAR is about what you'd expect from a replacement player, and you don't pay those guys 4 million or anywhere near it. But that's basically what the FO did with Smoak. Making it worse is that he provides virtually no other useful skill set outside of hitting bad fastballs - he plays only 1B (anyone can play 1B), is slow on the basepaths, and is easy for opposing managers to plan against as he can't hit a curve. Not to mention he takes up a spot on the roster that could be given to a more useful player.

The move still mystifies me. 4 million isn't much, but maybe we could have gotten a slightly better reliever than say Joe Smith if we spent 7 million instead of just 3. The only justification I can think of is that they think Smoak is a breakout candidate, but I don't think that's a very likely outcome at all. Smoak reminds me more of Juan Francisco than Jose Bautista.

People say 1 WAR is worth 8 million, and I see how that can make sense but dividing / multiplying that number isn't the best way to determine the value of a contract. For instance, Mike Trout will never get a contract that pays him 80 million dollars a year (about his "worth" in WAR), and 1 WAR guys, outside of some relievers of course, aren't signed to 8 million dollar contracts. Also, 4 WAR guys (all stars, but not quite elite) should be paid 32 million by that metric, even though this income is limited to elite players at this point.

China fan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:42 PM EST (#338871) #
"....The move still mystifies me..."

There is a theory that the Jays analytics department has evaluated Smoak as a better defender than most of us do, and that they consider defence to be an under-rated aspect of team performance.  This might be true, or it might just be people desperately searching for a potential reason to justify the $4-million annual contract, on the grounds that the Jays front office wouldn't be stupid enough to throw money away so they must have some crafty shrewd reasons.
bpoz - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:57 PM EST (#338872) #
This is an approach from left field. I hope it does not cause any problems for any Bauxites.

Forget baseball math for a minute. Please. So just in real math if you have 10 players the the odds of 1 getting injured is double the odds of 1 getting injured if you have 5 players. And I believe the opposite is true for over performing.

I am applying this to the Boston rotation. They are being referred to as 3 Aces. Well they each have a Cy Young award, so why not. Any how I cannot see all 3 over performing. I simply cannot see it. I really believe most Cy Young winners over perform when they win.
eudaimon - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:58 PM EST (#338873) #
Perhaps, but I'd be surprised. I don't think anyone except for maybe Buck Martinez thinks Smoak is great defensively. Fangraphs seems to think he's average, at best. And apparently this skill was not useful enough for him to make the postseason roster. Anyways, probably beating a dead horse here.
SK in NJ - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:59 PM EST (#338874) #
The Jays did not sign Smoak because they think he's a replacement level player. More likely they signed him because they have the expectation that he is better than his numbers have indicated. The $4M figure was simply a figure close to what he made in his final year of arbitration.

I did not like or agree with the move at the time and it has not aged well in the last seven months, but like I said before, if that's the worst move this FO has made, then I'm fine with that. In the grand scheme of things, he can be released and not cause much damage to the payroll.

Still a bad move regardless. I thought Smoak had breakout potential in 2015-16, but I do not want him taking PA's away from Steve Pearce in 2017.
uglyone - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 02:36 PM EST (#338875) #
in re: drafting.

Here's the top-5 fangraphs projected teams right now, and how many projected 2+ war players they drafted:

1.CHC (2): Bryant, Schwarber
2.LAD (3): Kershaw, Seager, Pederson
3.CLE (2): Lindor, Kipnis
4.BOS (4): Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Pedroia
5.WSH (3): Strasburg, Harper, Rendon


(TOR (3): Sanchez, Stroman, Pillar)
whiterasta80 - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 02:48 PM EST (#338876) #
Possible explanations for Smoak

1. Jays thought that salaries were skyrocket and that Bautista's 5/30 was the new normal

2. Jays think Smoak has untapped potential offensively

3. He has pictures of Atkins' daughter
dan gordon - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 03:28 PM EST (#338878) #
Keep in mind the context of the Smoak signing as well. He was extended on July 16th. At that point, he was already making $3.9 million, coming off a season where he OPS'd .768 and put up 1.3 WAR. His OPS on July 16 was .745, not much different from the 2015 number. The contract, while certainly questionable, and seemingly unnecessary at the time, looks a lot worse now, given Smoak's terrible 2nd half. Maybe he bounces back to a .750 or so WAR and the contract doesn't look so horrible. I echo the sentiment about hoping he doesn't get the lion's share at 1B at the expense of Pearce, and if he continues to hit like he did in the 2nd half of last year, I anticipate his butt becoming well acquainted with the bench.
Nigel - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 03:41 PM EST (#338879) #
Smoak has a long history of every day playing time - the chances of him being anything other than what he is are remote and I don't expect this management team to think otherwise. Why not choose the simplest explanation for his contract? Management knew they were going to get squeezed on budget and knew they had multiple holes to fill in the offseason. Smoak gave them a warm body with a fan friendly number of homers to fill a 1B/DH/PH role. From a performance perspective the signing doesn't make sense. From a budgetary perspective in July of last year I can see it. I fully believe the plan as of last July was to punt on getting performance out of the 1B position in 2017 and make Smoak an every day player. They are were going to spend their limited resources elsewhere. The market in the offseason changed their plans.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 03:46 PM EST (#338880) #
It does seem clear that there has been an adjustment in the market since the Smoak signing.  Players at the right end of the defensive spectrum (first basemen, DH, and corner outfielders) are getting less than formerly.  This includes Encarnacion obviously.  This mis-reading of the market was certainly not unique to the Blue Jays. 

The adjustment in the market makes a poor overly cautious move at the time (getting insurance against an upswing in the market while wanting to have someone before Tellez arrives) seem ridiculous. 

jerjapan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 03:47 PM EST (#338881) #
Dave Cameron has his annual list of the ten best moves of the offseason up. Resigning Bautista was our only move to make the list or the honorable mentions, coming in at #4. I certainly agree with him that it was a great move.

He will have his worst 10 list up tomorrow and it sounds like he will have the Morales deal on that list.
SK in NJ - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 03:59 PM EST (#338882) #
They wouldn't extend a replacement level player for two years unnecessarily just to fill a spot for the following season, especially at position like 1B where it will be relatively easy to find bodies to fill the spot most years (as opposed to a higher defensive position like SS or CF).

The analytics team liked Smoak even dating back to when AA was here. It's possible they simply like him better than his numbers suggest. He has a solid hard hit and FB profile and draws a decent amount of walks (+10%). I think the Jays will probably end up being wrong about him, but they probably see some upside there for those reasons.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 05:24 PM EST (#338883) #
Here are the Atlantis Casino over/under win totals for 2017 as of Feb 12. 

I think the A's at 66.5 are low, but I don't have any strong feelings about almost all of the numbers one way or the other.  The Jays are at 86.5, and that's about where I would place them not knowing about the health of a few key players and how the LF situation will turn out. 
dan gordon - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 06:46 PM EST (#338884) #
Interesting that they have the Red Sox with only 4 more wins than the Blue Jays. You hear so much about how good the Red Sox must be now, I figured they'd have them with a bigger margin than that. I think the Jays are a very strong team, and wouldn't be surprised to see them in the hunt for the division title.
BlueJayWay - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 07:33 PM EST (#338885) #
Agreed Dan. The Red Sox are probably the best team in the division, but the Jays could give them a real run. I expect the Jays to be a WC contender at least and an outside shot at the AL East.
uglyone - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 07:41 PM EST (#338886) #
imo both the sox and jays are pretty similar to what they were last year.
Nigel - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 07:53 PM EST (#338887) #
SK - why do you say that they would not punt 1B? They have chosen to punt on LF instead. As it stands now they are likely get marginally above replacement level production from that position. The budget forced them to have to compromise on a solution to one of the holes on the roster. I believe the original plan was to do so at 1B, as the offseason progressed they switched that to one of the OF positions.
ComebyDeanChance - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 07:53 PM EST (#338888) #
The adjustment in the market makes a poor overly cautious move at the time (getting insurance against an upswing in the market while wanting to have someone before Tellez arrives) seem ridiculous.

I don't think a 2 year deal for a total of $8 million qualifies as "ridiculous". I think that qualifies as 'meh'. I don't think you get into the "ridiculous",until you get into moves like signing Prince Fielder for 9 years at $24 million, or David Price for 7 years at $31 million.

Richard S.S. - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 07:58 PM EST (#338889) #
Aaron Sanchez has put on useful weight. He will pitch a lot at the Minor League Camp working exclusively on his Changeup, his third pitch. He's as good as any other #1 Starter the Jays will face this year.

Marcus Stroman was working in his Cutter and lost his slider for a time. He got it back and pitched well. He continually adjusts what he throws, sometimes too much. When he returned in September in 2015, he pitched better than Price. So it's very possible he challenges Sanchez for number one.

These are the guys who will decide if the Jays get back to the Postseason. They solely control how this Team does. If they are good then the rest of the Team matters. If they are not, then everyone else needs a career year.
jerjapan - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 08:07 PM EST (#338890) #
Moves can be ridiculous that have lesser or greater impacts - Sil Campusano starting in CF pushing George Bell to DH?  Ridiculous.  Long term impact?  neglible.

Perhaps Smoak doesn't qualify as ridiculous, but I certainly can't think of a less popular move round here in the past few years than that contract extension, which of course looks even worse now.

Fielder?  Pretty darn ridiculous - he's the exact sort of player who doesn't age well.  Price?  Dude was worth $36 million last year according to Fangraphs, even in a down year, and steamer predicts that he'll be worth the same WAR next year.  I still say he opts out in 2018, with the Red Sox making out like bandits for the three years of the initial deal. 

SK in NJ - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 08:22 PM EST (#338891) #
Nigel, I don't think they punted 1B or planned to. For one thing, he signed the extension last July, a few months before the off-season even began, and secondly, he was such an expendable player that they could have probably re-signed him much cheaper by just letting him become a FA and re-signing him from there. There was no need to sign him at the time unless they really liked him for whatever reason.

Pearce is a much better player than Smoak while only a tad bit more expensive, and he was signed pretty early in the off-season. If they signed Smoak simply to be a body to hold a position then they could have waited out the market and signed an outfielder instead of Pearce. My guess is they think Smoak is a breakout candidate or is better than his numbers suggest, and they took a chance with him on a fairly inexpensive deal. He dipped significantly in the 2nd half, right after signing the extension, and then they got Pearce on a much better deal. Clearly they misjudged the market on first baseman, but I don't think signing Smoak early was a way to punt first base four months before the off-season even began. I don't think any front office would operate that way.

I agree that they left LF in a bad situation, but who knows what ends up happening there. They had Chavez/Floyd pencilled into the rotation at this time last year and they were beaten out by Sanchez. Hopefully it's a similar situation with Pompey this time around. Then again, if Upton plays like he did in SD, then he might even be a pretty good starting LF, so maybe that's what they have in mind once Carrera crashes and burns.
Richard S.S. - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 08:27 PM EST (#338892) #
Left Field us not a problem.

It's extremely unlikely Melvin Upton Jr is that bad again.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/u/uptonbj01.shtml All indications are that he should be better.

Ezequiel Carrera is totally unsuitable platooning with Upton. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/carreez01.shtml Although as a Fourth Outfielder he's acceptable.

Dalton Pompey is out of option after this year. He's been here before. The Jays need to see if he's got anything now.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=pompey001dal They need to be able to make a decision.

To say they punted LF was shortsighted, better defense is always a gain.
uglyone - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 08:28 PM EST (#338893) #
some people would rather overpay bench players than stars.
bpoz - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 09:32 PM EST (#338894) #
Minor league signing. Catcher Rafael Lopez.
SK in NJ - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 09:36 PM EST (#338895) #
Just listened to some of Shi Davidi's interview on PTS, and he said that if Pearce's arm is healthy after surgery that he would be the primary LF (and I assume he'd go to 1B with Upton in LF against LHP). I haven't heard that possibility from a Jays media person before. Not sure I like that alignment. Smoak/Pearce against RHP is better offensively than having one of Carrera/Upton bat against them, but it's also a hit defensively, and might impact Pearce's ability to stay healthy.

Hopefully when the dust settles they'll just go with Pearce at first and Upton in left full-time, while using Zeke and Smoak as back-ups. That's probably the best use of the roster as is. Pearce is an above average defensive 1B and Upton grades out very well defensively in LF. Smoak's bat against RHP isn't good enough to deviate from that set up.
greenfrog - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 09:46 PM EST (#338896) #
"I certainly can't think of a less popular move round here in the past few years than that contract extension"

The Happ signing last off-season was arguably less popular than the Smoak extension. Those that have been impressed by the front office prefer to highlight Happ and certain other value moves they've made (Estrada, Grilli, Benoit, Liriano, Barney). Those that have been less enamoured with Shapiro and Atkins tend to rehash Smoak a lot (no pun intended) and some other moves (Thole, Upton Jr., Storen).

So far I would put myself mostly in the first camp, but it's still early days in the front office's tenure.
Richard S.S. - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:22 PM EST (#338897) #
There are people (Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe for one) who would take Toronto's Rotation in a heartbeat over Boston's Rotation. Mat Latos is a better Starter than their #4 or #5 Starting options. I think it sucks.

Everyone was trilled about the Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez acquisitions and deriding the Donaldson and Martin deals. What fools them. Can Boston defend?

I fully expect the Jays to win the East, no one else has the horses to do it.
Nigel - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:33 PM EST (#338898) #
Oh man. Pearce as the primary LF. I don't even know where to start on that as a bad idea. I presume they would do that in order to get Smoak additional ABs. I am sympathetic. On the days they want to get Pearce, Morales and Bautista into the lineup they have a significant run prevention problem. I assume they have a plan as this issue has been on the table the moment they signed all three of them.
scottt - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:40 PM EST (#338899) #
No matter how you calculate his value, Price's trajectory is downwards and he would not get more money on a new contract.  He said himself he's not opting out. 
Nigel - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:42 PM EST (#338900) #
I think there are day to day opportunities with this roster. For example, Pearce in LF on the days the GB pitchers go (Stroman and Sanchez) but shouldn't see the field when the FB go. Again, not Gibbons' strength but we shall see.
scottt - Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 10:47 PM EST (#338901) #
There's drafting and there's signing.

The Jays drafted Kris Bryant in 2010 but didn't sign him. Does that count?

whiterasta80 - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 07:06 AM EST (#338902) #
Precisely nobody criticized the Donaldson deal.

Seeing as this has worked a few times now, "Rastradomous" predicts a Pagan signing today or tomorrow.

Probably just wishful thinking but if it works im moving on to Trout.
whiterasta80 - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 07:10 AM EST (#338903) #
Greenfrog i take the same stance as you. The "wins" for this front office have brought massive excess value and led to a playoff appearance. The "losses" have done nothing to hamstring this team (except possibly Morales vs EE and that remains to be seen).

Overall im pleased with how we have done.
uglyone - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 08:18 AM EST (#338904) #
the front office inherited a first place playoff team.
scottt - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 08:35 AM EST (#338905) #
I don't know when Pearce's elbow will be ready for the outfield. I sure hope they won't push him on that.

I don't see Smoak blocking anyone at first base, just like I don't see Carrera blocking anyone in left field.
At least, Smoak is an average bat with a competent defense at first against righties.
What is Carrera's strength?

Mike Green - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 08:41 AM EST (#338906) #
Oh man. Pearce as the primary LF. I don't even know where to start on that as a bad idea. I presume they would do that in order to get Smoak additional ABs. I am sympathetic. On the days they want to get Pearce, Morales and Bautista into the lineup they have a significant run prevention problem. I assume they have a plan as this issue has been on the table the moment they signed all three of them.

I know what I would do (assuming everyone is reasonably healthy come Opening Day). Pompey is the everyday left-fielder.  Pearce plays first base 75-80% of the time, with extra days off to recover.  Bautista plays right-field about 1/2 the time and Upton gets the other half of the work against LHP and some right-handers.  Bautista DHs sometimes..  Morales plays first base against RHPs when Bautista is DHing and Pearce has the day off.   The aim is to get 550 PAs out of Bautista, Morales and Pearce- if one is injured, the others pick up the slack. 

I have no idea what the club will do, but I am assuming that health and performance in spring training will affect the decisions (as it should). 
Mike Green - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 08:45 AM EST (#338907) #
Precisely nobody criticized the Donaldson deal.

Wrong.  I somewhat timidly argued against it for reasons which turned out to be entirely incorrect on almost all fronts.  I'll go sit in a corner now for the rest of the day and wear a pointy hat. 

In my (weak) defence, I quickly saw the error of my ways. 
China fan - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 08:58 AM EST (#338908) #
"....On the days they want to get Pearce, Morales and Bautista into the lineup they have a significant run prevention problem..."

Morales will be playing almost exclusively at DH, so he's not a run-prevention problem.  Pearce, I predict, will be playing mostly at 1B, where he's not really a run-prevention problem either.  Bautista?  He has actually said that he's willing to play 1B or wherever the Jays want him.  So if he screws up in RF, that's mostly the problem of a front office that has failed to acquire any good new outfielders in the entire off-season so far.  (I don't really consider Pearce to be an outfielder.)

I see three possible scenarios here:  1) the Jays acquire another outfielder, perhaps someone like Pagan, or a trade acquisition, before the season begins. That would allow them to reduce their usage of Pearce and Bautista in the outfield.  Bautista might still play mostly in RF but they could at least begin to transition him slightly towards 1B or DH. 
  2) Upton or Pompey steps forward with the bat. If one of them hits strongly enough to become an everyday player, the defence will be stronger and there's no need for Pearce in the outfield.
  3) The front office takes the cheap route: giving LF to some stumbling mixture of poor-hitting defenders or poor-defending hitters.  There's really no excuse for this scenario, since it could be solved by the acquisition of a good new outfielder, which could be done at a reasonable cost.  But it could happen.

Interestingly, Atkins told the media yesterday that he doesn't expect any more free-agent acquisitions and that he is switching his focus to trades.  Perhaps the front office has spotted a good outfielder who could be acquired by trade.  If so, I'm quite willing to be patient and wait for the final lineup on opening day.
Nigel - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 09:12 AM EST (#338909) #
CF - I should have been more clear in my original post. They have a run prevention problem on the days they wish to put all three in the lineup at the same time. Which, I think, will be often. Either Bautista or Pearce has to play the OF. When they do they will be largely, if not entirely, eating away at the benefits offensively of Bautista or Pearce being in the lineup. I agree if only 2 of the 3 play then the solutions are easy. I am generally with Mike on his construction, although because the starters have some extreme FB/GB attributes I would let that influence my daily lineup construction to some extent. I don't think this will be what Gibbons does though. He's shown little interest in having Pompey around and potpourri lineup/defensive set ups don't seem his preference or strength. But we shall see.
Nigel - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 09:17 AM EST (#338910) #
And, to be fair to Gibbons, he has generally had rosters more suited to rigid lineup/defensive construction. His fetish for 8 man bullpens don't help this issue though.
Mike Green - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 09:23 AM EST (#338911) #
To address F/G tendencies among the starters, you could play Upton in RF when Estrada pitches and Bautista in RF when Stroman pitches.  The key point, I think, is to make sure that Bautista gets a fair bit of time off his feet. 

In fairness to Gibbons, he has sometimes used the DH slot to give starters a fair bit of rest.  The big leap for him would be to give Pompey the LF job.  I think he needs to see for himself the signs of maturity, and with luck, that is what will occur in spring training. 
China fan - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 09:30 AM EST (#338912) #
"......He's shown little interest in having Pompey around...."

Gibbons isn't the reason for Pompey's absence from the major-league roster.  I'm sure it's been an organizational decision that he needs more work in the minors.  If had hit better than a .724 OPS at Buffalo over the past three years, he would probably have spent more time in the majors by now.  And it's been clear from the reporting of John Lott and others that even his Buffalo managers were unhappy with Pompey's lack of consistent focus.  If you're a Pompey fan, you can't make Gibbons the scapegoat for your anger, because it's clear that the organization wants to see more from Pompey before giving him a full-time major-league job.

Nigel - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 10:04 AM EST (#338913) #
My expectation about how Gibbons will deploy the roster (barring injuries) is Morales as the full time DH, a Smoak/Pearce job share at 1B (not a strict platoon but with Pearce taking all the LH starters and some of the RH as well) and an Upton/Carrera job share in LF (on a close to strict platoon basis). Pearce to get some starts in LF and Bautista to get occasional 1B or DH starts. Maybe they will surprise me by being more creative- time will tell.
uglyone - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 10:05 AM EST (#338914) #
Carrera has a career .722ops in AAA. Last year it was .420. The year before .694.

Upton's last stint in AAA in 2015 he posted a .713ops in the PCL.
Thomas - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 10:23 AM EST (#338915) #
There's a very good article in today's National Post on Jake Eliopolous, the former two-time Blue Jays draft pick from Toronto who committed suicide in 2013.

http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/mlb/losing-jake-the-amazing-life-and-tragic-death-of-a-young-blue-jays-prospect
Mike Green - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 10:45 AM EST (#338916) #
John Lott has a fine article in The Athletic (behind paywall) reporting on a Troy Tulowitzki interview.  Tulowitzki mentions that he has known Bo Bichette since Bo was 10 years old (from when Dante was a Rockie), and that it's cool to see him as an infield prospect in the organization. 

The veteran core of this club- Donaldson, Tulo, Martin, Bautista, Morales and Pearce- is excellent.  The key will be to get good contributions from a couple of younger players.  The mix of the energy of youth and the wisdom of the veteran is what makes a really good club tick. 

whiterasta80 - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 10:56 AM EST (#338917) #
Apologies Mike for the hyperbolic sentence. I really just meant to say that the consensus was that it was a steal for the Jays.

I will also confess to underrating the acquisition in several ways.

1. I thought Lawrie had another gear which doesn't seem to be the case.

2. I thought Barretto was an absolute stud prospect (he still looks pretty good).

3. I severely underrated Donaldson. I knew he was a middle of the order bat but didn't realize that he was a perennial top 5-10 MVP candidate.
Mike Green - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 11:35 AM EST (#338918) #
Thanks, Thomas, for the Eliopoulos story.  It's a fine reminder for all of us.
observer2010 - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 12:51 PM EST (#338919) #
I give this front office some credit for demonstrating an understanding of value for money and an eye for selecting talent.

They could have made a panic driven decision when Bautista made his spring training ultimatum last year at this time, and paid him $125 over 5 years or whatever he had in mind, but instead they waited.

We now have him for one year at $18 or $19 million. A prudent decision, I'd say, given his recent injury history, recent inconsistencies in the field an at the plate, and his age. He was probably overpaid, considering the market, but given what he has meant to the Jays for the past several years, bringing him back, for the team and the fans, is understandable.

Similarly, no need for a bidding war with the Cardinals over Bret Cecil. $30 million over four years was a bit rich for a guy who was so bad for the first couple of months last season, who spent time on the injury list for four years in a row, and often appeared out of shape.

Howell, for one year at $3 million seems a more reasonable expenditure, likely to produce comparable or perhaps better results.

Joe Smith is another value signing of a guy with a pretty good track record.

The loss of Edwin is significant, but the offer proved to be fair, and Morales appears a capable replacement. They also picked up Gurriel, who works with the same agent. If he is as good as some think, that could be a major coup.

Did they move on from Edwin too quickly? Perhaps. But clearly the offer was fair and his agent was shopping the market, despite the claims about the Jays being the first choice. If they were his first choice, he could have sacrificed a few million. The negotiating strategy was understandable, at least.

The Smoak deal was a bit of a head scratcher, but I'm assuming that was insurance if Edwin and Jose had both moved on.

They got great value out of Grilli, Benoit and Liriano last year, for comparatively little sent back in return.

The back end of the bullpen now looks a little more settled, and on paper they look better than the Orioles, Rays and Yankees.

They've picked up some veteran guys and minor league free agents to fill in the depleted roster in Buffalo and maybe one or two of them might come through. If not, no big loss.

So I'm keeping an open mind about this front office, and hoping for another exciting year, with this core group of guys.

China fan - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 01:47 PM EST (#338920) #
Thank you, uglyone, for posting those minor-league stats for Carrera and Upton.  I think they illustrate my point very well.  Carrera's career OPS of .722 at the AAA level has translated into a career OPS of .665 at the major-league level.  Upton's career OPS of .853 at the AAA level has translated into a career OPS of .723 at the major-league level.  Or if you prefer to look at his 2015 season: he posted a .713 OPS at the AAA level, and that was followed by a .578 OPS with the Blue Jays in the following season.

When we see the hitting numbers of Carrera and Upton declining when they move from AAA to the majors, why wouldn't we expect Pompey's numbers to similarly decline when he moves from AAA to the major-league level?  Pompey has now had 734 plate appearances at the AAA level, and his OPS was .724 in that large sample.  It would be normal if his offensive numbers decline when he moves from AAA to the majors, just as we saw with Carrera and Upton.

If you're arguing that Pompey's AAA hitting was as good as Carrera's AAA hitting and therefore he should get a major-league job ahead of Carrera, I would generally agree with you, except for the fact that Pompey should be playing every day, whereas Carrera seems to perform better in a back-up role.  Pompey is only 24 and needs to play every day so that his development will continue.  That's why he will probably be in Buffalo to start the season, unless he has an incredible spring and performs much better than Upton and just seizes the LF job and runs with it.  If he's the clear winner of the spring competition, he should get the job, of course.

The one good thing that I see in Pompey's AAA numbers is his high OBP.   He has a .362 OBP (without much power) in his three AAA seasons.  That's something that he could build on, to perhaps eventually become a classic speedy leadoff hitter in the majors.  And I suspect that's what the Jays want him to do.  By giving him lots of development time in Buffalo, they are ensuring that he develops all the classic skills of a leadoff hitter and good defender -- including the consistent focus and concentration that have sometimes been lacking in his recent career, according to the reliable reports that we've seen from Buffalo.


Chuck - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 01:49 PM EST (#338921) #
They got great value out of Grilli, Benoit and Liriano last year, for comparatively little sent back in return.

I think too much credit is being given to the organization for the acquisitions of Grilli and Benoit. Both were lucky breaks. Grilli was a harmless waiver wire pickup and Benoit was acquired in an exchange of highly paid under-performers (and would not have been acquired otherwise).

I can't imagine that the organization went out of their way to target either. Both landed in their laps and turned out to be highly serviceable.

uglyone - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 01:56 PM EST (#338922) #
China, why does Pompey have to prove more with the bat at AAA than his competitors, especially when he likely has the best combo of D and Speed of the bunch, and likely as the least platoon issue?
cybercavalier - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 02:02 PM EST (#338923) #
BA.com published annually indie prospects. From  this 2016 season list:

1 Dalton Wheat, OF -- signed by Marlins
2 Art Charles, 1B -- signed by Reds, former Jays' prospect
4. Chad Nading, rhp, Wichita (American Association) -- Brewers
5. Jesse Beal -- Phillies
6. Danny Reynolds -- Braves
7. Lindsey Caughel -- Mariners
8. Austin Crutcher -- WhiteSox
9. Andrew Potter -- Pirates
10. Jordan Mills -- Nationals
11. Trevor Richards -- Marlins
12. Nik Turley -- Twins
18. David Vidal -- Marlins

Re-sgned with indie league teams
3) Jose Nivar
13) Nolan Meadows
14) Torey Deshazier
15) T. J. Mittelstaedt

So the top 10 plus indie league prospect per BA.com have been signed.
Parker - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 02:04 PM EST (#338924) #
Upton's last stint in AAA in 2015 he posted a .713ops in the PCL.

Adeiny Hechavarria put up a .968 OPS in the PCL at age-22!!!

And Alex Anthopoulos traded him!?!
cybercavalier - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 02:08 PM EST (#338925) #
Minor league signing. Catcher Rafael Lopez.

Interesting. Maybe signing catcher George Kottaras as well; at least the latter has hit with intermittent MLB performance.
cybercavalier - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 02:25 PM EST (#338926) #
It also shows that the Jays continue to have payroll room.  Now they should acquire another outfielder too.

At what performance level of that outfielder shall be. Better than 4th OF candidate ability of Zeke?
China fan - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 02:47 PM EST (#338927) #
"....why does Pompey have to prove more with the bat at AAA than his competitors...."

Is he competing with Carrera?  I don't think it's really a competition, since they are at such different stages of their careers. Carrera is competing for the 4th OF job, while Pompey is competing for a starting position in the outfield.   If Pompey is sent to Buffalo, it's because the Jays still see him as a potential star and they want him to play every day.   And as long as Upton is on the roster, I don't see a scenario where Pompey is the full-time starter and Upton is the bench guy -- unless Pompey somehow proves in the spring that he is far superior to Upton. 

Given the presence of Upton and Pearce on the roster, and if we assume that the Jays don't acquire another outfielder (which they really should do), then it's pretty clear that LF will be shared among two or three players.  In that scenario, I don't see Pompey getting enough playing time to justify his promotion.  If there's a chance that Pompey can turn into a legitimate major-league CF and leadoff hitter (a rare commodity), then the Jays should prioritize his development for another few months, rather than requiring him to share time with Upton and Pearce in Toronto.
PeterG - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 02:55 PM EST (#338928) #
GrIlli waS not a waiver wire pick up but was acquired in a trade. Jays had been scouting him for awhile. He was coming off an achilles injury. He was made available because Atlanta was going young and Grilli wanted a trade. No luck here. Benoit was also injured but this was more of a hail Mary acquisition and certainly luck was involved.
uglyone - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 03:29 PM EST (#338929) #
Why does he have to prove he is far better than Upton?

Upton is terrible. Certainly not starting material.
Mike Green - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 03:44 PM EST (#338930) #
Your Friday afternoon spring training entertainment questions:

1. which player born on February 17 was the best?
2. which player born on February 17 had the best name?

Early favourites: Wally Pipp and Nemo Leibold.  It was a better day for names than for performance.

mathesond - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 04:15 PM EST (#338931) #
Sure, if you limit yourself to baseball. But, even staying within North American sports, a case could be made for Michael Jordan as best player. Heck, he was even a 2-sport athlete!
Mike Green - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 04:55 PM EST (#338932) #
Jim Brown and Red Barber were also born this day. 

Just not much in the way of actual MLB players.  Josh Willingham might have been the second best player born this day.  Slim pickings.
dan gordon - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 05:31 PM EST (#338933) #
That's a GREAT article about Jake Eliopoulos. A very profound story. Thanks so much for posting the link, Thomas.
Parker - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 05:34 PM EST (#338934) #
Upton is terrible. Certainly not starting material.

It might be worth looking further back than his Toronto numbers before you start sticking your foot in your mouth... again.
Nigel - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 06:17 PM EST (#338935) #
In his last 1800 ABs (spread over 4 seasons) Upton has put up a total of 2.5 WAR. Marginally over replacement is probably more accurate than terrible.
Parker - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 06:32 PM EST (#338936) #
In his last 1800 ABs (spread over 4 seasons) Upton has put up a total of 2.5 WAR. Marginally over replacement is probably more accurate than terrible.

For Upton's contract, I'd take "marginally over replacement" when the options are -0.2 WAR in the last four seasons (Carrera) and a guy with a significant reputation within the system for being difficult to work with, and who also can't hit his way out of AAA (Pompey).

I guess you have to cut off your numbers somewhere, but Upton was worth 5.8 WAR in the two seasons before you started keeping track. And he's only 32 THIS YEAR. Could he bounce back? Maybe. Maybe he could. Is he done? Maybe. Maybe he is. But the alternatives are a guy who has proven he isn't a major-leaguer, and a guy with makeup issues who hasn't proven he's an above-average AAA player.
jerjapan - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 06:37 PM EST (#338937) #
Terrible as a starter blocking a prospect on a contending team? 

Calling Upton terrible may be slightly hyperbolic, but not out of the question by any means.   weirdly, I'm strangely bullish on our LF right now, relative to most posters - at least as far as it being our 'punted' position.  I think one of Upton or Pompey could surprise, I'm happy with Tabata and Cecilliani as AAA reserves, and hopeful that Gibby can maximize Pearce by utilizing his versatility.   Hopefully, Ramirez becomes a viable solution later in the year.

China and others advocating a last minute OF add ... how does that play out in terms of the 25 man roster?  no chance we carry 5 OFs - do you guys want to cut Zeke if we sign Angel Pagan?  Are you open to cutting Upton?  Or do we get radical and punt Smoak? 
scottt - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 06:47 PM EST (#338938) #
I wouldn't mind Pompey platooning with Upton. The left side of a platoon is basically playing every day.
On the other hand, I'm intrigued with what influence Devo could have on Pompey as a hitting coach.

I'd take Angel Pagan over Carrera.

Parker - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 07:36 PM EST (#338939) #
I'd cut Carrera in a second if an actual LF is brought in. Before Gibbons fell in love with him, he was literally a replacement-level player. Under Boomhauer's shrewd generalship, Carrera has managed to add an additional -0.2 WAR to his resume.

Upton provides acceptable defense in CF and LF, and while he hasn't played much in RF, defense there clearly isn't much of a team priority because they brought back Bautista to stumble his way around there most of the time.
Nigel - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 07:56 PM EST (#338940) #
I think the chances of an Upton Carrera platoon putting up even 1 WAR over the season isn't high. I just don't see the downside of trying Pompey as the everyday LF. Anyway, Carrera appears to be one of Gibbsons guys so I think the chances of that happening are low.
vw_fan17 - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 08:01 PM EST (#338941) #
Any thoughts on Coco Crisp (if he's willing) as a cheap 4th outfielder? Seems like he could play any of the positions, and put up an OPS+ of 91 last season. Would he be similar to Pagan in terms of general expectations?
uglyone - Friday, February 17 2017 @ 09:15 PM EST (#338942) #
"It might be worth looking further back than his Toronto numbers before you start sticking your foot in your mouth... again."

ok.

since Pompey had his first shot (3yrs):


Upton (32): 1349pa, .302babip, .673ops, 84wrc+, 1.3war/650
Carrera (30): 575pa, .326babip, .680ops, 86wrc+, 0.7war/650
Pompey (24): 148pa, .281babip, .676ops, 86wrc+, 2.4war/650

vRH

Upton (32): 996pa, .297babip, .648ops, 76wrc+
Carrera (30): 451pa, .298babip, .639ops, 75wrc+
Pompey (24): 110pa, .271babip, .698ops, 91wrc+


2017 steamer projection

Upton (32): .688ops, 82wrc+, 0.4war/650
Carrera (30): .672ops, 81wrc+, 0.0war/650
Pompey (24): .705ops, 90wrc+, 1.4war/650

2017 Zips prpjection

Upton (32): .657ops, 77ops+, 0.6war/650
Carrera (30): .665ops, 81ops+, 0.9wwr/650
Pompey (24): .644ops, 76ops+, 1.1war/650



do i get to stick my foot in my mouth now?
92-93 - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 12:02 AM EST (#338943) #
As much as I agree with the idea of rolling with Pompey as an everyday guy, it seems unlikely based on Gibby's tendency to be loyal to players who have produced for him in the past. Loup gets chance after chance because he was fantastic in 2013, and Navarro bats higher than you'd like last year because in 2015 he was a clutch performer. The Jays could've easily non-tendered Carrera and been fine from an organizational depth perspective, but I think they came to terms with him because the manager likes him better than anybody else in the system if you asked him today who his starting LF would be.

https://theathletic.com/37923/2017/02/10/out-of-left-field-the-blue-jays-bank-on-an-awkward-platoon-unless-pompey-steps-up/ (subscribers only)

"There's just something about him that he makes something good happen. Down the stretch, he got hot at just the right time."

Lott's recent piece on the cloudy LF situation had a good breakdown of Zeke's season. Good to start, horrible in the middle, and clutch down the stretch.



eudaimon - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 12:25 AM EST (#338944) #
I seem to remember Zeke having some kind of injury issues around midseason last year. That's when he sucked the worst, and it really brought down the stats. He was great to start the season, and very good at the end and in the playoffs. Who knows what that all means, but I think it's possible that he has more value than his 2016 final WAR would indicate.

It's too early to say anything for sure though. To me, Pompey has to play his way into the starting lineup. If he looks bad in spring training, he should start in AAA and if he looks great try him as a starter. Personally, my belief in Pompey as a prospect has waned a lot over the last couple of years and I don't expect much anymore, but the potential is there and if he earns a spot they should give it to him.
Nigel - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 12:53 AM EST (#338945) #
I remain optimistic about his future but I can also understand those who are sceptical about Pompey's prospect status. But here's the thing, he doesn't have to be even close to a league average LF and still be a sizeable improvement over the alternative.
China fan - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 04:53 AM EST (#338946) #
Wow -- the ZIPS projection has Pompey as a worse hitter than Carrera in 2017.
China fan - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 04:58 AM EST (#338947) #
"....I'd cut Carrera in a second if an actual LF is brought in...."

I would too.  And this shows why the decision is nothing to do with Gibbons.  Shapiro and Atkins can literally make this decision.  If they acquire a good LF, the back-up job goes to Upton, and then Carrera is gone. 

So if the Jays open the season with Carrera on the roster, don't blame Gibbons. There are plenty of outfielders available.  The front office literally didn't think there was any need for an upgrade over Carrera. 

I still think there's a chance that the front office might be looking to acquire an outfielder.  And I can't believe that they don't see the need. We will see.
dan gordon - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 06:08 AM EST (#338948) #
I expect Pompey to start the season in Buffalo, and I think he's ready to live up to the potential he showed in 2014. My guess is he plays great and gets called up by some time in June, and takes over the left field job shortly thereafter, either full time, or in a platoon with Upton if Melvin somehow manages to find his groove, something I find rather unlikely. Also wouldn't be surprised to see Tellez up by August, and taking over the lefty bat side of a platoon with Pearce at 1B.
Mike Green - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 07:52 AM EST (#338949) #
We'll see what happens in the spring and early in the year.  I am pretty sure that Tellez right now is a better player than Smoak, but even if Pearce is unable to play in April and Tellez rakes in spring training, I wouldn't expect to see Tellez at the outset of the season for player management reasons (he is turning 22 next month and you gain a year of control by waiting at least until the end of April). Pompey is a different story because he is 24- if he has a very good spring and seems to have found a place (i.e. he is focused and attentive to detail), I think Gibbons will change his mind.  It's a subjective judgment having little to do with the AAA stats or projections for the relevant players. 
bpoz - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 09:59 AM EST (#338950) #
The FO has done enough to put a contender on the field. The Jays are not favorites however.

Buatista is a good example IMO to use as a basis for success. His OBP is always good. If healthy and producing he is capable of a very good year. Maybe 40 Hr and all the other numbers to go with good health and good performance. But he cannot carry the team.
Pillar's health is a key ingredient to the the strength of the OF's defense.
If LF is inadequate both offensively and defensively then I expect Gibbons to try all his options. Which means that some players going down would have to be DFA.
Parker - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 10:23 AM EST (#338951) #
do i get to stick my foot in my mouth now?

Sure, there's probably still a lot of room in there after the Pompey sample size that you keep referring to as large enough to be significant. ;)

In fairness though, I'll give you the Steamer and ZiPS projections. Man, they really don't think much of Upton.

I guess I have more confidence in guys who've succeeded in the past. But yeah, the chances of Upton bouncing back to that level (and staying there) do keep shrinking. And of course Pompey will never be successful if he never gets a chance. I'd just really prefer to see him force his way onto the team by clobbering AAA pitching.

Anyway, I'm sorry for being rude.
Parker - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 10:31 AM EST (#338952) #
Looks like Blake Swihart is suffering from Rube Baker Syndrome. Maybe someone in the Red Sox organization should get him a few copies of Playboy to memorize. Bwa ha ha.

Boston Herald link
Nigel - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 12:06 PM EST (#338953) #
CF - I don't believe for a minute that the front office doesn't think that they need to upgrade the LF situation. Again, an assumption that management is blind is unlikely to be true. The problem is that the options that were and are available that actually represent an upgrade cost money the team doesn't have (in the budget). I think Gibbons will have input (how much, only insiders would know) on the choice at the end of spring between Carrera and Pompey (ie the existing options within the budget).
China fan - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 12:48 PM EST (#338954) #
"...an assumption that management is blind is unlikely to be true...."

I don't think I suggested that management is "blind" -- that's why I have repeatedly suggested that they are probably trying to acquire an outfielder.  But it's still mysterious that we're now into spring training and a Carrera/Upton platoon remains a possibility for 2017. We don't know why the front office still hasn't solved the problem yet.  If the problem is a lack of money, this illustrates my argument that the owners should boost the payroll. 

Other possible explanations:  1) the front office believes that Pompey or Gurriel might be able to solve the problem by mid-season.  A plausible theory, and it's true that you don't want to block the path of good prospects, but it's still a risky strategy, especially for the early months of the season.
    2) the front office believes that Upton can do the job.  Again, that's potentially a losing gamble.  I don't think Upton is "terrible" as someone said here, but he was certainly a terrible hitter for the Jays last year.  He had much better numbers for San Diego in 2015-16, combined with decent speed and defence.  Maybe the front office thinks he can return to that level of performance.  I am skeptical.
China fan - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 01:41 PM EST (#338955) #
And today Atkins has mentioned another possible scenario to explain the LF mystery:  he says Smoak could play full-time at 1B and Pearce at LF. 

To me, this seems unlikely, given Pearce's health issues and Smoak's poor hitting last year.  But maybe the Jays do believe there's a good chance of it.

Magpie - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 02:32 PM EST (#338956) #
which player born on February 17 was the best?

Not counting me?
SK in NJ - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 02:39 PM EST (#338957) #
Upton had a 10 DRS in his first season as a LF. If he maintains that level of defense and continues to be a good base runner, then it really comes down to how much offense he can provide as far as whether he can be a starting LF. If he hits like he did with the Padres (~100 wRC+), then he's a more than capable starting LF. Even around 90 would probably put him at a decent spot. From a strict value standpoint, he still has potential. He just has to hit closer to what he did with the Padres, and we will have to wait and see on that.

My guess is the Jays saw Upton's defense in LF and are willing to take a chance on his bat possibly being good enough to start. The issue is Gibby's love for Carrera will get in the way of Upton's playing time, and as much as I appreciated Zeke's BABIP inflated hot streaks, I'm expecting him to crash and burn pretty hard this season.
Mike Green - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 02:53 PM EST (#338958) #
I had no idea. Happy belated birthday, Magpie. You are the early favourite for best baseball writer born on February 17...
PeterG - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 03:18 PM EST (#338959) #
Upton is also the back up for CF.
jerjapan - Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 03:20 PM EST (#338960) #
The biggest reason I liked the Pearce move is his versatility - there are so many options at 1B, DH and LF that Pearce can play wherever he's needed.

If Pompey is ready, or if Upton can regain his SD form, Pearce at 1B.  If Smoak really has more to offer offensively, or Morales is not a total liability at 1B with the glove, Pearce in LF.

If Morales can play the field some, that opens up DH opportunities for Bautista and other regulars needing a bit of a breather.

Ramirez / Gurriel / Pompey could also all play a role later in the season - if Pearce is holding down the fort and Smoak continues to be a pumpkin, Pearce can push him to the bench.  

I salivate at the thought that Gurriel is ready for the stretch drive and can handle multiple positions including SS - Ben Zobrist light? 

I don't really see the same need for a LF as some posters as a result of these possibilities, but if Angel Pagan falls into our lap, we can cut Zeke for around 200K I believe.  Certainly not enough money to prevent us making the move, and this FO clearly has a nose for cheap veteran deals. 

AJ Jiminez has signed with the Rangers, who look to have far more security in their backup C role than we do with Robinson Chirinos holding a decent glove and posting 0.8 fWAR in 170 ABs last year.  Looks like AJ also sees Salty as a lock.

bpoz - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 09:54 AM EST (#338961) #
Dellin Betances lost his arb case. Awarded the $3 mil not the $5 Mil asked for. After 3 dominant seasons he got very good set up man money. Closer money is higher. Apparently.

For the Jays our closer Osuna and SPs Stroman & Sanchez should get paid quite a lot compared to their 2017 salaries.

This will be an interesting in how our FO plans for the future.


cybercavalier - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 09:59 AM EST (#338962) #
AJ Jiminez has signed with the Rangers, who look to have far more security in their backup C role.

It is not surprising at all for a nobody -- in hitting in this case -- to perform well above his own performance after seasons away from the organization that drafted him.
Let Rangers and other organization develop him even further. Keep an eye on him.
cybercavalier - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 10:05 AM EST (#338963) #
Juan Francisco

He signed with the Orioles this month.

Jose Bautista Jose Tabata

Can the Jays turn the later Jose to some kind of the earlier Jose in the peak of hitting performance?


scottt - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 12:22 PM EST (#338964) #
The Yankees pointed out that Betances had lost the closer job to Miller, committed 3 fielding errors, had 20 bases stolen against him in 20 attempts and--this is the kicker--was to blame for the attendance drop at Yankees Stadium over the last 2 years.

scottt - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 05:30 PM EST (#338965) #
Donaldson to sit 2-3 weeks with a strained calf.

Magpie - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 06:31 PM EST (#338966) #
Jose Tabata

Who ever heard of a RH National League hitter, aged 28 or 29, coming to Toronto and suddenly improving? Oh wait...

Tabata's career slash is .275/.336/.377. He improves on that just a little and you've got yourself a viable leadoff hitter. And if he can't, no harm done.

So... did everyone enjoy Josh Donaldson's guest spot on Vikings?
scottt - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 08:31 PM EST (#338967) #
Turns out Dexter's Fowler's wife was born in Iran and is subject to the currently stalled travel ban.
At least Yu Darvish's dad can safely come see his son play at the Rogers Centre.

Parker - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 08:39 PM EST (#338968) #
So we're all day-drinking today, huh?
Nigel - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 08:42 PM EST (#338969) #
"he says Smoak could play fulltime at 1B and Pearce LF"

I'm just going to assume that Friday was national Punk the Media Day. I imagine Atkins saying this and then going back to the clubhouse and giggling like a schoolboy.
Mike Green - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 08:50 PM EST (#338970) #
I thought that Atkins was semi-serious. I don't think there is any chance that Pearce is a full-time outfielder, but I do think that Smoak will be the full-time first baseman at the start of the season if Pearce isn't healthy.
Nigel - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 09:04 PM EST (#338971) #
There are good opportunities for Pearce to play LF. On the occasions that Gibbons wants to put a Donaldson or Tulo at DH for a rest, do it on a day that Stroman or Sanchez starts and play Pearce in LF. I'd also like to see inter game creativity. With Estrada or Happ on the mound start Pompey and Upton/Carrera in the corner OFs, with Bautista DH and Pearce 1B. Save Morales for a high leverage pinch hit and then move Pearce into LF and Morales at 1B for a few innings. Some situational management of resources could actually make a difference this year.
Parker - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 09:08 PM EST (#338972) #
It's troubling either way. Either they think of Pearce as a full-time LF, or they think of Smoak as a full-time 1B.

I thought the Smoak extension was as much of a WTF moment as much as pretty much the entire baseball world did, but does this mean they're doubling down?
Nigel - Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 09:31 PM EST (#338973) #
Parker I don't think you want to take anything this management team says too literally/seriously. The one thing that they excel at is bafflegab. Let's watch what they do. Barring injuries, that set up is so obviously bad that I really am not worried that they will actually do it.
Richard S.S. - Monday, February 20 2017 @ 03:18 AM EST (#338974) #
Melvin Upton Jr. will be given every opportunity to be the Starting Left Fielder. Justin Smoak will be given every opportunity to be the Starting First Base. If either fails, the next option comes into effect. I'll worry about that when it happens.
Richard S.S. - Monday, February 20 2017 @ 03:45 AM EST (#338975) #
Reports say J.A. Happ pitched the last 5 weeks of the season with a sore shoulder, roughly 7 starts: 5-2, 3.18 ERA.
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