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This is where we sweat the little things...

Yeah there are the big stories floating around right now. Josh Donaldson's wonky calf ("The Calf Muscle That Decided A Season", coming to theaters this spring!), the "motivation" level of a certain Mr. Jose Bautista (we've seen this guy play for like, eight seasons, right? C'mon with this...), and the 64,000 dollar left-field question. But spring is as much a season of questions as it is of hope. Sometimes they're big questions, like the ones mentioned above, and sometimes they're a bunch of small ones, like "can I still fit into any of my T-shirts?" Ah, spring.

Anyhow, here are some small spring questions/issues facing the Blue Jays in Dunedin.

Late Latos

Mat Latos is one of those guys who you think has been in the league your whole life. Much of that feeling is likely a result of the Blue Jays now being his eighth MLB organization, despite that Latos will not turn 30 until this December. There are two reasons for this, one easily quantifiable and the other not so much. The quantifiable reason is his noticeable drop in fastball velocity the past few seasons, falling from mid-90s heat in his San Diego/early Cincinnati days to roughly a shade under 90 (according to Fangraphs Pitch FX) during his 11 start White Sox experience in early 2016. This happens to nearly every pitcher not named Nolan Ryan, and Latos is no Express. This heat drop finally caught up with Latos in 2016, as his strikeout rate per nine innings plummeted from his career average of 8.0 to 5.4 over 70 innings with Chicago and Washington. This drop also made him more homer prone (0.9 career versus 1.4) than usual, while his ability to limit base hits has steadily declined since his Padres days.

Another issue (another????) with Latos is his perceived attitude problem. Now, I specifically use the word "perceived" not because I think it might not be true (it almost definitely has been so in the past. He's come across as a knucklehead) but because we specifically have only our outsider knowledge of the man as fans or media reporters. None of us have actually been in a clubhouse with the guy for dozens upon dozens of games, from which any of us can form a solid opinion that "Yes, this guy is undoubtedly a knucklehead." This is one hell of a flimsy argument I know, I guess it's just that dugout chemistry is one of those things that really can be overblown. Not every team are the 2016 Cubs and not every team are the 1986 Mets either. If someone can help your team and does, their personality becomes way, way less annoying.

My last bit on Latos (jeez, I've written this much about gawddamn Mat Latos?) is that I've watched him pitch a lot. I still casually follow my #2 team the Cincinnati Reds (Votto Fo Life) but I watched at least seventy games a season between 2012-2014, and so I saw Latos a lot. So I gotta say, even when he had the big fastball, he is boring to watch. My word. He works slowly (he's almost Bedard-ish with guys on base), he throws a million different similar looking pitches that pointlessly nibble the strikezone just enough to be annoying, and he always has a stupid look on his face, like a kid who stole some gummy bears from a Bulk Barn and is eating them while denying he did it.

But if he actually helps the 2017 Blue Jays, I don't care about any of that stuff. You know, obviously.

Sixth Starter Rumble

The 2016 Blue Jays had one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Part of this was by gift of extraordinary health: the 2016 squad only used seven different pitchers to start games, and the five most successful at that task are all back to do it again for the 2017 squad. However, that gift is not the kind of gift that keeps on giving, and facing that reality it's definitely wise to bring a few depth options into the spring just to find out if they've got anything useful in the tank. I've already talked (way too much) about Latos, but the Bluebirds do have a cast of other characters that maybe, in some kind of randomized universe, give Toronto meaningful innings in 2017. So lets look at them! (Quickly because... why else).

Brett Oberholtzer: 2016: 3-3, 5.89, HR/9: 2.3(!), WHIP 1.62 (70.1 IP)  -- MLB

Beyond an impressive debut with the 2013 I-Can't-Believe-It's-A-Major-League-Team! Astros, Oberholtzer has been a below average pitcher every season in the majors. His below averageness took a turn for the worse in 2016, when he was so unpitchably bad as a long man for the Phillies (the Phillies!) that they cut him loose to the Angels, where he was even worse. I mean, a decent Buffalo guy I suppose, but this screams Brian Burres to me (sorry for the horrible memory). If Oberholtzer's up making starts for Toronto in 2017, something much much worse has happened.

Lucas Harrell: 3-2, 4.21, 1.51 WHIP, 4.8 BB/9 (47 IP) -- MLB

This is a strange pitcher, folks. Everywhere he's ever been, whether it be the major leagues, the minor leagues, his one season in the Japanese League, this guy has never thrown strikes anywhere. In the majors he's walked on average a batter every two innings, in the minors it's a tick higher at 4.6/9, and in Japan it was 5.7(!) in 171.2 innings.  And yet, four major league teams (White Sox, Rangers, Braves and Astros) have given him a significant auditiongg. This ain't great since, after all, throwing strikes is one of those things that gains importance when the level of importance gains significantly. There must be some kind of Jedi trick going on here. If Gibby starts talking about Harrell without prompting, I'm convinced it's true. Seriously, this is not the droid you're looking for.

Mike Bolsinger: 1-4, 6.83,1.2 HR/9* (27.2 IP) -- MLB

*career numbers

Bolsinger has been a bit of a topic in these parts lately, so instead of jumping into a discussion which many commenters have explored in excellent depth already, I'm just gonna say I think he's great AAA depth. Naturally, he's out of options. I do worry about a guy whose underlying numbers aren't all that great despite pitching half the time in the pitcher's Coin Heaven that is Dodger Stadium. We'll see.

Bullpen Jigsaw Falling Into Place

As of now, you have to assume these bullpen spots are set in rock:

Roberto Osuna
Jason Grilli
Joe Smith
J.P. Howell

This leaves three spots in flux. If Joe Biagini is really going back to the bullpen (not entirely certain at this point) then it leaves only two spots. Another left-hander beyond Howell would be a nice thing, and I'm sure John Gibbons has thought the same. Aaron Loup would be the favourite there, but his shakiness the past couple seasons will definitely open the door for someone else to have a great spring and steal the (potential) job. Oberholtzer could be an option (despite his awfulness in the Phillies pen last year), as could Matt Dermody (who actually pitched five games for the Jays last year? I do not remember this) or Chad Girodo. Maybe I merged Girodo and Dermody into the same person. I do that sometimes...

The final spot could go to a host of familiar names. Guys like Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz, Danny Barnes. Or it could go to a starter the team likes in the spring and wants to keep around, like a Latos, Bolsinger, or (gulp) Harrell. Keep in mind that both Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ will be off at the World Baseball Classic, Marco Estrada quite likely as well. Someone's gotta start spring training games for the Blue Jays in their absence, so it's clear that those fringey guys are gonna get a good long look this March.

Gone Goins

Another guy stuck in a roster crunch is the preferred gloveman of Howarth Region. Ryan Goins is a spectacular defensive player, we can all agree on that. Teams and fans alike tend to fall in love with players like that. I mean, the glove wizardry of John McDonald was a bright spot during many dreary baseball summers for me. There's a reason why guys like this tend to stick around in the majors for a while, and I suspect Goins will do the same. But I don't see it happening here much longer. You've got a similar player with a better bat hanging around (Barney) and there's little point in keeping both of them outside of an injury. And if there is such an injury in the Toronto infield, that itself is a much bigger problem.

WBC Effect

I'm not really sure if there is any kind of statistical WBC Effect, to be clear, if players who participate in the tournament have stronger or weaker seasons afterward. And I really do not care enough to look it up. Here, I'm thinking more of the false expectations that can develop from watching players on your team play in these games. For example, remember in the 2013 WBC when both R.A. Dickey and J.P. Arencibia were on Team USA and Arencibia actually caught Dickey for one of those games? And it wasn't a passed ball disaster? How little we knew and how little that showed us. I also remember watching that electric Dominican Republic team, led by a certain dynamic lead-off hitter and then being incredibly excited to see said hitter lead-off for the Bluebirds. All I'm saying is don't get too high if Stroman strikes out fifteen batters from Panama or too low if Jose Bautsta strikes out four times against some Australian pitcher.

House of Lourdes

Lets be honest, there's very little we know about this fella. He's a young, well regarded player out of Cuba with an older brother who has now played in the majors. Apparently he can play multiple positions (very good!) but he hasn't played a game in over a year because of political issues (very not good). Gurriel is definitely a wildcard, but at the very least he's a better wildcard than Charlie Kelly.

That's all I got for now. Maybe I'll do another one later in the spring. You know how maybes are.

Small(er) Stories Of Spring | 146 comments | Create New Account
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bpoz - Monday, February 20 2017 @ 01:46 PM EST (#338979) #
Thanks Eephus.
Overall I feel positive about this year.
Of the 4 Bull pen arm you mentioned, 3 are on 1 year deals. The FO will probably have to rebuild every year.
The WBC effect or Stroman, Happ and Estrada leaving will mean that our 6th Starter will have a lot of opportunity to get stretched out. Maybe the 7th too.
dan gordon - Monday, February 20 2017 @ 06:47 PM EST (#338981) #
When Shapiro was interviewed on McCown's show last week, Bob asked him about the 6th starter role, in case of injury and the 2nd name that Shapiro mentioned was Sparkman. I think the Jays are pretty optimistic about this guy's chances, so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him make the team's bullpen. Chris Smith has a shot, and I think they probably still like Gavin Floyd. Barnes had maybe the best numbers of any reliever in all of minor league baseball last year, but I wasn't overly impressed with him in his stint with the Jays - he seemed to give up a lot of hard contact, and his control was not close to what he showed in the minors. Latos could be a really nice add if he can take a step or two toward his pre-injury form. Based on his AAA and mlb numbers for the last 2 seasons, Ryan Tepera deserves a big league job. Combined for the last 2 seasons, he has pitched 131 innings, and allowed just 89 hits and 43 walks, with 125 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.41. It should be an interesting battle. Guys like Harrell, Bolsinger, Oberholtzer seem to me more like AAA guys than a potential injury replacement for a Toronto starter getting hurt.
Richard S.S. - Monday, February 20 2017 @ 07:21 PM EST (#338982) #
Lately whenever someone talks about the Bullpen, the question is, "Do Biagini, Latos and Sparkman all make the 'Pen". Matt Dermody and Aaron Loup are the only LHPs mentioned, always in that order. And this foursome gets mentioned: Danny Barnes, Bo Schultz, Chris Smith and Ryan Tepera. No one else gets much notice.
uglyone - Monday, February 20 2017 @ 10:31 PM EST (#338983) #
Fangraphs finally updated their projections by adding the full Zips projections for a 50/50 split with Steamer.

Jays come out looking much better now:

1.CLE 47.9war
2.BOS 46.7
3.HOU 46.6
4.TOR 41.3
5.SEA 38.6
6.NYY 38.1

One more big add this offseason woulda had us as one of the favorites.
China fan - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 06:18 AM EST (#338984) #
"....Based on his AAA and mlb numbers for the last 2 seasons, Ryan Tepera deserves a big league job...."

That's probably true, but he will be hurt by the fact that he can still be optioned this year.  I expect the Jays to do a lot of roster-juggling at the end of spring training, to try to keep some of the guys who have no options.  Guys like Tepera and Pompey will probably be optioned, so that the Jays can keep other guys for at least a couple of weeks.

Then there are the guys on minor-league contracts (like Floyd and Latos) who have the contractual right to opt out at the end of spring training.  (I know that Latos has this clause, and I assume Floyd probably does too.)  By keeping them on the roster on opening day, the Jays can take a longer look at them and decide whether they will contribute to the team.  In order to do that, they'll need to option some players who might otherwise be good enough for the team.
scottt - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 08:22 AM EST (#338985) #
Sparkman, like Biagini, has 2 plus offspeed pitches and throws strikes. Sparkman's career K rate is 9.5/9 innings and is walk rate is an acceptable 2.0/9 innings. Latos has lost around 5 mph on his fastball. He can still get the strike outs, but he's now living on the edge of the strike zone which ups his walk rates and he gives more hits. Latos can probably be a decent reliever now but I don't think he has the tools to be a starter anymore.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 12:55 PM EST (#338986) #
There are so many factors that go into catcher ERA, but Russell Martin's career record is awfully impressive, with better than league average numbers every single year of his career and on four different teams.   It has amounted to .47 runs per game (without making park/league/division adjustments). 
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 03:40 PM EST (#338987) #
As long as the Jays have Russell Martin or someone as good as or better, they will be favored to continually make the Postseason. Of that I am sure. He makes the Pitchers better, by bringing out their best.
bpoz - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 03:45 PM EST (#338988) #
I agree Martin is great. He will help our young pitchers develop into their best.
And we have so many young pitchers with high upside.
92-93 - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 04:35 PM EST (#338989) #
"You've got a similar player with a better bat hanging around (Barney) and there's little point in keeping both of them outside of an injury."

I see this from the other side - instead of spending $ on mediocre talent on the periphery of your roster, save it up for players that actually move the needle or before you know it you've spent 12m on Smoak, Barney, Howell, and Smith.

Goins 2015 .250/.318/.354 2.7bWAR
Barney 2016 .269/.322/.373 1.8 bWAR

I consider Goins to be the better defensive player and his LH bat helps mix it up in a RH-heavy lineup, so even if there's an offensive downgrade I would rather the guy who costs 1/6th the price and has 3 more years of control. Perhaps then the Jays would've been able to afford better than 2 middle relievers cut by their playoff teams.
jerjapan - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 04:56 PM EST (#338990) #
I agree 92-93 that Barney's $3 million could have been better allocated by running with Goins as the backup SS, but clearly the FO sees it differently.

Speaking of different opinions than those of the FO, an amusing read on Justin Smoak at BP today.

The conclusion (free content):

This Justin Smoak isnít really one of the worst first basemen in the modern era, any more than 20-game losers are the worst pitchers. Being terrible is a rate stat. For comparison, former teammate Jesus Montero has provided an identical WARP to Smoak in just a third of the opportunities.

Even so, itís nearly inconceivable that we live in a universe that has conspired to give this Justin Smoak 2,887 plate appearances, with even the fleeting promise of hundreds more, but here we are. Fate brought us here. The Blue Jays have chosen to believe in that fate.

lexomatic - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 04:56 PM EST (#338991) #
92-93, I understand your point, but I disagree with you on this point while the Jays are in contention. Goins had 1 season of usefulness with the bat, otherwise his bat is not big enough for the MLB ride. If a team is not in contention for a playoff spot, then absolutely, I agree with you. The Jays still have some designs on the playoffs, and so a marginal improvement like Barney > Goins is worth significantly more to the Jays than another team - especially a rebuilding one.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 05:04 PM EST (#338992) #
I like Goins and Barney, and would rather have both on the roster.  I wonder if you can do that while still running out a 7 man pen.  Let's see- 12 pitchers, Martin, Salty, Morales, Pearce, Travis, Tulo, Donaldson, Pompey/Carrera, Pillar, Bautista, Barney, Goins, Upton. If you don't have Smoak, you can do it. 

I really don't see it as a money issue with the relievers though.    With the commitment to Pearce and Smoak and Morales (and Bautista who will probably need to DH a fair bit), it's a lot of roster room taken up by players on the right side of the defensive spectrum if you are also going to run out a 7 man pen (which Gibbons seems to prefer- as do almost all managers now). 

PeterG - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 05:19 PM EST (#338993) #
I too prefer Goins to Barney if only one can be kept. Barney is being paid for service time and one good season which is not likely to be repeated. I hope Goins has a great spring and wins a job. I do agree that it appears FO is leaning towards Barney but it is not a done deal yet.
uglyone - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 05:21 PM EST (#338994) #
I don't think the Goins and Barney comp is particularly close, and Barney is actually the only bench guy we have who is worth his deal.

Goins had one fluke good year in 2015, Barney had one fluke bad year in 2013. Other than those outliers Barney has been very good, arguably starting worthy, while Goins has been unplayable.
PeterG - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 05:31 PM EST (#338995) #
what r u saying Ugly? Is this more revisionist history? Barney was out of baseball, sitting on his couch at home when the Jays called him.

Another thought: I was thinking that there was a 50/50 chance Barney would be non tendered and so did others. Could it be that Jays signed him for that money as insurance against Travis being ready?
jerjapan - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 05:34 PM EST (#338996) #
The issue with Goins is if 2015 was a fluke, and I agree with Lexomatic that the FO is simply valuing a less volatile projection - Barney will be competent.  Goins might be, or he might be 2016 Goins with the bat all over again.

MLB has their 2017 prospect list up for the Jays, and while many of the names are familiar, they surprisingly have Juan Kelly at 24th - they seem to think he can be a utility guy handling both corners and catching - and Travis Hosterman at 28th.  Hosterman is all about projection - he's a big kid, signed at 17 years old for well over slot and is clearly still projectable, but that's a high ranking for a guy with 18 pro innings drafted in the 11th round.  

2016 appears to have been a pretty solid draft, given the consistent high ranking of guys past the first round like Bichette, Palacios, Woodman and Jackson, and some promising debuts for guys picked outside the top ten. 

scottt - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 06:07 PM EST (#338997) #
Well in 2014 and 2016 Goins was hitting at the level of last's year Josh Thole, OPS+ if 35 and 41.

-0.5 bWAR and -0.6 bWAR.

Barney's bad year was quite as bad, with an OPS+ of 57.

Also, even in Goins' good year, Barney was the better hitter with an OPS of .942 in 15 games.
So basically, Barney has outhit Goins every year and the difference is not small.

92-93 - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 06:08 PM EST (#338998) #
I'm all for paying for marginal improvements, I'm just not sure Barney represents that, and I feel much more comfortable with Goins backing up Tulowitzki than Barney. Maybe I'm just a sucker for Goinsy. And if the equation is Howell + Barney or a better RP + Goins, I'm taking the latter.
Four Seamer - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 06:21 PM EST (#338999) #
Problem is that these two are not just backing up Tulowitzki - they're also caddying for Travis, who hasn't shown he can stay healthy for a full season. It isn't unrealistic to think the back-up infielder could be making upwards of 60 starts, in which case the fairly considerable differences in ability between the two are magnified.
92-93 - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 06:39 PM EST (#339000) #
Steve Pearce has started 13 and 14 games at 2B the last couple of seasons. I wonder if he'll get worked in there if Travis gets placed on the DL.

Richard S.S. - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 06:49 PM EST (#339001) #
The MLB list hasn't made it to the Jays site yet.
scottt - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 07:32 PM EST (#339002) #
Kelly had an OPS of .804 at Lansing last year. He's 21 tough, so he needs to progress steadily.

Pruitt's 3.6 seconds to first on a drag bunt is still impressive. Especially for a right handed hitter.
Still only 19, so anything is possible.

Hosterman is a bit lefty. Everyone likes big lefties.

McBroom rounds up the top 30 on the assumption that he can hit lefties well enough to be a bench player.

jerjapan - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 07:47 PM EST (#339003) #
Pruitt is fast as heck, but he reminds me a lot of DJ Davis ... way too toolsy, but I hadn't realized he's still only 19.  If we signed him for 500k as a 24th rounder, the org must like him quite a bit. 

Richard, the link is up via the news section for the Jays, not the top 30 prospects tab.

No idea why I continue to hold out hope for McBroom - I guess I just like the underdog, sign for $1000 college senior types.  His ceiling is low, so this year, with a presumed jump to AA, is critical for the guy. 

uglyone - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 09:17 PM EST (#339005) #
"what r u saying Ugly? Is this more revisionist history? "

I donít think so:


24: 85pa, 0.5fwar, 0.5bwar, 3.8war/650
25: 571pa, 1.6fwar, 1.7bwar, 1.9war/650
26: 588pa, 2.4fwar, 4.6bwar, 3.9war/650
27: 555pa, 0.2fwar, -0.4bwar, -0.1war/650
uglyone - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 09:19 PM EST (#339006) #
"what r u saying Ugly? Is this more revisionist history? "

I donít think so:


24: 85pa, 0.5fwar, 0.5bwar, 3.8war/650
25: 571pa, 1.6fwar, 1.7bwar, 1.9war/650
26: 588pa, 2.4fwar, 4.6bwar, 3.9war/650
27: 555pa, 0.2fwar, -0.4bwar, -0.1war/650 --- outlier
28: 262pa, 1.3fwar, 1.7bwar, 3.7war/650
29: 30pa, 0.1fwar, 0.2bwar, 3.3war/650
30: 306pa, 1.5fwar, 1.8bwar, 3.5war/650
SK in NJ - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 09:54 PM EST (#339007) #
If Goins reached his ceiling, he'd be Barney.

Barney is the better player. I'd rather have him at $2.9M than Goins at the minimum. Now, if I was sure that Goins' 2015 was repeatable, then you'd have an argument, but that looks like a massive outlier compared to the rest of his career, while Barney's been far more consistent as an all glove/poor-but-good-enough bat.
PeterG - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 09:56 PM EST (#339008) #
Have to admit the stats seem impressive. So, why do you think no team wanted him at the end of 2015?
BlueJayWay - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 10:14 PM EST (#339009) #
Agreed SK. Barney is the guy Goins should aspire to be. Not sure if he'll ever get there.
lexomatic - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 11:02 PM EST (#339010) #
So, why do you think no team wanted him at the end of 2015?

Valuation of players changes constantly - nobody expected sluggers to do as poorly as they did this off-season, so who knows, really. It could be as simple as teams that had openings didn't need him, or maybe they didn't offer enough to get him?
In 2015, the Dodgers had Kike Hernandez, Chase Utley, and Howie Kendrick - clearly there was no need.
In 2014 there was Dee Gordon (best Dodgers season and 2nd best of career) and Chone Figgins, not as strong, but still not much need.
uglyone - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 11:11 PM EST (#339011) #
barney (65wrc+) and goins (68wrc+) are similar (bad) offensively vRHP, but Barney (95wrc+) can actually hit LHP while Goins (35wrc+) just can't.

then defensively both major defense stats think barney is great while only one thinks goins is.

and even if you think they're similar defensively like DRS does, i still think it's a pretty big edge that barney can be a legit good option vLH so that when you want to rest other guys you do it then, while being a passable (not good) fill in if necessary vRHP. versus Goins who is also a passable (not good) fill in against RHP but unplayable vLH.
dan gordon - Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 11:54 PM EST (#339013) #
Was a bit surprised to see Kelly, Gutierrez and Hosterman in the mlb Jays' top 30 prospects. I didn't have any of them particularly close to the top 30. Kelly looks like he might have a shot due to his bat, and Gutierrez I didn't know much about, but he's a big kid who throws hard.

Agree about the Pruitt comp to DJ Davis. The Jays have not had much luck with these young, super fast outfielders who haven't shown anything with the bat. It's just very hard to learn how to hit when you're that far behind. Marcus Brisker and Kenneth Wilson are 2 more who were taken high in the draft as really fast, athletic outfielders who needed to learn how to hit, and neither one ever did. Not sure what Pompey's reputation as a hitter was when they drafted him - maybe he's one who will buck the trend.
92-93 - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 12:09 AM EST (#339014) #
If Travis plays 100g again, a very plausible scenario, it'll be around 15 games vs. LHP for the backup 2B, some of which could be eaten by Pearce, though granted Smoak is even weaker from the right side so you want Pearce at 1B.

The scary thing is that Carrera, Upton's presumed platoon parter in LF, isn't much better than Goins vs. RHP when you compare the career numbers. Similar K:BBs, Carrera is .304/.345 OBP/SLG and Goins is .282/.338. Obviously you prefer the better, faster hitter, I was just hoping before checking that the offensive gap would be wider.

DL stints to open the season typically help sort these roster crunches out.

85bluejay - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 07:28 AM EST (#339015) #
It's tough for prospects from the most recent draft to make a big impact in such a small sample size - the top picks usually make the list because of pedigree but when I see a plethora of prospects from the latest draft make a team's top 30 list, I take it as a sign that the system is weak allowing these prospects with such a small sample size to be able to leapfrog other talent rather than that the team had an excellent draft, which usually takes a longer time frame to assess.
Glevin - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 08:32 AM EST (#339016) #
Goins didn't have 1 good year. He had one good month. In August 2015, he had a 151 WRC+. Apart from that, he's been atrocious, literally one of the worst hitters in baseball. With players of 600+ PAs since 2013, Goins is the 4th worst hitter in baseball. Of course Barney is the 20th worst in that period so it's not like he's amazing but still, like with Jiminez, I don't get the attachment to completely replaceable players. Goins is a no-hit 29 YO utility IFer. Most likely nobody would touch him on waivers and even if they did, you could replace him very easily.
Mike Green - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 08:40 AM EST (#339017) #
The back-up infielder also starts when Donaldson is out of the game or DHing.  Last year, Donaldson played 136 games at third base (it was 150 the two years before that).  Given Donaldson's age, it's certainly reasonable to expect that the back-up infielder might get upwards of 20 starts at third base, in addition to 25-30 at shortstop and 25-30 at second base.  There probably will be games this year when two of the regular infielders are out. 

I am not keen at all on the plan to have Pearce play games in left-field (or at second base) to make room for Smoak.  It feels to me like the front office trying to justify a bad decision.  The $8 million is sunk cost- they ought to let it go. 
jerjapan - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 08:59 AM EST (#339019) #
85bluejay, I usually agree that recent draft picks populating your top 30 can be a bad sign, but I don't necessarily see that in our case - I think we are a very middle-of-the-pack system and had several top 5 picks hit the ground running - not surprising really for college guys like Palacios, Jackson (who I think is too high, but Sickels has him in the same range) or Woodman.

Perhaps it's just our having drafted college guys rather than projectable HSers in those spots. I expect to see the first rounder in the top ten, so Zeuch at seven makes sense. The only big surprise is Hosterman IMO.

Why isn't Gurriel on the list?
uglyone - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 10:20 AM EST (#339020) #
Is 6 new picks in a top-30 even a lot? (Honest question).

I would hope that your top-5 picks, all with very nice pro debuts, would crack your top-30, no?

92-93 - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 03:34 PM EST (#339024) #
"Goins didn't have 1 good year. He had one good month. In August 2015, he had a 151 WRC+. Apart from that, he's been atrocious"

In 2015, Ryan Goins hit .282/.371/.398 over 211 PA from July 29th through October 4th. Once Devon Travis was done for the year he was a key component in the Jays first division title in 23 years. You may not see much upside in him, but there are ways to make your point and stick to the facts to disparage the player.
92-93 - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 03:37 PM EST (#339025) #
.263/.324/.374 = Goins' line over 112 important Sept/Oct PA. Meant to add that to the last post, in case you think his hot August carried the entire 2nd half.

Goins was a perfectly cromulent player down the stretch.
lexomatic - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 04:46 PM EST (#339026) #
Goins was a perfectly cromulent player down the stretch.

I would disagree with that. Cromulence has more of a positive connotation than the "meh" that a good month for Goins inspires. Also, you can't discount the .580 OPS for the rest of that season... especially seeing as it's more in line with career performance. The August - end of season performance was a .750+ OPS, but he's never approached that. If something were a realistic expectation then I would understand and accept your point. There is zero reason to believe that Goins is capable of approaching a .700 OPS without a fluke.
Per 162 games the first part of 2015 would be 101 hits in 454 AB, 20 2b 5 3b 3HR 53 R 57 RBI BB-K 13-42 .222 268 314. You're still talking about a period of 1(2) month as compared to an entire career.
Per 162 games the 2nd part of 2015 would be 144 hits in 508 AB, 22 2b 6 3b 10 HR 84 R 58 RBI BB-K 26-41 .284 376 402 .

2016 monthly slash lines
PA 79 173 215 253 469 april
PA 50 152 204 348 552 may
PA 40 211 231 368 599 june
PA 15 308 400 385 785 august
PA 12 182 182 182 364 sept
PA 32 276 323 345 667 april
PA 100 236 278 337 615 may
PA 70 172 221 281 502 june
PA 28 240 286 280 566 july
PA 86 314 442 443 885 august
PA 112 263 324 374 698 sept
PA 66 150 203 217 420 april
PA 39 324 324 432 757 july
PA 27 120 120 120 240 august
PA 61 169 170 288 468 sept
PA 31 400 419 467 886 aug
PA 90 202 211 303 .514 sept

For the remainder of his career, Goins has a sub 500 OPS in sept./Oct. If you take out the 4 stretches where he batted over 300 in about 191 PA (1/4 career total) you might be looking at 500 PA sub 500 OPS. That's a whole lots of useless.
Goins is demonstrably the kind of player you keep on the AAA shuttle and you bring up for injuries but don't keep on the 25 because they can't hit enough, and replace when they have earned more than minimum.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 04:52 PM EST (#339027) #
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is signed to an MLB Contract. As a result, some sites don't consider him a prospect, and rightly so.
Mike Green - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 05:01 PM EST (#339028) #
BBRef has been re-designed, and old boxscores have never been more accessible.  Want to find out what happened on July 1, 1936?  It's there at a click.

So, I discovered that Sandy Koufax started on both my parents' wedding day and the day of my birth.  He threw a shutout on the former, and went 5 innings allowing 2 earned runs in a no-decision on the latter.   Alas, Koufax did not start for the Dodgers on the day of my younger brother's birth- it was Johnny Podres. 

Richard S.S. - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 05:29 PM EST (#339029) #
The reason non-regulars, like Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney and others exist is simple. Very, very few Teams have "the next young thing" at every position. The Bench players therefore do what they can until the regular or someone similar returns/is called up/is acquired. The Bench players are usually better to being much better than replacement-level players, or at least they should be. Just being a 'one trick pony' is not enough, something more is a must. I just don't think Ryan Goins has enough something more. Darwin Barney does.
jerjapan - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 05:37 PM EST (#339030) #
Is 6 new picks in a top-30 even a lot?

Good question.  At the end of the 2015 season we had four picks on the list, and the system was in worse shape post trade deadline bonanza.  In 2014, 3 in the top 20, including 2 1st rounders, zero in the top 20 in 2013 (the year we failed to sign Bickford), 2012 saw five guys on the list - but we had five 1st rounders / compensation picks that year.  in 2011 MLB only listed a top ten and we had none on that list, despite having six picks in the 2nd round or better who signed. 

This year, Baltimore, with their lousy farm, has 6 picks on their top 30, Tampa, with a stronger system, has 5, and Boston has 6.  The Yanks, one of the best farms in the game, only had two (from the end of 2016 list, their new ones not up).

Can't conclude much from 9 different seasons / lists, but 6 top 30 prospects from the most recent draft does appear to be on the higher side for a solid system like ours. 

FWIW, Bleacher report has their latest system rankings up, and have us in 16th.  They note that while we don't have top 50 type prospects, we have lots of depth.  And, painfully, they too have the Yanks as number 1.  They are gonna be a tough team to beat for the forseeable future.

scottt - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 07:04 PM EST (#339031) #
Last year, Goins got to play because Travis missed the start of the year and he was particularly bad.

You got to grab the opportunities that you get.

Mylegacy - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 08:31 PM EST (#339033) #
(Sorry if this has been reported here - I can't remember seeing it) BA is reporting that Conner Greene (Last year 6' 3" 185 pounds) has been training in the off-season with Sanchez and has put on 16 pounds of muscle. So, he's 6' 3" 201 pounds.

Should be interesting to see him this spring.
bpoz - Wednesday, February 22 2017 @ 11:19 PM EST (#339034) #
Thanks. I hope Green has a good season. We will need him next year.
rpriske - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 12:58 PM EST (#339035) #
At the moment I don't see any way Goins makes the roster.

I see the 4-man bench as Salty, Pearce, Barney, Upton

The only way that changes is if they dump Smoak... which they aren't going to do. If they got someone else to play left that would send Zeke down and still have Upton as a back-up, with no extra roster spot created.

If they kept Goins over Barney... well, that would be an obvious mistake barring some spring revelation.

Glevin - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 02:12 PM EST (#339036) #
"In 2015, Ryan Goins hit .282/.371/.398 over 211 PA from July 29th through October 4th. Once Devon Travis was done for the year he was a key component in the Jays first division title in 23 years. You may not see much upside in him, but there are ways to make your point and stick to the facts to disparage the player."

Goins has almost 1,000 PAs in the majors with a career WRC+ of 60. He's a terrible hitter. He might be a great guy, I don't know but if you can't call one of the worst offensive players in baseball what he is, there's an issue.
eudaimon - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 05:19 PM EST (#339038) #
I see Barney as objectively better than Goins. At the very least Barney has been trending upwards in recent years, posting a passable 80 RC+ in each of the last three seasons. That's gives one hope that he's learned something with age. Goins has had one such year, and he looked terrible in our most recent viewing.
John Northey - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 06:30 PM EST (#339039) #
All this Goins talk got me thinking "lets check BR" who just did a big redesign.

Goins by month....
Aug: 400/419/467 31 PA
Sept: 202/211/303 90 PA
April: 150/203/217 66 PA
July: 324/324/432 39 PA
Aug: 120/120/120 27 PA
Sept: 169/180/288 61 PA
Apr: 276/323/345 32 PA
May: 236/278/337 100 PA
June: 172/221/281 70 PA
July: 240/286/280 28 PA
Aug: 314/442/443 86 PA
Sep: 263/324/374 112 PA
Apr: 173/215/253 79 PA
May: 152/204/348 50 PA
June: 211/231/368 40 PA
Aug: 308/400/385 15 PA
Sept: 182/182/182 12 PA

Playoffs: 146/186/244 46 PA

So months with...
Avg over 200: 10; below 200: 6 plus playoffs
OBP over 300: 6; below 300: 11 plus playoffs

Yeah, he really sucks with the bat outside of his first month in the majors, July 2014 (just called up again), August 2015, August 2016 (just 15 PA). I'm glad he had that great month when the Jays needed it and that he was OK in September that year (just shy of a 700 OPS). Sadly that might be the best we'll ever see. If the Jays lose him no big deal as others have said pure glovemen are a dime a dozen.
scottt - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 06:55 PM EST (#339040) #
I expect Goins to be outrighted and clear waivers. It's likely he gets a call at some point anyway.
I only see a problem when he has to go back if he has done well, which would be less a problem than if he doesn't well.
Will Travis be ready in April?

I'd be shocked if Carrera doesn't get at least a month, so the spring battles will be all about the pen, unless someone ends up on the DL.

uglyone - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 06:57 PM EST (#339041) #
Barney L/R wRC+ splits by year (most recent to oldest):

* = super tiny sample

vLHP: 109, 224*, 102, 98, 71, 96, 96*
vRHP: 73, 77*, 71, 39, 77, 75, 37*

I'm actually surprised by the consistency. only one year did he post a wRC+ lower than 96 vLHP, and only one year with a decent sample did he post outside of the 70s in wRC+ vRHP.

Seems to be pretty dependable average vLHP and not-completely-awful vRHP.
scottt - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 07:09 PM EST (#339042) #
I remember a stretch last year when  Barney was in a slump and he was spending the entire batting practice trying to hit the ball the other way, which he did in the game for a hit through the infield hole.
vw_fan17 - Thursday, February 23 2017 @ 09:38 PM EST (#339044) #
All this Goins talk got me thinking "lets check BR" who just did a big redesign.

He seems to be good for ONE hot month per season. August, most of the time, except for 2014, where it came in July.

Augusts (except for 2014 July) for Goins:
400/419/467 - 31 PA
324/324/432 - 39 PA
314/442/443 - 86 PA
308/400/385 - 15 PA

Outside of that one hot month per year, he's been sub-600-OPS 10 times. 600-700 OPS, 3 times. Over 700: 0 (although Sep 15 is close at 698). Heck, of those 10 sub-600, 5 have been sub-500, with June 15 just barely cracking 502 OPS. He's an absolute sinkhole at least 1/3 of the time, and really, really bad 2/3 of the time.

PeterG - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 10:04 AM EST (#339045) #
Mike Wilner said on radio this morning that "there is a very real chance that Joe Biagini starts the season in Buffalo."
uglyone - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 10:06 AM EST (#339046) #
mike wilner knows as much as we do.
PeterG - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 10:15 AM EST (#339047) #
Not so Ugly. He is told things that we aren't.
PeterG - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 10:36 AM EST (#339049) #

Gibbons says Chris Smith "one of priority guys we are looking at." Go to the link to read his story.
85bluejay - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 11:08 AM EST (#339050) #
I see Baseball America has ranked the Jays system 20th (not top 10) - Keith Law ranked the Jays 21st and got vilified as having some sort of vendetta against the Jays - interesting.
uglyone - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 11:33 AM EST (#339051) #
5 in the top 100 and ranked 20th?

you're right that is interesting.
PeterG - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 11:46 AM EST (#339052) #
Even more interesting when you consider that the strong point of the organization is depth.
BlueJayWay - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 11:54 AM EST (#339053) #
I was just going to say that. There are 30 mlb teams so you'd expect a team to have 3 1/3 prospects in the top 100 on average, and we have 5 by their list. But then when you consider the general consensus about the Jays system is that they lack a lot of high end guys but are pretty strong on depth, you'd think think good depth + 5 top 100 guys would equal better than 20th. Doesn't really add up.
mathesond - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 12:02 PM EST (#339054) #
If I may hazard a guess, perhaps the fact that the rankers don't see much in the way of high-impact prospects is the main contributing factor in the relatively low ranking - a system heavy on the Ryan Goins types, for example (e.g. players who can make the majors but aren't likely to move the needle much for a contending team) isn't terribly sexy.
PeterG - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 12:06 PM EST (#339055) #
Except, that is not the case. There are plenty of high end prospects.
SK in NJ - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 12:19 PM EST (#339056) #
Guerrero is probably the only elite prospect the Jays have right now, and he's 17. It's a system where depth is greater than the quality, and on top of that, the majority of the team's best prospects are still in the lower minors. I would have guessed they'd be ranked middle of the pack (top 10 was way too aggressive) but I'm not really that surprised. The system has improved due to existing prospects having an additional full season and the draft (plus adding solid depth like Guirrel, Ramirez, and McGuire), but it's a tad bit unrealistic to expect the system to bounce back so quickly. I don't even think the ranking is that big of a deal at this point. It's only been a year for the new regime so it hasn't been much time to restock the system.

By this time next year, I'd expect them to be ranked much higher.
Parker - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 01:27 PM EST (#339057) #
"High end" is great, except that none of them are close to MLB-level. You could count Tellez, I guess, once he clobbers AAA pitching.

The Jays have some high-ceiling guys, but they don't have any "impact at the Majors this year" guys.

The "high-ceiling" guys are great once they provide actual MLB value. Until then, they're nothing but "high-ceiling" prospects.

I hope they do provide MLB impact in the next couple years. How many prospects have stalled out, though? Matt Smoral? Kyle Drabek? Deck McGuire? Asher Wojciechowski? Jacob Anderson?

Some teams turn their prospects into MLB talent.

Some teams do not.
Mike Green - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 01:36 PM EST (#339058) #
I'm not worried whether BA (or Keith Law) rates the system as the 12th or 16th or 20th best. 

Here's a question- if you take the #10 systems and the #20 systems as ranked by BA for each year in the period 1990-1999 and you compare the major league WAR generated by each group of systems, which one would come out in front and by how much?  I'll venture a guess that the #10 systems will come out ahead but that the #20 systems will be within 15% of the #10 systems.  In other words, the rankings at that level are not hugely important.  I will venture a guess that the differences between the #1 systems and the #30 systems are larger by a magnitude of 3 times- i.e. at least 45% (which is obviously very important). 

lexomatic - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 02:16 PM EST (#339059) #
Some teams turn their prospects into MLB talent.

Some teams do not.

And some trade their prospects for ML talent and let other teams worry about shiny potential (they're all valid ways, it's just you left out an important part of team-building).
mathesond - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 02:36 PM EST (#339060) #
And some trade their prospects for ML talent and let other teams worry about shiny potential

Wouldn't trading prospects for MLB talent in fact be turning prospects into MLB talent?
uglyone - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 02:57 PM EST (#339061) #
IMO the important thing about drafting is drafting a handful of studs. the rest you trade for ugrades if you can.

I would guess that the lower you go in the standings, the higher the self-drafted content on the rosters gets.
lexomatic - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 04:26 PM EST (#339062) #

Wouldn't trading prospects for MLB talent in fact be turning prospects into MLB talent?

semantics. but technically you are correct.

i read the original as development and added the part I understood as omitted. I guess my bias is showing.

jerjapan - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 05:16 PM EST (#339063) #
It's a system where depth is greater than the quality, and on top of that, the majority of the team's best prospects are still in the lower minors.

Agreed.  Although 5 top 100 prospects and a 20th place ranking seems odd.  We remain, IMO, a middle-of-the-pack system on the way up with an above average 2016 draft and young guys likely to emerge as upper minor level prospects over the course of the year.  The only wildcard is if the new drafting regime will be as successful as Parker and co.  With much of the talent still in place, I'd expect us to continue to draft well. 

Mike Green, I'd love to see that study ... I think your estimates sound pretty reasonable.  BP has been doing their rankings based on tiers, which I think has more value than numerical rankings. 

Interesting to here Chris Smith considered a 'priority guy'.  He's certainly a great story and I'm pulling for him. 

Jeff Beliveau isn't getting talked up much, but he's as good a lefty candidate as anyone past Loup IMO.  A story on him in the Sun:
Mike Green - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 05:41 PM EST (#339064) #
Incidentally, the current iteration of fangraphs' projections has the Blue Jays at 86 wins.  The runs allowed figure of 4.53 runs per game is still high and based on an opposition BABIP of .304.  I'tl take the under on both numbers, and feel pretty comfortable about that, given the history of the last 2 years and the departure of Saunders. 

As for the offence, I haven't yet figured out why you would project PAs for Harold Ramirez, Anthony Alford and Darrell Ceciliani and none for Rowdy Tellez.  I guess the theory is that one of Smoak, Pearce and Morales will always be healthy, and it's a binary yes/no projection on him.  Tellez' mean ZIPS/Steamer projection is considerably better than Smoak's, and presumably if he continues to hit in triple A the way he hit in double A, it would be so much higher than Smoak's that the club would have to make a move.  We'll see.
scottt - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 06:58 PM EST (#339065) #
With regards to the opponents BABIP I'm just glad that nobody is touching the strike zone.
Not officially anyway.

Incidentally, the new CBA allows MLB to change the rules without feedback from the players starting next year.

I'm not expecting the games to get any shorter because of the new intentional walk rule.
If you're in a rush to a hitter to first, don't you just hit him?

Who cares so much about game length anyway? The networks who run ads between innings perhaps?

uglyone - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 08:21 PM EST (#339066) #
yeah mike i think they see too many cooks at 1B/DH for Tellez to get in that kitchen, while LF is wide open.

I'd likely agree....though Tellez could force the issue by dominating.
Mike Green - Friday, February 24 2017 @ 09:05 PM EST (#339067) #
On this day 25 years ago, the New Yorker published this gem from Roger Angell. 
Glevin - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 03:50 AM EST (#339068) #
The Jays system is low because they don't have much in the upper minors. It will get better as (some) of the talent in the low minors progresses. Mike is also right in that the difference between #10 and #20 probably isn't much. Maybe one top-50 prospect. When you think about this sort of thing, there is also the huge aspect of young major leaguers who are not prospects. The Jays had 11.4 WAR from players 25 or under last year which was 13th best in the league. (2nd in the majors from pitchers, 23rd from hitters). So teams like the Cubs, Dodgers, Cleveland are in much better position than other teams because their prospects are already producing in the majors.

You also have edge cases like players like Alex Bregman who didn't provide a ton of WAR last year because he had too few PAs, doesn't count as a prospect because he had too many PAs, but looks likely to be a franchise cornerstone. He had 70 more PAs than Swanson who is still considered a prospect. If Bregman were counted, he'd certainly be top-4 prospect and the Astros would probably go from #3 to #1 system.

The elite prospects obviously count for much more but the middling prospects do matter as well. It's one of the ways teams save a lot of money. Free agency is incredibly expensive so if you can round out the ends of your roster with ML minimum players rather than paying $2M here and $3M there, you save a lot of money.
China fan - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 08:32 AM EST (#339069) #
Pursuant to our earlier debates about Jose Bautista's personality and whether he is good or bad for the "clubhouse", I came across this report today on yesterday's union meeting and thought it was an interesting reflection on the aspects of Bautista that aren't visible to the average fan, especially his union work on behalf of other players:

A Blue Jays players meeting with union head Tony Clark was held inside the media lunchroom at Florida Auto Exchange Park on Friday morning and was supposed to last about an hour and a half.

Instead, the players and the MLBPA executive director talked for close to two hours and 20 minutes and afterwards Clark was jokingly asked if outspoken Jays right fielder Jose Bautista was the cause of the meeting running into overtime.

Clark understood the joke, but launched into an impassioned speech in praise of Bautista, who is generally loved in Toronto but abhorred in other ball parks such as Baltimore and Texas.

ďJB is an asset to our game on so many different levels,Ē said Clark, a former major-league first baseman. ďI think everyone can appreciate what he does on the field, but there are a lot things that JB does that very few people know about or hear about or appreciate. Whether thatís supporting the next generation of guys that comes behind him ó on this team or other teams ó or any of the work that he does in the communities that doesnít end up on the front page somewhere.Ē

scottt - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 09:36 AM EST (#339070) #
I don't really feel better hearing that Bautista is supporting guys on other teams. What was that about anyway?
85bluejay - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 10:13 AM EST (#339071) #
Taken in context, what Clark said about Bautista is much ado about nothing - The new CBA is almost universally seen as a win for the owners, players are not happy and the sluggish FA market this past offseason did not help - Bautista was on the player's negotiating team (with Clark), so Clark praising a fellow member of his negotiating team means bupkis - I'm not saying he's wrong but it's like the Prime Minister praising a member of his cabinet.
StephenT - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 12:33 PM EST (#339072) #
It's nice hearing the Jays broadcast on the radio again.  A "young Blue Jays lineup" today says Jerry Howarth.
Dewey - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 12:56 PM EST (#339073) #
Ah, the incomparable Roger Angell! Great piece, Mike. Thanks. Angell is a very fortunate man, and a wise one. No one I can think of comes close to him as a baseball writer.
China fan - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 01:43 PM EST (#339074) #
The point about Bautista is that he's working for a larger cause than an individual team, or his personal stats, or his personal income.  Regardless of whether it's baseball or any other line of work, I'm impressed by people who work for the collective good of their comrades, in unions or other forums.  It gets very little mention among fans or the media. If you search for stories on Bautista's union work, you will find very few.  It's not done for glory or fame or the praise of others. 

But you can react cynically if you prefer.
uglyone - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 01:47 PM EST (#339075) #
rowdy and alford get the jays on the board with bqck to back doubles.

just the guys we want to see rake.
China fan - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 01:52 PM EST (#339076) #
After a week of spring training, Gibbons was asked about the Jays prospects and which ones have impressed him.  He mentioned three:  Gurriel, Tellez, and Tim Mayza.

Probably doesn't mean a heck of a lot at this stage, but I like to keep an eye on the names that are bandied about by the managers and coaches during the spring.  Sometimes they are calling attention to the prospects who are ahead of schedule -- like Osuna and Castro a couple of springs ago.

jerjapan - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 02:51 PM EST (#339077) #
I wonder if those three are the most impressive, or if LF, 1B and LOOGY are the most contested positions in spring training and therefore getting all the attention.  All three could make an impact this year - nice to have prospects ready to step in.   As Glevin mentioned upthread, the "middling prospects do matter as well" - Mayza and the rest of the optionable Buffalo shuttle - Barnes, Dermody, Tepera, Leone, Chris Smith, Leone, Girodo - should be able to generate some quality innings and the minimum salary.  It's the set-up arms in the pen that have me most worried - it would be nice if a Tepera or Barnes was able to establish themselves as a legit reliever - it's been a while since someone graduated from the shuttle to trusted part of the pen. 

I don't really feel better hearing that Bautista is supporting guys on other teams. What was that about anyway?

Typical union language for supporting the rights of the workers in the future, and the collective - it's a good thing. 

85, i didn't really follow the CBA negotiations this time round - why is "almost universally seen as a win for the owners"?

uglyone - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 03:39 PM EST (#339078) #
sparkman and beliveau wish they had a second chance to make a first impression.
scottt - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 03:43 PM EST (#339079) #
I've read of Gibbons talking about Chris Smith who is likely to get a call at some point this year.
Mayza is a 24 year old in A ball who isn't likely to get added to the 40 roster until September.

Everybody's curious about Gurriel, but I don't see him on the lineup today.

scottt - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 03:50 PM EST (#339080) #
Well, too pop ups to end the 4th wasn't bad for Sparkman.
3 hits in the next innings, but 2 of those were ground balls.
Hard to judge without watching the game, but we're still in February.

Not quite sure why McGuire is the DH.
Maybe they want him to focus on his hitting.

Richard S.S. - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 03:54 PM EST (#339081) #
The MLB App offers a year of unlimited Audio for $27.73, with free Audio for Spring Training games. Gurriel did play today.
jerjapan - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 04:13 PM EST (#339082) #
I'd agree that Mayza is a Sept. candidate rather than someone likely to break camp out of spring ... last year was his first dominating stint, in Dunedin, after being dreadful his first two seasons and solid in 2015.  More than likely, 15 mediocre AA innings isn't enough for the guy, but he is a lefty throwing mid 90s - it's his stuff Gibby was impressed by.  He's got to get those walks under control though ... his minor league BB% is over 10%. 

For anyone watching / listening, impressions of Casey Lawrence?

StephenT - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 04:38 PM EST (#339083) #
For the record, Howarth called the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th innings, while Wilner called the 3rd, 4th and 7th.  I believe that would be a 1-inning promotion for Wilner if they continue that into the regular season.

In this Jays-Atlanta contest, I didn't hear Howarth use the B word, though Wilner often did.

Buck Martinez dropped in on the broadcast.  Buck will be working the WBC games in Tokyo that are coming up soon.  (I remember him also doing that 4 years ago; it was a treat to have some live baseball on during breakfast in early March.)
Richard S.S. - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 04:50 PM EST (#339084) #
The CBA didn't change that much.
The D.L. changing from 15 games to just 10 games - who does that benefit more, Owners or Players?
The Luxury Tax threshold had a minor increase and very heavy penalty increases - who does that benefit more, Owners or Players?
Qualifying Offer had big changes - who does that benefit more, Owners or Players?
There are a few more items, but it's more - who does that benefit more, Owners or Players?
The Owners think they won overall big-time (not that much).
Richard S.S. - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 05:06 PM EST (#339085) #
Casey Lawrence did something/made a change that added 5 MPH to his fastball. How, I have no idea. He was very effective in his first Spring game, but I think he will deserve consideration for 6th Starter before long.
China fan - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 05:46 PM EST (#339086) #
"....Everybody's curious about Gurriel, but I don't see him on the lineup today..."

Gurriel entered the game as a replacement for Urena at SS and was 0-for-2.   Wilner said he hit the ball hard and looked fast, nearly beating out a DP ball, despite the poor line.  Interesting also to see him playing SS today (unless the boxscore is wrong).  There was no mention of any errors by him.  If he has middle-infield skills, it suggests that his defense might be a little better than advertised.
China fan - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 06:07 PM EST (#339087) #
Yeah, so I've confirmed that Gurriel played several innings at shortstop today.  And according to Stoeten (relaying what Wilner said), he "looked pretty comfortable" at SS.

John Northey - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 09:31 PM EST (#339088) #
I like that the Jays are giving him a shot at the most difficult (outside of catching) position possible. Always with kids you keep them doing the hardest defensive position they can handle as long as possible. Sometimes you get lucky (Wade Boggs becoming decent at 3B) sometimes not (Delgado at CA was a disaster). I would make an exception for catcher as if a guy is a good hitter you want him out of that position ASAP since catchers get hurt so often.
dan gordon - Saturday, February 25 2017 @ 11:45 PM EST (#339089) #
When they signed Gurriel, the reports I saw indicated that he was going to play SS for New Hampshire to start the season. Sounds like Sparkman didn't pitch as poorly as the line indicates. Gibbons said that Lawrence "pitched great".
Glevin - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 07:02 AM EST (#339090) #
1.CLE 47.9war
2.BOS 46.7
3.HOU 46.6
4.TOR 41.3
5.SEA 38.6
6.NYY 38.1

One more big add this offseason woulda had us as one of the favorites."

I think this shows very well the Jays plan in the off-season. They have positioned themselves as the top Wildcard team and there was no way they were going to catch the Red Sox for favourites. For example, if the Jays re-signed Fowler and Encarnacion instead of Morales and current LFers, you're talking about 3 wins which probably increases the Jays chances of making the playoffs by percentage points. So that's $30M extra a year for long-term contracts and two 1st round picks to go from projected 4th best team to projected 4th best team. In order to pass the Red Sox for projections, the Jays would need to add 5.4 wins which would mean a 6 WAR player at a position that needs upgrading which is basically adding Mookie Betts to play LF or Kershaw as a SP. That's not to say you give up trying to improve just that there are points where marginal improvements make a huge difference and places where they make very little difference. It's why elite relievers are immensely valuable to playoff teams and have very limited value for non playoff teams.
China fan - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 09:16 AM EST (#339091) #
"....the Jays plan in the off-season. They have positioned themselves as the top Wildcard team and there was no way they were going to catch the Red Sox for favourites...."

I don't think any team can calibrate its season plan so precisely.  There are too many imponderables: injuries, slumps, unexpected performances.  The Red Sox might be favorites but it would be a huge mistake to concede the division to them.  Anything could happen.  Should the other teams have conceded the division to the Blue Jays in 2013 because the Jays were assumed to be the favorites?  Too many unpredictable factors.  And it's impossible to build a strategy from a simple equation of multiplying dollars by expected WAR.  You can't calibrate a team's performance on the basis of expected WAR.  Metrics such as WAR are a nice piece of data to consider, but they shouldn't be the main basis for a season strategy.

The correct strategy is: create the best possible team that you can afford with your resources.  If you assume that you're competing for the division title, you can miss your objective by a couple of games and still make the playoffs.  If you assume that you're only competing for the Wild Card, you could miss your objective by a game or two and you will miss the playoffs entirely. 

I'm not saying that the Jays should have spent tens of millions on the most expensive free agents.  But they could have upgraded at LF at a very reasonable cost (and still could).  A good recipe for defeat is to go into the season with an attitude that says:  "Upton and Carrera are perfectly adequate, we'll just take our chances on them, we'll just hope they have a good season.  We'll pin our hopes on those guys, and we'll pin our hopes on Smoak, and we'll hope that Pearce can fill in everywhere, with nothing but a couple of young prospects as potential replacements if they fail."

And we shouldn't even assume that Shapiro and Atkins are deliberately choosing this Wild Card strategy (if that's what it is).  Quite possibly they know that Upton and Carrera and Smoak are inadequate, but they can't afford an upgrade because Rogers has limited the payroll.  Maybe he gave them money for Bautista and a couple of $3-million relievers and then shut the faucet.  Again, we don't know for sure, but I don't think people should be ruling out this scenario.
China fan - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 09:21 AM EST (#339092) #
"....the reports I saw indicated that Gurriel was going to play SS for New Hampshire to start the season...."

Yes, you're probably right.  And John is right that the Jays should begin with him at the most challenging position and see where he settles in the long run.  I guess I was slightly surprised because I saw the speculation that he might have a chance at playing for the Jays later this season in LF.  So I kind of thought they'd be giving him experience at the position where he has his clearest route to the majors this year.  But from a longer-term perspective, it's much better for the Jays to know whether he can handle a middle infield role.  It gives them far more options in the long term.
bpoz - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 09:59 AM EST (#339093) #
True CF. Predictions do not go as expected.

I suppose most predict that Cleveland and Boston have a much better chance of making the post season than any other team in the AL. We will know if they are in 1st at the 60 and 100 game mark.

For the Jays the 5 man rotation is set barring injuries. We will know who is leading the # 6 & 7 option by the 2nd month. Probably change by the end of month 3.

LF is a numbers game. We have about 6 candidates.

1B is also a question. Smoak, Pearce and Tellez at the moment.

I think that the FO knows where Urena and Gurriel will start the season.
Jimbag - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 11:09 AM EST (#339094) #
I remember Guriel being mentioned as a SS as well. Whatever his path to the big team is, he'll benefit from playing SS as pretty much every other position should be less challenging for him. Also related to Guriel, he was part of a bit of a package deal with Morales, which is important to keep in mind when weighing the decision not to bring EE back. I would have loved to have had him here (or at the very least had him gone to play 1B for an NL team), but between what Morales contributes immediately and Guriel brings later, I think it was a decision that had to go the way it did.

I know it's getting a little late in the day, but there is still time to pick up an everyday LFer if none of the in-house options look strong enough...I mean, it's not like we're stuck with Chris Colabello out there.

jerjapan - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 11:09 AM EST (#339095) #
From the outset, the team has said that they would try Guriel at SS - there was concern around the box that since he and Urena would likely start in AA that Urena would lose reps at SS, but I believe the hope remains that Guriel is in AAA by midseason.  Urena having a few reps at 3B and SS seems like a positive IMO.

China, I agree that the goal needs to be assembling the best team possible given the available money.  I regularly get students telling me their only goal is to pass my course, and I tell them to aim higher - if your goal is passing, (or the WC), and you miss .... ?

I don't think Fowler, at the price he got, was worth it, but EE instead of Morales would have been significant IMO.  Than again, could we have signed the relievers we did with the extra monies spent on EE?

Put me down as not concerned about LF or 1B though ... we have too many options not to be able to extract some value from the position.  Certainly, if Zeke and Upton are the LFers and struggle in the early going, we are sacrificing potential wins - but they may be passable, and Upton may actually be solid.  With one or more of Pompey, Ramirez, and Gurriel likely ready by the all-star break, I don't think the risk is too high.  Same for 1B - Smoak can be released if he continues to flail around at the plate and we can roll with Morales, Pearce or even Jose.  Entirely possible that Tellez is ready by midseason as well. 

And Angel Pagan is still out there, likely getting a bit nervous, if Upton / Zeke look lost in spring. 
Rolling with what we've got can be a good way to save resources to add a player in-season if we can't solve one or both positions internally.  And we all saw how the value of 1B and LF took a hit this offseason.  Likely, a decent upgrade could be had at a good price. 

China fan - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 12:20 PM EST (#339096) #
".....Mike Wilner said on radio this morning that 'there is a very real chance that Joe Biagini starts the season in Buffalo'...."

If Wilner actually said that, it must have been his own personal speculation, because it seems definitely wrong.  In his comments today, Gibbons made it clear that the Jays have no intention of stretching out Biagini beyond a maximum of three innings this spring, unless there is an unexpected injury in the rotation.  After the Gibbons comments, Ben Nicholson-Smith reported that the Jays want Biagini to stay in the bullpen. He said this has become particularly true since the acquisition of Latos, which gave them another experienced starter if they need one.

The quotes from Gibbons today on the Biagini question:  "We're not going to get carried away and stretch him out too far, unless an injury occurs to one of the five guys."

Gibbons said the Jays had been "playing with" the idea of stretching out Biagini because everyone is "intrigued" by what he can do as a starter, but he made it clear that it won't happen now. He said: "Right now he's so valuable to us in the bullpen."
PeterG - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 12:53 PM EST (#339097) #
Wilner did actually say that and I resent the fact that you suggest it could be otherwise. It would appear now that it was his own spec as I also heard the Gibbons remarks. It should be noted though that Ross Atkins has also said in the past that this is a fluid situation. If by any chance there is a bullpen crunch regarding players with options, the Biagini to Buffalo option will likely again be considered. The last sentence is my own speculation.
85bluejay - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 01:05 PM EST (#339098) #
Jerjapan, I haven't read the new CBA, so I don't know the details, but every analysis I read from various sources at the time virtually all indicated to varying degrees that it was a win for the owners - off the top, a few points that I can think of:

The increase in the luxury tax threshold is smaller than expected, the penalty for exceeding has gone up especially for consecutive years of exceeding threshold - this has proved very effective as a sort of salary cap - on the other hand, there is no punishment for low budgets, a team can have a 20m payroll with no consequences - Fangraphs had an article about a year ago saying baseball salaries had gone from about 56% of revenue in 2002 to less than 40% in 2015 - from tops amongst the big 4 sports to last.

The expected 26th man roster (some had even suggested 27) didn't happen - that's 30 potential jobs.

I'm sure other stuff - I don't remember seeing one headline that the players won the deal. And of course, the slow & disappointing winter market for FA
85bluejay - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 01:09 PM EST (#339099) #
Should we really not give the Biagini thing a rest - I don't even think the Jays know what they are going to do - It will probably depend on what other BP candidates do and not likely to be decided until the end of spring.
China fan - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 01:18 PM EST (#339100) #
"....not likely to be decided until the end of spring..."

Barring injuries, it seems clear that the Jays have now made their decision.  They have decided to keep Biagini in the bullpen.  That's a piece of news that is definitely worth noting here.

I agree that the excessive speculation has become tedious.  That's why I noted the decision today -- so that we can move on and discuss more interesting issues. Let's not spend weeks debating this.  The decision has been made.  When the season is underway, and when we see the state of the rotation and the bullpen, then we can debate whether it was the right decision.

85bluejay - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 01:54 PM EST (#339101) #
I don't think any decision has been made - Gibbons wants and will lobby for Biagini in the Major League pen while I think the front office wants Biagini in Buffalo.
BlueJayWay - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 01:58 PM EST (#339102) #
Urena not looking much like a SS today.
scottt - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 04:04 PM EST (#339103) #
since the acquisition of Latos, which gave them another experienced starter if they need one.

Latos probably opts out if he doesn't make the team.

Biagini was the only pitcher who looked dominant on the Blue Jays side.
bpoz - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 04:48 PM EST (#339104) #
M Latos was in the Chisox rotation to start 2016. His first 4 starts were very good. 24IP, 2ER, ERA .74 and a 4-0 record. Then something happened and he was quite bad.

So maybe he can be successful in the pen.
Chuck - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 05:00 PM EST (#339105) #
Latos probably opts out if he doesn't make the team.

You may well be right, but he did willingly sign with a team with a full starting rotation and, one presumes, the idea that he'd get fulltime work in a AAA rotation to re-establish his value. And of course, rare is the team (the 2016 Blue Jays being an exception) that doesn't need to eventually give major league starts to SP #6.

SK in NJ - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 05:15 PM EST (#339106) #
"The decision has been made."

CF, you also said this before Atkins went to the media recently and suggested Biagini in AAA is an option. You seem really excited about him starting in the pen for some reason, but Gibby's words at the end of February don't really mean much of anything. He could start in the pen, or he might not. The roster is not set and we don't even know how healthy everyone is.

I don't even think anyone is saying he won't start in the big league pen. Saying the decision is fluid and will be based on circumstances is the more accurate suggestion at this point. Gibbons will be Gibbons and say things when mics are thrown in his face. He's not in charge of the wider scale organizational decisions. If Biagini starts in the pen, it will be because the front office wants it that way, and I highly doubt they made a decision on Feb 26 when we have no idea about the status of Estrada's back, how Latos looks, how healthy the rest of the staff is, etc.
uglyone - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 05:50 PM EST (#339107) #
why anyone wants biagini in AAA is still beyond me.

p.s. Wilner knows nothing
scottt - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 05:52 PM EST (#339108) #
It's hard to say. The main problem with Latos is that he lost a lot of velocity.
He has a funky delivery and lots of pitches, but poor control.

Leone didn't look too bad today.

PeterG - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 06:33 PM EST (#339109) #
Bo Shultz and Chris Smith looked good against the Yanks.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 06:48 PM EST (#339110) #
What do we know?
1)John Gibbons wants Joe Biagini in the Bullpen where he can be a game-changer. Joe Gibbons want Joe Biagini to throw no more than three innings in Spring Training, unless a Starter gets hurt.
2)Mat Latos will be given every opportunity to be 6th Starter. But he is not the only consideration for the position. Casey Lawrence or someone else might very well win that spot.
3)There are people in the Blue Jays Organization who want Joe Biagini to be a Starter in 2018.
4) This is the 26th of February with the Season still a month away. Lots of time for opinions to change again and again and again and again and again and again.
Jimbag - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 07:48 PM EST (#339111) #
As much as I believe Biagini is needed in the pen this year, if they are serious about him being in the rotation next year a season's worth of starting experience in Buffalo makes more sense to me. I guess it comes down to what the FO feels is more valuable...and again, as a fan who would like to see this window of opportunity exploited to the fullest, he's worth more in the pen for '17. Tough decision, either way.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, February 26 2017 @ 07:52 PM EST (#339112) #
The next week or two should give us some insight into who John Gibbons is interested in. Due to the WBC some players will get a lot more playing time.
scottt - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 06:32 AM EST (#339115) #
They can't afford a season of Biagini in Buffalo, but they could give him 2 months while they keep exploring out of options arms. Somebody is likely to hit the DL anyway.

Greene seems to have added velocity, but is still too hittable. He didn't look anywhere close to being able to start a major league game.

China fan - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 07:30 AM EST (#339117) #
"....Atkins went to the media recently and suggested Biagini in AAA is an option..."

False.  He didn't "go" to the media. He didn't "suggest" anything.  He merely answered some media questions, politely, as his job requires him to do.  When asked whether Biagini might play in AAA this year, he answered -- logically -- that they might need him in the rotation if there's an injury to one of the five main starters.  Would you honestly expect him to predict zero injuries this year?  As everyone has always said, if the Jays have an injury in their rotation, they will be forced to look around for a replacement.  Their in-house options will probably include pitchers like Latos and others, and of course Biagini would be in that group.  But the Jays have never said anything to support this bizarre notion that the Jays would purposely WANT to send him to Buffalo. 

"....You seem really excited about him starting in the pen..."

In fact, it's the pro-Buffalo crowd (a few fans on this site) who are really excited about the illogical idea of demoting one of the team's top 3 relievers. The weird narrative remains alive, like a lot of urban legends, so I have simply noted the mounting evidence to the contrary.  All I've done is try to apply a little dose of cold logic onto the strange enthusiasm of some fans who have pushed a highly unlikely scenario with zero evidence to support it.

Why would anyone in the Jays want to demote one of their most valuable relievers in a playoff-contending year?  It might make sense to the "tear it apart and rebuild it" crowd, the people who believe that you should sacrifice a playoff opportunity because it's more fun to dabble in long-term personnel shuffling.  But here in the real world, it doesn't make any sense.

If the Jays had any notion of sending Biagini to Buffalo, why would they already be announcing that he will be limited to 3 innings this spring?  And if your response is a conspiracy theory about how the front office secretly disagrees with the decisions of their own manager, you'll need to find a more plausible answer.

SK in NJ - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 07:57 AM EST (#339118) #
"I think this shows very well the Jays plan in the off-season. They have positioned themselves as the top Wildcard team and there was no way they were going to catch the Red Sox for favourite"

Agreed. If you look at the depth chart projections, there was no realistic way for the Jays to catch the top three teams in the AL (Boston, Cleveland, and Houston). If you subtract Morales/Pearce and add Edwin, it's a wash using those projections. If you subtract Jose and add Fowler, it's actually a downgrade. Now you could argue whether the projections are fair or not, they are what they are, but the off-season played out extremely well given the circumstances, IMO. The Jays are the best of the non projected division winners, and may have a shot at Boston with some luck (though I see the Red Sox being the clear winners).

Other than the third year on Morales, I can't think of one bad thing about this off-season. Pearce is underrated, Bautista was re-signed on a very short-term deal with minimal team risk, they added cheap relief arms to fill out the pen, and did about as well as they could to add depth to the rotation despite having no SP prospects slated for AAA for the 2nd straight year.

I don't think there was any real way to bridge the gap between the Jays and Boston, so I'm fine with a WC projection (even if I hate the one game playoff format itself).
uglyone - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 10:06 AM EST (#339119) #
ah yes the old genius plan to be just not good enough.
Glevin - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 01:17 PM EST (#339121) #
"ah yes the old genius plan to be just not good enough."

Many teams have won the World Series without being the best team in baseball. Trying to make the playoffs is a perfectly fine strategy and one that many teams go for and in the Jays case, it's the only strategy that made sense. They were not making up the difference with Boston and getting close would have cost long term assets and money.. Going all in every single year and signing old players to long term contracts is not a viable strategy which is why nobody does it.
uglyone - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 03:01 PM EST (#339124) #
ah come on.

you get within a couple projected WAR of another teams and there's really not much difference in your odds of winning vs theirs.

but when it stretches to 5-6 projected WAR, then it starts to be a more clearcut difference.

trying to argue that adding 3war wouldn't be smart because it would "only" get you within 2-3 war of the best teams in baseball is completely backwards.

the opposite is true - when one or 2 upgrades can get you virtually neck and neck with the best teams that's exactly when it makes the MOST sense to add.

especially when most of you think Happ is better than Price so that's 2-3 projected WAR defecit that shouldn't even count.
SK in NJ - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 03:49 PM EST (#339126) #
Given the team's budget (around $160-165M apparently), there was no realistic way to trim the gap between them and Boston this season. I'm actually pleasantly surprised they got to 86 projected wins given the bad FA market and limited (realistic) trade options.

There is a 7 win difference between Boston and the Jays right now. They did not have the pieces to trade for Sale/Eaton types, and from a FA standpoint, they are probably better off ending up with Jose/Morales/Pearce than some combination of Edwin/Fowler/etc, for much more money and term. The win difference there, at least from a projection standpoint, actually favors the trio the Jays ended up with.

Where the Jays can make up the WAR difference over time is if/when prospects start to come up. It wasn't going to happen in 2017 barring a major surprise trade (Donaldson trade part 2).
jerjapan - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 03:53 PM EST (#339127) #
I think we did pretty well too - big fan of the deals for Pearce, the relievers and Gurriel in particular - but one game playoffs make me nervous as heck. 

Any predictions for impactful rookies this year?  Pompey, if you count him, would be my bet, but I could see Tellez forcing Smoak to the bench, or, fingers crossed, off the roster by September ...

PeterG - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 04:46 PM EST (#339131) #
I also think the Jays did quite well and I believe too that Boston may be overrated. The loss of Ortiz may be underrated. I agree that they should be the favourites but it is not a given by any stretch.
Parker - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 04:48 PM EST (#339132) #
you get within a couple projected WAR of another teams and there's really not much difference in your odds of winning vs theirs.

Not unless you make arguments based on statistical analysis.

but when it stretches to 5-6 projected WAR, then it starts to be a more clearcut difference.

Indeed it does. But when the cost of bridging this year's gap is an AAV of $30M that the team will be saddled with for another four or five years, it's time to drop the statistical analysis and focus your arguments on advocating for a $220M payroll.

the opposite is true - when one or 2 upgrades can get you virtually neck and neck with the best teams that's exactly when it makes the MOST sense to add.

When those one or two upgrades add that much sunk cost to a payroll that already has a significant amount of sunk cost, see the above point.

especially when most of you think Happ is better than Price so that's 2-3 projected WAR defecit that shouldn't even count.

If you want to stick to statistical manipulation, that's fine, but now you're failing at semantics and social manipulation as well. Exactly who thought Happ was a better pitcher than Price? Happ ISN'T a better pitcher, and when you said "most of you", you didn't provide a single example. Happ also doesn't cost $210M to retain. If your argument was that many people think Happ is going to produce less WAR/$ over both of their contracts, you should say so.

Or you could argue that the Jays should've spent the $210M. Like I said, make payroll arguments if you want. Or make real-life arguments. Bouncing around all over the place makes people shake their heads at you even if you're NOT wrong all the time.
uglyone - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 05:06 PM EST (#339134) #
wow, gee, thanks for that generous advice, Parker.

I really respect your opinions ....and your track record of successful arguments and insights speaks for itself.

I am going to take it to heart and really work hard at it so one day I might be as insightful a poster as you.
John Northey - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 05:16 PM EST (#339135) #
I'm wondering if too much respect is being given to Boston around here.

Checking ZiPS projections for the Sox...
Mookie Betts: 5.7 by far #1 for their offense. With just 2 full seasons that might be too optimistic. Over a win is thanks to defense which is too variable to be counted on.
Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia all listed at 2.9 to 3.3 - as is David Ortiz who obviously isn't playing. Andrew Benintendi at 2.1, Hanley Ramirez at 1.7, Sandy Leon at 1.1 and all others below 1 WAR.
Total of 23.6 for Boston hitters 20.7 after removing Ortiz. To be fair we can also remove all negatives (most are not going to get that much playing time) and you get 25.6

Josh Donaldson: 6.3 - lower than he has ever produced as a full-time player.
2.5 to 2.8: Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, Kevin Pillar, Russell Martin, Devon Travis
1.2 to 1.5: Steve Pearce, Kendrys Morales
0 to 1: Matt Dominguez (playing 137 games???), A.J. Jimenez (since released), Rowdy Tellez (0.4 over 123 games), etc.

4 Jays are listed under -1 WAR (ie: big drags) - Roemon Fields, Ian Parmley, Dickie Thon, D.J. Davis - none of whom I expect to see in the majors this year.

15.6 for the Jays overall but remove those negatives (other than Goins of course) and you get 27.0

What about pitching?

5+: David Price and Chris Sale
3's: Rick Porcello (3.9)
2's: Michael Kopech, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez
1's: Steven Wright, Roenis Elias, Zach Stewart (yes, that Zach Stewart)
0's: tons.
Net: 28.4, remove negatives and get 31.6. Why any system would expect a full WAR out of Stewart is beyond me.

Blue Jays:
3's: Sanchez
2's: Stroman, Estrada, Happ
1's: Liriano, Bolsinger, Osuna, Barns (? really ?)
Grilli is listed lower than Biagini, Lawrence, Reid-Foley, Sparkman. I hope that isn't what happens.
Net for the Jays is 20.7, 22.5 without negatives.

So we get from this Red Sox: 25.6+31.6=57.2
Blue Jays: 27.0+22.5 = 49.5 or nearly an 8 win spread.

Like I said above I seriously question a lot of these projections. If Tellez plays everyday he will be far above 0.4 WAR it is safe to say or he'll be back in AAA. If Zach Stewart actually pitches for Boston he'll do a lot worse than 1 WAR. The Sox are really counting on Sale and Price as a killer one-two punch and they might perform but if they don't their projection falls apart. Fast.
John Northey - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 05:24 PM EST (#339136) #
For the Jays the question becomes where is the weakness and how easily can they improve? #1 I'd say is first base with Smoak likely to get tons of playing time with LF #2. Tellez is trying to give the Jays a really good player it appears so far in the early days but it is still February and we'll see how he is doing in a month and if he is still pounding the ball then he might just win 1B and give the Jays 3-4 WAR there. Pearce is another wild card for the Jays as if he is healthy and can play a half decent LF he could change the equation out there drastically. And least we forget the mandatory Can-Con in Pompey who was viewed as better than Pillar for defense and offense when they both reached the majors before regressing seriously.

Really, the only free agents who could've helped significantly were Encarnacion (who rejected the Jays offer and ended up accepting a slightly worse one to go to Cleveland and who I'd be nervous on a 5 year deal with) and Yoenis Cespedes who seemed determined to return to NYC with the Mets and is only projected by ZIPS to be a 3.3 player. Combined they would be around 6 WAR, maybe, to the good if we assume 1B and LF are disasters. But if any of Pearce, Pompey, Tellez, or Upton even can play well that gap drops fast.

I feel good about this Jays team. Even if they are 0-4 now.
uglyone - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 05:30 PM EST (#339137) #
The Jays position players are most likely better. The fangraphs depth chart actually gives the jays hitters 0.1war higher projection than the sox - though it's only that close because of imo a generous edge in playing time estimates. (i.e. they are projected for many more PA per lineup spot even though the jays offensive rate projections are much better...which seems backwards).

Their projected advantage is all in the pitching, and really all in the starting pitching. Sale and Price give them the biggest projected advantage. If the fip skeptics are right and price is broken, then they lose much of their advantage.

I think though that the more likely overrated spot are their depth SP - particularly wright and pomeranz who turned back into unpitchable pumpkins after their very surprising All Star first halves, and may not even be legit options this yesr.
PeterG - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 05:42 PM EST (#339138) #
I agree with your take on this Ugly.
scottt - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 05:55 PM EST (#339139) #
Wright was a huge contributor for the Sox last year and it's hard to predict what he'll do this year.
Otherwise, their rotation might just have too many lefties.
Michael Kopech? really?

Parker - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 05:58 PM EST (#339140) #
wow, gee, thanks for that generous advice, Parker.

I really respect your opinions ....and your track record of successful arguments and insights speaks for itself.

I am going to take it to heart and really work hard at it so one day I might be as insightful a poster as you.

It would be better for you to save all the respect and taking stuff to heart, and start putting as much effort into your Wilner Show posts as you do into the exhaustive volmue of data tables you post.

Thanks, though.
Parker - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 06:00 PM EST (#339141) #
All I was asking for was a clarification on the statement that most people think Happ is a better pitcher than Price, really. I'm sure "most people" would let you slide on the rest of that post.
Parker - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 06:12 PM EST (#339143) #
I'm really baffled by the absurdity of the analysis here. Betts won't repeat his performance because he's too young and untested. But Sanchez and Stroman will?

If the Jays had a Mookie Betts, you guys would have him locked down for 7 WAR seasons until he becomes a free agent.

There's this thing that some people do, it's where they base their player analysis on the theory that those players were property of a team they hated.

When the Jays trade Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Tellez, Greene, and Reid-Foley for Betts and Benintendi, I'm sure that on this site, Betts and Benintendi become HOFers and all that trash the Jays traded are washed-out nobodies who are selling cars three years from now.

scottt - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 06:14 PM EST (#339144) #
I wouldn't put money on Happ being better than Price this year, but Stroman and Estrada could be better than they were last year and Liriano could easily be better than Dickey was.
scottt - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 06:22 PM EST (#339145) #
The White Sox are going to retire Bhuerle's number on June 24 in a game against the A's.

They should have picked a game against the Jays.

uglyone - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 06:48 PM EST (#339146) #
Parker keep dispensing your unsolicited wisdom. You are a respected poster with a phenomenal track record proving a keen mind and sharp wit. Your tireless insistence on helping others improve their posting is a real testament to your character and generosity. kudos.
John Northey - Monday, February 27 2017 @ 07:08 PM EST (#339147) #
Betts has 2 full seasons. Not a lot. He is projected to be the 5th best non-pitcher in the majors. That is expecting a lot and he might be that good but a lot is based on fielding. Meanwhile Donaldson is projected to have his worst full season and to be the 2nd best player (yes, he was that good so far) with his amazing defense only counting for 6.1 runs vs Betts 12.8 (3rd highest in the majors). FYI: Pillar is at #5 in the majors thus I put a big ? beside him too (even though it is a 10 run drop vs last season, Betts is a 5 run drop I think FanGraphs can be confusing at times with how they list things). Defense is the least understood of statistics as the variability from one method to another can be very high so I always worry when it is a big part of a players value like with Pillar.

As to Sanchez and Stroman I didn't say 'oh yeah, these guys can be counted on'. No pitcher can be. The ones who can be generally are HOF'ers or near that. Neither Sanchez or Stroman are remotely close to that status. But combined the two are listed at 6.2 WAR for 2017. Betts is at 5.7 on his own. FanGraphs also projects lower than expected values for Jay pitchers due to the strong defense here (the IF should be stronger this year with any luck as should the OF if they can get more days off for Bautista and not having Saunders out there anymore.
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