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I jumped into the river
Black eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
and all of the things I used to see

Pyramids aside, this will be a short one. A little nibble to tide us over. You know my schtick already so lets get into it.

Top of the Fifth

Are You Bobby Ray?

Who wants to know? Who wants to know about me???

(If you get the reference.... I sincerely apologize. I'm so, so sorry)

The Blue Jays gambled on Robbie Ray this past offseason, and at this point it clearly is one of the best moves made by any team for 2021. Grunts aside (it must be the tight pants,) Ray has been better than anyone could've possibly expected. He's gonna get some money this winter, no doubt, and I've been won over enough that I want it to be here. It makes sense for the Blue Jays to lock up a pitcher who has clearly flourished and unlocked personal potential, but also for Ray in terms of comfort, familiarity and the "whatever the hell they've done to make me throw strikes" element. I'm not one to speculate or really even care on contract terms, but get him at 4 years at say 90 million bucks and there's your great #2 starter for the next half decade. It'll probably take more though... but meanwhile lets just enjoy how good he has been. I really feel like he might have the second all time Blue Jays no-hitter in him coming soon. Legit stuff.

Spring Shoes

It sucks that he hasn't played much, but I've seen enough to know George Springer is a goddamn ballplayer. He's a bit like Bautista without the flare and temper: truly a professional hitter who doesn't chase trash a foot outside of the zone (*cough Grichuk *cough) and obviously a far superior outfielder than Bats ever was. It's hard to judge from such a small sample, but I do think his intelligence will keep him in centerfield longer than people suspect. He's still way better in right, even now, but on a team with only two genuinely good defensive outfielders plus Jonathan Davis... well get used to Spring Shoes playing CF in 2023 unless Austin Martin shows up ready real early. I'm optimistic on that front, for the record.

Springer can clearly hit. He has a good approach, hits the ball hard... even as a meh defender by the end of the contract I do think he'll still be a valuable part of a good ballclub. Just as long as Teo and Vlad by then haven't made him too self-conscious about his bald spot of course...

Bottom of the Fifth

All-Star Game Badness

I did not watch the all-star game this year. Vlad Jr. won the MVP? Cool, but whatever. MLB currently, seems to be currently excellent at losing the plot: changing things that don't need to be changed at all... while meanwhile allowing serious issues to linger and manifest until there is true hell to pay.

Full honesty, I used to love the all-star game. I recorded the 2001 game on VHS and watched it a million times (I think Paul Quantrill was the Blue Jay there? Shout out to the great Q). I was just so delighted seeing these legends on the field, wearing their iconic jerseys. Cal Ripken Jr. or Ichiro's rookie season. Bonds. Clemens. Say what you will, they were special in that moment in time. Tony Gwynn was an all-star that year. Tony. Goddamn. Gwynn. And there he was, 40 years old, in that awful bland 2000s Padres uni... it is seared in my mind.

My favourite all-star game is 2006. Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, B.J Ryan... maybe someone else? They were our Blue Jays and had a significant influence on how that game played out. Glaus I remember hits a huge 9th inning double off the centerfield wall that either tied the game or put the go ahead run in scoring position. I watched it live with a friend who enjoyed baseball but wasn't quite as into it as I... but that night we were on the edges of our seats and weren't disappointed.

Baseball will always have the best all-star game because... well Magpie explained why with poetic excellence in a recent post, as he reliably does. From my perspective, as a still active ballplayer in various leagues... the nature of baseball itself demands any competitive game be played with maximum intention. I love basketball, but playing a showcase game that doesn't matter? You're not going to witness the great LeBron James play like it's the NBA Finals. He's going to take it easy, still try to provide a spectacle, but this isn't an actual game. Baseball though... you can't be a pitcher and think: "ah this doesn't mean anything, I'll just throw 40mph trash"... because you'll get destroyed and embarrassed. I can hit 40mph trash... what do you think actual professionals would do to it?. The game itself demands full effort.  Even a baseball pickup game is still baseball... it can be casual around the edges but it's still somebody on a mound trying their best to get a batter out. That is the fundamental truth of the game.

Anyways... long story over I did not like these "all-star" jerseys this year... and said jerseys looked like a spell check printer error bled onto a T-shirt. Just horrendous in multiple directions. Previously It was beautiful how each player wore their team jersey every year, and was unique to MLB. Hey MLB! Stop messing with something that doesn't need to be messed with!

Sigh. All right I'm done. Have at it, everyone. And please forgive my grouchiness.

Off Day Blues Vol. 5 | 59 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
scottt - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 08:12 AM EDT (#402539) #
Springer is good enough in center, but his bats plays anywhere and one of Hernandez or Gurriel will eventually move on and the logical move would be to find a young 20 something to play in the middle. Davis is clearly due for being outrighted, at some point, it looked like he could hit enough to hold a spot, like Pillar did, but sadly he has not. Springer has never been an iron man. He's always missed lots of time and he's never played on turf much. For now, I really don't mind Gurriel and Grichuk competing for the 4th outfield spot. I don't think I'll mind Dickerson getting some playing time either.

Petey Baseball - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 09:37 AM EDT (#402541) #
Really enjoyed this Eephus. I too really enjoyed 2006, mostly because there were 4 Jays in it. Ryan was having an incredible season as the Jays closer, Glaus and Wells were mashing, and of course Doc. That season was just fun in general to be a fan. The 4 game series at home against the Yankees in late July was the closest the team got to playing playoff baseball in between the 22 years of playoff appearances.

I too agree that baseball just can't get out of its own way sometimes. The uniforms were just breathtakingly awful. I understand the league is probably trying to market the individual stars more, rather than the teams, (which BTW I think they are doing a better job of lately), but taking away the team uniform is going overboard. It also didn't help that Acuna, Trout, DeGrom and a couple other big stars weren't there. The voting system was also gimmicky, and should be changed back to overall votes. I'm not sure what the point of having the various rounds of voting was. It just makes something that should be simple harder to understand.

And the home run derby. I actually found the first round very entertaining, but after two hours, it just gets stale, and taxing on the players Again, why drag it out into a four hour thing? I'm sure it could have hooked a few more legit stars if they knew it wasn't going to be a marathon. It should just be like it was for so long, let the talent make the show and stop overthinking the format.

I'm happy the 7 inning doubleheader and extra inning runner on second is reportedly being scrapped.
Paul D - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 09:53 AM EDT (#402542) #
Small all-star suggestion I like, from the Effectively Wild podcast - each time you're named an All-Star, you get to add a star to your uniform (the regular one, not the all-star one).
Petey Baseball - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 10:12 AM EDT (#402543) #
Another plus for the ASG this year was the ceremony for Hank and Billeye Aaron, it was very on point, well done, and richly deserved.
Leaside Cowboy - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 10:54 AM EDT (#402547) #
The Big Hurt, A-Rod, and Big Papi make a great panel.

Big Papi is starting to look like Mr. T.
hypobole - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#402554) #
Almost forgot to give a shout-out to ex-Jay Aaron Loup. One of the last 4 JPR guys (no, Paxton doesn't count). 10th year in the league and maybe having his best season ever. But that's not why.

After 436 relief appearances, made his 1st career start this past weekend, throwing 2 shutout innings.

Starting pitcher, ERA, FIP

Aaron Loup, 0.00, 1.16
Jacob deGrom, 1.08, 1.23

Spifficus - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 01:24 PM EDT (#402555) #
Is it wrong that I immediately went searching to see if he hit anybody?
pooks137 - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 01:35 PM EDT (#402556) #
Almost forgot to give a shout-out to ex-Jay Aaron Loup. One of the last 4 JPR guys (no, Paxton doesn't count).

Let's see if I can guess the other 3 JPR holdovers.

I'm pretty sure Ryan Tepera is one.

My second guess would be Jake Marisnick, though I have a feeling he might have been drafted earlier under AA.

Not too sure on the last one. Does Travis Snider still count?

pooks137 - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 01:38 PM EDT (#402557) #
Travis Snider is currently hitting .182 for the Braves AAA squad but hasn't been in the big leagues since 2015.

So there must be a fourth.
Petey Baseball - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 02:25 PM EDT (#402559) #
Eric Thames?
hypobole - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 02:26 PM EDT (#402560) #
Think of a trade that causes at least one poster here to excoriate AA at least once a year. A certain Ray is involved in the backstory.
Petey Baseball - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#402561) #
Yan Gomes
pooks137 - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 02:34 PM EDT (#402562) #
Eric Thames was a good guess, but I recall he went back East to play in the NPB with Justin Smoak on the Yomiuri Giants.

Yan Gomes appears to be the right answer, which I was nowhere close to remembering. I of course remember the Esmil Rogers trade, but am too thick to understand hypobole's hint about a certain Ray.

I think maybe Gomes was traded for Robbie Ray at one point, but BBref says no.
hypobole - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 02:42 PM EDT (#402563) #
Antonetti acquired Gomes in a great under-the-radar deal with Toronto in November of 2012. Acting on a tip from then bullpen coach Kevin Cash, he acquired Gomes and Mike Aviles from the Blue Jays for right-hander Esmil Rogers.
Nigel - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#402564) #
Gomes is just another example of the fact that the baseball gods simply toy with us when it comes to C prospects. Eric Kratz turned out to have a much better major league career than Guillermo Quiroz - no one saw that coming.
Petey Baseball - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#402566) #
The discussion in the past few months about how to "fix" baseball really intrigues me. So much so I just randomly checked the history of television ratings for the World Series.

It's clear that the rise of the NFL in the last couple decades has pretty much ended any chance of baseball reaching the level of interest it had in the 70's and 80's. With the exception of 2016 (the Cubs finally winning) and 2004 (The Red Sox finally winning) the television ratings have gone down steadily. Last year was the least watched World Series of all time.

TV ratings aren't what they used to be, but they're still probably a pretty good indicator of roughly how many people are watching.

It's obvious baseball will never get back to the level of 1980, where 32 million people on average watched the World Series. The world is just such a different place, and the pace and speed of a baseball game/season just doesn't jive with those changes. Yet, I think it's a realistic target that the MLB get back to where it was in the 90's.
John Northey - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#402567) #
It is funny how often lower picks outperform. Baseball is drastically different from NFL, NBA, NHL that way. Looking at JPR drafts since hypobole got me thinking...

2009: Yan Gomes 10th round did best, currently a 114 OPS+ for Washington at age 33. Jays traded him to get Esmil Rogers way back in 2012.
2008: Eric Thames round 7, just a 71 OPS+ for Washington last year, just 10 games in Japan this year with a 1.042 OPS (hurt maybe?)
2007: Brett Cecil Round 1 Supplemental (for loss of Free Agent Justin Speier), last pitched in 2018
2006: Travis Snider round 1, 14th overall pick but only 4.3 WAR lifetime, quite disappointing for a guy who was so hyped at one time, #6 prospect in MLB at one time.
2005: Ricky Romero round 1, 2013 last ML pitch, was in minors trying for a comeback as recently as 2017.
2004: Adam Lind round 3 last played in 2017 in majors, 2018 in minors, a 122 OPS+ in his final ML season.
2003: Aaron Hill round 1 (only 20+ WAR guy by JPR) - played in majors until 2017, and round 3 Shaun Marcum (13.4 WAR puts him among his best draft picks) played until 2015.
2002: Dave Bush round 2 (3.6 WAR, only guy with more than 0, the infamous Russ Adams had 0.0 exactly) Forgot Bush came back to play his final ML game here in 2013.

Ugh. Reminds me of how bad JPR was as a GM. After Ash he seemed good, but vs the 2 we had after he was horrid. 8 drafts and just 1 guy with 20+ WAR out of it.

OK, now I had to check AA's... (round in brackets, or DNS for did not sign)
2010: Kris Bryant (DNS) 27 WAR, Noah Syndergaard (1S) 16 WAR
2011: Aaron Nola (DNS) 23 WAR, Kevin Pillar (32) 16 WAR
2012: Marcus Stroman (1) 16 WAR
2013: Matthew Boyd (6) 7.8
2014: Jordan Romano (10) 1.9
2015: Brady Singer (DNS) 1.8, Travis Bergen (7) 0.7. Ugh.

2016: Bo Bichette (2) 6.4
2017: Ty Tice (16) 0.1
2018: Nick Allgeyer (12) 0.0
2019: Alek Manoah (1) 1.1
2020 and 2021 haven't reached yet (no shock)

Far too soon for Atikins to have 20+, if Bo hasn't reached yet then it is pretty hard to that quick. AA's saw 2 20+ guys drafted but not signed, and 3 guys come close to 20 but not over it yet (all still active), but his last draft looks like a dud to this point. Ash's reign had lots of 'wow' in round 1 (Halladay, Wells, Rios) and others later on (Casey Blake (7), Orlando Hudson (43), Michael Young (5), but never could put together a solid ML team that could make the playoffs despite being handed Carlos Delgado, Chris Carpenter, and other quality players and a deep farm day one.
ISLAND BOY - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 03:28 PM EDT (#402570) #
It's no wonder World Series rating have gone down when they insist on starting them so late. I'm on the east coast and the telecast doesn't usually start until 9 PM with the game itself not beginning until 9:30 at least. This means an average game won't end until after midnight. Even an hour earlier in the eastern time zone makes for a late night during the week.

I may be alone on this but I kind of like the 7 inning doubleheaders and don't mind the man on second in extra innings. That said, there are some really good extra-inning games but not everybody wants to watch baseball for 4+ hours. I do think that there needs to be some change in the mound, either lowering it or moving it back to restore more balls in play.
John Northey - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 03:58 PM EDT (#402571) #
I hated the 7 inning DH idea and the phantom runner on 2nd in extras at first, but I've grown to accept them. While when I was younger I loved more baseball over less, now I'm more 'lets get the game over with at a reasonable time'. Same with the shootout in hockey during the regular season.

At least the runner on 2nd isn't changing the nature of the game drastically - unlike, say, a home run derby. Of course with the current Jays a HR derby would work well. :)
pooks137 - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#402581) #
I'd like to see the runner on second in extras go away.

From a pedantic view, the ghostrunner adds an unaccounted for variable to a closed system.

Sabermetrics is a discipline of linear weights and three true outcomes where individual events can be tracked and assigned value independent of each other.

While small in impact, the runner on second suddenly conjures up two bases awarded that remain unassigned and similarly muddy events to come for hitters and pitchers that suddenly have different weights than they otherwise would in this artificial setup.
scottt - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 06:51 PM EDT (#402582) #
Tonight's Yankees/Boston game is canceled because of an outbreak in the Yankees clubhouse.
I was hoping that stuff was behind us.
2 players tested positive.
That won't help the feds approve the move to Toronto.

scottt - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#402583) #
Loaisiga, Cortes and Peralta have tested positive.
Judge (who was at the All-Star game), Higashioka and Urshela are considered "pending" which probably means they had one positive test and are waiting on a second one.

John Northey - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 07:03 PM EDT (#402584) #
Not good. Hopefully they were all among the foolish who won't get a vaccine thus making it easier to have a strict 'no vaccine, no play' rule.
hypobole - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 07:03 PM EDT (#402585) #
It's no wonder World Series rating have gone down when they insist on starting them so late.

If the US was shaped like Chile, it wouldn't be an issue. The game starts too early in the west and too late on the east.
Chuck - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 07:03 PM EDT (#402586) #
And with Judge potentially positive while at the all-star game, what will the ripple effect be?
hypobole - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 07:17 PM EDT (#402587) #
Cortes, Peralta, and Loaisiga had all been vaccinated. But at least 1 of the other 3 hadn't.
mathesond - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 07:19 PM EDT (#402588) #
From a gross "How can this advantage my team" POV, if multiple games between Boston and NY are cancelled this weekend, rescheduling later in the year could put both teams (but especially Boston) at a disadvantage, if they have to cram in extra games towards the end of the season. But I would have to look at their schedule(s) to see if this is the case.
Paul D - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 08:23 PM EDT (#402589) #
Report is that the vacinnated Yankees are asymptomatic, while one player was not vaccinated and is symptomatic
Glevin - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 09:40 PM EDT (#402593) #
Really hope Jays will be bringing Kirk up to start the series. He's almost certainly their best catcher right now and you can't really muck about not playing your best players when you are trying to win. Would not be surprised to see Jays swing a trade in next few days.
pooks137 - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#402596) #
Kirk doesn't make much sense on the roster with a short bench unless they trade McGuire, demote Jansen or commit to dropping a reliever for good for another bench spot.

Kirk just brings back the Rowdy Tellez inflexibility problem again (though with a better bat, but also right-handed), except it's worse in some ways in terms of roster construction since Kirk can't even give Vlad 1/2 days off at 1B.
uglyone - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 10:44 PM EDT (#402597) #
It gives us the flexibility to not play a crappy bat at DH.
John Northey - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 11:37 PM EDT (#402598) #
It is interesting to look at ZIPs for rest of season from FanGraphs...
  • wOBA: 350+ - ie: great: Vlad (388), Springer, Bo, Semien, Hernandez
  • wOBA: 325-349 - ie: solid: Gurriel (331), Grichuk (330), Kirk (329), Biggio (329) - found it funny how tight all 4 are projected to be in offence.
  • wOBA: 300-324 - ie: livable: Dickerson, Jansen
  • wOBA: 275-299 - ugh, but with great D you can live with it: Espinal, McGuire, Davis
  • wOBA: sub 275 - time for AAA: Palacios, Adams
Note: Tellez at 333 - so fits in perfectly with the group of Gurriel/Grichuk/Kirk/Biggio
Vlad is #5 in MLB for expected wOBA, Trout #1 429, Soto 408, Acuna Jr (408 before injury), Tatis Jr (395). Funny 3 of top 5 are juniors. Freeman & Jose Ramirez are next at 386. Worst projected is ex-Jay Jeff Mathis at 219

What does this tell us? That statistically the Jays are looking damn good for the 2nd half on offense. 320 is considered an average offensive season. 20 points is worth about 10 runs per season. So if the Jays got gutsy and did the trade I mentioned elsewhere for Ramirez (Groshans, Kirk, Orelvis Martinez, Pearson - might get away with 1 less player but not easily) we'd have a second Vlad level offensive player vs Biggio/Espinal at 3B - or about 55 wOBA points vs Biggio, more vs Espinal = 2 1/2 wins with just the bat, if we assume a mix/match of Espinal/Biggio would match a guy who is probably average or a bit above on defense. 2 1/2 wins could easily be the difference this year, plus he'd be here for 2 more years. Expensive, but probably worth it. The Jays would have to swallow hard to do that deal, but so would Cleveland as it is pure possible vs doing it. Could work like Donaldson did years ago or could blow up.
hypobole - Thursday, July 15 2021 @ 11:43 PM EDT (#402599) #
Kirk probably would make the best DH. He can hit with sneaky power and draw some walks. But that's about it. He can't run, and outwardly, he's a pretty bad catcher at this point in time. Which is the most important defensive position. A short chunky Mike Napoli with less power and more bat to ball skills.
Cynicalguy - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 12:11 AM EDT (#402600) #
I don't think they are going to bring up Kirk before the trade deadline...assuming he's still with the organization. Best to let the dust settle down with the upcoming roster changes from possible trades.
scottt - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 08:01 AM EDT (#402601) #
Seems like they will play tonight but the Yankees might have to call up a few replacements.

This happens when the Yankees are set to play Boston/Tampa a bunch of times, so probably not a lot of good coming out of this.

Steve02 - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 09:10 AM EDT (#402603) #
There's news articles on promoting both and are free watching this weekend.
GabrielSyme - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 10:02 AM EDT (#402606) #
They really ought to commit to living with eight relievers. It's been hard to find innings at times for the 8 and 9 guys at times this season. Dolis and

Give Kirk a couple more weeks of regular starts in AAA, but Kirk gives the Jays their best lineup, whether he's at catcher or DH. I don't know where he is defensively, but he should be able to contribute either way. Once up, I think you could make him the personal catcher of someone he works well with - Manoah, perhaps - and give him the one start every five days, with McGuire and Jansen splitting the rest.
GabrielSyme - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#402607) #
Sorry- incomplete thought above.

Dolis, Chatwood and guys like Barnes shouldn't be guaranteed spots in the bullpen. They are essentially reclamation projects at this point, and having 2-3 of them in the bullpen is not a viable option for a competing team. We've got a couple weeks until the trade deadline to make a decision, but I'd be ready to move on from Dolis right now.
Mike Green - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 10:27 AM EDT (#402608) #
A short chunky Mike Napoli with less power and more bat to ball skills.

At age 22, Mike Napoli was in Rancho Cucamonga in the California League.  He hit 29 homers in 580 PAs with a .282/.393/.539 line good but not great for the California League.  Kirk is, at this point, a far better hitter.  Napoli, of course was 4' taller and could play first base. Cliff Johnson started out as a catcher and wasn't any good behind the plate, but could certifiably hit. 
Mike Green - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 10:29 AM EDT (#402609) #
Correction: Napoli was 4" taller than Kirk; it only seems like 4'.
hypobole - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#402610) #
Kirk at this point in time is a faux catcher who can hit. I only compared him to Napoli as an example of another faux catcher who could hit. Never meant to compare their careers.

Napoli never became an adequate catcher, much less a good catcher. Kirk may, but if he's a good catcher a few years from now makes no difference for what he brings for the balance of this season. Which I thought we were discussing.
uglyone - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#402612) #
I don't think there's any evidence that he's anything less than mediocre behind the plate.
bpoz - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 12:04 PM EDT (#402613) #
I find that Kirk is smart. His successful base running and stealing has convinced me. SSS so maybe the opponents figure him out and nullify this.
Spifficus - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 12:04 PM EDT (#402614) #
Yeah, to me he looks 'below average but not unplayable', where he gives up some value at catcher relative to average but is still worth more as a catcher than as a DH.
hypobole - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#402615) #
There may well be evidence, we're just not privy to that evidence. But yeah, mediocre may be the fairest way to describe his defence. Jansen has been adequate, McGuire good this year.
I guess the questions become how much does the team value catcher defence? And what's the problem carrying all 3?
bpoz - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#402617) #
Atlanta made a trade. Joc Pederson for Bryce Ball. Minor league 1B prospect. Salary dump by the Cubs?

Cubs and Atlanta are practically even in the standings so it is very strange that one is a seller and the other a buyer. By July 31 Cubs could be ahead of Atlanta.
hypobole - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#402621) #
Jay Jaffe at Fangraphs on Vladdy.
cascando - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 02:35 PM EDT (#402624) #
I'm probably biased as a former catcher, but I think the defensive side of the game at that position is 80-90% of it. If a C prospect has a passable bat and is very good defensively, hold on to that guy forever. I'm not sure at which point a great bat can outweigh poor defense at C or if it is even possible.

If the bat is so good, just play that guy at DH or another position. Most C can at least become adequate 1B or corner OF since those positions are forgiving to the slowies and are much less demanding. As a human bowling ball, Kirk doesn't have that option, so either he has to significantly improve his defensive game (best done in the minors) or be so good with the bat that they can afford to DH him full time. My personal opinion is that he is a long way off from being good enough defensively to play C in the majors, but could probably be called up tomorrow as a full time DH.
scottt - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#402626) #
Keep in mind that they'll be using 13 position players next year and that Kirk would have been more useful than Davis in many games this year.
Chuck - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#402627) #
I'm not sure at which point a great bat can outweigh poor defense at C or if it is even possible.

Mike Piazza would suggest that it is possible. I'm not saying that the offensive bar to offset poor defense need be that high, but it certainly exists.

When we talk about catcher defense, what are we really talking about? The ability to frame well (and influence ball/strike calls)? The ability to prevent passed balls and wild pitches? The ability to throw out would-be base stealers? The ability to call a good game and maximize a pitcher's effectiveness?

Which of these traits do we believe that Kirk fails at? I'm not arguing that he doesn't fail at these, I'm just wondering what "poor defensive catcher" means in his case.

lexomatic - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 03:16 PM EDT (#402628) #
I seem to recall that Piazza was found to  e a really good framer before that was a widely known thing.
vw_fan17 - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 03:49 PM EDT (#402631) #
If we hold on to Kirk (most likely), then perhaps we hook him up with Vladdy's personal trainer over the offseason? If he could ALSO drop 40 lbs, it would have a HUGE impact on his defensive / baserunning ability, IMHO.
Cynicalguy - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 03:50 PM EDT (#402632) #
I think a lot of people under-estimate Kirk's defence because of his body type. But the fact the Jays were comfortable bringing him up last year when the highest level he played at before that was A+ tells me that they evaluated his defence to be passable last year for the MLB and the eye test showed he was passable. He has potential to improve on that, who knows.

Kirk at DH doesn't maximize his potential value to the team. A catcher who can play average defence and hit at 800-900 OPS pace would be something to dream on. I don't understand people who say we have enough hitting, we don't need a hitter at C or 3B...hitting has non-linear impact the more number of above average hitters you have in your lineup. The Jays have a chance to put together an elite lineup for years since they are loaded with young players and prospects at SS and C. Like someone else mentioned on this site, I like to see the Jays turn into the Big Blue Machine
scottt - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 04:03 PM EDT (#402633) #
Looking at SABR defensive metrics.

Matz ranks 5th in the pitchers. (2.4)
Stripling is also above average. (0.8)

McGuire is ranked as average. (1.6)
Jansen is ranked slightly below average. (0.0)
Zunino 2.7, Vasquez 2.3, Sanchez -4.1, Severino -4.2

Vlad is slightly below average at first. (-0.9)
Semien is AL best at second. (4.8)
Bichette is  below average a short. (-3.8)
Torres -2.1, Bogaerts -5.9,

Biggio is slightly below average at third. (-2.0)
Wendle 3.5, Urshela 2.3, Devers -1.1

Gurriel is ranked slightly below average in left field.(-0.1)
Arozarena 1.3, Verdugo 0.8, Andujar - 1.0, Meadows -1.3, Frazier -4.3

Grichuk is ranked last in top 25 fielder in center. ( -1.5)
Gardner -0.8, Kiermaier 2.8, Enrique Hernandez 3.9, Brett Phillips 5.0

Hernandez is ranked slightly below average. (-0.1)
Margot 3.0, Judge 2.5, Renfroe 2.5,

hypobole - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#402636) #
Poor framer, seems OK with passed balls and WP's, poor throwing out base stealers. As for the last one, that's information that one could only make a guess at with catchers ERA or something. But definitely the FO does have some measure or measures.

pooks137 - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 05:45 PM EDT (#402639) #
I find it surprising that Grichuk is considered the worst CF in the AL by the aggregate defensive metric just released.

Maybe even more surprising is that Jonathan Davis is 2nd last in the AL.

Somehow, Grichuk's defense has been 3x worse than a 37-year-old Brett Gardner.

I've watched a lot of games this year and there were very few times I thought Grichuk in CF looked like the worst defender in the league.
John Northey - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 06:24 PM EDT (#402647) #
Piazza was known to be a very determined guy - he was known to be at all pitcher/catcher meetings and studied other hitters to know their weaknesses - his teams ranked top 5 in ERA virtually every year when he was the regular catcher suggesting he was doing something right. Meanwhile I-Rod was viewed as a great defender but was known to skip those meetings and to call for extra fastballs when a runner was on base to make it easier to throw him out. Back in the 90's throwing out runners was the #1 thing for catchers as far as most were concerned so Piazza (23% CS) was viewed as poor and I-Rod (46%) as great. Note: IRod's peak was 60% in 2001 but Texas' staff had an 82 ERA+, Piazza's worst was 12% in 2006 for San Diego but they had a 105 ERA+ (94 the year before without Piazza). So I'd say throwing out runners is not a #1 skill, important but not #1, for a catcher. I found it insane that Piazza needed 4 votes to get in the HOF, while IRod slid in on the first ballot. IIRC the biggest things were defense and steroids (one writer thought Piazza had acne on his back thus was guilty, meanwhile Canseco, Mr. Steroid, had IRod on his list of users and played with him for 3 years. But writers decided as they did. Sigh.
hypobole - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 06:48 PM EDT (#402653) #
Interesting on Piazza and I Rod re:the meetings, John. Even today, with all the info, catchers true defensive value is a grey area.

Goldstein from his time with the Astros opined public WAR measurements are pretty close to what teams have, except for catchers.
John Northey - Friday, July 16 2021 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#402654) #
Interesting defensive numbers. So many ways to measure defense and often they can be in conflict. I remember as a teen how we had fielding percentage, range factor (assists plus putouts per 9 innings as fancy as it got), and catchers caught stealing/ERA against. Not much.

Having Biggio only slightly below average at third seems wrong - he has looked horrid at times there. Ranked 6th worst, sounds more accurate. Donaldson at -1.1 vs Biggio -2.0 seems too close imo. Jose Ramirez who I'd love the Jays to empty a chunk of the farm for is at 3.0 (3rd best). A shame I doubt Oakland would do another 3B trade with the Jays to get us Matt Chapman (6.5 but just a 99 OPS+ vs career 123).

Bo 2nd worst at SS? Not a shock. Kid needs to learn when to hold the ball and not throw it.

Gurriel barely below average makes sense - his arm fixes a lot as does his raw athleticism. Suspect he'll improve over the years, but more to compensate as his body wears down, so probably will stick around 0 for this measure.

CF having Grichuk at the bottom isn't a shock - he isn't bad, but he is a RF playing CF. His -1.5 is the best 'worst' score at any position. 3 CF's in the NL are worse (Heredia, Naquin, and Carlson).

Put it all into one spreadsheet and the best score is 6.5 for Chapman, worst a catcher - Zack Collins for the White Sox -6.8, surprising the oldest manager would put up with a poor defensive catcher. That is out of 483 players. Semien is #7 overall, Matz #66, McGuire 109, Stripling 181. That is it for Jays in the top half. The rest... Jansen 258, Gurriel 281, Hernandez 299, Ryu 307, Ray 353, Vlad 361, Grichuk 398, Biggio 423, Bo 464 out of 483 ranked.

49 catchers ranked, McGuire is 14th, Jansen 31st. Realmuto who was a Jays target 37th. Ex-Jay Yan Gomes 23rd, Yadier Molina 34th (makes me question this stat a bit).

Using an overall score I get the Jays with a 0.02, average rank of 270, puts them 19th overall in defense - sounds about right to me. Best is Houston at 1.74 (rank 143), worst is KC -1.48 rank 333 on average. For the AL East no one will be surprised the Rays rank #1 (2nd overall) with a 1.23, but the Jays are 2nd best for defense (!!!!) - Yankees 3rd, Red Sox 4th and O's worst (-1.19 score). All 3 were negative for score.

Rays: Best: Phillips 5.0, Worst: Lowe -2.6
Jays: Best: Semien 4.8, Worst: Bichette -3.8
Yankees: Best: Judge 2.5, Worst: Frazier -4.3
Red Sox: Best: Hernandez 3.9, Worst: Bogaerts -5.9
O's: Best: Hays 2.3, Worst: Franco -6.3

Interesting eh? Fun to dig into and passes the sniff test to me.
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