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The last time the Blue Jays played 162 games, they lost 95 of them. This was better.

They did this despite having to call three different cities and three different ballparks "home." They did this despite almost every pitcher who even looked at a Jays uniform having to spend time on the Injury List.

I know some people are disappointed. Not me. I'm pleased. I'm a happy camper.

I realize that's an easy thing for me to say. Despite devoting my youth to sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll (not in that order, either), and despite maintaining many of those evil habits right into my old age, I've somehow lived long enough to see all my personal sports teams and individual rooting interests eventually win the championship they sought. Every one of them. Unlike some of you, I have actually known Fulfillment. Sweet, sweet fulfillment. It does take the edge off.

Besides - most seasons end in disappointment. The Yankees have had 92 seasons end in disappointment. The game is designed to break your heart, as an extremely overrated historical figure once observed. That's what it's for.

So let's try to be pleased. Just a little, maybe?

As always, I ask you, I beseech you, to remember that these grades are extracted from somewhere in the vicinity of my nether regions. There is not, there never has been, there never will be, anything even remotely scientific about it. That's just the way it goes. I'm in it for the wisecracks.

Here's what they mean, more or less:
A  Outstanding (could be in the Awards discussion)
B  Good (maybe even an All-Star, who knows)
C  Average (generic regular)
D  Below Average (replacement level, bench part, something like that)
E  Fail (probably belongs in the minors)
F  Epic Fail (time for this man to make a new career choice)

The cutoff, as is my custom, was 50 plate appearances for the hitters and I've decided to use the same standard (Batters Faced in their case) for the pitchers. So I have nothing to say about Josh Palacios, Kevin Smith, Riley Adams, Jarrod Dyson, Jake Lamb, Jared Hoving, Otto Lopez, Travis Bergen, Patrick Murphy, Jeremy Beasley, Jacob Barnes, Joakim Soria, A.J. Cole, Kirby Snead, Ty Tice, Tanner Roark, Connor Overton, Carl Edwards, Thomas Hatch, Bryan Baker, or Nick Allgeyer. I made exceptions for David Phelps and Brad Hand.

First the management

B+   Charlie Montoyo

It's a basic rule of life that every fanbase would like to see their manager's head on a spike. If they're actually playing World Series games at that very moment, the fanbase might reserve judgement. But I doubt it.  Every fanbase, each and every one of them, knows in its heart that the only thing that prevents their team from going undefeated is the idiot in the dugout. Montoyo's no exception to this rule. And hey, from time to time, Montoyo will make a perplexing lineup choice, he'll bring in an ineffective reliever, he'll try something weird and counter-intuitive in the middle of the game. He'll go against The Book. And it won't work.  Game management decisions will always be the most visible part of his job and so they're always what will get the most attention. But I don't think they are the most important part of the job. Not by a long shot. And I think this was especially true of this particular team at this particular time. I think the fact that Montoyo's team has managed to keep its focus and play as hard and as well as they have under the utterly bizarre, totally unprecedented circumstances of the past two years is simply remarkable. I think it's quite astonishing, in fact, and I don't think the manager gets nearly enough credit for it. I think it's far more important than any pinch-hitting decisions or pitching changes he could ever make. And I think that for the most part, those of us who follow the team closely grew so accustomed to it that we began to forget about it entirely. As if it were some kind of new normal. It was not normal. What this team has had to deal with these last two years isn't in the same ball park as normal.

B+   Ross Atkins

You may recall that during the 2019-2020 off-season Ross Atkins a) invested in one of the most desirable big-ticket free agents; b) took a flier on a couple of starting pitchers hoping for bounce-back seasons, and c) inked a bunch of more or less generic relief pitchers. He hit on two out of three and his team got much, much better. In 2020, the retread starters (Roark and Anderson) didn't pay off at all - but Hyun-Jin Ryu was excellent and Atkins did quite well with several of his seemingly random bullpen signings: Dolis, Cole, Bass in particular. So during the 2020-2021 off-season, Atkins a) invested in one of the most desirable big-ticket free agents; b) took a flier on a couple of starting pitchers hoping for bounce-back seasons, and c) inked a bunch of more or less generic relief pitchers. Once more, he hit on two out of three - George Springer was wonderful when he was healthy enough to play, and the two starting pitchers - Ray and Matz - were both much better than anyone could have imagined. Alas, it was his bullpen signings that let him down this around. Yates and Phelps got hurt, Chatwood lost the plot, Cole and Dolis were brought back only to get hurt and/or pitch badly. In fact, so many relievers got hurt that simply juggling the bodies on the 40 man roster grew extremely complicated. You may recall that Atkins had to address a similar issue back in 2016, another year when his off-season bullpen moves didn't work out (that year it was Storen, Chavez, and Floyd). Both that time and this he was able to make some effective upgrades in mid-season. When this year's bullpen (which looked utterly awesome early on) went bad towards the end of May, Atkins initially waited around a little while. Presumably just to see what was real, what was not, and what might be available out there. He ended up bringing in Cimber and Richards well before the all-star break, which did a lot to repair the situation. I think you have to respect the calm and methodical way he addresses a problem. He doesn't roll the dice or bet his entire stash on red, but he will promptly attempt to address his team's shortcomings, as the season unfolds and reveals them. He will cut his losses if something isn't working out as he hoped. It's also important that the players see and believe that the GM is actively trying to improve the team, and Atkins left his team with no doubts whatsoever on that score.

And the players...

A+   Vladimir Guerrero Jr

I told you so. The best young hitter in franchise history, by a mile. Fred McGriff didn't become an elite hitter until he was 24, and that's as close any young Jays hitter comes to Vlad. Carlos Delgado was 26 before he started having seasons like this. John Olerud only had one of them, and he was 24 when he did it. Oh ye of little faith.

A+   Robbie Ray

Robbie Ray, strike-thrower? What weird parallel universe have we stumbled into here? Even when Ray was an all-star in Arizona, he was walking almost twice as many hitters as he did for the 2021 Jays. I don't know exactly what they did to him here - was it because they got him to stop throwing the off-speed stuff, return to his old delivery, wear tighter pants, grunt like Nolan Ryan himself. He did all those things, and it sure did work. He's a free agent and he's going to get paid. Can a two pitch, maximum effort guy last long enough to make the investment worth while? Well, Randy Johnson was also 29 when he first contended for a Cy Young, and he hung around for a while. Fun fact: no major league pitcher allowed the opposition to steal more bases than the 25 against Ray. This had much to do with the extremely inexperienced rookie who emerged as Ray's personal catcher (Ray himself had never allowed more than 11 SB in any previous season.) It's not a very big deal, though - the two of them made a very effective team, and Ray-Kirk was in fact the team's most used pitcher-catcher combination in 2021. Ray missed the first 9 games after his spring training fall, but was in uniform and active for the remaining 153. No other pitcher on the team was active for as many.

A+   Marcus Semien

I don't expect him to be back and I'll miss him. He was like the team's dad, a calm voice of wisdom and experience in a dugout full of exuberant and excitable youngsters. Semien had a six week run from the beginning of May into mid-June when he might have been the best player in the American League - .344/.401/.625 with 10 HRs in 39 games, along with elite defense at a key position. The rest of his year was a little weird. He was having pretty dreadful luck on his Balls In Play for much of it - this may have been the wheel of fortune turning after a .466 BABiP in May - but he got by mainly by hitting lots and lots of home runs. Which is a pretty decent fallback, you must admit. I think the chances are very good that he's going to find someone who wants him to play shortstop, which is clearly his preference. Failing that, he may at the very least find an opportunity to go home to California.

A   Teoscar Hernandez

He made it to the All-Star game despite a COVID timeout - this was partially on the strength of what I think must be an unsustainable BABiP. But that just means he's probably not destined to be a .300 hitter. He's still a great story. He'll be 29 in two weeks, and he's arbitration eligible once more this winter. He's going to get paid and he's going to deserve it. Hernandez has improved his game in just about every way he could improve it, mostly by working very hard at getting better. He made a real leap forward in reducing his strikeouts - the whiffs had consumed 31% of his plate appearances before 2021, when he cut them all the way down to 24.9%. Even his defence has achieved something very much like competence. And the price paid to acquire this player was two months of Francisco Liriano? Nice work.

A   Jordan Romano

Montoyo showed a lot of faith in a couple of guys who'd never spent more than a month on a major league roster, counting on first one and then the other to finish off games for him. (While the Jays actually have a long history of turning rookies and assorted unproven guys into closers, the current manager wasn't a part of that history.) It was too bad that Julian Merryweather broke down almost immediately, but Romano did a very fine job all season long. There were no holes in his performance. He threw strikes, he was hard to hit, he kept the ball in the yard. He even began to do a better job at holding baserunners. We can cut him some slack there, surely. He just hasn't had enough practice. Romano had one stint on the IL in April, and he was shut down for a few days at the beginning of June and again at the beginning of July.

A-   Alek Manoah

He announced his presence with authority, didn't he? I was extremely skeptical about the wisdom of summoning the big fellow to the show after just nine professional starts. Shows you what I know. Manoah had one stint on the IL in July.

A-   Adam Cimber

Cimber doesn't look remotely like Paul Quantrill on the mound, but that's who he reminds me of. Like the mighty Q (all-seeing, all-knowing), Cimber will give up some hits, and he only strikes out an average number of opposition hitters. But he never walks anyone and it's almost impossible to take him deep. It's hard to beat anyone by hitting singles. It does mean that Cimber's probably not your man for extra innings with the Zombie Runner already in scoring position. I don't know how he gets LH batters out with that delivery, but they're positively helpless against him. Go figure. He's 31 years old and arbitration eligible for the first time. I would expect he's going to sign his first seven figure deal between now and the spring. He was healthy all year, and appeared in a career high 72 games.

B+   Bo Bichette

He makes it work, doesn't he? You watch him play, and you think - no way. That wild swing? Major league pitchers will carve him up. But they don't. I don't think he's a good shortstop yet, but I did think his play in the field had improved considerably by the end of the season. I have no doubt that six months playing alongside Marcus Semien had something to do with it, although Bichette was the one putting in the work to improve.

B+   Jose Berrios

He's arbitration eligible, and after earning $6.1 million in 2021 I expect he'll be getting a raise. Berrios does absolutely everything he needs to do. He's very much like a RH Mark Buehrle, except Berrios has an actual major league fastball. He commands several different pitches, he goes deep into the game, he throws strikes, he keeps the ball in the yard, he fields his position, he holds baserunners. Berrios has never missed his turn in the rotation - not even once - since coming up to stay in May 2017. That may be the most Buehrle-ish thing about him of all. Just a really impressive professional.

B+   George Springer
He's simply a tremendous ballplayer, and it was his absence for half the season was the real defining fact of the 2021 Jays. The team played .615 ball with him in the lineup, and .512 ball when he wasn't there. There's an impact player for you.

B   Steven Matz

One is used to the concept of streaky hitters. Matz was a streaky starting pitcher, which doesn't feel quite as common. He began his Blue Jays career with a rush, going 4-0, 2.31 in his first four starts. That never seemed likely to last, and sure enough Matz went 1-2, 6.93 over his next five. He appeared to right the ship over his next four starts (2-1, 3.32) at which point COVID shelved him for a couple of weeks. He made just two starts over a four week period from mid June to mid July and they didn't go well (0-1, 9.45). Then he put together a very impressive second half of the season (7-3, 2.91). He heads for free agency at age 30 coming off the best season of his career, which is pretty decent timing. But I always liked him in New York, and was puzzled by why he wasn't doing better there. Oh right - Mets.

B   Tim Mayza
One of the small highlights of the year for me came on August 1 when Tim Mayza pitched from the Rogers Centre mound for the first time since we saw him crumple in pain back in September 2019. It's always a very long way back, and Mayza made it all the way and then some. He had a little wobble in mid-May, which significantly shaped his numbers for the entire season - over four consecutive appearances in a single ten day span he gave up 9 runs in just 3 innings. That one week accounted for almost half the runs he gave up all season. Mayza apparently emerged as one of the leaders in the bullpen crew, especially once Phelps was gone. Strange but true: you'll recall that Mayza's brief stretch of ineffectiveness came in mid-May. Well, what happened next? The rest of the bullpen apparently did their best to follow Mayza's example, which led them deep into the Realm of Ineptitude, with results that were grotesque and awful. (Too soon to have some fun with this stuff? Probably.)  Mayza made one ten day trip to the IL in August.

B   Santiago Espinal
One can't help but think some of it was done with mirrors. That's a pretty nifty BABiP (.353) that he's sporting in his somewhat brief MLB career. He doesn't seem to hit the ball all that hard. But the hits just kept falling in, and he took to third base like he'd been playing it for years. (He hasn't.) With Biggio's injuries and struggles, Espinal was one of the best stories of 2021. And for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they liked him more than Richard Urena. It mystified me, I must admit. Is that why Ross Atkins makes the Big Money, and I'm just a tired old guitar player?

B   David Phelps
Pitched just great, but only lasted for a month after hurting himself while warming up in the 29th game of the season. I think his absence really hurt the team - obviously on the mound, but I also think it would have helped an extremely inexperienced gang of bullpen arms to have a veteran reliever around, some guy who'd Seen It All. (Chatwood wasn't a veteran reliever, he was a guy who'd lost his gig as a starting pitcher and wasn't all that happy about it.) Phelps will be 35 years old and looking for a contract coming off another lost season.

B-   Lourdes Gurriel
All season long, I waited for one of those Gurriel hot streaks. We know this guy now. He'll get on one of his runs and for about a month he looks like the best hitter on the planet. You can't build your offence around a player like this, but you still have to keep him in the lineup while you wait for him to get hot. Because you don't know when it's going to happen. All you know is that those hot streaks are really worth waiting for. Like July 2018 (.423/.438/.648), or June 2019 (.337/.381/.683 with 10 HRs) or September 2020 (.368/.394/.653). And none of this can truly capture just how hot he gets because no one actually turns it on at the beginning of the month and off at the end. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited. Finally, in September my sweet Lourdes burst onto the scene. His performance - .364/.425/.766 with 7 HR and 30 RBI - was crucial to the September hot streak that vaulted the team into playoff contention. And then Randal Grichuk stomped on his hand. Chipped in his usual exciting outfield play, with inventive routes to fly balls on the one hand and utterly unexpected BaseRunner Kills on the other. He's an adventure, and I'm glad he's ours. He's signed for two more years for roughly $5 million per.

B-   Trevor Richards

Can I just say, on behalf of all the follicly-challenged folks in the world, on behalf of those of us who have lost our Natural Protection from the rays of the sun - I'd have been delighted to have gone grey in my 20s. As long as one gets to keep it, you know? Hair dyes are cheap! They're sold in drugstores and grocery stores all across the land. Anyway - Richards turned out to be a strange, but quite useful pitcher. It was almost impossible to get a hit against him - as a Blue Jay, the opposition hit just .143 against him - but if you could manage a hit, there was a pretty good chance it was going to leave the yard. Almost half of the hits he allowed did (7 of 16.)  It must have been a pretty interesting year for Richards, who had always been a starting pitcher before this season. This was his first real taste of life in the bullpen, which he spent working for four different teams (Tampa Bay, Durham, Milwaukee, and Toronto.) It looks like he may have found a major league role he can fill.

B-   Hyun Jin Ryu

Didn't pitch nearly as well as in 2020. He was still decent, but he slipped pretty badly over the final two months. In his final 10 starts, he went 3-5, 7.43, and just to make that fade even more baffling, he dropped in a couple of absolutely vintage Ryu performances along the way (scoreless outings against the Tigers and Yankees), possibly just to confuse everyone. He appeared to have missed working with Danny Jansen - he posted a 3.91 ERA pitching to Jansen, and 5.05 with the other catchers (mostly McGuire.) Ryu made two trips to the IL, once with a pain in his butt and once with a pain in his neck. There was certainly some frustration.

C+   Danny Jansen
Got off to an utterly wretched start with the bat - when he went on the IL in early June, he was hitting a ghastly .157/.248/.278 - and as you may recall, I was mocking him unmercifully, naming all kinds of pitchers doing better with the bat than he was. I was cruel, I know. But Jansen started hitting immediately upon his return a month later. Problem was, he hurt himself again after just seven games and this time, he was gone for six weeks. But he made it back from his second injury in time for September, and proceeded to thoroughly outplay both Kirk and McGuire down the stretch. He's not exactly a great defensive catcher, though he does do a fine job on balls in the dirt. He does seem to be one of the few people in the game who can think along with Hyun-Jin Ryu. That alone makes him a useful guy to have on the roster, for the next two years anyway. He's obviously lot more useful if he can hit his weight. He's listed at 225 pounds and I don't think that's asking for too much. It's given him plenty of trouble in the past, though. The September hot streak that saved his season almost lifted him over that marker. Close enough for now.  Jansen hit just .233 on his Balls In Play, which is unfathomably weird, but typical - his career mark is .230. Somebody up there doesn't like him, or something.

C+   Alejandro Kirk
I think he presents a genuine dilemma. It's a basic fact that catchers don't normally develop a whole lot as hitters. The position is simply too difficult and too demanding and takes too much of a player's time and attention. Kirk obviously can't play anywhere else. And he's not a good defensive catcher at this point. Among other issues, the other two catchers did a much better job at keeping the ball from going to the backstop, and while Kirk's arm is fine, his throwing mechanics need a lot of work. His potential as a hitter, however, is pretty enticing. But because Kirk's a catcher it's hard to know with much confidence how good a hitter he is right now, and hard to make an informed guess as to how good a hitter he can become. And it's even harder to know just how to balance his potential as a pure hitter with his potential as a catcher who can hit (but not as well as he'd hit if he weren't also having to be a catcher.) As we know, his bat disappeared in September. I think the league had adjusted to him (let's see if a guy with short arms can reach pitches on the outside corner) and Kirk hadn't yet figured out how to adjust to the league. Given enough at bats, he probably will. But how does he get those at bats? He's really too inexperienced to be catching at the major league level. He coped by faithfully following the scouting reports - but catchers do need to be able to make in-game adjustments, on the spot, while squatting between the hitter and the umpire. There's no way Kirk can do that yet. How could he? He doesn't know the league yet. How would he? But how does he learn these skills without doing? And there's the dilemma. Is it best for Kirk to stay behind the plate? Or should he become a full time DH, and let's see just how good a hitter he can become? What's best for Kirk? Also, what's best for the team, for these may be two very different things. Player development at the major league level may not be what the next moment requires. I don't even pretend to know. Other people get paid the Big Money to figure out stuff like this. Maybe they'll just go with the same plan they intended for this year. Jansen is the starter, set for 115 games or so. Kirk gets the rest of the games, as well as some DH activity against southpaws. And we'll see what happens.

C+   Corey Dickerson
Another free agent, at age 32. He's got the worst outfield arm seen in these parts since Shannon Stewart roamed the turf, but he's still got his uses, especially on a team so loaded with RH hitters. There's still some life in his bat and it did him a world of good to get out of Miami (Loan Depot Park was just killing him.) But it's tricky carrying five outfielders these days, and Dickerson can only play left field. Which didn't stop Montoyo from fearlessly starting him in both centre field (got away with it) and right field (didn't get away with it.)

C+   Ross Stripling
As I think everyone knows, after his disastrous start against Boston on May 19 left him with 0-3, 7.20 record, Stripling made a Great Adjustment to his pitching mechanics. And by gum, it actually worked. He stayed in the rotation and went 5-3, 3.29 over his next 14 outings until an oblique injury shut him down in mid-August. The injury put the kibosh on his season aside from a few desultory, and generally ineffective, relief outings in September. Alas, those first six starts remain part of the historical record. Stripling made two trips to the IL -  a forearm strain took him out for three weeks in April, and the oblique injury in August shelved him for a month.

C+   Joel Payamps
Now with Kansas City. His numbers were quite impressive, but I'm certain it was done with mirrors. He strikes out even fewer hitters than Cimber, but without the same ability to eliminate walks and home runs. The kind of luck Payamps had on the Balls In Play just isn't sustainable. Remember Danny Barnes?

C   Nate Pearson
At some point, he needs to stay healthy enough to play some baseball. Pearson's main problem this year was a groin injury that turned out to be a sports hernia. He finally returned in September and put on a pretty eye-popping display - 20 Ks in 12.2 IP is the sort of thing that gets one's attention. I'm sure the organization is hoping desperately that 2022 will be the year that he finally makes his claim to that rotation spot that's been his for the taking since early 2020. He spent the first six weeks of the season on the IL, and after his one start in May, he spent much of the next three months on the minor league IL. He was able to pitch just 45.2 IP this year. It doesn't matter how good you are if you can't play.

C-   Tayler Saucedo
Finally got his shot in the Show at age 28, and did okay with the opportunity. A pair of bad outings in August when he allowed 6 hits and 7 runs in just 1/3 of an innings skewed his numbers considerably. The Jays won the first game anyway, as they already had an 8 run lead when Saucedo had his little implosion, and an extremely hittable Dolis was the true villain on the other occasion. He probably doesn't miss enough bats to be a viable major league pitcher, but as organizational depth goes - he'll do.

C-   Reese McGuire

McGuire has always been regarded as an all-glove no-bat kind of guy. He is certainly the best of the team's catchers at throwing out opposition baserunners. Unfortunately for McGuire, this is a skill that would have been much more useful forty years ago than it is today. His other defensive skills don't really dazzle. He seems... adequate. He is also as helpless as a wee puppy against LH pitchers and probably wishes the entire species could be abolished, or eliminated from the game via some kind of rule change. So what's awesomely strange is the fact that McGuire contributed more to the 2021 Jays with his bat than with his defense. Here's why. During the period (covering most of June and early July) when both Jansen and Kirk were on the IL, McGuire stepped up and hit .328/.369/.475 while handling the bulk of the playing time behind the plate. Bonus points for his excellent timing. McGuire was never going to keep that up, but he was still chipping in offensively (mostly by drawing lots of walks) when he had to play semi-regularly again, sharing the job with Kirk after Jansen got hurt a second time.

C-   Randal Grichuk
A very weird season. Grichuk actually played very well for two months - he was hitting .289/.322/.497 with 9 HR by the end of May - and then... well, he stopped hitting. His bat just got worse and worse and worse. And worse. By the time September came around he was practically unplayable, and Montoyo responded by drastically cutting his playing time. He started fewer than half the games in September. Much of his work was coming as a defensive sub. Breyvic Valera actually pinch hit for him, and if that's not your manager telling you exactly what he thinks of you.... One wonders just what on earth happened. It's possible that he simply wore down. He was in the starting lineup for every one of the first 80 games, and for most of them he was in centre field. It meant he had to work much harder on defense than normal, at a position he hadn't played so often since he was 24 years old. Or maybe it's not really that complicated at all. Maybe much of his misery was simply the result of bad luck on his Balls In Play. Grichuk hit just .266 on his, more than 30 points below his career average, and one of the worst figures on the team (better than only Kirk and Jansen.) He continues to reduce his strikeouts, and he now actually strikes out less often than your average AL hitter, something I may never be able to get my mind around. It seemed like a really good idea, something well worth working toward. But it doesn't seem to be working out for him. He's signed up for two more years at slightly more than $10 million a year, which seems a bit rich for a fourth outfielder. That's what he is on this team. He and Gurriel really ought to swap contracts.

D+   Julian Merryweather
For a brief, shining moment - about two weeks in April - it looked like the Jays had found an excellent option for the end of the game. Then he tweaked his oblique and didn't pitch in the majors again until mid-September, when his performance was pretty erratic. I always thought "oblique" was an adjective, not a noun. I certainly didn't know it was a muscle. But between Merryweather and Springer and Stripling, oblique issues were hurting the ball club.  See what I did there?

D+   Cavan Biggio

A lost season. Biggio spent the whole year playing out of position and he was usually trying to play through an injury. He had about a month in mid-season, when he returned from his first stretch on the IL up to the All-Star Break, when he seemed to be feeling fine and he played just like the Biggio we're used to seeing - .259/.351/.457 - and then he started hurting again. I think the team obviously missed his LH bat and his plate discipline. I also think they missed - I don't know if you'd call it leadership - his baseball demeanour. He's got one - never too high, never too low, doesn't get rattled - and I think it's needed on a team that seems to have a lot of excitable kids, some of whom are older than Biggio.

D   Joe Panik
Now with Miami, on the team that named itself after a fish. Panik hasn't actually been a good player in almost five years, but he still plays a decent second base, he can fill in elsewhere, he bats left-handed, he doesn't expect to play every day. All these things have helped keep him employed these last few years. Unfortunately for him, his work in Miami (.172/.241/.221) means his career may soon be sleeping with the fishes. Ross Atkins traded Panik to the Marlins in exchange for Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson - yes, he really did - and it's possible that law enforcement may be speaking to Mr Atkins soon about that piece of larceny.

D   Trent Thornton
Thornton's season was a little like Randal Grichuk's - he was just fine for two months, and then things went completely sideways. Through the end of May, Thornton was doing a solid job - in 13 relief appearances, he'd worked 20 IP and allowed 18 hits and 6 runs. (Note: his three fill-in starts had not gone nearly as well.) But over his next 10 appearances, all in relief, he posted a 9.49 ERA, thanks to allowing 17 hits and 6 HRs in just 12.1 innings. By this point no one had any faith in him whatsoever and he spent the rest of the season on the shuttle between Buffalo and Toronto. His main problem in 2021 was the disturbing number of home runs he allowed. This had never been a problem for him before. Strangely enough, his problem before was that he really didn't do anything badly. He had nothing that he really needed to work on and try to improve. He just didn't do anything particularly well. So maybe this is good news. Now he has a weakness he can address! A path to getting better! More likely it was just one of those things. It's baseball, sometimes things just happen and no one knows why. But anyway - it was still a very bad thing that happened, and he must be punished. He did manage to stay healthy throughout, which was encouraging after losing almost all of 2020 to injury.

D   Anthony Castro

He's got a nice arm. He doesn't really know what he's doing. Shake the nearest tree, a dozen guys just like him will fall out. When their stuff is working, they can get hitters out. When it's not - and this happens to all of them - he doesn't have a clue. Every pitcher needs a Plan B. It's not negotiable. Castro hit the IL with a forearm strain twice, once for three weeks at the beginning of May and again in July.

D   Ryan Borucki
This was yet another year that Borucki mostly lost to injury. Like all Jays relievers, he pitched pretty well for the first six weeks. And then the bugs started biting. It's possible that the odd numbered years simply don't agree with him. Injuries have now cost him all or most of 2013, 2015, 2019, and 2021. His good health in 2017 now looks like one of life's enduring mysteries, like the song the sirens sang or the name Achilles used when he lived among the women. Next season is an even-numbered year; let he and all of us look forward to it with hope. He hit the IL in May with a forearm strain that kept him out for two months, and again for three weeks in August after he was optioned to Buffalo.

D   Breyvic Valera
It's easy to see the appeal of someone like Valera - a switch-hitter who can fill in at several different positions? In this day of the extremely shortened bench, that seems a wonderful thing to have. Valera's actually been a decent minor league hitter, and it's not inconceivable that he might be a useful major league bench part. But he turns 30 in January and he's never gotten anything that even resembles a major league opportunity. The 97 plate appearances the 2021 Jays gave him is the most playing time anyone's ever given him in the majors.

D-   Rowdy Tellez

Now with Milwukee. Tellez was coming off an impressive 35 game performance in 2020, which gave him an opportunity to carve out a regular role here. He did nothing with that opportunity, nothing at all, and soon found himself with no role at all. The team gave up on him and sent him to Milwaukee in the Richards trade. There was another opportunity waiting for him there, and he gave the Brewers one of his occasional hot streaks as soon as he arrived. And then he cooled off, and then he hurt his knee...

D-   Rafael Dolis
My gosh, but this is one truly weird pitcher. He was the team's best reliever in 2020 despite walking a rather frightening 5.3 batters per 9 IP. He was successful because the rest of his game - hits allowed, strikeouts, homers allowed - was exactly the same as Gerrit Cole's. Exactly. Which is pretty darn good. Alas, Dolis wasn't anywhere near as good as that in 2021, and - just for good measure - he began walking a truly terrifying 7.6 batters per 9 IP. No one gets away with that. And because Dolis works so very, very slowly, his outings became utterly impossible to watch. They were like some fiendish form of torture - drip-drip-drip - something no human being should ever be expected to endure. And just to cap off the general Weirdness of Rafael - in Japan, he was especially notable for his outstanding control. He's arbitration eligible this winter, not that it's likely to matter. He made two trips to the IL that cost him about a month of playing time, with a calf issue in May and a finger problem in June, before everybody just got fed up with him.

D-   Tyler Chatwood
Last seen being DFA'd by the Giants, Chatwood's struggles took the same shape as those of Dolis - he lost all contact with the strike zone - and here's the thing. No man alive, and no woman neither, be they fan or manager, can endure the pain of watching a pitcher struggle in this particular way. You want to grab the guy by the scruff of the neck and just yell at him. You want to point out that home plate doesn't move and that Babe Ruth is well and truly dead. Throw a strike, dummy! I know, it's not as easy as it looks - the target is only 17 inches across and it's 60 feet away. But other guys can do it. Bloody hell, Eephus can do it (he's walked 97 in 264 career innings in the mighty TMBL.) Chatwood actually pitched great for about six weeks, and should probably rank higher than Dolis. But I rather like Rafael, and I didn't like Chatwood. So there. He spent two weeks on the IL in April with triceps inflammation. Back when he was actually pitching well, of course.

D-   Anthony Kay
He'll be 27 when next season begins and he hasn't been able to establish himself as much of anything. He shows enough in occasional flashes that you're always tempted to give him another chance. His actual usage last season was so irregular it would have been very hard to establish himself as anything anyway. Let's recap. He spent most of April at the Alternate Training Site, surfacing with the big club for a day to make an emergency start which didn't go well. He was recalled at the beginning of May to make another (mediocre) start. He stuck around for three weeks  but made just three appearances while he was here (one excellent, two lousy) before being optioned back to Buffalo. And almost instantly going on the IL, for the first of three times this year. He was recalled in June, and actually did a decent job over the next four weeks - just 5 outings, but he went 1-0, 1.84 with 18 KS in 14.2 innings. Then, in his first game after the All-Star Break, he took over in the first inning after a disastrous Stripling outing with the team down 6-0. Kay instantly allowed five more runs and was banished to Buffalo, never to return. He made two more trips to the IL and missed most of August and September. I wouldn't give up on him yet, but I suspect his best chance to make something of himself is to become a Brett Cecil type reliever.

E   T.J. Zeuch
Now with St.Louis. His season got off to a very nice start, with four shutout innings against the Yankees in the third game of the season. He was roughed up for 13 runs in 8 innings in his next three outings, went on the IL with a sore shoulder, and was banished to Buffalo immediately thereafter, surfacing only to make an unimpressive emergency start in June.

E   Tommy Milone
Released in August, and signed by the Reds, Milone received an opportunity during the avalanche of pitcher injuries that buried the team during the first half. To the surprise of no one, he demonstrated that he wasn't the solution, and soon went on the IL himself.

E   Jonathan Davis

Now with the Yankees, who quickly discovered the same truth I've been shouting from the rooftops for the last few years. This is a man who can not hit. Not at all. Not even a wee, tiny, little bit. The only people who can get away with hitting at his level are the guys who spend most of their careers throwing the pitches rather than swinging at them.

F   Brad Hand
Now with the Mets. He used to be good, and he spent the first half of the season working as a real major league's team Actual Closer. He didn't do badly in Washington, the 3.59 ERA notwithstanding. He was as hard to hit as he's ever been, the walks and homers allowed look the same as always. Perhaps there was one warning sign - his strikeout rate dropped significantly this season. But as soon as he got here, he began to stink so very, very badly that they cut him loose after barely a month. He was so horrible, so awful -  and of course he brought most of this awfulness to high leverage game situations. I expect that we will all hold this against him, as we will with Chatwood, for the rest of his life. If you don't believe me - try saying the name "Joey McLaughlin" to an older Jays fan. These scars never heal.. By far the most encouraging thing about the Brad Hand Experience was how quickly the team cut bait. Just because they gave up something to get him, just because he was a Proven Closer, didn't stop them from dumping him after 33 days.

Blue Jays Report Card | 80 comments | Create New Account
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Mike Green - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 08:53 AM EDT (#408367) #
Thanks, Magpie.  No big disagreements with the grades, except that I would have given Montoyo a C for this year (and an A for last one). 

Globally I disagree with the ratings for the catchers (Jansen, McGuire and Kirk) and the centerfielders (Springer and Grichuk).  The catchers had a better season than the centerfielders- their cumulative rating should be at least a B, while the centerfielders should average out at a C+ at the most.  No one rating was off by as much as one grade though- if you bump up all the catchers by 1/2 a grade, I wouldn't have commented on it.  Bichette played a whole lot better than Springer (and Cimber) too, with durability the key item in the case of Springer.  
scottt - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:03 AM EDT (#408368) #
Teoscar  Hernandez  was arbitration eligible last year and signed for 4.35M.
He's only here for 2 more years if they don't extend him this winter.

scottt - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:05 AM EDT (#408369) #
and he's arbitration eligible for the first time this winter. He's going to get paid and he's going to deserve it.

That belongs in the Guerrero entry.  He's a super 2.
scottt - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:07 AM EDT (#408370) #
Maybe Montoyo wasn't there the last time they broke in a new closer but Walker was.
scottt - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:11 AM EDT (#408371) #
Bichette made an interesting adjustment. He no longer tries to stop and set his feet. He always throws on the run now.
What that means is that he cannot play at second base, that won't work there.

scottt - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#408372) #
Mayza is the kind of guy that is hard to predict.
He could be very good next year or he could be very ordinary.
All depends on the quality of the stuff with him. He doesn't command his pitches.
All told, he's a lot like Ray.

greenfrog - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:31 AM EDT (#408373) #
Mike, I think you mentioned that you thought JBJ would prove to be a better acquisition than Springer (on a value basis) by the end of the season. I think it's safe to say that Springer won that contest, even given their respective salaries ($25m versus $12m).
Mike Green - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#408374) #
Not exactly, greenfrog.  Prior to the season, I thought that JBJ's contract would be better than Springer's.  That will likely prove wrong, but it's not a sure thing yet.  In the middle of the season, I thought (and said) that Springer was likely to be better for the remainder of the season.  JBJ was an unqualified disappointment in 2021; Springer was merely a qualified disappointment (he played well when he played but not enough in centerfield to make him worth his contract- you anticipate that players signed in their 30s will outperform in the early years and underperform later). 

Strangely, JBJ was as good as ever in the outfield.  He just couldn't hit a fastball at all this year after being consistently good at it prior to 2021.  To hit a lot worse in the NL Central than in the AL East is an upset to say the least.  I'd be sending him the best ophthamolgist I could find...
Mike Green - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 10:24 AM EDT (#408375) #
I'll bet that it hasn't happened often that a club has missed the playoffs, yet would be delighted to return the following season with exactly the same roster they closed the season with.  That's true for the 2021 Blue Jays. 
uglyone - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#408376) #
For me the offseason is pretty simple - re-sign or replace Semien and Ray.

That's it.
bpoz - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#408377) #
I am waiting for Atkins to announce his intentions like he did last year. 1 impact player. Due to luck he got 2 Springer $150 mil/6 and Semien $18mil/1. Both took the money and Toronto was not the top choice of either.

I am fine with with Atkins doing nothing. Lose Ray, Matz, Semien and make small insignificant moves. I believe the fans will come if the team wins. We also get 2 draft picks for losing Ray and Semien.

Just make the playoffs and I am happy. Winning the off season (SD, Toronto, LAD, NYM) is good for the media. I no longer value winning the off season.
Magpie - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 11:55 AM EDT (#408378) #
No big disagreements with the grades

Amazing! You know how little time I spend on them! (As I always say, I mainly do this for the wisecracks.) The only one I spent more than two seconds on was Grichuk. Kept going back and forth between D+ and C-. I actually looked at all the other centre fielders, and when I saw what the Dodgers and Brewers - two playoff teams! - had out there...

Not the best time in the game's history for centre fielders, is it?
pooks137 - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 12:14 PM EDT (#408379) #
Thoughts after reading

1) I'm surprised Thomas Hatch didn't get to 50 batters faced. Somewhat surprised Josh Palacios didn't either.

2) I had to look up what desultory means and will have promptly forgotten by tomorrow.

3) Seeing Josh Payamps at C+ seems high, but understandable for a guy that was unceremoniously demoted and waived without a second thought.

4) Joe Panik getting a D on a rating scale that goes to F seems very charitable.

5) I certainly had no recollection that David Phelps had an ERA under 1. Of course, on Team Game 29, I believe Tyler Chatwood had only given up 1 run all year.

6) It will be interesting to see how Ross Atkins values guys like Thornton, Borucki, Merryweather, Kay, Castro over the offseason. I'm probably ready to move on from most of them. Middling relievers lose almost all of their value once they are out of options.
Nigel - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#408380) #
Excellent as per usual:) I'd only diverge on Montoyo, Gurriel and the C's as a whole. On Montoyo, I'm not a fan for the current version of this team. I completely agree that, in general, all the things we can't see and know are far more important that the ones we do with a manager. The exception being when you are trying to squeeze the juice from a roster an take it the last 1/8 of a mile into a WS contender. Then the in-game, day-to-day, roster decisions really matter. Montoyo fell down too often to get a B+ from me. How you grade Gurriel depends entirely on whether you are measuring him in absolute terms or relative to his contract. A fair grade based on his contract, but 1.5 WAR from a whole season's effort doesn't really cut it no matter how crazy a September he had. The C's delivered 3.5-4 WAR between them, that's got to get them better than a C-C+ grade? At least it did in my school:)
Glevin - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 01:15 PM EDT (#408381) #
Always fun. Some minor quibbles but not a lot. I thought Montoyo was fine but front office was excellent. Re-signed Ray, got Semien to a fantastic contract, traded nothing to get Matz, Cimber, and Dickerson are all amazing moves and you usually don't even get one of those a season and Jays got a bunch of elite moves. Getting Berrios was a worthy risk and Jays look to have sold high on the prospects. Very hard to beat that season.
johnny was - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#408382) #
The FO would've been in A territory had any of their recent free agent relievers been effective in '21. Not a one of Yates, Yamuguchi, Dolis, Phelps, and Chatwood was healthy and effective. In retrospect, saving all that cash and resigning Anthony Bass for $3 million probably would've got them more one win and into the playoffs.

A+ to Magpie.
Magpie - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#408383) #
I think Atkins got a little lucky on his bullpen dumpster dive in 2019-20. He hit on three of four (Dolis, Cole, Bass - Yamaguchi not so much.) Maybe he figured the Laws of Large Numbers would once more be his friend in 2021. But this time, nothing worked out and he had to start improvising after two months.
electric carrot - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#408384) #
I was a little higher on Jansen and FO. A little lower on Montoyo -- tho I agree with the arguments 100%. Fun read. I especially love the write up on Hernandez whose progress really is a joy to behold.

OK, FO, go for Magpie's A+ this winter! If ever there was a time to put your chips in the middle -- this is it!

Chuck - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#408385) #
Semien and Ray delivered 13 WAR for 26M. Had that been "merely" 8 WAR (say 5 for Semien, 3 for Ray) that would have still been a great deal but it would had rendered moot, as far as playoff talk goes, any talk of this bad reliever or that bad throw or that bad call.

These two signings alone go a long way to forgiving more minor miscalculations. By focusing on failures at the edge, we are undervaluing the big glaring successes, which will not be easily replicated.

greenfrog - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 02:17 PM EDT (#408386) #
With free agent shopping season approaching, it's good to be reminded how unpredictable FA performance is, even within the top tier. Here are the fWAR totals for the high-priced FAs we were debating about last winter:

Realmuto 4.4
Springer 2.4
LeMahieu 2.4
Bauer 1.8

I feel semi-vindicated for having lobbied for Realmuto over the other three, although of course catcher turned out to be a position of strength for the Jays. Hopefully Springer 2022 is more valuable than Realmuto 2022.
85bluejay - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 02:47 PM EDT (#408387) #
A reminder that the San Diego Padres won the winter hands down last offseason & Mets fans were doing cartwheels over landing Lindor and extending him (which some posters here wanted the Jays to do) - Also Philadelphia & San Diego have used up the first three years of Harper & Machado without much to show for it.
Magpie - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 02:53 PM EDT (#408388) #
One of the things that is - well, I think it's interesting but you could quite justifiably find it alarming - about Montoyo is that sometimes he just seems to be trying out stuff, just to see what might happen. Maybe it won't work, but maybe it will and we'll save it for future reference.

He's managed almost 3,000 professional games - he knows how the game works - but he hasn't quite seem to have developed all of the fall-back, automatic in-game policies that most major league managers develop. Things they do automatically both to make the job simpler and to fend off the relentless second-guessing that comes with the gig, something that I think took Montoyo a little by surprise this year. I think managers develop these automatic policies to spare themselves the burden and the trouble of thinking. "We pulled the pitcher because we always pull this pitcher after this many hitters." "We did this because that's just how we do it." It makes the decision for the manager - and the man does have enough on his plate - and it also gives him something with which to answer any questions.

Montoyo was still winging it, still just trying stuff, the way you can in the minors or with a non-contender because no one is paying all that much attention anyway. I think he likes doing it that way, and it's one of the things I like about him. But no, that might not be what you need to be doing if you're trying to compete in the AL East. In baseball, with great power comes great responsibility - it also comes with great pressure. It's going to be very interesting to see how he responds to it all next season. Will he back down a bit, be a little less like himself, and a little more more cautious and conventional, and manage by whatever book they've decided to use? I suppose we'll see.
ISLAND BOY - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#408389) #
An automatic thing Montoyo should do is just forget about bunting. Unless the batter is actually capable of it, and so few seem to be these days, just put it out of his mind. Maybe have the batter fake a bunt, but other wise just have the batter advance the runner some other way. The Jays can play big ball but not small ball.

I agree with all the grades, maybe would have given Brad Hand a F-. Danny Jansen could have been worthy of a C just because he seemed to have a lot of big hits in September, making up for Kirk's cold streak. I seem to remember Danny having a good September in 2020, and then he seemed to totally forget how to hit over the winter. Hopefully it won't happen again.
John Northey - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#408390) #
Magpie - that is funny as that is what many felt about Cito way back when - that he was a bad in game manager who did weird things (leaving guys like Tom Lawless in for a full game when he had no right to be in a game beyond pinch running). Turns out that helped him a LOT in the playoffs as then he knew what each guy could do and had full buy in from everyone (well, except for David Wells but he was always an exception). Yes, you lose a few regular season games due to that, but you also win a few because you get more buy in from everyone and sometimes guys emerge as regulars who were role players, and regulars sometimes 'earn' role player status.
Glevin - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 03:24 PM EDT (#408391) #
"These two signings alone go a long way to forgiving more minor miscalculations. By focusing on failures at the edge, we are undervaluing the big glaring successes, which will not be easily replicated."

This is exactly it. Signing Semien and Ray and not getting lucky with relievers are not evenly good and bad. Getting Semien and Ray was as good moves as you can get. A++. Being unlucky with reliever free agents is pretty normal even if you are willing to spend money. It's just a very hard position to predict.
Gerry - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#408392) #
Just noting that Gregory Polanco was the AAA player of the month for September. He seemed to find his stroke in Buffalo after scuffling when he first got there.

I have no idea what kind of contract he would look for but in theory you could choose between Polanco and Dickerson as a left handed outfield bat. I wonder what kind of report Casey Candaele is filing on Polanco.
Mike Green - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 04:10 PM EDT (#408393) #
Ideally, of course, you'd have a left-handed centerfielder, someone like Jarrod Dyson circa 2015, to give Springer substantial time off his feet.  I imagine the Brewers might buy out Jackie Bradley's option and if so, you could him cheap!  There's no one like Dyson available...
John Northey - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 04:59 PM EDT (#408394) #
Well, we have Dyson but he is a pure pinch runner/defensive replacement who should never be allowed to hit and has been like that since 2018 (54 OPS+, 62-12 SB-CS, 2.7 dWAR, -1.8 oWAR).

Bradley has a $9.5 mil player option or $6.5 mil buyout, while 2023 has an $8 mil buyout of a mutual option. I'm assuming that buyout for 2023 only applies if he picks up his players option for this season. Making the gross value of his 2022 contract $14.5 mil (assuming the team would cut him rather than pay an extra $4 mil in 2023, I'm guessing the buyout doesn't apply if he declines the offer). A bit complicated. After a 34 OPS+ season (but +1.3 dWAR) I suspect the Brewers would like to cut him but it isn't their choice, it is his. I could see the Jays doing a deal with Milwaukee to take on that weird contract if they'd take on Grichuk's (who had a slight positive offense and defensive value this year and is owed $20.6 mil over 2 years) but I figure they'd insist on Gurriel (cheaper and better). Mix in a decent 2B or 3B or prospect and the Jays would probably cover most of Grichuk's contract too or look at dealing Gurriel. Kolten Wong is tempting for 2B (108 OPS+, solid defense) or one of their starting pitchers (can't imagine they'd do that). Just one more of 1001 potential deals for this winter to think about.
greenfrog - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#408395) #
Not sure if this has been mentioned, but KG likes Montoyo:

Kurupt FM: Should Montoyo be brought back for another season? As a Jays fan I havent been thrilled with his decision making the past two seasons.

Kevin Goldstein: I think he’s a good manager.
Dave Till - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 05:37 PM EDT (#408397) #
One of the few consolations of October is that we get this every year.

My only quibble is that I would rate Bo higher than B+. He hit nearly .300 with 29 home runs, was 25 for 26 stealing (and might have been safe on the CS), and plays shortstop well enough to hold the position. His only real failing is that he doesn’t hit like Vlad - but that’s true of billions of other humans on the planet.
Dave Till - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#408398) #
By the way, I am a huge fan of Montoyo. The team is having more fun than any Jays team I’ve ever known, and they all hustle and play hard. There was no complaining about the Jays’ endless wandering.

“When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”
The_Game - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 05:58 PM EDT (#408399) #
KG should probably be directed to the entire Valera/Kirk episode and Montoyo's propensity for having the team bunt (and then bunt with two strikes after the guys he's asked to bunt who can't bunt fail).
BlueJayWay - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 05:58 PM EDT (#408400) #
Thanks for this. This is the only report card I've ever looked forward to getting.

Just to mention a couple things to nitpick: this winter is not Teoscar's first pass through arb, but rather his second (he made about $4.3M this year in Arb1) and, while Gurriel is indeed signed for two more years on his current contract, his service time is such that he'd be eligible for a year of arbitration after that, so the Jays have three years of control remaining on him. He's probably an attractive trade piece.
85bluejay - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 05:59 PM EDT (#408401) #
Joel Sherman of the New York Post in his awards column last week had Dusty Baker as his AL manager of the year followed by Montoyo.
Magpie - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#408402) #
Before the season began, I remember reading a whole lot of warnings that ramping back up to 162 games after a 60 game season was going to be fraught with difficulty. There would be injuries galore. What, thought I? It wouldn't be just like a little extra rehab time? Well, it wasn't. It was a year with injuries galore. Injuries galore means two classes of people will spend lots of time on the IL: pitchers, and Byron Buxton. The Toronto experience was not at all unique. It all made for a complicated season.

For aesthetic reasons (pace of play, need to restore some game action), there is an official desire to reduce the number pitching changes (and the number of pitchers being used.) The three batter rule was clearly a dud. It did nothing to reduce the number of pitchers used, which was its sole purpose. But because this was another unique season, albeit for a different reason, there probably won't be an institutional response to it just yet.

But I had another question about bullpen management. With pitchers dropping like flies, how willing were managers to use a pitcher on consecutive days? On three consecutive days? Four? (Look, I remember Joe Maddon using Shawn Camp on five consecutive days. Twice.) So what went on this year? I only looked at the four good AL East teams, and they basically divide into two camps: Alex Cora's Red Sox and everybody else.

Cora used a pitcher on consecutive days 105 times this past year, with 12 of those representing 3 consecutive days. Adam Ottavino pitched on back-to-back days 18 times, with 4 of those being 3 days in a row.

Aaron Boone's Yankees were quite a ways back of Cora, with 73 appearances on consecutive days, with a pitcher used 3 days running just 3 times. Aroldis Chapman led the way, pitching back to back 16 times (3 days in a row once.)

Kevin Cash was pretty close to Boone, with 70 appearances on consecutive days, and a pitcher used three days running twice.

Montoyo was the most conservative of the group, using pitchers on consecutive days 60 times, and never using anyone three days running.

Of course I had to see what Joe Maddon was up to, because he used to be by far the most aggressive man in baseball at using relievers on consecutive days. He seems to have mellowed! Just 72 back-to-back appearances, with a pitcher working three days in a row 7 times.
Magpie - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 06:15 PM EDT (#408403) #
propensity for having the team bunt

I'm thinking you wouldn't enjoy watching the 25 teams that bunted more often than Toronto. OK, OK everyone. I'll correct the Hernandez sentence!
Magpie - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 06:48 PM EDT (#408404) #
Dusty Baker as his AL manager of the year

They never like giving this award to the same guy two years in a row, which makes life difficult for Kevin Cash. They always like to reward the guy whose team improved the most from the previous season. That would be Alex Cora, and there's going to some resistance to giving him any awards for a while. Next biggest improvement were the teams managed by Scott Servais (done with mirrors) and Dusty Baker.

I like Dusty, but I don't know that his team really improved that much. I think they were better than their record in 2020. It was a two month season! Anything can happen in two months! Just this year, Kevin Cash's Rays spent two months (May and August) playing like the 1927 Yankees and another two months (April and June) playing like the 2017 Blue Jays.
The_Game - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 06:54 PM EDT (#408405) #
You mean successfully bunted, right? That list of sacrifices wouldn't include that memorable time on May 21, 2021 against the Rays when they were tied in the bottom of the 11th when Espinal came to the plate with nobody out and Montoyo had him bunt. Only problem, of course, is that Espinal can't bunt. Instead of taking off the bunt with two strikes after two failed attempts (as anybody reasonable would do), he instead chose to have Espinal bunt with two strikes. Espinal failed again, stuck out, the Jays failed to score a run and lost the game later in the 12th.

That one win would have looked pretty good right around now.

Magpie - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 07:22 PM EDT (#408406) #
Yeah, you're probably right. I'm sure the 25 teams that bunted more often never failed when they tried.
The_Game - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 07:56 PM EDT (#408408) #
Do we know how many times those 25 teams (which consist unsurprisingly of all NL teams and AL teams far worse offensively than the Jays) pinch hit for a lefty masher (163 wRC+ v. LHP) in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game with 2 on and no out against a LHP who had just walked two in order to lay down a bunt with a career 70 wRC+ hitter?

Because there are bunts and then there are BUNTS.
greenfrog - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 08:24 PM EDT (#408409) #
Dave, I approve of your Tao Te Ching quote.
mathesond - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:09 PM EDT (#408411) #
I would think that a person that has time to review every single decision made in every single game by Montoya would also have time to review every single bunt attempted during the season by the other 29 teams.
Polite Nate - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:44 PM EDT (#408415) #
I'm going to put myself out there; I think bunting with 2 strikes is often just fine! I mean, I'd rather not bunt at all most times (though you should definitely bunt sometimes, for game-theory reasons), but if you've decided you're going to give away an out and you desperately want to avoid a double play, then go for it. If you're down 0-2, it's not like anyone's expected OPS is screaming to swing away. Now if the at-bat goes to a more balanced count before you get to strike 2, that's a different story.
greenfrog - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 09:51 PM EDT (#408416) #
Hey everyone. The manager's last name is "Montoyo," not Montoya (just like the late great Jays SP is Halladay, not Halliday). It's respectful to use the correct spelling.
mathesond - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#408417) #
Thanks greenfrog, and my apologies to the Jays' manager and Montoyos everywhere.
ae_scott - Tuesday, October 05 2021 @ 10:35 PM EDT (#408419) #
The thing about missing out on the playoffs by one game is that it's really easy to find specific managerial decisions that in retrospect might have cost the team a precious win (we had 71 games to choose from, after all).
And some of those decisions were probably really bad! Even managers have slumps, just like players.
scottt - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 07:02 AM EDT (#408424) #
Biggio can play second. I'd rather have the biggest possible platoon bat to DH.
I'd go after Schwarber even if I have to promise him a lot of LF time.
Chuck - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#408429) #
The manager's last name is "Montoyo," not Montoya

Hello. My name is Charlie Montoyo. You misspelled my name. Prepare to die.

smyttysmullet94 - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#408431) #
Thanks for an engaging writeup, Magpie.

I think that, beyond the obvious in-game tactical stuff, critiquing managers is fraught with error. How are we to parse exactly how much influence the manager has on team chemistry? How much credit goes to the front office for assembling the squad, or the players themselves? No wonder Manager of the Year so often goes to someone who has come off the unemployment line recently, or is about to enter it. Montoyo's job is probably secure so long as the Jays make the playoffs next year, but if he makes one or two disastrous in-game decisions during a playoff series...well, the chemistry stuff goes out the window, doesn't it?
Glevin - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 10:15 AM EDT (#408432) #
"Do we know how many times those 25 teams (which consist unsurprisingly of all NL teams and AL teams far worse offensively than the Jays) pinch hit for a lefty masher (163 wRC+ v. LHP) in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game with 2 on and no out against a LHP who had just walked two in order to lay down a bunt with a career 70 wRC+ hitter?"

I didn't like that decision and I generally hate bunting but don't act like it makes 0 sense. Kirk hit into 7 DP in 189 PA. (for comparison, Gurriel hit into 8 in 541 PAs). . Also, I love Kirk but "lefty masher" is a bit funny because at that point, he probably had like 25 career PAs against lefties.

I've been following baseball for well over 30 years and I've never seen a manager who didn't make a lot of moves I disagreed with. Part of this is because they are working with more information and data than we are, this pitcher is a bit sore, this matchup looks good with the data they have, etc... and some of it is because people just have different opinions and sometimes managers get things wrong. (He also made LOTS of moves I didn't agree with that worked out) The most important part of a manager's job is team cohesion. There are a lot egos, different cultures, different ages, languages, balance that and keep people happy and motivated is difficult and Montoyo did a fantastic job there.
Mike Green - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 10:28 AM EDT (#408435) #
My major beef is with the telegraphed bunt with 2 strikes.  The percentages there are just awful unless you have a poor hitting pitcher at the plate. 
ISLAND BOY - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 11:50 AM EDT (#408438) #
" Hello. My name is Charlie Montoyo. You misspelled my name. Prepare to die."

Naw, he wouldn't kill anyone. He'd just take them into his office and force them to listen to him playing the drums for an hour or two.

I said earlier that Montoyo shouldn't even think of bunting. It's not that I'm against bunting and, in fact, I appreciate a good bunt in the right circumstance, ie: bottom of the ninth, none out, tie game - sure, get him over to third and he can score a lot of ways.

BUT, dang it, if a player is just up there stabbing at the ball, it's just a wasted out, or worse, when a bunt is hit too hard right to an infielder and he throws out the runner at third. ( Valera did that once) Bunting is an art form and Jay's batter's haven't gotten beyond stick figures.
Mike Green - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#408439) #
Jay's batter's

If Charlie Montoyo doesn't come for you, the apostrophe police will surely do so.  I hope you like typing out The Elements of Style on your virtual whiteboard 5 times.  It's less fun that spending 3 hours working on your bunting. 
Nigel - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#408442) #
From someone who thinks that the Jays should ultimately move on from Montoyo (they won't, yet), I'd frame the conversation about him differently. I believe (of course I don't "know") he's a very good manager with respect to the things we can't see. Jimy Williams, Jayce Tingler and Urban Meyer are all obvious examples of situations were a manager/head coach gets those things wrong. We've seen none of those issues under Montoyo's watch and full credit to him. But the Jays are playing in the AL East with a budget somewhere between 60-80% of the big boys and will likely do so every more. They need an edge, someone who does get the day-to-day playing time and in game roster decisions. Someone who understands more quickly who his best players are and who his high leverage arms are. Why can't we have both what Montoyo does well and what Cash does well? Or at least try. One could do far far worse than Montoyo for their team and I'd hire him for the current issues of the Padres or Mets in a heartbeat. But, can't the Jays also try for better?
ISLAND BOY - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#408443) #
" Jay's batter's"

Yep, that is hard on the eyes and I usually proof read. Definitely something I'll have to work on during the offseason to be ready for spring training.

" can't the Jays also try for better?

Tricky business replacing the manager of a 91 win team and whose players play hard for him.
Kasi - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 02:54 PM EDT (#408451) #
My thought for Montoyo is they should just ask their players. Part of the exit interview from management should be what they think of coaching and how it could be improved. If they believe Montoyo is the guy than keep him, otherwise find someone more to their liking.
John Northey - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 08:05 PM EDT (#408455) #
Montoyo's issues are easily dealt with - have a bench coach who is strong on in game strategy and tell Montoyo to listen or lose his job - exceptions would happen - for example a move might be right strategically but would harm the manager player relationship and in a game April to August you'd try to build the player relationship first. But in September screw it - just win.
85bluejay - Wednesday, October 06 2021 @ 09:56 PM EDT (#408464) #
"My thought for Montoyo is they should just ask the players."

I'm sure they do perhaps in a discreet manner, also I think virtually all FO have at least one of the coaches who is their guy and likely lets the FO know the dynamics of the clubhouse.
scottt - Thursday, October 07 2021 @ 08:26 AM EDT (#408475) #
I think Montoyo will get some manager of the year votes.
Parker - Thursday, October 07 2021 @ 10:17 AM EDT (#408480) #
I'm basically with the crowd here on Montoyo. He often looks bad at the stuff that's easy to quantify. On the other hand, my reaction to the Tingler and Rojas firings is that they were both very much justified because those were a couple of very strong teams that completely fell apart (both on the field and in the clubhouse) because of injuries and poor performances from a key player or two. This is just off-the-cuff analysis; I haven't dived into exactly how much of those dumpster fires were "on paper" stuff and how much were the intangibles that a manager would actually influence. If I'm blaming Tingler and Rojas, though, then conversely I have to give credit to Montoyo. A good manager is supposed to right the ship in those situations. While SD's and the Mets' seasons went to hell, the Jays and the Yankees both suffered injuries, poor performances, losing streaks, and yet they were able to turn things around and get back to work. Obviously front office performances were a huge part of this, but I think it's still a valid point.

I've spent the entire season criticizing Montoyo for the stuff I can see (tactical question marks, baffling Pythag underperformance) but now that I can step back a little, this was indeed a tremendously successful season for the Jays, and Montoyo certainly deserves credit for that. I wouldn't vote for him for Manager of the Year (Servais) but I sure expect Montoyo will get some votes, and he'll deserve them.

Thanks for the top-notch Report Card as usual, Magpie, and thanks to everyone else for the great discussion.
bpoz - Thursday, October 07 2021 @ 10:22 AM EDT (#408481) #
Atkins spoke about the 2021 season and a bit about the off season.

He only mentioned 2 players by name. Bo and Vlad. He mentioned specifically about strengthening the IF and rotation. He also said improving by subtraction from the ML roster. Will use FA and trades. He did not talk about payroll or adding impact players or losing impact players. This was a 3 minute audio.

K Matheson wrote the article. It was well written. Someone must have asked about Ray and Semien. K Matheson indicated that Atkins will talk to them. Good answer by Atkins.

Regarding Pearson: Written in quotations, Atkins is hoping Pearson can become a starter of sorts in 2022. My view is that is the best to be expected depending on his health. Also in quotes, 3B is a position that he will think about. Praised Biggio, Espinal and Valera and thinks K Smith is strong defensively and had a good AAA season.

Atkins said enough for me.
pooks137 - Thursday, October 07 2021 @ 12:26 PM EDT (#408488) #
I think virtually all FO have at least one of the coaches who is their guy and likely lets the FO know the dynamics of the clubhouse.

Isn't that guy Gil Kim?

It was pretty on the nose to put your minor league director into the dugout to continue "development" or something or other.

pooks137 - Thursday, October 07 2021 @ 12:30 PM EDT (#408490) #
Montoyo's issues are easily dealt with - have a bench coach who is strong on in game strategy and tell Montoyo to listen or lose his job

It's something to consider that while no one has anything negative to say about John Schneider, he's also Montoyo's right hand man whispering in his ear whenever Montoyo makes a decision everyone hates.

Cracka - Thursday, October 07 2021 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#408493) #
I will not be surprised if there's some interest in Jays' coaches for open manager jobs. Schneider for sure, but also Pete Walker and Guillermo Martinez, who likely has raised some eyebrows as the hitting coach of the team with the highest OPS and lowest # of strikeouts.
John Northey - Friday, October 08 2021 @ 02:45 PM EDT (#408534) #
bpoz - addition by subtraction? Hmm...wonder who lands in that category for the Jays? Reese McGuire fits in my book (gets hot for a couple of weeks then goes back to being a pumpkin).

For fielding how is McGuire vs the other 2? RBA= Runner Bases advanced (stole, wild pitch, passed ball), RK = runner kills (caught stealing, picked off). All figures lifetime
McG: 132 games, 4055 PA, 142 RBA 24 RK, 30% CS
Jansen: 244 games, 8201 PA, 266 RBA 48 RK, 24% CS
Kirk: 51 games, 1625 PA, 63 RBA 10 RK, 17% CS

Evening out to 100 games you get for RBA-RK...McG: 108-18, J: 109-20, K: 124-20

Surprised Kirk was ahead of McG in kills (he is 0.1 behind Jansen if you go to another digit). Still, no matter how I cut it Jansen is as good as McGuire defensively by numbers we can see. Kirk is a touch worse but not drastically (16 more bases vs 2 kills over 100 games isn't a lot) and when we dig into catchers ERA it gets harder to make a McGuire case.

Randal Grichuk is the next guy in the 'why is he here' category. 89 OPS+, 103 lifetime, his defense is maybe league average...maybe.

On the pitching side I suspect they'd like to find a new home for Hyun Jin Ryu thanks to his falling apart late in the season 2 years in a row. By FIP he was 5th in the rotation (Berrios, Ray, Matz, Manoah, Ryu, Stripling is how it went). Most of the flotsam in the pen is gone already.

Those 3 are all I can think of for 'clear them out' with Ryu being a weak case (worst case he is a good 3rd or 4th starter, best he is a solid #1). I'd be surprised if McGuire is here in 2022 unless Kirk is part of a trade.
bpoz - Saturday, October 09 2021 @ 06:07 PM EDT (#408555) #
Trying to be modest but that was a good post by me. I think.

So Atkins said he will strengthen the IF and rotation. It is just a technicality that Semien and Ray are FAs when the WS ends. So the IF and rotation have taken a hit. Also Matz will be a FA. Therefore that was an obvious thing for Atkins to say.
John Northey - Saturday, October 09 2021 @ 07:27 PM EDT (#408556) #
I think it is safe to say the Jays will sign an impact free agent - Semien or Ray or someone else. The challenge is this is a very good team, how do you make it better? You can't just put in league average players like Grichuk and expect it to work. You are looking at $30 mil a year players. I'm thinking for the rotation they'll go old for once and sign one of the geezers who are free agents to a 3 year $100 mil deal (that way it is off the books as the kids get expensive). I'm sure Atkins would like to sign one to a 2 year deal but 3 is what it will take for the Jays to land the big fish. Max Scherzer should be the #1 target (gotta figure LA will hit a salary limit at some point), after Ray of course. Clayton Kershaw will be interesting this winter if the Dodgers do decide to stick to a budget for once - I think he wants to be a Dodger for life, but if they decide to save some money he could be given an insulting offer and feel a need to move. Zack Greinke (105 ERA+ past 2 years combined), Justin Verlander (1 game in 2020, none in 2021) both interesting options but with risks.

For the pen Kendall Graveman could be interesting - he seems to have taken well to the pen but with just 10 saves (11 holds, 5 blown saves) he shouldn't be demanding the closer role and should be affordable.

3B/2B is messier - Kris Bryant would be nice but has been playing a lot in the OF lately, Kyle Seager will probably be let go by Seattle but is he worth grabbing (very healthy, but 100 OPS+ with 35 HR 212 avg)? No other 3B catch my eye to be honest among free agents (oh would Jose Ramirez be sweet but very expensive in prospects). 2B is very weak among free agents (outside of Semien who thinks of himself as a SS). I expect a trade of some kind to improve the infield - I'd like Biggio and Espinal to be backups, not regulars or worst case sharing a position.
scottt - Sunday, October 10 2021 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#408559) #
Now off the books:
18M to Semien
12M to Roark
4M to Tulo
1.5 M to Dolis
3M to Chatwood
9.5M to Dickerson
8M to Ray
5.5M to Yates
1.75M to Phelps

Players getting arbitration:
Berrios (should extend)
Barnes (non-tender)
Hernandez (might extend)
Vladdy (that one will be interesting)

Springer makes and extra 5M next year. (Front loaded)

So they could spend big on one starting pitcher, but probably not on a reliever.
Better to get guys in the 2-7M range.

Biggio is a left bat and a good base stealer.
I'd like him to stick at 2B and do what he does best which is not swinging at the first pitch.
Lopez and Palacios are the backup.
You got Espinal and Smith sharing 3B.
Smith is a good defender but he needs to work on pitch recognition.
Just need that big left platoon bat in there. It does not really matter if that's a DH or someone who pushes someone else in the DH slot.

The 2021 Jays were not good enough against bad teams.
That's fixed with a deeper bullpen and more left bats.

So yeah, it's back to trying to trade a catcher.
Meanwhile Luke Maile is playing in the playoffs.

Thomas - Sunday, October 10 2021 @ 10:47 AM EDT (#408560) #
I will not be surprised if there's some interest in Jays' coaches for open manager jobs. Schneider for sure, but also Pete Walker and Guillermo Martinez, who likely has raised some eyebrows as the hitting coach of the team with the highest OPS and lowest # of strikeouts.

I don't know enough about Martinez to even speculate, but I've never heard rumblings that Walker has even interviewed for a managerial job (whether, for example, to replace Gibbons or with another team). I've not heard him asked directly, but I have my suspicions that he's someone who might be happy as a pitching coach and have no desire to become a manager. Some pitching coaches, such as Mike Maddux, Mark Connor, Don Cooper, those sort of guys, seem to be content to work with the pitching staffs and have no desire to become managers.

Schneider is, I think, a separate case. There's been this sense he may replace Montoyo one day due to his familiarity with this young core, and I agree that if he thinks Atkins is committed to Montoyo, he will begin to look at opportunities elsewhere.

scottt - Sunday, October 10 2021 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#408561) #
MLB Pipeline has updated since the last time I looked.

1. Moreno ETA 2022 Probably up by June
2. Orelvis Martinez (SS/3B) ETA 2023 Still only 19. 5 tool player who could take over a 3B?
3. Jordan Groshans (SS/3B) ETA 2022. now 21. 5 tool player? Hard to predict. Doesn't have to go on the 40 this year.
4. Gunnar Hoglund ETA 2024. Here's a guy who should take a spot in the rotation down the line.
5. Otto Lopez  Maybe the first guy they call when anyone goes on the IL.
6. Miguel Hiraldo (SS/2B) ETA 2023. I don't really see him playing for this team.
7. Kloff  A bit surprised to see him here as he pitched to an ERA over 6. ETA 2023 Does not need to be protected this fall
8. Estiven Machado SS ETA 2025. I really don't know much about this guy, but he switch hits.  Still only 19.
9. Kevin Smith 3B. He's 25. I don't mind him getting a shot next year if Espinal still gets his fair share.
10. Manuel Beltre. Another young shortstop. I kinda feel there's a potential trade brewing somewhere.
11. Leo Jimenez SS/2B And another one.
12. Sem Robberse ETA 2025 ERA was not great at 4.36, but he got over 1K per inning and about 3 Ks per walk.
13. Van Eyk. ETA 2023 Results similar to Robberse. He's got a great curve.
14. Rikelbin De Castro SS ETA 2024 Another shortstop This one has an unusual first name.
15. Irv Carter. ETA 2025. Emotional draft. A guy with a strong mound presence.
16. Ricky Tiedemann ETA 2023 A big left arm
17. Samad Taylor (2B/OF) ETA Some nice power there.
18. Victor Mesia C ETA 2024
19. Dasan Brown ETA 2023 .310 OBP in A ball is not looking good.
20. Chad Dallas ETA 2024 He's a short guy with a nasty cutter who will probably end up in the pen.
21. Josh Palacios.
22. Will Roberston A left outfield power bat. Hit .235 in Vancouver. .310 OBP with 6 HR.
23.Adrian Hernandez ETA 2024 Another short pitcher. This one is from Mexico, sits 91-93mph and has an excellent change up which he throws over 50% of the time.
24. Eric Pardinho. A promising guy who has been injured a lot. Pitched 3 innings this year.
25. Joey Murray. The "invisiball" guy. Was healthy long enough to get 2 outs this year.
26. Tanner Morris. An infield left bat. Hit .285 with .381 OBP and 7 HR.
27. Zack Logue. Lefty. Didn't did guy pitch for the Jays? I guess not. ERA of 3.32 in Buffalo.
28. Bowden Francis. Part of the Tellez return. ERA of 4.19 in Buffalo, so starting depth next year.
29. Curtis Taylor. ETA 2022 A Canadian that came over in the Sogard trade. Fast ball/slider reliever.
30. Trent Palmer ETA 2024 ERA of 3.00 in A ball

scottt - Sunday, October 10 2021 @ 11:18 AM EDT (#408562) #
Hitting coaches and pitching coaches are specialized jobs that don't directly translate into managing.
Guys who have managed in the minors are obviously candidates to manage with a big club.
Montoyo was in Schneider's role with Tampa.
Schneider followed Vladdy and Bo, so I don't know if he's seen as a winning manager or as someone who has managed good teams.

Let's take an example.
Tim Wallach was the hitting coach for the Dodgers.
He became the manager of the AAA Isotopes, led them to a record 80 wins and was named the PCL manager of the year. He went back to the Dodgers as third base coach and interviewed for managing jobs with the Mariners, the Tigers and the Jays. Missing on those jobs he became bench coach. He accepted the same job with the Marlins from 2015 to 2019 but was apparently axed when Jeter took over.

Meanwhile, AA passed on Butterfield, DeMarlo Hale and Sandy Alomar Jr to name John Farrell his manager.

John Northey - Sunday, October 10 2021 @ 11:47 AM EDT (#408564) #
For payroll space, I like to check Cot's Contracts. For the payroll cap/tax the Jays were at $153 mil in 2021. Right now they sit at around $77 mil for 2022. In arbitration the average raise is 113% so for simplicity I'm using that, but giving Vlad a $5 mil base for his first year after an MVP quality season. I am doing the same for Bo in 2023. Seems a safe bet for both of them. If you use that, leading to Vlad making $48 mil in 2025, the team payroll is $122.5 mil in 2022, $133.0 mil in 2023, $127.8 in 2024, $185.9 in 2025. If you assume the Jays can afford their maximum payroll ($167 mil in 2018) then they have roughly $45 mil left for 2022, $34 for 2023, $40 for 2024, and are overbudget for 2025. Of course, that is a bit simplistic. Going with an inflation rate of 2% (roughly what it has been at over the past 20+ years) the Jays $167 in 2018 is like $180 in 2022, climbing to $191 in 2025. Go with closer to MLB rate of 5% you get $203 mil for 2022, up to $235 for 2025.

So the range for the Jays payroll, in theory, should give them room for adding $58.3 to $80.5 mil in 2022, 2023: $51.4-$80.1, 2024: $60.3-$96, 2025: $5.9-$49.1. In any of those cases they will stay well under any future Payroll Tax level. $210 is the current starting point, with $230 being the killer level. At 2% inflation the lower limit moves from $210 to $227 by 2025, at 5% it would go to $255 mil by 2025. Given market size the Jays should easily be able to go to that level but never have so I won't assume they will.

Given that I can easily see the Jays making a big offer to an older pitcher for 3 years (so off the books for 2025 when Vlad and Bo get real expensive), if they get 2 premium free agents then we know they are going on a 5% scale and not a 2% one (meaning $49 mil in 2025 available).

Of course, any new player agreement could drastically shift things in any direction for payroll - I think the union is weak and will take a face saving agreement in the end (age based free agency, earlier kind-sorta arbitration but with a numbers based set pay instead of an arbitrator, could use any version of WAR or a combination mixed with a base value per WAR, scaling up as they get older) and might even accept a salary cap type thing like the NBA/NHL/NFL has. I just hope there isn't a strike or lockout. If the union holds strong then $10-15 mil per WAR could happen for salaries and $60 mil will happen soon (probably for Ohtani if he has another healthy year).
John Northey - Sunday, October 10 2021 @ 03:19 PM EDT (#408567) #
It is hard to measure managers - Butterfield has been stuck as a 3rd base coach for years now (currently with the Angels), Hale finally got a shot this year in Cleveland (replacing Terry Francona who was sick). Sandy Alomar Jr had a 6 game audition as manager in 2012 (3-3), Farrell on the other hand got a WS ring with Boston as their manager after leaving the Jays - eventually fired by Boston after making the playoffs but not winning the WS (tough market). Links below are to the Jays manager pages where you can see their tendencies and records.

Charlie Montoyo has managed 3 seasons now, 1 with a 414 winning percentage, then 533 (playoffs), then 562 (so close). Interesting to look at his BR page - tendencies are adjusted to league average which really shows a lot (think of them like ERA+ and OPS+). This year he drastically cut back on intentional walks (132 to 68 rate), jumped pinch running (90 to 142), while drastically cutting sac bunts (of course that was partially due to the total incompetence of guys on the team when trying to do it - cut from a 189 to 51 pace - for non-pitchers only). Pitchers per game didn't shift a lot - from a 107 to 100 (4.6 to 4.8 to 4.3 pitchers per game, everyone used more in 2020). Stealing 3rd was sky high in 2020 (205) but dropped back to 104 (was 110 in 2019). Stealing 2B has climbed each year though - from 64-82-100 in the 3 years. So clearly Montoyo is learning as he goes and changing how he does things.

John Gibbons, for comparison, was below league average in stealing 2B in all but 2 seasons (2008 and 2013, the year he was fired and the year he restarted), but for stealing 3B his teams were above 100 in 6 of 11 seasons. Sac bunts he was above average in 6 seasons (including 15/16) but down to 33 his final season. Over 100 for intentional walks just 3 times, for pinch hitting he was above average all but 2 seasons (15/16). For pinch running he was over 100 only once his first time around, but over 100 all but one year his second time. Pitchers used was always between 95 and 109. Interesting to me - he hated stealing 2B, but loved taking 3B, loved to pinch hit, but was average at pinch run/pitcher use, and intentional walks overall.

Cito Gaston - in his first run was well above average in stealing 2B (just 3 of 9 years below average, peaking his first season, 1989, at 137), but well below average his 2nd time around (53-63). Stealing 3B was often above average (7 of 12 seasons), sac bunts were low (no shock) only over 100 3 times. He hated to pinch hit (no shock) with a 61 lifetime with only 2 seasons as high as 90 (1989 when the team had multiple platoons going and 1996 when things were falling apart), He was more willing to run for someone though (3 times above average, 79 overall) but not a lot more. Only 2 times did he use more pitchers than the average, once dead on 100.

Bobby Cox - with the Jays he stole 2B often (149 rate, but less in Atlanta at 90), same with 3B (110 here, 72 Atl), Sac bunts he hated (73 here, 94 there), Intentional walks were rare here (85) but normal in Atlanta (115), he loved his platoons so a 162 for PH here, 100 in Atlanta. Running he increased in Atlanta (149 vs 127 here). Relievers he used more here (104) but not as much as expected vs Atlanta where he had a killer rotation (100 there).

There were many other managers here but those are the big ones - the guys who got the team to the playoffs.
bpoz - Monday, October 11 2021 @ 11:56 AM EDT (#408586) #
I cannot see a true trend in payroll movement by this FO because 2016 was a success of the aging 2015 team. Being old it would need to be dismantled in a few years. That old team lost in 2017 (76 wins) which meant the decline could have started. 2018 (73 wins) proved that the old team was done and a rebuild was needed.

2021 is indicating that the rebuild has made a lot of progress. I will be extremely conservative and say that we were lucky. Many fantastic seasons, Vlad, Bo, Teoscar, Ray, Matz. Unlike the Roark, Yates gambles. I will guess that FA Matz earned $5-6 mil in 2021.

When the off season ends we will know if the Jays added anyone expensive. Also if anyone got extended. Any trades of decent prospects for something decent. I will categorize additions as elite, good, decent and longshots. Springer/Scherzer elite, Semien good/decent, Ray, Matz longshots to be better than decent. Berrios I consider good or decent depending on the 2 prospects given up. Berrios has made the trade look very good so far.

I remember that T Walker got $20 mil over 2 seasons. I don't think he was better than Matz. Probably equal at best but I am biased in favor of Matz. Walker went into 2021 at the better ranked pitcher IMO and both being healthy means that an accurate assessment is possible.
tercet - Friday, October 15 2021 @ 12:58 AM EDT (#408699) #
I disagree with the Atkins rating, he has done some good things and bad things but one thing that is consistent is that he is a pathological liar and snake oil salesman who is delusionaly optimistic in most of his media appearances with lackluster results after 6 years.
John Northey - Monday, October 18 2021 @ 11:00 PM EDT (#408798) #
Lackluster?  Uh, the team has made the playoffs twice and has a great young base to keep it in contention for the next few years.  I'd call that far better than lackluster.  By those standards Gord Ash should've been strung up (handed a 2 time WS champ with multiple top 100 prospects in the system like Delgado, Alex Gonzalez (ranked higher than Delgado at that time), Jose Silva was a top 10 prospect in MLB, Shawn Green, and Paul Spoljaric, plus another top 100 guy in DJ Boston who didn't work out.  Others in the system included Chris Carpenter and Shannon Stewart.  Yet despite drafting Roy Halladay in '95 he still never even sniffed the playoffs or 90 wins even.  JPR was given Halladay and Delgado and Wells and Rios among others and also failed to reach the playoffs or 90 wins.  AA had a big rebuild and dumped a ton of prospects to get the 2015 division title but his other years were flops.  The only Jays GM with a better overall record is HOFer Gillick who in his first 6 years was sub 500 in 5 of them and had 89 wins in the last of those years, and year 7 was again 89 wins, before the big 1985 season with 99 wins (still a Jays record), followed by 3 very frustrating years where the team missed the playoffs before the wonderful 89-93 stretch, 4 out of 5 years in the playoffs and 2 WS titles.  But if you look at Gillicks record before 1985 you'd probably rank that as lackluster too.

Atkins has done a great job.  He took a contender and got one last year then used the draft to rebuild plus a few good trades (and lost some great chances for trades by holding out too long) and now the Jays are strong contenders again.  I am very happy with this result.
bpoz - Tuesday, October 19 2021 @ 08:48 AM EDT (#408802) #
Ownership interference was also a factor. Interbrew buying the Jays (Gillick). Ownership insisting that V Wells be signed (Richardi). Postpone rebuild (Shapiro/Atkins).

Now ownership sees the relationship between payroll and results/revenue.

John Northey - Tuesday, October 19 2021 @ 10:29 AM EDT (#408805) #
bpoz - good point, that was the massive value of 2015, making it obvious a winner would fill the dome and TV ratings just like from 89-93. Not a Leafs situation where the team could lose every game or win the Cup and every seat would be sold and TV ratings sky high.
bpoz - Tuesday, October 19 2021 @ 11:25 AM EDT (#408806) #
I have fond memories of many players. Including players that won no championships like Halladay and Delgado to name 2. Then short term Jays like Donaldson, Martin, EE and Bautista. Even Pillar.

Those times are finished so I can look at them as a whole. But as they happened it is hard to see the whole picture. Instead I am seeing micro parts like walk off HRs or blowing a save by walking in the winning run.

For me personally the rebuild started right after the 2018 trade deadline. Jansen & Tellez under 100 ABs. Gurriel in 249 ABs producing one of his super hot hitting streaks thereby leading me to believe 2019 and future years would be just as super hot but less streaky. Still streaky after 1271 ABs. So obviously a reasonably smart guy (not me) would expect streaks. I am looking for a career year in 2022. I went off topic.

My topic was Atkins. I want to give him credit for his signing of Ray & Semien and trade for Matz. He has to take heat for his pen. Next year he will have to take some heat if things go badly and there is no Cy Young & MVP contender off season addition.

I also want to enjoy this window as a whole. Hope it gets extended by great new prospects arriving in waves as is the plan. O Martinez and Moreno seem like studs on their way.

Living through this window with da Box will make it much sweeter.

John Northey - Tuesday, October 19 2021 @ 11:00 PM EDT (#408812) #
bpoz - agreed. I think back to 1984 when I first really paid attention to baseball (light in '83, not at all before that beyond going to a game in '78). Looking back if we had BB and the internet then what would've we been doing? Complaining a LOT about Alfredo Griffin who had a 48 OPS+ but played in 140 games anyways despite poor defense (negative dWAR to go with that terrible bat, yet somehow 'only' -1.5 WAR with 4 BB vs 30 SO in 442 PA). Damaso Garcia at 27 dropped to an 86 OPS+ with a 310 OBP but was left in the leadoff slot and would continue that in '85 with a 302 OBP and 82 OPS+ and somehow was an all-star both years! It was a different time. Dave Collins with a 120 OPS+ and 60 SB was traded after the season for a closer (Bill Caudill) taking Griffin with him. That made room for George Bell to move to LF and Jesse Barfield to play everyday in RF. The OF of the 80's were all 24 years old that year and all had 120+ OPS+'s. The 3B platoon would've drove us all nuts (Mulliniks 124 OPS+, Iorg 49) - I mean, no way Mulliniks could've been _that_ bad vs LHP could he? Well, he pretty much was (230/305/337 vs LHP lifetime vs 276/358/412 against RHP). The rotation was tough with 4 guys having 35 to 36 starts each. #5 got 12 in Jim Gott (24 at the time) who'd later become a solid closer for someone else. Then pen though...oh that pen. Closer Jackson was 10-7 Sv-Blsv, rookie Jimmy Key 10-7 also, Dennis Lamp (signed to be the closer) 9-5, Gott 2-3, Acker 1-2. Of course, only 8 relievers used all year plus one game by a starter (Doyle Alexander - 35 starts plus 1 relief game in early April after a short start) and one by an outfielder (Rich Leach). We'd have been going nuts about that horrid pen and the middle infield, especially with uber prospect Tony Fernandez sitting on the bench often (got into 88 games at age 22 with a 84 OPS+ which slaughtered Giffin's - yet was made to wait 3 years in AAA for some bizarre reason with an OPS well over 700 each year).

Yeah, pick any year and we'd all complain if we didn't know what happened next (99 wins the next year) Heck, even 92 and 93 I bet we'd have found something to complain about right up until the final play of each season.
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