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That was weird.


A team that wins 89 games doesn't usually inspire this much angst. After all, this franchise once went more than twenty years without winning so many, and I can talk at length about each and every one of those seasons if complaining about the Blue Jays is what the public wants. I  can deliver the goods, I assure you.  I'd rather not. As I've said, it is my conviction that baseball is mostly pain, anyway. Pain and failure - lots of it - is baked into it from the start.  Pain and failure. Those are my expectations. That's what I expect to be given, and the game seldom disappoints me.

Maybe it was the way this team failed - even if they didn't fail as often as teams of yore - that was so frustrating. They weren't a lot of  fun. Watching hitters fail to produce runs is probably more frustrating than watching pitchers fail to prevent them. Losing 7-5 is definitely more entertaining than losing 3-1. A matter of aesthetics, a question of style...

Well.  History may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Ross Atkins turned 50 in August, and he just completed his eighth season as the GM. Pat Gillick turned 50 in August 1987, not long before he completed his tenth season in the same job. Atkins is in the very same boat now that Gillick was in the late 1980s. The core of young talent that his team has been built around, in which so much hope and faith has been invested,  has not found its way to the Promised  Land. And every time it looked like they were getting close, they embarrassed themselves. While I don't recall anyone suggesting that Gillick and the rest be fired into the sun, let me assure you that  there was a great deal of cynicism and more than a little mockery on display. Oh yes. Those were the Blow Jays. 

The team seems stuck, and the natives are getting restless.

Not to mention, the bean-counters at the corporation would probably like to see a few home playoff games swelling their coffers.

Well. On with the business.

As always, I beg 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 (might even receive All-Star consideration, 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 (may need to think about alternative career paths)

The cutoff, as is my custom, was 50 Plate Appearances for the hitters and 50 Batters Faced for the pitchers. So I have nothing to say about Paul DeJong (he's so lucky), Spencer Horwitz, Tyler Heinemen, Nathan Lukes, Jordan Luplow, Cam Eden, Mason McCoy, Thomas Hatch, Wes Parsons, Trent Thornton, and Hagen Danner.

Non-Players

John Schneider C
   Still has the best winning percentage of any manager in franchise history (of the ones who actually did the job for longer than a month.) I'm pretty sure no one cares.  And yet... Schneider did what we sometimes think the manager is supposed to do. He didn't manage a post-season game as if it was the regular season. He didn't seem to be flying by the seat of his pants, putting his faith in his gut and his intuition. He trusted what the numbers (or the people who crunch the numbers) told him. I point this out because I know that if I had a dime for every time I've complained that no matter what kind of information a manager may have, the guy still needs to see something with his own eyes before he believes it enough to act... I'd sure have a lot of dimes. But after that second playoff game, everyone is going to be wondering to what degree John Schneider actually is the manager of this baseball team. Schneider himself made it pretty clear that the decision was not his alone. And if the players don't believe the manager is making the decisions, you don't have a manager. You do have a problem.

Ross Atkins C   And that's on this guy. Atkins has, I think, been pretty effective in assembling a talented major league roster, and doing so fairly quickly after wasting his first three years on the job trying to squeeze the last drop of goodness out of the team he inherited . Assembling a competitive roster is certainly a big part, and it's probably the most visible part, of his job.  But it's not the only part, and for the first time in about ten years I am growing disturbed by the way this organization has decided to operate. And of course the team remains stuck at the same level they've been at for the last four years. So now what? He had a plan, It made sense, it worked as expected... but it didn't work.

Players

Kevin Gausman A-   On the surface, there's not a whole lot of difference between 12-10, 3.35 and 12-9, 3.16. And you know what? Peer under the hood, and while there are some variations, it all worked out roughly the same. Gausman didn't figure to give up as many hits in 2023 - the opposition was never going to hit .364 on their Balls In Play again - and he didn't. But he walked twice as many instead. The opposition ended up with about the same number of people on base. I'm always a little wary of two-pitch starters, but some guys make it work.

Bo Bichette B+  He was having the best season of his young career until he jammed his knee against the Orioles. He missed most of the next five weeks, went on the IL twice, and it took a while to get his bat going again (he hit .219/.252/.352 in his first 25 games after the initial injury.) C'est la guerre. Like everyone else, I thought he was much better in the field this past season. He's not going to win a Gold Glove unless he wins one with his bat, but we've seen that happen.

Tim Mayza B+   Okay, there's something more than a little flukey about a 1.52 ERA, especially for a relief pitcher. You still have to respect it. He also did a fine job dealing with the messes other pitchers left behind, stranding 40 of 53 Inherited Runners. Mayza was actually a little unlucky this past year, in that the opposition hit .331 on their Balls In Play (it had been .297 for his career.) But he didn't let any of them go over the fence (just 2 all season, one of them in the meaningless season finale), and he doesn't walk a lot of hitters.

Chris Bassitt B+
  He'll be 35 next February, and he's established a new career high in Innings Pitched in each of the last three seasons, all of which look more or less identical, working for three different teams with three different home parks. He's a pro.

Jose Berrios B+  You will surely recall that in his first full season with the Jays, Berrios quite unaccountably produced numerous truly crappy outings. He gave up more Hits and HRs than ever before, and no pitcher in the AL allowed more earned runs. But somehow the team still went 23-9 in those 32 starts. So this season Berrios bounced back smartly, performing once more just like the quality starter he's been for his entire career. And the team went 17-15 in his 32 starts. Go figure. A very easy player to cheer for, who deserved better than he got from the people in charge.

Davis Schneider B+  And I thought Lourdes Gurriel was streaky. Schneider's highs were very, very high, and his lows were extremely low - basically, he went from as hot as the surface of the sun to as frigid as my cold, cold heart - and he somehow squeezed two hot streaks and two bad spells into just six weeks of action. I'm not sure what to make of him. I suspect he inherits the Whit Merrifield (second base/outfield) spot on the roster along with the Gurriel role in the lineup.

Erik Swanson B  It looks like he was worked a little too hard early on. He pitched in 23 of the first 46 games (through May 20), which is about when he started to scuffle. Finished the season strong, and gave up more than two runs in a game just once all year.

Jordan Romano B  He was just fine at his main job, which is Closing the Game. He wasn't so great when he was asked to come into a tie game, and modern managerial practise now says that "Thou Shalt Call Upon Your Closer in Late Innings at Home, Once There is No More Chance That There Will Be a Save Opportunity." Romano came into 13 games when the score was tied and lost six of them (he went 4-6, 5.40.) It's a small sample, and probably just One of Those Things.

Kevin Kiermaier B   A free agent, Kiermaier managed to stay healthier this past season than he'd been in years, and I certainly don't want to count on that happening again. He's still a wonderful outfielder, and he had his best year with the bat since 2017, when he was 27. He'll be 34 next April, by which time I assume he'll have found some other team to play for. It'll probably be one that plays it's home games on actual grass as he heads into his sunset years. I really enjoyed having him on the team, and happily wish him good luck in his future endeavours. Varsho can obviously move over and replace him in centre, and leave the team looking for someone new (or someone not so new - Teoscar! Lourdes!) to put in left field.

Brandon Belt B  A free agent, and at this point he sounds undecided as to whether he wants to keep playing. He's got a couple of World Series rings, he's earned more than $100 million dollars playing baseball. Just how many hotel rooms does a man really need to see? On the other hand, you do stay retired for a long time. Belt certainly wasn't supposed to be the team's best hitter, albeit in a pretty strict platoon. But he led the team in both OnBase and Slugging.

Yusei Kikuchi B  The team went 21-11 in his 32 starts, which was the best record from any of the rotation spots. Kikuchi didn't have a whole lot to do with that, of course, but this was a decent season for anyone and a very good season for someone trying to make it as the fifth starter. On the one hand, I really like him - I just think he's fun to watch and one also gets the impression that he's a good guy and a good teammate. On the other hand, I seem unable to trust him at all, not even a tiny little bit. When he pitches well, all I feel is relief. Like we got away with something.

Jordan Hicks B  Another free agent. The radar guns say one thing about Hicks, but everything else about him says something else. Which is what I'm going with. So hear me - Hicks is not a power pitcher. He's basically a right-handed version of Tim Mayza. These fellows don't strike out a lot of hitters - both were below the league average - but they throw a zillion sinkers and they get a zillion ground balls. They are both extreme ground ball pitchers, which like many things is both a blessing (ground balls don't leave the park) and a curse (they can find the holes in the defense.) Hicks does give up fewer hits than Mayza, and I'm betting his extra velocity makes it harder to square him up.  Mayza has better command - he doesn't walk as many, he keeps the ball in the yard a little better.

Genesis Cabrera B  It sure looks like someone sat down with Cabrera (and Hicks) as soon as they got here and suggested that they just try throwing strikes and trusting their defense a little, what with Babe Ruth being dead and all. Cabrera cut his walks right in half - that, along with some excellent luck on his Balls In Play, made him more effective as a Blue Jay than he'd been as a Cardinal.

Bowden Francis B-  Somehow, I don't think AL batters are going to hit .195 on their Balls In Play against Francis forever, or even for another five minutes, but you'll definitely take it while it's happening.

Ernie Clement B-   A middle infielder who hit .380? I feel bad about only giving him a B, but anything can happen in 52 Plate Appearances, and hitting .391 on your Balls in Play is one of them. What's far stranger is the .348/.401/.544 he put up in half a season in Buffalo. He hasn't hit like that since he was at the University of Virginia. He's played more than 500 professional games since 2017, and he hit more than half (12 of 23) of his pro homers this past season.

Jay Jackson B-  He was a nice story. Hang in there, kids! Keep pitching, and maybe you'll eventually figure something out. What Jackson figured out was that major league hitters are just guys who put their trousers on one leg at a time. He had always walked far too many in his previous cups of coffee in the Show, more than he walked at the various other levels he'd pitched at. With the Jays, he simply threw strikes - he didn't fan as many hitters, but he didn't walk nearly as many either. And seeing as how he remained difficult to actually hit, it made him far more effective than he'd ever been in the long odyssey of his professional career. He'll be 36 in a few weeks, and he won't be eligible for arbitration for another couple of years.

Whit Merrifield C - Presumably about to become a free agent - there's a mutual option, which the team will surely decline. Just as he had the previous September when given the opportunity, Merrifield played well enough in April (.320/.377/.413) to secure a spot in the lineup pretty much every day (and after cooling off, he got even hotter in July.). But he's now at the age when he really shouldn't be playing every day. And he stops playing that well when he does.

Alejandro Kirk C - The Blue Jays offensive woes, to the extent that it was actually woeful and not merely mediocre, were largely the result of four players - three of them young players - producing at a level that was considerably less than either their career norms or simply less than what was merely a reasonable expectation. Kirk is the first of that foursome - he came into the season with a career mark of .278/.362/.426, for an OPS+ of 123 and rather than improve the way we like to see 24 year old hitters improve, he fell very short indeed (30 points of OPS+) .  I'm willing to cut Kirk - and only Kirk - a little slack. Mainly because he's a catcher (and his work behind the plate is improving much more rapidly than I expected.) And because I never really expect catchers to improve as  hitters, ever, and am pleasantly surprised on the rare occasions when it happens. And because the late arrival of his child had to have messed up his spring training. I suspect that most of his attention early on was on his defensive responsibilities, which are of course considerable.  

George Springer C - The second of our four offensive disappointments, and the most significant. Springer came into the season with a career mark of .269/.358/.494 and an OPS+ of 132 - he missed that mark by exactly the same amount as Kirk did, and  did so over many more Plate Appearances (our other two disappointments,as depressing as their work may have been,  did not under-perform anywhere near the extent Kirk and Springer did.) I know that when a 33 year old player has an off year no one should ever be too surprised. That's the sort of thing that happens. On the other hand, this was by far the healthiest Springer had been as a Blue Jay, and playing right field certainly seemed to agree with him. On the other other hand (how many hands is this?), he hadn't played this many games since 2016, when he was a callow youth of 26.

Danny Jansen C - His season was okay I guess, even if it wasn't quite as good as his work in 2022. This was the most games he was able to play in since his first full season back in 2019, but he still made two trips to the IL and was missing for about seven weeks. Which is getting positively tiresome. The baseball is hard, Danny. That's why it's called hardball. And it will hurt your hands if you don't get them out of the way.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr C - The third of our four offensive disappointments. Guerrero came into the season with a career mark of .284/.358/.504, an OPS+ of 135 - he came quite a bit closer to his career level than Kirk or Springer managed, but he still fell well short. Guerrero was the youngest man to take the field for the 2023 Blue Jays (you can sure tell sometimes) but he's nevertheless the one from whom the most was expected. As was often discussed around here, there was much about his season that was downright strange.  There's the weird fact that he simply doesn't hit all that well at the Rogers Centre. There's the fact that he was hitting plenty of balls hard, much more often than your average hitter, that he was hitting more line drives and fewer groundballs. Well, a lot of good it did him. He simply wasn't getting the results his type of performance seemed to warrant, and this is a results-based business. The frustration of it all certainly seemed to get to Guerrero. The rest of his game, especially his defense and base-running, just fell apart as his season went on. Everybody has a theory, of course. Mine is that he's trying to be something - a home run hitter - that he's not. Guerrero likes to hit home runs - don't we all? - and he probably thinks his team wants and needs him to hit home runs. I just don't think that's an approach that fits his natural stroke. He won't be the youngest Blue Jay too much longer, although he's likely to be the most talented for some time to come. He needs to do a better job at putting that talent to use. He's certainly a young enough dog to master a new trick.

Hyun-Jin Ryu C - Another free agent. DId anybody actually expect anything useful from Ryu? What he delivered, in the wake of The Manoah Disaster, was simply crucial. The team had gone 9-13 out of that spot in the rotation - they went 6-5 in Ryu's starts, and even though Schneider handled him very gingerly, he was able to give them many more innings than they could ever have received from Trevor Richards, and much better innings than they were getting from Manoah. He's not all the way back, but he's getting there. At the very least, he should be a solid back-of-the-rotation option. For someone.

Yimi Garcia C - The Toronto bullpen was the best in the AL at stranding Inherited Runners, just 23% of whom scored (league average was 32%) and Garcia was the best on the team at stranding them. (Well, Romano was even better but being The Closer Romano didn't have to deal with anywhere near as many inherited runners as Garcia did.) The bad news about Garcia's season was when the ball was put in play. The BABiP against Garcia was a startling .345 - especially startling because it had been .251 prior to this season. He was giving up more line drives and grounders and fewer fly balls, which probably explains part of it. But just part. I think there had to be a lot of Old Bad Luck involved as well.

Matt Chapman C - Another free agent, Chapman played like the league MVP for a month. Unfortunately, it's a six month season and he was just plain bad for the other five months. There's no getting around it. He hit .205/.298/.363 from the first of May through the end of the season. Not good enough, not even close, and I think a C grade is rather generous. I am famous for my soft and tender heart, am I not? That's said, you surely have to give him the Qualifying Offer. There's probably no way that he'll accept it - this will be his first chance to make some big baseball money and it could very well be his last  - but his departure will leave a significant hole in the lineup. There isn't an obvious internal option yet, and the free agent pickings beyond Chapman himself do not excite me. Jeimer Candelario? Evan Longoria?

Cavan Biggio C - I think he was able to re-establish himself as a useful major league hitter, and he even provided some nice defense at four different positions, which is also pretty useful. Biggio's biggest problem is the fact that they play baseball in April. He got to miss out on that in 2019 and 2020, but it's been the bane of his existence ever since. In April 2021, he hit .197/.308/.333, Folks, those are his career bests for the month of April. In 2022 he hit a horrific .044/.214/.044 and this past April it was .111/.184/.244.  The problem with doing this in April is that those become your season numbers, if only for the moment, and everyone starts to wonder why you're even in the majors.

Trevor Richards C- As everyone knows, Richards scrapped most of his old starter's repertoire this season. He worked exclusively with his very ordinary fastball and his very excellent changeup and was much more effective. No one on the staff - almost all of whom throw considerably harder - missed more bats, no one struck out hitters as frequently. When he went on the IL in early August, he sported a 2.98 ERA and had fanned 83 batters in 54.1 IP. And - despite what you may have heard elsewhere - he was actually fine when he came back. Five of his first six outings after his return were scoreless, and four of them were completely clean. But he went completely to pieces in September (17 Hits and 11 BB in 12.1 IP) and that's a mystery. His September was so utterly awful that it completely spoiled his season numbers, but the man was pretty good for five months out of six. (The opposite of Matt Chapman, in other words.) One thing that was true all season, however - he was not even close to effective when asked to work on consecutive days. He did so 9 times, and allowed 15 Hits and 8 BB in 8.1 innings. Just twice was he able to escape without allowing a run, although even then he put people on base. (Garcia also struggled pitching on consecutive days; Romano,  Mayza, and Swanson were pretty much unaffected.)

Chad Green C- This year was mostly about recovering from surgery and shaking off the rust. His first outing was rough, but he was solid enough after that and should be better next year.

Daulton Varsho D - The last of our four great offensive disappointments - he brought a career mark of .234/.306/.432, OPS+ of 103 into the season - he came up about as short of that as Guerrero did. Now I know where Varsho stands on BBRef's page, which ranks everybody by how much WAR they contributed. Pshaw! I say. Stick your formulae....  Look, I love almost everything about Varsho's game - his defense, sure, but also his approach, his hustle, his intensity,  his focus, his base-running. But a corner outfielder who hits .220/.285/.389? Up with that I will not put. There aren't enough balls in play any more to make that worth the trouble..

Santiago Espinal D - Second base was kind of a revolving door for the 2023 Jays. Espinal began the year as the incumbent, sort of - he'd started 105 games there in 2022 - but his hold on the job was never all that strong. Whit Merrifield had closed the 2022 season playing very well in Espinal's absence and Cavan Biggio was still on the roster. It looked like a job-share at first, and the three players did indeed share the job in April - but it was Merrifield who actually played well in April, seizing the biggest part of the job while Espinal and Biggio were struggling. But Merrifield was also the fourth outfielder on a team with two LH regulars, which created opportunities for someone at second base. Biggio eventually made himself useful, but Espinal's bat didn't wake up until September by which time it was Davis Schneider getting the most work at second base.

The Second Base Job Share: Game Starts

APR - Espinal (11) Merrifield (9) Biggio (8)
MAY - Merrifield (17) Espinal (6) Biggio (4) Clement (1)
JUN - Merrifield (14) Espinal (8) Biggio (5)
JUL - Merrifield (11) Biggio (7) Espinal (6)
AUG - Merrifield (9) Schneider (9) Biggio (8) Espinal (1)
SEP - Schneider (13) Merrifield (7) Biggio (6) Espinal (2)

Nate Pearson D - Great arm. Doesn't know what he's doing yet but why would he? Pitched more innings between Buffalo and Toronto this season than he had in any year since 2019, and that in itself is a step in the right direction. More will be required, of course. It's good that you're finally able to play. Now we need you to play well.

Anthony Bass D - He wasn't actually horrible, but he wasn't very good. And he definitely wasn't good enough to get away with offending the civilized part of the civilized world.

Alek Manoah E -  Just twelve months ago, I noted that in his first full season Manoah had pitched as well as any starter in franchise history. How time flies. I have no idea what to even think about him. He was so awful at times that it seemed unlikely he could ever be effective again.  The idea of actually counting on him makes me very uneasy.

Zach Pop E - He was bad, he got hurt, he went to Buffalo and was bad there.

Mitch White E  - He was bad, he got hurt, he went to Buffalo and was bad there.

Adam Cimber F - Cimber's always been hittable, although not nearly as hittable as he was this year. He has been effective in the past because he doesn't walk hitters and he keeps the ball in the park. I assume his injury issues were a large part of why he allowed twice as many walks and more than three times as many homers as he had the previous two years. Either that, or his career has reached the same stage as that of my fine feathered friend here.




Blue Jays Report Card | 89 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
greenfrog - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 07:15 AM EDT (#438806) #
Thanks for the report card.

Reading and listening to what many MLB commentators, players and fans have been saying about this season generally and WC game 2 in particular, I think the management group of Shapiro, Atkins and Schneider has suffered a significant blow to their reputation. I donít expect any of them to depart the organization this off-season, though.
Mike Green - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 07:26 AM EDT (#438807) #
Yes, a manager has to be the one who manages or you have a problem. It's great that there are others who give advice, but once the umpire calls "play ball", everyone needs to know who's in charge.

Varsho a D and Vladdy a C? Chacon a son gout. It is nice though when a player doesn't allow their offensive struggles to affect their play in the field or on the bases. That was a homily of the game going back to my childhood- just after dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Gerry - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:05 AM EDT (#438810) #
Excellent read as usual magpie.

I would have noted that Schneider seemed to have an aversion to playing players promoted from Buffalo. Davis Schneider basically forced his way into the lineup. Others sat on the bench for long periods of time.

The only grade I would quibble with was Richards. I think his bad September dragged down his grade but he was so good and reliable for the rest of the season. I would have him higher.
lexomatic - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:07 AM EDT (#438811) #
Not sure how I feel about the Jansen grade. Sure it's a drop-off from 2022, but.... in context of the team in 2023?
C league wide 100+PA (69 qualified) Fangraphs
HR #16 - 17 (86 GP 301 PA)  - #10 G Sanchez (75GP 267 PA) & #11 M Garver 19 ( 87 344)ISO #5 246 (only one with MORE paying time Y Diaz HOU)BABIP #61 233 onl6 one with MORE playing time F Alvarez NYM - also 4 of top 20 with Jays connections!)BB% #30 7.6OBP #24SLG #10wOBA #14 336wRC+ t-#12 116

BaseR #6 0.8OffR #11 6.4DefR #32 3.4fWAR #t-14 2.0You get an above average offensive C, with average D.
If you change the cutoff to 300 PA (31 qualified)

BB% #16ISO #2BABIP #30AVG #23OBP #15SLG #5wOBA #9wRC+ #9BaseR #4OffR #10DefR #15fWAR #t-13
Jays 300+ PA (11)
HR t#6ISO #1BABIP #11AVG #10
OBP #10SLG #3wOBA #4
wRC+ #4BsR #5OffR #5Def #5WAR #7
Mike Green - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:08 AM EDT (#438812) #
One more thing about this club and the club of the 80s. The rules have changed a lot- 10 teams make the playoffs instead of 4. When the Blue Jays of 1985 won 99 games and edged out an excellent Yankees club, they accomplished something important and meaningful in their 8th year of existence. The Jays of 2020-2023 have not done anything like that. The 1980s Blow Jays were a thing, but this club hasn't gone far enough to even merit that.

Personally, I prefer the old rules. Surprise!
Ryan Day - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:12 AM EDT (#438814) #
One thing I started wondering was, if Schneider is "Manager" only as far as job titles are concerned, what the heck is Mattingly's job with the team? Is he advising Schneider on the 10% of in-game decisions he's allowed to make? I remember in spring training some were suggesting he'd be an extra hitting coach, and a first-base tutor for Vlad - neither of which brought glory to the team.
uglyone - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:43 AM EDT (#438816) #
If it wasn't for playing for the yankees and that wonderful moustache, you wonder what the heck Mattingly's reputation would be at all. Amusing unrelated flashback:

Source: In their 1st & only meeting, new Jays prez Mark Shapiro scolded Alex Anthopolous & staff for trading so many top prospects this yr

— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) October 29, 2015
Dave Till - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#438817) #
I come here every year for this and I am never disappointed.

A long post on Vlad, then a shorter post to follow!

I agree that Vlad isn't really a home run hitter - he's a line-drive hitter who is so strong that sometimes they carry over the fence. The fact that Vlad can hit a ball nine miles if it's placed in the right spot means nothing - Josh Phelps could do that too and his career washed out after a couple of years.

To me, Vlad's problem seems to be that he is trying way way too hard to live up to all the expectations set on him. He probably led the league in bats slammed to the ground after strikeouts, and the obvious relief on his face every time he got a base hit was noticeable. See! I didn't screw up this time!

I also think that Vlad wore down a bit as the season continued. He missed a couple of games this year with knee problems, which were the first games he had missed due to injury since 2019. Also, his 2022 baserunning and fielding exploits were partially due to his extreme youth - he was doing splits at first base that were painful for me to watch. He, quite understandably, stopped doing that this year, which moved him out of Gold Glove territory. And I think that bad luck contributed somewhat to his season. His BABIP was .243 in September (it had been .315 in April and .311 in May).

I find it fascinating to compare Vlad with Fernando Tatis Jr., another young player widely hailed as a generational talent. The two are almost exactly the same age (Tatis is two and a half months older), both are the sons of major leaguers, and both had monster seasons in 2021, each leading his league in home runs. Tatis's 2022 was a writeoff due to a motorcycle accident and a PED suspension (imagine what the Toronto press and fanbase would have said about Vlad if he had done either of these things!). And the two men had remarkably similar 2023 seasons: Vlad was .264/.345/.444 and Tatis was .257/.322/.449.

I think that the Jays need to spend more time on Vlad's care and feeding - too often, he seemed to be off by himself in one corner of the dugout, brooding. As I mentioned in the rant thread, the worst-case scenario for the Jays isn't that he never lives up to his imagined potential - the worst case is that he lives up to it for someone else. Do we really want to watch Vlad hitting plakatas for, say, the Orioles?
Dave Till - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#438818) #
Some other comments:

- John Schneider and Ross Atkins need to do a good job of explaining what exactly happened in Game 2, or they risk losing the clubhouse. Analytics and having a plan are all very well, but when everybody on the planet except Schneider and Atkins think that they made a mistake, some rethinking is required.

- Alek Manoah's problem is that he basically won the baseball lottery: he found his form so quickly that he made it to the majors and became a star after only 35 minor league innings pitched. When he began to have problems, he had no experience of how to get out of difficulties - he'd never had any before. And he kept thinking that the next start would be different, that whatever was going wrong would magically go away. His struggles, ironically, were like those of major league hitters who have grown old - I can still hit that fastball! I'm just in a temporary slump! Like you, I don't know what happens next - no one has had a career quite like Manoah's.

- Davis Schneider's problem seems obvious to me (besides being random chance). One of his strengths is his ability not to chase borderline pitches, but major league umpires were calling outside pitches just off the plate as strikes - he was up among the league leaders in bad calls. Presumably, this is because umpires don't give rookies the benefit of the doubt on these calls. This left Schneider helpless - if he swung at these pitches, he grounded out; if he took them, he was rung up on called strikes. Cavan Biggio went through this too when he was coming up, but now has been in the majors long enough that umpires start giving him the benefit of the doubt on borderline pitches. I suspect that Mister Mustache's career path will likely follow Biggio's.
Magpie - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:04 AM EDT (#438819) #
this season generally and WC game 2 in particular, I think the management group... has suffered a significant blow to their reputation

Maybe. They need to own it and embrace it, the way Kevin Cash and the Rays did three years ago. This is how we do things, and maybe it's why we just lost the World Series, but this is who we are.

Remember the Bill James definition of a managerial blunder?

It happens at a crucial moment in the game.
It goes against the conventional practise of the game.
It doesn't work.

A scoreless game in the fourth inning is not normally a crucial moment. But this was a win-or-go-home situation. Every moment is crucial enough. Check.

It is not, I think, as conventional as it used to be to stick with a pitcher who is throwing well. You know, until he actually stops throwing well. But managers now try to anticipate that and get the man out of the game before it happens. We used to call it a Quick Hook and regard it as unusual, but it seems to be turning into Standard Operating Procedure. But the fourth inning is very, very early. After due consideration... Check.

Obviously, this time it didn't work. Check.

Managers have been pulling this stunt in the post-season for at least 99 years (Bucky Harris, 1924 World Series.) There's lots of precedent. It's just that I can't conceive of a situation where I'd trust Yusei Kikuchi over Jose Berrios. My imagination doesn't have that kind of scope.
Joe - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#438820) #
I do wonder if Vlad needs some off-season surgery for one or both of wrist/hand and knee. Anecdotally, he's never really been the same since he got spiked in that 3-homer game in Yankee Stadium back in 2022; maybe it's simply hope talking, but it'd sure be nice if it was a physical reason!
uglyone - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:18 AM EDT (#438821) #
like the explanation is an easy one.

"we think that Kikuchi had a better chance of getting that set of batters out than Berrios, based on handedness and berrios going third time through the order".

fans aren't that dumb. we can understand it. and disagree with it (i.e. berrios was clearly sharp, playoffs are very tough and you never know who will be sharp or not, and Kikuchi is anything but a reliable known quantity even in non-pressure situations, let alone high-pressure ones).

but when they don't explain and defend it, it just feels like they think we're too dumb to understand it and make a sound rebuttal.

Magpie - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#438822) #
Guerrero's been here for so long already that we forget how young he is. (Younger than Davis Schneider!) I think he hasn't quite figured out who and what he is, as a player and as a hitter. I don't think Bo Bichette, who's a year older, really figured himself out as a hitter until halfway through last season. Guerrero's not there yet. They're both so talented that they were able to get by anyway.
uglyone - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#438823) #
this sounds like farewell:

uglyone - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#438824) #
p.s. nobody look at the Sun's front page today you will be offended
lexomatic - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:42 AM EDT (#438826) #
"he had no experience of how to get out of difficulties - he'd never had any before."

This is where the coaching comes in, or the player being "uncoachable." I feel like there might be a bit of both here.

I also wonder if it's something that's bothering Guerrero. He had an easy time in the majors, and maybe still hasn't figured out how to deal with adversity. He may always be his own worst enemy and trying too hard. Or he might figure out how to get out of his own way. His focus issues might be hitting failures taking up too much space during game play. Or not. He may have injuries or not. I still think he's messed himself up with blown calls and expecting consistency from people.
Who knows.
John Northey - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#438827) #
The Toronto Sun is the usual rag - not fit for wrapping fish in. Used to be a fun paper in the sports section, but has degraded badly over the years into 'angry old white man' paper only. Yeah, I'm an old white guy but my rage I save for politics (strong Green here who used to vote PC in the 80's and 90's then grew up and that is as far as I'll go on politics here). When blogs like this one are more mature than a major newspaper there is a problem and it isn't here.

As to ratings, the only shift I'd do is flipping Vlad & Varsho - Varsho's defense was so fun to watch all year he deserves more recognition for it imo. Maybe shift Manoah to F due to his attitude post demotion, with 2 more options he could be trapped in Buffalo for a long, long time if he won't do the work needed to get back to the majors. That'd be a sad situation but no one will give the Jays value for him in a trade right now so why would you dump him for pennies?

Kiermaier was a lot of fun here, it is sad his time here will be just 1 season, but there really isn't anywhere for him to play in 2024 here - Varsho needs to go to CF full time, and the Jays need a big bat more than gold glove defense in LF. That is why I'd love them to sign Bellinger - probably 5 years $125 mil I'm guessing given his poor 2021/22 and great 2023 (WARs of -1.7, 1.2, 4.4 those 3 years but entering his age 28 season). His peak was 8.6 in 2019 and he is a decent CF who, if moved to LF, would keep the Jays OF as a 'wow' on defense while jumping the offense (133 OPS+, 120 lifetime). One online guess I saw was $93 mil over 5 years which I'd jump at if I was the Jays.
Ryan Day - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 11:01 AM EDT (#438828) #
The amount of displeasure players expressed with the organization casts a different light on the Manoah situation. Not to let him off the hook for being terrible, but it's not hard to imagine some poor communication skills or inconsistent management escalating the conflict.
Mike Green - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 11:04 AM EDT (#438829) #
UO, Berrios faced 12 batters. The third time through the order was 6 batters away. Berrios has been very effective 2nd time through the order in general, never mind an outing when he is on his game specifically.

The real explanation is that the analytics department believed that in the long run, taking into account everything, the club was better off with Kikuchi in there. They apparently believed that having a lefty hitter or two out of the game would ultimately enhance their chances of winning the game. That judgment was pretty bad.
scottt - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 11:06 AM EDT (#438830) #
Davis Schneider's issue wasn't so much about the borderline pitches than the outrageous calls.
Even in the last game while the commentators were laughing about Bichette's tumble at third, he took a fastball over his armpits for a strike.

On Tuesday, the ump's zone wasn't large on the outside corner and I would have loved to see hit at least get a swing.
Leaside Cowboy - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#438831) #
Steve Simmons really jumped the shark a while back.
hypobole - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 11:27 AM EDT (#438832) #
Thank you for your semi-annual reminder of that incident from 8 years ago. Water must never go under the bridge.
uglyone - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 11:40 AM EDT (#438833) #
seriously though, imagine having the gall to lecture the guy who had just built a better team in 5yrs than you ever had in your 20+yr career.

hypobole - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#438834) #
The Berrios decision was similar to the Blake Snell pull back in 2021. Analytics are great if interpreted properly. But numbers don't take into account whether the pitcher is pitching great or pitching poorly. That is the error that doomed Tampa in 2021. Unconscionable for it to be repeated by the Jays.

Because although there is upside if it works out, the downside is so much greater on many levels if it doesn't.
hypobole - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 12:09 PM EDT (#438835) #
No disagreement that Shapiro should have kept his mouth shut.

But Shapiro was GM for the 93 win 2005 and the 96 win 2007 Cleveland teams. And since you're going back 20+ years for whatever reason other than hyperbole, the John Hart teams won 100, 99 and 97.
85bluejay - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#438836) #
Analytics is a tool to help people make decisions, the problem is if they let the analytics alone make the decision.
Mike Green - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#438837) #
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., like Ted Williams, is best as a line-drive hitter, who sometimes misses a little and hits a fly ball way over the fence.  Fair enough.  Here's what his batted ball data looked like in 2021 and 2023:

2021- 18.8% LD, 44.8%GB, 36.5%FB, 7.7%IFFB, 26.5%HR/FB
2023- 18.4% LD, 46.2%GB, 35.4%FB, 11.7%IFFB, 14.5%HR/FB

The first three numbers are within the margin of error; the last two are not.   But his ground-ball rate was lower and his fly-ball rate was higher in 2021 than in 2023 (for what it's worth, he pulled more often in 2023 than in 2021).  Too much loft does not seem to be the issue.  Incidentally, his line-drive rate was lower in his other 3 years.  He is not likely to be a league leader in the 25-30% range, as Bo Bichette does.  Ground balls have always been a poor outcome for him since he arrived at the major leagues.  His launch angle is low and even when he hits the ball hard on the ground, the results on average are poor. 

Statcast says that his barrel rate went from 15% in 2021 to 11% in 2023.  11% is 74th in the major leagues (but just behind Freddie Freeman).  It's hard to have a lot of success if you are not barrelling the ball very often and not hitting a lot of line drives (which is how Freddie Freeman succeeds).  Guerrero Jr.'s barrel rate of 15% in 2021 is an outlier in his career- it has been 11% or lower every other year.  And his walk rate has been a pedestrian 10% over his career. 

Over the last two years, he has swung at 33% of pitches outside the zone (27.5% in 2021) and has made contact on these pitches outside the zone 65% of the time.  What I think he needs to do is make a mental adjustment.  The high chase rate and the poor contact that follows from it is the root, in my view. I think that he needs to spit on pitches more. And I believe that the Home Run Derby is a terrible idea for him.  First, it encourages more fly-balls rather than line drives because those are the ones that leave the yard.  It also is a completely different mental attitude- if a pitch is just outside the zone in the derby and you have a chance to hit it out, you should swing. 

Can Eddie Murray give him a tutorial?






92-93 - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#438838) #
Regarding Atkins, would your grade have changed if the Jays won 1 fewer game and missed the playoffs? If yes, that's the grade he deserved. If not, then you are a very generous grader. This GM was handed the eventual #1 prospect in baseball and then was given a few years of breathing room before being allowed to spend to the luxury tax, and his team barely snuck into an expanded playoff format after underachieving all season. He handled the Bass situation horribly (regardless of how you feel about players being vilified for sharing their personal beliefs), and then handled the Manoah situation even worse.
85bluejay - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#438839) #
Trade Rumors has Romano projected for $7.7m - I'd move him.
scottt - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 01:14 PM EDT (#438840) #
I find it interesting that Bass has remained out of baseball.

The only Manoah issue for me is the poor results on the field.
Apparently Manoah is upset about missing super-two status.
For next year, they need an option in case Manoah is still struggling but one that doesn't block him if he turns it around. Maybe Mitch White gets another shot, but it would be nice to aim a little bit higher.

greenfrog - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#438842) #
I would be surprised if Atkins directly addressed the Berrios debacle. He would have to explain that he and Shapiro (at least sometimes) issue strategic directives to the manager and that Schneider is (at least sometimes) a middle manager who lacks autonomy to make his own important strategic decisions. This is not a truth that is likely to be well received by fans and players. And it would attract blame for the decision to pull Berrios.

Hence the silence from Atkins and Shapiro on this issue.
jerjapan - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 01:27 PM EDT (#438843) #
To be fair to the Sun, the box is more mature than the Star too.  It's this next generation of journalists coming up.  Sun / Star / you name it, they are all ideological hires these days.  Gotta get them clicks. 

Wilner had a great quote though, responding to Schneider's 'that's baseball sometimes' with 'certainly didnít look like baseball to a lot of observers'.
I was sort of expecting a move like that.  Not that early, but too early. 

This is our front office's MO.  More corporate AI than human, at this point, I'm afraid. 

I would be ironically happy if we fired Atkins and replaced him with an ex big-leaguer type.  The former stars sometimes have the stubbornness and the gravitas required to stand up to dumb corporate boardspeak. 

If the human factor were considered at all, the fans, the players, the enormous amount of hope and fear and goddman humanity centred around this moment, no chance does Schneider pull Berrios. 

Berrios, in that moment, was why we are all there.  That magical start, that potential addition to the lore.  The fandomness of the whole damn thing.  

"Mommy, what's wrong with Berrios"?"Nothing honey, Alexa just thought it was time for him to go"

Not, who wins.  Berrios, dealing, hometown comeback.  Break that GD losing streak.  Force game three.  Give us a reason to cheer. 

And making a proud leader of men like Schneider take that walk, take the ball from that man in front of his team, contrary to what they talked about and preached and committed to all year?   
And then he has to speak in that bland corporatese?  Pretty gross. 

You know, if people were just thinking up 'Shatkins' now, it might resonate a bit differently. 

And hey, ya'll, as always, this site remains awesome AF.  I meant what I said up front in this post - I trust this community more than I do the Star right now (only paper I've ever subscribed to). 

It's facts, it's stats, it's demonstrably true stuff, more often than not.  Not enough of that around right now. 

I got "Fortunate Son" cranked, and Evan Williams and I are toasting the end of the year.  Kudos to you guys for being the best Jays community out there, best sports fan community I know, tbh, and I watched my Jingu Swallows play in the Japan Series back in the day. 

And cheers to Mags and My Legacy, for your taste in spirits.  I'm more of a classic rail guy myself, but that El Dorado 12? 




scottt - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 01:38 PM EDT (#438844) #
Guerrero projects to more than 20M in arbitration.
Romano, close to 8M. Varsho, over 5M which is what Jansen should ink.

Cimber would qualify for over 3M which might be too much of a gamble.
Swanson and Kirk remain cheap at less than 3M.

Coming off the books, 2OM for Ryu, 12.5 for Chapman, 9.3  for Belt and 9 for KK.
That's around 50M. Ideally most of that goes towards one big bat and the AAA kids fill up the roster.

Magpie - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#438845) #
Regarding Atkins, would your grade have changed if the Jays won 1 fewer game and missed the playoffs?

No.

Four or five less? Probably.

I have confessed this many times, but I don't normally sweat a whole lot about the grades (I'm in it for the wisecracks, like I say.) Once I had figured out a way to deal with the partial players (Schneider, Francis, Jackson, Clement) there were just four that I spent longer than five seconds on - Chapman and Varsho among the players. And Schneider and Atkins. I felt like giving them both Ds, but the 89 wins wouldn't let me.
Mike Green - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#438847) #
And in the case of Atkins, it's easy to point to good things he did-the signings of Bassitt, Kiermaier and Belt, for starters- that significantly contributed to the win total.

I'd still give him a D, because of his overarching responsibility for player development (which did not go well) and because of the tone he set. My blood has turned sour maybe.
pooks137 - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#438848) #
Steve Simmons really jumped the shark a while back.

Dating back at least to his infamous "Who are you and why are you talking to me?" Twitter exchange with Jose Bautista BITD.

92-93 - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 02:23 PM EDT (#438849) #
It's too early to applaud the Bassitt signing (just look at Springer/Ryu taking up > 20% of payroll this year) and Kiermaier's signing was good value but unnecessary with the Varsho offer on the table.
vw_fan17 - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 02:56 PM EDT (#438851) #
$20M for Vlad? For 1 WAR? That's gonna be tough to take..
I really think he's swinging TOO hard, trying to hit everything at 115 mph. Look at how "hard" Davis Schneider swung and hit a bunch of extra base hits.. Back off a little in power, be a little quicker. Maybe try a different bat weight.
uglyone - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#438852) #

Highest Oppo% this season:

27.1% ó Miami Marlins
26.2 ó Toronto Blue Jays
25.7% ó Cleveland Guardians
25.6% ó St. Louis Cardinals.

Guillermo Martinez would be a perfect fit for the Marlins.#NextLevel pic.twitter.com/hLcPeZixkn

— BlueJays Muse (@BlueJays_Muse) October 6, 2023
Michael - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#438853) #
I've long felt that the Box was/is too hard on AA. I thought his time here was excellent and remain convinced that he didn't actually "sell the farm", but continued to receive (outsized) value selling high on prospects and turning them into major league talent not by developing all of them, but by trading many of them for major league talent. It sounds like with the combination of hindsight + AA's time in Atlanta more of the box is slowing coming to view him a bit more positive, but I still think his time with the Jays is underrated.

That said, I think there's an over correction around Atkins/Shapiro. I still think they are an above average front office and have done a pretty good job at increasing the payroll, making smart free agent signings, and developing the team. They've signed a lot of pitchers that have turned out pretty well from both a performance and health point of view (not just this year, but past folks like Robbie Ray and others too). A number of their free agent position signings have also worked out well, most recently Belt and KK, but others like Semien or even Gurriel himself. Things haven't been perfect, there have been obvious gaps in past years (there weren't really any obvious gaps this year, just some guys underperforming more than you'd expect) and I'm not claiming they are the best front office in baseball, but I think they remain better than average with more hits than misses. I think the biggest question is player development / getting the most out of the younger players be it offensive development and/or mental development and/or in game management/roster management.
GabrielSyme - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#438857) #
Vlad xwOBA:

2021: .417
2022: .347
2023: .374

I don't think there was anything obviously wrong about how Vlad's approach to hitting this year as opposed to 2021. What I would like is for someone to tell him to be a professional hitter. I think he presses, and then his plate discipline goes to hell, he swings at pitchers' pitches when he's ahead in the count, etc. Coaches need to encourage him to have a consistent approach, rather than changing it depending on score, situation, what he's done in previous at-bats, and so forth.
Nigel - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#438858) #
That Atkins/Shapiro haven't owned what happened in Game 2 yet is Exhibit A in why they need to go (and I say that as someone who has believed that they've done an ok (not great) job while here). Part of good leadership is to own your bad decisions, make clear that the people who executed them aren't to blame and vow to make sure you do whatever you can to ensure the same bad decisions aren't made. That they have been silent and not stood up for their decision is both cowardly and speaks to significant personal insecurity. Frankly, that they didn't own their mistake around rushing Manoah back was a similar problem. You can do far worse than the current FO but I've lost faith as a fan and I surmise that many players have as well.

Fabulous read as always Magpie.
hypobole - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 04:08 PM EDT (#438859) #
Atkins is supposed to have a press conference tomorrow.
Hodgie - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#438860) #
You can add the inept handling of the Bass situation to examples demonstrating the front office's lack of leadership and accountability. If you subscribe to the "third time is a pattern" axiom that is ....

A good read as always Magpie, thank you.

Magpie - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#438861) #
I surmise that many players have as well.

Merrifield is one thing, he's probably gone anyway. But Guerrero, Bichette, and Biggio? Who all sounded confused, surprised, blind-sided.
Nigel - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 04:34 PM EDT (#438862) #
If Atkins owns the call tomorrow that will be good but won't repair the fact that its taken several days to do so. In the interim, the people who executed the decision have been left hanging.
Glevin - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#438863) #
"I've long felt that the Box was/is too hard on AA. I thought his time here was excellent and remain convinced that he didn't actually "sell the farm", but continued to receive (outsized) value selling high on prospects and turning them into major league talent not by developing all of them, but by trading many of them for major league talent. It sounds like with the combination of hindsight + AA's time in Atlanta more of the box is slowing coming to view him a bit more positive, but I still think his time with the Jays is underrated."

He absolutely emptied the cupboard and I don't see how you can argue otherwise. The top position players under 30 years old left on the team were Pillar and Devon Travis. The system was completely empty. The only players who have had any impact in the majors have been Vlad and Jansen who would come up years later. Tellez probably 3rd best and he's a 0 career WAR guy. The there was zero talent in the upper minors. Jays had no meaningful rookies come through the system in 2016 or 2017. From 2016-2020, that's four years!!! after AA had left, the system he left, produced almost nothing. Danny Jansen and Ryan Borucki. The new front office got more talent from their 2016 draft than AA had given them in about 5 years. You can't win when you have a farm system that doesn't give you anything and almost all your core players are over 30. AA learned from this I'm sure but also let's not pretend he built the Braves team. He went to a uniquely great situation for a GM, not taking over a team in disarray but a team with as much under-25 YO talent as anyone in baseball. He has done a very good job especially with managing to lock up players long term at great value, but I am sure Shapiro or anyone else would kill for a head start like that.
uglyone - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 05:27 PM EDT (#438864) #
Don't look now but it's been 2yrs since a "meaningful" rookie came through (unless you count 100pa from schneider) and i'm not sure there's any great candidates to be meaningful next year either.
Nigel - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 05:37 PM EDT (#438865) #
I'm loathe to get into the whole AA thing because there are pluses and minuses to the whole debate. But, I've always wondered why his "emptying the bucket" (of what were ultimately poor) prospects is actually a criticism of his regime? In my view, that's exactly what you are supposed to do when you believe in your core and you see an opportunity to contend. Its one of the two viable routes available to the current FO this offseason. Unless you are the two or three biggest spenders and can simply outspend your place on the success curve you have to empty the bucket occasionally near the top of the curve and with that comes an empty cupboard after the fact. I view AA's trading all of the prospects as one of his greatest strengths and successes (after his smarts to sign up long term, below value, contracts with stars). Now, if you want to get critical be critical of who they drafted and how they were developed. That's fertile ground.
Magpie - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 06:11 PM EDT (#438867) #
At some point, Anthopoulos simply had to empty the cupboard and go all-in even if nothing was left afterward. Jose Bautista turned 35 in 2015. Encarnacion and Martin were 32, Dickey was 40, Buehrle 36.
Marc Hulet - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 06:41 PM EDT (#438869) #
Even good teams like the Dodgers, who spend big bucks on FAs, give their inhouse prospects a fair shot to play... and not just the high picks. The Dodgers have benefited from the likes of Jonny DeLuca and James Outman.

The Jays only give ABs to young players when they have absolutely no other choice.

Giving young players opportunities is important so they have some experience and can help when the vets get hurt or are ineffective.
dalimon5 - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 08:27 PM EDT (#438871) #
I must be the biggest supporter and defender of Shapiro on here. I've been extremely critical of AA because I feel he actioned well only after getting his notice of non renewal or when he found out someone else was getting his promotion.

Things are different for me now. Shapiro has gotten too cute, too smart and at the end of 2023 all they can say is that they have as many playoff wins as JP Ricciardi in the same amount of time. They even have it easier without the juggernauts of the Red Sox and Yankees that Ricciardi had to contend with and they had extra wild card spots.

2022, 22 and 23 was an exercise of anti climactic under performance and over estimation from this group. The window is closing rapidly and the waves of prospects has never materialized. If they magically cure Manoah, resign Bo and sign or trade for a big bat then maybe they can salvage, but the perception and my opinion has drastically shifted.
hypobole - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#438872) #
13 arb eligbles.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/10/projected-arbitration-salaries-for-2024.html

Cimber is a non-tender, maybe Richards. Anyone else?

John Northey - Friday, October 06 2023 @ 10:38 PM EDT (#438874) #
Interesting list...
  • Locks to be kept... $53.3 mil (10 players)
    • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (4.157): $20.4MM
    • Jordan Romano (4.051): $7.7MM
    • Daulton Varsho (3.128): $5.5MM
    • Danny Jansen (5.050): $5.2MM
    • Tim Mayza (4.156): $3.3MM
    • Cavan Biggio (4.129): $3.7MM
    • Erik Swanson (4.096): $2.7MM
    • Alejandro Kirk (3.047): $2.6MM
    • Genesis Cabrera (4.011): $1.4MM
    • Nate Pearson (3.005): $800K
  • Likely to stay ($4.9 mil - 2 players)
    • Trevor Richards (5.084): $2.4MM (yeah, yeah, but seems to be a manager favorite)
    • Santiago Espinal (3.149): $2.5MM (I could see arguments to dump, but at $2.5 mil he is a reasonable priced backup)
  • Toast ($3.2 mil - 1 player)
    • Adam Cimber (5.156): $3.2MM
If the budget is tighter than it should be I could see Richards and Espinal being waived goodbye to. The smart move imo is to trade both for anything you can get (even low A prospects) just to open roster space for 2024.

Pen in 2024: Romano-Swanson-Garcia-Mayza-Cabrera-Green all signed or in arbitration or with weird contract (Green). 6 locked up slots. 2 open for Pearson, Francis, Richards, Pop, White, an assortment of minor leaguers, etc. plus always a chance they'll resign Hicks (he was nice to have with Romano at the end of games). Not a lot of space so I'd dump Richards and see if a deal can be made to clear out Garcia too.

For the offense we're losing Chapman, Belt, Merrifield, and Kiermaier almost 100% for sure. Schneider takes one slot (Merrifield's most likely), a few kids could take Chapman's slot (Tanner Morris, Orelvis Martinez, Leo Jimenez, Damiano Palmegiani, Addison Barger) and Belt's (Horwitz). Everyday LF is a bit more challenging - Schneider could be put there, as could Barger as both have time in the OF but that wouldn't be ideal, nor would Horwitz who also has LF time in AAA. Cam Eden isn't a good enough hitter to be an everyday player but could be a good 4th OF like Lukes was this year at times. Ernie Clement deserves a slot imo, be it backup or in the everyday mix if his offensive jump this year in AAA/ML is even close to being for real.
Mike Green - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 09:53 AM EDT (#438877) #
My 2024 opening day Blue Jays as of this moment:

7 Roden
4 Schneider
9 Springer
6 Bichette
0 Guerrero Jr.
3 Horwitz
2 Jansen/Kirk
5 Biggio/Espinal
8 Varsho

SP: Gausman, Bassitt, Berrios, Kikuchi, Francis

RP: Romano, Swanson, Garcia, Mayza, Cabrera, Pearson

Additional bench: Clement

I'm not suggesting, of course, that this is where they should end up. Despite the subtraction of Chapman, Kiermaier, Belt and Hicks, I don't see this lineup as more than a game or two behind the 2022 Jays. The trick is to add 5 wins with the $, or to rebuild entirely. I do think they need someone new in the GM's chair, and perhaps more importantly, they need to revisit roles (who advises and who decides).
99BlueJaysWay - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#438878) #
I donít understand the thought process from several boxites about using the Buffalo Boys to fill our vacancies. To me, that feels like punting season and wasting a year of contention.

The team is built to win now. They need to add impact talent to the line up, not be cheap and save money. Itís not 2000 anymore. Weíre a big market and we should expect the team to spend that way
uglyone - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#438880) #
Big Man Atkins just threw schneider all the way under rhe bus.
uglyone - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#438882) #
"I donít understand the thought process from several boxites about using the Buffalo Boys to fill our vacancies. To me, that feels like punting season and wasting a year of contention.

The team is built to win now. They need to add impact talent to the line up, not be cheap and save money. Itís not 2000 anymore. Weíre a big market and we should expect the team to spend that way"


Agreed.

uglyone - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 11:14 AM EDT (#438883) #
Coward Atkkns throws Schneider under the bus.

Coward Shapiro makes Atkins face the music.

Coward Rogers is business as usual.

uglyone - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 11:17 AM EDT (#438884) #
What a bunch of losers.
John Northey - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#438888) #
For me it is more being realistic about the budget - they ain't gonna go to Mets levels ($300 mil) or Yankee ($275). I'd put $250 as the absolute limit. Given that where are the Jays now?

Via Spotrac (current contracts) and MLB Trade Rumors (arbitration) we get...

Under Contract: $120.5 mil (8 players)
Arbitration: $58.2 mil (12 players)
Open slots: 6 players (at ML minimum [$740k] = $4.44 mil, at free agency prices = $$$$)

So that totals $183.14 mil for 2024. For 2023 raw payroll appears to have been just $189,777,378 vs the luxury tax purposed $248,097,325 (lots of extras get added in). So based on that there really isn't much room left, under $10 mil.
Nigel - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#438892) #
No one who follows baseball or this team actually believes that that was Schneiderís call alone. So why say it? Itís an act of unspeakably poor leadership but I really donít understand the point. If Shapiro is as safe in his job as I believe he is then Atkins probably is as well so why the charade?
BlueJayWay - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#438895) #
Well, Atkins straight out said it was Schneider's decision, and he (Atkins) was as surprised as anyone. It's hard to see why Atkins, who usually indulges in waffly politician-speak, would be so blunt and direct about it if it wasn't the straight truth. Btw, he also said Schneider would be back managing next year.
Nigel - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 01:08 PM EDT (#438899) #
I donít believe a word of what Atkins said.
James W - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 01:58 PM EDT (#438910) #
You forgot to mention the cowardice of doing this on a Saturday morning of a long weekend.
John Northey - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 08:10 PM EDT (#438942) #
For positive stuff one should look at defense...
  • C: Kirk #2 in majors for DRS at 17, #1 was Moreno at 20. Jansen a poor -2 this year
  • 1B: Vlad was -7, ranked #174 of #177 for guys with 1 or more innings at 1B. Nuff said. Others were Horwitz +1, Biggio -1, Belt -2.
  • 2B: 0 DRS was the best here (Schneider & Clement), Espinal was -1, Biggio -3, Merrifield -4
  • 3B: Chapman was #3 with 12, Biggio a surprise +1, Clement 0, Schneider -1 (in just 17 innings), Espinal -2
  • SS: Bo at +4 #13 overall, tied with Clement (4 in just 100 innings), 0's for Biggio, Espinal, and McCoy. DeJong for 3 teams ended up at 0 (somehow appropriate for him to be a big 0)
  • OF: Varsho #1 in the majors for DRS overall with 29 (2 ahead of Tatis). #4 is Kiermaier at 18. Springer at +2, Lukes & Schneider +1, Eden 0, Biggio -2, Merrifield -4.
So pretty easy to see why I hated to see them hit for any of our big 3 OF late in a game and bring in Merrifield or Biggio for defense. Kirk seemed great behind the plate for defense and his bat is now just a bonus, same as Varsho in CF. Clearly having Mattingly here to help Vlad get better after a gold glove 2022 didn't remotely work out (+3 DRS in 2022, -7 in 2023). If Mattingly is one of the coaches going good bye I wouldn't complain one bit. Our hitters almost universally performed worse, the decisions made by the bench were questionable most of the time and the guy he was supposed to help with defense he hurt by any measure.

For 2024 the Jays clearly need to work with Vlad on his defense or just make him a near full time DH. Horwitz seems good there for defense if his bat can come to life. Schneider at 2B and Bo at SS seem OK with Clement as the backup, Biggio at 3B I'd have never thought I'd say would be decent but here we are. The OF of Varsho & Springer are solid as are backups Lukes & Schneider.

The big free agent the Jays might go after (Bellinger) was +5 at 1B, -3 in CF last year, but has looked good in RF (+18 once) in the past and could be very good in LF I'd assume.
John Northey - Saturday, October 07 2023 @ 08:29 PM EDT (#438943) #
I should point out how Bo went from -16 DRS last year to +4 this year, -7 OOA to -2, -5 RAA to -2. I suspect if I dug into stats from other sources I'd see similar improvements. Basically he decided he needed to improve his defense and he did so in spades. BR has his dWAR going from -0.8 to +1.2 (a 2 win spread). All very nice to see.
jz6pwc - Monday, October 09 2023 @ 09:29 AM EDT (#438979) #
"So based on that there really isn't much room left, under $10 mil."

Not sure I understand your math, isn't it $50 mil to spend before $250?
Mike Green - Monday, October 09 2023 @ 11:49 AM EDT (#438980) #
A propos of not very much.  I was looking at the Hall of Fame case for Chase Utley who is on the ballot for 2024.  I noted that he had 40 bWAR for the period 2005-09.  It's the second highest of any position player during the period behind Albert Pujols.  So I thought that it would be fun to check those with 30 bWAR plus from 2015-19, 2010-14 and working backwards.  It turns out that Utley's figure would have led for most 5 year spans.  The random thing that I found interesting was the 1970-74 period- there were 3 players with more than 30 bWAR (Morgan 36, Bench 33, Rose 30).  Of course, the Reds didn't win their World Series until 75-76.

Utley never won a Gold Glove during his prime, although the metrics suggest that he was excellent. The Gold Gloves went to Luis Castillo (who had been the incumbent prior to 2005), Orlando Hudson (who was very good but maybe not as good as Utley by that point) and Brandon Phillips (?). 
John Northey - Monday, October 09 2023 @ 08:06 PM EDT (#438983) #
My math was messed up due to using an assortment of sites that aren't the best. Now that Cot's is back up (yay!) and has arbitration estimates (woohoo) we can quickly see an apples to apples comparison. 2024: $214,520,953 right now (projected) leaving $22,479,047 before going into luxury tax, with $20 mil more before hitting level 2 (where few teams go), let along 3 (Yankees territory - another $20 mil), or level 4 (Mets - $297+ or another $20 mil).

So safe to say the Jays have $22 mil in their pockets plus a bit, up to $42 mil total to spend (doubt they want to reach level 2). Final payroll for 2023 was $258,071,541 - $43,550,588 more than 2024 is currently at. Or more than enough to sign Cody Bellinger should they choose to and having space to resign Hicks. IMO that would be a successful winter - to sign those 2 to keep the pen strong and lock in a strong OF (defense) for a few years with Bellinger/Varsho/Springer. Have kids take over 3B or 2B (between Schneider, Orvelis Maritnez, Addison Barger, and other kids you should be able to fill one of those 2 with Biggio/Espinal running the other). DH ... well, Horwitz would be a decent part of the mix with Springer getting more time there plus Vlad getting lots of DH time.
bpoz - Tuesday, October 10 2023 @ 08:12 AM EDT (#438987) #
Do the Jays have to pay a penalty for the high 2023 payroll?
John Northey - Tuesday, October 10 2023 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#438996) #
Just cash - 20% on part that went over $230 mil

30% if they go over in 2024, 50% for overages in 2025. Base for it is at $233 mil for 2023, $237 mil for 2024, $241 for 2025. If they go $20-$40 mil over then there is a 12% surcharge, if they go $40+ mil over then their top draft pick is pushed back 10 slots.

Thus the rough estimate is the Jays pay based on their payroll of $258,071,541 in 2023 is $25,071,541 x 20% + 8,071,541 * 12% = $5,614,308 + $968,585 = $6,582,893. Doing the same next year would cost $21,071,541 x 30% + 1,071,541 * 12% = $6,321,462 + $128,585 = $6,450,047 - so the same payroll in 2024 would cost about $130k less than this year due to the base growing by $3 million despite the 10% increase in cost for the first penalty range. Not bad really. So the Jays really have no excuse for a lower payroll, outside of keeping space open for mid-season.
bpoz - Tuesday, October 10 2023 @ 06:45 PM EDT (#438999) #
Thanks John N. The Jays are a rich team. I am sure this is acceptable.
John Northey - Tuesday, October 10 2023 @ 07:34 PM EDT (#439000) #
FYI: Cody Bellinger is projected by Sportrac to get $22.5 mil per year for 5 years or $112.5 mil total. Seems like a price the Jays can afford to get a solid CF who can shift to LF (hopefully willing to) while Varsho takes over CF full time. That'd eat about half of the expected $44 mil of space the Jays have for 2024 (based on 2023's payroll). In theory that'd be enough space to sign Blake Snell (projected $23.4 per year over 5 years, $117 mil total) but I don't see the Jays doing that.

Other notables projected salaries...
  • Matt Chapman: $17.2 per for 6 years ($103.2 mil)
  • Brandon Belt: $2.5 for 1 year
  • Kevin Kiermaier: $7 for 2 years ($14 total)
  • Whit Merrifield: $8.3 for 2 years ($16.6 total)
  • Jordan Hicks: $3.4 for 2 years ($6.8 total)
  • Teoscar Hernandez: $16.5 per for 4 years $66 mil total
  • Randell Grichuk: $8 for 1 year
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr.: $14.6 for 5 years ($73 total)
  • Josh Donaldson: $3.3 for 1 year
Note: They didn't bother to make a guess at Shohei Ohtani - that one will be a crapshoot. Pure DH I wouldn't go over $30 per for 5, but mix in pitching and the sky is the limit.

At those prices I'd go for Hicks quickly - he would be a good backup closer imo. The ex-Jays hold no interest to me. Belt at $2.5 seems low. Fun to dig in and dream about what could happen, but what most likely will happen is the Jays going with kids/Biggio/Espinal for 2B/3B and trying to sign someone for LF (full time) and DH (LH part time or give to Horwitz depending on their confidence in him).
Michael - Tuesday, October 10 2023 @ 08:58 PM EDT (#439002) #
Belt at $2.5M seems unlikely. He was substantially better than that this past year, and he's talked about possibly retiring, so I'm not sure he'd sign on for "only" $2.5M.

The top 7 OF free agents have Bellinger 1, Teoscar 2, Conforto 3, Pederson 4 ... Gurriel Jr 7. I'm not sure Bellinger is worth 5/22.5 (especially if you plan to move from CF to a corner OF), but he's clearly quite a bit better than the other FA available. I'm not sure if the Jays want to lock up another OF though with younger players coming up or some position flexible players.
John Northey - Tuesday, October 10 2023 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#439008) #
Good question on the younger players here already - which would you put out there?
  • Davis Schneider: 175 OPS+ in majors (141 PA), 275/416/553 in AAA suggesting it wasn't a 100% fluke. 79 minor league games in LF, 3 in majors. 129 at 2B in minors, 109 at 3B.
  • Nathan Lukes: 67 OPS+ in majors (31 PA), 366/423/530 in AAA, 789 OPS in AAA in 2022, 808 in 2021. 114 games in LF in minors vs 311 in CF and 212 in RF. At the very least he is a decent 4th/5th OF
  • Rafael Lantigua: 305/425/469 in AAA split between LF/3B/SS/RF/2B/CF - type of guy the Jays love, 738 OPS in 2022 (AA/AAA), 818 in 2021 (A+/AA). But at 25 already he might be allowed to leave as a minor league free agent
  • Addison Barger: 247/353/392 mostly at AAA in just 94 games (injuries) 33 games in RF, 88 at 3B, 47 at 2B, 10 at 1B. I'd assume he could do LF if he has shown skill in RF and 3B. Showed lots of potential in spring (294/351/441).
  • Alan Roden: A+/AA: 317/430/459 - shows promise, at least 1/2 a year away imo, more likely 1 1/2 - 2 years.
  • Steward Berroa: 257/368/390 in AA/AAA mostly in CF but lots of time in RF and LF. Stole 47 both this year and last.
  • Spencer Horwitz: 102 OPS+ majors, 337/450/495 in AAA (843 OPS in AA/AAA in 2022, 800's every year of pro career). He can hit, should be the DH/1B in 2024, but does have 67 games in LF to go with 252 at 1B and 7 at 2B. He'd be the weakest defensively out there most likely, but should be on the team in some capacity including LF backup.
Those guys caught my eye the most as possible for 2024 at some point in LF. If the Jays feel they have a solution for both 2B and 3B (Orelvis Martinez in that mix with Barger and Schneider) then letting some kid take over LF might work, but then we're getting into way too many kids outside of a full rebuild. The more I look at it the more I like a 1 year stopgap guy for LF or 3B or 2B to minimize the number of kids in the lineup this year, although I wouldn't resist getting Bellinger (120 OPS+ lifetime, 133 last year, peak of 167 in 2019) as his potential ceiling is very high. Otherwise I'd be looking at trades (always challenging to make good ones).
John Northey - Wednesday, October 11 2023 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#439020) #
By position BR has final WAA (Wins Above Average) totals, Jays ranked #7 in the majors at 12.0 WAA.  Pitchers #15 (1.1), Starting #19 0.7 (Parson and Manoah dragging it down hard), Relief #13 0.4, non-pitchers #6 10.9, Top 10's at C (#8 1.0), 3B (#4 2.5), SS (#7 2.1), LF (#8 0.7), CF (#2 3.1), DH (#6 1.0).  Positive but sub #10: 1B (#11 0.1), 2B (#17 0.1).  Ugly (sub 0) was RF (#14 -0.2).

That suggests for 2024 RF is a concern (big time as Springer is entering his age 34 season and is signed for 3 more years) - very important for him to rebound.  2B could easily improve if they give it to Schneider (1.4 WAA in 2023) and dump Merrifield (-1.2 WAA).  1B is a Vlad issue - as I said before I'm feeling hopeful given he is going to Dunedin for the winter to work out and try to get into the best shape possible.  The new holes at DH, 3B, LF (as Varsho moves to CF) could be big issues though.  Biggio ended a slight negative in WAA at -0.2.  I really, really hope one of the kids is ready to take over at 3B thus solving that issue and letting Biggio be in the mix for every other position on the field.  These stats also suggest the pitching wasn't as strong as it seemed so if the Jays can deal someone (Kikuchi) and sign a solid replacement that'd be a good thing.  Really need Manoah to return to form and Tiedemann to be ready soon.
Michael - Wednesday, October 11 2023 @ 03:36 PM EDT (#439027) #
Worth noting those are wins above average, not above replacement level, so having one position marginally below average is not really an "ugly" situation. It also points out what we already know - that it is hard to make the Jays better easy/cheap as they don't really have glaring holes. Sure it is always nice to add stars, but this isn't a case where you can just sign some average guy to cover a position that was replacement level or below, everywhere was at least average (but few were way, way above average).
Mike Green - Wednesday, October 11 2023 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#439028) #
One cool thing from the BR chart.  You might wonder why the Blue Jay starting pitching is only at 0.7 Wins Above Average, which ranks 12th of American League rotations ahead only of Houston (!), Kansas City and Oakland.  It's the defensive contribution to runs prevented.  So, Yusei Kikuchi is at 0.4 Wins Above Average which isn't terrible, but about equivalent to his 2021 season with Seattle where the defense was almost exactly average.  Jose Berrios was at 0.7 WAA and had been at 1.7-1.8 WAA in 2018, 2019 and 2021.  Much less defensive support.  And as for Manoah, not only was he allowing 6 and 1/4 runs per game, he was doing it for 19 starts with a good defence.  It amounts to -1.9 WAA and -1.1 WAR.  They need at least replacement level performance out of the #5 slot, and Kikuchi is a pretty good bet for that.  They do need a #4 starter though. 
John Northey - Wednesday, October 11 2023 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#439029) #
Yeah Mike Green - I agree on that.  Those stats are a good warning about our staff - while good it is potentially at risk as they counted a lot on the defense.  For 2024 what can we expect on defense?
Varsho led the majors in DRS at 29 with most of his time in LF. Assuming he is in CF all the time in 2024 we'd see a big drop in defense in LF (right now Schneider, LukesEden, Barger are the most likely to take it over).

3B is likely a big drop as well, as Chapman is a top 3 in the majors defender there, but potential replaces from the minors (Martinez, Barger) were SS's so probably strong on defense vs most at 3B.  Counting on Varsho to duplicate his great year on defense might not be the best bet to make especially without KK in CF to provide backup (allowing more risk taking on defense without high costs).

This winter might be a good sell high time with Kikuchi (reasonable $10 mil salary, coming off his best season ever) and roll the dice on a free agent pitcher out there (tons of high quality).  We know the Jays won't be in on a few (Bauer, Urias - both known for beating women), Stroman is always interesting when he is on the market but he slumped bad in the 2nd half, Sonny Gray from the Twins is damn tempting, but most tempting could be Japan's Yoshinobu Yamamoto who is after a $200+ million deal and has a sub 2 ERA lifetime in Japan (!!!) capped by a 1.16 ERA this past season.  Wow. Imagine that with the Jays defense behind him.  Don't see the Jays signing him but damn he has to be tempting at the very least. Blake Snell is the big gun this winter for proven talent with his 182 ERA+ but the previous 3 full seasons he didn't get to 30 starts which will cut his contract length a bit I'd think.

Our current GM/front office loves pitching and defense - adding a high end starter to go with Gausman at the front, pushing the rest down a slot would be sweet, but expensive.  I figure the Jays have around $40-50 mil to spend this winter if they choose to.  Clear out Kikuchi for prospects and you gain $10 mil more.  I'd try to trade Richards & Garcia too to free up around $8-10 mil also (someone could use proven relievers I'm sure).  Then the Jays have more than enough space to sign a top end starter and hitter (not many of those out there, but could be traded for using the pitching that looks better due to the defense here - teams know about the effect defense has but it isn't hard to get them caught up in 'he turned a corner' storylines).
bpoz - Wednesday, October 11 2023 @ 06:53 PM EDT (#439030) #
I keep thinking about Cito because he did a very good job here.

I blame Ash for letting him go the 1st time and AA the 2nd time. Shapiro/Atkins could have hired him in 2019 but they probably believed that the game had changed. The game had become more intellectual and so Cito's type was no longer the best option. But then look what happened in game 2 of this years playoffs. Also look at Bochy in Texas this year. Maybe next year proves that Bochy, Melvin and the Cito type is not as good as I am presuming.
John Northey - Wednesday, October 11 2023 @ 07:09 PM EDT (#439031) #
I think Cito was ahead of his time in some respects - he recognized the playoffs were different from the regular season and acted like it. He saw his #1 job being getting everyone to buy into the program, whatever it might have been. His players would go through a wall for him without a second thought (his first go-around).  He saw each player as an individual and treated them that way - no cookie cutter approach.  Just don't get on his bad side as once there you can't get out of it (see Rob Ducey and David Wells).  He is too old now to do that so what is needed is for Schneider to get the trust of his players and build from there.  The worst example was Tim Johnson in 1998 who lost his players part way through the season and they played well but more in a 'screw this' method than a 'lets win' basis.

Today the Jays need clear 'this is who does this' coaching. The manager needs to be that - the guy who they know is the one making choices. The coaches need to be 100% clear on their roles and players need to know it too. The college of hitting coaches went too far imo and needs some cutting back or at least adapting - certain coaches work with certain players, or are responsible for certain roles - perhaps one is focused on lower body mostly, another on upper body movement or they feed that data to the head hitting coach who then gives the information to the players in a manner the players can understand/work with/not get overwhelmed by.  Some players need tons of data, some just want to know if their hands moved too much for example.  Vlad was getting 1001 opinions all year which probably hurt him overall.
bpoz - Thursday, October 12 2023 @ 06:35 AM EDT (#439047) #
Great explanation John N.

The minor league coaches got Orelvis to greatly improve. We know how great his progress was in NH. Looking at Buffalo. July 40AB 6BB 9K and 225 Avg. Aug 87AB 11BB 30K 276 Avg. Sept 82AB 9BB 27K and 268 Avg. That is 209 AAA ABs. He will be 22 years old Nov19. Fantastic season.

Orelvis was just an example. My purpose was not to gush over him but instead to point out that he "could" get ruined coming into a bad situation in Toronto.
dalimon5 - Friday, October 13 2023 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#439104) #
John nice write up on how the Jays can go to free agency after trades with almost $70 million freed up to land a pitcher and bat. They could also make a challenge trade with one of their traded pitchers instead of asking back for prospects.
John Northey - Saturday, October 14 2023 @ 01:01 AM EDT (#439143) #
I think that is the way the Jays should go - they need to be Tampa Bay creative (trading for prospects while still contending) and to take advantage of their fiscal clout while it is a big advantage (4 teams without a TV contract at the moment - Arizona, San Diego, Colorado, Pittsburgh thus will be very hesitant to do any big deals this winter; plus Mets talking about taking a step back after blowing their full wad last year failed horribly, the Angels are in no mans land, Houston projected to be on the edge of luxury tax, as are the Rangers). A perfect winter to take a chance on a couple of higher priced guys during the last 2 years of cheap Bo & Vlad (& Biggio & Romano & Mayza & Swanson & Cabrera & Bassitt - dang a lot of free agents post 2025).

Given all that I'd lean towards chasing Yamamoto (young so likely to stay good through contract), and Bellinger (turning 28 so first 5 years he'd be a reasonable age, it is any extras beyond that you might regret). Trade Kikuchi and maybe Manoah for prospects who might be ready after 2025 at any of SS/1B/IF/pen. Springer, Kirk, & Varsho & Gausman are free agents post 2026 btw.

No question this is the winter to go over budget - ideally on 2 year deals but if you go longer it should be for areas that you can work around if prospects emerge (pitching and OF are easiest to move around). If they can't get guys to sign on the dotted line (some just don't want to come to Canada) then trades with teams that are going to be super-budget aware in 2024 should be chased down. The Padres have TONS of guys worth chasing if they decide to cut their budget, Arizona doesn't appear to have any fits, nor does Pittsburgh or Colorado). Mets have Lindor (signed through 2031 for $34 per but was a 6 WAR guy this year), Nimmo (signed through 2030 at $20.5 per) and others like Pete Alonso who won't be traded - seriously doubt they'd trade any of them but a tire kicking can't hurt there. Angels are rumored to be dangling Trout this winter once Ohtani signs elsewhere but I wouldn't touch his contract (ages 32-38 at $37 per with the injury issues he already has you'd be nuts to take that on unless the Angels paid most of it).

Yeah, the more I look the harder it is to find a trade match. The Jays need to chase the few hitters there are in free agency and imo sign one of the top starters to make the rotation more killer and open up the ability to trade for prospects.
vw_fan17 - Saturday, October 14 2023 @ 07:19 PM EDT (#439148) #
MLBTR has a jays specific "Offseason Outlook" article up: Blue Jays Offseason Outlook.
As well, at 8:00 pm EST TONIGHT, they'll have a Jays-centric chat.
John Northey - Sunday, October 15 2023 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#439154) #
Always fun those chats - had to toss in the silly trade idea with SD of Vlad/Bo for Soto/Tatis or Soto/Kim :)

FYI: Trade Values spits on the idea of getting Tatis as it has him with excess value over $200 million which nothing in Toronto's system can match. Kim/Soto for Vlad/Bo is rejected the other way due to Bo's high value. Add in 2 high level pitching prospects (Lesko & Mazur) and it matches up. So would you do that? Get Soto and Kim thus skyrocketing defense in the infield and offense in the OF, get 2 top notch pitching prospects (ages 20/22) but lose Bo & Vlad. Jays then face a tough choice next winter instead of the winter after about how much to spend on one guy. This assumes Kim isn't a free agent post 2024 as his contracts might stipulate. If he is a free agent post 2024 then it is too risky.
Leaside Cowboy - Sunday, October 15 2023 @ 06:09 PM EDT (#439164) #
From the above MLBTR link: " the resurgent Jason Heyward could be an option . . . "

34-year old Heyward looked good with the Dodgers. 117 OPS+ over 124 games.

BlueJayWay - Sunday, October 15 2023 @ 07:31 PM EDT (#439166) #
I can't believe Heyward's only 34. It feels like he's been in the league 25 years
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