Saturday, 31 July 2010

It Ain't Over 'til it's Over

Not much to say about the trade deadline passing uneventfully (for the Jays) with the exception of Tim Collins going to KC, which opens the door, IMO, for the possibility of getting him back at some point in a deal with the Royals (surely we can get him and Kila in the same deal this winter for, for instance, Litsch+).

But I will remind you, in what is likely to be my shortest post ever, that the Jays will immediately put Overbay, McDonald, EE, Wells, Frasor, Camp, Tallet (as if) and maybe Gregg through the waiver wire and hope they all clear. Either now, or perhaps later for strategic reasons, Downs, Buck, and Bautista will be tried too - though any of those three will surely be claimed, it's not impossible the Jays would match up on a deal with the claiming team.

I'd be STUNNED if there were not a couple of Jays major leaguers dealt in August.

Big losers in Jays system today: Roenicke, Accardo, and Carlson.

Friday, 30 July 2010

More thoughts on Gose

28 players in the FSL had a higher OPS than Gose on the day of the trade. It's interesting to note their age.

1. 22 years, as of next Tuesday
2. 25 years, 9 months
3. 25 y, 4 m
4. 24 y (as of this coming August 9)
5. 22 y 10 m
6. 21.9
7. 24
8. 22.10
9. 24.2 (This guy's listed first name is Rebel!)
10. 23.6
11. (McDade) 21.3
12. 24 (as of 8/4/10)
13. 23.9
14. 24.3
15. 23.2
16. 22.5
17. 23.3
18. 24
19. 22 (as of 8/12)
20. 20.4 (.747)
21. 23.7
22. 24.9
23. 23.7
24. 21.6 (.727)
25. (Pastornicky) 20.7 (.724)
26. (d'Arnaud) 21.6 (.713)
27. 24.6
28. 23.8
29. GOSE - 20 as of 8/10 (.710)

the youngest person above Gose is Pastornicky at 20.7 (more on that in a sec) , and next after that is McDade at 21.3 and then d'Arnaud at 21.6

Other hitters under 20 in the FSL:

Daniel Fields - 19.6 (.699)

Okay, I've gone through #38, who's hitting .684 and got tired of looking - #38 is Tim Beckham who, as far as I know, is still considered a premium prospect and a coveted talent. He's 20 years and 6 months old.

I trust that's enough to make the point.

now, consider this - Most Jays fans LOVE Tyler Pastornicky and widely considered him a top 10 talent in our organization. They mourned his departure even if they acknowledged the benefit of getting Esco.


TP: .258 / .348 / .376 / .724 / 24 SB
AG: .263 / .325 / .385 / .710 / 36 SB

TP get him on the BB/K ratios to be sure. But given the drooling of the scouts, they are close enough in results that anyone who thought that Pastornicky acquitted himself well at such a young age in the FSL ought to similarly be impressed with Gose.

d'Arnaud is widely considered a top 100 talent and his line is almost identical to Gose, and he's over a year and a half older (albeit the expectations for catchers are a bit lower).

One other thought.

A lot of Jays fans were really bummed when Adeiny Hechavarria (age 21 years and 3 months) struggled mightily in Dunedin and were STUNNED when he was promoted to AA anyway. Adeiny had a .509 OPS at Dunedin and now has the following line in AA:

.300 / .344 / .418 / .762

One shouldn't assume that struggling in the FSL is a sign of lack of ability, and that's especially true the younger you are.

And the Crowd Gose Wild

You knew I had to work in a pun, right?

Obviously I'm not breaking any news here so i'll be right to the point in reaction to today's deal. first things first, while there's some legitimacy to the idea that Adam Lind will be our next full time 1B (more on that later) let me say right out in front - the next 1B may be a player who's not in the organization yet. let me throw out a name no one else has mentioned today (to my knowledge: Kila Ka'ahue!!!

Sure he's 26 and at AAA again - but that's because the Royals are run by morons. Dude has EIGHTY SIX walks so far this year, his OPS is over 1.000 and it was so two years ago (when he was 24) in AAA. The Royals have a 1B they like, though he's not setting the world on fire, and mysteriously can't even find DH at bats for Kila. Myself, I'd see if they'd bite on Jesse Litsch for him. but I won't presume to dictate terms because Alex has shown he can win a duel with a good GM, I shudder to think what he could do to Dayton Moore.

Now - a couple of thoughts regarding the conversation about Wallace. Two big things I see out there. One is that the Jays "soured on Wallace" - I call that nonsense. If you think the player you are acquiring is a better player than the guy you are dealing, it doesn't necessarily follow that the guy you are dealing is out of favor. Let me ask you this - if the Rays called up and offered us Carl Crawford (potential free agency aside) for Fred Lewis - do we HAVE to be down on Lewis to take that deal?
Now certainly it's POSSIBLE they learned something this year they didn't know from being obsessed with him for years, but i find it doubtful. Anthopoulos reports that he wanted Gose over Wallace last winter and the Phillies wouldn't give him up. If this is true, then why is it necessary that he (Wallace) lost value in his eyes in order to make the deal now? Mainly, I think a lot of armchair analists are bending over backwards to poor-mouth Wallace unnecessarily. Wallace doesn't have to be a disappointment for this to be a good deal.

Second, and related to the first, is the extent to which we trust what AA has told us here. I've seen it argued that, for instance, all the praise Wallace got was just blowing smoke and the Jays knew he was nothing more than Overbay 2.0 without the glove. But the one thing Alex said all winter long is that "if I can't tell you the truth I won't tell you anything at all - I'm not going to lie to you" and he's followed through on that by repeatedly declining comment on sometimes even fairly routine things because he didn't feel he could afford to tell the truth publicly (either because he wanted to be fair to the players, or because he couldn't show his hand, or whatever). Anthopoulos has done NOTHING to make anyone assume he's obfuscating or take his words "with a grain of salt."
If he says "Wallace was very much a big part of the future" or that his defense was coming along fine or whatever, I'm going to assume that's FACT unless he shows himself false with me. If he says he wanted Gose last December (and since) then I'm gonna take that too the bank.

Beyond that, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the deal: is there a risk in dealing a guy who might have a lower ceiling but had a lot better chance at reaching it for a 19 year old walking tool box with a very high ceiling - but a lot of room for things to go wrong? Yeah, there's significant risk. what that tells you is that AA has cast iron stones. Time will tell if he has made or continues to make the right calls about what players he targets, but he has the vision to gird up his loins and go right out and find a way to get the guy he wants, and that's not nothing.

Also, you gotta love the aggressiveness to hang around the fringes of the biggest deal so far and find a way to make his team better in the wake of that deal.

On the whole, I'm confident in allowing him to work and reserving my comments - he hasn't made a major false step yet.

About Lind at 1B - assuming no one else is acquired that changes this, it seems to be a prominent possibility. McCowan describes him as "going everywhere with a 1B mit" in the Anthopoulos interview this afternoon and it really opens up some flexibility. if Lind is the 1B then the DH could be Snider, or Lewis, or EE, depending on whether the team sees Bautista as the RF or the 3B. In theory, the DH could be any of those three, and also Wells, on a rotating basis. (assuming you are okaw with snider shifting back and forth from left to right).

I'll say again, my spidey sense says there's an import coming. But if not, there's no real downside to lind being the 1B going forward if he can come up to at least average defense. and yes, in case you are wondering, the Jays WILL miss Overbay's scoop because it's not a common sight to see.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Great JoBau Debate

It is pretty much a contractual obligation, it seems, to weigh in at some point this week on the Bautista Question - trade him (i.e. supposedly "sell high") or hang on to him and try to make him part of TCTF?

Such illustrious commentators as Keith Law weigh in on the former position - it seems to be the "conventional wisdom."

Some bloggers lean that way I assume, though I've found it difficult to keep up with who is where on Bautista. Others vehemently take the latter position.

I've commented in passing on it at Batter's Box and here, but not in any depth. One blog that perfectly illustrates the split in opinion is Drunk Jays Fans - given the multiple authors there, opinions are often divided even among the writers, let alone the responses.

Yesterday Stoten made the case for dealing JoBau, and makes some points that have merit and others which I question. Today Parkes makes the opposite case and, in my opinion, brings up a point which trumps everything else being said.

I was going to go in depth on my thoughts on Bautista but so much of what I would have said mirrors the latter DJF article that it seems pointless. like Parkes, I cop to being one of those who thought JB was a questionable choice to be on the roster - who thought that if he remained here his only real purpose was to suck up at bats against lefties that Overbay would otherwise fail on.

While I'm not exactly waving the BAS flag still, clearly I was wrong about him. and herein lies a thought to give consideration to - sometimes the conventional wisdom turns out to be wrong. For example, what is the conventional wisdom about an outlier power surge in September? That you can't take such a performance seriously. Rookie pitching and other factors make it easier, so the "logic" goes, to preform well in September so don't read too much into it. And that wisdom is exactly what I explained to myself to account for Bautista's 10 homers last September.

Apparently, that was wrong. The same conventional wisdom says a player is unlikely to step up to a new level of performance at 29 and sustain it. Statistically this is true but it has and does happen, regularly enough for it to not be a pipe dream. See for reference Raul Ibanez, among many others. So the base assumption that this is a fluke which must be capitalized on is, itself, flawed. Law says the odds lean in favor of it being a fluke therefore the wise GM MUST deal. But this is not a game of 21, and there are other considerations including the following:

First, the needs of the team: they need high OBP players, of which they have too few; they need defensive versitility considering they are a team in transition; they need a capable 3B unless they are committed to EE; they need strong defensive play given they have some weak spots in that regard; then need a mentor for Escobar as well as other chemistry and clubhouse considerations.

Second, what the scouts say: ultimately you have to trust your coaches, scouts, and other personnel evaluators to give you an accurate read on whether this is a new performance level or a tough-to-repeat outlier. Also, assuming the conclusion is that it's an outlier, that doesn't necessarily imply that the actual expected performance level over the next, let's say, three years, reverts all the way back to his career numbers coming into last September. Maybe the "New Bautista" is a guy who can post a 115, 120 OPS+ over the next three years. if so, THAT is the guy you have to ask yourself if you can get a proper return on, not the league-leader OR the guy who was a fungible bench player a year ago.

Third, and most importantly; whether or not you actually CAN sell high. for this I'll first defer to a quality paragraph from Parkes' post, which reflects the argument I've been making:

There's also an assumption from the No Way We're Keeping Jose crowd that believes the Jays will be able to get a good return on Bautista in trade when the truth of the matter is that there's nothing to suggest this. It's kind of funny because the points that people raise to suggest selling high on the right fielder are the exact same that negate his value in a trade.

It's not selling high, when every one else is aware that it's a high point.

Bing-fuggin-O. Selling high implies taking advantage of a team willing to overpay. Yes, for the record, if the Marlins offered us Mike Stanton or the Yankees offered us Montero, I take that deal. The problem is, if all our own people say "it's a fluke - SELL!" then the people who work for the Yankees or any other successful team are going to say "it's a fluke - BEWARE!!" conversely, if the other team's people say "this is the new normal, grab this guy" then our scouts probably do too. the only way you sell high here is if you, as the Blue Jays, KNOW he's going to crash back to earth and the other team's guys think he won't. obviously, if that happens, you sell. but as Parkes said, if you assume competence on both sides of the deal, every argument you make for why another team would over-pay is an argument for why we shouldn't under-sell.

At the end of the day, I trust Alex Anthopoulos implicitly. If he deals JB, I'll be fully expecting a major regression soon. if he keeps him, I'm prepared to write him into the line-up projections for the next 2 or 3 seasons. but from an outsider's limited perspective, I think the things he brings to this club (beyond the 40 homers or whatever he ends up with) trump any but the most slam dunk trade offers.

and it doesn't take a Bautista fan-boy to see that.

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Shuttle Shuffle

Looks like we'll get a new rider on the Vegas Shuttle this week, and and another rider who'd probably going to have his flight delayed.

LHSP Brad Mills, who was came into the 2009 camp with a lot of buzz but spent half of last year on the DL, is likely to start Wednesday for the Blue Jays against Baltimore. Mills has been largely off the radar this year but not for lack of effort. Other than an inexplicable loss of control in the month of May, Mills has quietly been very effective in 2010 in a league that is god's gift to hitters.

Hopefully he'll have a better go this time than he did during a brief recall in 2009 during which he got severely pounded in two appearances.

The reason he's up is because Friday's rain out pushed Shaun Marcum's next scheduled start, which would have been that Wednesday game, back a day (two actually since the Jays are off Thursday). By all accounts, this is a one and out spot start (unless the Jays decide to drop someone from the pen or a trade intervenes) which will precipitate a series of moves over the course of three days. After Tuesday's game, Mike McCoy (almost certainly) will be optioned to Vegas for Mills, then on Thursday Mills (almost certainly) will go back and the Jays will recall Travis Snider (this could happen Friday if the Jays want Snider to play in NH Thursday night but I don't see why they would bother with that). Snider, you might recall, had to stay in AA for 10 days which would have made him eligible for recall on Tuesday, but he's going to be a couple of games late now.

It's going to be tough for Mills to get back here as a starter, albeit through no fault of his own, barring more than one injury. The Blue Jays are watching the inning count on Brandon Morrow and to a lesser extent Brett Cecil, but should they need another pitcher there's Marc Rzepczyinski who's nominally ahead of Mills on the depth chart, and there's a goodly number of off days on the remaining schedule. In fact, between tomorrow and August 24, Jays starter project to pitch with at least one extra day's rest in 21 of 26 games.

Then after rosters expand, reports suggest they will go with a six man rotation, and the smart money is assuming that sixth man is Zep. No one will go on 4 days rest after that point. If Mills comes up as a long reliever/depth starter in September, he might get to pitch the last game of the year (which projects right now to be Marcum's last turn) depending on what's at stake.

It's a tough spot for him to be in.

A couple of other pitcher related notes:

  • Don't look for Drabek in September - the Jays want to hold him to about 160 IP which he'll almost certainly reach (barring injury) before the end of August.
  • Injured RHP Shawn Hill* (a seldom remembered free agent signing) has now dominated the GCL (as a pitcher his age should) 4 times and one would think he'd be pitching for Dunedin soon, since he has about three more turns before his rehab stint has to end. It's not inconceivable the Jays could bump him up through the system in August (assuming continued success) and maybe even give him a September look in Toronto.
  • I haven't seen a specific report on what the Jays are targeting as an inning limit on Zach Stewart (who's found his form of late) but he has almost matched his total from last season and if they follow the generally accepted standards, one would assume he has no more than 5 or 6 more starts before they shut him down. Unless they get crafty and shift him to relief.
finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't chime in on potential trades as the deadline approaches. Here's my take on the most discussed names:

Kevin Gregg - the Rockies have shown considerable interest and I hope the Jays make a deal - it's well known I'm no Gregg fan. Expect AA to hold out all the way through Saturday unless the Rox or someone else caves to his demands early;

Scott Downs - the most popular target, I've no idea who ends up with him but it's hard to imagine they will all risk losing him to others. expect the renting team to overpay here (albeit, Downs is perhaps the safest buy on the market). Also, don't be stunned if the stars align properly for the Jays to bring Downs back as a free agent given Downs' strong desire to remain with the team.

On the other hand, if no team pays up Alex knows there are two draft picks waiting for him if Downs signs elsewhere - though it shouldn't be overlooked that as much as Downs likes Toronto, he might just confound predictions and accept arbitration.

Jason Frasor - I'd love to see the Jays get the Mets or some other poorly run organization to bite on Frasor but I've got a bit of a hunch he doesn't get moved.

John Buck - it hurts to move a guy who did everything he was asked to do, but the Jays HAVE to get Arencibia up this year, IMO. He should be a quite valuable comodity as he hasn't slacked up much with the bat yet.

Lyle Overbay - My guess is that he won't get dealt until late August.

Edwin Encarnacion - I know what you are thinking - no one would claim him on waivers so who would trade for him? Well, for one thing, things change (i.e. Detroit's losing two important hitters this weekend) and for another, the Jays can eat salary if need be. Furthermore, Encarnacion is having a better offensive year than you might think. since he came back from the minors he's hitting for an OPS of .816 (which, by the way, parallels his OPS since early April) and he's playing better defense by all reports.
Beyond that, if you go old school and look at his counting stats, they pro-rate to the best totals of his career. He's not going to carry a team on his back for long, but could a team like, well, Detroit, use him to compliment the offense they have? Heck yeah. all that said, his contract does ensure the Jays will likely have the liberty to deal him in August if no team steps up this week.

Any other guy going from the major league squad would be a mild surprise.

Last but not least - is it too late to remind you one more time about the book?

*Edited per correction in the comments. I knew the right spelling on his name - just was an autopilot or something there. but for some reason I'd gotten it into my head he was left-handed. I should have known better but managed to mix it up somehow. corrections are always appreciated.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

you may be asking . . .

. . . what the heck is going on?

At least if you are following Bastian and Lott on Twitter, or listening to Mike Wilner. if not, here's the news:

Travis Snider was activated from the DL - and assigned to AA New Hampshire, and this means that he'll have to stay there at least 10 more days (I'm not sure how the injury exception would work on that end - it's possible that if someone in Toronto were injured he could come up sooner).

Shaun Marcum was activated from the DL and Nick green was designated for assignment. For now the jays will go with 13 pitchers.

Marc Rzepczynski will start the third game in KC which will serve to let the Blue Jays skip Brandon Morrow's next start. the Jays are apparently instituting some rotation maneuvering designed to hold down the innings of certain pitchers in order to get them through the end of the season. Morrow is the most innings-challenged pitcher on the roster by a wide margin. So the rotation through the end of the month looks like this:

7/18 - @ Baltimore - Marcum
7/19 - @ K.C. - Cecil
7/20 -
@ K.C. - Litsch
7/21 - @ K.C. - Rzepczynski
7/22 - @ Detroit - Romero
7/23 -
@ Detroit - Marcum
7/24 - @ Detroit - Cecil
7/25 - @ Detroit - Listch
7/26 - Baltimore - Morrow
7/27 - Baltimore - Romero
7/28 - Baltimore - Marcum
7/29 -
7/30 - Cleveland - Cecil
7/31 - Cleveland - Litsch or

(notice how neatly that breaks up the LH starters as well? not perfectly but never 3 in a row)

So - what's the implication of all this?

In my opinion, it means that the Jays anticipate some deals being made. A trade could relieve the "extra pitcher" imbalance, open a spot on the roster for Snider, and make room in the bullpen for Zep if the jays want to keep Litsch in the major league rotation. More than one trade (quite possible) provides even more manuvering.

That's not to say that managing Morrow's innings isn't a legitimate concern, it is, but it is smart roster management to take advantage of the current opportunity to make a payment on that account.
As for Snider, he's on a 2/26 streak right now, which shouldn't be the case against AA pitching. either his wrist is really affecting his swing, or, more likely given the eyewitness descriptions of his recent work, he's let the circumstances get into his head some again and he's pressing mightily. Hopefully he'll take a breath and realize what's really going on here.

there's two weeks until the deadline, and there are almost certainly going to be multiple Blue Jays leaving town in that time. Maintaining maximum flexibility right now is well advised. It would be a fascinating fortnight.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The price is indeed right.

Well alrighty then!

Alex Anthopoulos opened the trading season this afternoon with a bang, by completing a deal with the Atlanta Braves which you all know the details of by now. Let me give you my take on it, because I know you are just dying to know, am I right?

Alex Gonzalez: Of course we know he's a really good defender, albeit past his prime, but he's 33, he will get hot for a little stretch of 2 or 3 weeks and then disappear for 5 or 6 weeks. He's very streaky on a team with no offensive margin for error and he's hitting the very best he ever will (over the course of the whole season so far). If he had stayed here it was a virtual certainty he'd have dropped off tremendously with the bat over the rest of the season. Most of all, he was never going to be part of the Contending Team of the Future (CTF) and thus, as I've written before here and in the book, he's the very definition of a guy you can move.

Yunel Escobar: (whom I hearby dub "Y-Es") is, of course, the prize for the Jays.
First, he's six years younger than Gonzo.
Second, he has three more years of control after this year.
Third, coming into this season he was considered one of the most valuable guys who might conceivably be available.
Fourth, he is emotional, cocky, flamboyant - a lot of the things this "plain" teams needs.
Fifth, guys with "underachieving" labels often go to the next level after a trade (see Rios, Alex)
Sixth, AA reminds us that they said a lot of the same things about Jose Bautista in Pittsburgh as was said about Escobar in Atlanta.
Seventh, he has demonstrated defensive excellence and a history of quite good hitting particularly in the realm of OBP - he could lead off (despite not being a speed burner) and he could certainly hit second. He HAS been awful at making contact this year, but so have Aaron Hill and Adam Lind and none of us entertain much illusion that they suddenly lost their talent.
Eighth, Cito, for all his faults, does have something of a reputation for unlocking the star potential inside a difficult player (the eventual bailing on Rios notwithstanding).
Ninth, there are a ton of mitigating factors concerning the personality issues around him. Every clubhouse has a "culture" that starts with the manager and if you don't fit you don't fit. AA implies in an interview on the Fan590 that Bautista may well act as a mentor to Escobar which is something he didn't have in Atlanta. The complaints about him do not, in my view, say "head case" or "space cadet" so much as a guy who was simply caught up in a culture clash.

All in all, there are plenty of reasons to like the risk of switching from Gonzo to Esco. All that said, if you listen to Keith Law on the Fan, he's not really impressed with Esco at all. I don't mean to try to say I know better than Law, but he did say his bat was "all batting average" which is objectively not true (his OBP argues against that claim) so I'll take law with a grain of salt on this.

Jo-Jo Reyes: Big lefty, 25 years old, so-so control, had good K rates until 2009. He's gone backwards and unless they think they could turn him into a quality reliever, he'll likely not be much of a factor.

Tim Collins: We all know what we love about Collins. we're almost all convinced he's gonna make it to the majors and be at least ok. But, as with the League deal - if you can improve your team and the cost is giving up a reliever, even a good reliever, you do it.

Tyler Pastornicky: A lot of Jays fans love Pastornicky even to the point of calling him potentially our best SS prospect. He's NOT. He's a bigger, though not necessarily more talented, David Eckstien. At best. Keith Law said what you'd really like to have is TP's passion and baseball smarts and Esco's physical tools in one guy and you'd have a really good player. But he doesn't have that physical talent. That said, if he has a future it's almost certainly in the NL. For me, he's a Ryan Freel type, though with an Orlando Hudson ceiling. Given the fact that our farm system still has Hechaverria, Jackson, Goins, Pierre and Thon in the system at SS, he was entirely expendable.

So the sum total is you trade a rental player a reliever and a likely future utility infielder (and that probably 4 years from now) for a guy who MIGHT be one of the better shortstops in the majors. that's a deal you have to make.

Also during the law interview, fill-in host Jeff Blair asked about the Jays international free agent signings and the overall effort to restock the system (and law brings up the draft strategy as well). There's a ton of meaty stuff there.
  • He called Adonis Cardonas an upper first round potential guy;
  • Repeated his reporting that Dicky Joe Thon will sign and also said talented lefty Griffin Murphy will sign at the deadline. He also said Aaron Sanchez was a first round talent.
  • He never got around to commenting on the other international signing.
One final note on the fallout from this trade - look for either Ryan Goins or Justin jackson to be promoted to Dunedin to fill Pastornicky's spot. while I still love J-Jack - i've a hunch it will be the older and more stable Goins.

Looking out at the next few weeks, expect several more deals. there's a lot of buzz around the available relievers and pretty much everyone assumes the Jays HAVE to find a way to get JPA into the major league line-up.

Oh . . . and buy the book!

EDIT: Click here for a great read about Adeiny Hechavarria and his best friend by Morgan Campbell. it's what baseball journalism is all about.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

So, here we go

You might notice the photograph at the right of this page - that's a signal the the Trade Deadline Primer is ready for purchase. I confess that this sort of marketing is all new too me so if i sound like an amateur, that's to be expected. I don't have the salesman's flair to sit here and tell you why you should buy this book - I'm still in a bit of shock that I was selected to participate (and the peanut gallery agrees!) but that said, I'm not ashamed of the results that were produced. Beyond the natural hazards of intervening events undermining your speculation (for instance, my mentioning the Rangers as a team that might have an interest in Shaun Marcum) I think that the results were quite satisfying.

I would venture this caveat also - most of my readers are pretty well informed folk. I'm not unaware that, no matter how in depth my analysis, a lot of you already know a lot of what I wrote about the Jays. I don't know any way around that dilemma, but I would also point out that even if that's true, you will likely still benefit a good bit from gaining a similar insight into the other 29 teams, as their fans will hopefully gain some insight into the Blue Jays.

In any case, I'm not above a direct plea, both for the income and the visibility, I hope that you do buy a copy of this book, and I hope that you enjoy it. And beyond that, if you do, I hope you will suggest it to others. After all, it's actually been proofread!

Here's the link where you can buy the e-book:

The Southpaw's Blue Jays 2010 Trade Deadline Primer

and here's a link where you can download, for free, a quarterbook sample to give you an idea what's inside:


I'll be spamming some of my friends in the blogosphere about this - hope you guys can overlook a bit of shameless self promotion.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Behold, ye mighty, and tremble

JP Arencibia demands your respect!

The Toronto Blue Jays closest (of many) catching prospect is lighting up las Vegas and the PCL brighter than any casino lights. Fresh from off-season eye surgery (and kidney surgery, by the way) the University of Tennessee prospect is having a break-out year and since the first of June, the 24 year old right-handed hitter has lost his freakin' mind.

skeptics and pessimists caution against over-exuberance, noting the inflationary effects of the PCL. But even when adjusted for that (see the Minor league Equivalency Calculator) Arencibia's stats adjust to pretty much exactly the same stat line that carried incumbent Jays' catcher to the All-Star game.

consider: Here's Buck's current stats:

223 AB, 60 hits, 13 doubles, 13 homers, 4o RBI, 9 BB, 64 SO, .269/.304/.502/.806

Here's JPA's adjusted line (laying aside whether or not i actually agree with the adjustment - I don't, entirely, when it comes to OBP)

293, 74, 21, 1, 16, 41, 17, 67, .254/..295/.491/.786

Keep in mind, that's what would be Arencibia's rookie season against Buck's career year - yes, buck hasn't exactly had a huge career, but it's good enough this year to be among the AL leaders in most offensive categories.

Just for fun, let's run those equivalencies on JP's stats since June 1. since that's only 121 at bats, lets double them so the counting stats are in the same neighborhood as the above numbers:

250, 80, 22, 0, 20, 46, 16, 50, .321/.363/.651/1.014

that's not the actual Las Vegas totals - that's the major league equivalence of what he's done over the last 5 weeks. With all due respect to Buck, it's time to sell high and get the kid up here to suffer whatever growing pains he might encounter NOW.

Speaking of potential trades, the buzz is starting to heat up and the two names most often mentioned are Scott Downs and Shaun Marcum. Downs is widely regarded to have significant value, reflective both of the thin market for his skill set and the fact that he's projected to be a solid "Type A" free agent this winter. Boston has already been nosing around and the Dodgers are said to be shopping for both starting and relief pitching.

Interestingly, especially concerning Marcum, is the fact that the Dodgers and Rangers are both said to be in the market not just for a veteran starter but also both are said to have very little room to add salary. that should make Marcum perhaps the most attractive potential target for both teams and both have quite good minor league depth from which to tempt the Jays.

Look for the Jays to listen on Gregg, Frasor, and Gonzalez as well - assuming there's anything to listen to which there may well be.


On an unrelated, but nevertheless interesting, note - the unconfirmed report today, relayed by Keith Law: the long reported signing of Venezuelan pitching prospect Adonis Cardona. You may not have heard of the 16 year old pitcher, who's already 6'4" and brings a fastball that touches 94, but Baseball America rated him the third most valuable prize in this year's free agent sweepstakes. The signing raises some eyebrows because the official rule is that teams may not begin negotiations with international free agents until July 2, but the rumor held that the jays had an agreement with Cardona as far back as May.


A personal update - I've been informed that the MLB Trade Deadline Primer should be available for purchase by Sunday night. more info as it becomes available.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Something's coming . . .

I'm excited to be able to give you a heads up about something that will be coming your way next week. I believe it is going to be the start of something big and I hope you will find it of interest.

Let me start by giving you some background information. Last year the guys at TwinsCentric put together an e-book publication they called the Trade Deadline Primer. What they offered to their readers was an in-depth look at the MLB trade deadline with a particular focus on the home-town Twins. They enjoyed surprising success selling the e-book to hundreds of their readers an that succes prompted them to expand the effort to all 30 teams. Every book would include deadline-specific coverage of all 30 teams, and every fan could buy a book with an even more in-depth look at their favorite team. The TwinsCentric crew selected team-specific bloggers from across the continent, choosing writers who knew "their" team as thoroughly as they knew the Twins.

That book - the 2010 Trade Deadline Primer - will be available for purchase and download next week. The Blue Jays content was written by your humble host and I hope that it well represents the high standards that have come to be expected from the Blue Jay Blogging community.

In the coming days, I'll be providing you with links where you can purchase the book via credit card or PayPal ($9.95 USD) and another link where you can preview a quarter-book (1/4 of the content of the whole) for free by providing an e-mail address.

I'm very flattered and humbled to have been invited to participate in this project and I sincerely hope that my friends and readers will find it worth their time and investment. Lest you think this is some low-rent operation, we have confirmed that Rob Neyer of ESPN will be contributing the forward and some of the content will be featured on ESPN.

Watch this space for more news as it becomes available. Oh, and follow the link above to TwinsCentric - these guys are good at what they do and this ain't their first rodeo so you need not fear you are getting an amateurish effort.

Smell the coffee.

It was all well and good to cling to the illusion of contention while the team was winning an unexpected number of games in the first two months. It's all well and good to dream of a slugging offense lasting all year (illusion) or a young pitching staff coming into their own and demanding respect right through to September (reality, but not enough).

But we all knew the June schedule would be a killer and so it has proven to be. And while, last Sunday, we might still have rationalized that we'd come through "Four Weeks of Hell" 10-14 which wasn't entirely embarrassing and what with four easy games against the hapless Indians coming up the team could regain it's footing and be able to look forward to 16 mostly cushy games out of the break.

Needless to say, the last three nights have thrown a big bucket of cold water on those notions. Now to be clear, one obviously shouldn't draw huge conclusions from a small sample like three games but the thing about these three games is that this was supposed to be the course correction where they proved to us that the last four weeks was about strength of schedule, not wheels coming off. It begins to appear that the latter may well be the case.

The Blue Jays collective OPS in June is a mind-numbing .667 - Lyle Overbay's mediocre .757 in June is actually third best on the team behind only Wells and Buck. Beside Hill and Lind's continued struggles, Bautista has been just awful in June, as has Gonzalez and Lewis has also come down closer to his more rational talent level. Good young pitching isn't going to overcome that.

And the thing is, while one may expect Lind and Hill to eventually maybe figure things out, and one can hope that Snider will not be a shell of his former self when he comes back - there's not much hope elsewhere. I believe in Wells, and it's reasonable to think an uptick in Overbay (he's been much better since early May) might offset whatever decline you get from Buck. But gonzo has gone back to being pretty much what he always was, and Bautista has likely already turned back into a pumpkin (albeit not as bad as he was before he started that Half-Season of Heaven) - this isn't a group, overall, that's likely to be a feared offense on a sustained basis, hot streaks aside.

Yes, I think, still, that they will have a pretty good July and beat, for the most part, the teams they are supposed to beat. Romero, Marcum, and Morrow will continue to wow us and Cecil will, I think, find his balance (A lot of the prospects will have us buzzing too, which is completely off topic but still). But ultimately, while the Jays might have a lot of folks wishful thinking with 55 or more wins by the trade deadline, that's gonna be the high point of the season.

I think they will still finish with a win total in the low-to-mid 80's but that's not going to be enough by 10 games or more.

To that end, and I think Anthopoulos surely knows this, the Jays should be neck deep in the trade market as SELLERS. On the block:

John Buck - has been all that and a bag of chips on offense - and so has JP Arencibia in Vegas, and JPA has reportedly much better defense. Sell high on Buck and get the future started;

Lyle Overbay - this will be a tough sell as the market has few buyers here and a lot of possibly available options. seek ye out a team who's having defensive woes at 1B;

Alex Gonzalez - A no-brainer, if you can move him, do it. Bring on Mike Mccoy and lets see if he can be the bridge to Adeiny;

Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista - the latter might get more return, the former is of less need here. EE is not going to get any buyers unless the Jays are willing to eat virtually all of the 2.5 or so remaining on his deal, but the team ought to be exploring how he'd work at another defensive position or something at this point. if Overbay were dealt quickly, Lind at 1B and EE at DH would be a sound experiment.
On the other hand, some foolish team might overpay for Bautista in a classic example of "buying high" - if not, keep him for now until you decide what to do with 3B in 2011 (Emaus is my bet but Jeff Blair writes that isn't what the team things - though I refuse to believe it);

Scott Downs - should get a nice return;

Jason Frasor - may have killed all his value;

Kevin Gregg - I still don't believe, but I fear rival GMs don't either;

Brian Tallet - could succeed in some NL parks, but not helping his value;

Shaun Marcum - I've written on this it only if VERY well compensated, but listen;

With the exception of Marcum, I wouldn't be unhappy if ALL those guys were gone by August 1.

Let's get the shop set up and quit chasing rainbows. Any rational person knew is was going to end - HOW it ended really isn't important.

It's all about the future baby, maybe as early as 2011. But the future is NOT now.