Monday, August 30, 2010

Nobody Knows Nuttin

So - I see on the ol' transaction wire that Scott Richmond has been promoted to Vegas. I'd tell you what that means but as my last post demonstrates, I really have no idea.

Well, yes, it means at least this - the jays are not going out of their way to make sure the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have a full rotation for the playoffs. If one presumes the Stewart is about done, the F-Cats have one week to go in the season and TWO of their regular starters ready for the playoffs (Drabek and Randy Boone). Spot-starter journeyman B.J. Lamura can take one of the other spots, but Ray Gonzalez and JoJo Reyes are on the DL (status unknown) and unless one or both are activated, the team will have to plug in failed starters from their pen (Ronald Uviedo or Clint Everts) to patch together a rotation.

On the surface, this means at least that Richmond probably becomes the number one option to replace Morrow (which, if he's the choice, would limit him to only one AAA start) but beyond that, it throws into some doubt the confident assertion that Drabek will stick in AA out of consideration for the playoffs.


On another pitching related note, my favorite golden child from the 2010 draft class was advanced to Auburn upon Saturday's end of the GCL. It's not really significant since Sanchez will undoubtedly return to this level to open next season, but since he's my top guy to watch from this last draft I like it anyway.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Things we know and things we don't

Did you know that Cito was quoted after EE went on the DL saying McDonald would pick up most of the extra at-bats? Even after so much has rightfully been made of Snider sitting?

Really no point in ranting about that at this late date.

So, moving on to the rotations. A while back I did a post on how the rotation would play out towards the end of the season, with today's announcement regarding Brandon Morrow, we can now clear up some but not all of the previous uncertainty.

The announcement was that Morrow would make one more start, then be shut down for the year. Durng the course of explaining this, Alex Anthopoulos commented that the Jays' working theory was a young pitcher shouldn't exceed his previous high workload by more than about 20%, which if applied to Morrow leaves 5-6 innings to go.

So, who steps into the Jays rotation when Morrow takes a seat? That answer is much more unclear. There are, if you exhaust the list of potential candidates, six names which will most often come up:

1. Brad Mills - has been up twice this year, and would see the obvious candidate, but only started once (Aug. 17) after his last demotion and has made no appearance since, though he's not on the DL.

2. Kyle Drabek - Blair's apparently erroneous previous report aside, if we apply the 120% factor to Drabek, he can reach 190 IP this year (about 30 more IP to go, or roughly 5 starts). If the Fisher Cats advance to the championship series, Drabek will make 3 more AA starts. You could not, therefore, use him in Toronto until at least September 19, which is two starts too late to step into Morrow's role. If that wasn't enough, he'd have two starts in the tank and three to go before the end of the season in that spot. Drabek almost certainly won't be taking Morrow's spot.

3. Zach Stewart - the 120% factor means today may well have been his last start. If the Jays do push the limits on him enough to finish the AA season, surely he'll be shut down after that (which is just one more start). Not only does this take a big weapon away from the NH squad in the playoffs, but it makes it a certainty he won't be in Toronto this fall.

4. Scott Richmond - also playing for the AA squad, Richmond has no innings limitation but, given that the NH club will lose the services of Stewart for the playoffs, the Jays might be strongly inclined to leave Richmond down for the playoff run. Obviously the major league team is the priority, but if there are other options, they wouldn't want to sabotage the F-Cats. if he does stay down there through the playoffs, he might not be available before September 20.

5. Shawn Hill - Was doing great in his recovery from serious injury, but left his last AAA start (Aug. 25) after 1 IP when he couldn't get lose and went on the 7 day DL. If you see him start in the first 3 days of September then he might be the guy, if not, then we have to assume the injury is serious enough to prevent his appearing in Toronto simply because he'd have no place to re-hab and have missed too much time.

6. Bobby Ray - Okay, honestly, almost no one mentions him. But he's healthy (kind of unusual for him) has pitched well in five of his six August starts, and has no innings problem. If Hill and Mills are both unhealthy and the Jays choose not to call Richmond yet, Ray becomes the default option.

All that said, it should be noted that AA said the Jays would recall TWO starters in September. so the smart money may still be on Mills being the first to plug in. But be sure it's a conservative amount.

Something else to consider - Under the 120% Rule, Brett Cecil will likely be at least two starts short of finishing the season as well. It's in those two starts that you will likely see Richmond (and maybe, but not likely, Drabek).

But the truth is, there's a lot we still don't know yet. These are just factors involved, not definite information. Don't be surprised if Cito inexplicably gives the ball to Tallet.

One final observation - Chad Jenkins is already well past the 120% line, so I have no idea what that means.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Great 38?

At the close of play on August 1, the Toronto Blue Jays were 3 games over .500 and the widely held view was that they had accumulated those wins against a soft back-loaded schedule amd the day of reckoning was at hand.

The bromide is that a good team plays .500 or a little better against the good teams and runs up their record against teams they are supposed to beat and for several years, it has been an Achilles' Heel of the Jays that they managed to lose too many against teams which were clearly worse than they. One thing that could be said of the Jays season as of August 1 was that, for the most part (Cito giving away outs in the 9th notwithstanding) they had not been guilty of that very often in 2010. But the soft days were over, so the argument went (and it was a good argument) - beginning August 2, the Jays faced 38 games, 24 of which were against Boston, Tampa, and New York; four more against the division leading Rangers, and six of the remaining 10 were on the West coast. Even the softest spot in that gauntlet was against the Tigers who were, at that point, a .500 team.

The thing is, as good as that argument was, so far it's been all wrong. We're now 21 games into that 38 and the Jays boast a 12-9 record.

That's why they play the games, right? if they were to keep up this quality of play, they have a shot at challenging the high-water mark for most wins by a Jays team in the post-series era (which, by the way, is 88). Obviously, teams can take unexpected and inexplicable turns for no reason, but they have certainly made a statement this year, despite the disappointment of some players.

Related to that, it's no secret that Jose Bautista has a good shot at setting the jays single season home run record. But id you know he also holds the third best single season slugging percentage in Jays history? He's only .005 behind George Bell for second place on that list (though Delgado's .664 is in no danger of being challenged). His OPS is fifth (and close to being 4th).

Moving on from Bautista, Vernon Wells' season pace (albeit, his season took a radical turn for the worse after June 25) would get him very close to tying his career high in doubles (a total which is third on the Jays all time single season list). Oh, and that would be JUST enough to tie Delgado for the all time team record for career doubles.

There are other wonderful things, as always, lurking on the jays pages at Baseball Reference - check out where Shaun Marcum is turning up on the career pitching lists for instance, you might be surprised. Or take a look at Brandon Morrow's last 17 starts (i.e. about half a season for an ace).

Folks, these are often called the dog days of the season for players, they seem to be the dog days for me as well. The team is doing well and the games are (reportedly) fun to watch but there's only so many times you can comment on how many games snider is or isn't sitting and so forth. My attention increasingly turns to the future, what's going on in the minors and what potential roster manipulations lie ahead. when the minor league seasons end, I'll be free to begin to get into some hopefully interesting posts on those subjects. for now I'll just say that there is a lot to be excited about on the farm, noticeably in recent weeks Eric Thames hitting his way towards the Top 10 list, Kevin Ahrens re-inventing himself successfully, not a few 2010 draftees doing quite well.

The future is bright, it seems. I must remind myself to not forget to enjoy the ongoing season though. That's pretty bright too, given the expectations in many quarters (may I remind you, I myself predicted 83 wins...). You can see both at once (the present and the future) taking the mound at the start of most every game the Jays play lately. Okay...so I'm rambling at this point...I'm too lazy to clean that up, so, ya know, go Jays and stuff.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rick (Bank) Rolled!

Again, I preface my remarks with an acknowledgment that you already got your news elsewhere, but if you'd like the finer details - the Blue Jays announced this afternoon, in yet another move no one saw coming, that they had locked up Ricky Romero to the tune of 5 years and $30.1 million in a contract which includes an option for a sixth year.

The terms are thus:

'11: $750k
'12: $5M
'13: $7.5M
'14: $7.5M
'15: $7.5M
'16: $13M club option ($0.6M buyout)

That's solid value. The Jays, according to AA (via Shi Davidi) apparently used Yovani Gallardo and Jon Lester as comparables and Romero's deal is very similar to those. The difference being that Romero is signing earlier in his career (the largest guarantee ever to a major league veteran pitcher with less than 2 full years service) and, more interestingly to me, both those deals escalate more steeply than Romero's. Both of them pay less in the third year and eight figures in the fifth year.

I like this way better.

Is it a bargain deal? Only if Romero turns into an annual Cy contender (which is possible). but it's definitely a smart deal. The only real argument against it is "never sign long term deals 'cause something bad might happen!" On top of that, you are buying his services right through the prime years. The years in question are pretty much always the years of a players career in which you'll get the best value.

Here's another way to look at it. The Red Sox (obviously not a poorly run team) just extended Josh Beckett's contrac6t for 4 years at $68 million. for this they get his age 31-34 seasons. Which is to say, they are paying about 230% of Romero's deal for what are very likely to be less productive years.

A few other thoughts occur to me. first, a lot of Jays fans seem to be reacting as if the Jays were committing dollars against a restrictive budget. Every move that's been made since Anthopoulos took over, most definitely including this one, argues that is no longer the case. Such critics are well behind the curve.

Second, this is more evidence, if any was needed, that it's a fool's errand to try to anticipate AA's next move. He's always three moves ahead of you.

And third, I note that in some quarters any news on Romero provoke sthe "still shouda drafted Tulo" contingent of those suffering from Ricciardi Derangement Syndrome. On the one hand, I'm tempted to ask, in an alternate universe in which the Jays had Tulo and someone else had Romero and the Jays had signed the pitching equivalent of Alex Gonzalez this year (say Jason Marquis, or Jose Padillia) - could they have dealt that pitcher, and Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins for Ricky Romero?

But that really doesn't matter. Everyone is obsessed with attacking or defending the pick when the actual answer is blindingly obvious - in retrospect (where all these opinions are formed) there was no wrong pick there. Picking Romero was a good pick. Picking Tulo would have been a good pick. Every draft pick potentially leaves good players, potentially AS good, on the board. if both picks work out, who's to say either choice wold have been "wrong." People need to get over the RDS.

All in all, I approve this signing without serious reservation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Off Day Rant

Don't get me wrong here, i know before i start there's nothing for it. I understand the economics of it and am resigned to my fate. all the same, every now and then I have to just rant for the sake of release, ya know?

The one unpleasant thought of this past weekend for me is this - I didn't SEE any of it. The problem with following a team that's over 800 miles from your home is bad enough. Compound that problem with the fact that said team doesn't count in ESPN's ratings driven world and the pickings get very slim. Most years, I get to watch the Jays play the White Sox maybe two times on WGN. Every 2-3 years they will turn up as an alternate game on ESPN2 or something, if they happen to be playing an interesting (to aAericans) team and the rest of the schedule is spoken for or particularly ugly. It's now been over 11 years since the Jays were featured in the Sunday night game of the week. To my knowledge, they have NEVER been involved in a Fox featured game on Saturday afternoon.

I've long since gotten over being pissed about it - I'm a victim of circumstances much bigger than me. But at least those of you who live nearby and go to a dozen games a year and watch most of the rest on TV can sympathize when my writing is more about roster maneuvering and stats than it is about a great play or whatever. One thing more I'll say, don't underestimate your good fortune that you have a team right at hand to support.

So the next time you guys get together over a brew at the pub to toast or roast the Jays, take one drink for the guys (whether they be in Mississippi or Vancouver) who are long distance fans.



Find the best sports pubs on YellowPages.ca

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pitching Like A Man

(If you don't know what that refers to, you need to read more John Lott)

By now you know, unless you were on a wilderness hike or something, what Brandon Morrow did this afternoon to the Rays.

For the second day in a row, the Blue Jays gave their fans as much to fall in love with as any Yankee or Red Sox team ever has (at least during a regular season game). If anyone had been uncertain that Brandon Morrow was maturing into an ace this year (and i recall seeing some comments about how he'd "regressed since June" in some quarters) this should ease your mind of doubt. A future with him and Romero 1/2 is bright indeed, before you even look further.

To gush with superlative descriptions of today's performance is entirely unnecessary and futile - if you saw it, no words can add to it, if you didn't, words can't do it justice (I didn't see it by the way - such is the curse of being hundreds of miles away from anyone else who cares). so rather than just sit here and droll (and softly curse the day Evan Longoria was born) let me turn my attention to the most active debateable point of today's game - the pitch count.

Already the whining - from Kieth Law on Twitter right down to the peanut gallery on DJF, is hand-wringing about Morrow reaching 137 pitches this afternoon. Especially about him staying in for the last out. The last at bat took what, eight pitches? what's 8 more going to do that 129 didn't? Morrow doesn't have a history of being fragile, he doesn't have a history of being abused, he's already been strung out at least once this year to go gentle on his IP, and he has an extra days rest already before the next start.

One thing that I notice among passionate fans on-line is that a certain percentage are always trying to be the smartest guy in the room. Now, let me clarify that - anyone who writes a blog at a minimum, and most who post on any sort of forum, like to think they have some insight to share with the world that makes there remarks worth reading, that's not the sort of "trying to be smart" I mean. I mean the sort who always seems to take the negative view in opposition to whatever the majority thinks. Like the guy who looks at an upcoming season which most fans think has a lot of promise and starts describing the worst case scenario for each player while confidently predicting 90 loses. If they DO tank, he can crow - if they don't, he gets to enjoy the wins with the rest of us. And likely very few remember how negative he was.

Likewise, those whining now about Morrow will cite this game if 3 or 4 years from now he needs surgery, but if he continues without major injury in a jays uniform, no one will ever look back and point out "I remember when you said the jays would pay dearly for leaving Morrow in that one game." it's basically a free ticket to try to show yourself more clever than everyone else.

Look, I'm as big a critic of Cito as almost anyone, but in his shoes I would absolutely have let Morrow try to get Johnson. That was HIS game - to win or lose. Yes Cito has a long-standing and well-earned reputation for letting his pitchers go one batter too long in terms of the game situation, so in the sense that Morrow might have yielded the tying or go-ahead run in that at bat, sure - but Morrow deserved the chance to be the man who controlled that destiny.

But as far as the "shredding a young arm" argument - I'm not buying it. If Morrow had been gassed or something, he'd have understood being pulled - but I do not think that the difference in 129 and 137 is a career changer. Morrow is 26, and has remarkably few innings on his arm for a guy that age. either you set a cap (and where would that be? 110? 120?) and NEVER exceed it, even for an ongoing ho-hitter, or you use your best judgment.

Cito did the right thing today.

Edit to add: I'll give the critics ONE point - Morrow is a diabetic. That is a legitimate counterpoint to what i just said, but the only one I see.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Man. A Legend. A Way of Life.

JP Arencibia is really good. That is all.



Ok, wait, no it's not. You know I can't make a post that short. Let me share with you the research of poster robertdudak at Batter's Box:

(edit: so the format runs the stats wider than my column can stand. I encourage you to go to the thread I linked above and see the comparison for yourself - I'm not gonna do the work to re-type all this in a form that fits the column width)

Age Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
20 NWL A- 57 214 198 22 53 11 0 8 25 0 0 13 51 0.268 0.318 0.444 0.762
21 FSL A+ 88 285 272 27 68 20 0 6 45 0 1 11 68 0.250 0.281 0.390 0.670
22 CAL A+ 117 506 448 71 124 27 2 29 80 0 3 47 83 0.277 0.344 0.540 0.884
23 TXL AA 31 127 114 18 43 11 0 7 21 0 0 13 18 0.377 0.441 0.658 1.099
23 PCL AAA 94 398 358 54 122 22 5 16 69 1 3 37 57 0.341 0.405 0.564 0.969


total 387 1530 1390 192 410 91 7 66 240 1 7 121 277 0.295 0.353 0.513 0.865
Age Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
21 NYP A- 63 249 228 31 58 17 1 3 25 0 0 14 56 0.254 0.309 0.377 0.686
22 FSL A+ 59 262 248 38 78 22 0 13 62 0 0 11 46 0.315 0.344 0.560 0.904
22 EL AA 67 275 262 32 74 14 0 14 43 0 0 7 55 0.282 0.302 0.496 0.798
23 PCL AAA 116 500 466 67 110 32 1 21 75 0 1 26 114 0.236 0.284 0.444 0.728
24 PCL AAA 95 420 379 71 115 32 1 31 79 0 0 34 77 0.303 0.360 0.639 0.998


total 400 1706 1583 239 435 117 3 82 284 0 1 92 348 0.275 0.318 0.508 0.826

Two minor league careers, the bottom player is JP Arencibia. When you consider the only real setback for the second player relative to the first was when he was in AAA a year earlier than the upper player (and as I've often argued, as much as a year too soon). without that mistep, Arencibia compares favorably in almost every regard to...

Mike Piazza.

Like I said, JP Arencibia is REALLY good.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Futility!

My timing is superlative.

Less than 12 hours after I happily dig through the stats to write what i thought was a unique contribution to the jays blogosphere - Jesse Litsch comes up lame and the domino effect rips a massive hole in all my presumptions.

Still, stubbornly irrational as I am, I present her a modification which adjusts for those potential effects.


8/6-8 vs. TB = Cecil / Mills / Morrow
8/10-12 vs. Boston = Romero / Marcum / Cecil
8/13-15 @ LA = Mills / Morrow / Romero
8/16-18 @ Oakland = Marcum / Cecil / Mills
8/20-22 @ Boston = Morrow / Romero / Marcum
8/23-25 vs. NYY = Cecil / Mills / Morrow
8/26-29 vs. Detroit = Romero/ Marcum / Cecil / Mills
8/30-9/1 @ TB = Morrow / Romero / Marcum
9/3-5 @ NYY = Cecil / Mills / Zep
9/6-9 vs. Texas = Morrow / Romero / Marcum / Cecil
9 /10-12 vs. TB = Mills / Zep / Morrow
9/13-15 @ Baltimore = Romero / Marcum / Cecil
9/17-19 @ Boston = Mills / Zep / Romero
9/21-23 vs. Seattle = Marcum / Hill / Mills
9/24-26 vs. Baltimore = Zep / Romero / Marcum
9/27-29 vs. NYY = Hill / Mills / Zep
9/30 - 10/3 @ Minn. = Romero / Marcum / Hill / Mills

Please note - the places where I put Hill might just as easily be Richmond. likewise if anyone else falls by the wayside, the other guy who's not already scheduled becomes first in line. I still say that it's highly unlikey you see Drabek start for the Jays this year.

Multitudes of Machinations.

As the minor league seasons hit their homes stretch, and the major league season enters it's final third, a team with a lot of young pitching such as the Blue Jays begins to get a clearer picture of whether and to what extent to limit the innings of the younger pitchers.

The generally accepted rule of thumb is for pitchers under 25, you don't want to go more than 30 innings past their previous career high (as documented by SI's Tom Verducci) although there are exceptions sometimes made for big-bodied pitchers and some teams have a modified policy (I seem to recall that when ask about Purcey one Jays minor league exec spoke of "20%" in a Batter's Box interview, but I can't find it now).

In any case, applying Verducci's +30 Rule throughout the Jays' system produces some interesting results - and speculation from me about who the results imply. Rather than just say "they're ok" it's simpler to list off each rotation in term (ignoring filler like Broadway of course) and apply the formula.
Please note that in projecting the IP total for the rotations, I assume 1 start for every five remaining games, even if I expect there to be a modification to the rotation.

This first section pertains to how the major league rotation plays out.

Toronto-

Shaun Marcum - 131 IP, projects to 193 / He's not under 25, rule doesn't apply.
Ricky Romero - 147 / 220 / Previous high is 178, should be fine, especially given the Jays apparent plan to go to a six man rotation in September.
Brandon Morrow - 118.1 / 180 / 124.2 / Morrow is 25 so it's uncertain how strictly the Jays will apply the rule but the strictest interpretation would cap him at about 155-160 IP which would mean he has about 7 starts before he's shut down. In a five man rotation that would take him through September 10, and leave 4 turns through the rotation.
Brett Cecil - 123.1 / 191 / 142.1 / Cecil's cap should be around 175, that leaves him about 8 starts. That takes him through somewhere around September 13, and leaves about 3 turns (again, these can vary depending on when the six man rotation is implemented, if in fact it is).
Jesse Litsch - 83.2 / 140 / 196 / Litsch is 25, won't get close, and if fact is "fully built up" - unless the injury has something to do with it he's good.

Las Vegas-

Marc Rzepczynski - 78.1 / 33 more in Vegas / 149.1 / that will have him at 111-112 or so when the AAA season is done. he will surely be among the September recalls which, given that he could go as high as 180, makes him an obvious candidate to either become the sixth starter, or step into Morrow's turn, or some combination of the two. in fact, with that many innings left in play, the Jays could do worse than to send him to the AFL if he's not disqualified and let him go ahead and push that endurance level up as much as possible so that this isn't even an issue in 2011.

Brad Mills - 103.1 / 40 more in Vegas / 147.1 / So Mills can go as high as 175-180 and should. that's about 5-6 starts he'd be good for in September.

Rehab-

Shawn Hill, Scott Richmond - Neither is under 25, both are recovering from injury (Hill's more major than Richmond's) Both men's potential to pitch in Toronto this September are complicated by the fact that both New Hampshire and Dunedin are playoff bound, and both stand to lose the services of important starters because of IP limits.

Hill has six frankly dominant minor league starts as he rehabs, and is now on the NH roster where, if he stayed through the course of the regular season, he'd have about six more turns. The AA playoffs go all the way through September 18 though, if the F-Cats stay alive, Hill would be one alternative to their lack of options, as would Richmond.

Richmond is on the Dunedin roster at present, though it's an easy speculation that he'll be bumped up after the D-Jays get through their two double headers in the next four days. Like Hill, his name would come up five or six more times in the balance of the regular season. One assumes that with Vegas not in contention, there's no reason why either would pitch in AAA in August.

JoJo Reyes - Currently on the DL in AA, I have no idea why but he's been out since July 21 and while he's a long shot to be back and back up to speed by the middle of September when the shuffling starts in earnest, one should assume he's no factor.

So, before I press on to speculation about the minors, here's a quick and dirty look at the potential projected rotation for the rest of the season in Toronto:

8/6-8 vs. TB = Cecil / Litsch / Morrow
8/10-12 vs. Boston = Romero / Marcum / Cecil
8/13-15 @ LA = Litsch / Morrow / Romero
8/16-18 @ Oakland = Marcum / Cecil / Litsch
8/20-22 @ Boston = Morrow / Romero / Marcum
8/23-25 vs. NYY = Cecil / Litsch / Morrow
8/26-29 vs. Detroit = Romero/ Marcum / Cecil / Litsch
8/30-9/1 @ TB = Morrow / Romero / Marcum
9/3-5 @ NYY = Cecil / Litsch / Zep
9/6-9 vs. Texas = Morrow / Romero / Marcum / Cecil
9 /10-12 vs. TB = Litsch / Zep / Morrow
9/13-15 @ Baltimore = Romero / Marcum / Cecil
9/17-19 @ Boston = Litsch / Zep / Romero
9/21-23 vs. Seattle = Marcum / Mills / Litsch
9/24-26 vs. Baltimore = Zep / Romero / Marcum
9/27-29 vs. NYY = Mills / Litsch / Zep
9/30 - 10/3 @ Minn. = Zep/ Romero / Marcum / Mills

This is, of course, just one possibility but it's a logical one and it doesn't involve having to presume on the rehabbers. That said, the last three turns are back to the five man rotation (albeit not the same five) and if the Jays really wanted to continue the extra-rest pattern, they could give Hill or Richmond major league starts in the last couple of weeks.

Now, some high points regarding the minor leagues.

There's little else to say about Vegas. They've been trotting out woefully inadaquate options like Lance Broadway all season, finishing in that unimpressive style seems obvious, as there's no point in putting anyone with real promise into that situation now. there are a couple of fringy guys there (Ray and Perez) but I can't be bothered to nail down their IP cap situations.

New Hampshire-

At New Hampshire, things get much more interesting because the two best prospects on the starting staff are both running up against cap issues.

Kyle Drabek - The most interesting case on this list for a number of reasons, but the main one is that Jeff Blair, Jordan Bastian and others have reported (I don't know if from multiple sources) that the Jays intend to cap Drabek at about 160 IP (he's currently at 136) which would hold him to about 4 more starts, and see him shut down after his start on August 24 (assuming the current rotation and no rain-outs). BUT, Drabek threw 158 IP last year and should be good, according to the Verducci rule, up to 190 this year.
The more I look at this, the more I wonder about it. it seems to me that the Jays would like to move the endurance level up at least a little in anticipation of 2011. I am not in a position to dispute the respected journalists but something is amiss here. IF Drabek can exceed 160 IP, he would have the opportunity to accumulate 2 more regular season starts and two playoff starts to give him 180-190 IP. Time will tell.

Zach Stewart - Much more cut and dried, Stewart is now 10 IP past his previous career high (he has 115.1) and has about 20 IP to go. If used for 5 IP per start he would have four more starts. This would leave him two short of finishing the season. There's every possibility that Richmond comes from Dunedin soon, though, so that's not as bad as it might otherwise be.

Randy Boone and Shawn Hill are the other two starters (who are any good) in the current rotation. As noted, Hill has no IP issues and Boone, frankly, is not a guy the Jays are worried about overworking. There's also the possibility that Jojo will return at some point and in a tight spot, Ray Gonzalez is here too.

Dunedin-

Chad Jenkins - Jenkins pretty much never comes up in these discussions. That's an oversight. Jenkin's highest workload at Kennesaw State? 92 IP. Jenkins current total combined for Lansing and Dunedin? 120.2 which, if you are doing the math as you read along, is clearly a problem. If the Jays apply the Verducci Rule to Jenkins (who is, by the way, one of those "big bodied" guys) then he's pretty much done now. But I've heard nothing about his being shut down. The D-Jays need him tomorrow for the double header, but I can't imagine the Jays pushing him much beyond that.

Henderson Alvarez - 28 IP short of previous career high, plus as much as 30 more, equals no danger.

Joel Cerrano - 20 IP past his previous career high already, but my instinct is that the Jays will not consider him an important enough prospect to shelve him after a couple more starts. If they do, there's going to be short-handed in the playoffs.

Chuck Huggins - It's unlikely they are worried much about him but he has 23+30 still in the tank.

Ryan Page - not a guy who matters.

If we assume Richmond is promoted soon, and Jenkins is shut down soon, then the D-Jays will be short handed for the last three weeks or so of the season. I have no information about this but personally, I'm rooting for Egan Smith to be promoted to fill in that slot. there are no publicly available records for his previous high in college, but he only has 59 IP on the season so he should have plenty left in the tank and he's the best option in Lansing for a promotion.

On all the lower levels, the Jays will shut down the guys who are important enough to protect, regardless of other considerations.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Monthly Prospect Review, Part 2

A look at the pitchers of note, by level:

AAA (Las Vegas)

Marc Rzepczynski - Not technically a rookie any more, but as long as he's not a firmly entrenched major leaguer, he's a prospect as far as I'm concerned. Zep's having a bit of a lost year, not so much in lack of success as in the ability to get on a consistent roll anywhere. Vegas is tough on the best of pitchers, but Zep seemed to have figured it out before his short promotion to Toronto where he was inconsistent. But it's worth noticing that in his last eight starts in AAA, he's put together this line: 51.1 - 41 - 17 - 19 - 48 - 3.33 - 1.17
There's really not a lot he has left to prove in the minors.

Brad Mills - you know of course that Mills acquitted himself quite well against an admittedly easy target in the Baltimore orioles while spot starting for the Jays last week. You might be less aware that in three starts since returning from the DL, Mills had a 2.00 ERA over 18 innings of work and looked much like his early-season self. Mills is in a very uncomfortable spot with Six guys on the depth chart in front of him and at least two highly regarded prospects on his heels. But he's keeping himself in the conversation.

Jesse Carlson - Not a rookie at all - but you might be interested to know that he has a 3.18 ERA since the first of June and has been doing fine work for 10 weeks or so now. Too bad for him that the Jays have so many options (and can't bring themselves to ditch Brian Tallet for some reason).

Josh Roenicke - still technically a rookie coming into the year (he was on BA's list you might recall). Like Zep, there's not a lot left for him to prove here. one of the biggest losers when the Jays didn't find a taker for Frasor or Gregg.

Jeremy Accardo - you all know his story. The question is, does his 2.34 ERA (and 1.31 since June 1) reflect his age and experience relative to the league, or that he has his old mojo back?

AA (New Hampshire)

Kyle Drabek - the Jays #1 prospect continues to demonstrate his mastery of AA. Speculation abounds about the Jays' intentions regarding his development as he seems to have nothing left to prove at AA. Jeff Blair and others have reported the Jays intend to cap his IP at about 160 this year - strange since that wouldn't be an increase on his 158 last year. But if true, he only has about 4-5 more starts before they shut him down. there seems little point in subjecting him to the rigors of Vegas for so small a sample. Also, while many fans drool over the prospect of his appearing in Toronto in September, if the 160 report is legit, he won't have the innings left, and you can't, as was suggested by at least one, shut him down for a few weeks and then bring him back. Plus, he doesn't need to go on the 40 this winter and AA is unlikely to burn a roster spot and an option year for the sake of a token appearance.

Zach Stewart - Stewart struggled mechanically the first two months of the season but has since made a case that he, too, has got the AA-ball gig down. Since June 1, he has a 2.28 ERA (better than Drabek over the same period). The walk rate is still higher than you'd like but otherwise, he's back on track.

Trystan Magnuson - has cooled some from his incredible run of efficiency. But other than one horrendous inning when he was allowed to stay in long enough to give up five runs, he's got an ERA of 2.00 on the year. in a less deep organization, he could potentially skip AAA and break camp with the Major league club next spring.

Danny Farquhar - blazed out of the gate, then went completely off the rales in May. but he's been dynamite again for the last month plus. Like the other AA pitchers mentioned so far, he has nothing left to prove here.

Alan Farina - Not as great a story as Tim Collins was, and doesn't have the crazy K numbers but still a dominant guy. Another guy who, though he has a very small AA sample, looks like he could pitch now at a higher level. probably will be a step behind the other two relievers here though.

A (Dunedin)

Chad Jenkins - With eight starts under his belt in A ball, Jenkins has only turrned in one real stinker - without that game his ERA is 3.15, but he has oddly low strikeout numbers so far. Still, in the seven good starts he's had 0 or 1 walk issued in each game. He's not necessarily coming fast as was projected, but he doesn't necessarily need to. All in all though, I wouldn't be shocked if he opened 2011 in AA.

Henderson Alverez - Something has gone badly off the tracks here. The kind who looked unhittable in the first six weeks of the season has become nothing of the sort since. One assumes it might be mechanical, or possibly the team is forcing him to refine lesser pitches. but there's no definitive pattern of getting better right now. given his age and track record, my guess is that he repeats Dunedin next season. He's still a heck of a prospect though, make no mistake there.

Joel Cerrano - doesn't get a lot of buzz when prospects are discussed, but he's led the system in K's for a lot of the season. Cerrano has 138 in 107 IP and a 5:1 K:BB ratio. Hard to ignore that.

Frank Gailey - He's 24 and a reliever in A ball, so moderate your reactions. BUT he's also left handed and 5'9" and has 71 K's against only 9 BB in 64.1 IP - he'll never be a "top prospect" but he might very well be a pretty decent major leaguer some day.

A (Lansing)

Egan Smith - Made it to the end of July without ever having even one moderately mediocre start, let alone a bad one. A six-five lefty taken in the seventh round in 2009, Smith is not a "known name" but other relatively late roound choices have taken off before (Zep, for instance) so keep Smith in mind.

Ryan Tepera - Toronto writers recently honored him with a spot on the "all system" team. I'm not really sure why. His strikeout numbers should be better unless he has something else going for him I'm not seeing.

Short-Season (Auburn)

Andrew Hutcinson - Marvelous in five of his last six starts, the 2009 15th round pick is begining to look like a potential steal.

Casey Lawrence - signed after the draft as an undraftd free agent, Lawrence has cruised through seven starts for the Doubledays. He's 22 so he's somewhat older than the league but not enough so that it's illegitimate to ask if he is really THIS good. I'd love to see the Jays push aside one of the stiffs at Lansing and give him a few turns against tougher competiton.

Asher Wojciechowski - Shut down after three starts because he through so many innings in college. Gave up only one run in 12 IP and there's not a lot we can draw from that sample.

SS (Gulf Coast)

Aaron Sanchez - not enough innings to comment on, but Alex Anthopoulos told Mike wilner that no less a voice Mel Queen's virtually demanded we draft Sanchez saying he was one of the best pitchers that age he'd ever seen. quote: "He's better than Carpenter." My man-love for Sanchez just tripled when I heard that.

Noah Syndergaard - Like Sanchez, too early to draw conclusions.

Devy Estrada - I may be the only one in on this guy but from what he did in the DSL last year at 16, I'm gonna stick with him til he blows up. Respectable work in almost 30 IP so far.

There's no point in discussing relievers at the lowest levels. You can't tell yet who'll rise like cream to the top.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Monthly Prospect Review - July

On a day when The Manager kicked off the Two Months From Hell by giving away a critical out for the second straight day, the mind wanders, as it often does, to the halcyon days yet to come - and it occurs to me that being the first day of a new month, it's time for the monthly prospect review.

As always, the list attempts to be relatively exhaustive.

Catchers

1. JP Arencibia - The story of the Jays minor league system to this point has to be the story of the Renaissance of J. P. Arencibia. JPA blistered his way through June and July, hitting 22 homers in 50 games and, oh by the way, draw 18 walks (by comparison, he drew 18 walks in 126 games played in 2008). The Jays have an uncomfortable dilemma on there hands, in that they didn't find a quality offer for John Buck (and they are very happy with his work, by the way) yet the know JPA is ready for promotion. Whatever happens with Buck, count on seeing the kid in Toronto in September.
2. Carlos Perez - The 19 year old Venezuelan is doing everything one might have expected of him for Rookie League Auburn. He's years away, but he's on track.
3. Travis d'Arnaud - As opposed to last year's record, d'Arnaud has gotten steadily worse statistically month over month in 2010. He hasn't seemed the same since a May stint on the DL with his back. Perhaps the pain lingers?
4. AJ Jimenez - Like Perez, he's years away, and like Perez he's done nothing to make one doubt the glowing reviews he's recieved for his work on both sides of the game.
5. Brian Jeroloman - a tale of two season here, in April and May he was something unlike he'd ever been before - a feared hitter. in June and July, he's been anything but. He's a study in not over-reacting to a hot streak.

Others of note: Santiago Nessy, Yan Gomes, Jon Talley

First Basemen

1. Mike McDade - McDade cooled in July, but given that he's one of the younger players in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League yet he leads the league in homers by a comfortable margin, he's still having a nice year. With the departure of Brett Wallace, McDade's profile in the organization rises a bit.

2. David Cooper - written off as any part of the future after Wallace was acquired, Cooper gains a new lease on life with the most recent deal and had his first quality month in AA in July. but his stock has fallen so far it will take more than one hot month (actually, more like a hot 2 weeks) to rebuild his status.

3. Lance Durham - "Baby Bull" hit .902 in July and thereby asks that his name be considered in this conversation. He's 22 in short-season ball, so we'll exercise caution - but there might be something here.

4. K.C. Hobson - such is the lack of depth among minor league 3B that we have to go all the way down to a 19 year old in the GCL to find the next best option. Hobson has skills, but is years away.

5. Balbino Fuenmayor - a decent May created a small uptic of hope but he''s been dreadful since. Time is running out.

Second Base

1. Scott Campbell - still injured. If he were to recover his former skills he'd be the best player on this list, but hip-injuries can be vicious. I list him first because the other options are so unimpressive.

2. John Tolisano - was having a very slow July before going onto the DL two weeks ago. I'm uncertain the nature of his injury.

3. Andy Fermin - Yes, the system is so thin at 2B that this is what we've come to - a 32nd round pick in the 2010 draft, a 21 year old with a good enough eye to take advantage of short season pitching. There's no reason to think, at this point, that he's really a prospect.

4. Jarrett Huffpauir - After a brief stint in the majors, where he did little with a small chance, he's been a lot cooler back in AAA. Hardly anyone thinks he has much upside.

5. Ryan Schimpf - Unacceptable production for a 22 year old college player in Lo-A ball. Fading as a player of even marginal interest.


At both 2B and1B, over time we'll see the list change a good bit as the excess at other positions (suddenly we have quite a few 3B and SS) end up being shifted across the diamond to find playing time.

Third Base

1. Brad Emaus - Jeff Blair would have us believe that the Blue Jays have no faith in Emaus. And it's true he's probably never going to be an all-star. In fact if he's ever a full-time starter he's very likely to just be a marginal player - probably not unlike this year's version of Orlando Hudson (which isn't such high praise as you might imagine). But he's got a good enough batting eye to be a nice role-player and maybe stop-gap starter at 3B until something better comes along. At worst, he could have a fairly long career as a bench player in the mold of a Jeff Keppinger and that's not nothing.

2. Kellen Sweeney - Signed and playing in the GCL, the highest selected hitter in the 2010 draft for the Jays (second round) hasn't enough pro at-bats to really discuss, but the benefit of the doubt is granted here.

3. Shawn Bowman - a good May and a great June put Bowman on the radar of a lot of prospect watchers among Jays fans but I was skeptical. A .211 July has squashed a lot of the buzz he was generating. Bowman is more likely the Brian Dopirak of 3B than he is a future Jays Third Baseman. Still, I'll give him a bit of respect for the homers he has so far.

4. Mark Sobolewski - After a slow start adjusting to a newer and tougher league, Sobo had a very nice July (.773 OPS in the FSL isn''t bad work at all) and by all rights, probably should be second on this list but I'll refrain from over-reacting to short samples for now.

5. Kevin Ahrens - the ongoing experiment to convert the former switch hitter into a RH hitter is, perhaps, beginning to show signs of life. Ahrens is riding the crest of the best two-week sample of his career to date. Quite possibly, it's just a hot streak. But given his pedigree, and the nature of such a conversion, I'll reserve judgement just a while longer.

6. Sean Ochinko - he's only so low here because he's unlikely to stay at 3B long term. He can catch, but there are too many other options there as well. Ultimately, I might as well list him at first. He's having a respectable offensive year but at his age and level, it's nothing to get you real excited.

Others of note, particularly 2010 draftees: Chris Hawkins (third rounder, has been playing in the GCL), Kris Bryant (as yet unsigned but well regarded), Gabriel Cenas (international free agent, probably won't actually play until next season).

Shortstop

1. Adeiny Hechevarria - has silenced those who were mystified at his promotion to AA by settling in and acquitting himself well. With an .822 OPS in his last 10 games and drawing rave reviews from those who see him play, he's beginning to show us what Alex saw.

2. Gustavo Pierre - still getting credit for raw tools - but emphasis on the "raw" - he's struggling in his first season in Auburn, particularly during the 7-for-60 run which opened the month of July.

3. Dickie Joe Thon - Can we start calling this guy DJ or something? Thon is unofficially signed and the announcement should come in the next couple of weeks. Usually in these situations the player goes right to the instructional league rather than being added to a roster.

4. Justin Jackson - Flashes of promise followed by weeks of failure, Jackson's time is running out even if he is only 21. he needs to show something which says "give me more time" by this time next year or his baseball obituary will be in print all over.

5. Ryan Goins - looked skilled in Lansing, has been just awful at the plate since being promoted to Dunedin. Those who saw him in Lansing said he looked like the best hitter on the team but the transition has been very rough, 16 games in.

Outfielder

1. Anthony Gose - don't let the stats fool you, he's raw but the word from the scouts is that he has eye-popping tools. Yes, such players often flame-out, but you can compare him to Alex Rios did at 19 while playing two rungs lower on the ladder and I think you'll see that you can't dismiss him on statistical grounds - and he has a lot better head on his shoulders than Rios.

2. Jake Marisnick - Just promoted to Lansing after a nice debut season in the GCL - was the future of CF until Gose showed up but may well be the future of RF.

3. Moises Sierra - out for the year, will have to rebuild momentum next year.

4. Eric Thames - Just took over the franchise record for RBI at New Hampshire with 82, to go with his 21 homers. He's having his first healthy season in, well, ever, and he's doing well in every offensive facet except hitting LHP. that's a flaw that needs remedy if he wants to avoid falling into a potential platoon situation.

5. Darin Mastorianni - I've been calling him the second coming of Scott Podsednick but to be fair, he's a notch better than that if stats are any indication. Sometimes he's called Reed Johnson 2.0 but he doesn't have Johnson's unfortunate platoon splits. Great on-base skills, 50+ SB speed, lauded defense - but not a lot of power. The Jays might not consider him as gifted as Gose, but hopefully they'll give hm the chance to go as far as those skills will take him.

6. Adam Loewen - July was a slow month for the Loewen express. All three members of the NH outfield will be in AAA next year and there are limited opportunities on the major league roster. As much as I like Loewen's story, he needs to be more than "pretty good" if he wants to wear the uniform of his boyhood favorites. Unless it's at 1B.

7. Marcus Kenect - the now-20 year old native of the Toronto area was the only 2010 draftee among the hitters to start his pro-career as a starter at Auburn. And he justified that faith for the most part. He's probably not that impressive on defense, on the other hand, as he's spent considerable time at DH.

8. Michael Crouse - A 19 year old 2008 draftee, Crouse is on his third tour of the GCL so take his impressive stat line with a grain of salt - still, third tour or not - he IS 19. In theory he'll be tested at Lansing next year and we'll have a better read.

Also pay attention to: Wellinton Ramierez, Kenny Wilson, Eric Eiland (like Ahrens, showing a faint heartbeat at last but might be an illusion)


For the sake of length, I'll do the pitchers in a separate post - hopefully tomorrow.