Saturday, 30 April 2011

Obligatory WTF? post

Okay, so i get that I'm supposed to be shocked and confused by Travis Snider's demotion but I'm just . . . not feeling it. Maybe i should turn in my blogger card but I'm not suddenly struck with an urge to bloviate about how much more i know what to do than the GM.

What I do know is I have a pre-disposed bias to not like it for the simple reason that i have this vision in my mind of Travis Snider blossoming this year and being a team offensive leader and that vision didn't include being sent down. the easiest thing in the world for me would be to scream bloody murder. But it just rings false to me, as if I'm aggrieved that my little fantasy has hit a snag. Anything i could say by way of analysis has already been said, and most of what was said was empty emotion rather than actual analysis.

What I will say is I still believe that in the end he's going to be one of the top 2 or 3 hitters this team has ever produced. I have no patience for the idea that he's gonna be a "4A player" - he's just not. I'm happy for Cooper, and i think he's gonna be an ok guy, but his ceiling is low and I'm not all that excited by what's likely to be a brief stay.

Turning to other players - I'm beginning to be convinced that Jose Bautista actually is THAT good. Mind you, he sold me last July and August that he was for real, but I, like pretty much everyone, figured he'd drop back to somewhere in the land of the mortals this year and instead, in an admittedly limited sample, he's gotten BETTER. The temptation to believe the best hitter in baseball plays for your team is always strong, if there's a reasonable candidate, and i try to be aware of it but . . . damn.

Juan Rivera seems to have found his stride too, and I hope he hits well- if for no other reason than trade value - but i can't get enthused with him.

JoJo Reyes? My plan would be either let him swap roles with Zep, or (if I thought Cecil's rebuild would be short) just let Villianueva sub in for him and put him in the second lefty role. I fully understand the "hoard an asset" mentality, and the potential for getting good return on a trade, but in this case, the heart won't accept what the head says. There are six guys I'd rather see in the 2012 rotation than Reyes, and a couple or three more I'd just as soon see. I don't think he's as bad as many of you do, but i just don't care about him.

Coming soon: the 1/6th Review.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Avoid Declarative Statements

So, that last post concluded on a somewhat shaky note, eh?

Since then:

  • Nix to the DL, McCoy back to the Jays
  • Hill to the DL, Litsch recalled after ~40 pitches in Vegas Friday night to start Tuesday
  • Encarnacion has a sore wrist, day to day
  • Raji Davis has had his rehab slowed by a postponed game on Saturday, and might be a day late in being activated
  • Oh, and Scott Podsednick is playing again in Dunedin and should move up to Vegas this week.

Can't tell the players without a scorecard, as they say. The upcoming moves seem obvious, but given the twists and turns, I'll refrain from laying them out. One thing that seems to get some speculation that needs clarifying. The Blue Jays have a very solid conviction about prospect development. they will NOT change the clock on Brett Lawrie (or anyone else who's a legit prospect) because of passing injuries to major leaguers. They would have to run completely out of 40-man roster options before they promoted Lawrie before they thought he was completely ready, and even then probably not. You are more likely to see Calix Crabbe in a jays uniform than to see Lawrie come early.
The one possible exception is if Hill, or Encarnacion, were to be disabled for a foreseeable extended period, and by extended I mean three months or more. They simply don't think that way.

From their public comments, they are not ready to declare him "ready" yet. AA said on the air late last week that it's far too early to judge a player based on a couple of weeks worth of at-bats. On the other hand, the "vibe" seems to be that his timetable is to arrive sometime before September. So there's that.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Frequent Flights!

It's times like this the Jays have to even more acutely wish they were not further from their AAA team than any other major league franchise. But for a lot of fans the distance isn't really the first thing on their minds.

Brett Cecil was demoted today (well, yesterday now of course) in order to get his head and his mechanics together. By now you've surely read the details, and heard the comments by AA and others. Cecil may lack a bit on his normal velocity, but it's his command that is getting him pounded and it's easy to infer that his mechanics are off because he's trying too hard to find the lost velocity. But compounding that is that he's apparently not handling the struggle well. I've heard only a few comments which suggest it was a mistake to send him out for a bit to get things together.

Reaction was nd continues to be much more divided regarding the recent demotion of Jesse Litsch. Many Jays fans are convinced that it was simply wrong to cling to JoJo Reyes in the rotation at the expense of Litsch's major league spot. I largely disagree with that negativity. First of all, Litsch, while he's been perfectly adequate for a 5th starter type, is not without flaws. John Farrell specifies that he has issues with his pitch selection (notably "falling in love with his cutter") which, by the way, is not the first time the team has demoted him for a similar issue.

Second, the virtually unanimous conclusion that "JoJo sucks" is in my opinion wildly pre-mature. Yes, it's true that when the Braves yanked him out of AA too soon he didn't adjust well to the majors and has floundered since. He probably lost two years of normal development because of that poor decision (and refusal to back off from it). but if we learned anything from Brandon Morrow is that a new organization CAN put the mistakes of the former organization in the rear-view. What JoJo did for Atlanta has some informative value but it certainly doesn't mean there's no "there" there. Are we, as long distance obersvers, better qualified to decide a guy has no value than the respected personnel people with the team? I mean yes, if you already decided JP is a fool and Cito misguided and you see them make a questionable move maybe they get less benefit of the doubt, but AA has certainly earned some respect i would think.

Third, everyone including the players understood that this year was a "work in progress" year. The team made no pretensions about sacrificing the future for wins today. If Reyes has value, as a member of the jays or as a potential trade later on, then the team is not going to take a small marginal difference between he and Listch in return for squandering that potential value.

now, do I think Litsch DESERVED a demotion? Not really, certainly no more so than Janssen did. But I don't think it's worth more than a slightly bemused shrug. The added layer now is, of course, that with Cecil down, Litsch can't be recalled in time for Cecil's next turn because of the 10 Day Rule. This though, assumes he wasn't really demoted to work out anything but for no other reason that the option issue. Litsch can be recalled if Hill (or someone else) ends up on the DL before Tuesday, and IF the jays do choose to bring him back then there is a legitimate question to ask - "why didn't you wait until after Cecil's start if you were thinking of demoting Cecil all along, and see if you were going to need Jesse?"

Here's my theory - Alex Anthopoulos is always 3 steps ahead of everyone else, including is. The idea that he simply screwed up and demoted Listch 2 days too soon and now regrets it is, frankly, inconceivable to me. I don't think Gord Ash would have made that mistake and I'm certain AA didn't. Litsch is going to get, in my estimation, at least 2 starts in Vegas and should. Cecil will get as many as necessary to get himself together, which will be at least two (one to do it and one to prove he got it). In the mean time, there's another player to consider here.

Brad Mills. Yes, the lefty is derided as a "junkballer" and his previous major league appearances have been disappointing. But he's owning the PCL in three starts so far, sporting a 0.82 ERA and a .162 BAA. If the Jays don't intend to give him a chance in the majors now, with an opportunity in hand and that effort on his resume, then they ought to go ahead and trade him because he's not going to pitch any better than this in Vegas. As with Reyes, the team needs to know what it actually has, and needs for other teams to know if there's value there worth dealing for. there's really only one way to do that. Mills is, IMO, potentially on a par with Litsch. Neither is an overpowering guy, both will have to cling to the bottom of the rotation on cunning and guile (in the same vein as Shaun Marcum, but against tougher competition). He's never goingto be a Cy contender. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have value.

In the long run, things are still difficult. if everyone were healthy, if Reyes and Mills both take advantage of their opportunity, if Litsch and Cecil both regain their footing as the team wishes - then you still have to figure out how to use SEVEN starters. and that's before I lament that Zep is probably better than Mills and Listch and maybe better than Reyes. how would you like to be Scott Richmond and know there are eight guys in front of you and a prospect behind who might get promoted over you if it came to a legitimate opportunity?

I should mention Chris Woodward's promotion, of course. He'll have to go through waivers when he's farmed out but don't worry, he's not the sort of player you lose on waivers - or mourn the loss of if you do.

1. In the next few days, Morrow will be activated to start on Saturday and Luis Perez will be demoted;
2. Aaron Hill will either return to action or be DL'd and if so McCoy will return in his place;
3. Raji Davis will be activated on Tuesday and Woodward will be waived back to the minors;
(alternately, the Jays might wait about Hill to Tuesday and just simply swap him for Davis)
4. Mills (most likely) will be recalled for the Tuesday start and a reliever (likely Janssen, sadly) will be demoted.

All this barring further injury of course.

Oh, and by the way - the Jays got Brad Emaus back from the Mets and sent him to Las Vegas. look for him to be installed as the regular 2B and for Niuman Romero (no relation) to head to AA.

What else? That cover everything? did I miss anything in the last half hour? Okay then, I leave you with this thought: It's been EIGHTEEN games - not even 4 times through the rotation - simmer the fuck down. i remind you that Brandon Morrow's ERA after 3 starts last year was 7.31, and on April 21 last year Jose Bautista was hitting .207, so take a breath.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

So Long, Bigfoot

So, David Purcey packs up his size 19 spikes and heads for the West Coast. By now you probably know the Blue Jays reacquired Danny Farquhar from the Oakland A's for Purcey. In effect, then, we dealt Purcey and Trystan Magnuson for Raji Davis which is still a reasonable deal. I am just a TINY bit bemused that Alex had a lot to say about "considerable interest" in Purcey and yet this is the deal he chose. I've got nothing against Farquhar, as reliever prospects go I like him a good bit. But relief prospects by definition are marginal. One has to wonder about the quality of any, for instance, outfielders who were offered if he'd rather acquire a reliever.

Farquar will report to Las Vegas, where he'll join another import, a pitcher who at first appears to be a non-discript journyman pitcher, bought from the Indians named Yohan Pino. Pino is 27, too old to be a "prospect"in the typical sense. I saw that he had a 5.75 ERA last year and pretty much dismissed him as anything other than minor league bullpen fodder. BUT upon checking out his record, I'm a bit more intrigued. Pino displayed excellent control and solid strikeout rates throughout his career before 2010. In 10 AAA starts in 2009, he posted 58 Ks against only 13 BB in 65 IP. Still though, he's probably going to do his best work in relief, since he has so much relief work in his minor league track record (top quality potential starters don't relieve in the minors much unless it's to limit innings pitched).

While I'm speaking of minor leaguers, let me take a quick look around the farm after a dozen games or so...

  • Eric Thames is En Fuego! The Vegas left fielder is hitting .449 with an OPS of 1.272 and, along the way, his 14 RBI (tied for the team lead) have been game winners as in tonight's contest.
  • Brett Lawrie? Also damned good so far (.428/1.140) at the plate. He does have too many errors but I caution the panic prone interwebs to remember that errors are a poor measure in the best of circumstances and next to useless in the minors.
  • Chad Cordero started a "bullpen game" for the second time and had his best outing yet but he's still not dominating as a veteran should if he had all his stuff working.
  • Mike McDade and Jon Diaz (a normally light-hitting John McDonald clone) are the only two hitters off to a good start at NH. Fortunately for the team, most of the pitching (outside of Joel Carreno and a couple of scrubs) has been excellent. One wonders if the pitchers are simply ahead of the hitters in a still-cold environment?
  • Several Dunedin hitters are off to a good start in a league and a park usually considered very pitcher-friendly. AJ Jimenez, Kenny Wilson, and Justin Jackson are names the you've heard, but also the Brads, Glenn and McElroy, each have an OPS over .900; Brad Glenn is tied for the early lead in the FSL with 4 homers.
  • Speaking of Dunedin, Deck McGuire has announced his presence with authority. And Woj, Jenkins, and Nestor Molina are right there with him. The 4 have a 1.51 collective ERA in 47.2 IP.
  • Carlos Perez is doing what's expected in Lansing, smoking the ball. what wasn't expected was Balbino Fuenmayor being on fire out of the gate (and playing mostly 3B!). Both players have a .400 or better BA; the stellar OF of Crouse/Marisnick/Kenect are all hitting well in the early going.
  • Among Lansing Pitchers, Drew Hutchison has steadily elevated himself in the eyes of everyone this spring. He has 15 K and 3 BB in his first 10 IP - he was noticed by BA on their "Helium Watch" list and you may well be hearing his name a lot this summer.
  • Among the re-habbing, it's widely expected (per John Farrell) that Frank Francisco and Brandon Morrow have finished their rehab work. Francisco will bump Perez (both men are probably already en route) tomorrow, and Morrow will be activated in time to start either Friday or (my guess) Saturday. It remains to be seen what that means to the roster. Listch could go to Vegas, Reyes could be DFA'd in advance of a trade, or he could shift to the bullpen which now only has one lefty, and bump, sadly, probably Casey Janssen again. Hopefully Dotel gets banged up or something in the mean time so that Farrell doesn't keep feeding him to gleeful lefty hitters.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Whither Purcey?

A quick hit tonight, mainly just to document what I've said elsewhere. Alex Anthopoulos was quoted variously that he was confident he'd be able to trade David Purcey within the time frame alotted to him and that he'd already had interest. I believe, of course, that he will succeed. Speculation naturally abounds on where he might end up, and here's mine.

It goes without saying that any team who's not contending and is short of resources in terms of LH relievers is a candidate - many have noted Pittsburgh as a prime example. Nothing wrong with that logic.

But here' was what occurred to me:

1. NY Mets - JP works there now, he's as familiar with Purcey as anyone around the league and some suggest he has an ego so maybe he will seek to redeem his draft choice.

2. Houston Astros - Remember this is where Arnsberg works now, so he's in a position to recommend (or, ya know, the opposite) Purcey to his new bosses.

3. Washington Nationals - remember that many jays' execs used to work for the nats and they might well have their eye on some under-appreciated fringe prospect in their old system.

4. Boston Red Sox - were desperate enough for a lefty that they tried to make Denys Reyes work, so there's a need. Farrell has some familiarity with the Boston system, and the Red Sox have an up-close opinion of Purcey's work in the AL East last year.

Eh. food for thought anyway.

What the hell is wrong with the West Coast?

Okay fine, I'll concede the Weaver game on Sunday. I figured all along the Blue jays would lose that one (props to Reyes for doing his part though).

But two of the last three days have had "WTF?" tattooed all over them - as you know. First the Jays piss away innumerable opportunities to win, then, when it looked like they were going to dodge the bullet, Bob "Blown Call" Davidson stole even that away from them. Sure, let's be very aware the jays ought to have already won the game anyway - that doesn't let Bumblin' Bob off the hook.

Now tonight we have some mysterious case of Purcey Disease infecting the whole bullpen. You have to remember, this is a bullpen that came into tonight with a 0.91 ERA. A group that had only walked 10 batters is over 32 innings pitched in the nine previous games - and then they walk SEVEN in four innings tonight (six unintentionally). And this in a game in which they'd surprisingly knocked around arguably the best pitcher in the AL.

I consoled myself slightly by acknowledging that i didn't expect them to win a game King Felix started - but once you have a 7-0 lead, you are supposed to pick that up. I'm NOT going to rag on the pen as a whole - this stuff happens. but there are two things I'll quibble with:

First - I'm not sure why John Farrell felt the need to try to defy the well established fact that Dotel can't handle lefties by sending him out to potentially face 4 in a row. In general, I'm NOT going to second guess a manager's bullpen management but that just made so very little sense to me. Not that Purcey really gave him a lot of options, but still, I don't see why you wouldn't sooner risk Zep there than Dotel.

Second - Dammit Bigfoot, I'm about ready to wash my hands of you. I've long been the one who said "Don't give up on Purcey" - and last year he seemed to demonstrate he did in fact have value. It seemed my faith had been rewarded. Now? Now dude simply can't find the zone again. Yes I KNOW it's only 2.1 IP but damn it took SIX appearances to get to that because he just goes out and puts runners on and goes to the shower - no outs required. Everyone knows about the crowded staff dilemma, and the problem that arises from Purcey lacking options, but at this point - I'm not sure he wouldn't clear waivers. Being a former first rounder only gets you so far (ask Brian Bullington). A potential claiming team can either look a 2010 and say "we'll take a chance on finding that guy again" or they'll watch the wheels coming off this year and pass. I honestly don't know which at this point.

Friday, 8 April 2011

A Late Post

Really had intended to post this yesterday, on the occasion of the Minor League Opening Day (unless you are in Lansing!) but real-world events got all up in my way. all readers of this blog both a ya, heyo!) know I've an overweening interest in prospect porn. One of the ways that works out is trying to get a list and review of prospects out early in the off-season, and then allowing my opinions to be refined by all the various information from professional and other sources over the off-season. This results in a list in the Spring that can often be quite different from the one in the fall.

So, at the risk of too-massive a post, here's my revised list. it reflects player movement, re-evaluation of opinions in light of commentary, re-thinking some assumptions, and reaction to comments from Jays' player-personnel decision makers. The top of the list doesn't change much, but once you get out of the top 15 or so you start seeing more movement.
(Date in Parenthesis is ETA)

  1. Kyle Drabek - RHP - (2010) Jays seem serious about carrying him, and he didn't dissapoint in his first start.
  2. Brett Lawrie - 3B - (mid-2011) Joined system since original list; Has done everything right so far.
  3. Zach Stewart – RHP - (Sept. 2011) – results last year very similar to Drabek, maybe not quite the ceiling but a lot closer than many think. Return to AA not a reflection of team disappointment.
  4. J.P. Arencibia – C - (2010) – Opening day starter, barring a trade or injury. Looks very much like Buck 2.0 though maybe not in first year.
  5. Carlos Perez – C – (2015) – Probably better than JPA, Jays have luxury of taking time. Might switch positions depending. Might be #1 on this list a year from now.
  6. Travis d'Arnaud – C – (mid-to-late 2013) – Dropped some on earlier list, more because of the nature of the injury (back) than because of the on field results of being hurt. Spring praise was efusive so moved him back up.
  7. Anthony Gose – CF – (2013) – At AA despite the fact he's said to be raw. Crawford type?
  8. Aaron Sanchez – RHP – (mid-2015) – A LOT of positive buzz about the kid. Supposedly picked up more velocity this spring.
  9. Adeiny Hechevarria – SS – (mid/late-2012) – Escobar gives Jays chance to be patient. Might end up a similar player in the majors.
  10. Henderson Alvarez – RHP – (2014) - Rough season, still quite young. As above, depth gives him plenty of time, but he's the kind of guy who could “click” and come faster. John Farrell loved him in ST.
  11. Jake Marisnick – CF – (2015) – Very positive reports, May slide to RF if Gose develops as projected.
  12. Deck McGuire – RHP – (2014) – seems to be somewhat better regarded than Jenkins. Was ranked in the top 5 by four major outlets.
  13. Eric Thames – LF – (late 2011) – last three could be in any order – I'm a believer in his offensive potential. Seems to lack obvious defensive opening in Jays' near-future.
  14. Chad Jenkins – RHP – (2014) – I think the late season fade was fatigue, but scouting reports have an unenthusiastic tone sometimes. Mixed reports re conditioning.
  15. Asher Wojciechowski – RHP – (2015) – might come faster but a lot of bodies to sift through in front of him. Physically a clone of Jenkins. Possible he could come very fast as a closer.
  16. Antonio Jimenez – C – (2014) – I like him, but a level below the three catchers in front of him – higher potential to bust. K/BB rate a potential issue
  17. Drew Hutchenson – RHP – (2015) – Under some radars, and a lot of higher profile folks on the depth chart, but has a chance. Looked impressive in ST.
  18. Noah Syndergaard – RHP – (2016) – I'm kind of skeptical of the sudden senior explosion but open minded. Good reports.
  19. Adonis Cardona – RHP – (2017) – Paid like a first rounder, I'll rank him like one for now.
  20. Dicke Joe Thon – SS – (2016) – similar thinking, first round talent and pay. Henceforth I shall call him “DJ” just because I wish it.
  21. Gustavo Pierre – SS – (late 2015) – Still very raw, but excellent tools
  22. Mosies Sierra – RF – (2014) – Might develop faster, but depth allows caution.
  23. Darin Mastroianni – CF – (late 2011) – might be 2012 before a roster spot opens, Brett Gardner type at most, but lacks pedigree.
  24. Kellen Sweeney – 3B – (2015) – good results in small pro sample. Excellent reports.
  25. Griffin Murphy – LHP – (mid 2015) – Well regarded draftee, ranking based on reports.
  26. Marcus Kenect – RF – (2015) – well regarded hitter
  27. Justin Nicolino – LHP – (2016) based on draft reports.
  28. Mike McDade – 1B – (maybe 2014 if at all) – More likely Calvin Pickering than Cecil Fielder. Very good in Arizona.
  29. Chris Hawkins – 3B – (2016) – less strike zone control than Sweeney. Might not stay at third.
  30. KC Hobson – 1B – (mid 2015) – well regarded by scouts and team.
  31. Daniel Webb – RHP – (2016) – good stuff, raw. Likely to move slowly.
  32. Joel Carreno – RHP – (late 2012) – might be reliever in the majors. Secondary pitches need work.
  33. Brian Jeroloman – C – (2012) – would be higher if he projected to hit at all in the majors.
  34. David Cooper – 1B – (mid/late 2012) – much better in second half – illusion? Jays seemed to really like him in Spring and kept him playing with the big leaguers deep into March.
  35. Kevin Ahrens – 3B – (2014) – One last benefit of the doubt, based on good results after he stopped switch hitting.
  36. Adam Loewen – RF – (2012) – Team execs still speak highly, some possibility of move to 1B.
  37. Michael Crouse – RF – (2016) – Might take big jump up list if results continue. Still a dark horse at this point.
  38. Brad Mills – LHP – (2011) – trade bait? That or the bullpen.
  39. John Tolisano – IF/OF – (2014) – lack of defensive home hurts. Another guy who got a lot of notice in the spring.
  40. Alan Farina – RHP – (2012) – can't rank a reliever too high, but as relievers go, he's GOOD.
  41. Devy Estrada – RHP – results might be an illusion, doesn't come up when system is praised. Could be a guy who's stuff doesn't project well at upper levels.
  42. Sean Ochinko – C/3B – versitility, organizational awards, not a high ceiling unless he overachieves.
  43. Shane Opitz - SS - apparently well regarded athlete, overlooked in the praise for Thon.
  44. Sam Dyson – RHP – (2015) – great stuff, fragile. Potential as late inning reliever, as well as starter.
  45. Justin Jackson – SS/2B/OF – (maybe never, not before 2015) – might be running out of chances.
  46. Nestor Molina - RHP - ace reliever, apparently set to be converted to starting.
  47. Ryan Goins – SS – didn't handle promotion to Dunedin well.
  48. Sean Nolin – LHP – considered good value at his draft position.
  49. Gabriel Cenas – 3B – too young to predict outcome, bonus babies often fail.
  50. Santiago Nessey – C – another very young bonus baby.
  51. Mark Sobolewski – 3B – hasn't lived up to post-draft praise, but not a failure either.
  52. Yan Gomes – C – fringy major league guy at best unless he takes a leap.
  53. Casey Lawrence – RHP – non-drafted steal, or mirage?
  54. Mitchell Taylor – LHP – considered good draft choice
  55. Myles Jaye – RHP – a few reports considered him a good value where he was drafted.
  56. Jario Labour - RHP - International signing, little is known but what's been reported is good.
  57. Misaul Diaz – RHP – sleeper
  58. Egan Smith – LHP – a lot of good results but unheralded.
  59. Dalton Pompey - CF - Later round (16th) pick last year, provoked a bit of positive buzz this spring.
  60. Scott Campbell – 2B – can he get his health back? Really should drop him but sentiment counts for a little this far down.

So, there ya go - fresh and piping hot.

A couple of unrelated notes:

1. Casey Janssen is getting screwed. This is exactly what I was afraid of when we signed Dotel. Out of all the realistic candidates for the Jays' bullpen, there are eight I'd argue I'd rather have than Dotel. but even if a couple of those are debatable, Janssen isn't. The sooner Dotel is traded the better I'll like it.

2. Remember the wailing and complaining from some that the jays didn't seem to give the time of day to Manny Ramirez? Yeah. Another lesson in "they know more than we do."

By the way, last night was not pretty on the farm (outside of Brad Mills and Deck McGuire) but I'll refrain from too much reaction to one game.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Quien es mas macho? Yunel es MAS macho!
(h/t: Tao)

In case you were not paying attention, Yunel Escobar bashed a walk-off homer with a man on for a come-from-behind 10th inning victory over the A's tonight.

Let giddiness ensue! Let irrational exuberance abound!

Seriously, after Jo-Jo Reyes dampened the spirits of the "Summer of Jo-Jo" crowd (is there in fact a crowd?) the jays were in a fairly deep hole. But they rebounded to tie it with timely hitting and some sloppy work from Kouz, only to see Jason Frasor give the A's new life when he surrendered a solo homer to the first hitter in the 10th inning.

But happy endings were yet in store. For icing on the cake, the Red Sox fell to 0-4 tonight, the Longoria-less Rays lost and the Twins handed the Yankees their second loss of the year so it was good news all around.

Gregor Chisholm, by the way, reported today that Octavio Dotel should join the Jays on the road at some point, that Brandon Morrow will not only start the Dunedin openiner on Thursday night but will likely make a second minor league rehab start which would put him on track to return April 17. And Frank Francisco is supposed to pitch on rehab soon (likely Thursday following Morrow) and will need some three appearances at least. Pencil him in, if things go well, to possibly rejoin the team when they head back from the west coast to Boston (that's probably the most sensible time frame for Dotel as well, there would seem to be little to gain in flying either of them out to the west coast to gain a day or two).

Two considerations: When Morrow returns if he does start on the 17th that would be Jesse Litsch's regular turn. However, Jesse will have an extra day's rest due to an off day so he could, if the team chose, start 4/16 in Reyes' spot. The pressure is on Jo-Jo to rebound next time out.

Secondly, massive roster decisions should ensue on that off day as the team travels back from the coast. Adding three pitchers (potentially) to that staff is a bit of a logistical nightmare. Villianueva, Zep, and Janssen have options, among relievers, and Drabek and Litsch both have options among the starters. However, to this point (Litsch having not yet pitched) none of these has pitched poorly or looked as if they merit demotion. It's possible AA might pull a trade out of his hat. If not, some poor sucker(s) are going to feel abused by an undeserved demotion, or someone will be going through waivers.

Possibly, inefficiency or injury over the next week-plus will clear things up, but if not, it will get hairy.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Minor league rosters!

For the full season teams anyhow, courtesy of the ever diligent Gerry McDonald at Batters Box.

Comment after each team's list, important players - IMO - bolded):

Las Vegas 51's

SP: Scott Richmond, Brad Mills, Randy Boone, Luis Perez, Mike MacDonald
RP: Chad Cordero, Josh Roenicke, Romie Lewis, Winston Abrey, Sean Henn, Mike Hinkley, Wil Ledzma
Infield: David Cooper, Chris Woodward, Numan Romero, Brett Lawrie, Manny Mayorson.
Outfield: Adam Loewen, Darin Mastroianni, Eric Thames, Dan Perales, Jason Lane
Catcher: Brian Jeroloman, Ryan Budde

DL: Bobby Ray, Scott Podsednick, Ryan Shealy

The big story here is that Zach Stewart isn't on this roster. It's tantamount to a confession that, as John Farrell hinted at in a recent interview, the Jays do not necessarily think the AAA experience is necessary for a top-shelf prospect. And it's not just the band-box nature of the PCL. Farrell implied that part of the problem with AAA is that more and more organizations used their highest team as a parking place for potential stop-gap veterans who can fill in at the major league level in the event of an emergency. The upshot of that is that a player might see more actual talent on the opposing team at AA than at AAA. There's not any other guy who was an obvious candidate for this team who's missing here.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

SP: Zach Stewart, Joel Carreno, Rey Gonzalez, BJ Lamura, Willie Collazo
RP: Alan Farina, Matt Daly, Ron Uvideo, Evan Crawford, Clint Everts, Vince Perkins, Bobby Korecky
Infield: Mike McDade, John Tolisano, Adeiny Hechavarria, Mark Sobolewski, Jon Diaz, Craig Stansberry
Outfield: Anthony Gose, Moises Sierra, Adam Caldorone, Richardo Nanita
Catcher: Travid d'Arnaud, Yan Gomes

DL: Scott Campbell, Luis Sanchez, Calix Crabbe, Boomer Potts, Al Quintana, Matt Luiazza

Alan Farina is another guy who had a case for going to AAA but the Jays loaded up with so many filler guys that there apparently wasn't room. Odds are he'll be up there before mid-season. I'm listing Tolisano as an infielder here but I don't think it's certain they will keep him at 2B and Caldarone would be easy enough to bump in LF.

Dunedin Blue Jays

SP: Chad Jenkins, Deck McGuire, Asher Wojciechowski, Nestor Molina, Ryan Tepera, Chad Beck
RP: Frank Gailey, Matt Wright, Ryan Shopshire, Casey Beck, Wes Ethridge, Dumas Garcia
Infield: Jon Talley, Brian Van Kirk, Justin Jackson, Ryan Goins, Kevin Aherns, Kevin Nolan, Ivan Contrares
Outfield: Brad Glenn, Kenny Wilson, Chris Hopkins, Brad McElroy
Catcher: Antonio Jimenez, Sean Ochinko

DL: Henderson Alvarez, Ryan Schimpf, Andrew Liebel, Marcus Walden, John Anderson, Justin McClanehan, Roul Baron, Sean Soffitt

That's gonna be a heck of a starting rotation through the first 3 and maybe 4 spots. When Alvarez is activated, there's a strong possibility he goes to AA (perhaps after a couple of tune-up starts). Gailey is probably the only reliever you'd give a second thought to though. I'm assuming they are trying Van Kirk at 1B along with probably Jon Talley the former catcher Ochinko can play 1B too if they are comfortable with Talley as the available sub at catcher. I still think Lance Durham would fit here but he's on the Lansing DL. Justin Jackson is supposed to be playing a lot of CF this year but none of the others are as obvious at 2B as he is. Maybe he plays there just until Schimpf comes off the DL? Brad Glenn has gotten some praise this spring and while I haven't listed him as a top prospect, he's probably the best OF with the bat on this team.

Lansing Lugnuts

SP: Drew Hutchison, Daniel Webb, Egan Smith, Misual Diaz, Casey Lawrence
RP: Dan Barnes, Drew Permision, Dayton Martze, Scott Gracey, Sam Strickland, Steve Turnbull, Alex Pepe
Infield: KC Hobson, Balbino Fuenmayor, Gustovo Pierre, Gari Pena, Oliver, Dominguez, Bryson Namba
Outfield: Jake Marisnick, Marcus Kenect, Michael Crouse, Marcus Brisker
Catcher: Carlos Perez, Joe Bowen, Jack Murphy

DL: Sean Nolin, Dustin Antolin, Lance Durham, Brian Slover, Marcus Walden, Aaron Loup, Matt Fields

I ended up with a pattern of highlighting 10 players on the other teams so I kept myself to 10 here, but you could argue that either of the other starters were as worthy of notice as Durham was. Or Dustin Antolin if he recovers well. As i said earlier, i think Durham is a more logical choice to move up to Dunedin than Hobson (unless KC really rakes while Durham is on the DL) even though Hobson is a considerably higher ceiling prospect. This team will go pretty far based on the starting rotation and a tremendous outfield.

Guys I notice missing include Ryan page, Eric Eiland, and a slug of minor league free agents who were signed this winter but do not appear on any of these list.

The short season rosters won't be set for another two months, but one might surmise the Vancouver roster would look something like this:

SP: Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Griffin Murphy, Justin Nicolino, Jesse Hernandez (?)
RP: Milciades Santana, Travis Garret, Brandon Berl, Drew Elliot, Brian Longpre, Zack Outman, Shawn Griffin
Infield: Kelin Sweeney, Chris Hawkins, DJ Thon, Matt Johnson, Andy Fermin
Outfield: Dalton Pompey, Yecio Aponte, Steve McQuail, Jim Jones
C: Pierce Rankin, Santiago Nessy

DL: Sam Dyson

Nessy might well be a reach for the highest short-season team, more likely he'll be in the GCL but given that there are no other exciting guys this low I'll wink at that. Any of those bolded starters might easily find themselves thrown into the Lansing rotation in response to an injury.

Overall, I still think Stewart spends SOME time in Vegas, and Gerry has been told that Alvarez is ticketed for AA one also has to assume that given similar progress, Jenkins might be a half-season or so ahead of McGuire and Woj. So I look for several chain reaction promotions, such as Stewart moving up either as Alvarez is activated or Jenkins is promoted . . . or Hutchison is promoted in the wake of Jenkins (or Deck or Woj) moving up. I anticipate much less movement among the hitters.

Off topic tag - another GREAT game for the Jays today, with Kyle Drabek serving notice on the Twins via seven one-hit innings and another prolific day at the plate. I'm so loving this team!

Let Us Bask

Didja notice I didn't take the time to do an extensive season preview?

There's a couple of reasons for that, beyond the fact that in a busy week I just couldn't do it right. One reason is that everyone and their cousin does one and they all tend to make many similar points - Jose doesn't have to repeat to be very good, Hill and Lind need to bounce back, it's the summer of Jo-Jo (Heyo!) - and I have a bit of a peeve about just being one more voice saying the exact same thing.

The second reason is simply - what am I gonna say? Probably no one among Jays bloggers is more known for overt optimism than I am, so what's a season preview from me gonna be filled with? Irrational exuberance of course! That maybe doesn't come off as dispassionate analytical commentary.

But I gotta tell ya, when I looked at this team during the spring, irrational exuberance flowing through my veins, what happened tonight against the Twins was exactly the sort of thing I could very easily see.

Yes, let's be clear, there are a lot of young and unestablished players here that could inexplicable and against all optimism, just tank (the way that Hill and Lind did last year). There's really no way you can predict that and it's always shocking when it happens to THAT guy even when you tell yourself going in that it could. I not going to ignore or minimize that. Injuries of course are always a potential Achilles heel.

But with that caveat on record: DAMN this bunch excites me. It's difficult to imagine a more crystal clear representation of that optimism and excitement than this game. Oh sure some days it will be Bautista or Snider or Lind who has the 3 XB hits. Some days it will be a big defensive play from Davis or Hill. it won;t be JUST like this - obviously not a double digit margin of victory all that often. But it was the "feel" of this game (to the extent that a person who's stuck following the game on-line can get a "feel" for it), a feel I think goes beyond the fact that it was Opening Night, and beyond the feel-good magic of the pre-game ceremonies.

It felt, lord help me, like the confident teams of the mid-80's - not like a team looking up at the giants and being intimidated, but like a team that thinks they can play with any team in the league and is on a mission not just to prove it, but to announce their presence with authority.

The '83 Jays - the first in franchise history to have a wining record - featured players 26 or younger as six of the nine offensive regulars, and 4 of the five busiest starters were 27 or younger. Bell, Mosbey, Barfield and Stieb were making a name for themselves in Toronto. In '84 we got a first look at Tony Fernandez and Jimmy Key and Kelly Gruber (as a Rule 5 pick). And that's neglecting to mention slightly older but still young guys like Upshaw and Garcia and Clancy. That core group of players laid the foundation for a franchise which were contenders for 11 consecutive seasons (in an era when it was much harder to get into the playoffs). Paul Beeston told McCowan today that he felt this team was "at '83 or '84" and I think that he is exactly right.

The pre-season round-table I participated in for Mop-Up Duty ask us to identify a glaring hole in the team that needed filling. in my opinion, there's not one. There are places that could be somewhat better - I'd be a fool to say I wouldn't trade Raji Davis for, say, Colby Rasmus, or that I couldn't find a place for Evan Longoria on this team. But there's no Erik Hanson on this team, there's no Mike Huckabey or Carlos Garcia or Willie Greene. There's reason to be optimistic about almost every player on the 25 man roster and quite a few players who aren't.

Buckle up boys and girls, this is gonna be a helluva ride.

[Programing note: I have a few things in the hopper regarding the minor leaguers that I want to get up in the next week before the farm teams break camp. It might seem a bit of an odd focus for the first week of the major league season but it is what it is]