Friday, 27 February 2015

Stop me if you've heard this one

You hear about Saunders yet? Seen 45 different (yet somehow the same) overviews of what the potential alternatives now are? Darn skippy you have! Probably 8 or 10 different takes on not getting your hopes up about Johan Santana too!

These days it's pretty much impossible for the casual blogger to remotely keep up. Beyond the professionals who make their living at it, the semi-professionals who soon will, and the multi-writer blog sites with a lot of contributors, a little hole-in-the-wall outfit like this one is never going to break any news. Heck, even link-dump posts are everywhere now.

But I wouldn't be the opinionated sort that maintains a blog anyway if i didn't have an interest in posting them anyway. The trick is to avoid repetition if not inadvertent plagiarism, which can be tricky on days like this. For my money, the most salient observation about Saunders comes from Richard Griffin. He notes that Sal Perez had the same injury in march of 2013 and was back in a major league game almost exactly 3 months later - and he's a catcher. So, all variables in play of course, your time lost would range from 49 games (assuming his first games back are played on grass, at the end of May) to 81 games (same assumption, early July).

Here's my take on the various possibilities, many of which mentioned elsewhere.

1. A trade. The only one I've seen pointed out that seems to me to actually make some sense is David DeJesus(suggested on He's squeezed out of anything other than DH in TB, he's a LH hitter, he's quite solid against RHP and would provide a nice reserve option (albeit with less than desirable defense) once Saunders returns. He costs too many $$ but that means the cost in prospect would be negligible - or you could give a somewhat better prospect and split the contract with the Rays. The downside for me is that I like the idea of a wide open door for Pillar to prove himself which an acquired vet would close. Still, if this is a deal you make 4-6 weeks from now, Pillar get's the whole spring to make his case.

2. Gindl/Pillar - to repeat, I'd love to see Pillar get a full time shot and succeed, but if he struggles to be at least average vs RHP, I like what I see of Caleb Gindl. Now it's true I'm forced to base my opinion mostly from the stat sheet (what am I, a scout?) but there's something intriguing there.He debuted in he majors in 2013 at the age of 24, acquitting himself well with a .779 OPS and 112 OPS+ in 155 plate appearances, most strikingly walking almost as much as he struck out. Like Pillar, he was a productive hitter with an excellent eye at the plate all through the minors (although Gindal struggled during 2014) and ether or both men could seize the opportunity to prove themselves. 

3. Ezequiel Carrera - would have to use OBP, speed, and defense to make up for being a pure singles hitter. maybe the second coming of Otis Nixon. A much less appealing choice than the first two but not completely embarrassing.

4. Play the Navarro card - no, i don't mean putting Navarro out there, I mean changing your priority about what you want for Navarro. For example, take the obvious illustration of the D'Backs. They have an ugly squad most everywhere apart from 1B but teir OF is particularly weird. They have almost 10 mil committed to David Ross (who may or may not be too broken down to play), they have a DH playing LF that they expect a lot of power out of (Trumbo) and over $68 million invested in Yasmany Tomas which means he has to play somewhere at some point. Plus a couple of young center fielders with actual talent, one of which (AJ Pollock) will be the starter and 2nd best hitter on the team and the other a fine reserve player or the first option to be called up. They also have David Peralta, an unheralded (before last year) steal out of the Indy leagues. He pounded RHP in 2014 but was better at home so there's a grain of salt there. Plus he has al his options.

A smart GM would stash him at AAA but a smart GM wouldn't be heading into the season with Tuffy Gosewisch as there best option behind the plate. Navarro for Peralta (and maybe a throw in) might be workable at the trade table and would certainly work on the field.

5. Chris Dickerson.....HAHAHA...NO! With all due respect to Wilner, whom I agree with more often than not...NO. I'd as soon ask around to see what Corey Patterson is up to these days.

In other news of the day:

Johan Santana? Sure, why the heck not, right? I'm just going to go ahead and pencil him in on the 60 day DL now, but let's fantasize a bit about the idea that he does hold together and pitches better than average for a 5th Starter.  That makes it easier to put Sanchez in the bullpen, and Norris in AAA. And if Santana isn't quite up to speed by opening day, I'd bet Estrada would get the first few turns in the rotation giving them a chance to take a look at Drabek or one of those non-roster guys in that spot in the 'pen. (and speaking of non-roster guys, sure sounds like Wilton Lopez is a guy they'd really like to see make the cut, doesn't it?)


Finally, if you visit here sometime in the next month and something seems odd, bear with me. I've finally decided to go through the potential drudgery of reconciling my blogging activity.

When this blog started it was a tree-way partnership but over time my partners moved on, meanwhile, I'd started a personal blog elsewhere on Blogger. This one is still tied to the e-mail account set up to be shared, and the other blog to my everyday e-mail. As far as I can tell Blogger doesn't allow an easy fix to this so I'm likely going to move this blog to an account associated with my real identity. Which will mean presumably a new URL. I'm still working out the details. Also, this blog is no longer associated with Yardbarker but i can't figure out how to get rid of the banner at the top so that's another motivation to get something done.

When it's moved I'll probably play with the layout and such since it's been almost entirely unchanged for years now. In any case, if you are worried about being able to  find the new home, follow me on twitter to stay informed.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Watch This, Part 2

As we get into this discussion, the easy complaint would be that none of these guys matter because they aren't "proven" - but just because it's easy doesn't make it right. One year ago, for example, Todd Redmond was "unproven." In the 2013 - you remember the great bullpen in '13? - the Jays got almost 220 above average innings from unproven relievers, most notably Brett Cecil among them You know what Cecil has in common with Redmond, Aaron Loup, Casey Janssen, Jesse Carlson, Scott Downs, and that's just in the last decade or so? Unheralded and unproven before blossoming in the Jays 'pen. I trust I need not review the legacy of well paid "proven" relievers we've employed over that time period. There's definitely some possibilities here.

AAA bullpen and candidates for a surprise job in Toronto
I'm going to start with the basic assumption that guys with a history of starting will be candidates fr the Bisons rotation and are not germane to a discussion of their 'pen. For the moist part, I don't think they are prime candidates to fill an opening in the Jays rotation unless all the other options are sucking.
So I'm going to just stick with looking at all the guys who will be fighting both for a AAA assignment and to force the Blue Jays' hand regarding a major league role. First, the guys on the 40 man roster:

Rob Rasmussen - Very likely the go-to option for additional LH relief. He held his own last year in brief appearances and was excellent in Buffalo after having spent his entire previous career as a minor league starter. He'll turn 26 just before Opening Day, and if Cecil is the closer he could easily break camp with the Jays.
Matt West - converted 3B with only 113.2 IP on his 26 year old arm. Acquitted himself well climbing the Ranger's system, including a respectable showing in the PCL. May demand your attention
Ryan Tepera - another guy who pitched well after shifting to the 'pen in AAA, no accident he was added to the 40 last off-season.
Scott Barnes - the only other lefty reliever on the 40, if he can refine his control. Walk rate is an issue so far.
Preston Guilmet - absolutely dominant until last year when he was good-but-not-great.  Said to have a slow fastball.
Colt Hynes, Bo Schultz - Just guys. I'm mystified they are still on the 40.
Non-roster veterans-
Greg Infante - One-time hot prospect with a big heater, but little control. He found the strike zone last year and was excellent. If he doesn't forget where he left it, could be a dark horse and definitely one to watch.
Wilton Lopez - damned fine reliever in Houston for 3 years then got traded to hell, I mean Colorado. If he can get back to what he was before, he's the most likely non-roster guy to elbow his way in front of Jenkins and the most obvious choice if there's a spring injury..
Luis Perez - remember this guy? Yep. Same guy. If he can get healthy (less than 15 IP in last two seasons) he'd be worth watching.
The first three and the last three can't be ruled out as long-shot candidates to break camp with Toronto.

Noticed the issue yet? If you assume none break camp with the Blue Jays, then that's nine guys who might otherwise be assumed to be in the Bison's 'pen, plus Perez and John Stilson if/when healthy plus Bobby Korecky (old guy was dominant in AAA last year), Blake McFarland (kicked ass in the AFL after solid AA season), and Dustin Antolin (ready for promotion from AA) to consider. In other words, several of the lesser talents here (Schultz, Barnes?) are not long for the system.
And still there will be guys in AA who don't deserve to be.

The Jays will have at least one relief appearance by 20 or more relievers in every season (judging by recent years) so lets see if we're that deep: Sanchez, Cecil, Loup, Redmond, Estrada, Delabar, Jenkins, Drabek, Lopez, West, Infante, Rasmussen, Tepera, Perez, Hynes, Gulimet, Osuna, Castro, Stilson, Hendriks/Francis/Albers (

More Minor League questions...

Speaking of Dwight Smith...
LF? 2B? Signs are mixed. The AFL trial was before Travis was acquired, and DSJ says it as "just for versatility"....BUT...Travis or no, if he can field it well Smith's bat plays much better at 2B...BUT...Travis at AAA and Smith at AA squeezes out the well regarded (at least by the org) Jon Berti. My guess? Smith is n LF to open the season (less pressure as he adjusts to AA) then, assuming Travis is promoted, Berti is likely to follow and Smith moves to 2B - unless they decide he won't be able to field it.

Alford v. Davis
Anthony Alford needs game reps, so he needs to be on a full season roster. Logically, Lansing. BUT fellow Mississippian, Jays prospect and most of all center fielder DJ Davis played there last year and hit (and ran) so poorly it would be insane to promote him. So either you play one of them out of position half the time or one has to go somewhere else. Watch to see if Alford convinces them to try him at Dunedin.

Max Pentecost
Back up to speed enough to break camp with a full season club?
EDIT: News breaks today that he needed a second shoulder scope as the one last fall didn't achieve the intended outcome.  Projected to need three months before he begins throwing again, that puts him on a solid track to open with the Canadians in June. Good news for Dan Jansen.

Jeff Hoffman
Open with a full season club? If so my bet is on Dunedin. Better medical staff, closer to home base, and keeps recovering elbow out of the cold. If he starts there and does well, he'll move as fast as his performance allows next year.

John Stilson
Will he ever stay healthy enough to live up to the potential?

The former opens in Dunedin, does the latter? Or will the Blue Jays be more conservative with the latter and make him force them? Osuna will, if all goes well, spend more time in AA than A+ (I'd guess up no later than right after the A+ ASG) and they may just be thinking that open rotation spot is Castro's to lose.

Lansing rotation
If they start him in Lansing, he and Jario Labourt will have dibs but might be joined by Chase DeJong, Matt Smoral and Ryan Borucki which is a crazy good rotation if it comes together.

Matt Boyd/Taylor Cole
Regain their momentum at AA this year? If so they'd have to be considered sleeper candidates to slip into the major league 'pen at some point.

Sean Ochinko/Christian Lopes
Did their off-season success (the former in the AFL, the latter Down Under) revive their sagging status? Lopes particularly was well regarded when drafted - is there any there there?

I'll be watching (from, alas, afar)

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Watch This

So reporting days are looming, several layers are already in Dunedin and the Jays' press (and blogosphere) are awash with articles discussing unresolved questions that remain to be addressed in the six weeks or so ahead of us. This post represents an effort in a similar vein, but I will not necessarily restrict myself to questions of a major league nature. So here' my own list of things to watch between now and opening day, feeling obliged to at least notice the questions others are asking.

Unless Justin Smoak completely tanks, 7 of 9 lineup spots are essentially set, and those seven in some order being the top 7 in the batting order. One other - CF - has a strong favorite and the other - 2B - is presumed to be a spot you are going to have to carry.  But the reason i bring it up is that the commonly repeated assumption is that Russ Martin hits second and Michael Saunders hits sixth - I'm not so sure. The presumed seven has only 2 LH hitters, it seems kinda crazy to me to hit those two back-to-back. I'm gonna say keep an eye on the #2 spot in the order.

First Base
If Smoak does collapse, count on an import. EE can shift back to being the primary 1B of course, but someone will have to be imported to either play first or DH - at least able to hold up the strong half of a platoon with Valencia.

Kevin Pillar
Dalton Pompey has the inside track on the CF job - and I'm on record predicting wild success - but the Jays are going to have a real asset on their hands if Pillar continues to show improvement.  One of the big differences between the Jays and the similarly situated Red Sox is the depth of their rival's bench. If Pillar ends up being a quality 4th OF/PH it stands to make an important difference.

Dioner Navarro
Still possible he could be dealt but it's going to take real value in a near-term framework to get him at this point. The insurance behind the plate is important, and they will find ways to get value out of his role. That said, if AJ Jimenez blows minds in camp, and another team develops an injury that makes them more desperate to deal, this could change quickly. Watch this space.

Second Base
Obviously the most volatile non-pitching issue this spring, no one needs to tell you to watch it. However, very little of the commentary on the subject is complete. It's all "Izturus/Goins/Travis" - whither Steve Tolleson? Hell, Munenori Kawasaki even? Tolleson is a journeyman to be sure, but he pounded lefties last year and he underwent vision surgery over the off-season which greatly improved his sight in terms of picking up spin and movement on the ball. If he could get even up to replacement level vs. RHP he could be the best hitting veteran candidate. Kawasaki, for his part, is a believer in improved strength training his taken up to improve his lower half and while he's probably not going to turn into an above average player, he's also been slightly better over his last two years than Izturus has over his last three.Plus he's good for the clubhouse.
For my money, if there's anyone who case virtually no shot it's Ryan Goins. I do think Travis is actually the best player but my prediction is that the Blue Jays hope to have the luxury of letting him get six to eight weeks in Buffalo first, both to ease the transition and to buy a service-time year (which they will deny is a consideration.
Also, don't be shocked if Izturus is traded. It's true he's no great shakes as a hitter but he's a versatile veteran with a not-awful salary. There are a few teams thin enough on the infield to find that valuable.

You know about Norris, Sanchez and Pompey. And Devon Travis. You've heard the buzz about Miguel Castro but he'd have to be phenomenal to break camp in the majors. Look for him more along the lines of August maybe. If you pay any attention you know I love Roberto Osuna but he won't be interrupted for a bullpen stint. If he's up (not before the second half) it would be because he forced himself to the head of the line for emergency spot starter consideration. If Navarro is traded AJ Jimenez becomes a candidate. You'll hear raves about Anthony Alford but not this year for him. Probably a lot of buzz about Dwight Smith Jr but even if he were ready, there's no room and no rush.

Rotation Depth
This is the latest hot topic. So let's list them off. This is not so much a prediction of who's going o be the #5, or in what order pitchers may be filed  through in the event of emergency, but a list of options.
Buehrle, Dickey
Stroman, Hutchison
Sanchez, Norris
Estrada, Redmond
Jenkins, Drabek, Oramas*
Hendricks, Frances, Albers, Romero

And let's face it, if you make it as far as Hendricks it hardly matters anymore, right?

*What? You don't know who Juan Oramas is? He reached A+ and pitched well at the age of 20; pitched very well in AA at 21; lost most of his age 22 season to injury (TJ I believe); kicked ass again in AA at 23; struggled when he hit the PCL last year at 24. He'll be in the much friendlier IL this year at the age of 25 and you should WATCH this guy.

Bullpen options/Closer
John Gibbons mentioned Cecil and Sanchez as leading contenders for the closing job. This does not, of course, preclude a surprise candidate, but if everything develops the way the Jays would like, it's probably going to be Sanchez. Cecil may "deserve" it, and would be fine at it, but he's incredibly valuable as the guy who can put out the biggest fire at any time in the last three innings and locking him into the 9th constrains that weapon. I  could list the virtues of other candidates (Greg Infante is getting lots of blog-love lately) but who makes the impression in spring that changes Gibby's mind would be the epitome of a futile effort.

Moving beyond the closer role, let's look at the other  bullpen candidates - a list which will carry me over to the minor league portion of this entry. For the purpose of this exercise, I will assume Norris is the fifth starer and Sanchez the closer - watch how spring plays out to see if either assumption needs adjusting. 6-7 spots available (not counting the closer)

Set-up: Cecil, Delebar - yes, I have a hunch Delebar will be better than ever if healthy this year. Speaking of health, see today's article in the Post by John Lott.
Lefty specialist, middle relief: Aaron Loup
Middle relief: Todd Redmond
Middle/long relief: Marco Estrada.
Barring injury, that five are a VIRTUAL LOCK. A they are a quality crew. If Delebar does have the velo back, and Estrada pitches like he did in relief last year - and if Sanchez is the closer everyone thinks he can be (and don't fool yourself, you can list three such ifs about even the best of last year's bullpens) then that is a 'pen six deep and FINE. Yes Delebar is a fairly big "if" but the whole point in further discussion is how deep they are when it comes to addressing failed expectations.

Beyond that you need another solid guy and a limo/shuttle-rider who can be relied upon. Here's the issue though, the best guy to fill us out is Chad Jenkins - but he has options. Kyle Drabek doesn't. So if the front six are healthy and locked in and we are really down to only one spot, then watch to see if the Jays are impressed enough to do what they did with Jeremy Jefress last year (whom they were right about, he just waited until he was out of town to prove it) and carry a previously unsuccessful but talented arm and hope he puts it together when games count. Or will they look at the longer track record and trade/waive Drabek in favor of Jenkins?

If it's Drabek, then all eyes are on him to see if he refuses to follow Jefresses' example. Jenkins on the shuttle sucks for him in that he deserves better, but you're fine in terms of what he brings with him. If Drabek is gone and Jenkins is a full-timer, then you get into candidates for the shuttle which extends into a broader discussion of the Bisons' staff.

That and other minor league questions in part 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Prospects: Revision and Consensus

So, seven weeks since I published my personal idea of what a Blue Jays prospect list would look like, and a lot has been written about the crop since then and as my list is (by virtue of the fact that I'm not a scout obviously) reflective of what others are saying, it's only fair as camps are on the verge of opening that I revise that list a bit. For reference, the original post from December is here. After that I'll get to my main purpose, which is to discuss what the consensus of the prominent available lists look like.

Point 1: I've considered 16 sources for this post, eight of them professional and eight blogger-type lists. Each group has one potential contributor still outstanding (more on that later) and of the remaining list, only two ranked Sanchez over Norris at #1. I listed them essentially tied with Sanchez only the nominal 1a because of the major league success. While the growing whisper traffic leans towards the jays giving serious consideration to giving him a chance to win the closing job reinforces that, I have still decided to call it a full flat-footed tie.

Point 2: while every list has idiosyncrasies, there wasn't that much info to convince me to drastically revise the  top 20-25 area of the list. Informally I'll acknowledge that I probably have Matt Dean (16) a little too high, and Alberto Tirado too low (21) so I'll make it simple and swap them.

Point 3: Here's my revised 31-40:
31. Jake Brentz; 32. Tom Robson, 33. Andy Burns; 34. Dan Jansen (arguably could have moved into the top 30); 35. Angel Perdomo (a couple of source were pretty high on him); 36. Yeltsin Gudino (like Perdomo, might leap into top 25 soon); 37. Juan Meza; 38. Adonys Cardona; 39. Evan Smith; 40. Daniel Lietz
Just missed: Rob Rasmussen; Chase Mallard; Christian Lopes; Jon Berti; Freddy Rodruigez. My spreadsheet has another 20+ names beyond that but I won't bore you further.

Now, with those on the record, let's get to the meat of this post. As mentioned, I considered eight sources that are either scouting related or may be presumed to be consulting scouting sources, all of which you'd instantly recognize. Of those, Fangraphs still hasn't published and I shall have to revise this post when they do (apparently the will include 8 Blue Jays in the Top 200 when Kiley McDaniel's Top 200 goes live. I'll revise based on that and then, again (if necessary) when the team specific list is published. This is done in traditional poll style with points awarded in reverse order. Of the seven lists factored in, five only go to 10 names (that I can access without subscription) so I can only do a consensus Top 10 here.

1. Norris - 68
2. Sanchez - 64
3. Pompey - 56
4. Hoffman - 46
5. Pentecost - 36
6. Travis - 26
7. Osuna - 24
8. Castro - 21
9. Urena - 9
10. Nay - 8
also receiving points: Labourt (7), Davis (7), Reid-Foley (6), Smith, Jr. (3), Tirado (3), and Smoral (1)

One further caveat - I'm pretty sure MLB hasn't revised the Jays list since the tweeked it after the Donaldson trade so that, too, might change the math here when they do.

Now to compare and contrast, the following list represents seven of 8 lists considered which originate from what I assume to be unpaid/blog sources. The one that's missing might be an exception, but my understanding is that is Charlie Caskey's private blog and not a paid extension of his newspaper work. This post is so late because I really wanted to include his list but I'm going to have to resign myself to future revision.

Because six of these seven lists go at least 20 names deep, there's a point total difference once  the short list drops out. Hopefully this doesn't unnecessarily skew the totals.

1. Norris 139.5
2. Sanchez 129.5
3. Pompey 129
4. Hoffman 116
5. Osuna 103
6. Pentecost 91
7. Castro 86
8. Smith 86 (Castro did not appear on the short list, seems reasonable to assume he was at least top 20 for that blogger)
9. Urena 73
10. Travis 61* (one of my source lists was made before the trade, if he would have been at least #13 on that list then he fits here)
11. Reid-Foley 69
12. Nay 65
13. Lugo 44
14. Labourt 34
14t. Smoral 34
16. Davis 32
17. Alford 30
18. Tirado 25
19. Tellez 24
20t. Jeminez11
20t. Borucki 11

also receiving points: Jansen (10); Thomas (7); DeJong (6); Dean (6); Boyd (5); Burns (4); Cole (3); Stilson (3)

Caveat: One contributing source, CapitalJays, used a point system which required an actual  reasonable sample of playing time to be ranked. Thus, Hoffman was unrankable and Alford took a massive hit. I have arbitrarily assigned Hoffman the 4th position on that list. This doesn't impact the order since it would be impossible for him to crack the top 3 and he'd have had to be 19th or lower (unreasonable) to have fallen on the master list.

There's considerable consensus between the two lists, with the pros generally ranking Travis higher. The one difference other than order is that one blogger had Smith Jr at #5 giving him the boost necessary to push Nay out of the top 10. Beyond that, as you can see, there are another 18 names mentioned.

So there works out to three tiers - Norris/Sanchez/Pompey/Hoffman in the first (guess who has the inside edge on #1 next year), Osuna/Castro/Pentacost/Urena/Travis in the next, and 21 others in the third tier. And of course you could make a fourth out of others who got mention outside the counted rankings.  However, in the two pro lists which go to 20 names, there is only one name not mentioned above. Likewise, the vast majority of the other names mentioned by the bloggers have already been mentioned in this post so there's a pretty clear separation.

A final thought, as a VERY long view ahead to next year, one might of the first two tiers, 4 will lose their eligibility, leaving 5 to carry over to next year's Top 10. I'll go ahead and pencil in VGJ and ask the question: who are the best candidates to fill the other four spots?

For my money - Labourt, Smoral, Ried-Foley, Alford (already in mine of course), Nay,  Tirado, Smith, Jr, DeJong and Tellez are a pretty obvious group, and I'll offer a wild card: Thomas. That said, as we know prospects don't progress leinerally so  there will surely be surprises.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

I Beg to Differ

With less than 3 weeks until the first spring game, it's time to start gearing up for more frequent activity around this place. I actually have a couple bigger projects in the pipeline but I'm held up waiting on a couple of sources.

In the mean time I was taking in all the discussion of projection systems and their limitations and looking primarily at the Steamer system at Fangraphs to try and wrap my mind around a baseline comparison between the Jays and their rivals. Andrew Stoeten covered all the basic caveats in his excellent article for the National Post discussing why the systems could well be undervaluing the Jays young trio of pitchers and if you haven't read it already, you should probably go do that before you continue here. The only thing I'd add to his specific comments is that the systems are ill-equipped to account for the distinct possibility that Sanchez s the closer and Norris is the full-time #5 which would further affect their potential contributions.

While Stoeten wisely makes reference to specific changes in approach which led to improvement, I'm going to engage in a much more base commentary - difference of opinion!

While I was perusing the Steamer projections, I kept coming back to the projection for Dalton Pompey. I'm prepared to accept the offensive projection, even though I think it's low because frankly, every partisan fan can pick out projections they are sure are too low. Rather, what offended my sensibilities were the OTHER projections for Pompey.

By all accounts, Pompey is a gifted fielder, perhaps not the very elite level (as in Anthony Gose, for example) but quite close. Moreover, he has a startling track record as a baserunner, having stolen 114 bases against only 20 caught stealing in his career (85.1%). Again contrast this with Gose: 316/114

Now consider the respective projections for these two by Steamer:

[key: PA - AVG-OBP-SLG - wOBA-Bat-BsR-Fld-WAR]

(only the line under CF)




See that?
Exact same PA, almost identical offense. Again, I disagree with that but fine.  But look what happens in the baseruning and fielding columns. By what sorcery does Gose get credit for 150% more baserunning contribution than Pompey? At the VERY worst they should be relative equals. Worse, how in the world do we justify a NEGATIVE number for Pompey on defense? Gose might, perhaps, rate a slight edge (depending on how much metrics disagree with eyes - I confess I know little about defensive metrics but i know it's highly sensitive to sample size) but the edge should be relatively modest.

In short, if Gose is an almost 1 WAR player than Pompey is at a minimum likewise.
On an entirely different note, I reiterate my previous dissent regarding the remaining available payroll. With the arb cases settled, the current outlay stands at about $125.7 million (pre-arb salaries estimated but that's easy to approximate). Thus, if we take Beeston at his word that the US$ payroll will be higher than last season, the available amount should be no less than $12m and realistically one or two million more at least. However that does not mean the Opening Day payroll will be and I would suggest it is just fine to stand relatively pat and hoard those dollars for potential mid-season acquisitions.
Continuing the teme of dissent, beyond the fact that I'm calling Pompey a potential ROY candidate, projection systems be damned. I'm fine with the stop-gaps at 2B until/unless Travis is ready for his debut, and ! don't think the bullpen is nearly the potential liability some expect. Particularly if, as I suspect, Sanchez is the closer.

Bullpens are, of course, notoriously volatile, but the narrative that the Jays have done nothing to improve the bullpen is misleading. For example, if you simply subtract all the innings thrown in relief by pitchers no longer in the organization, the bullpen ERA goes from 4.09 to 3.15. Another popular narrative is that the excellent 2013 bullpen (it was) went completely south in 2014 doesn't tell the whole story.

First, let's fire up the Arbitrary End Point Machine.
(and yes, the start of a new month is an arbitrary end point just as much as anything else not tied to an actual event which can be reasonably assumed to have impacted a player's performance)

Looking first at the Bullpen during the notorious August collapse...
Disregarding pitchers accumulating 3 innings or less, there were 7 relievers at work during August. Four of those, Cecil, Loup, Sanchez, and Jenkins, pitched as well or better individually and collectively (1.95) during August as they did the rest of the season (during which they collectively posted a 2.78 ERA). The other three, Janssen Redmond and McGowan, pitched collectively outside of August to a 2.90 ERA, while collectively in August they were 5.93.
Let's look closer.
Looking at the game log, McGowan was skewed by one bad outing on 8/5 so I'll dismiss him from the exercise. (by the way, twice McG gave up as many as three runs and between them he only got one out - take those away and his ERA in relief is 2.11 - someone tell me again why this guy isn't back in Blue yet?). Janssen got rocked twice, out of 11 appearances. (In fairness, the famous post-ASG food poisoning slump tells us more about Janssen than any AEP will). Redmond had one awful week. August 15-22 he gave up 8 ER in 3.2 IP, without which his season ERA would have been 2.40.
Those six games, though? All loses but only two directly a result of one of these pitchers failing.

So let's look elsewhere. I mentioned the impact of pitchers no longer on the team, but for a finer focus, let's take McGowan (who may yet return - I hope) and Janssen (identifiable extenuating circumstances) out of the picture.In that scenario, the bullpen ERA drops to 3.26..and 55% of those deleted innings went to Santos and Rogers.

So let's review. The five best relievers from 2014 are back (and a sixth ought to be, winkwink) and the ones causing failure - apart from Delebar - are gone. Estrada (2.89 last year as a reliever) and you ave a perfectly solid core. If Delebar regains his groove they're even better. Plus a solid smattering of low-risk high upside flyers. I'd still bring back McGowan (a shocking revelation, I know) but otherwise, I think we're fine.

(assuming health of course)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Money, Logic and Shields

I keep reading that the Blue Jays will still meet or exceed last year's $137m payroll even as measured in American dollars and presuming that to mean ~$140m it is generally reported that means the team has $5-7m to spend. That math doesn't work based on commonly available figures. That would put current commitments at around $132m. By my calculations that's about 5 million too high.

All these figures are per Cotts where a figure is set.

The players under contract total $104m for 2015 for 12 players.
Taking the high side of the two arbitration deals, figure another $7.425 million.
That leaves 11 spots but I calculated 12 assuming they won't carry 3 catchers. Rounding upward from the always odd figures the teams assign to those players, I think approximately $5.66m is a good figure.
I did not include Romero above, as his contract and buyout amount to a presumably sunk cost of $8.1m
Finally, the recently noised about assumption that you must include presumed buyouts. I don't believe there is any reason to assume there will be a need to buy out Bautista or Encarnacion. That leaves Dickey and Izturus at $1 million apiece.

That's a total of $127.185

So I make it at $10-$13m at least.

Which brings me to James Shields. MLBTR point to rumors that Shields would sign within the next week and there is considerable buzz that not only is his opportunity for $100 million is past but so is the chance to sign for even five years. The price has dropped and the remaining question is how much.

Too more data points of interest: AA said on the radio that the Jays were not going to be signing someone for $20 million, NOT that they were not going to sign Shields; Tuesday, Paul Beeston said on the same program that what the team didn't have was that one dominant starter who'd go out and win 18-19 games and specifically "which we need to get this year"

Assuming he's not dreaming big on one of the young guys doing that, it has to mean that either he's just babbling or they are in on Shields. Now obviously they are not the only ones and the lower the price goes the more teams might find money but obviously, other than the bottomless pockets of the Yankees, hardly anyone is prepared to make a big signing in February. Moreover, the Jays HAVE to still have a bitter taste in their mouth over Santana last year.

So, here's what I'm thinking: If the price for Sheilds gets down to an AAV of $17 or less for 4 years or less, that AA and Beest will go to Rogers and ask for an extra $10m to make it happen. In so doing they not only get another 200+ inning workhorse at the front of the rotation but as good a candidate for 8th/9th inning quality as they are likely to find in the person of Sanchez which adds to to total value of the acquisition.

I've not been a fan of the Shields lust when the price was $10m but this idea I'd be all in on.

4 weeks until the first games people, it's time for all parties to get serious.

ETA: MLBTR relays a report from Bob Nightingale suggesting Shields strongly prefers the West coast  and it's know San Diego is interested in adding a top starter so that's an issue for the Jays.