Archive for February, 2012



Blue Jays Extend RP Casey Janssen

Good news for Casey Janssen fans today as the Toronto Blue Jays announced they have agreed to a two-year, $5.9MM contract extension with the right handed reliever.  The two sides were expected to head to arbitration but have avoided that messy process and the new deal will keep a key relief pitcher around for a couple more seasons.

The 30-year-old posted a 2.26 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 47.3% ground ball rate in 55 2/3 innings last year, when he earned $1.095MM as a second-time arbitration eligible player.  Janssen was a 1.3 WAR reliever last season with a very solid 2.45 FIP, 1.10 WHIP and a paltry .227 batting average against.

The revamped Jays bullpen should be among the leagues best.  Check out the Jays 2012 ZIPS projections for the pitching staff.

AL East Rumour Roundup – Monday, February 13th

A pretty eventful day with a few big notes from around the American League:

From Ben Nicholson-Smith at MLB Trade rumours:

-The Athletics made an unexpected move today, agreeing to terms with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on a four-year, $36MM contract. The agreement allows him to hit free agency after the 2015 season and leaves suitors such as the Marlins and Cubs empty-handed.

Here are some reactions to the deal…

Cespedes told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com that he’s “super happy” and that his first goal is to make the team and stay healthy all season long.

Agent Adam Katz told Kevin Kennedy and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio that four to seven teams were seriously interested.

A’s director of player personnel Billy Owens told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio that Oakland’s scouts have watched Cespedes play for four or five years and consider him a center fielder.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports weighs in on the deal and explains why Cespedes remains an unknown, even though we’ve seen his skills on YouTube.

One A’s person told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that the club is “not trying to finish in last place” and explained that free agents are reluctant to take Oakland’s money.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus hears that Katz sought either an eight-to-ten-year deal or a four-year deal and suggests Cespedes’ tools are as impressive as any player’s.

The Tigers were interested in Cespedes, but not at $36MM, GM Dave Dombrowski said, according to James Schmehl of MLive.com.

Word was the Jays were interested but it seems doubtful they were even close given the final contract numbers handed out to the Cuban outfielder.

-”Vladimir Guerrero has made it known to the Yankees that he wants their DH spot,” tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney, but Raul Ibanez remains the frontrunner.  Ibanez had a slightly worse 2011 season, but the Yankees seem to prefer his left-handed bat.

-Hours before today’s arbitration hearing, the Red Sox and designated hitter David Ortiz settled at the midpoint for $14.575MM, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.  The new contract represents the largest-ever average annual value for a DH,

Ken Rosenthal: Jays Out Of Manny Ramirez Hunt

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Toronto Blue Jays will not be pursuing oft-troubled slugger Manny Ramirez. There was talk the team was at one point interested but talks did not progress.

Analysis: It was more of a novelty move than for baseball value. Some have compared it to the Frank Thomas situation a few years ago but Thomas was younger and not coming off a suspension.

AL East Recap – The Weekend Update

A quiet weekend of Jays and AL East rumours, here are a few:

-According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe the Athletics, Orioles, and Blue Jays remain the main teams interested in Ramirez.

-A player we have not touched on here for the Toronto Blue Jays but a possible guy who could add a veteran presence to the Jays rotation and a guy who has pitched well over his career.  It would take the Astros picking up a good majority of his remaining $36MM contract but he would likely cost only a top prospect in the 20-25 range.

The lack of interest in Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is surprising considering that the club would assume a fair portion of the $36MM left on his deal.  Houston is also surprised at the lack of interest in righty Brett Myers, who would appear to be a good piece for a contending club.

-Any money that the Yankees save in a potential A.J. Burnett trade will be put toward a lefthanded-hitting DH/outfielder type, with Raul Ibanez and Johnny Damon likely in that mix.

-Don’t be surprised if Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez, Xavier Nady, or Manny Ramirez wind up with the Phillies.  The Phillies really want to add a righthanded hitter who can pinch hit and occasionally play the outfield.  However, they’re extremely close to luxury tax territory.

-The Roy Oswalt market appears to be very weak, it is too bad he already ruled out a one year deal with the Jays, it seems like a deal that would benefit both sides.  The Boston Red Sox remain in talks, but nothing is imminent.

-The Yankees likely will pay $19-23MM of $33MM remaining on Burnett’s contract and receive multiple minor leaguers in return, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Those prospects would not be players on the Pirates’ 40-man roster, the source said.

AL East Roundup – Friday Feb 10, 2012

Some various AL East rumblings:

-It appears Manny Ramirez might have lost one suitor from the original ‘Jays, A’s and Orioles’ group as it does not appears the Orioles are interested anymore.

-A’s scouts saw Ramirez work out recently and they’re interested, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney confirms (Twitter link). A final decision on whether to try to sign him is expected within the next week.

The A’s continue pursuing Manny Ramirez and they’re much more interested in him than Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez’s health is more of a concern, Slusser writes. Signing Ramirez would be the last thing the A’s do before starting Spring Training, and a deal could be reached after camp opens. 

-Orioles GM Dan Duquette told reporters he doesn’t see a fit for Manny Ramirez with Baltimore, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.

Analysis: It is hard to say whether the Jays are serious about adding Manny Ramirez or if they were used as the “other” team by Manny’s agents to create a market given the Jays team policy of not commenting on interest in a player one way or another.

-Amazingly the New York Yankees might find a suitor for SP A.J. Burnett as they continue discussions with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

From Ben Nicholson-Smith at MLB Trade Rumours:

4:14pm: The Yankees are telling the Pirates that absorbing $10MM isn’t enough, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

3:47pm: The Pirates appear to be willing to absorb $10MM in a trade, Heyman tweets. The Yankees have been pushing for an even split and seek an OK prospect in return. Heyman tweets that the chances of a deal remain “decent.” The clubs are talking, but aren’t close to a deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The Pirates are also looking at other starters.

12:34pm: There seems to be a fair amount of optimism about a deal, Heyman tweets.

10:28am: The Pirates haven’t yet offered to pay $10MM of the $33MM remaining on Burnett’s contract, Heyman tweets.

7:57am: The Yankees and Pirates continue discussing a possible A.J. Burnett trade, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Yankees are willing to pay a substantial portion of the $33MM remaining on the right-hander’s contract through 2013, but the teams are still a few million apart. The Yankees first asked the Pirates to pay well over $11MM, Heyman writes.

The Yankees want to create payroll room for a designated hitter and appear to be leaning toward Raul Ibanez, perhaps because they prefer his ability to play the outfield. Johnny Damon and Eric Chavez also intrigue the Yankees as possible free agent additions, according to Heyman. The Pirates rejected the Yankees’ request for Garrett Jones, Heyman writes.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Burnett’s no-trade list includes all of the teams on the West Coast (Twitter links). Sherman expects the Yankees to trade Burnett before Spring Training and suggests the team is waiting to see if the Pirates or another club offers to absorb more money.

 

Jays Talk: AL East Recap

Some various Jays related and AL East rumblings:

-Chicago Cubs assistant GM Jed Hoyer was on ESPN 1000 sports radio and discussed Matt Garza’s status and possibly keeping him longer term.

“It was a long (arbitration) process, but we talked to Matt a number of times since and we’re happy we didn’t have to go into a hearing room with him,” Hoyer said. “He’s a great pitcher and a guy we’re going to talk to him about being part of our future, for sure. We need more guys like Matt, not less, and if we can work something out we’ll certainly have those discussions.”

This could be posturing and I would fully expect the rebuilding Cubbies to explore all possible trade options, and if available the Cubs would love to get their hands on some of the Jays top prospects.

-MLB Trade rumors reports the Yankees want Garrett Jones from the Pirates in any trade involving A.J. Burnett reports ESPN’s Buster Olney, but Pittsburgh isn’t interested in moving him and talks haven’t progressed (Twitter links). Yesterday we learned that the Pirates are not on Burnett’s no-trade list.

-Rays GM Andrew Friedman said it was a “dream scenario” to make the upgrades they did without sacrificing depth during an interview with 620AM radio, says Marc Topkin of The Tampa Times (Twitter link). Tampa added free agents Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, and Jose Molina this offseason.

-Ben Nicholson-Smith writes the Twins announced that they claimed Darin Mastroianni from the Blue Jays, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets. The Blue Jays designated the outfielder for assignment last week to create roster space for Francisco Cordero.

Mastroianni made his MLB debut with the 2011 Blue Jays after spending most of the season at Double-A and Triple-A. The 26-year-old posted a .268/.353/.377 line with 34 stolen bases (44 attempts) in the upper minors last year. He has minor league experience at all three outfield positions and has mostly played center field.

-Canadian hurler Rich Harden had a shoulder operation performed by Dr. James Andrews to repair a torn capsule and will miss the entire 2012 MLB season.

-A interesting story on Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd who discussed his rampant usage of cocaine during his playing days, admitting he was under the influence of cocaine two-thirds of the time he was on the mound.

Five Blue Jays Make Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects 2012

Yesterday we discussed Keith Law ranking the Toronto Blue Jays farm system number three in baseball and today the full top 100 player list was released.  Five players from the Jays made the cut and they are not all necessarily names that all the top prospect talent evaluators would agree upon.  The top five was Anaheim OF Mike Trout, Tampa Bay SP Matt Moore, Washington OF Bryce Harper, Baltimore SS Manny Machado and Cardinals SP Shelby Miller.

Hard to disagree with that top five as most are highly rated across the board however I am surprised that Manny Machado ranked ahead of Jurickson Profar.  Profar not only outperformed Machado, but he is also younger and by most scouting reports the only one likely to stick at shortstop long term.  Machado is a fine player but I do not see any justification after Profar’s monster 2011 to rank behind any other infield prospect.

Surprisingly he even ranked Toronto’s Travis D’Arnaud ahead of Profar as the sixth best prospect in the game.  D’Arnaud is the consensus number one prospect for the Blue Jays but I don’t necessarily see him as a top ten overall prospect just yet.  He has had only one above average year at the plate and although 2011 was a monster season I think it is wise to take a wait and see approach with the young catcher for 2012.

Law ranked Toronto SP Drew Hutchison #42 and thought he had the makings of a solid number three type starter with the ceiling of a number two.  He isn’t completely sold on his mechanics and feels his slight frame might make it difficult for him to be a 200+ innings pitched workhorse.  Again, I like Hutchison but is he even the best pitcher in Toronto’s system?

Baseball prospectus gives him a 3-star ranking, Baseball America ranked him #9, and Fangraphs thought he was the fourth best prospect on the Jays overall.  If I was going to be pick an arm from the Jays to make a top 100 list I would have to pick big lefty Daniel Norris ahead of Hutch.  Norris is projectable, has big time stuff and is physically more impressive, plus a southpaw.

Next was toolsy outfielder Jake Marisnick ranked at #47, which I feel is a fair spot for him.  Law notes what is becoming a common refrain for the young Marisnick, he is a hard worker willing to take the time to improve and make the necessary adjustments for success.  He should make AA by year’s end and has the chance to be a major league regular, with a possible all-star season or two.

You can’t mention Marisnick without also discussing CF Anthony Gose, who ranked #59 on his list.  Gose and Marisnick are basically neck and neck on most of the top websites with Gose ranking higher on BA, MLB and Fangraphs and Marisnick getting BP and Keith Law.  Law said “he has made great strides in the 18 months since Toronto acquired him, and is young enough that forecasting additional growth for him makes sense.”

“His defense alone makes him a major leaguer,” Law says, “and even a modest improvement in the two-strike approach makes him a regular, with an All-Star ceiling.”  It is hard to argue his placement and the rationale provided behind his ranking and outlook.

The last name is again another surprise for me as Jays SP prospect Aaron Sanchez ranked #96 to round out the five Blue Jays who made the top 100.  Sanchez once drew comparisons to Orel Hershiser but his on field results have been pretty abysmal and 2011 was not exactly a season that inspires confidence in his long term outlook.

Law stated he wasn’t too concerned about the poor start to Sanchez’s career and notes after implementing an adjustment at Toronto’s instructions to keep his front side more closed, after which he produced much better results.  He is high on the trio of starters (Sanchez, Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard) that will start for Lansing (A) and feels all three could make the list next season.

Definitely a solid showing for the Blue Jays organization though I would have guessed Travis D’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Daniel Norris, Anthony Gose, Justin Nicolino and Drew Hutchison (in that order) would have all made the list.  Perhaps Law doesn’t give as much weight to the recent crop of draft picks but most talent evaluators had Norris and Nicolino ahead of Sanchez.

Baseball America will be releasing their top 100 list soon.

Keith Law Ranks Jays Minor League System Third

Keith Law will name the Toronto Blue Jays farm system number three in baseball tomorrow when ESPN.com rolls out its Annual Top 100 prospects.  The Jays were behind only the San Diego Padres (#1) and Tampa Bay Rays (#2).  I can see San Diego being number one with an extremely deep collection of arms currently in their system but outside of super prospect Matt Moore I just don’t see the Tampa Bay system being better or more complete than the Jays at this point.

I think Keith Law is being contrarian a bit to the recently released John Sickels list which had Toronto slotted in at number one – the prospect evaluators can’t all agree right?

The top 100 prospect list is also released and expect the Jays to be all over this list, I would expect as many as six and perhaps seven Blue Jays to be on this list. 

An interesting quote from Keith Law during a recent “Klaw chat” about the common misconception that the Jays are “cheap”:

One of the many reasons criticism of Rogers Communications, the owner of the Blue Jays, for being stingy with free agents is so ignorant is that the club has spent aggressively in the amateur markets during the past three years, grabbing high-ceiling high school players and Latin American prospects by stockpiling picks and paying whatever it took to sign those players.”

Inside The Mind Of A Baseball Stats Addict

If there is one beef I have with the sabermetric based writing community is the occasional feeling that perhaps the general reader is being alienated or made to feel stupid.  Advanced statistical analysis in baseball has come a long way and while there is no doubt it has changed the landscape of baseball debates it can leave some readers feeling despondent, frustrated and annoyed.

While I also tend to use the more advanced stats when doing an analysis piece I am also aware that you can never say many things in baseball with 100% certainty – with the exception that Delmon Young is an awful defensive player as some facts require little explanation.  But you will see that callous and smug tone from time to time that the argument or point being made is absolute.

When I started this new blog I wanted to do the best analysis possible and to do that in my opinion you have to use the best tools available.  For us baseball nerds, those ‘tools’ are the advanced stats provided by the good folks at Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Reference etc. 

Not using the absolute best data available is akin to Roy Halladay not using his cutter, just plain silly.  Although the new metrics/stats can be intimidating at first glance once you learn them you realize your baseball knowledge prior to knowing them was well, rudimentary.  If you care enough to be a well informed baseball follower why be an analog player in a digital world?

Continue reading ‘Inside The Mind Of A Baseball Stats Addict’

AL East Notes: Tuesday

-A lot of Yoenis Cespedes talk today, doesn’t look like the Toronto Blue Jays are going to be big time players for the cuban outfielder, most insiders feel the Miami Marlins have the inside track.

- The Yankees inked Bill Hall to a minor league contract earlier today, creating some competition in Spring Training.

Hall, 32, posted a .211/.261/.314 line in 199 plate appearances for the Astros and Giants last year, playing mostly second base.  In more of a utility role for the 2010 Red Sox, Hall managed 18 home runs in 382 plate appearances.

- Although Hall was signed the Yankees continue to be focused on Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

- Also, Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports that the Yankees are not offering more than $2MM for a DH-type and might not even want to spend more than $1MM.

- Orioles executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira will watch Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler in the Dominican Republic when he travels to watch Yoenis Cespedes play, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports.


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