Archive for the 'AL East News' Category



MLB Rumour Round Up – November 11, 2013

Let’s have a look at the juicier rumours making the rounds on MLBTR.

–The Tigers have told teams that they’re open to trading either Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).  Scherzer has been involved in trade whispers for the last few weeks as the Tigers are considering their options in the event that they can’t hammer out a new deal before he hits the open market after the 2014 season.

-It appears the New York Mets plan to be aggressive and have been linked to Jhonny Peralta, Corey Hart and Curtis Granderson.

The Mets have plans to meet with Curtis Granderson‘s agent this week, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter).  The outfielder is turning down the Yankees’ $14.1MM qualifying offer.

-Just hours after announcing that Joe Mauer will be transitioning to first base full-time in 2014, the Twins have already started looking into out-of-house options at catcher.  Minnesota is showing preliminary interest in free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a baseball source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.

The 28-year-old Saltalamacchia enjoyed his best season in 2013, batting .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs in a career-high 470 plate appearances.  Not only is he one of the best catchers available, but he is one of the youngest free agents on the market this offseason.

-The Rangers and Cardinals remain strong potential trade partners with the Cards wanting Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus and Texas liking Shelby MillerOscar Taveras, and Matt Adamstweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.

-Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs.  Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year.  It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.

-Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees.  All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers.  Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes.

-When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt GarzaErvin Santana, andUbaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza.  Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid.  One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term.  “Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years,” the scout said.

-The Orioles are intrigued by free agent starter Tim Hudson and have discussed him internally, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  The 38-year-old righty fits the Orioles’ profile, and the O’s have Braves connections in recent hires Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti.

AL East Rumour Round Up – November 8, 2013

This is the month that last year Alex Anthopoulos really reshaped the Toronto Blue Jays roster, and it was done pretty much out of the blue.  So expect the unexpected.  However at this time I am not seeing many free agent or trade rumours involving the Jays.  I read the Jays may have interest in Dan Haren, but nothing concrete in terms of an actual offer pending.

Here are a few making the rounds involving AL East teams, as per MLBTR:

-The Yankees are planning to make Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka a “top priority” this winter and are considered the team to beat in bidding for the 25-year-old, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Writes Passan: “If re-signing Robinson Cano is priority No. 1 for the New York Yankees this offseason, securing the rights to Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka is No. 1a.”

QUICK TAKE: I am not convinced Tanaka will warrant Yu Darvish type money that is being rumoured as the starting point to win the posting.  He should be steady but I don’t think his strikeout numbers in the Japanese leagues have looked all that impressive.  I do not see the Jays being in this race.

-Free agent, right-handed starters Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco are both looking for five-year deals, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The former hopes to earn a $100MM guarantee, while Nolasco is asking for $80MM, sources tell Rosenthal.

Of course, it is still early, and players’ agents are probably still feeling out how baseball’s revenue increases will translate to free agent dollars. The pair of durable thirty-year-olds, who were born within a day of each other, just put up respective 3.0 fWAR campaigns. For Santana, his 3.24 ERA over 211 innings for the Royals was a marked improvement on a terrible 2012. Throwing for the Marlins and Dodgers, Nolasco’s 3.70 ERA across 199 1/3 innings was his best since 2008. Santana is still weighing a qualifying offer, though there is little doubt he’ll reject it, while Nolasco was ineligible due to his mid-season trade.

QUICK TAKE: Wow.  $100 million for Ervin Santana?  #comeonman

-Multiple reports indicate that the Red Sox are interested in Carlos Beltran, though the extent of that interest is somewhat up in the air. George A. King III of the New York Post reports that Boston is “aggressively” pursuing Beltran but are receiving early competition from the Yankees and Orioles. Elsewhere, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tweets that the Red Sox do indeed have interest in the eight-time All-Star, but a team source tells him they haven’t been very aggressive to this point.

-Barring a trade of Dempster or Peavy, WEI.com’s Alex Speier figures that the Red Sox will have just over $32MM to spend and still successfully avoid this year’s $189MM luxury tax threshold. That number, theorizes Speier, could be the reason that the Red Sox couldn’t afford to gamble on making qualifying offers to all three of Mike Napoli,Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Saltalmacchia, of course, was the odd man out and didn’t receive a qualifying offer.

-There has been no recent movement in negotiations between the Yankees’ front office and Cano’s representatives, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post (hat tip to Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues). Martin also explains that Cano has yet to get a read on what other teams might be willing to pay.

-If the Yanks lose Hiroki Kuroda and/or fail to land Masahiro Tanaka, power pitchers could make up the backup plan, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman wrote yesterday. Sherman notes Josh Johnson and Dan Haren as possibilities, while his Post colleagueGeorge A. King III says that the club could be in on Ubaldo Jimenez.

Screw Yu Too Koji – How Another Japanese Hurler Got Away

Blue Jays fans will certainly remember the winter and offseason of 2011 when it was announced that Yu Darvish would in fact not be joining the Toronto Blue Jays.  Despite weeks of speculation and the death of one Jays “insider” on Twitter the Texas Rangers came away with Yu Darvish.

The rest as they say is history.

In 378 career MLB innings Darvish has a 3.38 ERA, 3.16 xFIP, 11.1 K/9, 1.16 WHIP and a .204 BAA.  He has been worth 9.4 wins over that same period and to quote the great Homer Simpson on the general feelings of losing out on him “DOHHH”.  Well fast forward to the winter and offseason of 2012 and another Japanese star pitcher slipped through our hands, though this time at the request of the player.

I was excited when I learned the Toronto Blue Jays had landed Japanese reliever Koji Uehara from the Texas Rangers.  I was consequently very disappointed when it was learned Koji would use his no-trade protection to block the move.

The Blue Jays bullpen in 2013 has been very solid and it is doubtful that Koji would’ve made any difference to our playoff chances (unless we landed both he and Darvish) but he is also having one of the greatest seasons a reliever has ever had.

His WHIP currently sits at a ridiculous 0.57 and ERA is 1.08.  Read that again, it is not a typo.  I ran a search at Fangraphs to see who has the best single-season WHIP for a relief pitcher since 1950 (50.0 minimum innings).

Season Player                 WHIP   ERA   FIP   ERA- 
2013 Koji Uehara 0.57 1.08 1.68 26
1989 Dennis Eckersley 0.61 1.56 2.19 43
1990 Dennis Eckersley 0.61 0.61 1.34 16
2012 Craig Kimbrel 0.65 1.01 0.78 26
2008 Mariano Rivera 0.67 1.40 2.03 32
2003 Eric Gagne 0.69 1.20 0.86 30

I know WHIP isn’t a trendy statistic but I really like it as a down and dirty number to see who is effective at keeping runners off base.  Koji Uehara is in some pretty insane company and his overall statistical line is just as impressive.

2013 ERA   WHIP   BAA   K/9   BB/9 K/BB  HR/9  xFIP  WAR 
Koji Uehara 1.08 0.57 .127 12.5 1.2 10.3 0.68 2.05 3.0

Given those insane strikeout numbers coupled with an eye-popping 18% swinging strike rate one would assume that Uehara is a flame-thrower however you would be mistaken.  His average fastball velocity in 2013 is 89.2 MPH and in fact he only throws the heater 46.3% of the time.  The major equalizer and perhaps one of the best pitches in baseball is his splitter, thrown 81.1 MPH and 47.7%.

I wanted to search again on that same list of top WHIP seasons to see if the lack of big time velocity for Koji was indeed an outlier among the top relievers.

Here are the results as per Fangraphs data:

Season Player WHIP FB% (Velo) K% SwStrk%
2013 Koji Uehara 0.57 46.3 (89.2) 39.1% 18.2%
2012 Craig Kimbrel 0.65 67.6 (96.8) 50.2% 19.2%
2008 Mariano Rivera 0.67 82.0 (92.8) 29.7% 12.0%
2010 Joaquin Benoit 0.68 65.0 (94.0) 34.6% 14.8%
2003 Eric Gagne 0.69 55.8 (95.2) 44.8% 22.3%
2007 JJ Putz 0.70 77.6 (94.7) 31.5% 13.3%

First off, I guess steroids can help pitching as much as hitting – look at those Eric Gagne numbers in the absolute prime steroid era.  That 22.3% swinging strike rate is crazy (only Brad Lidge in 2004 – 25.0% is better).

This list does not encompass the hundreds of amazing relief seasons but among the very best WHIP seasons of all-time it is clear that Uehara attacks hitters in a completely different manner.  Koji Uehara trails some of these flame throwers by 5-6 MPH on fastball velocity making his current 2013 campaign that much more special (for me anyway).

While he might not have helped the woeful Blue Jays in 2013 at the very least it would have been fun to see this relief samurai work day in and day out.  I think I can safely say that Koji Uehara would’ve been beloved by Blue Jays nation if only he would’ve given us a chance.

Oh well, at least some of our prospects are working out.   Check out Andrew Stoeten’s latest piece highlighting the Jays system might not be quite as bad as many believe.

Mission ’13: Death Rays and Other Irritants

Game three of the TOR-TBR series was a good one. The starters, Todd Redmond and Chris Archer, pitched exceptionally well, yielding only one run each.  A 1st-inning homer by Evan Longoria was matched by Edwin Encarnacion’s 7th-inning chicken wing. Longoria’s homer was a beaut, but there was some controversy; Edwin hit a mistake pitch by Chris Archer. If you missed this game, do what you can to see a replay of it somewhere, somehow.

One comment by Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler caught my attention. Providentially they made the same comment several times, so I was sure I hadn’t misheard it. The comment was that ‘these teams always play good games against each other; there aren’t any blowouts’. Aside from Tampa dominating the series since 2009, when they finally became a good team, I wasn’t sure what they meant. You know how people are: give them enough time and JP Arencibia will be a shoo-in for Cooperstown. I was reasonably sure that Buck and Pat were ‘mis-remembering’, but I wasn’t positive. That being the case, said I, let’s check.

I keep my laptop in front of me while I follow a game. I don’t know why commentators don’t do it—it’s a great way to check things out between innings, on the fly, or whatever as the game progresses. Anyways, I’m pretty sure that Buck and Tabby don’t do it. So while the Jays and Rays headed into extras in what has been a good series I did some digging.

In 2009, years of futility gave way to an excellent season by the re-christened Rays. It’s as if the name change from Devil Rays to Rays signified a change in franchise fortunes. Joe Maddon was entering his 3rd season as manager, his first 2 seasons having been forgettable. For the most part, the Rays have maintained the level of success they enjoyed in ’09. The Jays, even though they have declined steadily since 2010, have made significant changes on a regular basis that should have put them in the mix. The 2009 season, therefore, became my cut-off point for looking into the head-to-head records.

Including today’s game—Jose Lobaton just hit a walk-off homer against Brad Lincoln in the bottom of the 10th inning—these teams have played each other 88 times since the start of 2009. Tampa has won 60 of those 88 games (.682). That gives us an average head-to-head record of 12-6 in favour of the Rays. The disparity by itself suggests very strongly that blowouts have played a significant role in this match-up. Here’s their head-to-head record since ’09, keeping in mind that this season isn’t finished yet:

Season

Team Wins

Tampa Bay

Toronto

2009

14

4

2010

10

8

2011

12

6

2012

14

4

2013

10

6

Total

60

28

The next problem was how to define the somewhat amorphous term ‘blowout’. I’ve seen a 5-run differential used but I thought a 4-run differential would define our parameters adequately. This isn’t pretty. If you’re a Jays’ fan, you might want to grab some Gravol® or a bucket. Here it is, in all its glory:

Season

Blow out wins by team

Tampa Bay

Toronto

2009

5

2

2010

5

2

2011

4

2

2012

7

2

2013

2

1

Total

23

9

Armed with this information, what am I supposed to think? Since 2009, the Rays and Jays have played each other 88 times and Tampa has won 60 of those contests, leaving the Jays with 28 wins. 32 of those 88 games (36.4%) have been decided by 4 runs or more and several of them have been real laughers for one team or the other. The Rays have blown out the Jays in 23 or their 60 wins, or 38.3% of the time. That’s slightly more often than 3 times every 8 wins, on average. Conversely, the Jays have blown out the Rays 9 times in their 28 wins, or 32.1% of the time. But look at 2012: there were 9 blowouts in 18 games. In other words, half the games were decided by 4 runs or more.  This happened last season, not last century.

This series isn’t “close” in any sense of the meaning. It’s not close geographically. It’s not close historically.  It’s not close financially. It’s not close competitively. When the Rays and the Jays play one another, there’s a really good chance that Tampa will not only win the series, but they’ll blow the Jays out at least once while doing so.

Consider this: in this terribly-lopsided series, where one team wins more than 68% of the time, the dominant team has outscored the subordinate team 460-310. The Rays score an average of 5.23 runs to the Jays’ 3.52 runs. The run differential almost equals half of my somewhat-arbitrary 4-run differential for a blowout.

Maybe Buck and Tabby were simply referring to 2013. After all there have only been 3 blowouts in 2013 with only 2 games remaining against each other this season. Otherwise they need to brush up on their series facts. If the Rays and Jays played each other 162 times, the Rays would win 110 games. That’s how completely they dominate the Jays. This match-up is the exact opposite of what they said: it’s neither good nor close.

Wes Kepstro

Blue Jays Rumours – Trade Deadline Day – July 31, 2013

Not sure if the Blue Jays will be major players but I will update the various rumours throughout the day involving the team, division and league.

Blue Jays Interesting in Angels 2B Howie Kendrick?

In recent days, the Blue Jays have expressed geniune interest in Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.  While the Blue Jays aren’t buyers in the traditional sense, they are looking at ways of addressing needs for 2013 and beyond.

Kendrick, 30, will earn the prorated portion of $8.75MM in 2013, $9.35MM in 2014, and $9.5MM in 2015 before hitting free agency.  This season, Kendrick is hitting .301/.344/.446 with eleven homers and is looking stronger than he did in 2012.

QUICK TAKE: Given the lack of production from any of the Blue Jays 2B this season and the refusal to move Brett Lawrie from his more natural 3B position this would be something to watch.  Not sure what the price would be however.

Blue Jays Not Discussing Justin Morneau?

The latest on Twins first baseman and 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau

  • The PiratesOrioles and two unidentified teams have shown interest in Morneau recently, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Rangers don’t appear to be a fit, as they’re seeking a right-handed bat, and the Yankees are content with Lyle Overbayas a lefty swinging option at first base.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are willing to eat some of the remaining $4.6MM on Morneau’s contract if it means receiving a decent return.
  • Reports from earlier today stated that Morneau wasn’t a fit with the Orioles due to his contract and lack of production.

QUICK TAKE: There were reports from other Blue Jays bloggers linking the Jays with Morneau but I do not see that as a fit at this time.  Perhaps in the off-season but it would definitely not be worth giving up a prospect for him right now.

Could Blue Jays & Rangers Be Discussing Big Trades?

As the Rangers expand their search for offense, they’ve called the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The Blue Jays aren’t interested in dealing either slugger, however, Knobler adds.

Even the newly-acquired Matt Garza could be in play for the Rangers, tweets Rosenthal.  He notes that as they aggressively seek offense, it’s not unusual for the Rangers to make creative proposals.

TUESDAY: The Rangers are willing to listen on anyone, report Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, including shortstop Elvis Andrus.  The Rangers have not have any substantive trade conversations involving Andrus, however, cautions Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.  The team is known to be aggressively seeking a bat, especially given the possibility of Nelson Cruz being suspended. Bowden says they’re focused more on outfielders than DH types.

At .250/.310/.289 in 458 plate appearances, the 24-year-old Andrus has not done much offensively this year.  In theory, the Rangers could trade him and replace him with 20-year-old rookie Jurickson Profar.  Andrus signed an eight-year, $120MM extension with the Rangers in April, which includes opt-out clauses after the 2018 and ’19 seasons as well as a 2023 vesting option that becomes a player option upon a trade.  The Cardinals would seem to be a logical fit for Andrus.

QUICK TAKE: One would think the Rangers have called the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista.  I wonder if the price could get to the point that Alex Anthopoulos would seriously consider moving him?

Would Ian Kennedy Be Intriguing To Blue Jays?

28-year-old Diamondbacks righty Ian Kennedy is having an off year, but could be a popular trade target since he’s under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player.  The latest:

UPDATE: The San Diego Padres have acquired Ian Kennedy for Joe Thatcher and a minor league player.  I think this was an excellent low cost addition to the Padres rotation.

Detroit Tigers Calling Blue Jays About Relievers

The Tigers have been in contact with the Blue Jays regarding bullpen arms, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  It was previously reported they were talking to the Giants about Javier Lopez, and the Jays have their own veteran southpaw in Darren Oliver.

Report: MLB Looking To Suspend Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera

As per TSN.ca:

Major League Baseball will reportedly seek to suspend Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and about 20 players connected to the Biogenesis Clinic in Miami.

According to an ESPN report, Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has agreed to cooperate with MLB officials and will provide an affidavit that he provided drugs to players.

The Miami New Times reported in January that it had obtained records detailing purchases by Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz and Yasmani Grandal and more from Biogenesis.

Quinn believes MLB will seek suspensions for both the players’ connection to the clinic and, in some cases, lying about use of performance enhancing drugs.

The resulting suspensions could mean bans of 100 games for both Rodriguez and Braun amongst others. A 100-game ban is the standard MLB penalty for a second offence after an initial 50-game substance-abuse ban.

Bosch is expected to begin naming names within a week, according to Quinn. Because some players connected to Biogenesis were identified only by code names in the paperwork obtained by the Miami New Times, Bosch’s information could lead to more players being implicated beyond the initial 20 or so.

More details to follow.

Sean Nolin – Come On Down

Sean Nolin is expected to get the start tomorrow night in game two of a four game series versus Baltimore.  The 23-year old started the season on the disabled list before making three starts in 2013.  His results have been outstanding over 15.1 innings as he has a posted a stellar 2.29 FIP with a 9.39 K/9.

Marc Hulet of Fangraphs ranked him as the #9 Blue Jays prospect (prior to the exodus of all of our top names) and wrote the following:

One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season was the emergence of Nolin. As one front office person stated, “I haven’t seen him on any top prospect lists yet, but he should be.” The southpaw missed some time due to injury but he blew through high-A ball with a 2.19 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 86.1 innings. Nolin, 22, also made three starts in double-A. He has a big, strong pitcher’s frame and could develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter depending on the development of his secondary stuff. He’s very aggressive with his fastball that sits in the low 90s and it can touch 93-94 mph. His curveball has a shot at developing into a plus pitch but his changeup was referred to by the evaluator as “a work in progress.” It was also suggested that, if the repertoire cannot be improved upon, Nolin could be a successful “power lefty coming out of the ‘pen.” He should return to the starting rotation at the double-A level in 2013 and, if he can stay healthy, he could reach the majors by the end of the year.

He also scouted his second start of the 2013 season and had the following observations

Nolin, 23, face the New York Yankees Double-A affiliate, which featured some talented but inexperienced young prospects. He looked a little rusty early on, which was not a surprise considering his season didn’t start until May 7. His full windup lacked fluidity in the first inning but got better as the game went on.

Early on, the left-handed pitcher struggled with his fastball command and the opposing hitters were having some really good hacks on his offerings. He was also not throwing his curveball for strikes on a consistent basis. The good news is that those issues should be correctable. At least part of the issue was due to Nolin’s mechanics. His body was drifting forward, causing his arm to drag behind him and messing with his release. It improved as the game progressed and once he stopped rushing through his delivery, although he’s a naturally-quick worker.

Nolin doesn’t do himself any favors with his delivery because he ends his follow-through in a very poor fielding position and I watched two catchable bouncers get past him. By landing in a more favorable position, he could potentially snag or knock down a lot more ground balls.

In general, his delivery suggests to me that he’ll never have better than average command. I would give his low-90s fastball a potential 50 grade and his curveball a 55-60. He didn’t use his changeup much at all in this game and I would have a tough time putting a fair grade on the offering. Based on what I saw (keeping in mind this was just his third start on the year), I would have to rate Nolin as a future No. 4 starter. He doesn’t look ready for the majors but another 10-15 minor league starts could make a world of difference.

While his minor league pedigree has been fairly impressive needless to say expectations need to be tempered.  He is being called up because “who else”?  The Blue Jays are fighting tooth and nail to keep this season from becoming a complete waste and are hopeful Nolin can fill in with a spot start (or two).

Blue Jays Rumours – May 14, 2013

Just a few various links, stories and rumours from around the web involving the Blue Jays:

-As per MLBTR the Blue Jays are the leaders to sign Venezuelan shortstop Yeltsin Gudino, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America.  Gudino is a well-rounded talent who has also received serious interest from the Rangers and A’s in the past.

-Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston isn’t ready to give up on the team this season, writes Chris Toman of MLB.com.  He also isn’t ready to give up on the coaching staff.  “We started out at 12-24 and made a managerial change, but we’re not going to do that right now,” Beeston said. “I think you look back at 1989 and just look back at what can be after what was. I think we have a very good team and a better team than our record.

-Eno Sarris at Fangraphs had a great piece on RA Dickey and his reduced knuckleball velocity.  It contains a bunch of links to different studies.  Worth a read.

-Marc Hulet at Fangraphs wrote about some of the bad luck finding various Blue Jays prospects this season so far.

-MLBTR has a look at the top ten 2014 pending free agents.

At What Point Can We Worry About the 2013 Blue Jays?

The Blue Jays just dropped another series to an AL East rival and there record now stands at 10-19.  They sit 10.5 full games out of first place and while nobody is suggesting a division title is won in April I think it’s time to acknowledge that they can at the very least be lost with such a disastrous month.

Perhaps 2013 is just not destined to be our season even we all still #lovethisteam.

If things continue this way and we are well out of the playoff hunt before Jose Reyes returns I wouldn’t be surprised (or disappointed) if the Blue Jays were sellers.  If they were to move some pieces to either shed payroll or pick up an interesting prospect or two they would likely have some suitors.

-Josh Johnson needs to show he is healthy if any team were to give up any blue chip prospects.  He also needs to show the looming free agent market that he can throw a full season worth of innings.  If he comes back to his career levels he makes a solid #3 starter and I am sure the team could land one pretty intriguing prospect.

2013 ZIPS (rest of season projection) 126.0 IPs, 123 hits, 40 BB – 105 K, 3.79 ERA, 3.59 FIP.

-Melky Cabrera hasn’t shown he is the same hitter without PEDs.  This is just a fact.  The numbers pre and post the steroid allegations show a completely different player.  I thought he would be more athletic than he is but his play in the left field and on the base paths leave much to be desired.  I think Anthony Gose could play to his level, at least, as well as play high caliber major league defense.  In short, no big loss.

2013 ZIPS (ROS) 551 PAs, 289/335/437, 6.5 BB%, 13.4 K%, 27 2B, 12 HR.

These projections are slanted, plain and simple.  They heavily weight his PED infused 2011/2012 seasons.  I think he would be hard pressed to come anywhere near the projected SLG%.

-Mark Buehrle is exactly who I thought he was coming into this season.  A pitch to contact lefty who’s stuff doesn’t play as well in the AL East.  He can give the Jays 200 innings and a low to mid 5.00 ERA – I don’t see much in the way of improvement at this stage of his career.  He simply gives up too many hits and in a league that can wait out a pitchers best stuff Buehrle is at times a sitting duck.  If Ricky Romero returns to form I don’t see how he couldn’t outperform him.  This should almost be a priority win or lose as Buehrle is overrated and vastly overpaid for a fifth starter.

2013 ZIPS (ROS) 145.0 IPs, 163 hits, 30 BB – 80 K, 4.53 ERA, 4.44 FIP.

-Darren Oliver could be a solid addition for a team looking for a veteran LOOGY.  He would need to improve upon his lacklustre numbers to start this season but if he does, we could likely fetch a ‘C+’ level prospect.

There is no need to completely wipe out the roster and I don’t see any reason to move Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, R.A. Dickey, Brett Lawrie and a few of our top bullpen arms unless the deal was just insanely in our favour – think Jurickson Profar insane.

The players listed above could be replaced if Rogers continues to show a willingness to spend money and trades are always an option for the Blue Jays brass.  However at this time I wouldn’t doubt Alex Anthopoulos is a tad gun shy as none of his recent highly touted moves have paid any dividends yet.  Luckily Travis d’Arnaud took a ball off his foot and won’t be getting called up anytime soon (thanks Wes).

OTHER BLUE JAYS LINKS:

Blue Jays Stats Pack – April 2013 – Hitters (how much do the Jays miss Jose Reyes?)

Brett Lawrie – Blue Jays New Second Basemen?

Coming to a theatre near you Brett Lawrie starting second basemen for your Toronto Blue Jays?

Currently on a minor league rehab assignment for a rib cage strain our incumbent third basemen Brett Lawrie is taking his reps at second base with the intent of joining the big league club at the position.  Alex Anthopoulos stated that if Lawrie looks good at second then when he returns to the bigs Jose Bautista will remain at third base and Lawrie will take over at the keystone corner.

While we still aren’t sure what type of batter Brett Lawrie will be with more than 1400 careers innings at third base in the major league one thing we are fairly certain – Lawrie plays a mean hot corner.  A career 9.4 UZR in 1452.1 innings at third base is impressive especially considering he essentially began his time at third base position at the major league level.

While I love the idea of Brett Lawrie playing second base for the good of the team (and lineup) I doubt this will be a longer term fix.  Coming through the ranks not many scouts questioned the offensive abilities of Lawrie but sticking at second base was seemingly a pipe dream.

Here are a few observations and scouting reports when Lawrie was still in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system:

According to John Manuel of Baseball America, many scouts compare him to Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla.  Convinced he would hit as a pro, one scout said “real thing to remember is that Lawrie’s best position is in the batter’s box—a lot like Uggla.”  Some scouts also see him as a Jeff Kent type without the defense.

Lawrie spent last season in AA at only 19 years of age.  By midseason he led the Southern League in hits (102), extra-base hits (39), triples (11) and total bases (164).  Lawrie’s biggest weakness is his defense and scouts have noted that his throwing arm has regressed; projecting him as an outfielder should he prove to be liability in the infield.  He led all second basemen in errors, with one badly misplayed ball ending up breaking his nose.

Keith Law said in 2010:

Lawrie hit well in the Midwest League for a 19-year-old, and if he had a clear position he might have spent the second half in high-A. The Brewers did move him up two levels in mid-August, after which he scuffled. Lawrie has a good swing, almost a classic left-handed swing but from the right side, with tremendous rotation and raw power. I’ve seen him over stride in BP, but he quiets down a little in games, still taking all-out swings but with such a good swing path that he covers the plate and struggles only with changing speeds. He’s an intense, aggressive, “one-speed” player who might benefit from dialing it down a notch every now and then, and the lack of finesse in his game is part of what holds him back as an infielder. He played all over as an amateur but settled on second in part because he thought he had a faster path to the majors there. There’s still a realistic chance he’ll have to move to first or an outfield corner, limiting his projected value.

I don’t think he’ll ever be above-average defensively at second, and he’s pretty maxed-out physically, but his bat looks like it’s going to play just about anywhere in the big leagues, and his offensive downside is very limited.

Another downside could be the already fragile Brett Lawrie would be moving to a much more physically demanding position.  Second basemen have to range much further to both sides, regularly laying out to make plays and being on the receiving end of hard slides at the bag on double-play opportunities.

This has to be one concern for the Blue Jays brass, and perhaps a major one.  Can this team really deal with another injury considering its already fragile psyche (and fan base)?  Lawrie has proven himself to be very capable (if not spectacular) fielding third basemen but is there any guarantee he can even play second effectively at the big league level?

The Blue Jays need his bat to be productive above almost anything else.  I worry that his offensive development could be jeopardized if he struggles with the transition to a brand new (and more demanding) position.  Again this might only be a temporary solution, and a sensible one considering our injury situation but trying Brett Lawrie at second base is far from a sure thing.

However given his impressive athleticism and tireless work ethic if anybody could make a concerted effort at this transition it is probably the crazy Canadian Brett Lawrie.  It’s obviously worth a shot at this point.

 


AL Eastbound On Twitter!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers