Archive for the 'Jays Rumours' Category

A Few Thoughts On Jose Bautista For Domonic Brown Rumours

Sometimes a rumor comes out of nowhere and surprises you a little bit.  When I read that the Blue Jays and Phillies were potentially discussing a Joey Bats for Dominic Brown trade (that has since been debunked) my initial thoughts were, “that’s all we could get?”.

Brown is a fine player, only 26 years old and coming off a breakout season where he swatted 27 HRs and slashed a respectable 272/324/494.  Over 139 games Brown had a .351 wOBA and was worth 1.6 WAR.  Pretty solid but I think the notion that he is about to become an ‘elite’ slugger are probably misplaced.

Bautista had another “off” year yet still slugged 28 HRs, slashes 259/358/498 and in only 118 games was worth 4.2 wins.  In other words Bautista is still a monster when factoring offense, defense, arm and positional diversity.  Brown offers little to no defense, can only play left field and isn’t an on-base machine.  Brown also has a pretty one-sided platoon split as he doesn’t hit lefties that well.

Basically, Bautista is still a monster under a reasonable contract and I think the Blue Jays could do  a lot better if they actually were to move him.

Dave Cameron made some great points in his piece today:

A common criticism of Jose Bautista’s future value is that he’s 33 and is trending the wrong way. Both of these statements are true. Over the last three years, Bautista’s wOBA has gone from .443 to .378 to .372, driven primarily by a significant reduction in power; his ISO actually declined for a fourth consecutive year, and has now gone from .357 to .309 to .286 to .239 since the start of the 2010 season. If you just extrapolate the line on its current path, Bautista begins to look much more like like an ordinary player over the next few years rather than the star he has been.

However, extrapolating trends into the future is often completely incorrect, because the reality is that performance often regresses back towards the average of a larger sample performance rather than continuing to move further and further away from a peak. Or, put another way, players who are labeled as “trending downwards” often have a very good performance in their recent history which should continue to inform our opinion of what they will do in the future.

Just like old players can have “fluke” seasons, so can young players, only when a young player has a fluke season, it’s usually called a breakout instead. Maybe Domonic Brown really did take huge sustainable steps forward last year, but history suggests that it’s probably more prudent to expect him to maintain or regress than it is to improve yet again. Just like Bautista shouldn’t be expected to linearly trend downwards, taking Brown’s 2013 performance and forecasting upwards from there is also a mistake.

As stated previously the Jose Bautista rumor season is just starting.  Stay tuned.

MLB Rumour Round Up – November 12, 2013

Here is the latest and greatest from MLBTR, including more action involving the Toronto Blue Jays.

-The Blue Jays‘ priority is improving the rotation, but they’re also keeping an eye out for help at second base and catcher, writes Heyman.  It’s no surprise to hear that they’re interested in Robinson Cano, but his price tag will probably prove to be too much since they need to direct their bucks towards starting pitching.

QUICK TAKE: Never say never but it would be a pretty big surprise if the Toronto Blue Jays actually landed one of the games best overall players.  Saying that the Jays roster has many Dominican connections and stranger things have happened.  If this occurred, WOW.

-With uncertainty over Alex Rodriguez and the future of Robinson Cano, theYankees have contacted free agent Kelly Johnsontweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013.

-It’s not a huge surprise, but teams are inquiring on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).  Whether they are willing to move him is another story.

-Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are targets 1 and 1A for the Yankees, a person familiar with their thinking tells Jon Heyman of  Fellow outfielderJacoby Ellsbury sits a hair behind the other two stars.

-Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa is set to retire this offseason, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (via Twitter).  Toronto exercised their $750K option on the veteran late last month.  Toronto has confirmed the news via press release.

-The Astros are receiving significant interest in catcher Jason Castro, and interest could pick up once big free agents like Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia go off the board, writes Jon Heyman of  Their interest in trading Castro isn’t known, but Houston is said to like catching prospect Max Stassi very much.  Heyman sees the Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Rockies, and Twins as teams that could possibly have interest if Castro is on the block.

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,’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.

Say, What About Mark Ellis?

Ha, Mark Ellis’ 2014 option was just declined by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the vultures are circling. No, he’s not dead, career-wise or otherwise. At least not yet, anyways. The vultures are limited to this particular blogger here at AL Eastbound. Now is the highpoint of the Toronto Blue Jays 2013 season: it’s the time between an incredibly disappointing campaign and new acquisitions. Let the speculation begin.

The Sitch-ee-ay-shun

The Jays’ best 2B of the last 15 years were Aaron Hill and Orlando Hudson. Hill was on the plus side of steady defensively; Hudson was very good. He had more range than Kate Smith. Hill was very good offensively when he wasn’t battling the after-effects of concussions; Hudson was a plus player offensively.

Second base was a significant problem for the Jays in 2013. Emilio Bonifacio stunk it up, then was traded to the Royals for a Tim’s card and an old one-piece Sherwood. Maicer Izturis was the lowest ranking utility player in all of Major League Baseball. Ryan Goins provided a glimmer of hope but small sample cautions apply here. Also, the free agent market for 2B isn’t exactly pulse-quickening after Robinson Cano and his $300MM dream is crossed off the list.

The Cons

Mark Ellis is a proney. Steamer projects 146 G for Mark Ellis in 2014 but that’s a pipe dream: he’s played 150 games or more only twice in his career, but not since 2007. A strained right quadriceps, a groin problem, and a ‘leg injury’ slowed Ellis down in 2013. Leg injuries aren’t good no matter what position you play, but they’re especially problematic for middle infielders, catchers, and pitchers. He missed 43 games in 2012 with a left leg injury.

Do the Jays need another regular DL candidate? Probably not. Imagine the frustration in the front office, the dugout, and the seats at The Rog if both Ellis and Jose Reyes were both on the DL at the same time, for an extended period of time. Ugh.

Second, he’s 36 years old. He’ll be 37 on the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings on the beach in Normandy on D-Day (June 6). His injury problems aren’t likely to get better (146 G, Steamer? Seriously?), but his offense, defense, or base running won’t either. Every aspect of his game will continue to circle the bowl because he’s several years beyond his career peak.

His decline relates directly to this one, salient fact: Mark Ellis is old, as far as most professional sports are concerned. I don’t think he’s old. Mark DeRosa, Mark Buehrle and RA Dickey wouldn’t think he was old. But my kids would.

The Pros

He’s not what he used to be, but he’s still a very good defender. Fangraphs ( rates him as a plus defender every year of his career, and his last 3 seasons have checked in at 12.6, 7.0, and 7.4 runs above average. Good defenders are multi-faceted: good positioning, understanding hitters, understanding the pitcher, good athletic ability, understanding the game, and so on. As they age, they rely on some of these factors more than others, of course, as physical skills dissipate. Good, smart defenders are hard to find.

Baseball-Reference, in their defensive metrics, tells me that Mark Ellis has averaged about 1.5 WAR per season on defense alone. C’mon, Wes, you’d say. Don’t try to pull that stuff over my eyes; it’s just an average drawn from a long career. You’re right, I’d say. But then I’d tell you that his defensive value isn’t skewed toward his younger/peak years. He was a 4.5 WAR player on defense mid-career (28-30 years old); he’s been a 4.3 WAR player on defense for the last 3 seasons (34-36 years old). He’s been a consistently strong defender for his entire career.

On offense, I’m going to bring a passage by Dave Cameron to your attention:

Ellis is renowned mostly for his glove work at second base, and he carved out a nice career for himself as an underrated defender on some good teams. However, over the last month, Ellis’ bat has been one of the primary reasons the Dodgers offense has clicked. In that span, he’s hit .347/.390/.507, putting up a 154 wRC+ that is second among Dodgers regulars behind Mr. Puig. And despite Ellis’ reputation, he’s actually never really been the glove-only player that his reputation suggested.

For the season, Ellis has a wRC+ of 99. Last year, it was 98. For his career, it’s 96. Mark Ellis has been an average hitter for most of his career. Like everyone else, he has ups (135 wRC+ in 2005) and his downs (67 in 2011), but overall, he’s usually ended up right back around average. Like pretty much all of his teammates this year, he was lousy early in the season but has been pretty great lately, and getting quality offensive production from a second baseman can go a long ways towards beating your opponents.

Because Ellis’ production mostly comes through a barrage of singles, he can be easy to overlook, but in the last month, no second baseman in baseball has been more productive at the plate. With Matt Kemp on the DL and Adrian Gonzalez struggling, it’s tempting to think that Puig and Ramirez are carrying the offense, but relative to his position, Ellis has actually been the team’s best hitter.

This is the player he was in mid-2013. Not 2003, 2007 or 2009, but 2013. He won’t be mistaken for Robinson Cano, but for a month—whether we agree with Dave Cameron’s assessment or not—Mark Ellis was perhaps the most valuable offensive contributor on the hottest team in baseball. And Cameron was almost right: Ellis was only a notch below average (91 wRC+).

It’s almost a footnote, but I find a comment made in Mark Ellis’ scouting report at to be intriguing. They assess Ellis’ offense as follows: “Is very good at moving runners ahead of him, and generally doing the little things.” His offense is in decline and has been for years but he handles the bat well, moves runners along, sacrifices, and makes productive outs. When was the last time this could be said about a Toronto Blue Jay?

Another significant positive is that Mark Ellis is presently unattached: for no more than money (i.e. no draft pick compensation, no prospects, no roster players), Ellis could be a Blue Jay. I don’t know if that makes him the MLB equivalent of a gigolo, but that’s free agency for you. The Los Angeles Dodgers paid him $1 million to play for someone else next season.  And he’s still good enough to play for someone else next season.

The Round-Up

Alright, we don’t want to flog this one too much. There are other players being considered who have their own pros and cons (e.g. Gordon Beckham, Brandon Phillips), but we didn’t want to just gloss over the possibility of Mark Ellis at 2B for the Toronto Blue Jays. Would he look good in blue? A mentor for Ryan Goins, perhaps? Very interesting. Very interesting, indeed.

Wes Kepstro

Blue Jays Interested in Light Hitting 2B Gordon Beckham?

Let the fun and games begin.  As we near the beginning of the always interesting offseason I am sure there will be a ton of rumours and notes about various free agent and trade targets.  We will try our best to keep up with them.

As per MLBTR:

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is no stranger to the trade market. Early reports have already pegged Hank Conger and Chris Iannetta as potential trade targets for Toronto, and nowScott Merkin and Gregor Chisholm of report that the Jays are targeting White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham as well.

Beckham, 27, hit .267/.322/.372 with a career-low five homers in a career-low 103 games this season. A broken hamate bone in his right hand cost him nearly two months of the 2013 campaign, which could have something to do with the decline in home runs. However, Beckham has never lived up to the hype that surrounded him after being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft, slashing just .249/.314/.380 in 2,217 big league plate appearances.

Beckham is eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a raise from $2.9MM to $3.5MM. He is under team control through the 2015 season.

The article they reference also included a quick tidbit on the possibility of dealing Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez.  Unless the entire franchise is coming back for Stroman or Sanchez I do not see a fit with the White Sox at all.  They do not have anything of interest in my opinion.

Gordon Beckham is terrible, and not young.  He owns a career .308 wOBA, 86 wRC+ and has slashed a paltry 249/313/380 in 2217 PAs.  Perhaps Alex Anthopoulos is letting it be known that he is willing to go all-in and deal his last remaining pitching prospects to continue his attempt at building a contender that can win now.  Or perhaps this is just unfounded rumour and speculation that is rampant at this time of year.

Mission ’13: Jays Interested in Angels’ Catchers


Catcher is known to be a priority for the Blue Jays this offseason, and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports that the team is interested in Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger of the Angels. According to Elliott, the Blue Jays have already begun their efforts to acquire one of Anaheim’s backstops.

As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk noted in analyzing the Blue Jays’ upcoming offseason, the team is set at most offensive positions with the exception of catcher and second base. Mark noted that while incumbent J.P. Arencibia may not be non-tendered, his days as the team’s starter are likely over. Toronto’s desire to acquire one of the Angels’ catchers and their interest in Washington’s Wilson Ramos seem to support that line of thinking.

Iannetta, who turns 31 next April, might at first appear to be similar to Arencibia given his low batting averages and escalating strikeout rate (25.1 percent in 2013). However, Iannetta has always been adept at drawing a walk. In fact, he drew nearly as many walks in 399 plate appearances in 2013 (68) as Arencibia has in his entire career (74). Overall, Iannetta batted .225/.358/.372 for the Halos in the first season of a three-year, $15.5MM extension. He’ll earn $4.975MM in 2014 and $5.525MM in 2015. In each of those seasons, his contract calls for an additional $100K bonus for starting 90 games at catcher and $125K when he reaches each of 100, 110, 115, 120 and 125 starts behind the dish.

The switch-hitting Conger batted .249/.310/.403 in 2013. He’ll turn just 26 years old in January and won’t be eligible for arbitration until next offseason. Originally selected by the Angels with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Conger has never gotten a full season’s worth of at-bats with the Halos despite a robust .298/.371/.470 slash line in 854 career plate appearances at Triple-A.

As we saw last offseason, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has no problem dealing young talent to fill holes on his big league roster. Though the Blue Jays’ farm system was depleted after acquiring R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson in trades, the team still has plenty of minor league pitchers that would pique the Angels’ interest. According to’s Jonathan Mayo, the Blue Jays’ top six prospects are all pitchers, though a top prospect along the lines of Aaron Sanchez would seem far too steep a price for either of the catchers in question.

If the Blue Jays really want to get aggressive, they could look to structure a deal that would land one of Iannetta or Conger as well as second baseman Howie Kendrick, who is known to be available. While that scenario is purely my speculation, such a trade would address both of the major holes highlighted in Polishuk’s outlook. The Blue Jays own two of the first 11 picks in next year’s draft, so they would have ample opportunity to add high-end talent to their farm system following another aggressive winter on the trade market.

Okay, a few bits of house cleaning regarding this latest rumour. First, CAN WE STOP LOOKING AT LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM CATCHERS PLEASE. Napoli, Mathis, and now Iannetta and Conger? There are 28 other teams in Major League Baseball: feel free to consider them occasionally.

Second, yes Aaron Sanchez is too steep of a price unless you’re throwing in 2B Kendrick and OF Bourjos with either of those humps.

Third, yes Iannetta drew a bunch of walks but he still can’t hit. Moving to The Rog may boost his offense but I hope the ship has sailed on poor-hitting catchers in Toronto.

That said, we all know how important defense and staff handling are for catchers. Fangraphs has him as a negative hitter for his career. He struck out 160 times in his last 652 PAs. He’s a plus defensive catcher albeit a weak plus defender lately. He’ll be 31 in early April and he’s never caught a knuckle ball. I have very little about ‘staff handling’ to pass on to you.

Fourth, Iannetta’s not terribly durable. He’s exceeded 100 games 3 times (’13, ’11, ’08) in a career that began in 2006.

Fifth, is Iannetta really a $5MM catcher? Really?

Sixth, does anyone consider “.298/.371/.470 slash line in 854 career plate appearances” with Salt Lake in the PCL to be “robust”? JP Arencibia was a .267/.320/.530 hitter in AAA, including a .301/.359/.626 line as the PCL MVP in 2010. Perhaps Conger’s .225/.295/.368 with 107 K in 457 AB at the ML level is indicative.

Finally, says it all in their scouting report about Chris Iannetta. They tell us that he calls a good game behind the dish but, wait, it gets better.  And I quote: “Can be all-or-nothing at the dish: takes a huge cut when he swings and strikes out too much. Has holes in his swing (and would benefit by shortening it up)”, “Inconsistent catcher with power”, and “Needs work on throwing runners out”. This sounds awfully familiar…

Frankly I prefer the Wilson Ramos rumour myself.

Wes Kepstro

Mission ’13: Pitching: What Went Wrong? Can It Be Fixed?

Yesterday’s post about former Jays in the playoffs arose as an extension of that with which I was wrestling: the Toronto Blue Jays’ pitching staff. It seems as if the universal opinion is that if the Jays don’t improve significantly on the mound, 2014 will be similar to 2013.

Since the acquisitions made in the offseason between 2012 and 2013 used up a lot of the Jays’ resources, the obvious question is ‘how can the Jays afford to make a high-quality pitcher (or two)?’ There’s no easy answer to that question. A better question is ‘what sort of pitcher do the Jays need?’ Now we’re talking.

I compiled a basic table of the Toronto Blue Jays’ pitchers. Then I realized that, even with the criteria I imposed, the list was still pretty unwieldy. It was unwieldy enough that I think we’re into 2 post territory. So, since every game begins this way let’s start with the starters.























































Fangraphs gave this info away with free toilet paper samples at:

Let’s make some preliminary comments and observations about the info in the table:

  • Only pitchers with at least 5 starts are included;
  • We didn’t separate Esmil Rogers’ and Todd Redmond’s starter/reliever splits;
  • Only 3 SP surpassed 100 IP: Buehrle (203.2), Dickey (224.2), and Rogers (137.2);
  • Injuries played a major role again as several of these guys (Redmond, Rogers, Wang) and others who didn’t make the cut (Ortiz, Nolin, Laffey, Romero, Jenkins), weren’t really even on the radar when the 2013 season began;
  • Home runs were a problem, as Buehrle (10.6), Dickey (12.7), Redmond (11.8), Johnson (18.5), Morrow (15.6), and Wang (20.8) all had double digit HR/FB rates;
  • these starters gave up 135 HR in 898.1 IP (1.35 HR/9); and
  • The cumulative fWAR of SP with 5 or more starts in 2013 was 7.1.

So, what went wrong? ‘Injuries and ineffectiveness’ is the short-and-easy answer. The same problem the Jays faced in 2012, and every team seemed to face in 2013—injuries—ensured that Toronto would scramble, having to start guys like Wang, Ortiz, Laffey and the like. It’s obviously not ideal, but it did expose a weakness in the Jays’ organizational strategy: quality depth. The same weakness was exposed in 2012.

The flip side of the coin, ineffectiveness, is a little harder to nail down since it’s so broad. Throwing a bunch of guys together and saying, ‘go out and win the AL East/pennant/World Series’ is tough to do, especially when everyone else is trying to do the same things. But that’s the rub. BOS finished last in the AL East in 2012 and are serious World Series contenders in 2013, on the basis of several key additions. They didn’t sign high-priced talent; they signed middle class (and lower) talent. And they’re winning. Now, with a season together under their belt, there are fewer excuses for poor play in TOR.

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. For the purpose of seeing what we have I’ll split the staff into 4 different groups: Keepers, Swingmen, Goner(s), and Status Unclear. As such, I will do some review and then offer an opinion as to what I think should happen with these guys.


  1. Mark Buehrle
    • he pitched as advertised, eating a lot of innings, keeping them in games, competing hard, and offering a strong veteran presence;
    • his career numbers (3.84 ERA/4.14 FIP/4.21 xFIP) lined up nicely with his 2013 effort (4.15/4.10/4.09);
    • his contract isn’t pretty but it’s not my money, so I don’t care;
    • I believe that he should be the #4 starter in 2014;
  1. RA Dickey
    • He wasn’t as advertised, and injuries played a smallish role;
    • April/May were dismal, but there was significant improvement from June-September;
    • home runs (35) were a key problem;
    • I believe that he’s a good candidate for improvement in 2014;
    • I believe he should be the #2 starter in 2014;
  1. Brandon Morrow
    • Injuries prevented Jays’ fans from being exposed to too much radiation, as Morrow only managed 10 GS/54.1 IP;
    • he was no better than Chien-ming Wang when he did start;
    • a nerve problem is the significant factor here: he won’t throw a ball until mid-October and until then, the Jays won’t know a thing about his status;
    • Likely rotation spot: unknown.


  1. JA Happ
    • a freak injury played havoc with Happ’s season;
    • before the injury, Happ was a model of inconsistency; after the injury, Happ was a model of inconsistency;
    • they’ve monkeyed with his arm slot/delivery, and he likes it (sub-3.00 ERA in Sept)), which means he’ll probably be a strong candidate for the #5 spot;
    • I don’t think that his career shows enough consistency or that he’s an innings eater for the back end of the rotation;
    • because of that, I’d like to see him as a long man out of the ‘pen;
  1. Todd Redmond
    • I was suitably impressed with Redmond: with a little more control over the HR, I would have been very impressed;
    • as a back-end-of-the-rotation guy who’s a fly ball pitcher we expect HR (13 in 77 IP), but his K-rate (8.88/9) and BB-rate (2.69/9) were good;
    • I’d like to see him as a RHP long man out of the ‘pen;
  1. Esmil Rogers
    • at times Esmil showed flashes of brilliance, while at other times he was awful;
    • he’s a sinker baller who doesn’t miss enough bats (9.94 H/9), or pound the strike zone enough (6.28 K/9; 2.88 BB/9) in a rotation with Dickey and Buehrle;
    • I’d like to see him compete with Redmond to be the RHP long man out of the ‘pen.


  1. Chien-ming Wang
    • He’s the only starter in this category: his first 2 starts were acceptable (even surprising), but his other 4 starts were terrible;
    • his career stalled when he was injured several years ago, but there’s no Freddy Garcia/Bartolo Colon, hidden gem here—he’s more like Jason Marquis;
    • if he’s willing, then sign him to a minor league deal for depth; other than that, his value is negligible.

Status Unclear

  1. Josh Johnson
    • Johnson’s intriguing case has been discussed here at AL Eastbound and elsewhere: as a free agent on the heels of a terrible year, what should the Jays do?
    • His year was so poor that a qualifying offer would be financially suicidal: ~$14MM could be better spent elsewhere, since it’s highly unlikely that another team would sign him and forfeit a draft pick;
    • injuries were a factor—again—but Dr. James Andrews performed surgery and was clear that the problem (1) was fixed, and (2) contributed to his struggles;
    • his agent mentioned that he has ‘unfinished business’ in TOR and that a 1-year deal loaded with incentives would be about right;
    • if that’s what he wants, I say sign him and make him the #5 starter and DO IT QUICKLY: he’s an excellent bounce-back candidate (3.58 xFIP);
    • he’s 29, has something to prove, likes TOR and John Gibbons, and is immensely talented (when he’s not of the DL): the likelihood that they will find a better candidate at that price to be a #5 is slim:
      • consider the LAA acquiring Joe Blanton to be their #5 starter for 2 years/$15MM plus an option for 2015;
      • using fWAR Johnson ranked 130th in MLB; Blanton ranked #142;
      • Johnson’s xFIP was 3.58, while Blanton’s was 3.84;
      • I think Johnson is a better candidate to bounce back than Blanton: based on several considerations I believe Johnson is (much) more likely to produce a 2.5-3 fWAR season;
      • 2.5-3 fWAR likely means there would be ample surplus value, which is something the Jays need, to an incentive-laden, 1-year deal.

The most notable exclusions from the analysis are Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison. These 3, along with swingmen JA Happ, Esmil Rogers, and Todd Redmond offer admirable depth if another higher-end starter is in the crosshairs.

A rotation including Dickey, Buehrle, and Johnson as the #2, 4 and 5 starters is appealing, since 2 are bounce-back candidates and Buehrle is rock-steady. They don’t need to acquire a true ace; another #2 would do nicely.

Acquiring this #2 starter is the challenge. There aren’t many #2 level starters available via free agency but an intriguing option could be 24-year old Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. He’s more of a control pitcher than Yu Darvish (his BB/9 rate is very low), but the key question is whether his skills translate well into MLB.

There are several potential targets, including Matt Garza, Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco, and Ervin Santana. The only MLB-related name specifically linked to the Jays so far has been Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo’s an innings-eater (200+ IP 8 times in 9 years; the other year, 2011, he reached 199 IP) who’s been very healthy (32+ starts every year since ’04). Is he a good fit for the AL East/Rogers Centre? Do the Jays need another back-end-of-the-rotation starter? Is Arroyo simply a right-handed Mark Buehrle? Is that a bad thing? Would Ubaldo and Arroyo, in concert with several bounce-back campaigns, help the Jays make up the 18 games between a 74-88 also-ran and a 92-70 wild card team?

Two blockbuster trades and a couple free agent signings were sabotaged by injuries and ineffectiveness, limiting the Jays to a one-win improvement in 2013 over 2012. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Wes Kepstro

Josh Johnson Has Elbow Surgery, Expected To Be Ready For Spring Training

As per MLBTR:

Righty Josh Johnson underwent minor elbow surgery this morning to remove bone spurs, agent Matt Sosnick tells MLBTR.  Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure, telling Johnson he feels the discomfort caused by the spurs was the cause of his struggles with the Blue Jays this year.  No issues were found with Johnson’s elbow ligament.  Johnson will be throwing in five weeks, and will be ready for spring training.

Johnson, 30 in January, is eligible for free agency for the first time this offseason.  His season in Toronto did not go as planned, ending in August with the elbow issue.  He made 16 starts, posting a 6.20 ERA despite a good strikeout to walk ratio.

Sosnick, who also represents free agent hurler Ricky Nolasco, tells MLBTR Johnson will absolutely consider signing with the Blue Jays if they do not make a qualifying offer.  Johnson loved playing for manager John Gibbons, and bought into the vision of GM Alex Anthopoulos.  A one-year deal with incentives seems likely for Johnson.

Should Blue Jays Qualify Josh Johnson?

Sorry for the lack of pieces by yours truly.  Things have been busier than normal but hope to get back into the swing of things even though the Blue Jays are embarking on an all-time awful campaign.  Thanks to Wes for writing some of the best pieces you will read at any blog over the past few weeks.

I was perusing Fangraphs today when I saw a piece on pitchers that Dave Cameron believes will get qualifying offers from their respective teams this off-season.  He wrote this about Josh Johnson:

Josh Johnson, RHP, Toronto

Nearly everything written above about Lincecum is also true of Josh Johnson. His results in Toronto this year were terrible, but his 3.60 xFIP is actually better than the mark he posted last year in Miami, even though he switched from a pitcher’s park in the NL to a hitter’s park in the AL. And he was good in Miami last year, so his struggles cover just 80 innings pitched, a minimal sample with which to judge a pitcher harshly based on inflated HR/FB and BABIP rates.

But, with Johnson, there’s a significant health question. He hasn’t pitched since August 6th, and he won’t pitch again this season due to soreness in his forearm. This isn’t exactly a new thing for Johnson either, as he’s already had Tommy Johnsurgery, and has missed significant time in his career due to back and shoulder problems, so this forearm soreness seems like part of a bigger trend. This was Johnson’s eighth season on a big league roster, and he’s made 30 starts in just two of those eight years. He’s thrown 200 innings once. Even in the best case scenario, Johnson is probably not worth counting on for a full season, and there’s significant risk that he just gives you nothing at all.

Teams have made big bets on similar health question marks before, and even last winter, there appeared to be some appetite for high base contracts for questionable health guys; Scott Baker got $6 million from the Cubs despite not even pitching last year, and Scott Baker doesn’t have Josh Johnson’s pedigree. However, it’s hard to see another team forfeiting a valuable draft pick for the right to hope that Josh Johnson stays healthy and his 2013 performance wasn’t a warning sign that a total breakdown is on the way.

If the Blue Jays make the qualifying offer, they have to plan on Johnson accepting it. He’s not going to do better than a $14 million guarantee in free agency, not with his health issues and coming off the season he just had. If the Blue Jays don’t believe his forearm soreness is a precursor to eventual surgery, making him the offer and bringing him back for a redemption year on a one year contract probably is a risk worth taking.

However, they know more about his current health than anyone else, and so it would be hard to take them to task for declining to make Johnson the offer. This one is about as close to a toss-up as it gets, and it’s basically impossible to know whether they should make the offer without the medical information, which we don’t have. If the medicals are okay, I’d say make the offer, but there’s a strong argument to just letting him walk and spending the $14 million on healthier pitchers instead.

Conclusion: Make the offer, unless they know that his arm is about to fall off.

I wrote a piece about the dilemma facing the Blue Jays with respect to Josh Johnson in July/2013 and wrote:

What should the Blue Jays do with Josh Johnson?

At this point barring an extremely solid second half I doubt Johnson has warranted a lengthy or expensive contract extension and one has to wonder if Alex Anthopoulos will be fielding offers on him prior to the MLB trade deadline.  While his traditional stats look awful, ERA (4.62), WHIP (1.51) and BAA (.272) Johnson hasn’t actually pitched as poorly as those numbers suggest.

He is striking out more batters this season (21.7%) than last (20.7%) and walking roughly the same (7.9%).  His xFIP is 3.63 which is actually lower than last year as well and the long ball has really hurt Johnson thus far.  His career HR/9 is an absurdly low 0.62 and this season currently sits at 1.19 hindered by a career worst 13.1% HR/FB rate.

This isn’t to excuse his 2013 performance or say it has been nothing but a product of rotten luck.  He didn’t look ready to start the season and got off to an absolutely horrendous start but we also shouldn’t completely write him off as washed up either.

I have to agree with Mr. Cameron here, if the medical checks out I don’t see how you don’t extend an offer for one year here.  The Jays need as many arms as they can muster and in reality Johnson offers an intriguing risk/reward heading into 2014.  While nothing with JJ is guaranteed one would think he is a good bet to improve upon a horrendous 2013 if healthy.  Always a big if of course.

What do you guys think?

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.

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