Posts Tagged 'jays free agency 2012'

Should the Jays re-sign Carlos Villanueva?

The Blue Jays’ most effective pitcher over the last two seasons, Carlos Villanueva, is a free agent when the season ends.  Several comments have been made publicly by both pitcher and GM over the past week or so, and it hasn’t been as pleasant as one might hope.  MLBTradeRumors.com quotes GM Alex Anthopoulos as saying,

“When you’re looking at a starter you’re looking at 32 or 34 starts, 200 innings, durability, things like that, that’s part of the equation,” Anthopoulos told reporters, including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. “There’s no question when he’s taken the ball he’s done a great job. But his [durability] is obviously part of the equation. That’s not to take anything away from him. But that’s the unknown with Carlos, he’s never had 200 innings, he’s never had 32 or 34 starts. I think we all would say you love what you see, what he’s done for us and he’s a great teammate and all those things. But again we’ve only had bits and pieces of him starting.”

Carlos Villanueva’s reply has an ‘eyebrow-furrowing’ feel to it: “Its a little disappointing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” he told Sportsnet’s Tony Ambrogio. “I definitely don’t love the advertising of that being put out there.”

Let’s be clear at the outset: being the most effective pitcher does not mean he’s their best pitcher.  That said he’s done pretty well.  What should the Jays do?

Avoid him like the plague

Carlos was a ‘pen piece in Milwaukee, starting 27 times in 230 games over five seasons.  This raises questions of durability, which, of course, is the heart of the issue.  He doesn’t have a starter’s durability because, for the most part, he hasn’t been a starter.

In Toronto Carlos has been used primarily out of the ‘pen, getting starts only when another starter has been injured.  Toronto brass knew this when they acquired him.  He made 13 starts in ’11 and then was shelved with a forearm strain.  This season he’s made 13 more starts.  He’s remained healthy but his performance has declined over time.

The Jays’ injury woes this year aren’t significantly worse than you’ll find on other teams, but their impact has been substantial.  What do the Jays risk on a starter who doesn’t have a starter’s stamina?  They risk injury to him and potential setbacks for the team.  He’s versatile but he’s pushing for a starter’s role, which means a starter’s contract.

Get a pen…quick!

Carlos Villanueva’s numbers suggest he’s an above average pitcher.  Looking at the pitcher-related plate discipline trends of the past decade, CV holds his own and is improving.  Topping out at about 89 mph, he’s not missing bats because of velocity.  However, he uses the 13+ mph differential between his fastball and change-up effectively, causing batters to swing and miss at a greater rate than league average.  Carlos is an above average pitcher with four decent-to-good pitches (six if you include an eephus pitch or two and a two-seam fastball) who misses bats.  In other words, he’s a solid #5.

So, sign him or take door #2 (the matched luggage)?

Baseball lends itself to numbers, so let’s look at some numbers.  This is Carlos Villanueva by (some of) the numbers culled from his 13 starts in 2012:

 Starts IP ERA Hits/9 BB/9 K/9 HR/9 Pitches/Start IP/Start
1st 5 28.1 2.54 6.99 3.18 9.21 0.95 95.8 5.67
Next 8 49.2 4.17 8.33 1.81 7.97 1.45 92.5 6.21

The grouping is unbalanced, but offers a glimpse at Villanueva’s effectiveness.  One thing is clear: he’s declined after his initial five starts.  The decline can be attributed reasonably to several factors (quality of opponent; scouting reports; fatigue; etc.)  It’s also worthwhile to note that the Jays were 5-0 in his first five starts, but 3-5 in his next eight starts.  The Jays’ reservations are well founded, but overall he’s pitched well and been the consummate professional.  Again.

I see two competing perspectives.  On one hand, the Jays don’t need another fourth/fifth starter.  They’re relatively easy to find so if he wants more starts, then let him go.  His decline is troubling, and the Jays don’t need another starter on the DL.  This year’s been something out of a Stephen King novel, injury-wise, so let’s not ‘tempt fate’ any further.

On the other hand, as fifth starters go he’s pretty good.  He’s versatile, he’s pitched better this year than last, he does what he’s asked and he does it pretty well.  Spreading out his starts is a reasonable solution.

Sign him.  If the Jays have plans to acquire two other starters, Carlos may become redundant.  But even that’s no reason to let him go.  This season has demonstrated pretty clearly that the Jays need pitching depth.  Worst-case scenario?  He’s a long man out of the ‘pen.  Give him 15 or so starts sprinkled throughout the season, and it helps keep everyone fresh.  Unless there’s an undeniably better option out there, signing Carlos Villanueva would be wise.

Wes Kepstro

Blue Jays Hold Annual ‘State of the Franchise’

When Alex Anthopoulos speaks, Blue Jays nation listens.  The GM of the Jays is a great baseball mind and he definitely loves to talk about the game and the future of the team.  The team held their annual ‘State of the Franchise’ for season ticket holders and General Manager Anthopoulos, Manager John Farrell and President Paul Beeston each took time to discuss the current health of the franchise.

Here is a brief, high-level summary of the live webcast.

Farrell told the crowd he was optimistic about the Jays’ chances this season.

“I go into this year with ultimate optimism. I think we return a team that was the fifth highest scoring offence in the American League. I really feel like our main area to make up those ten games that we’ve got to get into playoff hunt is going to come from the quality innings pitched from our rotation,” he said.

Beeston was also positive about the future of the Jays.

“I, for one, feel very very strongly that not only are we going in the right direction, but there are so many ways that it can be manifested. In the way that the minor league teams are doing, the way the major league teams are doing, the way that Alex has directed this club and the way that John is leading this club, that I think our future is very very very bright.”

On Prince Fielder:

“If it has been a five year deal, we would have been there.”

Alex Anthopolous added that the roster will continue to turn over this year.

“The roster, in the two years that I have been on the job, has turned over a ton and I think it has a chance to continue to turn over. We’re going to continue to make trades, continue to add players.”

He also stated “the talent level we have, there’s tremendous upside and high ceiling to this club.”

On free agent pursuits:

“Some players don’t want to play on turf, some don’t want to DH, some don’t want to switch leagues”.

On Yu Darvish:

“We’re linked to everyone, but again, we’re not going past 5 years.  There’s a lot of guys out there in the league that we like, but we like them at a certain price.  That’s why we like the trade route, instead of the FA route.  We could have made trades to excite fans, but some of those deals wouldn’t have worked out well long-term.

Pretty standard question and answer type stuff and nothing really earth shattering here.  But isn’t is nice to be discussing baseball?

Jays Sign SP Tim Redding

The Toronto Blue Jays signed veteran starting pitcher Tim Redding today.  Redding, who will turn 34 in February, was once considered a top prospect coming through the Houston Astros farm system, Redding has pitched in 822.1 IPs over eight seasons and has a 37-57 record to go along with a 4.95 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, a career 0.2 WAR and 4.88 FIP.

Analysis: Well clearly he will be counted upon for next to nothing, this is a “fill out the spring training invite list” and nothing more.  He was half-way decent in 2003 in 176 IPs, 4.14 FIP and a career best 2.8 WAR. 

Verdict: Nothing to see here folks.

The team also announced the signing of left handed relief pitcher Bill Murphy.  Murphy is turning 31 and last pitched in the big leagues in 2009 for the Jays, appearing in eight games. 


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