Posts Tagged 'Jays rumours 2012'

Blue Jays Rumour Roundup – March 22, 2012

A few odds and ends, including a great one-on-one interview with Anthony Gose:

*Gregor Chisholm sat down with Anthony Gose and they discussed a multitude of topics, including:

The Blue Jays are letting you bunt again this year — what is that going to do for your overall offensive approach?

“It just adds something else to my game. Instead of an 0-fer night I might be able to scrounge up a hit or instead of going into a longer slump I can just break it with a bunt. Keep myself on base , I have to get on base because that’s my job batting at the top of the lineup, get on base, use my speed, score runs any way possible to help my team.”

*Baseball America ranked the 2012 Organizational Talent Rankings, with the Blue Jays ranking 5th.

Baseball America’s annual organization talent rankings evaluate the overall value of each system’s prospect-eligible players (no more than 130 at-bats, 50 innings or 30 relief appearances in the major leagues, without regard to service time). Baseball America’s editors determined the rankings, and Jim Callis wrote the capsules for each team.  The top five in order was the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays. 

Here is what they said about the Jays:

5. TORONTO BLUE JAYS

2011 RANK: 4. 2010 RANK: 19.

IMPACT TALENT: The Blue Jays are loaded with up-the-middle talent in C Travis d’Arnaud and OFs Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick. They also have plenty of high-upside, less-developed arms in LHPs Daniel Norris and Justin Nicolino and RHPs Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard.

DEPTH: In two-plus years on the job, GM Alex Anthopoulos has built the game’s deepest farm system. Under his watch, Toronto has been aggressive on trade market (d’Arnaud and Gose, as well as several big leaguers headlined by Brett Lawrie), in the draft ($22.6 million on bonuses in 2010-11) and internationally (four seven-figure deals, including $10 million for SS Adeiny Hechavarria).

2012 ROOKIES: Though the Jays have no obvious big league openings, d’Arnaud and RHPs Deck McGuire and Drew Hutcison could create opportunities for themselves by the end of the year.

*Baseball America also ranked the Toronto Blue Jays 4th in the ability to put talent into the major leagues.  Not surprisingly the baseball prospect factory known as the Tampa Bay Rays were number one.  Not only are there big payroll issues to deal with in the AL East but also efficient organizations.

Per the website:

“Below, we rank the organizations based on the talent that has passed through their systems since the end of the 2008 season. That includes both prospects who graduated to the majors or were used in trades, as well as those lost via waivers or the Rule 5 draft. A team gets credit only for players who spent time in its system (so no Austin Jackson for the Tigers) and anyone who was traded by one organization and reached the majors with another (such as Brett Lawrie) are counted with both.”

Here is what they said about the Jays:

4. BLUE JAYS. Lawrie looks like a superstar in the making, and Ricky Romero has justified being the sixth overall pick in 2005. Toronto also has hopes for J.P. Arencibia, Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek, though it erred by letting Ryan Roberts and Sergio Santos leave as free agents.

Blue Jays Offseason Review

Ben Nicholson-Smith does a great job outlining all the moves the Jays made this past offseason, click here for the full read.

Here is a breakdown:

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Tim Redding, Omar Vizquel, Kyle Phillips, Nelson Figueroa, Robert Coello, Brian Bocock, Aaron Laffey.

Trades and Claims

Extensions

Notable Losses

Blue Jays Week in Review – March 12-18, 2012

A new feature here at AL Eastbound & Down will be a weekly review as we go back and take a look at some key stories and news from around Blue Jays nation

In case you missed it:

*March 18th, Jays top prospect Travis D’Arnaud was among a handful of spring training cuts.

*March 17th, Jays receive a slight scare as 3B Brett Lawrie has a groin injury, expected to miss a few spring games.

*March 17th, Gregor Chisholm had a discussion with Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, they discussed various prospects, including our top arm Daniel Norris.

*March 15th, Joel Sherman of the New York post produced an article touting the rise of the Blue Jays.

*March 15th, AL Eastbound & Down had a “prospect showdown” as highly rated outfielders Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick were compared head to head.

*March 12th, there was talk early in the week that the Blue Jays were interested in acquiring White Sox righty Gavin Floyd.  We had a look at what Floyd would bring to the Jays though talks have seemingly cooled since the initial report.

*The Blue Jays continued to look impressive in their spring training games as well, click here for a full recap of the games.

Blue Jays Rumour Roundup – Spring Training 2012 Update

Well I have returned from a ten day scouting trip in southern Florida (aka fun and sun in the Bahamas) and am getting geared up for the Toronto Blue Jays 2012 season.  The spring training schedule has started and the Blue Jays have played three games thus far, I will be doing a daily Jays Spring Training roundup to highlite some of the big performances or interesting stories that are taking shape in terms of position battles (LF). 

I will also be updating the Jays prospects as some of them go to their first big league training camp with the hopes of either making the team or impressing the Jays brass (or both).

Let’s recap some of the big stories that have broken over the past week involving the Jays and their AL East rivals:

We obviously have to start with the big news that an additional playoff team has been added to each league and this is of course great news for Jays fans going forward.  I have already touched on this issue but it is worth revisiting.

For those wondering I decided to look and see how many times the Jays would have been a playoff team in the new five team format per league since they last made the playoffs in 1993.  They were actually close in a few years but would have only finished in the top five in 1998 (88-74).

To be fair and also put a bit of a positive spin on the above data as this on the surface doesn’t inspire confidence going forward.  The new rules weren’t obviously in place and if they had been I think it is safe to assume the Jays would have run their business slightly different and more aggressively trying to field a winning team to finish within that top five in the American League.

-The announcement was made on Friday March 2nd, 2012 at 1:15pm MLB has officially announced the expanded format. For 2012 only the Division Series will open with two home games for lower ranked teams, and continue with three home games for top ranked teams. This will cut down on travel time and make the Wild Card play-in game possible.

The Blue Jays may be the best-positioned of any team to benefit from the expanded playoff format, writes ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

The two East divisions boast seven of the top 16 fantasy pitchers in baseball, according to Mike Axisa’s rankings for Roto Authority.  The Phillies alone have three pitchers in the top seven, including Roy Halladay in the top spot.

-Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos joined Greg Brady & Jim Lang on Sportsnet 590 the FAN and said Kyle Drabek is opening up some eyes and starting to make strides. The 24-year-old right-hander walked 55 in 78 2/3 innings last year.

-Anthopoulos said the trade market is quiet now, though he expects out-of-options players to become available toward the end of the month.

-Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and assistant GM Benny Looper are well aware that trades they’ve made to acquire Roy Halladay, Hunter Pence, and others will eventually be painful, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Amaro and Looper both discuss how difficult it was to part ways with players like Travis d’Arnaud and Anthony Gose. Amaro didn’t deny the November report that he attempted to re-acquire D’Arnaud.

-Not to get way ahead of ourselves but I had to take notice of Washington agreeing to terms on a new $100MM, six-year contract extension with Ryan Zimmerman, with a club option for a seventh year worth $24MM.  In conjunction with his current deal, the new agreement can keep the 27-year-old in the nation’s capital through 2020 if the option is exercised.  No-trade protection was said to be the final hurdle in talks and the new deal will provide Zimmerman with a full no-trade clause.

Given the early development of Jays 3B Brett Lawrie this might be great motivation for the youngster.  No worries Jays fans the team will be getting at least four to five seasons on extremely team friendly terms.

-The Yankees intend to lower payroll below $189MM by 2014, but GM Brian Cashman explained that the club will continue spending aggressively, according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link). “We’re still the Yankees,” he said. “We’re still going to outspend everybody else. That’s not going to change.”

-The Pirates announced that they expect A.J. Burnett’s eye injury to sideline him until two or three months from now. The right-hander underwent surgery today after injuring himself in a bunting drill.

-Tim Dierkes has a quick glance at the 2013/14 free agent class, it is worth a read.

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.

 

Monday AL East Rumours

A slow news days for the great white north baseball scene so let’s take a look at what some of our main competitors in the AL East are up to, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumours.com:

-Baltimore Orioles dealt SP Jeremy Guthrie who was entering his contract year to the Colorado Rockies for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, who can both be controlled for 2013.   Apparently multiple teams were interested in acquiring the veteran Guthrie to solidify the back end of their rotations.  They didn’t exactly get young prospects but VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette stated “We didn’t have any offers of young prospects for Jeremy,”.

-In Manny Ramirez news Duquette admitted he’s had exploratory talks with Manny Ramirez‘s agent and the Orioles have seen him work out, but added, “We are still considering the composition of this club, and some of the challenges of integrating a player like Manny into our ballclub and market.”

-The New York Yankees are oddly interested in free agent Raul Ibanez, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The ACES client is willing to take less money to play for the Yankees.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported earlier tonight that the Yankees could add a left-handed hitter such as Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui within a week. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said last week that he would like to see GM Brian Cashman add a bat before Opening Day.

Ibanez posted a .245/.289/.419 line with 20 home runs in 575 plate appearances as the Phillies’ everyday left fielder last year. The 39-year-old could provide the Yankees with an option at designated hitter or in the corner outfield positions.

Jays Keeping Tabs On Matt Garza’s Arbitration Hearing?

During the height of the offseason trade rumour season the Toronto Blue Jays were linked to various starting pitching targets and with the Chicago Cubs‘ arbitration hearing with Matt Garza scheduled to take place tomorrow it is possible the Jays interest in the right hander could pick up.  Garza is asking for $12.5MM, while the Cubs countered with $7.95 MM, a fairly sizeable difference.

Before the two sides went to arbitration the Cubs signed him for one-year and $9.5MM and the trade talk surrounding Garza could once again pick up steam with the Jays still being a possible destination given the assets available in their rich farm system.  The possible package of prospects to acquire Matt Garza might make Alex Anthopoulos a bit reluctant to pull the trigger, but should he be?

I read an intriguing article at Grantland.com by Rany Jazayerli who states we are entering something of a “prospect bubble” where teams shouldn’t hesitate to deal the unproven commodities for a star player.  His premise is that these prospects are certainly valuable but in the current environment are essentially being overvalued by front offices around baseball.

He even used the example of the Jays dealing SP prospect Nestor Molina for RP stud Sergio Santos, saying it was a great move for the Jays considering they won’t really miss Molina what so ever but have filled a gaping hole with a pitcher who still possesses upside.

It’s worth a read and worth the thought for the Jays to be aggressive on the Garza trade front.  There are a few untouchables in the system but with the depth and quality the Jays have the pieces to get this deal done and still have a very respectable array of prospects.

Last season in 198 IPs, Garza posted a 3.32 era, 2.95 fip, 8.9 k/9, 3.1 k/bb and a 5.0 WAR.

Would it be wise for the Jays to be aggressive and acquire Matt Garza at this juncture?

Analyzing the Blue Jays 2012 ZIPS Projections

Of all of the stat projection systems I think it is safe to assume that the ZIPS projections are the most accurate and realistic.  Everybody loves Bill James but he is known to be very optimistic with his projections and offers almost a “perfect” world scenario for each player where ZIPS is the happy medium alternative.

The Toronto Blue Jays ZIPS projections were released on January 21st, 2012 and I thought we could take a look what our key players are projected to do this season. 

Here is a quick primer on how the ZIPS projection system works from Fangraphs:

The work of Dan Szymborski over at Baseball Think Factory, the ZiPS projections uses weighted averages of four years of data (three if a player is very old or very young), regresses pitchers based on DIPS theory and BABIP rates, and adjusts for aging by looking at similar players and their aging trends. It’s an effective projection system, and is displayed at FanGraphs for off-season and in-season projections.

Let’s start with the Jays outfield:

ZIPS AB AVG OBP SLG HR BB K SB OPS+
J. Bautista 461 273 408 566 36 101 107 7 158
C. Rasmus 513 250 322 454 23 56 150 8 105
B. Francisco 297 253 326 418 10 29 60 7 98
E. Thames 603 250 313 428 20 45 159 7 96
T. Snider 477 247 304 407 15 37 133 12 89
R. Davis 394 259 299 365 4 20 69 35 77

 –          ZIPS does not think Jose Bautista will repeat his absolutely monster 2011 season and will see a board wide drop in all of his counting stats and rates.  An OPS+ of 158 is nothing to sneeze at and I think this is a reachable projection for Joey Bats.    

-          I think most fans would take the Colby Rasmus numbers projected if he can stay healthy and play league average defense.  A .250 batting average and 23 HRs would suffice and his slash line against righties will be higher than that, as he can struggle versus the southpaws.

-          ZIPS think Eric Thames will beat out Travis Snider for the starting gig in left field and provide slightly better numbers across the board.  There is upside to both of these players and if one of them has a breakout season the Jays line-up will be all the better for it. 

-          Ben Francisco and Rajai Davis will hit right around there career averages and provide professional at-bats.

Overall the outfield will provide some quality at-bats and supply a good dose of power to the Jays line-up.  Defensively it is going to be pretty weak if they start the season as expected with Thames-Rasmus-Bautista as none of these players are considered quality defenders.  Again, there is potential to surprise to the upside if one of Rasmus, Thames or Snider has a breakout season – which would put Toronto’s outfield on par with any team in baseball given the presence of the mighty Jose Bautista.

Let’s check out the infield:

ZIPS AB AVG OBP SLG HR BB K SB OPS+
 B. Lawrie 600 275 333 498 27 44 135 24 119
 E. Encarnacion 433 261 331 457 19 42 79 4 109
 A. Lind 556 264 315 466 26 40 120 2 106
 Y. Escobar 522 272 351 393 12 58 68 4 99
 K. Johnson 505 242 323 434 20 59 136 12 101
JP Arencibia 493 229 281 442 24 33 141 0 90

 –          My guess is many Jays fans feel this projection sells the super talented Lawrie a bit short and while I have no doubt he has the potential to surpass those numbers we must also be realistic and expect some struggles as pitchers begin to learn his weaknesses.  If he can stay healthy I think he can be slightly stronger than what ZIPS projects, but not by much, a .275 average and 27 HRs for a kid turning 22 is asking a ton.

-          Prince Fielder Encarnacion/Lind will split time at 1B/DH and should provide decent power production as a group.

-          Yunel Escobar should once again be a steady presence at the top of the order and as always brings a solid up-the-middle defensive game.

-          Kelly Johnson is interesting for me heading in 2012.  I feel there is some upside surprise potential with this player and he could be an on-base threat if he regains that superb patience he has shown in the past.

-          J.P. Arencibia will be the starting catcher for at least one more season until kid-wonder Travis D’Arnaud proves he can handle the rigours of a big league season.  “Aaron Cibia” provides some definite pop at the bottom of the order and there could be worse options – the pitching staff appreciates his efforts behind the plate, more than the scouts anyway.

Again, a pretty solid group and if Lind and Johnson can both rebound there is some upside to the infield.  There will be some growing pains with Brett Lawrie and this group will strikeout a ton but if they can continue to hit the ball hard and hit homeruns, they will be productive.

Let’s take a look at what ZIPS thinks the kids could do if given a full-time opportunity in the big leagues:

ZIPS AB AVG OBP SLG HR BB K SB OPS+
T. D’Arnaud 447 253 299 421 15 25 60 7 98
D. Cooper 574 251 311 376 11 50 97 0 83
A. Gose 612 230 300 374 17 51 203 53 79
A. Hechavarria 582 241 269 345 8 23 106 15 63

 It’s always a good idea to understand that for every Brett Lawrie, Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols who come into the league swinging, countless other need time to get adjusted.  There is a possibility we see all four of the players in the big leagues at some point this season but in reality only D’Arnaud could make any meaningful contributions based on ZIPS projections.

As we can see the Anthony Gose contact issues are fully encapsulated by the ZIPS projections – over 203 strikeouts in 612 Abs!  We can also see that although his glove is fully mature, ZIPS feels Hechavarria’s bat has a ways to go.

I love the offseason for all of the movement, prospect rankings and projections that get you excited for the upcoming season.  I think it is safe to say the Blue Jays should have a pretty solid line-up once again after finishing 5th in baseball in runs/game last year.  It’s the other half of the inning that has most fans and pundits wondering and we will dive into the ZIPS pitching projections tomorrow.

What is your ideal line-up for the 2012 Blue Jays?  Post it below in the comments!

Rumours: Jays Looking at Manny Ramirez?

MLB.com beat reporter Gregor Chisholm took some reader emails and answered questions about the Jays possibly signing Manny Ramirez, the improved bullpen and who will be the closer in 2012.

Manny Ramirez was a major talking point last offseason when he became a free agent following a three-year tenure with the Dodgers, but contrary to rumours, the Blue Jays were never a serious contender for his services. Toronto opted instead to sign Edwin Encarnacion, because the club put an emphasis on having a designated hitter who also had the ability to play the field.

The 39-year-old Ramirez eventually signed a one-year contract with the Rays, but he abruptly stepped away from the game after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance during Spring Training. He still has to serve a 50-game suspension for that infraction if he makes a return to the Major Leagues.

If Toronto wasn’t interested last season, it seems even less likely the club would become involved in any talks this year. Encarnacion seems to be the preferred pick for the organization over a player who would be missed for almost a third of the year and has declining skills at the plate.

Analysis: Obviously having to serve a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs complicates any team possibly signing the former feared slugger.  He wasn’t exactly productive in his last season in the bigs (2011) as he played only 5 games and had 17 PAs for the Tampa Bay Rays. 

However, the season prior (2010) he played 90 games and slashed 298/409/460, .382 wOBA, 138 wRC+ – good for a 1.2 WAR.  There are teams at least interested in talking to Manny’s agent and one would assume it would be a non-guaranteed contract on a tryout basis.

Verdict: I don’t see the Jays signing Manny.


AL Eastbound On Twitter!

  • Wow what a great attempt to throw out BJ Upton by Yasiel Puig. #cannon 1 day ago
  • Ok just say it Buck. "Brock Holt just looks like a baseball player". 1 day ago
  • Does anyone know if these Blue Jays WestJet commercials use WestJet employees instead of actors? Might take them from awful to only bad. 1 day ago
  • I really picked the wrong team to blog about. The #BlueJays are very well represented in this area. I wonder if Colorado have any fans... 1 day ago
  • If this was PS4 baseball I'd have the #BlueJays add Adrian Beltre, Andrew Miller, David Price and Colin McHugh. Right? 1 day ago

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