Posts Tagged 'Jays rumours February 2012'

AL East Rumour Roundup – Thursday, February 23

Some big stories breaking today from around MLB, here are a few highlites:

-Huge news out of Milwaukee as Ryan Braun’s 50 game suspension has been overturned in the appeal process.  Mike Axisa at MLB Trade Rumours writes:

Ryan Braun has won the appeal of his failed banned substance test and will not be suspended for the first 50 games of the season, reports Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel. The union officially announced the win, saying both parties agreed to the announcement despite what is usually a confidential process. MLB has issued a statement saying it “vehemently disagrees” with the decision.

“It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation,” said Braun in a statement passed along by MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “We were able to get through this because I am innocent … This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully the process worked.”

Haudricourt says the appeal went Braun’s way not because of the test result, but because of a technicality with the testing process. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman and The New York Post’s Joel Sherman report that part of Braun’s argument was that the sample was not shipped in a timely fashion and that the chain of custody was broken for two days, meaning the sample was left unprotected (Twitter links). Independent arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in favor of the technicality, giving Braun the win by a 2-1 margin.

The reigning NL MVP is the first player to have a suspension successfully overtuned through the appeals process.

-ESPN’s Jim Bowden graded the offseason for each American League and National League team (Insider req’d). The Marlins, Angels, and Yankees each received an A, the Blue Jays received a B.

-Ben Nicholson-Smith reports  Roy Oswalt has told MLB teams that he may sign midseason, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnickreports. The free agent right-hander explained that he intends to stay ready in case an appealing opportunity emerges before midseason.

The Red Sox, Rangers, Cardinals and Reds were among the many clubs to express interest in Oswalt this offseason. It appears that they didn’t have enough room in their rotations or budgets for the 34-year-old, who seeks a one-year deal and a job as a starter.

Roger Clemens, a former teammate of Oswalt’s, sat out the beginning of the season in 2006 and 2007 before signing midseason and Pedro Martinez had a similar approach to the 2009 campaign.

-Blue Jays infielder Omar Vizquel said he’ll likely become involved in coaching next year, according to MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (on Twitter). The 44-year-old doesn’t anticipate playing after 2012 and would eventually like to manage in the Major Leagues.

-Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discusses the Rays’ impressive rotation depth and explains why it’s a good ‘problem’ to have. Manager Joe Maddon told Rosenthal the club could use a six-man rotation at times this year and said top prospect Matt Moore won’t be relegated to the bullpen.

***AL EASTBOUND & DOWN UPDATE***

I am ‘gone fishin’ for the next ten days and updates might be sparse, I will try my best to keep up with all the happenings of the Toronto Blue Jays as spring training starts to kick into high gear!

Blue Jays Sign Rick VandenHurk

As per MLB trade rumours:

The Blue Jays announced that they signed Rick VandenHurk to a non-guaranteed split Major League contract. The Orioles released the right-hander earlier this month, making him a free agent. 

VandenHurk, 26, has experience in five big league seasons, but he appeared in just four games for the 2011 Orioles. He spent most of the season as a starter at Triple-A, where he posted a 4.43 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 154 1/3 innings. The 6’5″ native of the Netherlands has a 5.97 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 4.7 BB/9 and a 27.9% ground ball rate in 181 career innings with the Marlins and Orioles. 

The Blue Jays created 40-man roster space for VandenHurk by placing right-hander Alan Farina on the 60-day DL.

Analysis: Not much to see here, just another non-roster invitee to spring training as the Jays hope to catch lightning in a bottle.   The bullpen will be a team strength and VandenHurk is not expected to factor.

Blue Jays Interested In Jorge Soler?

MLB Trade Rumours states multiple teams are interested in young 19-year old Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler, and the Blue Jays are among the teams listed.

7:57pm: The Yankees and Phillies are in hardest on Soler now, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets.

5:21pm: Marlins president David Samson said on 790 the Ticket that the club doesn’t have interest in Soler, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets.

2:51pm: The Marlins are interested, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal hears Soler’s power is comparable to that of Miami outfielder Mike Stanton — high praise to say the least.

12:59pm: The Blue Jays watched Soler and others Wednesday at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic, writes MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.  The Orioles will be in the D.R. to watch him Sunday.  Sanchez lists the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Phillies, and Cubs as other interested parties.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus stated Soler would rank in the top 40 if eligible for the 2012 Top 101 prospect list.

There aren’t many great scouting reports given what little is known about him but most information I have read has been positive, though the kid is apparently asking for a hefty signing bonus. 

Here is a quick scouting report from Baseball America’s Ben Badler:

Listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds … Power is Soler’s best tool, as he shows great bat speed, the ability to hit balls out to all fields and the potential to hit 25 home runs per year. While scouts like his power and some like his swing, he bars his front arm and the stiffness in his stroke is a concern for some scouts. Scouts have offered differing opinions on his ability to hit breaking balls, but he has a history of laying off pitches outside the strike zone in international competition and has more on-base potential than Cespedes.

Soler is athletic for his size and there are reports of him running the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds—a time that grades out as well above-average speed—but several scouts have said he’s really an average runner at best … Depending on how much bigger he gets, there’s a chance he could end up at first base down the road, but he should be able to handle right field for the near future. Scouts are mixed on his outfield instincts but he does have an above-average arm.

As always there is no indication the level of interest the Blue Jays potentially have in the young OF prospect but I am sure they are putting in the necessary inquiries and due dilligence.

Ken Rosenthal: Jays Out Of Manny Ramirez Hunt

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

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

Jays Talk: AL East Recap

Some various Jays related and AL East rumblings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AL East Notes: Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!


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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