Saturday, 17 December 2011

No "Bull" About It

With the winter meetings over and 2 months until Pitchers and Catchers report, rosters have begun to take shape. Last season the bullpen was a sore spot for the Blue Jays as they “blew” 25 saves, tied for 3rd most in all of baseball. Since the end of the 2011 season, and even since the Colby Rasmus trade, there has been a lot of turnover.  Gone are Jon Rauch, Shawn Camp, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, Mark Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Wil Ledezma, Rommie Lewis, Trever Miller, PJ Walters, and the deplorable Brian Tallet.  Last years assortment of a bullpen went:

While the peripheral numbers look solid (3.88 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 3.93 xFIP, 3.42 SIERA) , the Jays did have some trouble putting games away.  Saves being the awful statistic it is, will be ignored.  Instead we shall look at Shutdowns (SD) and Meltdowns (MD), which is a more telling form of statistic then saves or holds.  In 474 appearances by Toroto’s bullpen, the Jays posted 125 Shutdown appearances (Games in which the reliever added more then a certain mark of WPA, or Win Probability Added) which ranked 15th in MLB.  On the converse of that, Toronto’s 57 meltdowns were 5th best in baseball ahead of only the Mariners, Red Sox, Phillies, and White Sox. 

Of the 57 Meltdowns, 21 came from the brutal combination of Shawn Camp and Jon Rauch. The rest of the team had only 36 with half (18) coming from the Jekyll and Hyde trio of Frank Francisco, Luis Perez and Mark Rzepczynski. Those 5 relievers accounted for over half of all relief appearances (250) and recorded 69 shut downs and 39 meltdowns.  That is less then 2 shut downs for every meltdown.  The rest of the team amassed 56 shutdowns to only 18 meltdowns.  Its telling that of those 5 pitchers only Luis Perez remains on the club.  The best relievers last year: Casey Jansen (18-4 SD-MD), Carlos Villanueva (6-2) and Jesse Litsch (6-3) all return all in the hunt for a spot in the bullpen.

The biggest move of the Jays offseason so far (ignoring the Yu Darvish rumors) was Alex Anthopolous’ acquisition of Chicago White Sox “closer” Sergio Santos.  Santos was once a Jays farm hand, although he played shortstop at the time, has already made a splash as a pitcher in the big leagues.  Blessed with a wicked slider and mid 90’s heat Santos has posted fantastic numbers in his first two seasons (11.58 K/9, 3.29 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 3.20 xFIP).  Santos has been solid by Shutdowns/Meltdowns posting 40 SD and 17 MD.

Currently the internal pullpen options are:

Sergio Santos, Casey Jansen, Villenueva and Litsch all have pretty much secured spots in the bullpen.

Chad Beck, Joel Carreno, Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek, Dustin McGowan, Danny Farquhar, Brett Cecil, Jim Hoey, Trystan Magnuson are all internal options.

External Options (Shutdowns/Meltdowns: David Aardsma (sat out last season, but for his career 96/35), Miguel Batista, (9/6) Francisco Cordero(34/6), Juan Cruz (10-7), Mike Gonzalez(11-6), Jose Mijares (11-8), Sergio Mitre (4-4) , Darren Oliver (17-13), Micah Owings(4-2), Dan Wheeler (5-5), Jamey Wright (18-11) and Joel Zumaya (So many shoulder issues, but hit high 90‘s in showcase for teams, career 69-34).

Personally, I like the options of Aardsma, Oliver, Wheeler, Wright, and Zumaya.

What do you think? Who do you like for next years pen?

Friday, 16 December 2011

What Yu See Is What Yu Get

Rogers has some of the deepest pockets in MLB, but doesn't spend, but yet here we are, middle of December and the Jays are thought to be high bidders for the services you Yu Darvish, the star Japanese pitcher. Of course, if the Blue Jays miss out, there will be public rage that Rogers was being cheap again and that they better go after Prince Fielder. If the Jays don't land Fielder, the irrational berating of RCI will be all over again.

What does Yu Darvish bring to the table.

Arguably the most talented pitcher to ever come out of Japan. His pure stuff blows away any past Japanese pitchers. Matsuzaka, Nomo, Ohka all don't compare. Darvish has been durable, throwing 1174 innings over the last 6 years. While that is alot of innings (196 per season), he is efficient and doesn't get his pitch counts too high in innings.

At 6'5 and 215 pounds, he not only gets good downward plane on his pitches, he has room for projection on his fastball. Currently his fastball sits from 93-95 and touches 97. He also throws a low 80's slider that is a plus pitch, good movement on it. He has a good cutter that has alot of life that hits the high 80's and a slow mid 70's curve that gets slurvy. He does throw a 90-91 MPH splitter, but has smallish hands and has trouble getting his fingers around the ball.

Aggressive in his approach against hitters he attacks hitters and isn't afraid to throw inside. A good athlete, he shows a great ability to repeat his delivery.

Eno Sarris of and other publications did a study here.

Darvish projects as a #3 starter at worst with ace potential. So there is alot of upside there. Could be a bargain of a contract when its all said and done.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Jim Bowden knows best... Right?

    Yesterday it was reported that the Blue Jays along with 3 other teams were “in” on Carlos Beltran. This alone is slightly befuddling with the recent acquisition of Ben Francisco, along with a healthy Rajai Davis and the returning Travis Snider/Eric Thames.

    Beltran is as everyone knows, very familiar with the disabled list and will be 35 by the end of the first month of the season. He has average 96 games played over the last three seasons and hasn’t played 150+ games 2 years in a row since 2004-05.  When healthy, he is a productive player, posting a wRC+ of 126 5 of the last 6 years. To put that in perspective Michael Young posted a 127 mark last season.  Since 2006 he has posted the 15th best wRC+ in the majors.  Despite the production, there is the injury risks which put a real damper on the production.

    Then there is the fact of the playing surface in the Rogers Center would be brutal on his knees and body in general unless you plan to play him at DH (granted he would fill in from time to time for rest).  Given Beltrans past issues with knees wouldn’t be a good fit for fielding duty. There is nothing that makes sense about Beltran to the Jays in this sense. 

    Beltran is looking for a 3 year deal and nothing about that makes sense for the current Jays. There wouldn’t be the years of control, the injury history and the positional depth. Unless Beltran drops to 2 years and less money there isn’t the value there.

    Now, Jim Bowden on XM Radio is saying that the Blue Jays are one of two teams that make the most sense for Carlos Beltran.  Given that Bowden also made asinine comments about the Blue Jays not having the farm system to add a #2 starter.  Its clear that Bowden is just delusional, and every time he speaks it becomes more and more evident why he was fired as a GM.

Pro's, Con's and Prince Fielder

 Following a question by @TDotSportsBlogr, I'll be looking at the Price Fielder quandry.

Why should they sign Prince Fielder? 

Well, Fielder adds an impact middle of the order bat who just produces. Since 2007, Fielder has posted a .399 wOBA, which ranks 7th in baseball behind only Pujols, Cabrera, Votto, Holliday, Braun and Rodriguez. As for arguing that he plays in a beneficial park (Miller Park is one of the best hitters stadiums in baseball), wOBA already adjusts for that.  Fielder would give Jose Bautista some protection in the lineup and make it even more dangerous top to bottom, as anyone who has hit 200 HR’s over the last 5 seasons would. Another fact to note is that he's consistant, you know what your getting (until he breaks down).

Why shouldn’t they sign Prince Fielder?

Fielder is listed at 5 feet 11 inches and (a generous) 268 pounds.  While a better athlete then at first glance, his body type tends to wear down and not gradually either.  Fielder is looking for a 6+ year contract worth around 24 million a season.  If he wears down in year 4 of the deal, how much will it hamstring the team considerably (Note Vernon Wells, Alex Rios contracts).  There is a great chance that he’ll be worth the entire length of the deal by year 4 (using WAR $ as a base), but even then, with the money on the books it will be an issue, and that isn’t good for a team that is looking to be a year in year out contender. 

For the second part of why not, lets look at position.  Fielder plays 1B (not very well I might add) which not only adds stress on the body, but costs the team due to the poor defensive play, to the tune of -27 Runs since 2007 (by UZR).  The Blue Jays play in the AL, which means they could just slot him in at DH, which is the smart move (assuming he can handle thinking about every AB all game)., but with any smart move there is the bad.  There are conflicting reports on whether Fielder is willing to DH for an AL team.

What should the Jays do?

 I say go after him. Give him 6 or 7 year money over the 5 years the Jays are willing to give. At that rate, he wont be a burden in the future should he wear down and proceed into a sharp decline. Maybe you overpay a little per season but I'd would rather overpay for a few seasons then pay him for years after his body breaks down and he's a shell of his former self.