AA and his pitching problem…fixed?

Cuban defectee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez? Why not?

If the Jays brass think he’s a legit pitcher and they have the resources to sign him, I say go all out. Gives you a youngish pitcher who can contribute immediately. It gives you a shot in the arm, and if he pans out and JJ and Dickey turn it around, that’s a really solid rotation.

Also, acquiring a guy like Gonalez, again if he’s legit, makes it easier to deal with the Johnson situation. If someone blows you away with an offer you can part with the righty knowing you’ve got other options. If not you hold onto him, and see what happens. Really the ball’s in his court.

And though I have no rationale for this, it just feels like a good move. The fan base has been kicked around this year with the underperformance, and a signing like Gonzalez might be that spark to energize the fans, and who knows, maybe that little something that turns the season around.

High hopes, I know. But I’m on vacation this week so anything is possible.

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AA and his pitching problem

Since he took over as GM, Alex Anthopolous’ Toronto Blue Jays have had among the worst pitching in the league.

Since 2010, his first season as the boss, the Jays rank seventh worse in ERA (4.36), second highest in FIP (4.49), fifth highest in xFIP (4.15) and ninth lowest WAR (40.6). All told, not great. And this year, after an overhaul that was supposed to turn pitching into a strength, that trend continues. Though things have improved slightly, the Jays have the 10th worst ERA, 10th worst WAR, fifth worst xFIP and third worst FIP.

The weird thing? His drafting successes.

Of course, the crown jewel of the farm system is Aaron Sanchez, who seems to have scouts drooling and could potentially be an ace-type starter in a couple years. Even after the trades in the offseason Toronto still has a few highly regarded pitching prospects. Sean Nolin, John Stilson and Marcus Stroman could all see time in the bigs this year. International signee Robert Osuna has been turning heads and seems to be raising his stock as a potential impact pitcher, despite recent struggles.

Justin Nicolino has been doing fairly well in high-A ball and Noah Syndergaard has been drawing rave reviews, having already made it to AA in the Mets organization.

Add in last year’s picks Tyler Gonzales, Chase Dejong and Matt Smoral, for whom it’s still too early to tell but who could quickly climb the hype ladder. On top of that are this year’s picks, some of whom have potential.

There are also a few others who look like they may be busts, but could still turn into something (Deck McGuire and Daniel Norris, for example).

I suppose you could just attribute it to the sheer number of pitchers picked. AA sure hasn’t shied away from picking a lot of pitchers.

But still, why has he seemingly had success drafting pitchers, and yet struggles to found the right fit in the big leagues?

Meanwhile, the offence has been the strength, and his drafting of position players hasn’t been terribly strong.

What gives?

RA Dickey and his gut punching Home Runs

There’s no question RA Dickey has been a disappointment this year. His 4.90 FIP, decrease in strike outs and increase in walks have led to a really poor season for the Blue Jay knuckleballer.

Really, the only bright spot is that he, along with Mark Buerhle, are the only two starters to not miss time. Though, with the way he’s played, that might not be a bright spot.

What concerns me the most is the number of home runs he’s given up. Brian Dozier’s three-run shot against him on Saturday was the 19th he’s given up this year. The last three years he’s given up 24, 18, and 13 home runs respectively.

He also seems to give up homers that just punch fans right in the gut. Saturday’s home run effectively ended the game. Imagine he manages to get out of the inning scoreless. Seven innings, three runs and the offence has a legit chance to come back only down 3-0. Looks good. And it also looks like Dickey is continuing to return to form. Instead, he leaves after seven, down 6-0, with a line that looks pretty bad.

Two starts ago he gave up three home runs. The first, a second inning JJ Hardy solo shot, with two out cut an early Jays lead in half. Get the first two out and you’re into the bottom of the order, you don’t expect to give up runs that inning. The second long ball was even worse: a three-run shot by Lou Gehrig Chris Davis that put the O’s ahead and increased their chances of wnning by 36 per cent. The third, a seventh-inning leadoff shot by eighth batter Ryan Flaherty, just to twist the knife.

Against Chicago in June, a nine-pitch battle with Adam Dunn ended with a homer. That sucked but wasn’t nearly as gut punching as his later battle with the guy who doesn’t like baseball. A three-run shot in the fourth increased the White Sox’s chances of winning by 33 per cent.

There were some other anecdotal examples, just check out the Baseball Reference HR log for the Dickster. It’s tough to really say anything about it, giving up home runs are rarely a good thing. But it seems like Dickey always throws that one pitch that leaves the fan base groaning. I’ve watched most of his starts and there’s been games where he looks good, and all of a sudden it’s all gone.

It could be life with a knuckleballer. I fully expect his strike out and walk numbers to improve. In fact his walk rate has been steadily improving. What I’m worried about are the home runs. In spacious Citi Field maybe a lot of those flat knucklers stayed in the park and went for an out. In many AL East parks, that’s not the case. Could the combination of the DH, smaller parks and an overall better power hitting league be causing the increased home runs?

Dickey’s going to have to figure out how to limit the home runs if he wants to get back to his 2010-2012 form.

JP….eh?

I think it’s very unfortunate that the fans have to hear that guy talk as much as he, because, I know, speaking for myself and for the entire media, that there’s not one person in our newsroom that respects that guy. Because he’s informing the fans the wrong way, and it’s not right. And I think, one) not a lot of us, including myself, respect a person that used his good looks and basic marketability to hide the fact he’s been subpar since coming to the big leagues and, you know, was able to stick around as a below average player in the Major Leagues because they had to trade the guy who was better than him. And those who do it without that– I know I’ve worked my entire career. I’ve worked hard. I’ve never done anything, I’ve never been good looking, and I go out there and bust my butt every day. It’s not an easy industry. And I think sometimes people forget that.

And it’s tough to hear people like that criticize– I know it’s not part of his job, but to sit there and inform the fans that this is wrong and this is not the way, because he quickly forgets how much the Jays have underachieved this year and how much that opens everyone on the team up for criticism. And how after three years in the big leagues he has been unable to show marked improvement and continues to get on base at a horrible rate. Because every one of us wants to make adjustments, and no one on this earth cares more about what goes on the air or in the paper than the media does. It’s our careers. It’s our well-being. This is what I’ve done since I was four years old (well writing and speaking, the media part came later). But it’s very unfortunate that he thinks he needs to spout off in a premeditated way that can only cause a distraction, create an awkward situation with his leftfielder, and create a lightning rod for a team that doesn’t need anymore negativity. That’s why the guys who cover the MLB and the guys who analyze players are 1%, 2% of the media. So, it’s tough, and I feel bad for fans that they have to listen to that stuff.

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Ebbs and Flow

Baseball Reference’s game results graph on each team’s page is a great way to see how your favourite team’s doing. A quick glance and you can see how the team has come to have the record they’ve had.

It’s also a great way to show that any team’s season is filled with hot streaks and cold streaks of varying degrees. A pretty simple idea, red is bad green is good. The more red you see the worse things were at that period.

And despite the fact the Jays have hit a bit of a dry spell after that 11-game winning streak, take a look at Toronto’s game results graph. You can very quickly see where the turnaround happened. And even though the last few games haven’t been great, still, not a ton of red. The Jays have been losing some close games. Five of their past seven losses are within that magical closer zone of three or few runs, and the other two are four-run losses. There were two one-run losses and a two-run loss.

The season has ebbs and flows. The Jays could have easily won a few of those games and all those people who have jumped off the bandwagon as quickly as they got back on during the winning streak may not have given up on the season.

Sure they’ve given back some ground. It was bound to happen. But the Blue Birds are still playing decent ball. They’re not getting blown out, and a lot of their key guys are either back playing, soon to be back, or rounding into form.