A solid and cheap pitching core

Stromania

It’s official…I’m a Stromaniac.
Today we had yet another strong pitching performance from rookie pitcher Marcus Stroman, who continues to look like the real deal. In nine starts, he’s sporting a nifty 2.87 ERA, 3.24 FIP, striking out 8.23 per nine and walking 2.3 per nine.
And it’s not just the results. He looks good out there. His stuff is great and his command is good.
It’s got me thinking about what the Jays rotation could look like in the coming years. Both he and Drew Hutchison have acquitted themselves quite nicely in the rotation so far. Hutchison’s ERA is a little high at 4.16, but his FIP is sub-4, and he’s striking out a decent amount of batters. The groundball rate’s a bit of a concern but all and all they make a pretty strong duo.
Now, throw in Aaron Sanchez, who is expected to make his major league debut in the bullpen at some point this year, Daniel Norris, who has taken huge steps forward this year, the returning Robert Osuna, and this year’s draft pick Jeff Hoffman, who is apparently a guy who can make it to the bigs in a hurry, and you’ve got something.
Of course not all those guys are going to amount to much, but with Hutch and Stroman already contributing and looking like they belong, and Sanchez and Norris in the upper levels you have to figure Toronto has at least three legit pitchers. And three legit pitchers who are going to be cheap for the next few years.
Now that we can all just assume that Rogers are cheap bastards who don’t really care about winning, we have to go back to thinking very consciously about money. A rotation of, say, Stroman, Hutchison and Norris (with Sanchez as the shutdown closer perhaps?) could make an effective threesome that won’t cost the team much until 2019.
That could be huge, given the substantial longterm question marks for position players. Two-thirds of the outfield are free agents and the end of the year, there’s still no permanent solution at 2B (or 3B, depending on Lawrie) or at the catcher position.
The Jays have little money committed past next season, but will have many holes to fill. Being able to rely on three good and cheap pitchers could go a long way in helping them address those other concerns.

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It’s home run or nothing with these guys!

Drinkin Thinkin3

Ok, technically I’m not drinking now, but I was last night and I swear I thought about writing it last night!

 

The Jays’ slide continues. It’s getting ugly, especially among the comment sections at some of the local…as local as the Internet is, I suppose…blogs and websites and are turning into massive cesspools.

One of the big things you hear is that the offence is overrated. They rely too much on the home run, people say. To all those people I say: don’t be a fucking idiot.

How about, instead of reacting with your sad, hurt feelings, you actually look at the numbers? Hell, I just came across this thing on the Internet where I can search for any term I like and find information. This Google thing (soft ‘G’ I believe, pronounced j-O-jlay) brought up this:

League Offence – OBP

Would you look at that? Despite a month that even I will admit has been brutal to watch. And despite a team that’s face injuries to several key cogs over the past 30 days, with many missing time and many playing clearly not at 100 per cent. Despite slumping players and the extended use of AAA scrubs who are being exposed as not full time players. Despite all of this the team is seventh in all of baseball in on base percentage.

They’re also tied for eighth in walk percentage, fourth in wOBA, and fifth in wRC+.

Sure, they’re likely being buoyed by that unbelievable stretch during May and early June, but the fact remains: on the entirety of the season this team has been a top five offence.

And the fact they’ve walked at a good clip and get on base at a good rate shows that it’s not a “home run or nothing” kind of team. 

It’s just a team that’s struggling with slumps and injuries right now.

All we can do is hope guys come back at full strength and those in slumps find their way out of it as soon as possible.

Beane goes shark hunting

It's lame, I know. Get over it.

It’s lame, I know. Get over it.

Welp, we’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Looks like it’s the Shark that starts silly season.
Big news came down after a very interesting Jays-Athletics game last night that saw Oakland win 1-0 in 12 innings, as the first big trade of the season has happened.
The Cubs have sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s for Billy McKinny, Dan Straily and Addison Russell. It’s a sure sign that Billy Beane and the Athletics are going all in this year, but it’s also smart because they can recoup some of that prospect capital in the offseason as it appears they’ll have plenty of pitching.
While it’s disappointing for the Jays to lose out on a solid pitcher (and a decent rental option) that they had long been linked to, I’m certainly not bent out of shape about it.
The A’s gave up a lot, Russell’s pegged by most as a top prospect in baseball. He was ranked 14, 12 and 7 in the Baseball America, MLB, and Baseball Prospectus preseason rankings, respectively. I’ve heard some compare what Oakland gave up to a Norris, Sanchez, Pompey trio, which isn’t far off but I think the Cubs would still have gone with the Oakland offer, considering Russell’s more highly regarded than Sanchez.
So perhaps the Jays could have got just Samardzija for those three, but then they’d have nothing much to offer for an upgrade in the infield, which I’m starting to think is more of a need.
It’s also good news that they went to a non-AL East team, where the Yankees and Orioles could certainly use pitching help. And I think it’s good news that Toronto didn’t blow all its prospect load on one pitcher.
Toronto’s starting pitching continues to be ok. And with Sanchez apparently in the mix for some kind of big league job, and a lottery ticket in Brandon Morrow, who apparently thinks he’ll pitch in 2014, maybe the Jays just hold steady. A minor upgrade at the back end of the rotation is a possibility, but I’m ok with what they have.
But a solid infielder could go a long way towards solidifying this team. I’m about the only person on the Chase Headley bandwagon but he seems to me like an underrated piece who won’t cost a lot. People point to his best season and say it’s an outlier, he’s not that good. Sure, but he’s consistently been a .330ish wOBA hitter, with solid defence. Not great, but better than what they have.  By Baseball Reference, he’s been a three-WAR player since 2010. I’ll take that as a floor with the seven-WAR as a ceiling.
There’s also some pitching on the Padres, who are reportedly willing to listen on anyone, that could help the Jays. Acquiring, say, Headley and Ian Kennedy could make Toronto a really strong contender.

There are also options in Arizona, who have some infield options and pitching possibilities that the Jays could use.

I guess the point is, yeah, Shark’s a great pitcher, but there are other options out there that probably work better for Toronto.

We’ll see. Things should just get crazier.

UPDATE: I totally forgot. Samardzija moving to a division-leading team in a super pitcher friendly ballpark is totally going to help my fantasy team. And to think, I was trying to move him up until a week or so ago.

Replay’s strange but Gibby’s the Best

Drinkin Thinkin3

Don't lie, you miss the old moo moo too.

Don’t lie, you miss the old moo moo too.

What many thought was baseball entering the 21st century where officials can make sure they got calls right, has instead turned into, well, basically a clusterfuck.

This week has seen the Jays’ fearless, and awesome, manager John Gibbons, involved in a couple of replay-related incidents. Against Milwaukee he was ejected for arguing a replay call. There’s not much to say about that except: holy shit I didn’t realize how much I missed a good ‘ole fashioned manager-umpire confrontation.

But last night. Well last night was interesting. I haven’t seen any reaction from it yet, but it seems like we’ve found another area where the replay rules completely fall apart.

Here’s a link to the video:

Athletics-Blue Jays Replay Craziness

 

So basically what happened was Kawasaki should have been out on the tag, which should have eliminated the force at home. But because he was called out, the force was still on. Catcher Stephen Vogt did what anyone would have done: caught the ball with his foot on the plate and looked to turn the doubleplay.

However, Old Gibbers challenged the call on Kawasaki, who, upon replay, was clearly shown to have been tagged. That meant there was no force at home, and since Encarnacion wasn’t tagged, he was safe at the plate and score what turned out to be Toronto’s lone run.

First off, credit Gibbons with a genius call. I’m not sure how many managers would have had the stones to make that challenge, or even how many would have thought of it. He took advantage of a part of the rule book that is murky. Good for him.

Second, that ain’t right, and it’s yet another problem with replay that I’m shocked no one thought about. The Athletics shouldn’t be penalized for an umpiring mistake. Vogt was only doing what he was supposed given the ump’s call. Had he made the right call on the tag, Oakland would have turned a 3-2 double play to end the inning. The throw beat EE by a mile.

This is something that’s going to come up in the future. These types of plays happen from time to time, and it’s not fair to penalize a defensive team for reacting to the umpire’s call.

It’s not something you come across in the other sports. In football, you don’t react to an official’s call mid-play. You continue to the whistle, and the replay can sort things out if need be. If the guy’s knee was down, or he wasn’t in bounds when he caught the ball then you just eliminate the rest of the play. If his knee wasn’t down, then the rest of the play stands. In hockey, the puck went in or it didn’t, you just drop the puck either way. In basketball…I’ll be honest, I have no idea how they use replay.

It should have been a 3-2 double play. There’s a 95 per cent chance that’s what would have happened if the ump made the right call. From now in any close play like that are players going to have to tag the runner just in case?

So lets just go back to the way things were, at least until we figure out a way to use replay that actually improves the game.