Taking the Long View…

As of the conclusion of last night’s game against the Royals, the Jays have now played 81 times in 2012, exactly half of the season’s schedule. For now the club still clings to a winning record, and might seem poised for a potential second-half surge were it not for the fact that the rotation is in absolute shambles. The trade market has yet to develop, but even if it were to materialize this instant, the Jays’ front office may not see the value in giving up vital futures in an attempt to put a band-aid over the hamburger that is their pitching staff. There appears to be little to do but to wait and hope that their makeshift starters bridge the gap between now and when Brandon Morrow’s health, or the trade market, can provide them with some help, or that it at least becomes clear by July 31st that they must be sellers, at which point they can begin acquiring assets and looking ahead in earnest to next season.

In my view– which should come as no surprise if you’re a regular reader– there’s not a whole lot of value to be mined by worrying too intensely about the upcoming weeks, which will nominally “make or break” the season, but not exactly in the grand sense that the phrase should be reserved for. One way or the other, we’ll soon know for sure what kind of season 2012 will be remembered as, but what’s important isn’t so much where the Jays are at and where they’re going in this particular year, but where they stand in the context of their entire development arc.

The samples of data from this season have grown enough, I believe, that we can start to adjust our beliefs about the long-term future of certain players on this club, and in this organization, in accordance with what we’ve seen this year. So let’s take a position-by-position look at where the club is at, and which areas of need should be focused on as we begin looking past whatever we think is going to happen with the rest of this year.

Third Base

We’re going to start with the easy positions to assess, and at the moment there’s none easier– not even right field– to slam through quickly than third base, where Brett Lawrie is unquestionably a core piece of the Jays’ future.

Lawrie hasn’t exactly picked up where he left off in 2011, but he’s looked much better at the plate since a move to the top of the lineup, and his defence at third has been very good– though perhaps not on the Brooks Robinson-esque level that DRS and the WAR formula at Baseball Reference seem to believe. Still, there was once talk of Lawrie having to eventually be moved off of the position, all of which now seems rather quaint.

He’s a long way from needing to be shifted elsewhere– unless, perhaps, it’s to the outfield to accomodate Yunel Escobar’s eventual move to third, with Jose Bautista moving to first or DH– and, frankly, it makes you wonder just what the hell anyone saw wrong with him in the first place. Troy Glaus and, to a much, much greater extent, Scott Rolen, were big-bodied guys who we saw excel defensively at third base here in Toronto, and Lawrie is easily athletic enough to be mentioned in the same breath.

Um… yeah, and he’s also still just 22. And his wOBA numbers have risen this season from .305 in April, to .322 in May, to .369 in June– a month in which he struck out just 8.1% of the time, with his walk rate of 7.3% creeping closer to the heady 9.4% he posted in last year’s sizzling debut. Consider him a stalwart.

 

Right Field

This may have been a different conversation at the start of the season, back when Jose Bautista was struggling to square up on the few mistake pitches that crossed his path, but with him back atop the home run leaderboards, the right field position at Rogers Centre is his, in all honesty, probably for as long as he wants it.

Sure, there are hypothetical configurations that could force him to first base, or to DH, or maybe even back to third. But despite what we saw last year, prior to Brett Lawrie’s call-up– and like Vernon Wells before him– I suspect it’s Bautista’s call that he is the club’s right fielder. It’s up to the front office to construct their outfield around him, and for now, I think that’s OK.

I mean, it’s not like the options to move him off the position are particularly feasible anyway.

Sure, Travis Snider and Anthony Gose are capable of playing right field, but for either to displace Bautista they’d both have to force their way onto the club, and the Jays would somehow feel it worthwhile to play either Gose or Colby Rasmus in a corner outfield position, where their defensive value is diminished, and where Gose’s bat won’t play– and very possibly not Colby’s either, despite the positive strides he’s made in the last several weeks. Even if a left fielder came from outside the organization, it’s near impossible to see the Jays forcing Bautista elsewhere so one of their internal options could take over in right.

Sure, we can foresee a day when Bautista will play elsewhere on the diamond, but it probably isn’t going to be any time soon.

 

Centre Field

Yes, centre field. I know, everybody is waiting with bated breath for the ridiculous tools of Anthony Gose, but his hitting can– by most accounts, and by the paltry-for-Vegas numbers he’s putting up this year– still be charitably called a work in progress. And until the league figures out how to work around the mid-season changes that Colby Rasmus made to his swing, the incumbent is the far, far better opttion.

Granted, Rasmus won’t stay quite as hot as he has been– much like Lawrie, Rasmus has raised his wOBA from .297 in April, to .323 in May, to .372 for the month of June– but I see no reason why the Jays would feel that they need to force the issue with Gose, or why he shouldn’t be back in Triple-A to start the year next season. Sure, PCL stats count for very little, but the 200 point gulf between the OPS put up by Travis Snider and the one put up by Gose has to mean something. And if the Jays are going to hand an Opening Day spot in the outfield to an untested player, I just don’t see how the difference between Gose and Snider’s bats doesn’t erase whatever defensive value the club might gain by playing either Gose or Rasmus in a corner spot.

This one could definitely be up for reassessment at the end of the season, especially if something drastic changes with the way that Gose and Rasmus are hitting, but the notion of handing a job to a hitter who is behind Las Vegas teammates David Cooper, Ruben Gotay, Dan Perales, Travis d’Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yan Gomes and Adam Lind in wRC+ and wOBA is a little bit ridiculously far fetched. Rasmus, as far as I’m concerned, is in the clear.

 

Designated Hitter

Obviously this is a position that I can only tentatively view as secure for the Jays going forward, as Edwin Encarnacion is steaming towards free agency in the midst of a career year, but the Jays can, and should, lock him up. That’s, of course, not entirely up to them alone, but Encarnacion has had a superb first half and deserves a fair reward for what he’s done this year, and what he’s capable of producing as he heads into his age 30 season next year, and beyond.

It’s hardly a given that a multi-year deal with Edwin will work out, especially considering how poorly he performed in the first half of 2011, and maybe I’m just being overly optimistic, but I’d prefer the Jays, not some other team, reap the rewards of the patience they’ve shown Encarnacion, and the mechanical changes they’ve coached him through, which appear to be behind his finally putting it all together– if that is, in fact, what we’re seeing.

Of course, DH is typically one of the easiest positions on the diamond to fill, so perhaps the Jays simply make Encarnacion a qualifying offer large enough to net them a draft pick if he walks, then try to fill the position with a free agent or someone acquired in trade (note: not JP Arencibia or Travis d’Arnaud), which may even be a better use of resources, depending on how expensive Edwin makes himself in the second half.

Hopefully, though, he stays, as it would mean the Jays will find themselves in 2013 with a pretty terrific top of the lineup, including the rest of their current one-through-four, Lawrie, Rasmus and Bautista.

 

Catcher

It’s certainly a position in flux for the Jays, but it’s not difficult to see who the long-term catcher here will be, or how Travis d’Arnaud can be identified as just about as close to a core piece as any of the players listed above. Yes, the frequency with which d’Arnaud finds himself injured is something of a concern, but none of his ailments appears to be chronic, and he projects to be a much better all-around catcher than what is currently on the roster– though JP Arencibia is a capable-ish stopgap as we wait for one of baseball’s best minor leaguers to arrive.

OK, so maybe I’m a touch guilty of counting my chickens before they hatch on this one, but despite his mistake-power and his charm, it’s a little preposterous to view Arencibia any other way, given d’Arnaud’s presence. The Jays’ current number one offers little defensively and currently sits last among qualified catchers (all 13 of them) in wOBA and wRC+. If you expand the leaderboard to include all 29 catchers with over 150 plate appearances or more, he finds himself in 22nd in weighted runs created, 21st in weighted on-base.

A passable-enough catcher with enough power to hit 20 or more home runs isn’t without value… which is exactly why it’s not likely that the Jays will hang on to Arencibia as a backup– he’s worth more in trade than he is playing 60 games a season. And before you start making the ridiculous suggestion of putting him at first base, look again at those absurdly bad numbers.

No, while it may not happen this summer, and it may not even happen this winter, it’s a very safe bet that the fan favourite will find himself traded in the near future. But that doesn’t mean the Jays will have to worry about finding a solution to their catching situation anytime soon– or that it isn’t going to be a position of strength for the club.

 

Shortstop

There have been growing whispers of late that Yunel Escobar ought to be listed among the Blue Jays to be traded this summer, just as soon as the club’s currently-spinning wheels finally fall off for good. Part of that has to do with the fact that Adeiny Hechavarria has spent the season in Triple-A, which is generally taken to mean that he could be pressed into big league duty at any moment.

Sure, I suppose he could, but there’s a real rush among some fans to want to see Hechavarria among the Jays’ starting nine– sometimes, even, at the expense of Escobar– by virtue of little more than the fact that he’s managed to get himself promoted to Vegas. Like teammate Anthony Gose, though, the numbers he’s put up there suggest a different reality. The .812 OPS the young Cuban has put up so far is above the .778 league average this season across the hitter-friendly PCL, but well below the .850 team average for the 51s.

Word is that he’s making progress, but what makes anybody believe that Hechavarria’s bat wouldn’t create a giant black hole in the Jays’ lineup next year is beyond me. And, otherworldly or not, I just don’t see how his defence closes the cavernous gulf between his bat and Escobar’s.

No, Escobar hasn’t had a strong first half, and he’s frustrating as hell to watch when he struggles at the plate, and he doesn’t seem like he’s all too concerned about his body getting too big and too slow for the position going forward, but the 4.3 wins he put up last season, per FanGraphs, looks a whole lot, to me, like what might be a career season for the light-hitting Hechavarria, if absolutely everything goes well.

Why move away from the more sure thing– who is signed to a fantastic contract, I might add– to take a gamble on the kid matching his production? For one, I suppose, because Hechavarria is at least a somewhat viable replacement, and Escobar is a nice trade chip, precisely for all of the reasons the Jays have for liking him. But if it were up to me, I’d be more inclined to let Hechavarria be had– for the right price, of course– or at the very least to give him another year in Vegas. It’s not like anyone in the system is going to push him for his place there, but more importantly, it’s not like Escobars– a career .360 OBP shortstop who currently sits third in baseball in UZR at the position and hasn’t been below average by either that metric or DRS since his rookie season– grow on trees.

 

Second Base

If you’ve ever wondered why the more statistically-inclined among us make a big deal about sample sizes, have a look at the case of Kelly Johnson. In the midst of two offensively fantastic months, where he was worth 110 and 125 wRC+ and carrying the club offensively, Johnson seemed like a player the Jays needed to be serious about keeping, as he heads into free agency this winter. Around here we had even debated whether he was worth making a $12-million qualifying offer to, an admitted overpay, but one that seemed potentially reasonable, as it would either keep the Jays’ middle infield together for one more year, or net the club a draft pick.

How quickly things can change, as Johnson suffered an absolutely atrocious June– 62 wRC+ and .265 wOBA– which has helped knocked his season totals down to .315 and 96. Those numbers are still decent– good enough for 10th among the 23 qualified second basemen in the league– but hardly the must-keep production we saw earlier in the season, before a hamstring issue sidetracked him significantly. Add in the gut-punch fact that ex-Jay Aaron Hill sits second on that leaderboard, with 130 wRC+, and you no longer feel so sure that Johnson needs to stay.

Much like at shortstop, though, there isn’t an immediate replacement on the horizon, unless you count Hechavarria, whose bat looks even worse at second base than short, and who would provide even less defensive value if shifted there– as many expect he would be, out of deference to the incumbent veteran Escobar. The list of free agent shortstops and second basemen slated to hit the market in the upcoming off-season is at least as, if not more underwhelming, with Marco Scutaro and potentially Stephen Drew headlining the list, along with Johnson.

So, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the value he’s provided at the position, or to want to see the Jays move him at the trade deadline. Whatever the case, the notion that they might move both Johnson and Escobar seems pretty far fetched after surveying the club’s options to replace them. Because of his contract situation, though, Johnson seems to me the likelier of the two not to be here on Opening Day 2013. Perhaps they feel more confident that I that they can carry Hechavarria’s bat, but they certainly can’t both he and Anthony Gose. Speaking of which…

 

Left Field

It may be the position that’s the most in-flux for the Jays, but I think that left field also has as simple a path going forward as just about any, and it begins– though maybe doesn’t end– with Travis Snider.

Sure, many a buffoon is quick to scoff at the Jays’, and the subset of their fans with a modicum of intelligence, infatuation with the club’s one-time top prospect. He’s “failed,” you see. No matter that he’s been often hurt, dicked around, and hasn’t yet taken a Major League at-bat when over the age of 23– those are just “excuses.” And no matter that he’s been as valuable in his MLB career as Eric Thames was heading into this season, or that he continues to crush the ball at every level (when healthy), either. Move on, they say.

Laughable ridiculousness.

Snider, who turned 24 in February, is hardly yet a failed prospect, and he’s made some mechanical changes this season that the club feels will help him finally realize some of the wealth of potential he still absolutely possesses. He has also turned himself into a fine defender– even seeing some time in centre while up with the Jays last season.

We certainly can’t know yet that Snider is the answer in left, but now is the time for the club to find out. Despite his strong play this season, Rajai Davis is much more a fourth outfielder than someone to be relied on as a starter come 2013, so for the bulk of the second half of this season, Snider needs to be played ahead of him. If he finally succeeds, the club can confidently cross “left fielder” off of their off-season shopping list, knowing that if his old struggles return next summer, even if Davis is moved or his $3-million option not picked up, there will still be Thames, Gose and others waiting in Triple-A to get a crack at the position.

If it doesn’t click for Snider this time around, then sure, move on– and there will be several options available in free agency. But not yet. Not with that talent, right there waiting perhaps to finally blossom.

 

First Base

I could just as easily have left the DH position blank and written Edwin Encarnacion’s name here, but that would have meant for a misplaced conversation about how neither Adam Lind nor David Cooper is the answer at first base for the Jays, despite the successes that both of them have had at the Triple-A level. And let’s be clear, this is the place where we need to have that conversation, because no matter how well Adam Lind performs during the second half of 2012, there is absolutely no way the Jays can head into next season carrying him as either their starting first baseman or their DH.

A change needs to be made, and we’ve reached the point where it doesn’t even matter if Lind moves on and finds success elsewhere. Sure, were a thing like that to happen it might hurt a little– it does with Aaron Hill, as he continues to have a great year in Arizona– but the Jays and their fans will be able to feel secure in the knowledge that it just wasn’t going to happen here, in fact, it couldn’t have happened here, which will mitigate just about any pain for his loss.

Yes, Lind still shows flashes of his old self from time to time, and has had a bit of a power streak since coming back from Las Vegas, but we’re still only talking about six hits and two walks in 26 plate appearances, so… if it makes some other team think that he’s come back from the brink, great, but no more. No more.

It won’t be a terribly difficult position to fill from outside the organization– which they’ll have to, should and probably will do. The mid-season demotion appears to demonstrate, at least, that the club seems finally ready to turn the page on Lind– as they would have been better off doing this winter, rather than begrudgingly, and cheaply, giving him one last chance at providing the hefty return on investment they felt he was capable of when they signed him to a “team friendly” deal following his 2009 breakout.

 

Starting Rotation

Here’s the big one, as the Jays rotation finds itself in tatters midway through the 2012, mostly due to injury, but partly through the club’s own doing. You can argue that it would have required some reckless diminishment of their future viability if they’d wanted to beat out offers made by other clubs in the deals for the top pitchers available last winter– and I have– or that it wasn’t worth the marginal on-field improvement to block younger pitchers who needed big league innings with middling veterans. But it’s not like the it wasn’t apparent all along that the club needed contingencies for the likes of Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil, and especially Dustin McGowan, each of whom was pencilled into the Opening Day rotation, though two of the three failed to make the trip north.

The Jays had contingencies, of course, they were just not without their own question marks. Drew Hutchison was drawn into big league action far sooner than expected, Kyle Drabek was thrown to the wolves out of the gate after a strong spring, Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire were believed to be capable of carrying some innings for the club– a notion which turned out to be false– and Carlos Villanueva, prior to his dead arm troubles, Luis Perez and Joel Carreno were thought to be capable of filling in in a pinch as well. Jesse Chavez and Aaron Laffey existed, too.

Certainly not sexy names, but arms at least who could be cobbled together to get the club through whatever minor injury or arm-shittiness storm that may have come at the club in the early season, before the rotation was bolstered by a trade or through talent like Hutchison, Drabek, McGuire or Jenkins forcing their way into the picture.

Of course, it didn’t quite happen like that, and the Jays have been hit over the head by catastrophe. McGowan inevitably got hurt, Cecil pitched his way out of the job, and Carreno didn’t look good in an Opening Weekend spot start. Though Hutchison, Drabek and Alvarez impressed out of the gate, helping to carry a club whose offence– it seems preposterous to think of now– couldn’t its act together, with Cecil, McGowan and Carreno turning up hurt or unworthy, and McGuire and Jenkins pitching their way out of consideration in New Hampshire, the margins for error suddenly became very thin.

The club maintained, even as Drabek’s wheels began to fall and the peripherals began to drag Alvarez back to earth, but the injury to Brandon Morrow on June 11th, at the height of what was shaping up as an ace-making career year, followed so quickly by a Tommy John diagnosis for Drabek and an elbow tear for Hutchison, changed everything.

So that’s where they are now, but fortunately, the picture of where they’re going isn’t nearly so dire.

Morrow’s injury is the least severe of anyone’s, meaning he’s on track to be healthy at the start of 2013, capable of throwing up to 200 innings, most likely, and will hopefully be able to pick up where he left off this year, blossoming into one of the best pitchers in the American League.

Ricky Romero has been awful of late, but it’s far too early to start making funeral arrangements for his career, and the possibility of a more forgiving second half (i.e. less worries about contending) means that Henderson Alvarez may have more opportunities to keep trying to throw the out-pitch that has so far eluded him. He’ll be in the mix next season, as will Hutchison, provided his rehab is successful. Also, despite the fact that the biggest wave of pitching talent the Jays have is now at Lansing– including now the just-drafted Matt Smoral– there are still guys like John Stilson and Sean Nolin, currently at New Hampshire and Dunedin respectively, who may put themselves in line for a mid-2013 call-up. That is, if they’re still around.

Of course, any of those pitchers could find themselves in another organization before Opening Day rolls around– or even by the end of this month– as it becomes more and more clear that Anthopoulos has to make a deal for at least one additional mid-rotation-or-better starter. With the talent he has floating around the fringes of the team’s core he could conceivably make two. It certainly wouldn’t hurt a 2013 club that could be a serious contender with Morrow, Romero and a very strong lineup core– provided Edwin Encarnacion sticks around.

But it’s not like he’s backed into a corner to make a trade, either. While it’s likely unrealistic to start dreaming about about laying out hundreds of millions on Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke, there are some intriguing options who could be available in free agency. Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda, Colby Lewis, Brandon McCarthy, Jake Peavy and Anibal Sanchez are all pitchers who are slated for the time being to hit the market, and one of them may even come to the Jays at a price and term they’re willing to offer.

Options are plentiful, and it’s crazy to believe anything but that Anthopoulos will take them. That it’s even a question among fans who want so badly to extrapolate organizational philosophies to drown the GM with based on this last, quiet off-season is simply laughable. I understand that we haven’t seen it yet, but even if 2012 has been a farther step back than hoped before they take the next one forward, with the prospect capital available to him, and a number of good lower-priced starters hitting the market, it seems to me like it’s all going pretty much according to plan, and that the next step is to actually go and get something done.

 

Bullpen

It’s kinda funny that the Jays bullpen was thought to be a strength for the club heading into the 2012, and that it has perhaps been their weakest link. But that’s kind of emblematic of the volatile nature of relievers in general and bullpens on the whole– as is that fact that, despite all the ink spilled over the possibility of the Jays getting themselves a “Prooven Clozer” over the winter, they appear to have had exactly what they needed in-house in the form of Casey Janssen.

You wouldn’t know it if you were to ask the average fan, I suspect, but the Jays have four relievers with FIPs under four– Janssen, Darren Oliver, Luis Perez and Jason Frasor. They also have Jesse Chavez and Joel Carreno, who have each pitched well in very limited relief innings, though they’ve mostly been in the minors and forced to stay stretched out to pitch multiple innings due to the club’s rotation struggles. Carlos Villanueva can be a valuable bullpen piece, Sergio Santos is far from the write-off that the putridly negative subset of fans seem to, oddly, want him to be, and the club has reliever Sam Dyson in New Hampshire looking like he has some potential, and possibly the just-drafted Marcus Stroman as arms to be in the mix next year.

Granted, Frasor and Villanueva will be free agents this winter– as will Francisco Cordero, if you somehow care (and no, Darren Oliver won’t as the Jays have a $3-million club option on him for next year)– but that’s actually a pretty good core group, going forward. And it’s not like it’s difficult to cheaply add bullpen arms through free agency.

Better still, the Jays will be able to add to the group internally, provided they’re able to add a couple of starting pitchers from outside the organization, which will give them the flexibility to send guys to to ‘pen that they just haven’t had this year– Carreno and Chavez being prime examples of guys who could have aided the bullpen at the Major League level, had the club not needed to keep them stretched out when their starting options started thinning out with the injury to McGowan, the demotion of Cecil, and the subsequent injuries to Morrow, Drabek and Hutchison.

There will probably be a lot of talk next winter about fixing the bullpen– and if the club chooses to deal Oliver and Janssen before the trade deadline, I suppose it will be warranted– but it’s really not going to be as difficult a job as I suspect it will be made out to be. There are lots of pieces there.

 

The Results

So, after all that, I suppose it makes sense, and is only fair, to take a step back and think of the overall. What would a team constructed around the suggestions and projections that I’ve made look like? I guess something like this…

3B Brett Lawrie
CF Colby Rasmus
RF Jose Bautista
1B Edwin Encarnacion
DH LHB ACQUIRED VIA TRADE/FREE AGENCY
SS Yunel Escobar
LF Travis Snider
C Travis d’Arnaud
2B Adeiny Hechavarria

SP1 Brandon Morrow
SP2 ACQUIRED VIA TRADE
SP3 Ricky Romero
SP4 ACQUIRED VIA FREE AGENCY
SP5 Drew Hutchison

CP Sergio Santos
RP Casey Janssen
RP Darren Oliver
RP Jason Frasor (RE-SIGNED)
RP Luis Perez
RP Joel Carreno
RP Marcus Stroman

Can you live with something like that? I certainly can.

 

Image via Urban Toronto.

Comments (124)

  1. Agree with most except maybe the rotation, I’d be fine if we acquired one pitcher and had Alvarez in the rotation, but depth is always fun

    • Alvarez needs time in the minors. Out pitch.

      • agree

        we need a greinke and a garza up in there.

        give alvarez some time to develop so that his impact can be that much more and align with later 2013 or 2014 corps.

        this is the way you get consistency out of the lineup…aligning waves of talent with a few key pieces when called for. that sustainable!

        why rush alvarez into being just a ‘serviceable’ arm or taking the place of a need which is more accurately addressed by someone with a bit more experience?

        i think stoeten has finally come around and nailed it here.

        • I also agree with almost everything. The one change I would make is putting Johnson at 2B instead of Hechavarria. I say trade Adeiny before teams realize he can’t hit in the majors (at any position)

      • Agreed. That’s AA’s challenge. Rogers are good owners but after Ted passed on, there’s no real baseball fan in the corporate offices , at least that I know about, and after JP getting lots of cash and wasting it essentially because he lacked the foundation to build on with the acquistions, those non baseball fans in the corporate offices are a little shy about opening the wallets at the ML level. But, they are spending to build the minors into a powerhouse and that’s what AA sold them on to get his job in the firstplace…sustainable success and value contracts and teaching the young players to play the ‘BJ way’ while restoring pride in the uniform and the history of the team.

        So far, so good, BUT this can all go to hell in a handbasket IF Rogers and AA do not add some experience to the team, such as mid level starters. In order to save money at the ML level and to earmark those savings for the minors, they’re rushing the young pitchers already in place through the system in my opinion. For example, Alvarez should not be pitching in Toronto right now. He needs an out pitch and you develop that in the minors. So, spend money on some experienced pitchers for TOs rotation OR go after King Felix, Hamels etc and let some of the high ceiling prospects go ONLY IF you can sign these guys long term at the time. IF not, add mid level starters by trading lower level prospects and keeping adding and developing and morphing your ML roster accordingly.

        However, I remember TOs build up to WS victories. They did much like TB has done recently but in the end, and the minors are getting pretty stacked now, Gillick traded young guys for established, veteran arms and position players in strategic positions. When do we do the same in TO? I think it will be soon because AA has been excellent at adding to key positions for the longterm. He’s been so good, he’s accelatered the rebuild. I mean, Rasmus is an animal right now. He’s really taken off, he cares, he’s dangerous, he’s feeding off Lawrie. It will be an interesting July 31st and winter for us Bluejay fans.

    • Great breakdown of the team and what they need! I buy into AA and what they’re doing overall. I think that now you can screw things up if you don’t put some experience in the ML rotation. You can trade mid level prospects and roster players we have too that can be moved for pitching help but we also have FA over the winter. It will give time to the young arms in A ball, the really high ceiling guys, to develop properly both as baseball players and young men. If not, you go all out and go after Felix or Hamels and pay a higher prospect price. But, if the rotation would have stayed healthy, I think Hutch was the real deal. He’s a great pitcher, not a thrower, he understands how to pitch. It was nice to see that in a kid while it lasted and I hope he comes back healthy.

  2. All depends on the two starters acquired via trade and free agency. If it’s Garza by trade and Greinke as the free agent than this lineup is scary good. However, if AA continues the conservative approach and those spots are filled by Porcello and McCarthy not so good.

    • McCarthy has been very good (when healthy) the past two years after some major adjustments. I woudl love to see him as the Jays #4 next year.

  3. Side note: Best writing seen on these pages in a long time.
    Bravo.

    On topic: Fairly sober look to the lineup. With all the thrills of the past few drafts, things are still really all about the trades that AA’s wrought. So i’d project that there’s still a few twists and turns on that front to come – outside of the ones mentioned above.

    • I am not a writer and not saying I could do any better, but that was a difficult piece to read in one shot. It seemed like every paragraph was just a run on sentence with a – to try and break it up.

  4. I haven’t read the article yet, but am so excited to take off my next half hour of work that I have a pre-boner. Thank you in advance.

  5. I’d still prefer to keep KJ and perhaps trade Hech provided KJ doesn’t get a huge offer from another team in free agency. Don’t want to go with an unproven, rookie middle infielder that will likely be a black hole in (what should be) a contending year. Keeping Yunel, of course, should be a given, and I don’t really understand the talk that they might deal him with that contract.

    I don’t know what AA is waiting for with Snider, but it’s beyond time to see what he’s got. I think he’ll be good enough to start for the team in LF if given the chance, but first you’ve got to actually give him the chance. He could conceivably something similar to what Alex Gordon is giving the Royals.

    • I bet Snider is called up after the all star break. I believe that keeps him safely away from Super two territory so he is nice and cheap next year.

    • Fullmer fan you also raved how much better Johnson was than Hill I think you have a man crush on Mr Johnson . Johnson needs to go that money can be spent on something better.

    • Agreed. I suspect he will be brought back after the all star break.

    • Yunel is mysterious.

      Guy can hit when he wants to hit; so I would certainly like to see him at the dish in a close playoff game with runners on ~ It’s just the motivation factor it seems to me. Right now, he’s just not putting his line drive stroke on the ball, squaring it up and getting on top, taking pitches & driving them to right – the way I’ve enjoyed seeing him hit before.

  6. Gose is still a 21 year old plus defender who is putting up a 114 WRC+. I’ll take that going forward.

    • wRC+ in the minors isn’t corrected for park factors so that’s an inflated number. I didn’t know that until recently, but it needs to be noted.

      I can’t wait until Gose hits the majors because he’ll be awesome to watch, but considering Rasmus’s improvements lately, Gose needs to start next year in Vegas. If the Jays are contending next year, though, Gose would be a devastating call up for the second half as a defensive replacement and pinch runner.

      • How much faster could Gose be than Rajai? The likelihood of trades and defensive capabilities aside, I wonder how their raw speed would compare

        • Don’t be surprised when we find out that because of Gose’s shitty hitting tool that he’s nothing more than 4th OFer on this team.

  7. I think any two of Kuroda/McCarthy/Lewis/Sanchez off free agency would do the trick quite nicely. That way we don’t have to give up any prospects.

    Alvarez needs time to develop an out-pitch.

  8. You know what scares me?

    McGowan getting healthy. Not because it isn’t good for the team but that it can give the team a false sense of hope going into next season. Say what happened last year to him and you forego getting a free agent pitcher, then what happens when he gets injured again.

    This year all over again. Less money for Rogers to spend.

    AA: Hey Keith our rotation is in shambles and we need some cash

    KP: eh what about that McGowan kid, didn’t we re-sign him last year.

    AA: But he’s a liability to get hurt again

    KP: oh he’s liable to get hurt again if he doesnt step up and pitch this year. Alex we have to spend our money on the leafs. Get your attendance up and pay for it yourself. Lookup the org charts.

    Same shit all over again

    • I’m actually fine with penciling in McGowan as our 5th starter next season, as McGowan’s been good when he’s been healthy.

      IF we have a replacement waiting and ready in the minors.

      For example: start McGowan in the fifth spot, and then Alvarez can be sitting ready in New Las Vegas waiting for the inevitable injury. The two-headed monster of McGowan/Alvarez could be a decent 5th starter.

    • jays won’t fall for the mcgowan trap again. there’s no need to worry needlessly here. after experiencing this rotation implosion, the team (if smart) is going to count the mcgowans and drabek’s as bottom rung on the depth chart.

      • I think you are right about that. I doubt AA will make the same mistake twice.

        There should be at least one innings eater on the rotation next year & hopefully
        Shaum Marcum returns.

    • “spend our money on the leafs”

      can we just kill this fucking narrative right now? seriously?
      This is not 2003 where you could, as a hockey club, spend 120 million on payroll and buy a championship team.
      Toronto Blue Jays 2012 Payroll: $83,739,200
      NHL Salary Cap for 2012-13: $70.2 million

      The Jays current payroll is already larger than the Leafs can possibly be next season. The likelihood of massive growth in the NHL cap is slim to none. Add in the fact that the Leafs have been a steady producer of revenue to their ownership since… forever, no matter how the on-ice product looks, and the fact that the Jays are a growing brand, and it makes no sense from a business standpoint to invest massive amounts in the hockey club (of which Rogers is only part owner anyways) at the alleged expense of the baseball club. No sense. Nonsense in fact.

      Rogers will (continue to) treat the Jays as a separate business unit from the Leafs. Their seasons run in different portions of the year, and thus are not competing for even broadcast assets (aside from a brief period in the spring, an issue which specialty channels such as LeafsTV and Sportsnet1 take care of). The issue is whether the front office believes, and can convince the accountants, that the time is right to add large payroll dollars to legitimately improve the on-field (and therefore on camera) product, and that those investments will pay dividends in extending competitiveness into late September and (hopefully) October, a scenario foreign to the franchise for some time.

  9. Excellent write up Stoeten.

    One thing with which I disagree. I don’t think Gose’s OPS is going to be as PCL-inflated as someone like Lind or Snider.

    Obviously not that much can be derived from PCL numbers, but the two key stats for Gose are walks and strikeouts. If he can be a consistent .350 OBP guy he’s an all star or above average regular at worst. The PCL isn’t going to turn his bunts and slap hits into homeruns.

    Everything else, I pretty much agree. In my mind, the Jays are an ace starter (i.e. Greinke/Hernandez) or two solid #2/3 starters (i.e. Garza/Jackson) and some secondary pieces (such as resigning EE, KJ and finding a DH like Thome) away from being right there with the Yankees & Red Sox and better than the Rays.

    The time to spend is upon us. I could somewhat understand letting a guy like Edwin Jackson sit as a free agent for so long to have one more development year, specifically for the young starters. But there is CLEARLY a good enough core where I will be super-pissed if the CLEAR black holes in the line up and rotation aren’t upgraded.

    Time to sack up Rogers.

    • That’s quite true. What you failed to take into account though is that Vegas makes the break on balls rather shallow. Something to do with the lighter air, I’m not very sure of the cause.

      • dry thin air provides less resistance for a ball to “catch” as it passes through, thus mitigating the effective motion (vertical or horizontal) created by the spin put on breaking pitches.

  10. I’d rather have Escobar at 2B. If Hechavarria can cover more ground at SS than Jose Molina at a buffet, it’s at least warranting a look. I have no complaints about your assessments on the players, or what the 2013 line-up should look like though. Pretty much nailed it IMO.

  11. God damn right I can live with something like that!!! Hopefully all the dummies calling for a total blow up will finally come around to a reasonable and logical way of looking at this team (I’m not holding my breath). It’s not that bad people. Great article Stoeten!

  12. Amazing post, Stoeten. Bang on assessment of the team going forward.

    With this offense, I see no reason why the Jays couldn’t contend in 2013 with the addition of a #2 or #3 type starter. A stud plus a #4 guy would be great, but even just one mid rotation guy like Edwin Jackson could make a big difference. Morrow, Romero, EJax, Alvarez, Hutch could be quite good.

  13. Where’s Omar?

  14. we need a giant dominican who would sell tickets and bash home runs from the left side of the plate…..

  15. Edwin Jackson is the guy I might take a chance on…

    I figure he may be able to be had for 5/55 ish….
    And he has proven he can pitch in the AL East…
    Plus he seems to have a good health record…

    I know hes not a sexy name… But if hes your 4th starter… You got a good rotation…

  16. Lind batting 5th tonight according to Wilner

    • Ahhhh, fuck…….

      Although no one else looks great there. You just think they let him have some success before setting him up to fail….again…

  17. Thanks Stoeten.
    2013 starts the climb.There will be unforeseen elements to overcome but at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
    Keys to 2012,were if Bautista,Lawrie had regressions and what really were Rasmus,Lind,and EE.
    Expecting 7 basically rookies,3 were SP,to all excel without any bumps was unrealistic.
    Snider’s out of options,He’ll either start in 2013 or be traded.If he shits the bed,maybe Thames until Gose is maybe ready in the second half of 2013.

    • Maybe I missed it in your post but ALL of this INCLUDING the FA’s is easily affordable and doable.
      No excuses.
      And the Yanks and Bosox get older and they seem to be adhering to budgets.

      • The Jays have the 4th oldest team in baseball right now. Boston has been getting younger, and have the 9th oldest team. Granted it’s skewed by having a couple 40-year olds in Vizquel and Oliver, but it’s what it is (it can/will be higher when/if Moyer makes the team).

        • Vizquel will be retired,Snider will be up. How far apart are the 4th and 9th teams?

        • Cordero 37, Vizquel 45 and Oliver 41 skew that dramatically. Of those three only Oliver has a chance at coming back next year. Replace them with even an average major leaguer at 29 and the Jays sit around 28 which puts them as one of 5 youngest teams in mlb.

          • I’m sure if you took the 3 oldest players off any team, you’d see a significant drop in their average age also.

          • @indestructable – without a doubt, but the Jays will be more skewed given that our three oldes are even older than those on other teams. Looking at Stoeten’s projected line-up, only Bautista & EE are above the average age, and I think the Jays core pieces are mostly younger than the Yanks or Sox.

  18. Lots of risks in going with Hech at 2B or SS. He is basically our depth at those two positions right now. So if we go with Yunel and Hech we are utterly screwed if either one succumbs to an injury. Do we really want to see Chris Woodward in the majors again?

    That being said, I think if the other 3 holes you have identified (#2 SP, #4 SP, DH) are filled adequately, having a 2B that can’t hit (but can play defense) isn’t going to be the difference between contending and not contending. Although I am now having flashbacks to the days when we started the season with Royce Clayton at SS.

    • I wouldn’t mind if Scutaro could be had for cheap as next year’s 2B, while keeping Hech in the minors or trading him.

      • Yeah, I would be ok with Scutaro depending on the contract. I would prefer Scutaro over Hech next season, and then as a bench player after that (especially if the Jays are contenders by then). But this of course depends on the price.

    • Hey guys take a look at Ryan Goings numbers in New Hamp and where/when he was drafted I’d say he is worth keeping an eye on for the future

  19. I’d just like to say, excellent article.

    Would be happy to see exactly the above come April 2013.

  20. Holy crap there’s a lot of trees in Toronto.

  21. The starting pitching is still going to be the toughest to fix. All these second tier arms also have questions. McCarthy can’t be trusted away fron oakland. Pevey in a huge injury risk. Sanchez is up and down and has never pitched in the AL. Jackson is probably the most inconsistent pitcher in MLB. Demster and lewis are the best case scenario but I don’t know that they will be good enough especially if hamels and greinke sign with yanks/sox

  22. I have watched most of the Jays games on TV this year, and I had the impression that we didn’t get much productivity out of our home runs, so I went to MLB.COM (stats) and prepared the table below.

    It shows that the Yankees get the most bang for the buck, but the Jays are second, followed by Texas. I know that that the runs produced (RP) depends on who is hitting in front of the home run hitters, or how you arrange your batting order. In that case Detroit and Cleveland are interesting cases.

    RP HR RP/HR

    NYY 194 124 1.56
    TOR 183 117 1.56
    TEX 165 100 1.65
    BAL 151 99 1.53
    BOS 151 100 1.51
    CHI 143 93 1.54
    LAA 133 85 1.56
    OAK 121 77 1.57
    CLE 117 69 1.70
    TB 115 76 1.51
    SEA 110 69 1.59
    MIN 101 67 1.51
    DET 99 70 1.41
    KC 91 63 1.44

    • I could be wrong, but it looks like you’ve sorted that chart wrong. The Jays trail Cleveland, Seattle, Oakland, Texas in Runs per Homer, which I think you were talking about. You’ve got the teams listed by total runs produced…

    • Basically the only reason for this is the lack of a team-OBP. They have improved in this regard to .320 (15th in the league), and it was only a couple years ago that they were a sub-.300 OBP team, but if you want to get ahead of the pack, that OBP needs to climb to the league average of .330. This is most faulted to the team’s batting average, which is then faulted by dismal performances by Escobar, Arencibia, Lind, and even Bautista on a AVG/OBP standpoint compared to last season.

  23. Here are some pitchers I think the Jays could target:
    Relatively cheap rental types with big upside:
    1) Liriano
    2) Blanton

    Relatively cheap long-term guys who flamed out on other teams:
    1) Mike Minor
    2) Randall Delgado

  24. It will be interesting to watch how Anthopolous handles the talented minor league group that he’s assembled. To this point, the prospects that he has traded were either carry overs from the Ricciardi regime, organizational fodder or Brett Wallace (who probably fits well in the fodder category). This next step in the process will be completely new for him.

  25. finally talking some gawd damn sense man!!!

    let’s do this.

  26. One other factor for next year.
    Farrell’s on his last year of a 3 year deal.
    Could that add a little more to equation?

  27. Well done. Can’t help but agree with most of what you recommend. Although:

    1. Having Hech as 2B with Escobar at SS would be silly. I imagine if those are the starting middle infield, It will be with Hech at short. I’m actually excited to see what they have in Hech.

    2. Gose will take another year in AAA, no question. And I don’t see any reason to include him in the corner OF spots unless it’s an emergency and Moises Sierra is hurt, his bat simply doesn’t play there (Rasmus probably doesn’t either, esp. when both would have good trade value in CF). His value can be a plus CF even without a bat. Think Speedy Pete on the Angels. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start the next two seasons at AAA.

    3. I imagine Snider, if not traded, will start next season in LF as an out-of-options player. Maybe he comes up at the end of the year, but he’s cooled off considerably since his injury. In fact, Thames is hitting better than Snider since the latter’s return.

    4. Count me in on the sign David Ortiz bandwagon. I think Boston will save his money to sign Pedroia/Ellsbury/Hamels. J-Bats/Ortiz/EE would be one helluva middle of the order.

    5. Um, on that note, it would be very Anthopoulisian to let EE walk for draft picks and then sign Ortiz. That’s good asset management.

    6. RE: Pitching, I think we will see less AAAA depth signings this off-season, and begin to see a wave of internal draftees getting spot start/bullpen auditions. Dyson and Stilson at AA have long been rumoured as bullpen options. Jenkins will be on the 40. McGuire might have to wait until Sept 13 to preserve an option. Alvarez, Cecil, and Drabek might join the pen.

    7. After those pitchers come up, you can start to expect high-upside SP prospects like the ones in Lansing, Bluefield, and from this draft haul. As Neil Young said: “Good times are coming, but they’re sure coming slow.”

    • Letting EE walk means you have to fill DH and 1B for next year. Even with Ortiz they’d still have a hole at 1B. Ortiz won’t come cheap and he’s not getting any younger. EE offers more long term value at a more affordable price, plus the ability to play 1B.

      • Enough with the fucking draft picks! You can’t just let all of your players walk in the hopes that you’ll get some 19 year old kid whose ceiling is the player you just let go.

  28. I think we won’t see Hech at 2B next season, much more likely Kelly is resigned. If EE and KJ are resigned, all we need to go after is a DH/1B. Doesn’t have to be someone great with a huge contract like Fielder, just someone decent. I’m pretty sure Alvarez will be in the lineup as well. Other then that sign a No.3 starter like Kuroda or Jackson who I think you can get for 2mil/$18mil, and with the BP you mentioned a pretty solid team. I think I’m pretty comfortable with Davis taking over LF if Snider does fail, and actually at this point Davis is playing quite well, perhaps well enough to hold Snider off for a while. And I doubt D’arnaud can be any worse than JP.

  29. Jays signed another Int FA in Jose Castillo. He was ranked #6.

    https://twitter.com/Enrique_Rojas1/status/220535121474891777

  30. Kelly Johnson to DET for one of their young pitchers? Top 4 spots in the Tigers rotation are set long-term, and they are desperate for some middle infield offense. Target near-MLB-ready arms like Crosby/Smyly/Oliver or maybe package one of KJ/YEscobar with some mid level prospects and take a run at Scherzer?

  31. What – no Richmond?? Fuck you Stoeten.

  32. Also, it’s not the worst idea to hang onto Arencibia for another season or two. He can’t have all that much trade value just yet. Allowing him to backup d’Arnaud gives an affordable player some time to really build up his value. This also allows TdA to ease into the big leagues, and if his injury concerns require an extra day off, JPA will be as good a backup as there is in the bigs.

    I agree though that JPA should never DH/1B, while the jury is still out on whether you keep d’Arnaud’s bat in the lineup when he isn’t catching. If Gomes has a role on the team, it would allow TDA to DH and still have a catcher on the bench.

    • Fail to see how JP sitting on the bench is going to raise his value? Who would trade for him when his stat line doesn’t include a gaudy HR number? Wouldn’t removing everyday reps at C hinder his development behind the plate?

    • Honestly think I’d rather see a Mathis/Gomes combo at backup C. That role ideally sees what, 40 starts a year? I remember reading an article about Mathis having the lowest catcher ERA in the bigs the past few seasons. Can clearly call a hell of a game, a valuable asset with the young pitching coming up through the ranks.

  33. Great look forward Stoeten.

    I would like to add that Hill is playing in the NL West so I do not feel too bad about not having him here anymore. I always liked Hill and am glad he is finding success even if it is easier to be had.

    I cannot find any logical faults with your assessment. The only thing I am worried about is free agency. While I love prospects as much as the next guy, I would rather use some of our farm depth to acquire pitching in the off-season (when it should be cheaper) than bank on signing FAs. There are 29 other teams competing for those players, so the Jays strength is in the minors right now and the commodities we have there.

  34. I like the write-up, but I think pencilling Morrow in for 200 innings is optimistic. His career high is 180 (last year). Planning on 200 innings from pitchers who’d never done that before is what got them in trouble this year.

  35. TRADE JPA
    TRADE JPA
    TRADE JPA.

    No one talks about Ricky that way.

    and my colleague runs a bar and JPA has been to his business and is apparently a total POS.

    TRADE JPA
    TRADE JPA
    TRADE JPA

  36. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

    wake me when they trade for cliff lee.

    • Cliff Lee is one of the worst pitchers in the entire MLB, in my opinion. The most definitive stat for pitchers, wins, tells me this.

      They need another pitcher like Ricky Romero, who’s been stellar with a well-deserved 8-3 record.

  37. Johnson’s diminished offensive production might have more to due with a lingering hamstring issue. Since his injury in the end of May/beginning of June, his numbers of steadily declined.

  38. DH = David Ortiz!!!!!!!!!!

  39. Can somebody please kneecap Adam Lind a la Tonya Harding’s goon on Nancy Kerrigan?
    Aside from the obvious comedic value of Lind sitting on the ground crying, “Why? Why?” It would force Farrell to stop his delusional belief that Lind is a viable middle of the order hitter.

  40. you forgot cheerleaders…

  41. Fuck that. Arencibia, Gose, Syndergaard and any one of 10 B prospects like Dyson, Stilson etc. for King Felix and Jaso, then Escobar plus Nicolino for another top pitcher with control like garza.

    We can have one of Hech or Gose in the lineup but not both. We have a stud CF and in 2 years Escobar will not be a SS so keep Hech.

    Keep Sanchez and Norris as future Aces with guys like Drabek, Hutch and Wojo ready to contribute by 2014/2015.

    Lind will be fine as a platoon player going forward. So…

  42. I think that if we can trade Oliver/JPA/Hech/KJ at the deadline we’re going to have to go with it. Hopefully D’Arnaud can break camp with the team next year, but if not, Mathis can probably be resigned as the everyday catcher. Sure, you get sub-par offensive numbers, but the defense is so superior to what JPA is currently giving us that there isn’t much lost. Super-utility-man Yan Gomes can play backstop in a pinch… and he should be taking over for Vizquel next year. Oliver is a really good reliever, but I have a feeling that Brett Cecil could easily take his role in the pen. Cecil can probably give us a solid inning of relief on a pretty regular basis. I’d probably rather see Carlos Villaneuva resigned rather than Jason Frasor, as he seems to have been more effective this year (even giving us spot starts if needed). Hech is just so unproven — but he can’t be much worse than KJ has been in the last 1-2 months.

    Extending EE to play first base is a no-brainer — as long as the contract is fair. We shouldn’t be handing out Jose Bautista money/years to him. 3years/27 million seems pretty fair. When you look at the available FA DHs, the only name that really stands out is David Ortiz. I have a feeling he’d be willing to come here to play with Jose/EE, but would probably cost 2years/25-30 million. Having Lawrie/Rasmus/Bautista/EE/Ortiz at the top of the line-up is ridiculous. If Yunel finds himself producing offensively like he did in 2011? Even stronger. D’Arnaud comes up and hits like the scouting reports states he can? Amazing. That top five could carry this offense with limited production from the bottom four in the order.

    There are a lot of available options for FA starters, it just depends on what AA/Rogers want to spend. McCarthy, Edwin Jackson, Colby Lewis, Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Hamels… it would be awesome to solidify this rotation with some of these names. Even without the cream of the crop, the offense should be powerful enough that as long as we get semi-quality starts out of these pitchers, we can power ourselves through games in most situations. I mean fuck, we’re still winning games with guys like Cecil and Villaneuva starting. If the bullpen didn’t suck absolute ass, we’d have won a couple of games with Aaron Laffey…

    • I disagree. Hech can definitely be worse than KJ has been.

      • He can be worse, but MUCH worse? KJ has been absolute dogshit.

      • Because you obviously can predict the future and also have been scouting baseball for longer than the Jays scouts.
        Try playing the lottery

    • I stopped reading after you said Mathis could be our everyday catcher…. pretty ridiculous statement.

      • If JPA can be part of a package for a 1B/DH or starter, he is much more valuable there than what he provides either offensively or defensively on this team.

        You realize, according to Fangraphs, that Jeff Mathis has been worth 0.6WAR, and JPA has been worth only 0.5WAR right? JPA has 66 games under his belt. Mathis? 27.

        Is Mathis a long-term option? No. D’Arnaud is the catcher of the future. But we could do a lot worse than Jeff Mathis behind the plate for the majority of the year. In fact, we’re dealing with worse now.

      • Catchers ERA

        2012
        JPA 4.67
        Mathis 3.69

        2011
        Mathis 3.28
        H Conger 3.84
        B Wilson 3.92

        2010
        B Wilson 3.66
        J Mathis 3.69
        M Napoli 5.15

        Why the fuck shouldn’t mathis start if pitching is the biggest current need? Does it really matter who goes 0-4 in the nine hole?

  43. I wouldn’t hesitate to trade Gose. This guy strikes out at least 30% of the times in the minor league without facing any decent pitcher throwing any decent breaking balls. Hech is the same but I’d keep him in the minor because we’re very thin in the infield.
    I’d do my best to resign KKKelly. I know he sucks right now and is a strike out machine but there are not many descent 2nd basemen out there.
    I’m definitely on the trade JPA bandwagon. I bet he is one of those guys that is going to shit the bed (Yes. Even more) as soon as he signs a contract. Bring up Gomes and keep Mathis.

    • Kelly Johnson has sucked for a lot more than last month take a look at last year. If we can get ANYTHING of value for him in a trade between now and deadline AA would be crazy not to take it .

  44. Your long view pic dates from the days of back-to-back championships. Interesting. Nice read.

  45. It’s fun to do this sort of thing, but I think they (obviously) need to play out this whole season before making those kinds of assessments. Can EE keep it up all year? Like Bautista a few years ago, I’d want to see him keep it up for 162 before making a contractual decision. Same with KJ. He’s been bad lately, but what it he returns to form again? Maybe he’s someone you want to keep around. Maybe Alvarez figures out his breaking ball? Regardless, it’ll be fun to watch.

  46. Well thought out and written. I don’t tip my hat to you often but will do so today. I will grant you that we are likely a trade for a #2 starting pitcher, a signing of a starting pitcher and 1B and a EE extension away from being a perennial contender. Like you, I’m also confident that between Snider & Gose there is a solution to the outfield situation. Once Santos is back and with some minor league troops and a trade of Coco the bullpen may be sorted out.
    Either way we need a free agent starter and 1B. Lets see if AA tries to fill the obvious holes. Will be an interesting trade deadline and an even more interesting winter, if you believe that they will invest.

  47. Great piece Stoeten, very insightful.

    • +1. Excellent post Stoeten. I agree with virtually everything you said. This team can be playoff ready in 2013.

      You have a future in this business with thoughtful posts like that. You should submit that post during your performance review to get a raise.

  48. Great analysis!! All is not lost…not by a long-shot.

  49. What a sobering, well written article. I have to agree with most of your assessments. I do, however, disagree with your huge hate-on for Lind and your assessment of the Jays’ thoughts on him. I think that he deservesa chance to prove that he’s turned it around. I think that the Jays agree with me. They have invested a lot in him and he’s proven that he can hit. He may have just addressed his problem and he wouldn’t be the first power hitter to have a huge slump only to re-kindle the fire with a minor-league stint.

    Wth that said, the first base situation doesn’t look so dire now with Edwin proving he has a good glove for that position (wow, he’s up to .300 now) and Cooper hanging around just in case. There is always the possibility he could be traded if the right deal came along, but I’d say the Jays have displayed enormous patients which proves they have some loyalty to the former Silver Slugger.

    With that outa the way…. WOOOOHOOOO ADAM-BOMB LIND IS LIGHTIN’ IT UP!!!! HERE WE GO BABY!!!!! WITH OUR OFFENSE, WE CAN TAKE ON ANYONE WITH A RAG-TAG ROTATION. WE’RE THE HOTTEST TEAM ON THE PLANET! NOTHING CAN STOP US! YEAH! FIST PUMP. BIG HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND!

  50. Hey, I wrote that. Who the F*** is BlueWingedTeal? (my former handle)

  51. pretty much nailed it. I like that 2013 lineup, and i like it even more because it doesnt seem like a complete pipedream. plus selling off guys like johnson, arencibia and oliver would offset some of the prospect depth needed to make that SP trade.

  52. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put Hech at SS and Escobar at 2B? By some accounts, Hech is a possible Gold Glove at SS, so it would seem to me to be a better utilization of his talents to insert him in the premium defensive position. Escobar’s bat also plays better at 2B than would Hech’s (though I suppose that doesn’t really make any difference if both are in the lineup).

    I understand that the resistance to that idea is out of respect for Escobar who supposedly wants to stay at SS. But really, I’m not sure that Escobar is necessarily someone who has earned the right to dictate the position that he plays in the same manner that, for instance, Bautista has done.

  53. Am I the only person who thinks this team should have gone out and tried to acquire Thome from the Phillies? By all accounts the Orioles didn’t give up a whole lot in that deal and having him as a DH and Encarnacion at first would be better than Lind anywhere on the field.

  54. Just imagine if we had signed Fielder and Darvish, premium players at positions we need playing in the prime of their careers…

    • That would have cost $321.7-million.

      As shown in the post, they can conceivable be very good next year through two trades and the addition of one free agent starter at something like 1/5th that cost. They then have a lot more money to add pieces in the future, to get guys like Lawrie and Rasmus signed long term, etc. Awww, but it meant you had to wait a year!!!

  55. Very well thought out, Andrew. However, maybe I’m missing something, but how far are you looking out with this? This could be a lineup for next year. I don’t like Ricky being a 3 starter after last year, but if we found the right #2, I wouldn’t mind it. Since I’m assuming that since Oliver is resigned, that this is for this year. Here’s what I think it’ll be in 2015-16 or so.

    3B Brett Lawrie
    CF Colby Rasmus
    DH Jose Bautista
    1B Edwin Encarnacion
    RF Marisnick
    C Travis d’Arnaud
    LF Anthony Gose
    SS Yunel Escobar
    2B Adeiny Hechavarria

    Extra; D.J. Davis, Jacob Anderson, Carlos Perez / A.J. Jimenez, Mitch Nay, Matt Dean.

    SP1 Brandon Morrow
    SP2 Ricky Romero
    SP3 Drew Hutchison / Acquired via FA
    SP4 Noah Syndergaard
    SP5 Daniel Norris

    Extra; Justin Nicolino, Aaron Sanchez, Matt Smoral, Kevin Comer, Joe Musgrove.

    CP Sergio Santos
    SU Casey Janssen
    SU Marcus Stroman
    RP Sam Dyson
    RP Acquired via FA
    RP Asher Wojciechowski
    RP John Stilson

    I love Travis Snider, but I think that Gose and Marisnick are just better. I think Snider could over take Gose, but I really like Marisnick. We have a LOT of pitching, too, which is great. I think that if we packaged some of those extras together, we could get that right #2 guy or a really nice bat for the lineup.

    • It’s absurd to try and project that far ahead… You honestly believe that every single roster spot will be filled by a player already within the organization? If the Jays are to even have a hope of contending between now and then several of those prospects will be traded for help on the big squad.

      And really, unless you follow their minor league teams around you can’t possibly have enough information on any of the prospects to make judgments on, for example, Gose vs. Marisnick let alone which pitchers will make it. Shit, you have players in there that haven’t even had a whiff of pro ball yet…

      Even the fact that you would waste Gose in left field makes your post deserving of ridicule.

  56. I stopped reading when you said Lawrie is athletic enough to be mentioned in the same breath with Troy Glaus as a defender. Jesus Christ. I don’t care that he is Canadian, but its clear that Lawrie is an EXCEPTIONAL defensive player who has combined his athleticism with enough hard work and Red Bull to become the best defensive 3b I have ever seen, Rolen and Beltre included. Rolen was great – excellent first step, soft hands, and had a strong and very accurate arm. Lawrie has faster reflexes, much greater range, especially to his left and when charging, and although not as accurate, his arm is every bit as strong as Rolen’s. I realize the shifts to RF have inflated his defensive numbers, but that should not obscure the fact he’s legitimately the best defensive 3b in the league.

  57. Fantastic to read this again thru the longreads. AMAZING the difference in talent across the board, even against the 2015 projections!

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