With no Griff Bag on the immediate horizon, and not a whole hell of a lot else going on, I think it’s probably about time we take a dip into the Griff Bag’s infinitely less bent cousin, Gregor Chisholm’s latest Inbox at BlueJays.com.

As always, I have not read any of Gregor’s answers. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Gregor in his post and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Which Blue Jays prospects do you see being able to make the next step this year and contribute at the big league level?
— Tim S., Calgary, Alberta

If you want to use a particularly strict definition of prospects, actually, I don’t see any. And I certainly hope there won’t be any, otherwise it will have meant something has gone quite terriblywrong, because the Jays just don’t have a lot of rookie-eligible players sniffing around for jobs on the Major League roster.

Sure, Aaron Loup should make the club and contribute out of the ‘pen, but he lost his eligibility by being on the roster for as long as he was last season, and it’s the same story for Anthony Gose, David Cooper and Moises Sierra, all of whom could see some time in a not-entirely-catastrophic season. But are those guys still prospects? I wouldn’t say so.

The same goes for Chad Jenkins, as well, though he’ll be hard pressed to get to the Majors regardless, with J.A. Happ, Brad Lincoln, and Justin Germano likely ahead of him on the Triple-A depth chart.

Beyond that group, you don’t see a whole lot of contributors. Marcus Stroman could succeed in a relief role at the big league level, but his 50-game PED suspension will eat into his season, and Alex Anthopoulos has said recently that he’d like him to continue developing as a starter.

Otherwise, everybody seems to like Sean Nolin, who Anthopoulos has said will begin the year at New Hampshire (and be on an innings limit). Nolin pitched 15 innings there at the end of last season, giving up just two earned runs, nine hits, six walks, while striking out 18 over three starts. If Happ and Lincoln end up in use in the Majors, certainly he could force his way up the depth chart, but it’s still a bit early for that. And it doesn’t get any easier thanks to the innings limit and the fact that Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek will be making their way back mid-season. Plus, with the club’s Triple-A affiliate finally out of Las Vegas, and the big league rotation full, there’s no need to rush guys the way they have in years past.




How do the options work with J.A. Happ? Can he be sent down to the Minor Leagues or would he have to go through waivers?
— Justin D., Halifax, Nova Scotia

Though Happ still has options, because of the amount of service time he has accrued, he will have to pass through a type of waivers before he can be assigned to Buffalo. But according to recent comments from Alex Anthopoulos, this is a mere formality. The waivers are revokable– like the waivers players must clear in order to be traded in August, after the non-waiver trade deadline has passed– meaning that if a team puts a claim in on the player, his club can pull him back off waivers and keep him on their roster. However, Anthopoulos told Gregor last week that teams generally don’t put in claims on players using this system, in what’s essentially a gentlemen’s agreement in order to keep this kind of player movement from becoming rampant. For this reason, it’s rarely reported on– Travis Snider would have needed to clear these types of waivers when he was optioned last season, though we heard virtually nothing of it– and not particularly well understood.

So, yes, he has to go through waivers, but they’re not going to lose him, and almost certainly will get him assigned to Buffalo.




Why did the Blue Jays sign Henry Blanco when they already have Josh Thole, who appears to be a capable backup to J.P. Arencibia?
— Casey W., Barrie, Ontario

Well that depends on which Josh Thole the 2013 Jays are getting, doesn’t it?

In 2010 and 2011, Thole got on base at a .350 clip, and while he didn’t have near the power of Arencibia, J.P.’s career OBP is .275, and Thole, in those two seasons, hit right-handers to the tune of a .326 wOBA, compared to a .296 rate for JPA. So, if that’s the Thole you’re getting, he’s more than just a capable backup, he could very well be the more frequently played half of a platoon with Arencibia and his .328 career wOBA against lefties. And considering that the league average for catchers in 2012 was a .312 wOBA, it could be pretty damn decent.

But the thing with Thole is that 2012 happened. His wOBA sagged to .257, and his platoon split essentially went away as he put up a .234/.294/.290 slash line, which was good for the second-worst slugging percentage among the 223 players with 350 or more plate appearances. He was dreadful, and even if you want to chalk some of that awfulness up to the fact that he went down with a concussion in May, you certainly can’t rely on him to come to Dunedin as though the season never happened and he’s still the same guy as he was the two years prior.

That’s where Henry Blanco comes in.

He’s awful with the bat too, but he’s a guy with “veteran presents” who R.A. Dickey loves throwing his knuckleball to. He won’t be asked to do much, if he makes the club– essentially catching Dickey every fifth day, and playing checkers with fellow mascot Mark DeRosa otherwise. And if such a scheme works out, it gives the Jays the chance to give full-time at-bats to both Arencibia, in the Majors, and Thole– who has minor league options remaining– in Buffalo.

So Blanco is just an added layer of depth at the position who allows them to see what they’ve got with the two younger catchers. I don’t think the club would ever say this, but it sure seems to me like they’re keeping the possibility of a platoon in their back pocket, which may have been harder to do with Thole not getting regular at-bats as the clear backup. But maybe not. Bringing up Thole would have to mean ditching Blanco, and if they build up his intangible veteranness too much, I’m not sure how willing they are going to be to do that *COUGH* Omar Vizquel *COUGH*… unfortunately.




Was it a mistake for Arencibia to accept an offer to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic? It seems like he would be better served staying in camp and working with all of the new pitchers.
— Josh M., Moncton, New Brunswick

Yeah… I think you’re probably right. But what should we do? Kill Arencibia for choosing to take part in the experience, playing with what’s essentially an All-Star team, and for his country?

Can’t do it.

Besides, there are silver linings: R.A. Dickey is the most difficult of the new pitchers Arencibia will have to catch– assuming, y’know, the Jays ever actually allow that to happen– and he’ll be with Team USA as well. Plus, playing for Joe Torre, being in the room with all those great players, something something intangibles. Whatever.




What type of role will Rajai Davis have on this year’s team? There doesn’t appear to be much playing time available.
— Gino M., Toronto

Bizarrely, the Jays have said that they’re actually contemplating giving Adam Lind one last chance to bat against left-handed pitching, despite the fact that over the last three years he’s posted a -15, a 72 and a 48 wRC+ against lefties. He’s awful.And over the same span, Rajai Davis has posted a 117, a 127 and a 114.

David Ortiz he’s not, but Davis is a better option to DH against left-handers, and it’s insanity to think he won’t end up in the role in very short order. Nothing in Adam Lind’s last three seasons says he’s capable of doing it himself.




If both Sergio Santos and Casey Janssen have a good spring, who will be the closer?
— Aaron M., Port Hood, Nova Scotia

If they’re both healthy and decent, I can’t possibly imagine Janssen losing the role that he earned in the absence of Santos last season. He was so good, in fact, and so good in 2011 as well, that I think he’ll get quite a bit of rope to stay as the closer. Nothing at all wrong with having Santos as your eighth inning guy, if he is indeed back to his elite self.




Is it too soon to assume this will be the last season we see Colby Rasmus manning centre field in Toronto, with Gose lurking in Buffalo?
— Tyler Y., Beaverton, Ontario

Yes, it’s far too soon that 2013 will be the end of the Colby Rasmus era here in Toronto, though there are certainly reasons to think that might be the case. Obviously the continued progression of Gose is one of those reasons, but not necessarily because he’s going to suddenly take a step forward with the bat and come to take away Colby’s job. I think it’s more likely that Rasmus doesn’t show enough with the bat to justify his rising cost, relative to Gose. Colby will be heading into his third arbitration year in 2014, meaning that he’ll be a free agent after that season, barring an extension. Gose will come much cheaper, and doesn’t have to provide nearly the value that Rasmus does with the bat in order for things to even out, because so much of his value is derived from his speed and defence.

Obviously a lot can change over the course of those years, but Rasmus is going to have to hit a lot better than we’ve seen in order to justify staying in the picture– and he’s going to have to provide meaningful production, not just empty home run and RBI totals that will drive up his cost in arbitration, as he did this past season, or he’s going to find himself a non-tender candidate. It’s pretty easy for the club to justify paying him $4.65-million if you think he can’t possibly do much worse than the win-and-a-half he provided last year, but if that number gets bumped up to something in the $7-million range based on another season of 20+ home runs, a bunch of RBIs and not a whole lot else, Gose starts looking real good.

Comments (98)

  1. “who RA Dickey loves throwing his knuckle ball too.” I like to think that you wanted to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition so badly that you just decided to misspell ‘to.’

  2. How awesome is a bench with Blanco AND Derosa?

  3. As awesome as a bench needs to be

  4. Thank GOD Jose isn’t mentioned in this whole Bosch shitshow.

    • Eventually, amidst all the lies from all the other fallen stars, Jose will emerge as one of the few who really did tell the truth and succeeded at playing clean. How many times was he tested last summer?

  5. “Nothing in Adam Lind’s last three seasons says he’s capable of doing it himself.”

    Can’t believe I’m sticking up for LInd, and it’s an incredibly small sample, but he had a .323 wOBA in 77 PA against lefties after his call up last year, and he was talking about a new approach…

    • Adam’s new approach should just be to not play against lefties. That would work better.

    • Ok…. “PRETTY MUCH ALMOST nothing”?

    • Three years ago he was having trouble turning on pitches away because he lacked conditioning. Two years ago he overtrained which made him too tight. Three years ago he had nagging injuries. Two years ago as well. Last year as well. Three years ago he decided to stand closer in the box so he could turn easier on outside pitches. Two years ago he held the bat higher on his shoulder to improve bat speed.

      Forgive me for thinking he’s full of shit.

    • There are more options now with the everyday lineup being so much better with Reyes and Cabrera.

      Against tough lefties, I would sit Lind on the bench and use Davis in LF and get Cabrera to DH. One can also use Davis in RF (wouldn’t be my 1st choice) and get Bautista a day off from RF and let him DH.

      If Davis is in the lineup, I would keep Bonifacio on the bench should the team need a pinch runner. And you still have Lind on the bench playing checkers with Derosa, should you need a lefty pinch hitter.

      Hopefully, Derosa will become useful enough to be used as a DH against tough lefties. Otherwise, he better be a hell of a checkers player.

    • Lind has been unbelievably stubborn so a “new” approach sounds like it might actually be a “new” approach.

  6. May be old news already, but looks like Bills deal is extended. May explain why the grass idea has been pushed out to five years.


    • Why?

    • I completely get it from the Bills end – they are losing money in an old stadium in recession-weakened Buffalo and this deal is the only way the Bills break even – but that Rogers keeps signing on is a mystery to me. It’s not even the issue of grass in the stadium, I don’t think Rogers has made any money off of these Bills games so far. It seemed like there were hourly ticket giveaways on every Rogers TV or radio station this year to try and paper the walls.

    • Was talking about this on Twitter, and I think it’s a non-issue. First, the games don’t have to be during the MLB season, so it’s not like the grass couldn’t stand it. But also, @alisauce24 said he believed Beeston said something about re-sodding the field in March or April, so as to allow other events to take place there during the winter. Makes sense, given how tough it will be to keep the grass healthy in there over the winter anyway.

      Sucks for the Bills though. Man, those games look like they fucking suck.

      • Truthfully, Rogers Centre is an awful football stadium, Argos or Bills. Even if it’s filled for either team I find the sight lines are far worse for football. I think they built it as a baseball-first multi-purpose stadium, if that makes sense.

  7. Doesn’t this “gentlemen’s agreement” to not put in waiver claims on players in Happ’s situation sound something like potentially grievable collusion?

    • No, because no one is in a position to offer him a contract or a raise. The only thing that happens in this context is that AA would have to retract the waiver move. It’s like post trade deadline when every team passes most of their players through waivers to they can be traded. Teams are allowed to make a claim on the players as they pass through, but if they can’t come to an agreement, then the player gets pulled back. No harm no foul.

      As an aside, this is how we got rid of Alex Rios…

      • Is that true? I was pretty sure that Alex got moved after the non-waiver trade deadline and before the waiver deadline.

        • That’s what I meant by “post trade deadline when every team passes most of their players through waivers so they can be traded.”

      • Revocable waivers in August are used for trades, not for options. So the Rios situation was very different. The Jays and Sox couldn’t work out a proper trade for Rios, but the Jays were so sick of him at that point they just let Chicago take him and his salary.

    • In this context, putting in a waiver claim would not make Happ more available, it would just dick around the Jays, and needlessly make enemies

    • What collusion? Revocable waivers means the team optioning the player can revoke the option and keep the player on the 25 man roster if another team puts in a waiver claim. So why the fuck bother to make a legitimate waiver claim?

      Gentleman’s agreement just saves alot of grief.

      Besides, there are far better more grievable issues in baseball.

      • Why bother making a claim? Well, because the team might rather let the guy go (as the Jays did with Rios, even though that was a post-July-31 move) than keep him on their major league roster. The point is, there’s a reason you have to put a guy like Happ on waivers before sending him down, and Happ himself is as good an illustration of the reason as any: he’s a legit major league player. It seems like the “gentlemen’s agreement” here saves the teams grief at the expense of the players, by subverting a CBA provision.

        • I think this issue falls into the no one really gives a fuck category with both the MLBPA and most teams. Happ will still get paid his big league salary if he is optioned to Buffalo.

          The MLBPA has bigger fish to fry and tend to pick their battles with the MLB on labour relations.

          There is no huge conspiracy angle here. The Jays are now a good first division team and often, good first division teams stash away MLB quality arms on their AAA roster. John Lannan spent most of his time in the minors last year with the Nationals and he is now pegged as Philadelphia’s 5th starter.

          • Lannan requested a trade when the Nats sent him down. So, at least one member of the MLBPA probably gives a fuck, although I don’t know whether Lannan had to clear waivers to be sent down.

  8. If we assume that Blanco only catches Dickey, what happens when there’s a day game after a night game and Dickey doesn’t pitch in either game. Does JPA catch both games? I guess he’d have to, given the assumed roster construction.

    • I guess

    • or maybe he just gets to catch one additional game (who cares).
      More likely Blanco is injury insurance anyway and we probably won’t have to care because it’ll be Thole.

    • No, I think Blanco would get that one too, very possibly.

      • So how many games do you think Blanco gets? 32 Dickey starts plus another 15 or so for day games after night games? I guess that leaves JPA with about the normal starting catcher number of games caught.

  9. All they’ve said so far is Lind will get “a chance” agains lefties, which makes me wonder what kind of leash they’ll actually give him. Personally I think it will depend on how the Jays do out of the gate. If they struggle into mid-April that’s when Rajai takes over. If it’s going well he might get into May.

    • “a chance” can be read with very different degrees of extensiveness. Maybe he burns his chance up in ST. Maybe he gets April. It really only bothers me if he is still pulling on that rope come mid May. If he is actually hitting LHP for a month (before the league adjusts), why not just ride him?

  10. let’s pick a date on the calendar for when we think stoeten finally accepts JPA as the starter in Toronto…. i’m gonna say july 18 2015

    • When has Andrew Stoeten indicated that anyone but JPA would be the starting catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays? Do you read this website?

    • I think this story may deserve it’s own post actually. If Melky is tied to banned substances again, he can be suspended a second time. The records of him purchasing such substances goes back to him being awful with the Braves.

    • Melky’s lawyer needs to bone up on the double jeopardy doctrine, otherwise, Melky or whichever Melky is named in the clinic records might be fucked.

      • That would only make sense to me if he’s link to this clinic is for a more recent incident than the one he was already booked for. Otherwise, he’s already been punished for the offence.

      • Melky’s web designer might want to get a head start this time.

  11. Rasmus’ opportunity to put up meaningless RBI totals should be cut by moving him out of the 2 hole to the bottom of the lineup. The point about his lack of rope with Goes waiting still stands though

    • Dont worry, we have melky and reyes now remember? Rasmus is nowhere near the top of our lineup this season if all goes well..

  12. “…the fact that Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek will be making their way back mid-season.”
    Andrew I dont see Hutch coming back any earlier than Sep if that. His surgery was at the end of Aug last summer. As for Drabek, he should be back after the break but because he was pitching so badly before he went down, I cant see him back til the Sep call ups.

    • I would be totally surprised to see Hutch up in 2013 period. He’s likely going to be spending lots of his time in Dunedin after he’s cleared to throw off the mound. At best, he might make an appearance in September, along with Drabek. Assures them a share of the playoff bonus money and more shine on the WS ring right?

    • I had almost forgotten about these two… Room in the pen for either of them in July/August?

  13. In my opinion, the Jays are a better all around team today with Gose in CF, Rasmus in RF, and Bautista at DH spelling Encarnacion and Lawrie when need be. If Gose is that much worse than Lind with the bat I think the improved OF defense in 2 spots makes up for it, and there’s a lot of value in working to keep Bautista as healthy as possible so he can provide the oomph in the middle of the lineup.

    In other words, even if Gose is ready to play CF everyday in 2014 I still see a spot for Rasmus on this team provided he doesn’t suck in 2013.

    • If you are maximizing defensive value, and moving Bautista off of RF, then he would play 1B. EE to DH.

      If you’re maximizing offensive value, I can’t see Gose’s bat being close to Lind’s (as he would need to be protected against LHP as well). If Lind works with a suitable platoon partner and subs at 1B, he will be fine contributor.

      As for what the marginal difference is between moving Rasmus to RF, Gose to CF, JBats to 1B, EE to DH for better defense vs. Lind/Davis at DH, EE at 1B, JBats in RF, Rasmus in CF for better offense… well, your guess is as good as mine. But I’m leaning towards the latter option being more valuable overall.

  14. I guess we now know why it’s five years until theirs grass. Bills and Rodgers reach five year deal, have to believe argos get a 3 or 5 year deal aswell. Rodgers putting money over players health and fans want’s. Can’t blame them it is a buisness surprised though that they still believe they can make large amounts of money on this Bills thing….. they don’t remember the last five years.

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