Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins

The Jays announced this morning that they would begin the season by carrying 13 pitchers, a decision that was met with derision and snark from the snarky, derisive corners of the baseballing internet that I generally relish the piss out of. I grant them, it certainly feels right to shit on the delusional excess of clubs that carry so many relievers, as the expense of bench depth– I’ve done it– but I’ve gotta say, given the particulars of the Jays’ circumstance, there seems to me like there might be enough myopia in today’s snark to keep an optometrist in business for decades.

It depends on your definition of defence– or defense, if you’re like that– I suppose. And on that note, Sheehan later says outright that “defenses and rationalizations are not the same thing,” which I take to mean that he doesn’t believe the Jays’ rationalization– assuming he even considered it before smothering it in a warm blanket of snark– or that there simply cannot be a rationalization that leaves a team’s bench so thin at the expense of so many guys who are barely even going to be able to get into games.

I’d say that’s fair, but I actually don’t think the Jays are being wholly unreasonable with theirs here. At the very least, it’s probably worth considering the details before we get all insistent that it must be fucking stupid.

Dayn Perry of CBS Sports gets it, but then tries to not get it:

I get that this is a temporary arrangement for a DH-league team, and I get that that Jays are trying to delay waiver exposure for Brett Cecil and Jeremy Jeffress, but in a division in which even a single squandered game can matter greatly, this seems like a short-sighted decision.

Sheehan tries to put the Jays’ gamble into perspective:

So the trade-off being made is the potential for at-bats going to J.P. Arencibia and Adam Lind (also: Colby Rasmus) in key situations in the first four games of the year– because let’s not mistake this as any kind of permanent solution for the Jays, who have Brett Lawrie’s DL stint backdated to allow him to rejoin the team during the Boston series– versus the potential to try and keep Jeremy Jeffress or Brett Cecil in the organization by delaying their exposure to waivers (or at least getting that much longer a look at them before choosing which one to try and sneak through).

Certainly you can make the argument that Cecil and Jeffress aren’t nearly valuable enough to risk having those guys ever come up in a key situation where their atrocious platoon splits are exposed, but it’s not like Cecil doesn’t have clear value against lefties, or that Jeffress doesn’t have a ridiculously electric arm. It’s also not as though Rajai Davis (.341 wOBA against left-handers over the last threeyears) isn’t on the bench to spell one of Lind or Rasmus– and either Mark DeRosa or Maicer Izturis, as well.

It’s really just Arencibia’s high leverage at-bats we’re worried about, and a quick look through the possible guys to have sitting on the bench waiting to come into such a situation lands squarely on Ryan Langerhans, and… not to suggest that I wouldn’t want Langerhans up against a right-hander in a key situation rather than Arencibia, but for handful of games, does it really matter? It could but the chances are relatively low and even that point, whatever difference exists between the two has to be weighted against the organizational flexibility the club loses in the trade-off. So, in that sense is the decision to carry the pitchers instead “short-sighted,” as Perry says, or is it actually an attempt to think long-term by broadening the base of relievers the club will be able to pull from as the season wears on?

I’d submit that depends on your view of whether the chances of sneaking one of them through waviers improves by delaying exposure, as well as the down-the-line value Cecil and Jeffress can provide– ironically, given Sheehan’s subsequent tweeting, as multi-inning relievers. It also depends on whether or not you are firmly planted in the vacuum on this issue, or if you accept the reality that John Gibbons is probably not going to pinch hit for Arencibia anyway, and that there are better things to quibble about– if you really want to go down this road– like the club’s choice of Henry Blanco as backup catcher over Josh Thole, who, with his .326 wOBA against right-handers in the two years prior to his concussion-y 2012, could spell Arencibia. Or the fact that even if they were going to carry just twelve pitchers, there simply aren’t a whole lot of appealing bats to add to the roster in Lawrie’s absence anyway.

For me, I can see how Anthopoulos may think that he has a better chance of sneaking one down to Buffalo by waiting. At the same time, I get the opposition to the 13 pitcher thing and would much rather see more multi-inning guys and more options on the bench. I’ll even go as far as to say that I find the Jays’ comfort with it a bit alarming. But is this really the situation in which to plant the flag and rage back against unchecked stupidity in roster management? I just don’t think it is. We can talk about it again, though, if it last much longer than half a week, and I’ll happily change my tune.

Comments (68)

  1. And if it works out the same people will call them geniuses? lol its whatever man. Lets just see what happens.

    • No, they won’t.

    • These aren’t the kind of guys who have made a career by not sticking to their opinions. The just leave the door open by using words like probably, might and likely. It’s baseball, there are no guarantees.

      • Unless your name is Mike Wilner. Pretty sure he said “I guarantee you Ricky Romero will be your 5th starter”

        • Wilner is not a respected evaluator. He is a homer radio guy who can’t separate want from rational thinking.

  2. So this is really about whether you prefer situational flexiblity or organizational flexibility. As I put it that way, I take organizational flexibility.

    For now. I guess it depends on the situation.\

    Damn. I need a better vocabulary.

  3. Anyone here ever listened to Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater? Definitely one of the best prog metal albums out there.

    I get what the Jays are doing, but after the world’s longest spring training I think they should know by now which out of options guy is gonna be gone. Especially because in a couple weeks one of em is going to be gone anyway. Then on the other hand they seem convinced that giving Cibia at bats vs RHPs isn’t a waste. Which seems crazy. Crazier than keeping Langerhans on the roster? Who knows.

    TL;DR I DONT HAVE THE ANSWERS

    • Good album indeed!

    • But if they think the chance of sneaking one through improves if they delay…

      • That’s the main thing, though, isn’t it? That by delaying the Cecil/Jeffress question until Lawrie is eligible to come off the DL there is a better chance for a pitcher to clear waivers.

        A solid, well balanced post Stoeten.

        • Are Gm’s idiots? You can actually sneak someone through waivers? They dont have smart phones, lap tops, lackey’s whose designated jobs are simply to scour the waiver wire to ensure another team DOESNT sneak a commodity through them?

      • Any reason they should believe this?

        Like is it actually true?

        If anything I think it would be harder with the inevitable injuries you’ll see in opening weekend.

        • are we really thinking that a spree of injuries one week in will crop up? for one these guys aren’t going to be the saviours of any franchise.. nor do i think teams will suddenly jump at the chance to steal cecil away (who id be optioning first anyways). These are just projects AA doesnt want to give up on yet. When teams rosters are set, theyre not going to care whose on the waiver wire unless they actually dont have any faith in the roster they just solidified.

      • Yeah, i guess you’d have a better chance at sneaking a guy through when teams have their rosters set and wanna give their players a chance for a bit.

        But with injuries and crazy people, it still feels like a longshot.

    • Yea buddy.. Dream Theater rocks

  4. I agree with the decision. I like Sheehan but this is not the first time he has thrown out an opinion without bothering to consider all the facts.

  5. Is there some sort of game within the system that the longer you can hold onto players that are out of options, the better it is that you can get them through waivers? The premise being that other teams will have to do their thing before you do. Therefore, when you go last, you will see all of their waivers and that other teams won’t have the space or need to make claims on yours.

    • Further to the “wait until last’ theory, has nobody considered that perhaps AA might see something in the way of a bench bat on the waiver wire that tickles his fancy, and picking him up just means Cecil is the easy drop without potentially exposing someone of actual value?

  6. I love how people can jump on the bandwagon of popular opinion.

    Firstly in the 4-5 games before Lawrie comes back, what are the chances that Lind/JPA are in high leverage late inning situations?

    Secondly, who they hell do these people think we are leaving off the bench, Barry Bonds?

    Mark DeRosa, Rajai Davis and Izturis/Bonafacio (who evers not starting) are going to be the primary PH’s this year, and by all accounts, DeRosa and Davis will still be available for pinch hitting in the first few games.

    Do the Jays have the strongest lineup for the first week? no, but if they lose a valuable reliever so they can take Moises Sierra up north (or whoever) then they may become exposed during the season just the same.

    The same people barking about pinch hits in the first week will be barking about bullpen depth midseason

    • Ya this is exactly how I feel. The odds of not being able to PH for JPA (because they have RH bats for Lind) costing them a game in the first four are minuscule. Worst case you PH Izturis or Bonifacio for him and have to put Blanco in defensively. The odds of losing Cecil or Jeffress to waivers is damn near 100% if they don’t do this, so to me there’s way more value in waiting until more rosters are set to try and sneak a guy through than there is in protecting against a scenario that probably won’t happen anyways.

      This is one of those petty concerns that I am thrilled we’re talking about instead of things that are actual problems though, so bring on the bitching!

    • this is exactly where i’m at.
      if the conversation were, ok guys do we break wiht eight relievers, and leave ryan braun in the minors? it would be different… I dont think they’ll miss andy laroche

  7. So yeah, it’s for 3 games. And with many rosters set as the first week rolls on maybe it’s a bit easier to sneak either Cecil of Jefferss (however you spell his name) through waivers. I don’t know. But whatever, it’s for a few games, so be it.

  8. Yeah, there’s other factors at play. If Lawrie weren’t hurt, then a 13 man staff is dumb. I raged against it quite a bit last year.

    Do we know who’s starting at 2nd to open the year? Is it Bonfacio? Either way, a Davis/Blanco/(whichever guy isn’t the 2B) bench will be an alright stopgap to start the year. Much better than the two man Vizquel/Mathis catastrophes we had with a 13 man staff and someone else “day-to-day” so often last year.

    • Agreed. For a few games I guess it’sok. This is all about optimizing the possibility that they can sneek the “loser” of this derby thru the waiver process. And yeah, after stomaching Vizquel/Mathis last year for long periods of time we can wait a week for the roster to take shape

  9. Is it really possible to sneak players through waivers? Doesn’t any good organization know who occupies both major and minor league roster spots of their competitors and who could be on the “bubble”?

    The Jays are going to need to make a decision or make a trade .. both/either of which will happen shortly. These things normally work themselves out and the 26th and 27th guys on the roster are as such for a reason. This is not to say we should be happy to lose Cecil, Jeffress, McGowan or whomever, but just rather, this is what happens and does happen every week of the baseball year.

    • Teams kept trying it all winter, with some success. The Jays just tried it again with Moscoso, but he was claimed by the Cubs, for example. But it happens.

      • but why is that SNEAKING .. I don’t get it .. they put him/them on waivers as a necessary evil (we assume they want to retain their players) .. do they do this in the middle of the night? do they pull a fire alarm at the stadium and then hit the “go through waiver button” ? .. teams try to shuffle players back and forth as there is a finite amount of available spots on MLB and 40 man roster .. when you carry more than that # of players .. you need to shuffle the deck and what happens, happens ..

        Not sure this is anything more then, “do you like my player more than us”

        • Just don’t take the word so literally. When used in the context of getting a player through waivers in early april, it means that teams have their rosters set and won’t want to shake things up for a little bit of time.

    • I thin you’ve hit it on the head there. I would think that if all of the fans here at DJF are aware that one of our relievers will likely be exposed when Lawrie comes off the DL then most organizations would have a pretty idea it’s coming as well. I don’t think that sneaking somebody through waivers is as easy as it sounds.

    • Is there no other reliever with options that can go down until Cecil or Jeffress prove they don’t belong?

      Shouldn’t take long for one of them to blow up.

  10. maybe just maybe, the fans and the media are not privy to all of the inside information

    “Well, okay, you’re not privy to all the new shit, so uh, you know, but that’s what you pay me for.”

  11. The guy that SHOULD be optioned down is loup if you want to take a longer look at cecil and jeffress. Yeah, he pitched well last year in a small sample but its pretty evident in watching him that he is a LOOGY. They already have oliver and especially cecil to get lefties out. Loup is redundant on this team despite how well he has pitched. No need to carry 3 lefties in the bullpen. Also, I dont like arencibia as a hitter but who are you going to pinch hit him for? Langerhans? Give me a fucking break. He is AAA depth if that. Jays picked arencibia as their main catcher so they’ll have to deal with his his many flaws and .275 obp (barf!).

    • the splits of both vs left handed batters would argue with you. Loup has a career k/bb ratio of 11.0, ba against of .207 and ops against of 462, albeit in a smaller sample size. He is marginally to much better in all of these categories than cecil at 5.0 k/bb, .214 avg, .603 ops. It seems that Loup > Cecil against lefties so far in his career

      • Key words being *small sample size*.

      • Not only do you have to consider Loup’s small sample size, you have to consider the fact that stats as a starters don’t translate well into stats as a reliever. It’s unfair to use Cecils full body of work when what is relevant is his work as a reliever, which has been quite good, but also has a small sample size to judge from. At this point choosing between Cecil and Loup based on talent is near impossible, so IMO at least, you have to keep Cecil strictly because of options.

  12. I think the issue of defensive versatility is being ignored here, too. Bonifacio and DeRosa have experience playing almost everywhere, Izturis can play anywhere in the infield, Cabrera is a decent centrefielder, Bautista can shuffle over to first if they don’t want Lind batting… it’s not like they have a bunch of DH-type hitters who need to play 1B or LF. Even without the extra bench spot, they still seem to have quite a bit of flexibility on the roster. I wouldn’t want to see it go on all season (or even anything more than a week or two) but it will likely have zero effect on the results of the first series, and it’s definitely worth trying to hang onto some bullpen depth for later in the season.

  13. Whatever man. Although my trust in AA’s rosters decisions took a hit last september.

  14. Law’s dismissal, to me at least, shows that he hasn’t really looked close enough at the rationale from the Jays’ perspective. If living with a short bench for 4 games (!) means you get to sneak Jeffress to Buffalo, you do it! Asset management.

  15. OK so drop a pitcher and add who? It would need to be a lefty bat and we just don’t have too many options there. Once Lawrie’s back this all changes anyway.

  16. Perhaps they don’t know that there is no one in Buffalo that would be a better PH than the starters.

  17. AA’s asset management being criticized by pundits purely through the lens of roster management.

  18. Is it really all that likely that given an extra bat/Lawrie’s full health, you’d pinch-hit for Arencibia on a more frequent basis? If the game is close enough for Arencibia to come up to bat in a high leverage situation, wouldn’t pinch hitting for him essentially mean that you’ve committed yourself to using Blanco for the remainder of the game (and possibly extra-innings) with zero backup at the C position?

  19. I love how some mythical replacement level, cold, off the bench, guy is suddenly so important to some game we haven’t even played yet.

    Meanwhile no one thinks anything of saving your best reliever for the 9th inning with bases empty and a 2-run lead but throwing out a Jason Frasor in the 7th with 2 men on and a 1-run lead.

  20. You don’t carry a 13 man pitching staff for a month. A week or less and this is an issue? C’mon Man.

  21. Post Game Recap in Port Charlotte :

    Jays-Rays/ Well it was damn cold today, but hey, I should shut my yap cause somewhere it’s snowing in Canada.

    I was disappointed and a little confused that Gibby didn’t run his main team out there like Maddon has done, considering just a few Spring Training games left. But hey, I’m just a fan who doesn’t know much other than where the beer vendor is, so I’ll stop at that.

    JA Happ walked a lot of guys today, and as my pops and I were drumming up a sick and twisted rant on him, we suddenly realized it was the 5th inning and the score was only 1 to nothing for the Rays. So we shut our traps and acknowledged a good game pitched and went back to what we knew well, drinking beer.

    I gave pre games shout outs to Gibby and Colby, and received a wave from Gibber and a sweaty Mullet sway from Rasmus.

    Pretty mellow game until Colby hit a sick jack to right for a grand slam around the 6 or 7th inning. Shit got out in a hurry, or course with that easy power style. This guy is capable, very capable of doing a lot of damage this year.

    Yunel signed an autograph for this Spanish guy and his kid, but made me laugh when immediately after doing so, he ran away from the rest of the kids clamoring to get his scrawl. It was some threw a handgrenade at him.

    Anyways, that’s it for me down here watching ball, see you bastards at a Rogers Centre near you this summer.

  22. The biggest issue isnt pinch hitters, it would be lack of pinch runners. Lind and Arencibia are both better options with the bat. But in a late game situation a Mike McCoy on the bench would be useful.

    • Wouldn’t that be Rajai and whoever isn’t the 2B for the game? Two high quality speed options, imho.

      • boni and Izturis will probably both start most games with Lawrie out. So basically you have one decent pinch runner. who is also your only decent pinch hitter. McCoy would end up very valuable if you decided to pinch run for a slow guy and pinch for a lefty.

    • Wow. So is that the argument?

      AA should have exposed a potentially valuable reliever to waivers so he could have Mike McCoy on the roster for half a week?

      Mike McCoy?

      Really?

  23. I noticed a few months ago that Sheehan is a member of the Jays front office, as the “Baseball Information Analyst”: http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/team/front_office.jsp?c_id=tor

    And he’s tweeting disapproval of Jays roster moves?

    I don’t know what that means, and it’s strange that the connection never comes up. The page has been updated very recently, since Dan Evans is listed.

  24. Isn’t the single biggest reason to delay making these decisions keeping depth in case of an injury? Seeking someone through waivers probably doesn’t change but if you had an early season injury to a reliever aren’t you significantly better off to have one of these guys versus a questionable call up from AAA?

    Much more of a fan of keeping longer term flexibility because injuries happen.

    • Bingo.

      That’s exactly why you do it. Soreness or injury to anyone in the first weekend and you slide them to the DL in Lawrie’s place.

  25. Why are we exposing anyone to waivers? if we break with 8 relievers, I assume the bullpen would look like this:

    Janssen
    Santos
    Oliver
    Delabar
    Rogers
    Loup
    Cecil
    Jeffress
    (This is also how the bullpen looks on the jays depth chart)

    isn’t the logical move here to keep both Cecil and Jeffress and send down Loup? Loup has options and chances are we’re going to need to bring up a reliever at some point anyways.

    plus, Cecil is our only long man out of the pen, especially with Happ in the rotation now. and I also wouldn’t be to worried about lefties because Delabar has some very good reverse splits.

    If we lose Cecil/Jeffress we’re going to short on BP depth that Loup could provide if we leave him in Buffalo.

  26. I think this is dumb, even if only for four days.

    If the goal is to sneak Jeffress through waivers (and waiting 4 days helps? arguably?), just send Loup down. They’re WAY less likely to need Loup in the first week than a bench spot.

  27. I can’t believe nobody has brought this up yet: WHAT IF ONE OF OUR RELIEVERS GETS INJURED BEFORE LAWRIE COMES OFF THE DL???

    (and that’s in addition to the other good points already made)

    K-Law usually knows what he’s talking about, but I disagree with him on this one. And I don’t think it’s cause I’m being a homer.

  28. I fucking love that this is the topic of discussion, what to do with the 25th roster spot, rather than worrying about major holes. Go Jays!

  29. If, for some reason, this comes back to bite the Jays in the ass, then I’ll say it was a bad decision. Until then, fuck it! Baseball is almost returned, stop trying to shit on the parade with your worrying Mr. Sportswriter.

  30. I’m going with the view that going with an extra reliever for 4 days isn’t a horrible price to pay for the shot at preserving an extra bullpen arm. And when you think about the injury nightmares of last year, and consider that either Janssen or Santos could suffer a setback at any time, I don’t think it’s such a bad gamble at all. Especially when the Jays don’t HAVE to lose either Cecil or Jeffress just yet.

  31. Much ado about nothing!
    J o T is right, Go Jays!

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