Thanks to some comments from John Farrell that hit the internet on Wednesday, questions about the Jays’ player development structure– an impossibly easy topic for any fucking idiot to spout a hopelessly uninformed opinion on at this stage of a lost season– have abounded. And I don’t mean Farrell by “any idiot,” since he’s one of the few people with some kind of actual insight into how the Jays’ front office thinks and how the organization operates in the depths of its minor league system. What am referring to, though, is much of what dribbled out of my speakers during what seemed like hours of discussion on the subject yesterday on the Fan 590.

Good lord.

To refresh your memory, here are the comments, via Evan Drelich of MassLive.com:

“We can have a seminar on this question — not just because it’s Toronto and Boston,” Farrell said. “There are very distinct differences and it starts, I think it starts, at the top. And the reason I say that: I found Toronto to be a scouting-based organization, which to me is on one plane, one-dimensional. You’re looking at tools. Here, it’s a player-development based system. It’s the paths of the individuals that are running the organization. And that’s not to be critical.

“We all know that there’s three different veins in this game that people advance (through): baseball operations, scouting, player development. Well, in the player-development vein, you’re going to look at things in three dimensions: mentally, physically, fundamentally to address and develop people, or develop an organization. I think as a scouting base, you go out and you evaluate the physical tools. And that’s kind of where it ends, or that’s the look at that time. That was my experience, that was my opinion.”

What jumps out, of course, is that he mentions fundamentals (we think), and the Jays are bad at those, right??? And just where are all of these developed players anyway!!

Well, guess what? We can actually think about these things– to an extent.

Now, I’m not going to say that the Jays may not be so enamoured with tools that they occasionally ignore a player’s lack of fundamentals– I think Emilio Bonifacio was maybe emblematic of that, though I’d caution anyone ready to assume his lack of success here means that, as a concept, overlooking fundamentals a bit is necessarily a bad thing. Colby Rasmus, for example, has been one of the Jays’ better players this year, and yet he routinely misses cutoff men and throws the ball up the line when attempting to throw out runners at the plate. Yasiel Puig misses cutoff men too, and he’s helped transform the Dodgers into a winner since be arrived there. Jose Bautista has made some awful baserunning mistakes this year, yet he’s one of the best players in the game. Talent, in other words, overcomes those mental or fundamental blips, and there are examples all over the place– on teams with supposed winning cultures and everything!

That isn’t to say fundamentals aren’t important, of course, but the nonsensical emphasis on them– and on some bogus crisis of “culture,” being put forth by TV commentators not clever enough to find… not just a more worthwhile explanation for what’s gone wrong, but maybe the fact that there really is no neat and tidy explanation to fucking pontificate about– is not doing anybody any good, and certainly not heightening the discourse.

That no neat explanation may exist is a horribly unsatisfying thing for a lot of fans to contemplate, I understand, but think of the 21 WAR stat I’ve noted a couple of times this week. Last year Brandon Morrow, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, Jose Reyes and Maicer Izturis combined to produce 21 wins above replacement, per Baseball Reference– exactly as many wins above replacement as the Detroit Tigers offence has produced so far this season. This year, through injuries and underperformance, they’ve all combined to be below replacement level.

If you add together the rWAR produced by hitters and pitchers from each club in the league, you get a pretty good picture of how teams stack up: Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, the Dodgers, Texas, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Tampa, St. Louis, Baltimore and Oakland are the tops, while Houston, Miami and Minnesota are the worst. It passes the smell test. And those best teams all have combined WAR totals above 30 (with the Red Sox and Tigers being the only ones above 40). The Jays sit currently at 24.1– higher, in fact, than you might expect, given their record, which may actually lend some credence to the notion that things like poor fundamentals have cost them, at least a little bit.

Regardless, while the math of simply adding the 21 WAR from last year to the club’s total doesn’t quite work–  for example, there have been small positive value performances from some of the guys who’ve filled that void, like Todd Redmond and Munenori Kawasaki– even ten additional wins of value would put the Jays on par with the Pirates, and behind only the Red Sox among AL East teams.

Does that mean that their record would correspond? I’m not suggesting that at all, but what I’m saying is, let’s not fucking kid ourselves about the root of the Jays’ problems here. Brandon Morrow got hurt, Josh Johnson was alternately hurt and fucking terrible, Maicer Izturis and Melky Cabrera bombed, R.A. Dickey wasn’t as advertised, Jose Reyes missed more than a third of the season, and Brett Lawrie was injured twice and slow in getting up to speed after essentially missing Spring Training.

That’s not on player development. That’s not on fundamentals. That’s not on culture. That’s not on the manager.

And it’s really, really, not fucking difficult to grasp. They didn’t “bad culture” away a bunch of skill and health, for fuck sakes.

Which isn’t to say that the Jays shouldn’t have a focus on playing good fundamental baseball as their young players work their way through the system, or that we shouldn’t be wary of a vision in which the club advances and covets guys with monstrous tools with little thought to anything else, but… uh… is that really what’s happening? They’re just letting guys like Anthony Gose or Dan Norris float along on their tools with no guidance in their development? They don’t have roving instructors like Sal Fasano or Tim Raines to precisely guide prospects in fundamentals? They’re not advancing Kevin Pillar– not a big tools prospect at all– just the same as anybody else, on merit?

Sure, you’ll get the odd Moises Sierra show up as an injury fill-in with little-to-no concept of how to actually play the game, or you’ll have to endure far too many years of J.P. Arencibia trying to learn this whole “catching” thing seemingly on the fly. You’ll get a Yan Gomes being regarded as positionless and then turning up in fucking Cleveland looking every bit a guy who can actually catch at the big league level (which, actually… that’s pretty damning given the pile of oily rags they currently let trot out behind the plate). You’ll get a Rajai Davis, who is who he is, just like he was in the Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Oakland organizations previously. But how much do those examples really speak to what the Jays are doing, and whether they’re caught up looking only at physical tools “and that’s where it ends”?

They do, a little, I think, but that’s hardly conclusive. And Farrell’s insight is interesting, but given the way his relationship with the Jays ended, and who his current employers are, he’s hardly reliable.

The fact is, there simply isn’t nearly enough data to use to reach any kind of reasonable, informed conclusion about what the Jays may or may not be doing wrong in this area. Of course, that’s doesn’t stop two thirds of the fan base from bellowing “DURRRR FYRE GOBBONS!” at every opportunity, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when people do anyway.

What we can do, however, is tackle the myth– which I think also fuels much of the instant agreement some people have when it comes to negative comments about player development– that the Jays system simply doesn’t produce big league players.

True, the Jays haven’t produced a homegrown star in quite a number of years, but that doesn’t mean they’ve done nothing, and that doesn’t give anybody license to tie past failures into what the current regime is doing. The jury is still way out on what Alex Anthopoulos has done since he took over, but there’s still some value in noting a few things about where the system is at– and where it was before he got here.

Firstly, though 2006 was a bit of a watershed for the Blue Jays under J.P. Ricciardi, taking high schooler Travis Snider with their first overall pick, they still only selected four high schoolers in the first 20 rounds of that draft. In each of 2004 and 2005 the number was two. I’ve heard it theorized, but can’t for the life of me find the citation, that around that time, as more organizations adopted Moneyball types of thinking and applied them in very narrow ways, the pool of draft picks those teams looked at somewhat seriously dried up pretty quickly. With that in mind, it’s not really fair to look at those earlier years in comparison to what a team like Boston was doing– selecting bushels high upside guys and, under the old CBA, grabbing all kinds of over slot talent, which the then-thrifty Jays wouldn’t dream of.

Obviously the Red Sox had the better vision for building through the draft at that point, and it shows very plainly in the players selected in those years. From 2004 to 2006 the Red Sox drafts produced eventual quality big leaguers Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, Josh Reddick, and Daniel Bard. For the Jays that period brought Adam Lind, Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch, Ricky Romero, and Travis Snider.

Ugh. (And, yes, I’m using the term “quality” loosely in the Jays’ case.)

In 2007 the Jays’ thinking changed. They weren’t quite as heavily seduced by tools as they’ve become now, but they did take seven high schoolers in the first twenty rounds, as they did again in 2008, adding six in 2009.

Contrast that with the drafts under Alex Anthopoulos, where they took 18 and 21 high schoolers in the two years under the old CBA, and 12 and 9 in the past two drafts, in which the rounds prior to ten are saturated with cheap college seniors to help the the team horde bonus pool money for the toolsy, projectionable prep players they fancy.

Because of the length of time it takes for drafted players to reach the big leagues, and the fact that the Jays in 2010 became so prep-heavy, I think it’s actually understandable why fans may think there’s a worrying gap in the club’s talent pipeline, when the reality is that it’s entirely to be expected. Not only that, but it’s actually quite impressive that AA’s drafts have produced two of the top 50 prospects in baseball, Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard, and that his organization identified, acquired, and for three years developed another, Travis d’Arnaud, who came to them as the Halladay trade’s wild card, an A-ball catcher with a high upside but no sure thing to become even what he has: the game’s top catching prospect.

Though not this regime’s drafts– and no matter how much people want to bleat about Anthopoulos being some kind of disciple of Ricciardi, the fact that he was there doesn’t make these his drafts, and I also don’t think anyone would have ever confused J.P. Moneyball for someone running a “scouting-based organization”– I think it’s at least somewhat fairer to look at the years 2007 through 2009, to see how the club has fared in terms of producing homegrown big leaguers, as compared to a couple of lauded competitors: the Red Sox and Rays.

You may be shocked to learn that the Jays wind up looking pretty good… sort of.

By the end of last season, seven players the Jays had drafted and signed in 2007 had made their big league debuts. The number for the Red Sox is five– though three players they drafted and didn’t sign are also now big leaguers as well: Yasmani Grandal, Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch. For the Rays it’s three, with unsigned picks Joey Terdoslavich and Will Smith also having gone back into the draft and popped up elsewhere.

Before defenders of the Jays crow about it, though, there’s a bit of a quality-versus-quantity issue going on here. The Rays netted David Price, Matt Moore, and Stephen Vogt (now of Oakland) from the ’07 draft. For Boston, it’s Anthony Rizzo, Will Middlebrooks, Nick Hagadone, Ryan Pressly, and Drake Britton. The Jays came up with J.P. Arencibia, Marc Rzepczynski, Brett Cecil, Darrin Mastroiannni, Brad Mills, Brad Emaus, and Trystan Magnuson– and I think you can partly attribute a number of those guys having actually been in the Majors to the fact that they played for, y’know, teams like the Jays.

From the 2008 draft the Jays had, by the end of last, year graduated five players to the Majors: Eric Thames, Tyler Pastornicky, David Cooper, Danny Farquhar, and Evan Crawford. Not an impressive group, but Boston’s isn’t particularly so either– Ryan Lavarnway, Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Kyle Weiland, and Casey Kelly– and the Rays hadn’t graduated anybody by the end of last season (an endpoint I’m using only because Baseball Reference hasn’t added 2013 debuts to the stats for players on their draft pages yet– I’d be sure to note any key guys who debuted this year, but I fully admit I might be missing the odd fringy guy).

The number for the Rays from the 2009 draft is again zero. Boston’s draft that year has produced Alex Wilson and Chris McGuinness so far. For the Jays, it’s Yan Gomes, Aaron Loup, Chad Jenkins, and Drew Hutchison– plus they drafted a decent prospect in James Paxton (and didn’t sign him, of course), and saw Jake Marisnick debut this year for the Miami Marlins.

Again, some of this is to do with the Jays having needs at the big league level, and because they were rushing guys and avoiding Las Vegas, as well, but it doesn’t quite paint the grim picture that I think exists in a lot of minds, does it?

And looking at 2010, while the Red Sox got one of their better prospects, Garin Cecchini, the Rays so far aren’t looking like anyone terribly impactful will come from that draft, and the Jays picked up the former Lansing three. So…

What does it all mean? This small slice of data doesn’t come close to showing us the whole picture, and I certainly wouldn’t want to say those inclined to be worried by John Farrell’s words that there couldn’t possibly be anything to be concerned about, I just… I don’t know how one would make a coherent argument that things are as out of whack as Farrell’s quotes and the results of this season make it seem, out of what little we, as fans, know about what’s going on internally or how this all works.

That, I think, is especially so given how easily the myths that the Jays’ fundamentals and lack of homegrown players are some kind of major concern can be dispelled. It’s certainly not as simple as drawing a straight line from observed fundamentals to the club’s record or the manager’s office, or a lack of recent star products to a player development apparatus that’s got it all wrong.

Comments (127)

  1. That was way too much reading for my ADD.

  2. Seriously, though, from 04-07 the Red Sox drafted Pedroia, Ellsbury, Buchholz, Lowrie, Masterson, Reddick, Bard, Rizzo, and Middlebrooks. How fucking impressive is that?

    • I hate them, but shit the know what they are doing? what is the jays list for successful picks in those draft years?

      • I should really re read stuf before I post it. I sound like the instructions for some knockoff electrical equipment from china.

    • Half those players were dealt away too, before becoming stars or serviceable players, so one could imagine being a Red Sox fan griping that Red Sox grow homegrown talent and deal them before they are good (which would be a dumb thing to say considering)

      I think a lot of people take what Farrell say and run with it too far. The Fan 590 has been talking about it ad nauseam of late

    • Great article. I think that some of what was lost in what Farrell said is that there are three veins to stocking your team – you talk about the fact that the Jays have drafted reasonably well the last few years (although, they would have had far more picks over that span than the Red Sox, right?), and that’s great, but I guess what Farrell is saying is that the Jays haven’t developed those players as well as they could have, implying quantity over quality, while Boston is looking at the quality over quantity approach. I could be wrong, but that’s a little what it sounds like when presented with the draft results.

      Either way, the Jays this year represented a vastly new group of faces, all of whom were “developed” elsewhere. A lot of the new guys HAVE done well this year, and guys that really learned the skills that make them successful (Rasmus, Bautista, EE) learned them in Toronto. So, there’s something to be said for that. I don’t think it’s the crisis a lot of people out there want it to be.

      That said, Boston’s approach could help guys like Josh Johnson, Ricky Romero and JP Arencibia, as many of their problems may be on the mental side of things… maybe?

    • Very impressive. AA will fix it but the Jays need to listen to JF. Gillick was much more a player development guy truth be told. We’ll get two really good players (we should anyway) in the ’14 Draft and see some of the young guys the rest of the way. I think AA and Paul learned a ton this season and we’ll see many changes, more than what they are publicly saying.

  3. I dont understand how it could be seen as choosing to draft guys with tools or choosing to develop…. wouldn’t the fucking goal be to do both as well as possible?

    • That’s it.

      Not understanding why this is an either or thing.

      Draft toolsy guys. Teach them fundamentals and Presto. Parade down Yonge street.

    • What Ferrell is saying is that the Jays Sr. Management came up through the the scouting stream. They know it well, and understand how to scout and what resources the scouting department need. The other side of this is that perhaps someone coming up through the Scouting Department, as AA has, doesn’t know how to build the Pl.ayer Development team quite as well as a Scouting Team. The positive is that the Jays are known for having a great scouting team. The negative is that some young players are smart enough to know that they do not develop players further than their existing skill set very well. Some have elected not to sign with Toronto for that reason. The Jays need to improve their Player Development resources to make the most of their scouting and drafting.

  4. What bothers me about this current team is that as players went down to injury there was literally no depth in the organization for a proper plan B. Reyes = Kawasaki, Morrow and Johnson being out = Rogers and Redmond, JP and Thole both being shitty in their own ways = absolutely no plan B, Melky and Rasmus = Pillar and Gose. All of these plan B’s are well under the guys theyre trying to replace. Hell at catcher there’s nothing, what are they gonna do, call up Nickeas? Maybe rish Jimenez?

    • Are most other teams that much better – depth wise?

    • How many organizations have plan B’s that aren’t shitty, though? The Yankees did about as well as you can expect with their depth, and those guys are all stil completely shit.

    • Spell check

    • Seriously. Is there any team in baseball this isn’t true of? Nobody has a war chest of quality major leaguers waiting in the minors or the bench. Quality major leaguers in such situations go to other teams as free agents to get playing time or are traded to other teams for other more useful pieces. Rogers, Redmond, Kawasaki are and were more than adequate fill-ins. The problem is the shittiness of everyday players that were reasonably expected to be solid major league players at worst as illustrated by Stoeten’s 21 WAR stat.

      • Bingo

      • Ah hah,,, so tell me, if it wasnt the manager and wasnt the fill ins, what was it?

        • The best answer is exactly what I just said and what Stoeten wrote in the post…an incredible amount of proven talent with track records who are basically all everyday players and starting pitchers improbably collectively shitting the bed.

  5. Stoets…do you mind if I cut-and-paste some of your comments (with accreditation, of course) to school some of the clods at the Globe and Mail?
    If I read one more “Jays suck, fire everyone. Culture of mediocrity” one more time, I may go out and buy some bullets.

  6. Well said.

    It’s so refreshing to read articles that are well thought out.

    I’ve had to ban the Fan 590 from my ears, there’s too much verbal crap coming out of those guys mouths.

    You’d think at least “baseball” central would have some in-depth analysis.

    • Well in the past two jays talk a guy talked about that he wants Rogers to sell the team because Beeston wears no socks and yesterday the racist Davis guy so yeah….

  7. can we label these ‘long reads’ only so i don’t get half way through reading them on my phone before i realize that i’ve been sitting in the bathroom stall at work for 20 minutes and am probably making everyone think i have a severe diarrhea issue?

    - guy who takes 20 minute poops at work

  8. This epic piece was pretty much the final word in a Twitter fight I’ve been having for days. Now instead of having to cram my wisdom into 140 characters or less I can just send a link and say “fuck off”.


  9. It’s just that they need to take infield more often…

  10. Nice read stoeten

    I have a question: does the blog content slow down in the fall due to this crap year?

    • The dog days ain’t easy, typically, yes.

      • Will there be today in mlbtr back again that was a good rumour roundup during the hot stove

        • Oh yeah, the off-season will be as busy as ever, I’m sure. Our traffic and blog activity peak in April and December and, thanks to how awesomely predictable the Jays always are, pretty much slowly go down over time after that. Not that there won’t be all kinds of stuff in between, too.

  11. Something that I think is not mentioned enough development-wise too is the fact the Jays hired some roaming instructors to teach fundamentals across all levels. Pat Hentgen was one last year I believe, and this season we have Sal Fasano and Tim Raines. I think we all wish Sal Fasano had spent a bit more time with JP (when he did in Chicago earlier in the season, there was some visible improvements). I think this is missed when discussing development, or the seemingly lack thereof, with the Jays organization.

    • That’s a great point– I might slip it into the piece, in fact!

    • Maybe JPA should live with Fasano this off season. Maybe he can pull his head out of his ass for him and pop the ego balloon as well.

    • also Steve Springer, of “quality at-bats” fame and active ALL-CAPS twitter style. some good MLB.com articles about him in the Jays organization for reference. The Jays having him on payroll is about as immediate and effective a rebuttal of Farrell’s point as I can think of.

      • He’s quickly become one of my favourite Twitter follows in a hilarious without realizing it kind if way. “#HITBALLHARDUWIN #COMPETE”

  12. This is all just one big — “Suck it Toronto” from Farrell. Well-trolled Mr Farrell.

  13. An important aspect of development, as it relates to pitchers, is teaching them the proper mechanics so that they are more effective and less injury prone.

    I forget the numbers but the Rays have not had a Tommy John surgery in years. Plus, the vast majority of their starts over the past several years have been by home grown talent. Price was a first round pick. But Moore and Cobb were much later picks, so its not like they just had high picks that panned out. Their program works.

    Zaun frequently comments that while the Rays emphasize command of the fastball to both sides of the plate…and Andrew Friedman says the same thing…..the Blue Jays draft “toolsy” guys and let them do their own thing. So you get a lot of guys with poor mechanics, throwing high stress pitches like sliders instead of fastballs and changeups.
    This makes them both less effective (Romero) and more prone to injury (want a list?)

    I’m not a coach or player development expert, so I don’t know. But if what Zaun says is accurate, then that is an issue that needs to be addressed.

    • This is all fair, for sure.

    • I read something to that effect in Sports Illustrated. Maybe last summer?

      Pretty sure most if not all young Rays starters are required to complete and be successful at every level of the minor leagues. I’m sure there are exceptions and variances.

    • a number of actual or potential guys the Jays have gone over had good fastballs they could command and little else, interestingly. Roberto Osuna and Syndergaard fit that description, as did Phil Bickford (knocked down for not really having any secondary but having a plus fastball he could command well) and Tirado and Labourt in Bluefield reportedly have fine command and fastballs. One of the possible trends to take from the Jays’ last few years of signings, drafting, and development is that they prioritize having a plus fastball that the pitcher can command over many other things.

      • the only high-profile pitching prospects with poor fastball command that the Jays have gone after recently have to be Sanchez and Adonys Cardona, off of the top of my head.

  14. When things go bad it’s easy to start blaming everything under the sun. I’m more concerned about the product on the field and why it’s under performing in areas like fundamentals and approach at the plate than I am about the young players coming up. When your payroll is 125 million you would expect the ability to play some smart baseball would be included. Pointing to development as a problem on a team full of players developed elsewhere doesn’t make any sense, JPA excluded.

  15. The proof of how successful the player devlopment is comes from how many big leagues the team produces AND how good they are. The jays have a very worrying trend of players who were great when they came up for the first 3-4 years (Hill, lind, rios, wells, romero) then turned into shit. Are the coaches in the minors teaching these guys how to make adjustments and the mental side of the game adequately enough? That is what I think was what farrell was talking about and he is spot on in that regard.

    • Ridiculous.

    • Wells was never “shit” he was a bandaid for a bit and overpaid but never shit. Lind and Hill were victims of the Dwayne Murphy school of hitting but Hill succeeded outside of Toronto, Lind has about the same skill as he’s always had, he just had one really good season that set the bar too high. Rios went onto big things and Romero,,, well I think it’s all mental with him. So yes, this is in fact dumb.

  16. I have to say Stoeten, I don’t always agree with you, but I do most of the time. Kudos for at least always doing your homework. Hard to argue with the logic in this piece at all. Nicely done.

  17. Also,,, if were talking player development, when exactly can you all remember a home grown star player in the Jays line up? Aaron Hill? Been a while eh? Especially looking around and seeing a lot of teams with one or several home grown stars contributing in their line ups.

    • Guy, are you seriously asking to be banned for stupidity? Because I’m not above that.

      Read the post, for one, for fuck sakes.

      • Why would I get banned? I simply asked a question related to player development. I read the post, you make a ton of great points and over all I agree with it all but I felt that I made a valid point, there really hasnt been any home grown stars coming out of the system and I kinda feel like that’s a problem. Maybe not precisely on point but hardly worthy of the ban hammer dude.

        • You’re saying ridiculous things all over the place.

          • Im not insulting anyone, being a dick or getting in anyone’s face, I am stating my opinions is all. Is it so wrong to suggest that Morrow is done as a starter? Is it wrong to be a little raw in the crotch about this season as a whole? What else have I said that is so ridiculous? I don’t like Anthony Gose either, but that’s merely my opinion. Banning someone because you have a difference of opinion would be a slippery slope Stoeten. While I may have some “out there” opinions I do have some decent ones to add to the conversation.

    • Sure, and if we’re talking about player development, we might as well talk about below-average players acquired by the Jays who managed to absolutely blossom into stars shortly after joining the team. I can’t think of any, but I’m sure if I did some research I could come up with some.

      • Brett Lawrie could be in that group however I feel like the jury is still out on him. Apart from him, the Jays havent done enough sell type trading to acquire guys that would fit in that group. Id say Rasmus would be the best example even if he was major league ready when acquired.

        • Are… are you serious? You give the Jays no credit for the “player development” shown by Bautista and Encarnacion?

          • I thought we were talking about minor player development here like from the ground up. EE and Bautista along with Cecil, Delabar and others could be involved here but I left them out because they were already well into their careers when they came to Toronto.

            • They’re players developed by the Jays. We’re talking about the Jays player development. I thought that qualified them.

      • Ooooh, ohhh!

        How about Encarnacion? HE’S GOOD!

        And that Bautista guy. He not bad too!

    • Buck, I think player development encompasses a lot more than the teams success in drafting. It’s also important to consider players the jays drafted now having success on other teams, as well as prospects acquired by the jays now having success on the big team (pretty much just Lawrie for now). Obviously the Jays would have played a large role in developing in each of these scenarios.

      • Rasmus….

        • I really only meant prospects in the minors when acquired. But Rasmus is obviously an example of a player coming into form (or returning to form really). Possibly due to player development, but also potentially through a “hands-off” approach.

  18. So yeah, fuck off Farrell.

  19. So your conclusion is that the Jays’ drafting strategy of targetting high-ceiling players (rather than picking more high-floor players) is actually paying off in (eventually) developing a higher number of major leaguers than other teams that may be taking fewer risks?

    (Sorry if I’m mispreresenting – getting a bit Friday-afternoon-bleary-brained.)

    I’ve been thinking about this lately, because I think a number of years ago the Jays came to the (perhaps logical) conclusion that they needed to take bigger risks to try to eventually get “star” (or near star) players at many positions, in order to compete in the AL East.

    But I think the AL East landscape has changed now, and this year the Jays have been killed by a lack of *adequate* players on the margins, rather than a lack of star players at the top-end. So do they still have the right strategy for drafts/trades? Or do they need to adjust to try to attain more “high floor” kind of players?

    (Did that make any sense?)

    • You make sense, but its a tough question. I wish there was a happy median somewhere in the middle, but maybe that’s not realistic. Personally, I’d stick with going for high ceiling and just look elsewhere around the league for solid depth guys/fringe average players (since they’re so much easier to acquire).

    • reminds me of some of the hockey analytics studies showing that most depth guys in the NHL are former top prospects/high ceiling prospects and that drafting players who are already role players in their junior leagues isn’t a great strategy.

  20. The Jays are fucking cursed. i will always be a fan but this is the year that killed my soul. I have no faith in this team ever fucking accomplishing anything and nothing will ever fall in place for this team to have success because the team will always be fucked. I will never again have any expectations for this stupid fucking team. Fuck the Blue Jays. Fuck Major League baseball. Another 20 years of this shit and the Jays will just end up leaving town as who the fuck is paying money and cheering for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs for 40 fucking years. I’m out and most of you should be to. Leafs fans have been holding on to false hope since 1967. The Leafs are never winning the Cup and the Blue Jays are never making the playoffs…ever. Fuck sports.

  21. When they were on an 11 game win streak and ahead of the Rays and closing on a playoff spot, no one faulted Gibby or AA or fundamentals or anything.

    All anyone really was saying was: “too bad they had such a shitty start” or “too bad we had such injury issues at the start”.

    Couldn’t all these brilliant commentators see the lack of fundamentals despite those “flukey” 11 wins? Or did they magically possess fundamentals for 11 games and 11 games only?

  22. “but it doesn’t quite paint the grim picture that I think exists in a lot of minds, does it?”

    It would if you used a relevant stat like WAR produced from those drafts instead of “made it to the majors”.

  23. That was a great read and I managed to get through a Stella while I digested on your points and views. Well done Stoeten

  24. The talent in Low-A is pretty great. You can’t quantify it yet and won’t see it on any top 100 lists because A ball is so far from the Big Leagues. But all you need to do is read the odd article on BA about promising young guys to know that the Jays are stocked at the lower levels.

    • pretty psyched about all those guys

      Mitch Nay, Matt Dean, Barretto, DJ Davis, Dawel Lugo, etc

      Add in 2 top 11 picks from the 2014 draft and the Jays could very well be back in the top 5 farm systems real soon

      • Yeah, I love that there are some good positional prospects in there.
        Barreto and Lugo look like they are going to be pretty special hitters.
        And The boys at BA rave about Davis and his tools.

        • I’ll try to find some non paywall links later. Apologies Stoeten on the Norris one, I was drunk when I posted it and I felt the game threat needed some positivity.

          Mom always told me not to drink and post.

        • Yea MLB currently has Jays as 2nd worst ranked farm system in all of MLB but that’s largely because they have no real AAA prospects or AA barely, and most of their top prospects are pitchers, there is very little variety

          Once the Bluefield and Vancouver guys move up next year and they continue to play as well, the Jays could move up a ton in the rankings.

          Stroman is almost MLB ready, both him and Nolin must have had their stock jump a little. Jiminez is close to MLB. Norris is turning it around.

          There’s a ton of depth, just no real studs other than Sanchez but if even 1 or 2 of the low A guys pan out, the Jays could jump into top 10 or 5 within a few years time

  25. Yeah. The Jays are great. They draft great and they win every trade. AA is a genius and the only reason they suck this year is because of bad luck…

    Lame…Time to clean house and bring in some proven winners as opposed to trying to “create” winning GM’s and Managers in an environment that hasn’t won in 20 years…

    • Where’s the creativity? If you’re going to spout crap like this at least have a colourful metaphor or humorous string of profanity. Otherwise it’s just boring bullshit.

      • It’s not crap moron, it’s the truth, which is in short supply around all the DJF propaganda that’s been spouted this season. Excuses dude…or dudette… whatever you are. As Jays fans we deserve more, and not enough people are asking for accountability, they’re making excuses, and I for one am tired of it. We need an Arab Springesque uprising of responsible yet pissed off Jays fans that demand better ;)

    • Blair & Sam Cosentino say that AA & Gibby have to show progress by July 1, 2014 or else Rogers should reevaluate their jobs

  26. Don’t talk like this too much or he will ban you to control the narrative here. Which of course is that the Jays draft the best, win every trade and are the best run organization.

    Thoughts to the contrary will get you banned. That’s why this site is one big circle jerk around AA’s picture.

  27. Good read. I knew the Sox were successful drafting, but I didn’t think they were that good. Forgot about Rizzo. I totally agree that it is far to early in the AA tenure to even grasp the drafting and development process as being successful or a failure. Either way, it the team is heading in the right direction given the complete lack of quality picks during the JP era. I especially like your rational on what went wrong this season, while others are willing to believe our downfalls to minimal decisions or personnel issues;

    “Brandon Morrow got hurt, Josh Johnson was alternately hurt and fucking terrible, Maicer Izturis and Melky Cabrera bombed, R.A. Dickey wasn’t as advertised, Jose Reyes missed more than a third of the season, and Brett Lawrie was injured twice and slow in getting up to speed after essentially missing Spring Training.
    That’s not on player development. That’s not on fundamentals. That’s not on culture. That’s not on the manager.
    And it’s really, really, not fucking difficult to grasp. They didn’t “bad culture” away a bunch of skill and health, for fuck sakes.”

    DJF Gold.

    • Yup

    • Yeah. It’s just bad luck right? Wrong! It’s a bad idea blowing up in AA’s face.
      To be fair, I was stoked in April albeit with a touch of buyer’s remorse. But I’m a fan and bear no responsibility for this season’s shitshow of a clusterfuck.
      However, someone is ultimately responsible for steering into or failing to steer out of the rocks.
      This team showed no resiliency or ability to adapt to circumstance and that has to fall on either AA or Gibby.

      • No.

        • You are right. My knee-jerk reaction was to grab the closest slow-moving object and sacrifice it to the gods.
          AA shouldn’t be fired, he has shown some true talent in the past and is young enough to learn. Why let a competitor benefit for a mistake you’ve already paid for?
          Gibbons, he’s harmless. A cheery mascot that tells weird jokes and keeps things lose. Managers don’t mean shit anyways, why blame Gibby?
          It’s Paul Fucking Beeston that’s got to go.
          That sockless gnome’s fingerprints are all over this mess!
          Fire Beeston!

          • Yeah! Because sports franchises don’t have to worry about ever enduring a stretch of bad luck that immediately affects their level of performance. Then the next season, with just a few minor tweaks, and with the same core looks like an entirely different team. Everything and anything that could go wrong, did. I don’t question his moves, because quite frankly, that’s what the fans wanted, for the Jays to open up their wallets and expand the payroll. I can understanding the scrutiny of the Dickey deal, being risk/reward with a 38 year old knuckler, but isn’t that what the fans wanted. To take risk. To go for it!

            If anyone needs to worry about job security, or updating their resume, it’s Pete Walker, in my opinion, and even still you can’t really totally fault him for how bad the rotation has been. Gibbons should be given at least next season, and AA should definitely be given two seasons. I honestly don’t think they can be this bad next year, unless we are under some sick-injury-voodoo-curse put on us by some mass-hole, I still think a healthy core of this team could be a very successful and entertaining ball team. Besides, the way Gibbons looks these days, he might just resign.

          • Beeston is far from the problem.

            • Somebody is responsible for this garbage. You can’t blame luck for everything that went wrong this year. It’s either bad planning or poor execution on the ground. That’s the way the real world works.
              Good organizations simply don’t fold the way the Jays have the past…10 years?

  28. I usually don’t mind most of his stuff but Cathal Kelly’s latest on the contract situations of the Jays made me angry in ways I haven’t been…since, well very recently. But it still sucks. Makes it seem like the money owed to Dickey, Santos , and Morrow are handcuffing the team, while really glazing over how awesome the EE and Bautista deals are.
    Really, the only scary deal is the Buerhle one. And maybe Reyes as he gets older. Nobody else has a contract that really handcuffs the team. There are no Wellsian contracts on the team.

  29. No, one thing AA did well is stick handle the Wells deal out of town. And the deals he did last off-season were not criticized at the time they were made. We were all swinging from the chandeliers and planning the WS parade down Yonge St.

    I will continue to believe that this season’s disasterama is down to culture shock and maybe Turf shock as well. I cannot otherwise explain the likes of Dickey and Johnson shitting the bed this badly for this long.

    As for Farrell, he never did know what to say and when to say it. If he wants to take shots at the Jays’ system he can sit up there at the top of the division and make his pronouncements. If there is one thing I’m sure of its that, when things go well at Fenway the manager is a hero. And when they go badly–and they often do because Boston is nowhere near as consistently good as NY–the manager is driven out of town with a Boston Globe exposé sticking out his ass. His time will come.

  30. You could have made that point about no one really knowing what the direct correlation was without the tiring exercise of showing how many borderline players we’ve rushed to the show.

    It is blatantly obvious we have no way of actually evaluating the way the Jays go about developing their prospects–although the one person who possibly could know is saying we don’t do it properly.

    Could it be taking a nice dump on us from on high? Sure. But given how we did the same to him (Fu Farrel movement) I’m not really pissed by that, even if it’s true. To be honest, though, I think it may be more than that (which, in fairness, you have already acceded to)

    Basically, JP went for college low ceiling signability and AA’s gone for high risk prep stars.

    I think most of us are/were aware of this, and we know/knew some of these guys were going to be a while in the pipeline.

    I think what’s killed the Jays is that they haven’t gone far ENOUGH is taking their risks. Considering AA’s mandate was to take risks, why have we lost out on every major international free agent? How much better would we be with Darvish or Chapman right now? How much closer would we have been to .500 so we could have addressed the issues? How would it be if Noah and Travis were still Blue Jays and Dickey wasn’t?

    What if we didn’t crassly dismiss Fielder as being fat so we wouldn’t have had to stomach Lind?

    I think THAT is where the antipathy is coming from. The fairly middling prospects traded to the Marlins were not anything we’d necessarily miss–but the Dickey trade robbed us of two major major weapons that might have made us relevant without requiring selling off the anchors of the farm.

    That most of us didn’t know how badly it would turn out at the time really is no salve for that wound, and thus, you are getting the screams of pain from the patients here who are desperate for relief from this disease of a season.

  31. Entertaining read, but the only stat we should focus is wins and at this moment this team is not built to win. Period.

    • Yup….good call. Keep it down to the basics… the fundamentals that the Jays seem to have lost over the last 20 years. Wins are what matter not excuses. Not WAR, fWAR or other bullshit… just win fuckers ;)

  32. I’m sure this has been repeated a time or two, but honestly folks:JP Ricciardi inherted a team that had blue chippers in Alex Rios and Vernon Wells; a team that had Carlos Delgado (albeit on a contract that was absorbing nearly 1/3) and what did he really leave the team with in terms of players the system produced? Adam Lind? Travis Snider? Brett Cecil. The list is unimpressive.

    A number of the prospects such as Sanchez, Baretto, D.Davis, Stroman, Osuna, Norris, Tirado, Hollon who have demonstrated A level propsect potential even though they are not necessarily fully developed prospects.. The point is that this team has invested in the draft and it’s minor league system is nowhere near as apocalyptic as some would like to see it.. The team also also has guys like

    • …guys like Lugo, Nay, Dwight Smith Jr., Garbyszwski, Nessy, Thon Jr., etc.. A bunch of these guys will never make it, but the point is, the Jays still have a bevy of prospects who could make it and do very well. Given the laws of probability a number of these guys will pan out and a couple might be elite players – so they Jays aren’t in as dire shape as most would like to think. What they’re suffering through is the hollowing out of the JPR regime and the total back-to-back misses on Jenkins and McGuire.

      Next year they’ll have a returning Drabek (don’t laugh, his control looks really good so far), Hutch, Ricky (Can\t totally write him off yet), Stroman, Nolin. In short. a good reservoir upon which to draw.

      • Well said I’d love the Jays to run the starters we have on board out next year but add big at 2nd 1b DH with guys with monster bat potential and use our park to our advantage and outscore the other teams

  33. In the interest of accuracy let us not also forget that JPR ad opted Roy Halladay as well as Chris Carpenter..

  34. *adopted

  35. Don’t be an idiot and just trying to troll and piss people off and you won’t get banned. You can respectfully disagree with others

  36. [...] I’m writing largely because I read Andrew Stoeten’s very good piece about player development over at his blog (Drunk Jays Fans). Don’t worry about it too much if you can’t figure [...]

  37. I hate to harp on this but the jays main issue this year has been their poor fielding across the diamond. They have one plus defender in lawrie who has been injured extensively, one above average fielder in bautista and a collection of average to very poor defenders.

    and while some teams understand that the standard fielding stats don’t accurately reflect the impact on the game and adjust accordingly (through proprietary fielding stats or old school scouting) the jays seem to have not.

    in a sport where a decade’s stats are irrelevant because of PED overuse, and where strategies must revert to pre PED tactics, a team that does not adjust their analysis will find itself behind the 8 ball.

    • Rasmus has to be considered an above average fielder. Sure, he makes the odd bad play, but he gets to a lot of balls that others wouldn’t, and covers a lot of ground in center.

      As to returning to pre PED tactics, the game and the way it is analysed has changed dramatically. The value of .OBP now out weighs batting AVG, and in the past, players that were good players when they were young were used well past their expiry date. Today’s game, as seen in almost all sports in the last decade and a half, rely’s more on the youth movement than any era in the game. A lot of records will stand just for the fact that very few position players will be given the chance to play into their 40′s. Also, their is this annoying thing they’re always talking about…. pitch counts…. You just don’t see multiply pitchers throwing over 300 innings a year anymore.

      Not that I don’t think that the Jays need to change their development philosophy. I would love to see them put pitchers on a schedule, as long as their performance is progressing, to move up slowly through the system, much alike the Rays do, and not rush them, even if they are blowing away the competition. Give them a full year in a, another in AA, and another in AAA. That way you can build up arm strength and not have to worry about shutting them down in the latter part of the season when they get here.

      • I appreciate this article and it raises some good points. I wonder about the Jays ability to deveolp pitching. I can’t think of one pitcher (number 1 or 2 starter quality). Since Halliday that this team has ever developed.

  38. but perhaps Ferrel meant to say Jays lack player’s development rather in the Major League levels (mental, physical fundamentals) which is why decent players under performing here and average players performing well in Boston.

  39. I always liked Cliff Fletcher’s comment that the best a GM (in his case, an NHL GM) could hope for over the course of a lengthy career was to be right 51% of the time. I don’t know that it’s right, but it feels weirdly right. For a career, not one year.

  40. [...] John Farrell made some comments last week about the Blue Jays apparent lack of player development. Over at DJF, Andrew Stoeten investigates Farrell’s comments and lays down why they’re kind of dumb. [DJF] [...]

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