8:07 PM ET – Tampa Bay vs. Cleveland – Alex Cobb (4.0 rWAR) vs. Danny Salazar (1.2 rWAR)
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The turf at Rogers Centre looks like a meth addict’s front lawn. It’s got seams, discolourations, and obvious markings from too many years of being rolled and unrolled. This year we’ve heard more than ever about just how fast the surface plays, and I know I’m not alone in strongly suspecting that’s not unrelated to all the wear and tear that comes from how it is used and how frequently it moved around.

This would be bad enough just for the aesthetics, but the problems only start there– and I don’t just mean how hard the thinning surface and the concrete below might be on the bodies of the athletes the Blue Jays pay millions of dollars to and pin the city’s playoff hopes on year-after year. What’s been worse this season is the impact the fast turf had on defenders– in particular, the Jays’ defenders at second base (or at shortstop and third when those positions weren’t being manned by Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie)– and how it has led to Ryan Goins being looked on as some kind of revelation when he was promoted to the Majors in late August.

Now, don’t get me wrong: defensively, Goins certainly has been fantastic. That’s inarguable. I mean, you can’t exactly extrapolate from a 34 game sample of UZR data and pretend like he’s going to be almost three times as good as the best fielding second baseman in the game if given a full season to work with (Darwin Barney’s MLB-leading UZR was 12.5 in 2013, Goins’ UZR/150 is 33.1), but he’s passed the eye test with flying colours, and the data backs it up.

This, however, has led to a lot of people seeing Goins as some kind of a solution to the club’s second base problem heading into next year. It didn’t help that he began his big league career with an eight game hitting streak, which, along with his excellent defence, mitigated the media chatter about how pitiful his bat looked once the streak was broken. Even including those hot first eight games, by the end of the season his major league line had dipped to an unplayably-bad .252/.264/.345.

That’s just a 34 game sample, of course, but batting average and slugging were pretty much what you would have expected given his woeful slash line from the land of the Dave Bushes, Claudio Vargases, Ricky Romeros, and Ramon Ortizes of the world, which this year was .257/.311/.369.

He’s shown in the minors that he can take a walk better than the 1.7% rate he did so in his call-up, so the current on-base is low, but still, I don’t think that line is necessarily so far off what you could expect out of his bat based on how the year in Buffalo went,. And for a fan base that has, rightly, very nearly completed griping J.P. Arencibia out of town, to be pining for a player like that– or even willing accept him as a fall-back– just seems kind of beyond ridiculous to me.

Maybe I’m wrong, though. At the very least, defence isn’t prone to slumps the way bats are, so– especially given the turf and the disasters we witnessed this year at second base– I can understand the impulse to want to go defence first here.

And his numbers in 2012 in New Hampshire maybe offer a glimmer of hope. Playing at age 24, which was average for the Eastern League, he put up an above-league-average slash line, ending up at .289/.342/.403. If he could do that in the big leagues, giddy up! And while New Hampshire is known to have a favourable home park for left-handed hitters, Goins actually fared better on the road in 2012 than at home, and had a more even platoon split than this year as well. While he was even better against right-handed pitching in 2012, against lefties his line was a passable .265/.326/.381, but in Buffalo this year he was a puke-tacular .214/.243/.310 in the split.

Did he just need more time to adjust to the shitballers of the International League? That would be easier to buy if his numbers didn’t go down as the year progressed. But I could buy it… if he could get back to those New Hampshire levels during another stint in Buffalo.

Throwing him into the big leagues, though, at a key position in a season where the club has to do well? You’d sure need a whole lot more belief in him than I have to do such a thing. Yet… with the way offence is going, league wide, it’s maybe not even be that completely fucking crazy! People like myself have noted Kelly Johnson’s name on the list of potential free agents available this winter, but when you look at it, Johnson’s floor, offensively, is what we saw him do in 2012 with the Jays– the .299 wOBA he posted was the lowest of his career. Goins bested that in Buffalo (.311), and he crushed it as a not-too-old prospect at New Hampshire (.336), and would add a whole hell of a lot more value on defence. Obviously those aren’t the Majors, but it’s not inconceivable that he could be good enough.

But he could also be a second baseman who hits like career-bench-player Johnny Mac, getting regular at-bats on a team that has designs on actually winning. Not good.

And shittily, if not for the awful turf, probably not even a question.


Image via blogTO/Keith Watson in the blogTO Flickr pool.

Comments (115)

  1. +[1

  2. Have mercy on me for saying this but,

    Go Rays.

    (only cause I hate cleveland so much tho)

  3. Goins is built for the 25th man, give him that and offer MDR a coaching role or let him go elsewhere.

  4. Goins is depth only. Nice depth to have at AAA, but only depth. Unless the Jays go sign Salty or McCann they can’t afford to carry his bat.

  5. I would accept Goins over KJ if it either replaced JP in a meaningful way or got us Tanaka.

    But as usual you have done a good job keeping shit real here.

  6. It’s games like these that remind me how fun it is to just watch baseball. I don’t really like or hate either team (well, I hate the Rays for the soul fact they’re in the AL East and bitch slap the Jays routinely) so I don’t have a vested interest in who wins. So it’s just enjoyable to watch good at-bats, strong pitching and great plays.
    I’ve noticed that the last couple of days.

  7. What was Jeter like when he was in his early 20s? Don’t get me wrong, not comparing him to Goins. But can offence come to a player as he matures? Was Jeter always great offensively and defensively? Does one or the other tends to develop over time to players who at the end of their career we regard as good? I suppose Gose raises the same question.

    • Jeter was always a good hitter. No comparison.

    • Well Jeter was never great defensively, and always good offensively.
      But I think it’s pretty much agreed that defence peaks early, while offence may take a little time. In other words, the defence you see from a young player is likely the best you’re going to see from him. Offensively, though, it could take until they’re in their mid to late 20s before it comes together.

    • Jeter has never ever been great defensively. And usually you don’t just start hitting at age 25, after not being able to hit at any prior level. Usually late bloomers in the bigs, at least had some success hitting in the minors.

    • They have this thing called Baseball Reference where you can look up the stats of a lot of different players, I think they have them going as far back as Jeter’s rookie year even.

    • Jeter/Goins may be the worst comp of all time….

  8. I don’t mind Goins at second if it means getting a good starter and a decent catcher. 34 games is not enough to evaluate anyone, and I think he’d surprise some people. The reality is the Jays are not going to get 2 starters, a catcher and a second baseman who are all great. If he can play defense like we saw in those 34 games and get a little better with the bat, he’d be aces.

    • That’s why I used the previous two whole seasons of data.

      • Yeah I saw that. Appreciate the number crunching and you’re probably way better at this than I am, but hell, that never stopped me from having an opinion before so …

        There’s a disconnect with how a projected superstar is given until the All Star break or a to get used to major league pitching and how a journeyman type of replacement value player is evaluated at the major league level. What I’m getting at is Goins has a chance to be a really good defender at 2nd and within spitting distance of average at hitting for the position. Exactly the kind of player that we need. Why trade for replacement value or a little under it rather than give him a chance at it? If it doesn’t work out there’s Izturis and Kawasaki to fill in. Or there’s a trade next year. Seems like a reasonable calculated risk.

        • As priorities go I think finding a 2nd baseman ranks behind C and a SP. I can see why people would be ok with Goins at 2nd if we filled the first 2 priorities. If they do fill them then the Jays might not have the resources left to make something happen at 2nd. Not an ideal situation, but his glove keeps it from being a disaster on par with Boni/Izt. It’s hard not to want to pull for this kid.

          • It’s kind of silly to think about it that way, isn’t it? It’s not like Alex can only make one trade offer per day like it’s a video game or something, no excuse for them to get to the end of the off-season and say that they just couldn’t make it happen.

  9. I think he would be a money utility fielder with the big club next year but agree — we need to look for a real bat at 2B if Lind (shudder) and maybe JPA (fuck me) come back

  10. Where can the Jays pick up some exciting players to fill the gaps in the roster? Where do teams pick up players like Yan Gomes, Yunel Escobar and Aaron Hill?

  11. .250 BA is not unplayably bad. You don’t like that it’s a hollow 25% and you don’t like that he didn’t take walks, but if he’s on base one out of four times on a great offense, you can justify it for the glove. Goins isn’t the problem, JPA is and McCann or navarro would allow a spot for Goins.

    Would you accept Barney as a starter?

    I also don’t think it’s legit to bring up how JPA is getting run out of town by the fans. If JPA could hit, he’d be more than tolerable; if he could play defense, his bat would be more tolerable (as you yourself have stated on a few occasions). Goins will be more than acceptable on one side of the ball, so not a fair comparison.

    • I’m alright with Goins at second if the offensive output is improved at C and LF. So really, get a decent hitting catcher and hope Cabrera rebounds and I’m fine with Goins at 2B. Problem is, if catcher’s still an offensive black hole and so is left field, then I don’t give a fuck about Goins’ defence, that’s spots that produce no offence.

      • One of left field (if Cabrera) or catcher (if Gose) must contribute to the offense, with max two glove-first guys in the line up. This is kind of the luxury afforded by having a great hitting shortstop.

  12. I’d like to see the the Anthopoulos buy low on Rickie Weeks. He has an option for 2015 and I’m sure the brewers would eat some salary.

  13. Stoeten, you advocated against the Rangers on account of the unfairness of the schedule. Chicago and Minnesota combined for only 9 wins more than Seattle and Houston, and the Indians feasted on them. So go Rays again.

    If the Rays overcome the unbalanced schedule and win, that’ll put two teams from the toughest division into the playoffs.

  14. Like Caz kinda says, another problem with your whole position on this is the scarcity of better options than Goins. Johnson only put up 1.2 fWAR this year. Goins’ fWAR/600 PA is closer to two and there’s no reason to think he can’t play great defense going forward.

    I think Infante is the only clear upgrade on the market and he’ll have compensation hung on him and cost way more than he’s worth.

    I’m OK with the Jays not getting full value on the FA market this year, but the overpays should be at catcher and maybe SP.

    • There needs to be another option though. As is, you’re going into 2014 with either Goins or Izturis as your starting second baseman. That’s brutal. Even if you bring in someone who’s not a huge upgrade over Goins, at least it’s another body. I guess there’s also Kawasaki, but that’s not a lot of depth considering one has to be a starting second baseman and Reyes and Lawrie have been known to miss some time.

      • f they don’t bring in a 2b, my guess is Kawasaki will be the starter in Buffalo and De Rosa and Izturis will be on the bench. It’s not great depth, but half season layoffs will be impossible to cover regardless. One bonus with Goins is he can capably slide over to shortstop if Reyes has to miss time.

    • Would Infante turn down 1 year/$14m??

      • From the jays? Yes, that’s the offer he’ll have from Detroit, as a starting point. The Tigers will probably try for 2 or 3 years at around $10 mil each, that’s what the Jays would be bidding against. If they did bid and were successful, you’d have to add a second round pick (and the slot $) when thinking about the cost.

        • So the question is, what do you think about Infante for 2 years at $25 mil plus a forfeited pick.

        • I was referring specifically to the compensation comment. I’m not so convinced Detroit would make a qualifying offer. Not saying they won’t try to re-sign him, I just don’t think a) they’ll make a QO or b) he would turn it down

    • Are you looking at all the shortstops, too? Are you considering the trade market?

      • That’s true, I’m not. I’ll look at it that way tomorrow.

        • Just glanced at the list. Stephen Drew is the only other MI I can see that can field and hit. But would he sign up to play second?

          • Or Perralta with a great season after a shitty season, which itself was after a great season which followed 2 in the dump. 2 out of the past 5, coming off a PED suspension. Sounds like a recipe for I don’t know what.

  15. Anyone watching the game? Look at all the little things that go into run prevention. OK pitching, great d, a bit of luck and help from the other team. All together, it makes such a difference.

  16. I know the team runs the risk of running too many platoons, but if they want to go cheap/simple at 2B, I’d offer up a Kawasaki platoon, maybe with someone like Nick Punto or Mark Ellis, who have good numbers vs. lefties.

  17. Is there a way we can get our comments highlighted in yellow without having to reply to Stoeten?
    Because, happy as I am to reply to Stoeten’s brilliance, it would be such an honor to be highlighted independently, just maybe once in my life.

  18. Something else to make Stoeten go postal.

    “I’ll tell you what the GM needs to do for next year, he needs to go get some grinders, some guys who want to play,” one player said. “Look around at all the these empty lockers. I’m no doctor but you can’t tell me all of these guys are so injured or all in Florida re-habbing that they can’t stay for the final weekend of the season.”

    Empty lockers on the final weekend included Edwin Encarnacion (who had wrist surgery), Jose Bautista (currently treating his hip in Dunedin by jogging underwater), Melky Cabrera (knee, back surgery), Brett Cecil (elbow), Maicer Izturis (ankle), Josh Johnson (forearm), Brandon Morrow (forearm) and Colby Rasmus (hit in the eye last week at Fenway Park),


  19. And the Rays win.

  20. Goddamn Rodney is a clown, but cheers to TB for slapping these Indians down. Must be nice to wallop on Chicago and Minneapolis all season. Hit the showers Swisher n Company.

  21. Funny when considering SSS.

    MLB 34 games .252/264/345
    AA 136 games .289/342/.403

    Player B

    MLB ( first 34 games in 2013) .195/.257/.367
    AA 135 games .285/346/.449

    Both play excellent defense.
    This stats thing can be fun.

    • Don’t know

    • Lawrie was FOUR YEARS younger. Kind of an important distinction.

      • And had a better track record in the minors by the wau

      • Good thing Lawrie had a hot August or we’d be talkin about a 3B too.
        Hitting 207 at the break.

        IF AA can get a MLB decent 2B, okay.
        But I’m not willing to write off Goins just because of his AAA stats.
        Just as I’m not gonna write off Lawrie because of his 34 game sample size.

        Food for thought Stoeten.That’s all.

        • Talked about all summer how Lawrie’s previous calendar year was not to be trusted, so…

          And again, if you’re going to go looking into minor league stats and make this comparison, you have to understand what the age difference means. Because that’s where the comparison falls apart. Compare Goins to guys who hit like that at his age and went on to be decent MLB hitters. I’ll wait.

          Or, here, I’ll give you a head start: Eric Thames was a year younger than Goins when he was at the level. His line: .288/.370/.526. WAY more impressive. And how’d that go for him? Another second baseman, Aaron Hill, was 22 when at the level. His line: .279/.368/.410. Good luck with that Goins thing.

          • I only bring up minor league stat lines and 34 game SS because you mentioned them.
            Well aware of the age difference but I don’t put as much stock in it as you do.

            What I do notice, is an abilty to adjust ( stop laughing) by Goins.Lawrie was reluctant to adjust but when he did,he had a great August.Goins strarted out great,slumped,adjusted and started to hit again.But can you really trust Sept. stats.

            Defense is a hard thing to improve on once at the MLB level. Both Lawrie and Goins defense are as exciting to watch as it gets.And it helps the pitching staff.

            That said,if AA can get a better 2B then I’m all for it.I just don’t think Goins is as much a liabilty as you do.

            Thanks for wishing me luck. I knew you cared.You’re like a burnt marshmallow,crusty on the outside,full of goo on the inside.

  22. Pedroia went .191 .258 .303 in his first season. About 100 at bats.

    Goins has hit at every level he’s made it to, I’m not ready to write him off.

    Especially since watching the fluidity of his swing. I’m not a stats guy. from what I have seen, he looks like a guy who can make adjustments and improve.

  23. Again, lots of number crunching, which is definitely your strength regarding baseball. It’s not mine but for the life of me, I’ve never heard a .250 average combined with better than average defense plus a bit of power to go yard as being a second baseman that’s unplayable. Never, not once. If you combine that with the Jays using money saved for other more glaring needs like pitching and catcher et al, it’s a bizarre statement to make and can only be a blogger’s attempt at stirring the drink aimed getting his fan base commenting. Again, never, not once.

    • Agree.

    • Why would you look at batting average??? The game is about not making outs. A .264 on-base is unplayably awful.


  24. Well if you don’t have stellar defence especially in the infield, you will lose a lot of games. One bat in the lineup that isn’t putting up ungodly numbers isn’t going to hold the team back from scoring… if you need an example que up JPA….

    • Good defender or two in the lineup also won’t hold back from winning. See Rays, Tampa Bay

      • also see Rays, Tampa Bay’s starting rotation. Ours is nothing like theirs unfortunately.

        • Price was fantastic as usual on Tuesday, but Cobb was just ok yesterday.

          • don’t forget Moore who has been their best SP this year. he goes tomorrow night.

            • For sure. I was just trying to restate a point I made during last night’s game that the Rays’ run prevention is about more than just the starting pitching. Yes, they do have some great pitchers.

  25. It is hard to get accustomed to the lower offense – only three guys in the NL even hit 30 homers this year. That said, we can’t depend on Goins to start at 2nd, unless he’s going to play Andrelton Simmons-type defense, even if we get a major upgrade at C. Unless of course we’re going to be content with the Jays being out of it by July again. I hate to keep harping on this, but we already have an good glove, no hit infielder in Lawrie. He hit .221/.286/.361 in months not named August, and even if you include August his OPS+ was only 94 – a career low. I’m still going to give him next year to show that he can be an offensive contributor, but I’m certainly not convinced now.

  26. I’d take .600 OPS from possibly the best defensive secondbaseman in baseball over Izturis 7 days a week and twice on Sunday.

    But, yeah, his offense looks like a backup/utility player, not an everyday player.

  27. Thing is, AA may not be able to achieve his entire wish list this off-season and he’s gonna have to prioritize. He needs a frontline starter. And he needs a credible catcher. And he needs a 2nd baseman. There’s no one he can look at from the ranks to fill the starter’s position and (hi JPA!) there’s no one from the ranks that can fill the everyday catcher’s position. And Goins has been very good defensively at 2nd base. So I think the chances of seeing him back there on an everyday basis in 2014 aren’t bad. At least thus far he has solidified defence down the middle.

  28. You can and should carry a guy like Goins in my humble opinion because of his defense and hustle IF you have the big bats elsewhere. And in my opinion, they just might and they definitely can if the savings are pumped into SP and bats in other positions. Goins though can and does contribute offensively. He’s not a present day example of Doug Flynn with the Expos. Rants, I agree about Lawrie. I’m not sold yet either but with health and a healthy dose of DeRosa he’s starting to mature as a hitter and person…the two are not mutually exclusive…see the Buster Posey article in SI. I need one more year to get an accurate read on him but he’s definitely a + 3rd baseman on defense and is contributing some on offense…like to see more power though. Lawrie’s offense NOW plays better as a second baseman but he’s not your prototypical second baseman and the Jays have said that experiment is over…maybe, things can change. More likely second base is addressed through a trade this offseason and Goins becomes a back up or returns to Buffalo. As a fan, I have no way of knowing before opening day what the deals and permutations will be for a rebuilding the Jays roster that AA has to consider. But, I like Goins. But you know what, I think some of the players saying they need grit has always struck me too as a fan of Toronto Blue Jays. I like guys like Goins…they work their tail off and ten or twenty years ago, a guy like that stuck in MLB baseball. They often became better with the resources devoted to them at this level too. Maybe the “allstar at every position” is the wrong approach although thinking that way is admirable. Maybe the Jays FO needs to think more ‘meat and taters’ and not so much ‘Ferrari’ in certain instances. If you look at Boston, and I really don’t want to, but if you do, they rebuilt with guys that are more the former than the latter. Boston is a gritty team, they find ways of winning instead of complaining. They got rid of the bad apples in the clubhouse last year and it made a difference. If there’s smoke, there is fire and based on humblings, we have bad apples on this team. I don’t know who but they are there and I’m excited to find out because they’ll likely be sent packing this offseason.

  29. ” I don’t know who but they are there and I’m excited to find out because they’ll likely be sent packing this offseason.”

    Yep, I think you’re right about that.

    Also, we can’t rely on our starters pitching well and staying healthy. We can hope, but we can’t be sure. However an elite defence can save a bunch of games for even a middling starter. Goins so far is an excellent defensive player…

    • isabellareyes: I agree, Goins has been an excellent defensive player and defense wins the most championships!!

  30. I really, really need to re-read my posts for spelling LOL. Anyway, just to finish my thoughts, I believe Jerry when he states that Joey Bats needs an attitude adjustment and has become a negative voice on the team, I believe him over rumblings from Stoeten to the contrary, although I’ve come to appreciated Stoeten’s vast knowledge and passion for the game of baseball. Jerry is simply in a better position to know such things. In fact, for the host of the radio broadcast of the Jays games, it was quite telling that he felt comfortable enough to say it at all. I also believe the leaders of the team are now EE, Reyes and DeRosa. I believe Joey Bats is regressing as a player and has become a negative voice in the clubhouse. I believe AA will move him this winter. He would follow the great Pat Gillick in moving star players to make the team better. I hope those options are available to AA this offseason and with a player like JB, it’s quite likely there will be a considerable market for his services. Arizona and Texas are the two markets that might be most interested in JB and the have what we need too.

    • Yes, he’s a sacred cow and we’re all supposed to believe him, no matter how much nonsense he’s spewing.

      • Fer chrissake will you knock it off with the ‘sacred cow’ nonsense! If Jerry Howarth is a ‘sacred cow’ then so is Jose Bautista. If Bautista is considered to be a jerk **that’s hurting the team**, he’ll be on his way. If Howarth is considered to be a jerk who is maligning the very players whose bosses sign his paycheque, so will he.

        However, sacred or not, Bautista’s stats have declined and this might be a good time to get a very high return on a very savvy investment. So like I’ve said before and others have said before, if he stays and plays or if he goes and we get something useful, it’s all good. As for the question of leadership, I don’t care if it’s a player or the manager or the ballboy, but more than one person is going to have to step up and require some accountability for the performance of the players. I’m plenty old enough to remember that during the Glory Years, there was said to be a real culture of performance in the Jays clubhouse, and players were called out by other players if they failed to prepare or if they let their focus lapse on the field. I’d like some of that back please. We’ve been missing that.

        • isabellareyes: Best post I read in a long time. Just remember, Stoeten, like Wilner, needs a little controversy here to get people pumped enough to post. That’s all this is because otherwise, I don’t want to think about that…

        • You’re talking out your ass about the leadership stuff. Stop. You have no idea what the culture was like in the glory years, nor do you know what it’s like here. You take the word of your sacred cow at face value, and I understand that. I don’t.

      • Stoeten, stick to what you can dazzle us fans with…stats. I need to got for psychotherapy after reading some of your stats riddled posts, which after having the local university stats department analyse, are dead on. But, I’m out a $100 bucks for therapy by that time. But really, how can you tell us fans you know more about the inner workings of ANY MLB team than the veteran and respected play-by-play guy? LOL. That’s foolish man. He is a sacred cow because he’s credible, always fair to the other team and sees what many of us notice through observation regarding of media platform. I’ll put it in your language: Jerry knows. You don’t. Everything else is made up or observations like the rest of us.

  31. Hey Stoeten, how would one consider the trade market for 2B? What I mean is, is there a shortcut to see which big league MIs might be available due to needing to make room for someone?

    Even if there is a tool (other than going through every team’s depth chart), I really can’t see how one would know who’s really available on the trade market. I mean, everyone is available…but which teams are actively looking to trade their good players? And what is the asking price in trade?

    Then, an issue for AA may be that he might be reluctant to trade more prospects this offseason. Or do you really believe he can get Kendrick for Happ and Janssen.

    • You have to go through the depth charts.

      • LOL. Shit.

        • Yeah, it’s annoying. And even then, whenever I’ve done that, there are possibilities that I end up missing.

          • Of course, that’s a fuckton of info.

            • The way I look for potential trades is to go through the position you want tp upgrade – in this case 2B. Look at all the mlb regulars who are above average and play for “non-contending” teams.

              Then look at the teams to see if they have a nearly ready & well regarded prospect so that they would be willing to deal that player.

              Then look at what the teams needs are and if Toronto has an excess in that area.

              You end up with reasonable trade ideas after a fuck tonne of work.


  33. It seems more recently AA has been speaking as though Goins may have a chance to win the job for 2B in ST.

    Is he just posturing to try and drive up Goins’ perceived value as a replacement piece going the other way in a trade for a veteran 2B?

  34. I’d still rather see Kelly Johnson back.

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