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Alex Anthopoulos has already pulled an impressive trick this winter, I think. His passivity on the player acquisition market maybe shouldn’t have been as stunning as we’ve made it– this is, after all, a GM who, we once lamented, spent an entire calendar year on the job while adding only seven non-relievers from outside the organization to his big league roster: J.A. Happ, Aaron Laffey, Jesse Chavez, Jeff Mathis, Ben Francisco, Yorvit Torrealba and Omar Vizquel– but beyond those sorts of fans who are going to bleat out horseshit regardless, just for the sake of hearing their own entitled, know-nothing voices, there seems to be an odd serenity he’s created.

The consternation and anger that welled up in the weeks following our pretending that the fucking Red Sox didn’t win the World Series seems to have abated, though certainly not in the way that last winter Anthopoulos re-energized the fan base with his splashy moves and ability to get Rogers to make gigantic financial commitments.

Our old friend the Tao of Stieb thinks that it’s apathy, but I’m not so sure. And if it is, what this book presupposes is, maybe it shouldn’t be.

Admittedly, things would be different if the top end of the pitching market had budged yet, but apart from the Tigers’ bizarre and disappointing move of Doug Fister, it really hasn’t. That leaves lots of room for Jays fans to fantasize about the club landing one of the remaining big targets, and while the worry in this city is always there that such daydreams are mostly built on total delusion, as I wrote last week, there remains plenty of reason to think that the Jays won’t stand pat.

In that piece I focussed on how the club ought to be able to make the money work, and how badly it is to their advantage to make a play now for a free agent. In essence: for all the words Alex Anthopoulos has spilled about not creating roster holes by dealing key big league pieces in order to fix positions elsewhere on the diamond, by shipping away what little upper-end pitching prospect depth he has (especially the ones with front-line potential, like Sanchez and Stroman) he’d simply be setting up similar holes on future rosters, which will likely have to be filled in expensively via the market anyway. So why not just spend now and keep the prospects?

Waiting out the market with that sort of a pursuit in mind wasn’t necessarily the only course of action the Jays could have taken this winter– we know this for a fact thanks to a rumour that arose during the Winter Meetings, suggesting a deal had fallen apart earlier in the winter, which would have moved Sergio Santos (and presumably more) in exchange for a starter– but it makes sense why the club may be stridently following such a path now. Not only would it enable them– as I argued in last week’s piece– to save their prospect capital, and mitigate potential future rotation woes, but precedent suggests that the longer they wait the more the prices for the free agents they covet may come down.

This year’s market may buck that trend, as it’s so late-developing due to the Masahiro Tanaka situation, but the advantages for the Jays are still adding up: many teams have already spent themselves out of the picture or filled their rotation through other means; many won’t touch guys who’ll cost them a draft pick, or already have and won’t want to blow their 2014 draft any further; and while it’s hardly a buyer’s market, Rakuten finally making the decision to post Tanaka has brightened the picture by adding to the available supply of top-end arms in a huge way.

It’s hardly a certainty that the club will be able to find a quality starter who’ll take their money, however. And it is perhaps with that in mind that the club has been subject to such paralysis when it comes to addressing their other areas of need. Maybe I’m being too hopeful and too quick to construct a narrative that conflicts with some of the things Alex Anthopoulos has openly said this winter– and, as with his stated preference for the trade market, that he has demonstrated time and again in the past that he truly thinks– but I tend to believe that he is actually intentionally holding all of his bullets. He’s holding money to make sure he has room in his budget to fit the free agent he’s aiming to go after, and he’s holding prospects (which could be used to make upgrades elsewhere– most glaringly at second base) to make sure he doesn’t deal away anything that could be used to net a top arm on the trade market, just in case he misses out.

The concept works in one sense because it insulates him better against missing on the kind of difference-making pitcher he so badly needs.

It works in another, though, because as desperately as it seems like he needs to make an addition, Anthopoulos can take the posture that he can stand pat a lot more confidently than I suspect a lot of fans realize. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he really did believe he could get away with doing nothing.

* * *

That sounds crazy to a lot of people, I’m sure. The perception certainly is there that the Jays have been spinning their tires as much of the rest of the American League has zoomed past them, but that’s just not necessarily true. At least, it’s not true if you believe a thing like the 2014 projections put together by FanGraphs on their team depth charts pages.

Granted, the Jays’ front office surely isn’t just looking at this sort of publicly available data to assess where they really sit in the current American League landscape, but I don’t think it’s entirely unfair to use it as a crude proxy for what their proprietary numbers are likely telling them.

Naturally, the results of any projection system are somewhat dubious. We can’t simply swallow the conclusions they make and expect the season to play out the way that it has been foreseen by the mighty formula, and a generous projection on a website hardly constitutes grounds for a club to stop trying to acquire players who will increase their total accumulation of value over the course of the season. We also, before drawing broad conclusions from them, need to go through what the projections are saying with a fine-toothed comb to make sure what it’s telling us makes any damn sense.

There’s a lot of leeway that needs to be given to these numbers, in other words. But that all said, there are things to be genuinely encouraged by here.

We’ll start with the big one and try to make sense of it all from there: the Jays, as currently constituted, project to 39.9 WAR.

That number places them eleventh in baseball, just one tenth of a win behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s an especially useful number since the figure is based on comprehensively up-to-date rosters and carefully done playing time projections for each club. As we can see in the breakdown on their team depth chart page, the innings projected the club’s pitchers add up to 1458– in 2013 Jays pitchers tossed 1452 innings– while the plate appearances for the club’s hitters total 6240, which lines up relatively closely to the 6152 they took in 2013).

It also, in my view, doesn’t offer a lot in the way of glaring generosity when you look at it on a player-by-player basis.

Granted, the 39.9 WAR projection places the Jays behind the Red Sox, Tigers, Rays, Rangers, Royals, Angels, Clevelands, and Athletics in the American League, but for the most part only slightly. By these measures they’re in about the same ballpark as all but the top two of those clubs, and given that there is a pretty severe limit to how precise any of this stuff can be, that’s actually pretty good shape.

Better still, getting back to the original question– the question of the club’s entire off-season– we see that if they can add a three-win pitcher to replace the 190-ish innings projected for Todd Redmond, Chad Jenkins, Sean Nolin and a couple replacement-level guys on spot starts, you’d see their projection jump up into very clear Wild Card territory. Find a piece at second base that improves the barely-replacement-level production that’s forecast there by even a single win and they’re right with the Rangers and Rays, a couple of wins behind the Tigers, and about four-and-a-half behind Boston.

Projections, yes. Don’t mean anything– I get that. They play the games on the field, and that’s all that matters. I agree, we can’t lose perspective on that. But in terms of actually assessing the level of talent that’s currently on the club, and how that talent can be expected to compete in 2014, this is actually pretty compelling stuff– and, at least in my assessment, for the most part not terribly outlandish.

Sure, there will always been variance in terms of how teams over- or under-perform their projections, but what we’re seeing here, when looked at more closely, actually makes a good deal of sense, and offers much stronger reasoning as to why Alex Anthopoulos is acting (or not acting, as it were) like he is this off-season than whatever the donkey-brains of the braying moron set might be able come up with.

And don’t forget that we learned last year that these numbers are usually a whole lot more rational than we are. While they missed on the magnitude of how awful the 2013 Jays season would be, forecasts like these were consistently down on the club, at least compared to the unbridled enthusiasm of Billy Mumphrey the fan base. This year, hopefully, the opposite can come true– and hopefully the Yankees, who currently project to about three-and-a-half wins behind the Jays, are the ones who will, this time, see a splashy off-season go up in smoke.

That all said, it’s not like there isn’t anything questionable or fuzzy about it all either, so let’s take that closer look…

* * *

On the bright side, one reason I say the numbers aren’t terribly outlandish is because if you look where the club stands, position by position, nothing seems terribly out of whack. The Jays are in the bottom third of baseball in projected catcher production. They’re second last in terms of production from second base. They’re bottom third in terms of left field, really high in right field, at shortstop, and at DH, but regressed down to the middle of the pack in centre. Their starting pitching looks middling, and their bullpen again looks excellent.

The forecast has been kind enough to think the Jays aren’t going to run unplayable garbage out a three positions on the diamond next year, and that seems to me to be about right. Second base up to mere replacement level? Plenty realistic. Melky Cabrera in left field at 1.3 WAR? That’s a big swing from last year, but not really a whole lot to ask of a four-win player in 2011 and 2012 who was debilitated by a since-removed spinal tumour in 2013 and ought to have all the motivation in the world as he heads into his walk year.

I honestly don’t even think the 2.8 wins the Jays are projected to get out of their catchers is crazy– not even the fact that 1.2 of that comes from giving 250 plate appearances to Erik Kratz, who I think might end up being a sneaky-good pick-up– but if you wanted to find a place to knock a couple wins off the club’s projection, that’s probably not a bad spot to start.

The bullpen is another place I think you could do that. Relievers are just so volatile, and while it doesn’t seem entirely out of line that the Jays’ ones as a group are projected out to 3.6 wins, that gives them more than a full win advantage over two thirds of baseball, and two wins over nearly half the teams in the game. Possible, sure, but a spot where the projections maybe look a little too crooked in their favour. The reliever projections are even more favourable for the Royals, Red Sox, and Rangers, though, too, so it’s not like this is the main reason the Jays come out looking as close to those teams as they do. Still, perhaps a bit high

And the big spot where the forecast looks maybe too favourably optimistic for the Jays, is at third base, where the systems see a rather large step forward in terms of power for Brett Lawrie in his age-24 season. A twenty point BABIP increase over 2013– up towards his career mark of .300– makes a little bit of sense, and drives the projection’s jump of his average to .274 and his OBP to .338, but it doesn’t fully account for the 19 home runs, .451 SLG, or the 34 point jump in ISO to .176. Maybe those improvements come down to his age or undue influence from his sizzling first 43 games as a big leaguer, but a bat-driven 3.7 wins is definitely on the hopeful side for Lawrie. Possible, for sure, but mostly just hopeful at this point.

Other than in those places, though, you could argue that the projections may even look light.

The danger of getting too excited about that suggestion is that it’s probably true for just about every club, and the varying magnitude of such discrepancies may make some of the cumulative numbers a little misleading. The Rays, for example, have Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, combined, projected to about three wins less than the duo provided last year. There’s also at least that much of a difference between where the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios are projected and what they did in 2013, while Mike Trout is (not shockingly) projected to not quite hit the 10-win heights of his first two seasons again, which is not a bet I’d take.

There are some Jays players who I think make good bets to beat their projections too, though– a fact probably aided by all the under-performance on last year’s club. That’s actually the reverse of the story of last winter, where we were hoping for guys with a lot of volatility in their records to continue the big things they had accomplished in 2012. Now they simply have to exceed marks that they’ve clearly shown themselves capable of. R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Jose Reyes, and Melky Cabrera are perfect illustrations of that. Each of those guys provided two fewer wins in 2013 than they did in 2012, and largely because of that could easily outstrip what’s being forecast.

The 1.8 wins for Morrow, for example, are well below the 2.4 mark he posted in just 124 innings in 2012, which itself was a full win lower than his previous two years. Reyes is projected to 3.5 wins, which is maybe a lot for a shortstop who’ll turn 31 in June and no longer puts up the elite defensive numbers of his early career, but is still at least a win-and-a-half below what he put up in all but one of the last six seasons in which he made 500 plate appearances or more.

Dickey’s 2.7 win projection is well below his 4.5-win Cy Young season in 2012, and it would still make for the second most valuable season of his career, meaning he maybe doesn’t quite belong grouped in with these other guys. However, with the way he pitched with renewed health and a closed dome at the end of 2013, I’d still take the over. And Melky checks in with a projection of just 1.3 WAR– more than a full two wins higher than 2013, so maybe “reasonable” is a more sensible label than “light,” but the upside is there to be a whole lot better. (No, really!)

* * *

I could nitpick more deeply, but as you’d expect to be the case with projections, reasonable really is the word. Dickey, Buehrle, and Morrow are the only pitchers projected above 1.2 wins for the Jays; Marcus Stroman gives the club a nice 1.2 win boost in the forecast for his rookie season, with Santos, Janssen, Happ, and Rogers checking in at about one win apiece; four more pitchers project in the 0.4 to 0.6 range, and the rest are at 0.2 or below. On the offensive side, the difference is more-or-less split between 2012 Colby Rasmus and the 2013 version, as he projects to 3.2 WAR; the forecast is a little light on Encarnacion, at 3.6 wins over 644 PA, but maybe heavy on Bautista at 4.5 in 560; Adam Lind is expected to be about the same (1.7 wins), and none of the second basemen or backups (save for the aforementioned Kratz) are projected to be worth much of anything at all.

The reasonableness on a player-by-player basis is, of course, what’s especially buoying about the exercise, particularly when coupled with where the club currently stands in terms of their total WAR projection. Obviously, as I’ve tried to be clear about, there is a large possibility for massive divergences between what the forecasts suggest and what actually happens on the field. It’s also true that WAR itself won’t necessarily translate to on-field success. However, as Jeff Sullivan noted in an excellent piece last week on much of this same stuff and how it applies to the Angels, the correlation is pretty seriously strong.

Source: FanGraphs

Source: FanGraphs

warcastSure, the Jays could very certainly under-perform the projections and their cumulative WAR and end up well behind even these somewhat middling expectations, or other clubs could wildly over-perform one or the other and relegate the Jays to non-factor status, but as it stands, in this very reasonable on-paper assessment the team is right there.

They’re less than two wins of value behind the Royals and less than three behind the Rays, and those are the two teams that would be slotted in for the American League Wild Card if the season played out according to these admittedly-fuzzy WAR-based mid-December projections.

The schedule won’t help them, and the level of competition is thick, but still!

Plus, things remain fluid: the Rays, for example, are may move out David Price for less immediate value than he’d give them, and most important of all, Alex Anthopoulos still has plenty of work to do himself– and still very much can accomplish what he needs to.

I mean, adding a three-win pitcher without moving anything off his big league roster– which, for the purposes of these projections, includes Marcus Stroman (hint, hint)– would obviously provide a huge boost, and send the Jays farther up the list. If he can’t do that with money, he at least has been keen enough to have saved the chips to revisit his options on the trade market. And if he can do it with money? There may then still be the possibility to upgrade at second base too– and think about where that would take them.

The bigger point, of course, is that even if he isn’t able to do any of that, the 2014 season is hardly the sort of lost-cause-before-it-starts that I’ve felt a lot of people seem to believe– or, worse, that some seem to want to believe.

I’m not trying to suggest that it ought to be easy to get excited for the notion of going into a season with this exact crew still together, but these very reasonable and meticulously put-together projections that FanGraphs have made available should be more than enough to coax us towards the belief that, even if they do nothing more, Toronto’s summer of 2014 isn’t already consigned to hopeless futility. And with the six best pitchers available at the start of the winter remaining eminently available– Tanaka, Price, Garza, Samardzija, Jimenez, and Santana– those already-doomed feelings are even more worthless still.

Merry Christmas!

 

Main image via BlueJays.com.

Comments (139)

  1. Amazing post. Flat out – you give the best Jays analysis anywhere.

  2. So your in favor of trading a Stroman and others for two years of Samardzija. Do you think his arsenal plays well in the A.L. east. I’m hoping they hold on to Stroman. He seems like an intense competitor, and has good control(based on scouting reports) of his pitches, and a biting slider would fit nicely in a rotation with a Knuckler, a flame thrower, a krafty lefty, and whomever their number 4 guy ends up being. Obviously he’ll need more grooming at the start of the year in AAA, but he could be a huge wild card for this season. There is also the risk of Samardzija not performing well, and after giving up prospects for players who have under performed, we need to have the next generation of starters that are under team control at some point in time to build a sustainable contender. I don’t want to see them get into the habit of trading prospects for starting pitching every offseason or two, to fill holes by departed trade acquisitions.

    • I’m not. Not sure how you arrived at that conclusion after that.

      Also, I’m not much for talking about being able to pitch in one division or another in the sense I think you’re suggesting. Park factor stuff is meaningful, but arsenal stuff I don’t think much about.

      • “I mean, adding a three-win pitcher without moving anything off his big league roster– which, for the purposes of these projections, includes Marcus Stroman (hint, hint)”

        I should of had a question mark at the end of my first sentence. I thought he was at least a 3 war, but by baseball reference, that’s his career total. I’m all for keeping Stro, but it’s not our call, and who knows if he’ll even be a successful major league starter. I’ve been feeling that the current state of the Jays isn’t as bad as some fans or media have been stating, especially with multiply starting options. The only real blinding weak spot is second, but there is still lots of time before players report, so I’m being patient to see what transpires.

        • Ahh, no, I meant he’s part of the roster and shouldn’t be moved.

          • Dah! My bad. I kinda like being the sleeper in the east this year, without last years hype, but the possibilities are endless. If all goes right, the competition for starting pitching bodes well, LF could return to his previous two years of production, Colby “Moonshot” Rasmus(just coined that) could continue to evolve at the plate, Reyes and Bautista could play 150+ games each. If EE does his thing, and with Lawrie’s glove, any improvement at the plate is gravy. It remains to been seen as who emerges and cements themselve as the back up catcher, and hopefully Navarro stays healthy and can be productive at the plate. It just leaves second base, but that scenario could change quick. Hoping some team that missed out on free agent relievers, comes knocking for one or two of our guys out of options. Whatever the outcome, the one thing I hope doesn’t happen is a big deal with lots of assets being moved around.

  3. Even though the team WAR projection looks nice… I find their starting rotation predictions to be pretty scary. And seem like fairly decent guesses.

    Dickey: 187 IP, 4.20 ERA
    Buerhle 207 IP, 4.56 ERA
    Morrow 132 IP, 4.22 ERA
    Stroman 76 IP, 4.09 ERA
    Rogers 91 IP, 4.60 ERA
    Happ 91 IP, 4.56 ERA

    I know this is a projection, and ERA isn’t the most telling stat … but I just can’t imagine that would be close to good enough to compete against Boston, Tampa or NYY.

  4. Well, that was a darn good read

  5. Outstanding piece Santa Stoeten.

    The only key component missing from last year’s “optimism” is Josh Johnson and the 3-4 WAR he was projected to produce IIRC.

    After injuries hit the rotation of Dickey/Buehrle/Johnson/Morrow/Happ last year, there was Romero, Jenkins, Wang, Ortiz…

    This year, as long as one proven starter can be acquired, there’s Hutchison, Stroman, Nolin, Drabek, McGuire, Jenkins & Romero.

    As well as Rogers and/or Redmond for spot duty.

    There is a lot of reason to be optimistic if the fanbase simply bypasses the Damian Cox “last place teams need huge overhauls” nonsense.

    • I hope Romero and Deck are at the bottom of that list. Deck needs time in AAA, to see if the success from late last year can be continued against better hitters. If only Romero could regain his past composure and confidence, but likely is another along the lines of Dontrelle Willis type. Early success, but an inability to sustain it. He did surprise me with how he improved during his first three seasons, after not being overly successful in the minors. Who knows thou, maybe he does get his shit together and surprises everyone in MLB. Not going to count on it thou.

  6. There was a great article on fangraphs the other day about what truly makes an ace. If you look at the analysis, it’s clear that the Jays have ample arms and above average ability for the #2, 3, 4, 5 spots. It was equally clear though that they have no one who’s an ace, and have literally passed or missed out on many of the games best aces over the past couple of years.

    The time is now to get an ace back. Everything else is in place, future financial commitments are well under control, and the lower levels of the farm are in good shape, with two more top 11 picks to come.

    If the Jays can’t break the bank open now for a 25 year old to buy literally all of his prime years or to trade for Price or Hamels, then I ask, when will be the time?

    If I was AA, and My scouts like Tanaka, then there’s no way he isn’t mine consider how many teams are up against the wall financially already.

    • Good points about now being the time if there ever is one for acquiring a true ace.

      We have plenty of 2-5 level quality starters that it doesn’t make much sense to go after a 3, 4 or 5, because the upside is so marginal. IF we are going to deal prospects/ make a major signing, it would truly be best to get an Ace at this time! Too bad there aren’t any on the FA market… I’m hoping Ubaldo can be a #2 or better and signs for something like 4/64… is that going to happen? I don’t know, but that’s my feel of the situation. I’m not nearly as high on Tanaka as I was on Darvish, but still think he could be a serviceable pitcher. I am ambivalent towards him for what he would cost.

      • P.S. I’m also “high” on both Stroman and Sanchez… so-so on Drabek, Hutch, & Nolin (we need real impact soon, not after development for 2-3 years). And like Rogers as a #4 or 5 if he features his sinking fastball like one of those articles earlier said. Not very high on Happ at all. He’s middle of the pack, & in the AL east, his stuff plays mediocre at best.

        • Not a fan of Happs either. I thought he was a better pitcher, but after watching him regularly need 100 pitches just to get to 5 innings, or so, or not even…. And this has been an issue since he came into the league.

        • You sir, are a scholar and gentleman.

    • And where do you find this ace? Tanaka is not ace level? There’s none in FA. So, who’s trading one?

      • How many true aces are in the game. And when did the Jays miss out on all of these aces you speak of. As for Tanaka, whether he is an ace or not is still to be decided. Is he going to strikeout a shit load of guys. No! But he might be able to induce enough weak contact and ground balls to frustrate the opposition. I know it’s Japan numbers, but a guy who in over 600 innings in the last three years, has given up a grand total of 18 homeruns….. in three seasons. He has also given up 78 walks in that same time period, so it would seem as thou he has excellent command of his pitches. He doesn’t dominate hitters like Darvish, but he still could be a very good pitcher. Maybe even someones Ace. s

        • The article lists the top 30 pitchers in the game last year by WAR as it’s definition of “Ace”. In that top 30, you will see Darvish, Colon, Fister, Sanchez, Iwakuma, Kuroda, Sale, Shields, Holland, Latos, Fister, Greinke, and Santana. All of these players, 43% of the top 30, we’re available to be acquired either through draft, trade, or free agency under AA’s tenure.

          • Thanks for listing Fister twice

            • [quote comment="42296"]The big msteyry from last night is how does a car which has presumably been sitting in the jungle for years get push started? Wouldn’t the gas have gone bad?[/quote]Or leaked out it was on it’s side.

          • Alrighty, what does a defector who is haluing trash bring with them when they are stuck on an island. A map of the road system, maybe some notes as to where food drops will be or water sources, and a crap load of beer. eh? whuddyea think about that one?

      • Nobody knows yet what Tanaka will be. He was on the same team as Darvish, and the manager considered him more strong-willed and able to put up with more pressure. Now, I’m not saying his stuff will translate as well, and the Jays may well overpay him to compensate for the Darvish fiasco, but we all really have no idea at this point.

      • Rays are trading price and he is an ace

  7. Maybe it’s the eggnog in my veins, or that I’m flying a little high on codeine right now, but I remain somewhat optimistic.

  8. If Jays sign Jimenez and trade for Nick Franklin, I’d say they’re somewhere between a 85-91 win team

    • Sounds very reasonable and very do-able. And the huge advantage to that plan is “keeping the kids”. Stroman to me can definitely make the rotation and Sanchez has the potential to be a 2 or 1 pitcher….given time of course. But if they keep them, and in your scenario it’s likely they do, it will pay off down the road.

  9. Last year the Jays were the odds on favourite to win the World Series, and they won 74.

    This year, without adding anything substantial, we’re REALLY talking about this team winning SIXTEEN more games?!?

    • No, we’re using our brains.

      • More towards imaginative and creative thought than rational thought apparently…

        • The Jays have significantly better pitching depth at AAA than they did in 2013.

          Prior to the 2007 season, the Jays “missed” on Ted Lilly & Gil Meche.

          But it allowed Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum & Jesse Litsch to emerge to varying degrees:

          http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2007&month=0&season1=2007&ind=0&team=14&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

          It’s not as though Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow, Happ, Hutchison & Stroman can’t match up with Halladay, Burnett, McGowan, Marcum, Litsch & Towers…

        • No, acting like a team that wins 74 games is always going to be a 74 win team, regardless of health or other variables is not rational, sorry. You don’t have to like the team, but you have to use your brain if you want to participate.

          • Acting like a team that wins 74 games is going to improve by 16 wins without any additions requires some pretty obvious “outside the box” thinking. The rotation last year was the major problem, and this year our 1-2 starters are both one year older on the decline of their career. We’ll all be pleasantly surprised if any of our starters has an ERA under 4 this year.

            And pretending that Triple-A depth is going to turn a 74-win team into a 90 win team is equally ridiculous.

            • I’m saying did fan graphs predict jays to win World Series? They weren’t as good last year as the hype predicted. Offseason isn’t over yet either to judge jays as on outside looking in

            • The 2007 Rays won 66 games.

              The 2008 Rays won 97 games.

              Yes, there were “additions”. But certainly none of the impact variety to which you seem to be referring.

              • The 1993-2011 Pirates didn’t make any major additions either.
                You’re cherry picking the EXTREME success stories to prove a point that is not true.

    • Vegas odds are not about who is projected to win via comprehensive analysis they are about who people will bet to win. Big difference. What was jays projected war last year?

  10. Andrew –

    I totally appreciate your glass half full analysis and your commitment to giving AA the benefit of the doubt on his stand pat approach, but I unfortunately read the Jays off-season a tad differently.

    Firstly, please don’t so easily sweep under the rug just how badly the handling of the JP Arencibia situation was. Whether it was the handing over of Yan Gomes (I know hindsight and all) given how controllable he was, something AA’s has always “valued” in young players OR the inability to get something, ANYTHING for JP before he we jettisoned for nothing….this was a classic failure to sell high or sell for anything.

    Secondly, while everyone is talking up the Jays organizational pitching depth, nobody is saying much about their offensive depth, because it isn’t there. If it isn’t their weak projected major league bench (Thole, Izturis/Goins, Sierra/Gose and one of Tolleson/Morel) it is piss poor Triple A depth that’s making me sweat at night. While the Jays didn’t do anything big (to date) they did need to improve the bench and it wouldn’t have taken much to add a Franklin Gutteriez and Brian Roberts to do just that….let alone look to similar low key trades like moving a reliever for a similar type player, just as Red Sox did when they traded Franklin Morales for Jonathan Herrera. Not a flashy move by any stretch, but certainly an example of trading from a place of strength to boost an obvious weakness. Aside from the Morel signing, the Jays haven’t signed a single player who was at one time an MLB starter on a minor league deal….why the hell not?!?!?

    Lastly, coming off the Arencibia debacle, there is one more lesson I’d hope that AA would have learned and that’s figuring out when to sell high or extend a player. In the case of Colby Rasumus who is about to hit the free agent market next year OR with short-term contracts like, Mark Buehrle, Jose Bautista and even Edwin….there would be some value in at the least figuring out what is in the best long-term interests of the team. Buehrle, who everyone thought had a horrible contract, is looking like pretty decent value after last year….will that be what people think following this year?!?! When the Jays appear to be as far away from being World Series contenders as FanGraphs projects (11th for F-sake!!!), why not do a partial tear down if it positions us better in 2015-2016.

    Shit, St. Louis could survive losing Albert Pujols and do just fine because of their incredible minor league depth and shrewd acquisitions….why the hell can’t we?!?!?

    • It’s a good question and it predates the current front office. For a while we haven’t done as good a job of developing our prospects as other clubs and those clubs have outperformed us at the major-league level. Yes we had Halladay and Delgado and VW come through the farm and perform well. But the steam seemed to run out in the early 2000s.

    • I didn’t know that spring training begins tomorrow. What I do know is that Toma Okha has cashed a number of mlb paycheques over the course of his career.

      • Bench players, not pitchers. Misread what you were being irrational about. Fine. All the same, it’s December dude. Chill out and be glad we haven’t over paid for Smardinijad’s Kentucky waterfall. Plenty of time between now and April.

      • Thanks Wayne, but I don’t know if that’s much of a rebuttal considering all that’s been reported of Okha is that he’s LEARNING to throw a knuckleball and even the Jays themselves have said the main benefit of signing him is to expose their minor league catchers to the pitch vs. getting him to the majors.

        Just for clarification, what I was trying to say is that minor league deals can be just that, they can be reclamation projects (i.e. Morel) or they can be an avenue to get a few guys who can at the least push players who are pencilled in at the major league level during spring training. While nobody is giving Tony Gwynn Jr. much thought as a major leaguer (he just signed a minor league deal with Philly), he’s at least a plus defender and could push the Sierra’s and Gose’s of the world….but instead of signing him, the Jays appear poised to let two guys walk into the #4 OF slot when they’ve done nothing to earn it.

    • I think he hasn’t done anything big in the way of the bench simply because he’s had to wait on the pitching situation. Considering that the bench is something that can be remedied a lot easier than finding a starting pitcher, I’m not too worried that he hasn’t done much in that area yet.

      If he were to get some kind of definitive solution at 2nd I think the bench is largely in place already. Izturis will likely be fine as a utility guy and if going the low cost route with Sierra, Gose and say Kratz for the other bench spots helps you land a solid starting pitcher then I have no problems with that either. Since Izturis was so shaky last year I would prefer someone like Baker over Sierra. However, as Sierra is out of options and as you rightly pointed out that positional depth for the franchise is weak, he fits the current situation a little better. I think Gose can do everything that Rajai did on the bases last year and even more defensively.

      As for the overall success of our draft picks, yes there wasn’t a ton of success in the JPR years but I think we’ve seen some good signs with what’s coming down the pipe. The problem is most of these guys take a few years to make there way through the system and any kind of impact for the club at the major league level. Considering the rebuild only started in earnest 3 years ago there’s a lot to look forward to from here on out. In fact you could easily argue that it started to pay dividends last year with the all the trades. The majority of the guys moved for the Marlins players and Dickey were guys that AA acquired or drafted.

      As for the lack of positional players, yes again that’s true and it’s something I have mentioned in the past myself, but you also have to look at what the club has done at the major league level to address that problem. They’ve picked up Jose, EE, Colby, Lawrie and Reyes all through trades. Really that’s quite the score when you look at them as a group. Pair that with the serious depth and breadth of their pitching prospects and I think they’ve done a really great job overall.

      All that’s left is to spend a bit more for that pitcher or two and have some breaks (good ones) go their way for a change.

      • Oh I meant to add, it would not surprise me to see AA turn some of the surplus pitching into positional depth in the coming months or even see a draft or two that’s heavier on positional players. I know they tend to take the best player available but I am sure they know far better than we do where they are weak and where they are strong and what they need to do to address the situation.

        Personally would love to see them to flip some of the pitching depth for a guy like Franklin.

      • Agreed fully about bench. No need to wait it out on sp market to sign guys like guitteraz and Roberts and Chavez who I agree would have been huge pickups for this team. These are small money signings and shouldn’t have any impact on getting sp. if the 3-5m does impact that trade happ and his 5m to be able to sign the fa sp.

        The league is not flush with available high upside bench guys like Roberts (likely starter for jays) and Gutierrez and guys like this don’t necessarily fall off trees in spring training. This is one market that it doesn’t make sense to wait on.

        • These bench guys get on average 1000 abs and had like 1800 for jays last year so they have the same impact as like 2-4 starters so is important to have good bench.

    • Signing someone like Jimenez and trading for either Ackley or Franklin would probably position the Jays at 3rd on that Fangraphs list.

      Certainly within the realm of possibility and certainly close enough to contention that a partial teardown would be foolish.

      The difference between 3rd and 11th on that list is 3 measily wins.

    • I agree about AA not getting anything for jpa. I wondered why he couldn’t swing deals for rajai and de rosa last season either.

  11. I’m wary of thinking lots of teams have “spent themselves out” of the pitching market.

    The Rangers probably have but other than that it’s probably game on anyone else who was interested.

    The Yankees and Mariners have been throwing cash around but I doubt either of them have used up their budgets.

    • @ dexter.

      I agree. All the MLB teams got extra cash from the tv contract . I am very curious to see what happens with Alex Rodriguez.

      If the suspension is upheld, the yankees could use the extra money to get whatever free agent they want.

      If the suspension is not upheld, do the yankees give up on Tanaka & any other free agents because of the luxury tax cap.

      I am surprised the Jays haven’t made a big move yet. We were spoiled last year with November trade & Dickey signing.

      There is more pitching depth this year but 1 more quality starter would make me more optimistic.

      At this point, I would have felt better with Josh Johnson back for 1 year at 14 million.

    • The Rangers also have the third best pitching WAR on that chart. Looks like spending’s done some good for them.

    • @ Dexter
      http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10154043/new-york-yankees-hit-28m-luxury-tax

      Don’t know how I missed this item but I know it wasn’t widely reported. The Yankees paid 28 MM in luxury tax for their 2013 overage. Their tax rate is at 50% and will be the same rate again if they go over 189 mm threshold which they will if ARod wins his appeal. I don’t know if they want to go after a guy like Tanaka in light of that. Granted they probably won’t be in the 28 MM tax neighbourhood but they do need to reset their tax rate at a lower percentage: 50% is huge even for them, nevermind 28MM could’ve paid a pair of ok starters for the year

      • Also apparently they’ll know more about ARod’s appeal in early Jan. My bet is a reduced suspension. Question is though, by how much?

      • Yanks were all about getting under cap until they didn’t make the playoffs and will go over another year to get back in delaying their aspirations to get under for one more year

  12. Excellent read and I think with all of the negativity floating around these days about the Jays perceived apathy towards roster improvement, it was a real breath of fresh air for someone who feels we have a lot of starting pitching options, an excellent bullpen and a powerful, run scoring offence. The bench is a weakness, 2b and catcher are unknowns, but there is hope that this can be a really good team. Two months till p and c’s report. Hopefully AA will shock us again.

    • The fan base will be shocked if nothing happens in terms of big name acquisitions after aa was talking about sp being a big priority etc. big pr mistake if they don’t get someone now

  13. How are the Rays projected to have more WAR from batting then the Jays, Tigers, Red sox and Rangers?

    • Because of the two giant sinkholes in Izturis and Goins who combine for a -24.4 in nearly 900 AB’s out of 6240 or 14.7% of all AB’s. That lends further credence to the believe that if the Jays get even replacement level performance from those 900 AB’s this coming season, they’ll be way ahead.

      The two worst Rays combine for only -9.9 over 500 AB’s.

  14. Tanaka Posting Day begins! Come one, come all to the start of building false hopes and dreams that our little franchise can land the big whale of the off-season.

    • Our “little franchise’ has more financial muscle than the vast majority of teams. If they really want Tanaka then they can out bid virtually anyone. Question really is how much value they place on him. Not saying they will land him, but I wouldn’t dismiss the notion too quickly.

      • It’s less to do with the monetary aspect and more to do with the willingness. I’ve always argued that they’ve had the clout to do more but the willingness and the team’s appeal to star players has been lacking. Believe me I would love to see it happen and even though I know I shouldn’t, I will probably set myself up for a repeat of the Darvish heartbreak if the jays are even remotely linked to Tanaka.

      • Just in case you missed my link above, the Jays ended up 9th in payroll this year at 125.9 MM: more than the Braves, Mets, Nationals, Cards. So, it appears the willingness is there. I just don’t like the value in the NPB posting system.

    • Not that this means anything but the Jays aren’t even a choice in the MLBTR “Who will Tanaka sign for” poll….

  15. Opportunity cost seems to be a big factor of Anthopolous’ off season strategy. To me, he’s been slowing playing because of a) Tanaka and the slow starting pitching market, but also b) because he does not want to lose value in opportunity cost by making the ‘wrong’ move this year.

    Perhaps making the Trade, which, early on last offseason, determined a significant portion of the Jays course of action, as well as not being a player in the Latos deal have made Alex want to be positioned ideally to be players in the ‘right’ deals or moves for this offseason.

    That is not to say that the Trade was the ‘wrong’ move at this time last year — I was certainly thrilled with the deal and still see optimism in our return — only that this year it seems like AA is being very careful in making the trade or signing that will define the major changes to our 2014 roster.

    • The fact the team is close now is all the more reason to go for it with high risk / reward move for next year and year after. No point in assembling a team that is close to winning then backing out and not putting finishing touches on, especially if influenced by previous moves and how they played out.

      Same cost for a Latos in trade now makes all the sense in the world even if it didn’t make any sense two years ago.

  16. Is there a link or an image of FanGraphs’ projected WAR from last December? Would love to see how that played out…

  17. Is Tankaka’s posting deadline really jan 24th?? That seems obscene. Why do teams need a month to submit posting bids? That means he probably wont sign until spring training starts at the earliest. Does that mean guys like garza, jimenez, and santana are going to wait till he signs? I sure as fuck hope not.

  18. I agree with your assesment on all the players that FanGraphs may have been generous with or light on, with the exception of Lawrie.

    Lawrie really seemed to buy into the changes the coaches were trying to get him to make. He quieted down his swing, cut out alot of the moving parts. He did cool off again after a good couple of months but he was still taking good swings and getting hard contact.

    He’s allready one of the best defenders in the game at third base so I think with the maturation, quieter swing, and a little bit of health, the Red Bull is in for a monster year.

    • Sorry, I should have lead off with that was a fantastic post with great analysis.
      A nice last present.
      Merry Christmas to “The Beard” and all of your BeardKin.

    • The way he plays he is an injury risk is all I see negative. Huge strides last year in his approach at the plate etc and seems much less prone to slumps than in the past when he was moving all over the place in the box

  19. It’s going to be interesting to see how many teams end up bidding. There has been a really nice run of success stories (Chapman, Darvish, Puig, Cespedes, Iwakuma) among the big dollar Japanese and Cuban signings the last couple of years compared to those a few years back.

  20. Cubs make pitchers look magically of recently, i dont know what it is, Dempster, Garza, Samardjiza, Camp, K Gregg, Wood, Feldman, Mahlom. They have flipped most of these guys for good prospects. Strop was much better when he came over to Cubs. Most of these sucked when they got traded.

  21. Yeah, big picture, it’s better he makes no moves than one that will hinder the team down the road.

    However, if he could bring in Lee, I’d say fuck it. Whatever it takes.

    One thing I’m pretty sure of is that, in order to not lose value unnecessarily, 2 relievers will need to be traded. Of the 11 solid options (Janssen Delabar Cecil McGowan Loup Santos Perez Jeffress Wagner Rogers Redmond), Redmond and Wagner could start in AAA without being exposed to waivers. Janssen has a name now, and a good contract compared to market value, so he’ll have some value. I could see trading one of Janssen or Santos to free up some money, and one of Perez or Jeffress. I wonder if Ackley could be gotten for 2 relievers.

  22. Nice read–thanks Stoeten and Merry Christmas. Kind of a waste of time trying to predict wins when rosters are still likely to change considerably before opening day though. Too many variables at this point and, as you rightly keep pointing out, too much depends on how the rest of the off season plays out. I do like the slow play strategy on the pitching but I’d be pressing hard for a second baseman via trade right now if I were AA. A good 2b like Ackley/Franklin/Diaz (potentially) would make as much difference as another #2/3 pitcher at a much lower cost. Get the biggest bang for the buck. Perhaps the Jays are slow playing Diaz/Ackley/Franklin as well as (or rather than) Tanaka? Gibbons at least seems to see it that way judging from his comments on free agent pitching last week. I wouldn’t expect to get Tanaka, even if he was the primary target–too many other heavy hitting teams still in play who have a history of wild over-spending on guys like Tanaka.

  23. I’m on the pessimist side. I have heard most of AA’s interviews since the season ended and all signs pointed to him making moves this offseason. I’m convinced that he tried to make moves and couldn’t so therefore I don’t see how we shouldn’t be more worried now than before the winter meetings.

    • His primary goal is to upgrade the starting rotation… no good starting pitchers have been moved yet other than fister… wtf do you expect him to do at this point? Overpay? The market is what the market is. Patience my friend.

      • It’s not what I expect him to do, it’s what he wanted to do but couldn’t do. If you’re going to ask me what I expect the Jays to be next year, I expect them to not make the playoffs. The fact is AA went into the meeting looking to make moves, upgrade the rotation, perhaps find a second baseman, get a decent catcher(I’m guessing he aimed a lot higher than Dioner Navarro). He couldn’t do any of that. How am I suppose to feel not as bad about the Jays when that’s the case? The way I look at it is this. The Jays are broken, and by broken I mean I consider any team that’s not a 85-90 win team and not a team with young developing players broken. AA wanted to fix the Jays over the Winter meetings and he couldn’t do it. He may needed some luck to fix it, but he didn’t get any of that luck. It’s not his fault that luck wasn’t on his side, perhaps the current core is unsalvageable to begin with(because of the way we depleted our farm last year). I don’t care about any of that. But don’t tell me that we’re fine or things aren’t as bad as they seem. As far as I know things haven’t gotten any better than last season. Maybe we’re not a 74 win team next year, maybe we’re a 80 win team, maybe we’re a 68 win team. What we are definitely not is a 90 team, which is what we were suppose to be.

  24. Nice article.

    If the Jays really believe they’re in the 85-90 win range, it just makes way too much sense not too do something else. Hopefully that something is spending money and not trading away depth. If it’s true that they have about $20M left to spend, that should get you one of the 4 guys left.

  25. [...] Andrew Stoeten at DJF takes an in-depth look at expectations for the Blue Jays in 2014 and using WAR projections concludes that maybe the Jays will be better off than most of us think. [...]

  26. What are Tanaka’s projections and are there Manager equivalent projections ?
    Interesting article … support your use of “Clevelands” … recognize your expletive deleted style change … if your beard turns white will there be 2 old guys on the park bench ? Cudos !

  27. Lets play a new game called “The DJF Wagering Game”
    For the purposes of our 1st wager, we’re going to assume Tanaka signs with the Yankees, Drew with the Red Sox and all other significant free agents sign out of the Division.

    In DJF Wagering, we bet $500.00 Real Money on the Blue Jays to win the Division in 2014
    You may choose to be the bookie or the gambler
    (hold down the bottom button on D-pad and move right stick to make your choice)

    At which of the following odds do you choose to be the bookie and at which the gambler?
    A) 3:1
    B) 7/2
    C) 4:1
    D) 9/2
    E) 6:1
    F) 8:1
    G) 12:1
    H: 15:1
    Your selections will tell you exactly how much you like the chances of the Blue Jays as they are currently constructed.

    • Follow up Question Number One:
      Were one of Ubaldo, Garza or Santana to sign with the Jays, how would that affect your decisions?

      Follow up Question Number Two:
      Were Tanaka to sign with the Jays and one of the other three with the Yankees,
      how would that affect your decisions?

    • I’d be the bookie at 6:1 and the better at 8:1.

      If the jays get jiminez and baker for bench say I’d be bookie at 9/2:1 and better at 6:1.

      If they get Brandon Phillips and solid cf bench guy on top of jiminez I’d be bookie at 3.5:1 and bettor at 4:1.

      Add in price and I’d be bookie at 2.5:1 and bettor at 3:1

    • Bookie in all scenarios. At 50:1 I would consider being the bettor.

  28. R^2 of .78 is amazing from anything in social science as a predictor. Great base case projection for a look that is less biased than the average person can do on some single point of past experience. I wonder what the standard deviation is like based on these WAR numbers. I am willing to bet the Jays was off by more than 2 SD in the 2013 season if that standard deviation is any good.

    • Far out man.

    • That is a great question and point. For this it won’t be normal distributions equal above and below projection. And distributions would be different for different teams depending on depth volatility and upside if lots of unproven young guys like lawrie or injury risk. last years jays had low floor as we saw play out. This year jays floor should be pretty high and ceiling may be high too with injury risks.

      • Where is Google translate when you need it?

        • I was with him right up to the part about R^2 of .78 .

          • = 53.9216184 m^4 kg^2 s^-4 K^-2 mol^-2

          • Basically he is asking ok well you predict war of 40 but how fucking confident are you in this projection and what are the chances it will be really low like 25 war or much higher like 55 war? And how confident was this analysis last year compared to this year? I bet they didn’t think the shit show that happened last year would happen with more than 2% probability so why the fuck should I have any confidence in this analysis?

            Generally when you do a system level analysis based on the sum of all the parts you end up with low confidence overall unless you are very confident in each part. With 25 guys on roster and so much variation for each you end up only with probable confidence in a large swing of outcomes. Say you on average are confident +- 1 war per player you end up with +- 25 war total or 87% chance war will be between 15 and 60 which is apparent from not being retarded. This explaination is simplified and we aren’t designing a nuclear power plant here the analysis is useful even if it doesn’t stand up to statistical rigor.

            So the projected war is great but only tells half the story. How likely is the outcome to be 40 war and what are the low and high marks that are probable and what are the chances of each outcome in between? 35 to 45 or 20 to 60 with x% probability make for completely different analysis and expectations. Or how bout 20 to 41 war range doesn’t look very fucking rosy does it? While a 39 to 60 war lets start planning the parade.

            He is saying that for an ordinary statistical analysis with a normal distribution you can predict that 87% of the time the outcome will be higher than one standard deviation and furthermore he is saying last years shit show outcome was likely way less than that at more than 2 deviations (99% chance it would have been higher). Questions are what is the standard deviation given the volatility of the individual players and what distribution should be expected (ie not a normal bell curve).

            I was saying because of the injury risks and lack of depth last year the 87% chance the outcome would be higher than value was lower than you would expect from a normal distribution. Say if 85 wins was projected that 87% chance might have been 75 wins wheras you might expect 80 to be the mark. But on the high side the 87% chance it would be lower than value was likely more like 90 wins rather than 95. But this year we have more depth and less volatility so those deviations are likely closer to the norm with more like 80 to 90 wins rather than 75 to 90 while the outcome is predicted to be 85 wins in each case.

            • This is a really great write-up about how confident we can be in the predictions. Thanks for taking the time GFD…

            • I think with Josh Johnson, DeRosa, JPA, and Oliver gone and Navarro and a bunch of young arms either coming off Tommy John or with no experience in it’s wrong to argue that this team’s WAR predictions should have less variability. If anything, it should be even more volatile.

              • It’s a valid point. And debatable.

                I figure with all the fringe starters we didn’t have last year as well as some of the younger guys like gose Sierra pillar goins having more experience there is a little more stability and the floor isn’t as low. Yes many fringe sp are very volatile but there are so many you figure a couple will be solid. Johnson was very volatile too now it is only morrow we have as big injury / performance risk. If we get that other veteran sp will really stabilize pitching. Fully expect bench player as good as derosa to be brought in. Lawrie with more experience is less volatile and others are about the same overall. We had nothing after sp rotation last year. Emergence of Cecil dalembar and loup with more experience bodes well for pen too. Catcher may be similar but Kratz I think is solid insurance.

                And there is the fact that there were 12 or something new players on roster last year and many gone to WBC during spring training

    • But .78 is shit for a biological science. And the WAR example is neither social or biological science. So I don’t know what your point is.

  29. Anyone else reading all of twitter shitting on Steve Simmons? So great.

  30. whatever happened to the idea that a team should perpetually try to improve by any and all means available, regardless of depth charts, previous standings, or anything else that people might used for comparative analysis. Its not a relative notion at all, its a straight-forward, universal theme of improvement. And if you have the scratch to do it in more meaningful ways, then all the better. It seems anti-thetical and foolhardy to say: “we´re good enough, thank you”

  31. Great article.

    The one thing I don’t get is why aa was so gungho to start the offseason about we will get a sp etc. why not just say we like the team as is and if anything that works presents itself we will do it? No need to get everyone’s panties in a knot. Did the same thing a couple years back then admitted he underestimated the price on Gio Gonzales and Latos and just made himself look silly and pissed off the fans.

    Analysis makes entirely clear that the team is close to contention and that now is the time to get those couple pieces, maximising value be damned, that will put them up there further in projections otherwise we may be in for sustained bubble teams. Go for it now whether through fa or trade. Two glaring holes to fill at 2b and sp

  32. Health + Better Defence pls

  33. If I had to rank these four scenarios in terms of likely to happen, I’d do it this way:

    1) 83-87 wins, eliminated in September from WC race – a la 2013 Royals
    2) 89-91 wins, sneak into WC
    3) 75-80 wins, eliminated in spirit in July, mathematically late August/early Sept.
    4) Boston, Rays tank, and we pick up the pieces and win div
    5) Worse than last year

    Even if we get one of Santana, Garza, Jimenez, the competition is so fierce that a lot of things would have to go our way to get to the dance. I go into 2014 expecting an interesting team that has maybe a ~20% chance of sneaking into the postseason.

    I’ll be watching to see Reyes get on base constantly, EE/JB kill some baseballs, bugs bunny-like knuckle balls, a bullpen that could be the best in the AL this year, and hopefully see Stroman prove haters wrong about his height and make a dark horse ROY bid.

    The projections give me hope there’s a nonzero chance to go somewhere this year, but no expectations of that.

    • Goddamnit I had five. It had been a rough morning.

    • I think you have a pretty good idea of how things will shake out. I’m on board.

    • 20% chance of making the playoffs is way too pessimistic if they get another quality starter. I think the existing talent level on the team is being vastly underrated right now based on the poor season they had last year. Adding a solid starter gives the Jays a good shot at winning the division – at least in my humble opinion.

  34. To me the projections seem both reasonable and provide more than enough reason to feel good about the team as constructed, given that, if healthy, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of, say, the 70th percentile outcome for Bautista, Encarnacion, Reyes, Ramus, and Lawrie to have 4-5 WAR seasons.

    I know the article argued the Lawrie projection was strong, but given the fact that he has shown power and BABIP in the past, it definitely wouldn’t come as a shock to me to see a .270/.340/.460 season with 20-25 HRs. Couple that with plus defense, that’s basically a 5 WAR guy.

  35. I think the jays are an 80-85 win team. Ergo, according to the by-line, they are better. Enough for the wild cards though? Methinks not.

    As is…breaking good, 87 wins. Breaking bad, 75 wins

    • You listed “breaking good” as 2 wins over the high end of the projection, yet listed “breaking bad” as 5 wins below the low end of the projection.

    • @out west

      I agree with that assessment with the current roster. Of course, AA could improve the team with better starting pitching.

      I do think that it could take less than 90 wins to win the AL East with 5 strong teams.

      The yankees won 85 games in 2013 with Wells & Overbay in the lineup.

      80-85 wins would mean the jays are in a playoff race for most of the season.

  36. 11th best huh? Now is there some kind of WAR correction for the fact that the NL has no DH? Just kinda weird that 8 of the top 11 are AL teams. Regardless, 8th in the AL has the Jays at least in the conversation for a wildcard spot.

    • Yep NL teams have worse team WAR totals due to the DH. Except for the Cardinals cause their just crazy good.

  37. If you’re Tanaka, wouldn’t you prefer a 3 year 60 million dollar deal, plus 20 million posting, as opposed to a 7/120. That way you hit the market again when you’re 27 and without the posting fee attached to you. If you sign for for 7-8 years, which most free agents do bc they hit free agency so late, you might miss out on that next contract which based on past free agent contracts, will be a much higher number 3 years from now?

    I you’re the Jays, do you pay 80 million for 3 years of Tanaka, plus hopefully a draft pick?

    If I were the Jays, I prefer the 3 years as opposed to the 6 or 7 year commitment. However, I am not sure AA has the budget to do either of these hypothetical contracts.

    Tanaka is probably the only free agent who might sign for less than 5 years. All the other big names will want as much as possible, thus driving up the term of the contract. Not sure I would want to be locked into Garza or Jimenez for 5 or 6 years. Definetly not Santana.

    I see the Jays standing pat on SP, but they will have to move some pieces of the bullpen. Those relievers will be used to get a 2B and/or a bat off the bench that can platoon with Lind. Or maybe a couple decent prospects. With the high cost of SP, they can’t reasonably trade Stroman or Sanchez. Those are trades you make when you are certain you are close. The Jays cannot logically arrive at that conclusion today. If they are in contention 50 games in and say the Rays are out of it, than maybe the Jays move one of those 2 or both.

    • “If you’re Tanaka, wouldn’t you prefer a 3 year 60 million dollar deal, plus 20 million posting, as opposed to a 7/120.”

      I’d say yes in a vaccuum, however a pitcher’s grasp on health is so tenuous that they’ll almost always (and smartly) reach for term and security when they can. Generally, this is true for most athletes.

    • I don’t see us getting Tanaka. I would think he’d want to pitch on one of baseball’s bigger stages. If we did, that would be awesome and I would be sporting a shit-eating grin all offseason (despite how well said grin worked out for us last year), but I don’t see it happening. I’m just hoping we get one of the consolation prizes, or some pitching upgrade that doesn’t cost us Stroman.

      • IMO about the only scenario the Yankees may shy away from is an extended term, ie 8-10 years @ 25 MM AAV, owing to the fact that if they end up stuck with ARod, they’ll be paying him through 2017. But then again, they ARE the Yankees and money means nothing to them.
        The 3/60 plus the 20MM posting fee does not present a problem.

        • You see Tanaka going for 200m? My god, if he goes that high no one should touch him.

          • @revolu, No of course not. It’s an extreme example of the only way you’re going to outbid the Yankees..ala Cano. 3/60 aint going to do it.

    • You take the lower aav, higher term contract cause it’s more guarenteed money as allisauce put it.

      An interesting contract would be having the decent aav, high term, but with a player opt out clause after 3 or 4 seasons ala grienke or andrus. So while still expensive, it gives incentive for the player to sign with the team cause maybe after 3 years Tanaka becomes on par with Darvish and feels he might command a higher contract.

    • Good question. I think if tanaka were to take a short term deal it wouldn’t be with jays and dome. Teams have way less incentive here to do lower term with the 20m dollar posting fee which skews things

      Iwakuma signed short term deal I think 2 years but his initial contact and posting fee was really low

  38. Couldn’t get past the title.

    The Jays are much worse off than we think they are.

  39. I know it’s a crapshoot most of the time – but it’s all predicated on good health, isn’t it?
    Whether or not Lady Luck or Mr. Murphy decide to pay you a visit and take a giant dump all over your best-laid plans?
    This team, when healthy…when firing on at least 7 of 8 cylinders (sorry, old school here…in my day, there was no substitute for Detroit cubic inches) – SHOULD (repeat, SHOULD) be able to compete in any division. Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow etc, turning in 7-inning quality starts – and Delabar, Santos and Janssen slamming the door in the final 2 innings. EE, JBats and Cletus raking the at-bats like they’ve shown in the past….and Lawrie, Reyes, and Rasmus vacuuming up their defense responsibilities. Maybe a return to form with Melky and Lind…and not a total black hole from 2nd base and catcher.
    No one’s asking for All-Star years…just playing to potential and staying healthy.
    We’ll be there, hopefully, at the end.

    • I hope you’re right. The question I have is, have we been lulled into acceptance?

      • “Lulled”?
        Explain.

        • Lulled:
          To cause to sleep or rest; soothe or calm.

          To deceive into trustfulness

          A relatively calm interval, as in a storm.

          An interval of lessened activity

          • My question was why you felt people had been “lulled in acceptance”. I had figured the definition of the word out – you fucking smartass. It’s funny the things you’ll say on the internet that you’d never say face to face.

  40. I’ll say one thing – if the Jays don’t end up adding any starting pitching, then they sure should have picked up Josh Johnson’s option. All that cost was money.

    • and high risk but yes, if all things equal, i agree

    • There was an argument for it, but apparently the Jays decided against it because they felt the money earmarked for johnson would be better spent somewhere else.

  41. I stand in absolute awe of your ability to spin. Yes indeed, standing basically pat, after finishing 23 games out, truly is the best case scenario. Great post frenemy.

  42. Andrew has written an excellent overview based on something more than guesswork. I think that AA is going to make a move that will get us a starter for sure. Then perhaps even go back to the idea floated way back when that Buerhle gets traded for a 2nd baseman. With the huge influx of cash, he has to wait it out while the Tanaka scenario sorts itself out.

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