The case of J.A. Happ and his tenure with the Blue Jays certainly is a curious one.

He was acquired in a maligned trade for what is still deemed too many “prospects” in some corners, even as the players the Astros received continue to prove the Jays right in their evaluation.

He then was the saviour that all Jays fans were pining for this time a year ago, as he put in a great Spring Training while seemingly being destined for Buffalo, as Ricky Romero — the incumbent, the club insisted, until the bitter end — imploded.

Now he’s the man everybody wants out. Alex Anthopoulos has talked up the organization’s youngsters, partly out of self-preservation after doing fuck all to improve the rotation in the off-season, and that’s who fans want to see. Not J.A. Happ and his too many pitches, too few strikeouts, and supposed general mediocrity, especially now that he has begun this spring with two miserable outings (hurt though he may have been).

Even the team itself is wavering. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet notes a tone change from Alex Anthopoulos, who now says two rotation spots may be up for grabs, admitting Happ’s early performance and sore back have caused concerns. Happ’s next start has been pushed back, according to a tweet from Mike Wilner, and the Jays aren’t saying when he’ll be on the mound next– perhaps he’s this year’s Brett Cecil or Ricky Romero, whisked away from prying eyes and getting his work in at unannounced times to keep the media from making his possible failure to make the team a bigger story than they want it to be (as if that ever works).

I don’t know, though. If he ends up returning to health and to the rotation competition in short order, frankly, I’m not sure the kids are necessarily as much better than a lot of fans think they’re going to be. But the bigger question is: better than what? Just who is J.A. Happ, and how do we get a handle on what we think he might bring to the Jays, given the ebbs and flows of his career since he was brought here in the most boring ten-player deal in history?

It’s an interesting question…

Reaction at the time of the acquisition was mixed, and has remained so.

I wrote about it here in utilitarian terms, explaining “it’s not like they have a lot of ready-made fall-back starters in case they have trouble finding pitching this winter or that Happ– unsexy as he is– isn’t better than the Aaron Laffeys of the world who’ll be available for nothing; it’s not like they’ll have Luis Perez to step into the lefty specialist role that may be vacated by the terrific Darren Oliver, should he be dealt or choose to retire (as rumoured); and it’s not like they’re not going to need a guy like Happ at some point over the next season-and-a-half.”

Parkes, however, as I noted in that post, practically busted out the champagne for Jeff Luhnow and company for the prospect haul the Astros received from the Jays. In September 2013, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star still felt that way, huffing and puffing about the deal as the worst that Alex Anthopoulos has made in his tenure as Jays GM (Noah Syndergaard and Mike Napoli say hi!), but there’s no reason to think Keith Law didn’t absolutely nail it at the time of the deal, when he wrote — as I quoted in my own piece — that the Jays had merely dealt away ““fringe prospects who might have been squeezed out of 40-man spots by better players in the next few years and were one bad half-season away from losing any trade value they had.”

That certainly seems to be holding true two-and-a-half years later. Asher Wojciechowski is tenth on Baseball America’s list of the top Astros prospects, twelfth for Minor League Ball, and doesn’t make the the top tens from KLaw and Baseball Prospectus, or the top fifteen at FanGraphs. Dave Rollins has had some success as a pro, but only scrapes into the honourable mention at Minor League Ball — not even necessarily in the top 20. Joe Musgrove, the supposed hidden gem of the deal, turns 22 next month and has yet to play above rookie ball. Carlos Perez and Kevin Comer aren’t found on any of the lists either — though, like all of these guys, are not yet non-prospects, since it’s important to remember what a sickeningly loaded system Houston has built. Still, though!

Jon Hale wrote an excellent-as-usual piece at the Mockingbird, looking at Happ as a sneaky pick-up, due to upward trends in his strikeout and walk rates and velocity at the time. In 2013 the rate stats went south, but the velocity moved up once again. Perhaps its a slight mirage because he didn’t have a chance to wear down, but in 2013 Happ’s fastball averaged 91.1, according to FanGraphs. That’s up from 90.5 in 2012, and represents fifth straight year of increase since his 32 inning cameo in 2008, during which he averaged just 88.8.

The J.A. Happ optimist would look at a thing like that and get hopeful that last season was just a blip — and for obvious, line-drive-to-the-head-causing-knee-injury-y reasons. Shit, Happ’s FIP and xFIP in 2012 looked like possible harbingers of good things, even. Of the 103 big league pitchers who threw more than 140 innings in that upward-trending 2012, Happ’s xFIP of 3.92 ranked 47th. That may not sound terribly impressive, but it’s more than decent for a back-end starter, and was better than the marks put up by Homer Bailey, Jarrod Parker, Kyle Lohse, and Jake Peavy. His FIP of 4.01 placed him 57th, just a hair behind Bailey, and ahead of guys like Matt Harrison, C.J. Wilson, Jon Lester, and Justin Masterson.

It’s not a nothing pitcher who can put together a string of 140 innings like that — then follow it up with a very strong spring training of 2013, after his 2012 season ended with foot surgery. Those cherry-picked peripherals would be a whole hell of a lot more confidence-inspiring, though, if they weren’t such outliers (along with his 2.93 ERA in 2009 with the Phillies and 3.43 ERA the following year) among a sea of ERAs above 4.50, FIPs above 4.30, and xFIPs in the 4.60 range (and tERAs and SIERAs that don’t look any better).

You could — and if you were the Jays and inexplicably trying to insist Happ is some kind of key rotation piece and not what Law called at the time of the trade a guy with a “high-effort, short-arm action and a tendency to fly open after release, all of which probably points to a reliever future” you would — paint 2012 at the year. You’d likely point to the upward trends in rate stats and velocity and suggest that Happ deserves a mulligan on 2013, given that he was hit in the fucking head with a line drive, fractured his fucking skull, and bunged up his knee in the process, and that he should be afforded the opportunity to keep building on 2012.

You might even argue that he began to make good on that promise in six September starts last year against the Royals, Twins, Angels, Yankees, White Sox, and Rays. Not exactly a collection of the AL’s offensive juggernauts, but the group does include two of the best offences in baseball last year in the Rays and Angels, and in the very, very small sample, Happ was indisputably good: 34 hits, 13 walks, and 29 strikeouts in 33.1 innings of work; a 2.97 ERA and .312 wOBA against; a FIP of 3.65 and an xFIP at 4.20.

OK, so Clayton Kershaw it’s not, but you’ll take that out of your fourth or fifth starter, and interestingly, during the month Happ managed to keep his flyball rate down to almost the level it was at in 2012, when he was at his most successful.

Thing is, though, there was that stuff about trying out a new arm angle, which makes the whole narrative about steady improvement save for the injury-related blip a little hard to swallow. So… I don’t even know?

This spring hasn’t exactly been nearly as indicative of what to expect from him as a lot of sourpuss fans want to insist — he’s hurting and I saw in person that he looked much better a week ago against the Phillies than his line showed– and occasionally you can see him flash potential, but it’s hard not to look at the numbers on his FanGraphs page and see simple random variance poking its head through in the really bright spots. After all, not much has happened since July 2012 to change my original assessment.

In other words, he’s a guy they need, in terms of depth, but that doesn’t mean they ought to intentionally run him out there if there are better options. And, as I noted above, it seems as though the club’s mind might be changing on this matter. This morning Alex Anthopoulos spoke with the media in a wide-ranging conversation that was transcribed at Gregor Chisholm’s North Of The Border blog, and he continued distancing himself from the talk of previous weeks that Happ’s rotation spot was secure.

Asked about whether it’s one or two rotation spots that are up for grabs this spring, Anthopoulos was about as blunt as he gets:

There could be two. I think we’re going to take the best team north. Especially right now, we have J.A. and the back, the performance, things like that, we have to get him on track, stay healthy. Obviously R.A., Mark and Brandon. Again, we expect J.A. to be in the rotation but at the same time the back’s flared up on him twice. I just don’t know. Look, if guys perform well and they force our hand, we’ll take the best team.

Granted, it doesn’t exactly behoove the GM to come in and tell young guys who think they’re fighting for a spot that they’re really not, but I don’t think that’s what this is — especially because we already knew there would be a competition. And if Anthopoulos has personal favourites, divorced from the team politics and service time stuff, I don’t necessarily think they’re Happ.

“We saw that velocity at the end of his time in 2012 before he got hurt,” the GM said of Drew Hutchison. “When I went to the Arizona Fall League, it was so encouraging to see him pitch that way. He really started to come into his own in 2012 before he got hurt so I’m not surprised. I think I said it before, he’s a guy I expected to really impress. He’s off to a great start, he’s definitely opened some eyes, he’s a strong candidate to make the rotation but he’s got to make it. But I love what I see.”

And then there’s Marcus Stroman, too.

“He has a chance,” Anthopoulos said, after half-conceding that the youngster’s next outing or two are important ones if he’s going to impress enough to keep those chances alive. “I don’t know what the chances are, the percentages, but there’s a reason he’s getting stretched out, there’s a reason we’re giving him the innings. We want to take a look. If he can impress and really come on he’s going to make it hard on us, which is what we want.”

He’s just very calm and composed and I haven’t seen anybody chew gum on the mound while in the middle of throwing a pitch. I mean, I don’t think that’s being arrogant or cocky. I just think he’s very composed, he’s very athletic, I think he does a lot of things to help himself, whether it’s holding runners, things like that. He’s worked on his changeup. He’s still young, he’s still inexperienced and there’s still going to be a learning curve there, one way or the other. There’s a reason he was a consensus first round talent, where he went that was a debate but he’s always had stuff. Team USA, success at a D1 school, success in the minors, he’s had success everywhere he’s been despite how people doubt him because of his size.”

The stuff that comes out of his arm is great. I know we’ve talked about the Sonny Gray comparisons and I think they’re fair. I think Marcus is ready to be up here, stuff-wise I mean can he work on his changeup? Probably a little bit more, sure, but for the most part he’s ready to be up here. Do we have a spot? Is he performing to the level? Is he performing better than some of the other options? Those are all things we’re going to have to make a decision.

Then the big question: will he really take the best team, or will service time issues play a factor in keeping a guy like Stroman down?

No doubt about it, the best team. Where it becomes a little more interesting, if you have multiple players, if it’s close and someone has options and someone’s out of options, you keep the depth. If it’s not close then you take the best players. That’s always the way it’s been. That’s why those players that have options left have to be that much better than the guys they’re competing against and I’ve told the players that to their faces. But those guys that are out of options, if they’re not performing and guys are clearly an upgrade over them and will make a big difference for them we’ll go with the best team.

Obviously he wouldn’t say that he’s going to manipulate service time, and obviously he’s giving himself a solid justification for not taking him north with the club by making it clear that Stroman — or anyone still with options left — will have to be head and shoulders above the competition in order to make the Opening Day roster. But on the other hand, surely Anthopoulos knows how important this season is to his job, his career, the careers of many of those around him, the project he’s brought along this far, and just how very important it is for the club to get off to a good start to the season. He hasn’t often taken the kind of cynical, selfish route that his predecessor did when it comes to attempting to preserve his employment status first and foremost, but if ever there was a time to do so, trying to catch lightning in a bottle with Stroman might be his best chance. Biting the bullet on having Happ’s contract in the minors or the bullpen seems reasonable enough, too. And it’s not even necessarily in the worst interest of the organization, either. I mean, it’s better off if this damn thing would work and Anthopoulos can manage to keep his job, rather than just tearing it all down and starting again, even though he’ll have left the club with a tremendous foundation with which to do so with, should it come to that.

But it’s easy to dream on that potential, and hard to get geared up about the dependable mediocrity with occasional flashes of more that the club can expect from Happ. The answer isn’t necessarily as obvious as it seems, as guys like Stroman and Hutchison simply haven’t yet had the opportunity to go through the kinds of ebbs and flows that have characterized Happ’s career as a big leaguer. It would be easier if we had a better handle on what Happ is and what those young arms will be, but part of the fun is in finding out.

I mean… uhh… fretting under a cloud of hopelessness that this season may never see clear sky thanks to a bunch of dice-rolls in the rotation is fun, right?

Comments (119)

  1. Still sounds to me like AA is heavily favouring Happ to be in the rotation:

    “I think we’re going to take the best team north. Especially right now, we have J.A. and the back, the performance, things like that, we have to get him on track, stay healthy. Obviously R.A., Mark and Brandon. Again, we expect J.A. to be in the rotation but at the same time the back’s flared up on him twice. I just don’t know. Look, if guys perform well and they force our hand, we’ll take the best team.”


    • That exact quote is in the piece you’re commenting on, FYI.

    • almost sure that if happ is healthy he’s in the rotation. he’s in the rotation or on the DL

      • Not entirely correct

        • I think the back flare-up is more important than it sounds. If he doesn’t really get the chance this spring to pitch at 100%, he won’t break camp with the club. It gives a decent cop-out for the front office and their media lines as to why he isn’t in the rotation to start the season, too.

          • Do they really have to justify to anyone but Happ why he isn’t in the rotation??

            • Not at all, I just think that might make any rotation decisions easier to make and justify if there are minor injuries going on with a guy who management has thus far flip-flopped on saying whether he is or isn’t part of the rotation to start the year.

            • If he’s hurt, he’s on the DL and not taking up a place on the 25-man, giving more time for the Redmond / Rogers thing to work out.

  2. Quick! Teach him the knuckleball!

    • Your starter can’t throw strikes? Teach him the knuckleball!

      (I know you’re joking but I think people really have the impression that it’s an easy option)

  3. Not that I don’t appreciate the article and the great analysis of our pitching depth but I feel like the whole conversation could have been a much more positive one if we had just picked up another proven starter.
    I would love to be saying “which one of our rookie arms is ready to shine through the mediocrity and take the 5th spot from Happ?”.

    No question, just a comment. (dead horse et. al)

  4. Give Happ every opportunity to lose the job…and keep Stroman in Buffalo for awhile. I’d hate to throw Stroman into the starting mix just yet – and keeping him as middle/long reliever in the ‘pen probably isn’t helping him at this stage.

    • Oh Stroman is definitely starting somewhere, by the sounds of it. As he should be, you’re right.

      • Why not approach Stroman the same way the Cards approach their young arms? Use them in the bullpen where they can contribute to the club until they’re ready to start.

        • I’ve been a big fan of that option for years. Teams used to do it all the time. That said, there’s no room at least to start the season. I think I’ve even read that AA had similar plans for guys like Stroman this year if all the other starters worked out well.

          • The Jays themselves did it back in the day.

            Todd Stottlemyre and Boomer Wells, a few of those guys in that era came up through the bullpen first.

        • don’t they do that as much because they are stacked at the MLB level vs a rule to get them used to the majors? it would be nice if the Jays had this problem ..

  5. The way I see it is that Hutchison is basically you’re number 4 and one of Redmond and Rogers or Happ is your 5th starter no matter what is said now. I’ve hated the Happ trade since it happened but I guess all the Happ lovers wore me down and I’ve come around to the idea he’s better than what he’s shown so far. That said, I still don’t see them taking Stroman north no matter how well he pitches. I can’t see AA for all of his claims otherwise giving up on the one of Rogers, Redmond and McGowan simply for the reason they’re his main depth pieces and there’s not room for all 3 in the pen.

    Happ’s health problems just illustrate why it would have been better to sign one of Jimenez or Santana. There’s still so much uncertainty in this rotation. There’s no point in saying anything about the results so far since it’s ridiculously early even though part of me is less than enthused by what I’ve seen so far.

    Keep your fingers crossed for AA and just hope that The Gambler doesn’t roll snake eyes once the season starts.

    Also I noticed the Kenny Williams talk is starting to heat up. Interesting to see if a platoon of Gose and Williams is in the Jays future for center field. Personally I could see Williams surpassing Gose this season. Would rather see them sign Colby to and extension and let Williams be your left fielder next year if came to that unless they were able to get Melky to resign. I wonder if AA isn’t waiting to see who does best and keeps just one of them.

    • I don’t think he’s much of a consideration until you can get his name straight. Or… y’know… ever.

      Also: good eye-rolling lord.

      • lol yea typed the last name wrong this time but I know who I am talking about and I think it’s still a fair comment. They are the same age, their minor league stats are very similar. Everything I’ve read about him says he plays a fantastic defense and he’d be a natural compliment to Gose.

        Obviously we don’t know what they are doing with regards to the future of the outfield but the potential loss of Melky and Rasmus is going to create some pretty big holes. If they lose both, are they really going to play Gose every day in CF when he’s just as bad or worse against LHP than Goins? Of course it’s entirely possible they go with 2 absolute shit bats in the lineup for their defense but ugh.

        Maybe it’s another year before Wilson possibly sees time in the majors, I guess there’s a still a lot of time and options to consider between now and then but I still wonder about the payroll issues.

        • After his age 23 season, Wilson has peaked with one uninspiring season at AA. After his age 22 season, Gose has already two seasons where he split time between AAA and the majors.

          Gose hasn’t done a whole lot the last couple of years, but it’s been a whole lot more impressive than anything Wilson has ever done, and ten spring training plate appearances doesn’t really change anything.

          • You realize Wilson has been out with injuries for 2 of the last 3 years including a huge chunk last year. When he was healthy he put up similar numbers wRC+ to Gose at A ball and AA, yes in a smakler sample size. Factor in injuries and loss of development time and their isn’t a huge difference. Wilson has less power but doesn’t strike out as much. They are both speedsters and play great D. The fact that one hits left and one hits right should play nicely if the Jays go that way. Again i’d rather have Rasmus but it seems like AA is setting the ground work for Rasmus to leave.

      • Does he mean Kenny ‘the jet” Wilson. Saw him play in Australia for the Canberra Cavalry two years ago. Good lord .220 hitters with no power over 6 minor league seasons are the new future of the organization. uhm…ok.

        • Yeah it’s not like the average CF hit around .260 and averaged less than 6 HR last year in for all of MLB or anything. Believe me I’d love to have Colby there for the next few years, just have trouble seeing the Jays ponying up to pay him.

  6. I prefer the idea of Hutchinson + Stroman in the rotation over Happ + Stroman/Hutch … I feel like there’s more upside there, but maybe that’s just the allure of the unknown.

    Frankly, the rotation I’d really like to see is Dickie, Morrow, Santana, Buerhle, Hutch/Stroman/Drabek … but guess that’s not happening for some reason.

  7. If everything breaks right and nobody gets hurt – sure we could worry about 5 spots and nitpick over whether or not Stroman should be the #5 or whether Happ is blocking someone but fuck me – the way that the last 2 years have gone in terms of pitching – the Jays should be stockpiling every arm they can. Nothing in my experience tells me that the team will only need 5 starters this season. Everything in my experience tells me each of these guys is going to get his fair shot at sticking with the club by next September. The only guy I can see not cracking MLB is Sanchez purely based on future contract and service time considerations.

  8. It would be super dumb to open the year with Stroman in the rotation when, even if you really wanted him, you could delay him by 4 starts and have an additional year of service time.

    • Not if the value he provides in those four starts makes the difference between making the playoffs or not.

      I totally get the argument, but you think the Rays don’t have regrets about not having Wil Myers the first month of the season? Obviously it’s a rare circumstance, and they made it to the ALDS anyway, but with Myers they may have missed game 163 and had home-field for the play-in, which are pretty significant.

      Most years I’d probably agree with you, but I think this is the year to squeeze as much marginal value out of this team as possible, because they’ll need it, and anything but the playoffs is a huge failure that’s going to cost jobs.

      • I think you’re right that they’re gonna try to squeeze all the marginal value they can from this year and if it was a position player I’d agree but we’re talking about what literally may only be 3 starts with off days in April needed for a 5th starter. That’d be a heck of a price to pay down the road to squeeze 3-4 more starts out of a 22 year old.

      • Yeah, but…… There’s no way Stroman, even forgetting about the super 2 cutoff, will pitch even 175 innings this year, never mind 200. So why not hold him down at AAA til June?

        • False. I don’t know if they’re so beholden to the Verducci effect nonsense. Even if they are, it may not matter. Stroman threw 98 innings for Duke in 2012, and then almost 20 more as a pro. He got to about 125 innings last year, including the AFL, and that doesn’t include the fact that he didn’t debut in 2013 until mid-May because of his suspension, so his arm was built up beyond that with the throwing he would have been doing up until that point. I don’t think 175 is out of the question at all. 200 is probably a stretch.

      • “you think the Rays don’t have regrets about not having Wil Myers the first month of the season?”….No. As you said they made the playoffs anyway, and they get an extra year of Myers.

        • Rays didnt have regrets having Price in the minors that year they went from worst to first either. If I recall he didnt cme up until the end of the year even though he was dominant in minors are very ready for MLB.

          I really think the Jays are best off if Stroman isnt called up until into next year when presumably he will be better and better over his pre FA years. Of course if he is way better than other options you have to go with him – sign Santana instead an one year deal and the money could be a wash at the end of the day if Stroman is significantly better next year than this year.

        • Rephrased, then: you think the Rays didn’t have regrets when they had to play game 163 and then a play-in game on the road? Of course they did.

  9. I think an interesting thing out of that scrum is AA said there would be no innings limit on Hutch or Stroman. So you could take both and expect them to to pitch the entire year.

    I think they are probably your two best options at this point. Obviously experience works against them.

    It wouldn’t hurt to have them start in Buffalo and force their way up.

    • I’ll be very surprised if Hutch doesn’t have an innings limit this year. He only returned at the end of last season after TJ. Maybe AA misremembered.

      • He has said this before, I believe. Plus, he threw 57 innings last year between mid-July and the end of the AFL season, and was up to 150 the year before he got hurt.

        See above for the story on Stroman, which is similar.

        I’m sure there’s some amount they think is too much, but I’m certain it’s higher than you’re suggesting.

        • They also may be softening their stance on the need to slowly ramp up innings. I know there is some debate on that subject.

  10. Stoets, I totally agree with you about AA hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with Stroman, versus a lower ceiling prospect. I think it makes perfect sense, even more so with Happ as swingman or AAA. They were considering putting Stroman in the bullpen immediately after his suspension ended. They must think he’s ready.

    If AA knew that Stroman was his #5, it would explain a lot about his reluctance to sign a mediocre SP wouldn’t it?

  11. You know, if they’re insisting on taking the best team North, don’t you only take 7 relievers, lose one on waivers, have Sierra platoon with Lind, and then bring Gose or Pillar as the backup CF? The 8-reliever plans don’t seem to include a back up CF.

  12. Happ has proven nothing at the major league level to warrant a starting spot in any al east rotation. What a total piece of shit.

  13. Even if everything breaks right and the Jays are close in September I don’t see how they’ll have the pitching to get in. You’ve got to think that even if a couple of Happ/Drabek/Stroman/Hutch/McGowan break out, none have pitched big innings the past couple of years and are likely to hit a wall at 150-175 innings. I don’t know how you can envision Jays as a playoff contender without one more innings eater in the rotation.

  14. I think for Stroman to make this team, Happ, Redmond, Rogers and maybe even Romero have to really shit the bed this spring. I think if one of those guys can put some decent innings together as the 5th guy they start Stroman in AAA. That being said the first sign of disaster Stroman will be given a chance.

  15. I’m starting to consider that almost no stat outweighs dependable innings from a starter.
    It wouldn’t have been sexy, but picture how different the season would have gone with 5 buerhle’s. I remember watching Harden sit down i think 10 or 11 blue jays through five, but it took him 130 pitches and he was gone and they came back and won.

  16. What’s the worst-case scenario here? The Jays lose Redmond and Rogers to waivers? Who else is out of options and is likely to get picked up?

    I’d guess Redmond passes, someone scoops Rogers.

    I like the idea of an “ALL-IN” season, who cares about burning an option year here or there?

    • I would think both of them get snapped up. They would be cheap depth pieces for the pen or the back end of the rotation for lesser teams quite easily.

    • Jeffress is also out of options and Sierra too.

      I don’t think Redmond or Esmil would pass through waivers but would I ever like to see Wagner in place of Rogers or Hutch in place of Redmond, If Gibby really does want to go with the “best 25 players” it will be interesting to see who is left to waivers or not.

  17. 4 weeks tomorrow until opening day!

  18. I am hoping that the starting rotation is made up of the best five pitchers. Given that I am not qualified to decide which of the various players is ‘best’ I am hoping that the Jays can make the best decisions. Then I am hoping that the best five pitchers help the Jays win enough games to be relevant in September. I am also hoping that Boston implodes and the Jays sweep the Yankees. Just, you know, because.

  19. Just sign Santana to a heavily discounted one year deal already.

    Options aside it would be good to keep Hutch and Stroman in the minors longer just to maximize their value in their pre arbitration years – assuming of course they are going to get better in a year or two than they are now.

    AA has an unhealthy addiction to roster moves and bringing up guys way before they are ready for cameos burning options which then puts the team in roster predicaments down the line. If Sierra hadn’t been getting called up to bat 200 three years ago or whatever he would still have options. Gose will be out after this year after being called up the last couple? Burned an option on Nolin so he could get shelled in one inning (not to mention have to be on 40 man roster now).

    • Not how that works. After they’ve been in the minors a certain number of years, you burn an option any year that they’re not in the Majors.

      • Its two separate things no?

        The Rule 5 draft is for players that aren’t on the 40 man roster so many years after being drafted – I htink 6 or 8 years depending on how old they were when drafted.

        Once on the 40 man roster a player is optionable and each year they move between majors and minors one of their 3 option years are used. After that they are out of options and can be claimed if sent down.

        AA seems to prematurely put guys on 40 man roster (Nolin) plus unnecessarily burn options (Nolin, Gose, Sierra, Hutchinson) bringing up early 20s guys for a cup of coffee pre September. Better to have AAAA guys for fill in and leave the young guys off the 40 man as long as possible on leave their option years for when they are more major league ready but may not crack to MLB team yet.

    • You need to have two sides agree on a deal, you can’t just sign him to whatever you want.

      You’re seriously concerned about losing Sierra and (way down the line) Nolin? Seriously? Gose probably could have used not being burned as early as he was, but he’s still headed for full season number three at the Triple-A level. I mean, how many full seasons should he languish down there before they decide he is who he is? I’m not saying they have to now, but the clock is ticking. Not really seeing the fact that they can’t stash him in AAA for a fourth season as some kind of crime, though he’s young, yes.

      If anything, the Phillies seem to have started him on the path a little early, going from 11 games in rookie ball at 17, past low-A to the Sally league at 18. Was one of just four 18-or-under qualified position players in that league in 2009, and it’s not exactly like he was a polished prospect flying up the chain. Jays still had some time to back off, of course. Didn’t have to start him in Double-A in 2011, though he did hit well in A+ following the trade. But yeah, a 19-year-old who hit .262/.332/.393 with a tonne of strikeout wasn’t exactly screaming to start the next year up a level. But he did well there, so there’s surely more to where he was at than the stat line. So… yeah… definitely could have been held back a little more, but like I say, three full years in AAA should really be enough for him and the Jays to shit or cut bait. Er… I mean to fish or get off the pot.

      • I don’t mind if he was progressed fast through minors. There is no reason a guy like gose can’t be aaa depth well into career and provide value. It is nearly time to shit or get off the pot for gose because jays burned his options in his early 20s otherwise he could shit or play in aaa for the next 3 seasons and be great injury replacement instead of whatever other of is in his early 20s unprepared for MLB and would have to burn his options.

        In three years it may be same discussion about Nolin being out of options and not wanting to lose him if he doesn’t break camp in MLB while considering the valuable depth he could provide over the course of a season

        • Guys who aren’t ready for the big leagues after three straight years in AAA just aren’t valuable enough to worry about losing. If they are, you find a way to keep them. I know what you’re saying, but I just find that it’s a bigger issue if you’re looking for something to be upset about than it really is in reality.

          • I think it is a bigger issue than u do and the bigger problem than losing marginal assets is having 22 year old gose Sierra Nolin and the list goes on playing below replacement level when they are called up and the jays losing more games than necessary because of it.

      • Can’t you just press the force trade button Stoeten?

  20. So its March and basically we only have 3 starters. Too bad there weren’t any potential no. 2-3 pitchers available this past winter willing to sign a reasonable contract, say something in the $50 million / 4 year range.

    • Dumb.

      • Yep I’m pretty butt-hurt over how the offseason went and unable to restrain my mouth from frothing over how disappointed I am we didn’t get any external pitching help at all

        I’m not taking an optimistic view at all but if Happ’s back doesn’t get better soon and Stroman and Hutch don’t do well out of the gate (and i think it is a bit unfair to expect them to at this point) and need time in the minors we’re looking at a rotation of Dickey-Morrow-Buerhle-Redmond-Rogers. How could i not be idiot angry?

  21. J.A. Happ = John Cerutti

    Out of baseball at 31, can he announce?

  22. How many options does Happ have? We’ve all heard how Redmond and Rogers are out of options. Is there any online resource that has # of options remaining listed for players?

  23. If Happ doesn’t improve significantly and Hutch, Drabek don’t impress we will almost certainly see AA break the bank and bring in Santana out of necessity. Him and his agent must be licking their lips seeing the struggles of the Jays back end thus far. AA will go from drivers seat on the deal to NEEDING Santana, and his camp will know that and drive up the asking price – which is fair – if we need him we need him.

    I’ve also been extremely impressed with Liam Hendricks thus far, and if that continues his name has to be in the mix for the 5th man. He’s got experience in the majors (albeit not with great results). But if AA wants to take the best team North – Hendricks is in the conversation as it stands today.

    • the growing desperation of our pitching situation is probably the only reason why Santana hasn’t signed yet. I mean, why sign right now with Baltimore, for what is it, 30 mil for three years, when you’ve got the possibility of the Blue Jays making an increased offer within the next two weeks after the realization that their rotation’s shit. like, we think we’re holding out for a drop in price on Santana, when we’ll probably end up paying more if we want him, in a more desperate state, two weeks from now.

      • Way off.

      • If the Jays were that horny on Santana, they’d already have him. They placed a value on him and wanted to see what players they already have can do this spring. Their value on Santana doesn’t change because of a few shitty outings. They might want him more than they did two weeks ago, but they’re not going to throw additional money at him.

        • That approach is correct, but for a team that isn’t as desperate as the Jays.

          if you’re the cubs or the twins, you set your value on players and stick to it. You shop in the damaged good section, and the resurgence bin.

          but a year removed from unloading a ton of talent and taking on a 30%+ increase in payroll… How do you sit back with your evaluation and be content, especially when the player in question fills an area so obviously.

          I personally don’t even like Santana, but at the fair deal they could land him for, he’s a better option then what we have in the 4th starter position and its a contract that wont handcuff the team .

    • I actually don’t think this is trolling. But Hendricks has zero chance, and I don’t see that Santana scenario at all. So many guys have to be unbelievably awful for the Jays to need him any more in two weeks than they do now. It’s early spring, pitchers are going to be behind the hitters.

  24. I can’t help but smell a bit of fishiness (tuna?) In the Happ injury story. AA himself said all his scans and doctor checks are normal but that he’s just “feeling” his back. Is he being handed a softer landing on his way out of the rotation? It’s a mighty abrupt change in the Dunedin talking points that suddenly he’s not a lock.

    • Wat?

    • With AA I ignore what he says, he is a PR nightmare and people speculate way too much on what he says.

      Read they took dozens of MRIs on Cabreras back last yer before they fund the tumour which was big. After dealing with back issues myself I’ve learned 2 things – doctors are nearly entirely useless to help (medical practioners are not though) and scans may or may not show anything and conclusions drawn from what they do show are entirely untrustworthy.

      Is likely a case with Happ of how he responds to treatments to get an idea what shape he may be in going forward and could be an up and down situation like we have seen with Lind for instance

      • Is he a PR nightmare, or is that kind of just what his job is?

        • Could be just the job. For me personally I have become much more frustrated with following what aa says than any other gm of any team I’ve ever been a fan of. Maybe I just didn’t pay attention or read and comment in blogs before!

  25. Once again, please do not respond to Sober Jays Fan. Just makes for more comments I have to delete.

  26. New arm slot the culprit for this back pain? I can certainly see the difficulty to throw strikes as a result of a new arm angle. I really hope that the Jays, Pete Walker and Navarro stress how important it is to “pound the zone”. Even if its a home run, or a hit, atleast the hitter has to work for it. Buerhle aint perfect, but he throws strikes and I’d like to see the rest of the rotation take this approach also.

    • You’d think this would have been stressed to him by now. Gibbers in one of the pieces I was looking at for this that he’s just not a pinpoint guy when it comes to throwing strikes. Sometimes you can’t teach that.

  27. “Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Control of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship.”

  28. @stoeten
    Soberjaysfan is on twitter too if you need to tell him off for trolling or whatever.

    • Oh, I know. He’s an idiot. Whatever. Pretty sure I blocked him long ago. Probably just for the stunning lack of creativity in his name.

  29. We’ll look back on this and laugh when Happ seals his complete-game shutout in Game 7 of the World Series.

  30. So, JA Happ can be sent to AAA or no? Sorry, I forget.

  31. Am I the only one who thinks that watching Happ pitch is a soul-sucking experience?

  32. I don’t understand why we don’t convert Romero into a reliever who only faces righties.

    I mean, besides how Romero probably wouldn’t take that very well. But surely at this point he has to be itching to get back into the majors, no?

    • Because he would be like 15th on that depth chart?

    • That would be just like having another right hander in the pen, no? Except this one can’t pitch to leftys.

      Ricky finally admitted that the problem was internal and not physical. I still see a lack of confidence in the way he talks and in his body language. This guy looks like he’s been through hell and back for some reason and he really needs to gain some confidence if he is ever going to succeed in the big leagues again. There is still this stigma about mental health and talking about your feelings and Ricky admitting his problem is mental is pretty mature of him.

    • Ha he could be like a specialist versus switch hitters. They’d come up batting RH as he is a lefty.

  33. Off the subject but I think Daniel Norris is going to have a huge year. I think he ends the year tearing through Double-A and vaulting up prospect rankings.

    I also love that despite having 2 million in the bank he’s a surf bum that lives out of his van.

    • Smart dude. If he doesn’t make the show that money is going to have to stretch a long way.

  34. I realize its SSS and its spring training, but thats only for people who are putting up good stats, struggles are struggles and its concerning.

    I long bought in to the idea that overpaying for santana/ubaldo/garza was pointless… but now that its a foregone conclusion that you will not have to overpay, whats the hold up?

    Now obviously I have no fucking clue whats going on, so Santana could be holding out for a 4/45 deal, but chances are he’s not. A 3/30-35 deal if presented, probably gets accepted. So how can the jays afford to not to?

    I just don’t get the idea of sitting back, 1 off season after you decided to push forward so aggressively. It’s short sighted as fuck.

    • I am really starting to think the money is not there for him to do it.

      • You know what though? That’s fine. 130 million payroll is more than enough to be competitive with, there’s plenty of good teams that spend less.

        Just have to spend wisely and have cheap players contributing

  35. oh for fucks sake. they basically traded guys who will never even fucking play in the major leagues for happ whine whine whine it was a good trade, and hopefully he contributes this year to silence the braying fucktard casual fans aa’s done a great job, the jays are due for some guys to break out

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