Whoa. OK, so I should probably get the hell out of bed and write about how the Jays’ Opening Day roster was formally set today, featuring five key bits of not entirely not-fucking-confounding news:

McGowan Starts Home Opener

I’ve written about this rather extensively over the past several days, as it appeared more and more clear that Dustin McGowan’s performances were a cut above those of everyone else pitching for the last spot in the Jays’ rotation, and fortunately the Jays seem to have their heads on straight with this one, despite the obvious risks. It just made too much sense for even this bizarre-thinking organization to not ignore — especially after McGowan reportedly has been saying that he feels great this morning (let’s just pretend it’s still morning) following yesterday’s 62 pitch outing.

Brandon Morrow, who almost kind of looked ready-enough in his last tuneup, gets bumped up a spot and will pitch in the final game at Tampa so that McGowan can continue to go on regular rest, pitching March 30th against minor leaguers, and then taking the ball in the home opener against Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees. It’s easy to be pretty jaded about this club — really, really, really easy — but how awesome is that?

For the sake of completeness, I should note that Morrow will also be on regular rest in his first start of the year, as he’ll pitch on the Saturday in Montreal, along with Steve Delabar and Aaron Loup.

Happ To The DL

Not entirely unsurprising news here, as apparently J.A. Happ’s back isn’t right, or wasn’t right, or flared up, or… something something left arm shittiness.

The Jays have placed their mightily struggling left-handed starter who is still owed a bunch of money (non-Romero division) on the DL to begin the season, giving Happ — who, let’s not fucking forget, is a whole lot better than we saw this spring — a chance to get himself right. Whether that’s necessarily from a medical perspective or from a left arm shittiness perspective … um… who cares? If he’s willing to accept a DL’ing, then that’s obviously the best case scenario for a club that didn’t want to release him, but also didn’t want to find a way to carry him at someone else’s expense when he’s clearly not capable of pitching like a big leaguer just yet.

If he’s ultimately brought back to join the bullpen as a multi-inning reliever and the third left-hander on the depth chart, that’s fairly ideal, I’d say. Pretty much where he should have always been.

Jeffress Makes The Club

Now to the somewhat confounding bits: it’s not like I don’t like Jeremy Jeffress or don’t get why the club continues to hump the dream of harnessing his big arm, but… um… I don’t entirely get why the club continues to hump the dream of harnessing his big arm. He’s always had trouble throwing strikes, as he did for most of this spring, yet Jeffress has made the roster, sliding in somewhere between or below Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond on list of right-handers in the bullpen, safely behind Janssen, Delabar, and Santos, as well as lefties Loup and Cecil.

With McGowan making the rotation while still on fairly strict pitch counts, the eight-man bullpen thing is a little bit more palatable than it would be otherwise (which is, of course, not fucking palatable at all), but with multi-inning guys Rogers and Redmond also in the mix, just how many innings are there going to be for Jeffress? I mean, I know that’s not the point of this move — it’s to try to keep Jeffress in the organization and sneak him down to Buffalo so that he can immediately be passed on the relief depth chart by John Stilson and Neil Wagner — but… I don’t know… maybe it wouldn’t be the worst idea if they just cut bait already and let an organization that will give him a big league job take a chance on him, and do something about the atrocious bench this club is going to run with to start the year.

I reserve the right to revise this opinion if he’s just sitting there so that he can be moved out once the Jays add a real middle infielder — *COUGH* Stephen drew *COUGH* — after Opening Day passes.

Thole Over Kratz

Speaking of the club’s atrocious bench, Josh Thole, everyone! In a surprise move it’s Josh Thole getting the start in today’s game at Dunedin against the Yankees, catching R.A. Dickey, meaning that he’s made the club as a backup catcher.

Now, before you go all “stupid promise when he was given that also-confounding extension last year” or “sham competition,” let’s keep a couple things in mind. Yes, Erik Kratz had a much, much better spring at the plate, and seemed by many indications to have the inside track for this job, aaaand probably makes more sense, given that he’s a right-handed bat and won’t create a vortex of shittiness at the bottom of the lineup on the days when he and Ryan Goins hit eight-nine — and especially those when the club is facing a lefty. But, for one, there is a huge defensive component to this decision, and that’s a whole lot harder for us to get a read on (even if the times we’ve heard of Dickey being caught by Kratz it seems to have worked just fine).

For two, as much as I thought Kratz was a sneaky-good pickup by the club and a much better hitter than Thole, let’s keep in mind some numbers. Yes, Thole has been utter garbage as a big leaguer in his last two seasons (.218/.284/.277 over 489 PA), one of which was impacted by a concussion, the other by sporadic playing time (being generous on that one, I know). On the whole as a big leaguer he hasn’t been that bad, posting a .645 OPS (crude and shitty stat, I know, but I’m being lazy here) over 1100 plate appearances, with a .322 on-base. Kratz, as a big leaguer, in 417 plate appearances, has put up a .688 OPS mostly because of his superior power numbers, with a .281 career on-base in the Majors.

And in at the triple-A level? Thole, in a limited sample, OPS’d .893 for Buffalo last year, bringing his career mark in triple-A up to .829, with a .365 on-base, in 363 plate appearances. Kratz, on the other hand, has an .812 OPS and .341 on-base for his triple-A career over 1500 PA.

I think you can argue that Thole hasn’t been that same guy over the last couple of seasons — I certainly would — but the question of who is the better hitter between the two really isn’t so cut-and-dried, even though it sure seems like it after seeing Kratz at his absolute best in a small spring sample, and Thole at his worst.

Tuiasosopo Cut

Thanks for making those last second plans to leave Australia and come try to make our crappy ballclub, Matt, but it turns out we don’t need you after all.

Yes, Matt Tuiasosopo didn’t make enough of a late impression in camp to unseat Moises Sierra or to convince to Jays to cut a damn reliever in order to give him a spot on the club. You can’t fault the team for putting in a waiver claim for him while he was jetting over to Australia, since they certainly didn’t ask the Diamondbacks to time it that way, but that doesn’t make the situation less unfortunate, I guess.

Not sure how much sympathy I have for a big league ballplayer getting dicked around like this while getting paid more than most doctors, though actually it would seem as though Tuiasosopo may not be a big leaguer for long: a transaction is pending, the reports say, and will most likely mean that the Jays try to sneak him through waivers and stash him in Buffalo. Melbourne it ain’t.

Consider this your Game Threat!

Comments (127)

  1. Re “It’s easy to be pretty jaded about this club — really, really, really easy — but how awesome is that?”

    And what happened then…?
    Well…in DJF-ville they say
    That the Stotet’s's small heart
    Grew three sizes that day!

  2. So Lind, Rasmus, Goins AND Thole facing David Price on Monday??? Yikes.

  3. Is it possible that the Jays are trying to do the same thing they did with Jeffress last year? Waiting a week or two and sneaking him through after lineups have been set? Not that it makes it any less ridiculous, but they really shouldn’t be going with an 8-man bullpen after the first few series.

    • Is this what Stoeten was implying in the post? I didn’t quite get that part. I blame my poor reading skills.

      • Well the 8-man pen is far more necessary with a short-pitch-count McGowan in play. It would be nice to see them expand the bench by May though.

  4. I like the optimism I get from having lamp chops makes the rotation but I fear it will be short lived.

  5. “Roster? I Hardly Know Her!”

    I just flew in from Australia….

    And are my arms TIRED!

    (but I suppose I could make one more trip to Buffalo)

  6. Christ on the cross I can’t stand Izturis. Is there any way they can just cut the fucking dude?

  7. Buck gobbling some Yankee cock as per usual.

  8. Getting sick of hearing Buck say “Base hit to right” already.

  9. Tuiasosopo cut and Buck Martinez slurs a sigh of relief

  10. It’s only spring training right? Right?

    • Don’t say it…..

    • Yeah but I feel the knuckleball should be the same whenever he throws it so that might be bad.

      • Hopefully he’s working on his fastball.

      • I don’t know if you’re serious or not, but that’s always been one of the main concerns about the knuckleball: it’s NOT that consistent. If it’s on, pitchers can be dominant. If it’s not, it can make for a really rough outing.

  11. Does Happ have grounds to file a grievance or something? Personally I think putting him on the DL is a great move, but if he thinks he’s just getting dicked around because he’s out of options, and not really injured, and he’d prefer to be on another team, is he able to do anything?

    • But what’s he going to say? “I’m not hurt, I just suck!”

    • Pretty sure he can refuse a DL stint if he isn’t actually, y’know, hurt. And, if not, considering how awful his spring has been, getting a chance to get himself right might be better than an outright release and trying to find work elsewhere right now…

      • I should never transpose my own beliefs into that of a ballplayer, but if I was given a paid vacation for doing bad work, well…

        No, it can’t be the same. I’ll never understand the fiery competitive spirit that drives all big strong men to throw baseballs.

      • Being a dick to the org while putting up bad numbers won’t have other teams clambering to bring him on-board. Stand your ground, but don’t make it look like you are difficult unless you got the arm to back it up.

    • Maybe he “hasn’t even been told” that he is going to the DL much like he “wasn’t told” that he is no longer in the rotation. Not like the writing was on the damn wall or anything.

  12. Do Sierra and Izturis start against LHPs?

  13. Awesome to see McGowan get a shot as a starter. As for the rest… pretty much as expected. The Thole decision was a bit of surprise, but meh, not gonna burn a lot of calories over it. Kratz will be available if it goes sideways for him.

    Still think there’s a move to be made to address either 2B and/or the bench, but I may be proven wrong… the clock is ticking…

    Let’s get this season started already!

  14. 6-1 already. Lookin ugly.

    Also: Fuck Izturis and Buck’s “Now that ball to a bad hop”. Fuck off, he sucks.

  15. I’m excited that McGowan is in. Such a longshot to stay healthy, but there’s so much upside there. As much as the Jays should have signed Santana or Jiminez, if the Jays get *very* lucky with health, Dickie, Buerhle, Morrow, Hutchinson, McGowan could be pretty solid.

  16. More like Matt Tuiasosolong, am I right?

    I’ll get my coat.

  17. I sure hope Dickey is just showing his “B” repetoire. This is scary.

    • Dickey is on record saying that he would dial it back in his last ST start, and that getting to his pitch count/readiness in the two starts before this one was most important .

      He said this at the start of ST.

      I’d give you the link, but it’s buried somewhere in Sportsnet’s terrible search engine.

    • who even cares about a ST start? dickey will be fine. that said, here’s what i saw in the inning i watched:

      he put gardner down in 3 pitches with a K that had BG looking bad to start the game. then he was just getting nickle and dimed. that’s just how it is with him – sometimes bloops fall in, and the score can get out of hand. that quite easily could have been a scoreless first inning with a couple defensive power moves.

      also he was throwing BP fastballs in 2-0 situations to get back in counts…probably won’t do that in the season since that’s what most people would probably look for there. in st i think these guys just want more cracks at hitting a knuckler. these aren’t real games in case that got lost somewhere. this is the ace of the staff. chill out.

  18. “A bizarre-thinking organization.” Is that because they disagree with your own thinking. I love how the “whole world” buys the notion that they know more or better than the people being paid to do the thinking. Remember that a year ago. We were hailing A.A. as a genius. It was the best trade ever! On to the World Series! What the F do we know anyway.

  19. wow josh thole really proving the jays made the right choice.

  20. Where’s Tomo Ohka going to be pitching? I am not too familiar with the depth chart. I assume AJ Jimenez is going to be wherever Ohka is? How does that get Kratz more experience with the knuckleball should Thole not work out? Or are they confident enough he could jump right back into it?

  21. Poor LaRue’s knees…

  22. I like Jerry from der radia in der booth with Buck. I used ter listen to ‘im as a little ‘un on der radia with me pops. Brings me back he does.

    Thole I like ‘im behind der dish just fine. Handles dat knuckler nice like a monger at der docks catchin’ der salmons trone in off der boats. ‘ill be ok he will, dat boy. Be just fine.

    • Is your user name directed at people like me? The spiders incident was big news! (Okay, I will admit that was about 25 years ago.)

      • Right at ya buds! I do remember that actually. Don’t take it too personal-like, pretty much everything pisses me off.

        • I can understand everything pissing you off considering the Jays haven’t made the playoffs in 20 years. But then again, you might be asking for a heart attack with this group and that unfortunate state of mind.

  23. Just a question for future reference, how many games into the season does “it’s still early” apply?

  24. It’s an absolute joke parading Dickey out to the mound as a number 1 starter……the Jays would be better off adjusting their rotation from the get go so that their top #1 and #2 starters are actually dropped down in the rotation enabling them to pitch against other teams back end starters….might lead to some more wins since its not like Dickey is going to out pitch other teams top starters very often.

    • Meh, they don’t line up all that often anyhow.

    • Totes. I don’t know if other organizations do this or not, so maybe it’s not just a Jays thing, but starting Morrow in the five spot just for the sake of him giving him the home opener is ridiculous. I hope the thought process at least went something like:

      1.) Who lines up best against who to start the season?
      2.) Looks like it’s about a wash.
      3.) Let’s give Morrow the home opener.

      Because otherwise it’s Clydesdale poop.

    • The Jays open the season against the Rays, with R.A. Dickey (2.0 bWAR in 2013) going up against David Price (2.8 bWAR). Meanwhile, the other AL East opponents have C.C. Sabathia (0.3 bWAR), Ubaldo Jimenez (2.7 bWAR… starting because of the injury to Tillman) and Jon Lester (3.0 bWAR).

      I know it’s easy to be down on Dickey (ha) after the way 2013 went, but I don’t think a matchup of Dickey vs. other AL East opening day starters is nearly as lopsided as some people want to believe.

  25. Dickey will be facing the Stanks in 10 days, no need to show them anything good now

  26. Lawrie looks great.

    Hopefully a break out 2014

  27. I chuckled a little at the irony of Jerry saying “Well Thole caught Dickey last year and when it comes to decisions, it is always better to go with the proven commodity.” Like all those proven commodities in the starting rotation eh Howarth? ;)

  28. Fuck Josh Thole.

  29. I can honestly say none of these moves shock me. A tiny bit surprised that it’s Thole after all the circle-jerking over Kratz’s spring, but Kratz’s long-term offence would look a lot like Arencibia’s, methinks.

    I didn’t really get the Tuisasopopo pickup in the first place unless they were planning to take him instead of holding onto Jeffress.

  30. holy shit, Goins with a double off the wall against a lefty!!

  31. Oh fuck. Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck.

  32. Aw fuck.. Hopefully Edwin is alright after getting popped on the hand. Not the type of thing you want to see going into the season.

  33. Brings a tear to my beer to see ole Dusty get the opening home day start. Light em up Dusty, let’s make this a story book year!

  34. I think we might be referring to this year as the softball season when it’s all said and done. Quite a few 14-12 kinda games.

  35. is there anything worse than Buck’s ghastly laugh?

    • We need to give Buck a break. He’s better than a lot of others.

      • Yeah. When I hear him talk on like PTS or whatever I regain respect for him. He gives balanced, fairly objective, insightful opinions.

        • This is the guy who suggested sanchez for the rotation and justified it with a bunch of old-school traditional horseshit about him looking like a big leaguer and have mound presence.

          Not that that stuff isn’t important, but no mention of the fact that he’s never walked less than 4 per 9 innings in the minors and therefore likely to get eaten alive by big leaguers.

      • i mean the Dodgers guy sounds about 105 years old.


  37. The Melkman cometh

  38. I’ve seen more opposite field hits by Bautista already than I did last year.

    • I just hope that’s not an indication he’s lost his bat speed. Although I would rather he have a .450 OBP with 35 hrs vs. a .380 OBP with 45 hrs.

    • An old adage to hitting: take everything up the middle and opposite field. Then when a pitcher makes a mistake or comes inside, turn on it and trust you hands.

      This is a good sign if he is going opposite field. Look at Big Papi, ones of the finest at this.

    • Maybe it’s the Alka Seitzer effect.

      • People are saying it’s Seitzer, which may be true, but I hope it’s just Jose’s way of correcting the defence. If you beat the shift regularly, it makes it harder to use.

        • It is this Seizter effect though, in that Jose is buying into Seitzer’s approach. The old Jays theory was ‘beat the shift’. Now it’s ‘take what they give you’. A couple of soft grounders to left in the first month, and when they’re forced to give up the shift, slaughter them.

          This works particularly well when you’ve more power hitters behind you.

          If Reyes, Cabrera and Bautista stay healthy this year, EE is going to rack up some crazy RBI numbers. With health, I think Encarnacion gets some serious MVP love this year- if only because the idiots who vote for MVP like silly counting numbers.

  39. lol.

    Buck: “I sent Vernon Wells down and he cried in my arms”.

    Not sure that’s how he wanted it to sound..

  40. I did not think Sanchez was still with the big team… One last appearance before the minors?

  41. I wonder how much being patient is part of the change in approach for Goins or is it’s just small sample randomness, but he just drew his sixth walk in 65 PAs this spring, as compared to just two in 121 MLB PAs last year. He’s still not hitting well, but if he can just draw some walks (somewhere around the 7% rate he’s typically shown in the minors) to get on base from the bottom of the lineup here and there then he may actually have a little bit of value to this team.

    • Big if. I still wouldnt hold my breath though.

      Please AA, sign Drew come opening day please.

    • I agree. The mechanical stuff might take a fair bit of time to get down, but if he takes his walks and swings at good pitches, that’s a pretty good sign.

  42. Buck’s line of the day.

    ” I’ll tell you what Melky is going to want to bottle his stroke.”

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