Archive for the ‘2013, You Guys!’ Category

As has been obvious for months, basically, Melky Cabrera simply can’t play adequately in the outfield right now, and while the play above was the cherry on top of the giant pile of shit, it’s his legs that have been his undoing. The Jays, mercifully, have stopped trying to hump the dream that he’s passable, placing him on the DL following tonight’s disaster in Anaheim, and calling up Neil Wagner to help ease a bullpen that once again needed to clean up a turd of another kind, which came again from the arm of Josh Johnson.

With a $16-million contract and a two-year commitment to play left field, it’s not like John Gibbons has had much choice but to run Melky out there this year, but with his legs– and the season– in the condition they’re currently in, it’s clearly become untenable.

Maybe it always was– the Jays starters’ second-worst-in-the-league ERA can’t have been helped by poor defence too often at a few too many positions, though their second-worst-in-the-league FIP suggests it’s more down to the pitchers– and certainly they’ll have to reconsider what to do with him next season, as he’s looked far more like a DH than an outfielder this year. And maybe not even that!

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Remember flexibility? Remember how vital to his project Alex Anthopoulos thought roster and payroll flexibility were?

Well, now he’s kinda fucked.

Over at Cot’s, they have the Jays listed as committed to $110-million already for next year. That doesn’t include an arbitration raise for Colby Rasmus that will take him into the $7-million range, the $4-million option for Casey Janssen, or the $5-million difference between Adam Lind’s buyout and the cost of picking up his option, nor does it include smaller arbitration raises for guys like Esmil Rogers, Brett Cecil, and J.P. Arencibia (assuming you even bother tendering him a contract– which, if we’re being honest about this mess, they pretty much have to).

So, if you’re simply maintaining this fugly status quo, that’s another $16-million plus, taking the payroll well above the $119-million Cot’s lists as the club’s 2013 number. And that’s before you factor in a potential $14-million qualifying offer to Josh Johnson (which would certainly still have to be in the cards, if he’s capable of fixing his issues from the stretch in the season’s final two months).

Shi Davidi wrote about this for Sportsnet today. “Unless a significant payroll hike from the current $120 million or so is coming for next year, or they manage to move some money through trades now or in the fall,” he writes, “the Blue Jays could have very limited financial flexibility.”

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St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs

The All-Star break is finally upon us, and when the Jays resume play against the Rays at Rogers Centre on Friday– with Esmil Rogers, mind-bendingly their best starter, on the hill– they’ll be looking to improve on a 45-49 record that currently has them all but out of the playoff conversation. Remaining in the season are just 68 games, over which the Jays would need to go 46-22 to wind up with 91 wins– two shy of the 93 that it took to earn both American League Wild Card berths last season, but a nearly comfortable-ish amount more than the 89-90 wins the league’s fifth-best club picked up in the few years previous.

To do so would require the club playing .676 baseball for the next two-and-a-half months– which is exactly the level they played at through their best, can’t get any better than this six weeks of the first half, going 25-12 starting on May 10th and culminating in the eleventh win of their streak back on June 23rd.

The Rays, who were behind the Jays in the standings when the streak was in full effect, now sit at 55-41– a living reminder that things can change fast. On the other hand, though, Tampa could play .500 ball over their remaining 66 games and still get to 88 wins– just a win behind the pace Baltimore is currently on, and still ahead of the Yankees and Cleveland at their paces. The Jays, to reach 88, would need to go 43-25. In other words, they’d have to play .632 from here out– a better clip than anyone in baseball has so far– and they’d still almost certainly wind up falling just short.

Any reason to think they’re capable of doing that, as constituted, or even with help via the trade market, is pretty far fetched.

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So, with last night’s D’ing FA of Chien-Ming Wang (who, his agent tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, will accept an assignment to Buffalo, FYI), the Jays are potentially looking at lucky number thirteen when it comes to members of their 2013 starting rotation when Sunday rolls around. Today we’ve already taken a look at how the first twelve starters have fared (hint: not fucking well), and I suppose that would make it fitting if we also took a look at the guys who may be tabbed to make their first start of the season for the Jays (i.e. I won’t include guys who have already made starts this year, not that Ricky Romero ought to get consideration here anyway).

And… shit, I might as well rank them by my personal preference, too!

Here are the candidates…

Marcus Stroman

Yeah, so I’m probably jumping the gun on this one– I can’t exactly argue that, with other viable candidates around, there’s really a need to bring up Stroman and expose him to the big leagues as a starter just yet, but it sure would be fun, wouldn’t it? Or, at least, the anticipation would be fun. The start itself could devolve into a Sean Nolin-like disasterpiece, but I think Stroman stands a better chance– and shit, he’s got at least twelve more innings of experience above A-ball than Nolin did, so that’s got to count for something, right?

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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

On Sunday against the Twins, it’s very possible that the Jays will send their thirteenth starter of the 2013 season to the hill. There’s Todd Redmond, who John Gibbons has already indicated is lightly penciled in; Juan Perez could get the call as the front end of a Charley Wholestaff outing; and another possibility is Marcus Stroman, who pitched well for the sixth straight time at New Hampshire on Tuesday.

There are other options, none particularly enthralling– hello, Ricky Romero!– but it seems like there’s at least a decent chance the club will hit on lucky number thirteen within the week, and there’s more than a good chance that, more than anything else this season, that’s been the key to all the misery and unmet expectations the Jays and their fans have suffered this year. So… because I’m, apparently, feeling a bit masochistic, let’s have a look at everyone the club has run out there so far this year, and for shits and giggles, let’s rank them!

1. R.A. Dickey

Dickey has allowed six or more earned runs in six of his eighteen starts this year. His 0.7 fWAR is a shade less, in twenty more innings, than Joe Blanton and Jeff Locke. At Baseball Reference, his 0.9 WAR puts him in the same ballpark as Kevin Correia and Erik Bedard. He has been the Jays best pitcher this season, mostly because he’s taken the ball consistently every fifth day, has logged more innings than Mark Buehrle (and is a half win better by rWAR, and better by RA9, though a shade behind him in fWAR, FIP and xFIP), and… um… no, that’s pretty much it. The good outings seem to be showing up more reliably than the bad of late, at least, right? Seriously, though, think about it: this list is all downhill from the guy who has provided less value by those metrics than Joe fucking Blanton.

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The other day I noticed a pretty damn remarkable thing while combing through the Standings On Any Date feature at Baseball Reference.

If you’ve never used it, the page allows you to select any date in any season since 1901, and shows you both the standings on that date, as well as how teams played from that date forward.

It must have been about three days ago when I hit on May 10th as the date of the real Jays turnaround in 2013– at least, so far. Before the big win streak began, most chatter had pegged the May 4th R.A. Dickey shellacking against the Mariners as the last day of the truly awful start to the season, but I’d noticed that the club went 3-3 in the six games that followed, and that arbitrary end-pointing those six games out of the sample would give an even rosier look of how things have gone of late.

What I didn’t realize, however, is the truly odd mirror images that would appear when I looked at the standings on that date– the day they reached .500– and since. The latter data has changed now, as you can see on, because they’ve played three more games, but back on Saturday morning, with the team finally back to .500, what I saw was what you see in the graphic at the top of this post:

From Opening Day until May 10th, the Jays won 13 games and lost 24, over which they scored 139 runs and allowed 195.

From May 11th until June 21st, the Jays won 23 games and lost 12, over which they scored 193 runs and allowed 141.

Freaky, huh?

And just what the hell has happened to cause such a stark turnaround? Pitching, you’d think. And we can see it if we look at how the club has pitched since I asked the rhetorical question back on June 5th, Just How Awful Have Jays Starters Been?

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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

Aaron Laffey made a start for the 2013 Jays. Ugh.

Josh Johnson pitched well in his return to the mound in San Francisco last night, failing to get a win thanks more to an offence neutralized by Tim Lincecum and a pair of defensive miscues that led to an extra baserunner being on when Andres Torres homered to centre in the bottom of the second. He hadn’t pitched particularly well in his first four starts of the season– though his numbers were blown apart by an atrocious rain soaked outing in Detroit– but his return to the rotation for the first time since April 21st was a welcome sight, given what we’ve seen in his absence.

Just how bad has it been for a rotation vaunted all winter for it’s elite pitchers– R.A. Dickey, the reigning N.L. Cy Young winner; Brandon Morrow, whose 2012 ERA was 12th in baseball among those with 120 innings or more; Mark Buehrle, with twelve straight years of 200-plus innings and only three season ERAs above 3.90 on his resume; and Johnson, who many thought would round into pre-injury form after a solid 2012 return following a lengthy layoff that ended his two-and-a-third year run as one of the game’s absolute best pitchers– and, with J.A. Happ and Ricky Romero battling for the last spot, for having too much depth?

About as bad as that run-on sentence.

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