Archive for the ‘Jeff Samardzija’ Category


According to my Twitter feed, and the various Jays beat grunts who populate it, Alex Anthopoulos spoke to the media ahead of tonight’s game in Philadelphia, and offered a few interesting updates…

Brandon Morrow

Well… sure, OK. Obviously there are some huge grains of salt needed here — nobody knows precisely how Morrow is going to recover (and his diabetes complicates things), plus Anthopoulos may not want to indicate that he’s more desperate for pitching than he really is, and he may simply be putting on an optimistic face — but that’s better news than bad news.

No, really. I know that when word arrived over the weekend that Morrow might be out for the year, a lot of fans seemed oddly relieved and glad to hear that the experimenting was over and of the possibility that the club won’t be hanging their hope on him for yet another season next year (given the unlikelihood of their picking up his $10-million option for 2015 if he were to miss the rest of the year). I do entirely get why, on a visceral level, knowing full well how frustrating he can be to watch pitch when he’s not going right (and how often that happens to be), people might tend to think that way. But it’s also ridiculous. Having a Morrow healthy and on the roster is a much better thing than not, and if your personal best case scenario is that, when he gets back, the rotation is rolling with Stroman and McGowan, and everybody’s healthy, so they just slide Morrow to the bullpen, that’s totally fine.

Shit, it’s probably my best case scenario, too.

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If you look at it all wrong, Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs — remember him? who could forget?– has been having a pretty great start to the year, despite sporting an utterly meaningless 0-3 record. He’s pitched to a 1.62 ERA, allowing just nine earned runs over seven starts and 50.0 innings.

Peripherally, however, things look a bit strange, and not nearly so “great.” He’s doing all this with an unsustainably low HR/FB rate (5.3%), a very high strand rate (83.0%), a helpfully nifty BABIP (.271, compared to a career mark of .295), and a noticeable drop in his strikeout rate (38 in 50.0 innings, or 19.0%/6.84 K/9, compared to last year’s 23.4%/9.01 K/9, and even better rates in 2012, his first full year as a big league starter). Shit, and if we’re nitpicking, his velocity is also down one full tick from 2012, and his swinging strike rate — a category in which he ranked fifth among qualified starters in his 3.0 WAR 2012 season with a 12.1% rate — is at just 8.2%.

In other words, though yesterday he may have gone nine innings in a three-hit, 0 ER/1 R, seven strikeout, two walk performance that the Cubs ultimately wasted, he hasn’t been terribly Samardzija-like. And he certainly hasn’t appeared to be the number one starter he’s hoping to get paid as — at least according to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago, who tells us that “contract talks between the Cubs and the pitcher’s agents stalled at the end of 2013,” because “a difference of opinion exists over the pitcher being a No. 1 or No. 3 starter going forward. As much as $20 million over five years might divide the two sides from reaching an agreement.”

So what, you ask? So, according to Levine (also: the title of this post), the contract dispute may not be the Cubs’ problem for long. It may be the Jays’ problem.

The Toronto Blue Jays have continued to pursue Samardzija in a deal that would bring back an inventory of young pitchers for the Cubs, if a contract is not agreed upon soon. Toronto had top scout Jim Beattie at Monday’s game. The Cubs have had scouts watching Blue Jay minor league pitchers since the beginning of spring training.

We heard all winter that the supposed asking price was something on the level of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez — six full big league years of each in exchange for just two from Samardzija. Good for Chicago for asking, I guess, but… yeah, it’s nuts, and surely the main reason Samardzija is still putting on a Cubs uniform every day. Add in the fact that the Jays have now lost seven starts from him, and such a price truly seems nuttier still — and that’s without even considering what sort of handouts the club would have to ask from its own players in order to add Samardzija and his $5.345-million salary to the payroll.

At the same time, you could be forgiven for wondering, and worrying,  just how desperate to win Alex Anthopoulos may be right now. He’s lost Brandon Morrow, his job is very likely on the line, and he’s staring at an AL East that remains very much there for the taking. It’s not crazy to think that, at the right price, he would entirely be interested in making a major splash like this. It’s just… what’s the right price? Certainly not Stroman and Sanchez — especially given what Samardzija’s peripherals are showing — but maybe there’s some kind of deal there to be made using other pieces.

Anthopoulos, to his credit, this winter avoided the further blowing up of his successor’s farm system in vain pursuit of a difference-making starter, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t consider it, or that he won’t still consider it. I don’t think Samardzija, given the price reportedly being asked, makes a whole lot of sense for this in-limbo team right now, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t make a whole at some point — and shit, maybe it’s better for the Jays to be looking to deal now, rather than when they get desperate enough that the Cubs can smell it.

Colour me skeptical, in other words, but maybe not outright dismissive of the idea altogether.

So… there’s that.


Here’s an interesting item that still needs further confirmation before we freak out over it (which we totally shouldn’t anyway, FYI): according to… uh… well, according to this guy, uh… this:

CSN Chicago passes the item along, and their skepticism is noted:

Whether or not [ESPN college basketball colour commentator Dan] Dakich has become a source of Cubs news is still up for debate, but there’s at least one person at the Worldwide Leader in Sports who felt the info was suitable for public consumption.

So have the three (or possibly four) pitchers that the Jays have been looking at most seriously just been reduced in number? I don’t think I’m comfortable enough believing one guy on a college basketball telecast to say yes, but… could be. And would be interesting to see how Alex Anthopoulos moves from here if it’s true.

How about… oh, I don’t know… a damn free agent that you don’t have to give up any prospects in order to get???

Anyway, we’ll keep our eyes on this to see if anything develops… at least until it’s time to go out for a rip.

Update: It’s bullshit.


Crotch grab in the direction of Matt Clapp (aka @TheBlogfines) for the heads up.


I’m not sure if he was just “hearing” this from Bob Elliott’s report, which I addressed last night, but here’s Joel Sherman of the New York Post in the vaguest of terms on Colby Rasmus:

It remains a smart move to consider on the Jays’ part, with the very cheap Anthony Gose already in the fold, and able to contribute enough with the glove and on the bases to keep his bat in the lineup, and with Rasmus staring at free agency a year from now, where another strong season– which is hardly a given– will push his price to astronomical, Ellsbury-like levels.

Colby did make mechanical adjustments over his first couple of years in Toronto, the culmination of which may have been his outstanding 2013 season, but the BABIP– oh, man, the BABIP. For his career, when he’s put the ball in play, Rasmus has hit .298 over 2600 plate appearances. However, in his two outstanding, four-plus win seasons in 2010 and 2013 the mark spiked, jumping to .354 and .356 in those years respectively.

I don’t know if you can quite call those proper outliers, given that we’re talking about two of his five full, big league seasons, but it’s a bit scary to think about where his bat ended up in the other three years, posting wRC+’s of 89, 90, and 83.

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I can answer the question posed by the title of this post quite easily, actually. It’s “yes and no.” And that’s not vacillating on my part, it’s the literal, genuine truth based on what’s happened over the last fifteen minutes or so.

First, Brett Anderson– the subject of so much speculation in these parts of late. Take it away, Kenny Ken Ken…

So… there’s that.

It’s an interesting price, and one that you’d think the Jays may have been able to meet, assuming they lined up with Oakland the way that the A’s wanted them to. Jensen is a 2011 6th rounder who has yet to pass high-A ball (and hasn’t been spectacular by the numbers, though that doesn’t always tell the whole story), so they clearly could have done something there.

Pomeranz, like a lot of Colorado pitchers, hasn’t been able to find himself up in the thin air of Denver just yet. However, he has an impressive pedigree– the fifth pick in the 2010 draft, and the key piece in the deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland. He’s struggled badly with issuing walks whenever he’d been asked to pitch at the highest level, but it’s a well-liked arm who has succeeded everywhere else and was the 30th best prospect in the game according to Baseball America’s top 100 list for 2012.

So… a nice piece, but maybe a piece that isn’t quite as good as once hoped, or one that needs a new situation and some new eyes to try to help get things turned around. Or maybe just a new ballpark. Plus, he already has over 130 big league innings under his belt.

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As I wrote on Saturday, the Jays have been linked to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, and most of the chatter about that has continued to centre around Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. A quick search of Twitter for their names finds– in addition to a bunch of delusional Jays fans, delusional Cubs fans, Jays fans ready to commit hara-kiri, and self-styled prospect gurus cluelessly offering their opinions on players they clearly know nothing about– respected baseball guys like Jason Collette and Ben Badler making the obvious connection that so many of us are loath to think about.

Badler singles out guys like D.J. Davis, Mitch Nay, Dawel Lugo, Alberto Tirado, Richar Urena, and later adds possible Rule 5 candidate Tyler Ybarra, as prospects who have some appeal, though they are very clearly delineated as secondary pieces.

Unfortunately, he’s probably right. I mean, I remember having the conversation last year, when rumblings about R.A. Dickey talks were being heard everywhere, about just how much we could stand to give up for the Cy Young-winning knuckleballer, and coming up astronomically short of what Alex Anthopoulos eventually caved to. Twelve big league seasons of d’Arnaud and Syndergaard seemed– before we all got caught up, quite rightly, in the notion of flags, and their ability to fly forever– a pretty fucking unfathomable price for one season of Dickey and the right to sign him to a below-market extension, but it was a price that Anthopoulos– under far less pressure than he is now, having already pulled off his Marlins coup– felt needed to be paid in order to get the win-now player.

Naturally, then, speculation is all over the map.

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