Archive for the ‘Jose Bautista’ Category

bautistaflex

It’s playoff time! And naturally that means the Jays are no longer in it. But that doesn’t mean things around here are going to stop, and just like last year, to get you set up for each (non-weekend) night’s playoff action, I’m going to be taking a hopefully-quick look around at some splits and stats and whatever else stands out on a Jays player’s 2014 season, because… what the hell else is there to do for the next month? Or the next week. Or just today– or however long I actually continue to follow through on this exercise. Tonight: Jose Bautista.

Tonight:
8:00 PM ET – San Francisco @ Pittsburgh – Madison Bumgarner (4.0 rWAR) vs. Edinson Volquez (2.5 rWAR)

Jose Bautista seems like the appropriate guy to start off our Playoff Post(-Mortem) series with, and not just because he was in the news today, or because he’s awesome and this will be a real easy one to crank out. But he is all those things. What he’s maybe not is what you’ve heard a lot of the local media talk about lately: coming off the best season of his career.

That stuff comes down to intangibles, it seems, and there’s no doubt that he’s impressed in that regard this year.

The infamous agitation with umpires was kept to a minimum, fully manifesting itself only in a late-August ejection (which, as I wrote at the time, put him among the ranks of “fellow non-leaders Dustin Pedroia, Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, Albert Pujols, Carlos Gomez, Matt Holliday, Jason Kipnis, David Wright, and Russell Martin in getting tossed from a game this year”). And Bautista showed a much greater willingness to try to beat the shift, with 22.8% of his hits going to the opposite field, as opposed to 12.8% and 12.5% in the previous two seasons, according to the batted ball data at FanGraphs.

I’ve heard it suggested that this means Bautista was putting the team first and not playing for his own statistics, which is funny, because that’s exactly what Colby Lewis thought Colby Rasmus was doing by laying down a bunt to beat the shift in a July game against the Texas Rangers. Whatever narrative works for you, I guess, but it’s not like you can see anything in Bautista’s numbers that any of his own statistics were sacrificed: his statistics are still awesome!

His 6.3 fWAR is nearly identical to the 6.5 mark he put up in his breakout, 54 home run 2010 season, and the differences between the two seasons are probably about what you’d expect: he’s lost quite a bit of power (from 54 HR to 35, and .357 ISO to .239), but made up for it by walking more (15.5% to 14.6%), striking out less (a career best 14.3% to 17%), and hitting far more singles (96 to 56).

He was helped by UZR, which liked him more in 2014 than in 2010, but hurt by DRS, which is used by Baseball Reference’s version of WAR. In fact, according to BR, he was about a win worse than in his breakout campaign — a “mere” 6.0 WAR, compared to 6.9.

No, it wasn’t quite his monstrous 2011 year — a .427 on-base with a .610 SLG, 43 homers, a .302 average, 7.7 WAR by FanGraphs and 8.1 by BR, and the highest Win Probability Added (7.86) of any player over the last five seasons — which is, of course, the correct answer to the question about his best season, but it was really, really, really good.

Jose is just about absolutely as good as it gets, and a major key that needs to be mentioned is that for the first time since 2011 he was healthy. Impressively for all three of the seasons he’s had since his breakout in which he’s played at least 120 games, he’s been a six win player by both versions of WAR.

He earns just $14-million per year from the Jays. He is the 59th highest paid player in baseball.

That there are fans and commentators out there who dream up reasons for this organization to get rid of him based on completely invented garbage about what they want to believe he does or doesn’t do behind closed doors, and who believe that there exists a universe in which this Blue Jays team is better without him than with him, is absolutely fucking ludicrous.

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Bluebird Banter has already got this one covered, and there’s a very good chance you’ve seen it already by this point, I’m sure, so I don’t want to bother saying too much about it all, but holy awesome, this Twitter exchange between Jose Bautista and Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun entirely made my night last night.

Hilarious.

Especially since Simmons’ point is, of course, moronic, reductive, douchey, attention-seeking, and genuinely bizarre — I mean, I don’t think the intent of Bautista’s mild griping after the trade deadline was that every team must always make trades before July 31st. His point was kind of specifically about his own team, and Simmons pretending otherwise is pretty much an example of the worst kind of internet troll straw man garbage.

Which… do we expect better? I certainly don’t. (A piece from back in May at Pension Plan Puppets, in which we’re given the wholly apt line, “Steve Simmons isn’t a proponent of context because context ruins narrative,” lays out pretty well why one might not).

I dunno… I just thought sort of thought this was pretty much the best thing ever. Let’s maybe stop giving this buffoon awards, eh?

Update!

Well this just keeps getting better…

Amazing.

The lack of capitalization should have maybe been a tip-off, Steve.

Update The Second!

This thing just keeps on going, as Steve Simmons showed up on the Brian Hayes Show this afternoon on TSN 1050 in Toronto to talk about the incident, coming off as oblivious to what trolling is as he is to the fact that the Royals added Erik Kratz (113 wRC+ in 31 plate appearances as Salvador Perez’s understudy) and Liam Hendriks (19.1 innings over three starts and three relief appearances, pitching to a 2.20 FIP) less than the week before the deadline in a trade for Danny Valencia with the team he covers for a living. Though he did say that he was contacted by some people from the Blue Jays this morning and told that Bautista doesn’t tweet for himself, which is where the clarification came from. Listen at your own risk.

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays

You might not agree with the way that he got himself tossed in a crucial game Sunday against the Rays, or his continued insistence that it was an unjust ejection (though Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has a piece that sure makes it seem like he’s right). You may not have liked the way he essentially threw teammates at the bottom of the roster under the bus when he griped about the fact that the Blue Jays were unable to make any moves at the July 31st trade deadline, while teams around them in the race did what they could to make additions. Perhaps you think that all of this stuff — rather than an athlete daring to actually answer questions honestly and not through his P.R. training — should be kept behind closed doors — that Jose Bautista should just shut up and play.

But you can’t deny that the Jays slugger speaks for a lot of people when he vents his frustrations the way he has lately, and I suspect that we got a little closer to the nut of what this is all about in a quote from him today, as passed along by the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin:

OK, so maybe the comment isn’t entirely devoid of the P.R. filter, but his non-denial denial about thinking this way really tells us all we need. And as conflicted as we might be about the fact that he’s saying it, the fact that Bautista is the club’s best player, most marketable player, and a player with a immensely team-friendly contract, means that he can engage in this kind of talk and not have to worry about the consequences. He’s too valuable to the club and the company, and he knows it.

Or maybe he’s simply at the point where he doesn’t care if saying such things brings down petty consequences from an ownership dumbly willing to cut off its nose to spite its face, but I suspect there’s a deeper frustration at work as he says the things that Alex Anthopoulos, Paul Beeston, and essentially no other member of the organization (save the much quieter Edwin Encarnacion) can say for themselves without fear of burning bridges. Some fans and media will get bent out of shape about Jose being a prima donna and regurgitate a bunch of hockey jargon about leadership and whatever else the can find to spin a narrative that paints him in the light they want to paint him in, but I love it. At least somebody is saying it.

Rogers, of course, isn’t the only problem with this organization or the only reason they were left paralysed at the trade deadline. We all know that in the past two years Alex Anthopoulos has traded away many of the better chips not found on his club’s big league roster — crucial pieces when it comes making deadline moves, unless a club is able to take on lots of money without concern about it hampering them in the future *COUGH* — but that really only just exacerbated a problem that goes back as far as J.P Ricciardi’s terrible drafting. Ricciardi’s failures left the Jays upper minors bereft of talent, and AA’s immediate switch to focus on far-away high school players with big upsides has yet to close the gap.

If the aim was to build a pipeline and take the extreme long view, that all made sense, but somewhere along the line Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion got great, Rogers agreed to put up a tonne of money, and the equation for Anthopoulos changed. But then, almost as quickly as it had begun, the money stopped flowing and the Jays found themselves in a position where they could neither fill in gaps with cash, nor could they trade a Nicolino because they still had a Syndergaard and Sanchez, and then trade a Syndergaard because they still had a Stroman and Hutchison.

The young talent that was wanted by other clubs was needed by this one, not only for this year, but — and this is where Rogers really comes into it — because they are under team control for so long, and so cheaply, and the front office seems rightly terrified of giving away such valuable pieces when it has been so clearly demonstrated to them that “Can we please have just a little bit more investment here, just to make entirely certain that the whole thing doesn’t go down the tubes?” is an unreasonable question to ask.

Anthopoulos appears to have been left to his own devices this season — he’s been given a budget, and the Ervin Santana mess suggests that the onus was on him to get creative if he wanted to add salary (i.e. increases to payroll were non-negotiable) and that’s certainly how he’s operated throughout the year. I’d suggest that the shift seems odd from a GM who spoke so often in his first few years about preserving his flexibility, but it doesn’t seem odd at all when you look who resides upstairs.

Maybe Anthopoulos went wide-eyed into the dramatic payroll increase of November and Decemeber 2012 and thought the deals in front of him were too good to pass up, even if it meant destroying what was left of his flexibility both monetarily and with respect to his ability to make trades (though the latter might be a stretch, given that with Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and the then-hope for a bounceback from Ricky Romero, he may simply have been overconfident in his starting depth). But it isn’t outlandish at all to think the other thing: that Rogers tied the hands of its own organization in a cynical attempt to save as many pennies as could be saved once it became clear that the much ballyhooed roster Anthopoulos had bought for himself wasn’t working out.

That doesn’t sound like an organization dedicated to winning to me, but is that really the way that it is?

I don’t have enough information to answer that question. Neither does Jose. And so why the fuck shouldn’t he say it?

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I’m working on a reaction piece to the non-waiver deadline passing here in this city with a whimper, so I’ll keep this brief, but I think it’s definitely noteworthy to pass along the fact that Jose Bautista didn’t need multiple hours of wordcraft (or whateverthefuck it is I’m doing) to let his thoughts about his club’s inactivity be known. And I think a lot of fans are going to be absolutely on his side here.

I am too, in fact. Even as in another browser window I’m trying my best to contextualize what happened and offer some perspective on the realities of the position the Jays were in here — as dumbly and short-sightedly placed in it (and not necessarily just by ownership) as they may be — and why it’s actually quite understandable and, once we let the frustrations rush beyond us, perhaps even good that things unfolded the way that they did.

No, really!

But you want catharsis? Jose has got your catharsis right here:

He’s not wrong, and I applaud his speaking his mind on the issue (as do his teammates, apparently, as a follow-up tweet from Barry says a player wishing to remain nameless says Jose speaks for them on this issue, and in another he adds that what they find upsetting is less about the inability to get an ace and more about Martin Prado, who cost the Yankees a positionless big-power no-walk Double-A player and, of course, the absorption of his contract).

Thing is, there’s just not a whole lot we can do about it. Shit, if he feels helpless here, what hope is there for us? It is what it is, but what’s also true is that there’s absolutely no reason the club can’t soldier through and keep on kicking ass to the playoffs. They might not, and some help sure would have been nice, but the cost would have been tough to bear, at least if you even somewhat try to understand how Rogers operates, why they operate that way, and how it’s naive to expect them to behave like a benevolent citizen-owner who wants nothing but for his team — his toy — to win. It’s just not as simple as shouting “DO SOMETHING!” or “PAY SOMEBODY!”

If only it were. If only it didn’t feel like in some cities it kinda is…

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Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet has an interesting piece up in which he speaks with Jose Bautista about a variety of topics — his love for Toronto, his relationship with Booster Juice and his business plans, etc. — which you should totally read the entirety of if you’re a fan at all of the Jays’ best player, even though I’m totally going to give away the nut right now (and, frankly, already did in the title): Bautista is confident that his wonky hamstring is better, and that he’ll be in the starting lineup Tuesday when the Jays host the Brewers for two games, before heading out on a daunting pre-All-Star Break road trip to Oakland, Anaheim, and their own personal house of horrors (non-Yankee Stadium division), Tampa Bay.

Money paragraphs:

“(There’s been) a lot of progress. When you have this type of injury, the most important thing is to relax and get downtime to let it heal and recover. That’s what I’ve had to do, but (with) a lot of treatment at the same time,” he said at the opening of a Booster Juice location that he now owns in Toronto’s Bloor West Village Monday.

“Now it’s feeling much better and obviously it’s not 100 percent yet, but it’s good enough to at least DH for the next couple of games and then we’ll see from there.”

Once Bautista returns to the starting lineup, he’ll see how it responds and confer with manager John Gibbons to determine if full or partial days off are required.

Bautista also tells Ben that he’s “close to 100%” and could play in right field, if needed. And… well… that might be needed. The Jays face a pair of right-handers, Polo Erik and Wile E. Peralta, meaning that Bautista at DH would force either Adam Lind or Edwin Encarnacion out of the lineup, unless Edwin makes a pair of rare starts at third base (which he totally should do, FYI).

The Jays have averaged 4.4 runs per game in the eight contests he’s been out of (including the June 22nd game at Cincinnati in which he originally left injured), so despite perceptions to the contrary, it’s not like they’ve needed him too desperately over the past week, except… well… they’ve totally needed him. Three of the Jays’ last five games were lost by a run or less, and a fourth saw the club down by just two runs until the top of the ninth. Bautista doesn’t turn all those results over by himself, but an extra bat — and one that’s owned by the man who is second to only Mike Trout in wRC+ in the American League — sure would have helped.

This, then, is very, very good news for the struggling Jays. Um… obviously.

AAreyesPC

Given the game of chicken that Alex Anthopoulos is currently engaged in with various player agents and competing GMs, and how unusually deep into the winter it has taken him, it entirely makes sense that Jays fans are getting a little bit antsy about just what they may end up finding themselves devoting their time and energy to this summer. And holy shit, if they saw three of what I’d call the most important pieces of Jays-related writing to come along this week, their outlook probably didn’t get a whole lot less bleak.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star paints a picture of Alex Anthopoulos as a GM who has lost his way, not to mention the ear of his rivals.

At Blue Jays Plus, Gideon Turk gets inside sources, like current and former teammates of Jose Bautista (and others), to go on record (anonymously) about the way he operates behind closed doors, and the comments are hardly going to put any alleged issues to rest.

Meanwhile, over at Baseball America, Ben Badler handicaps the race to get Masahiro Tanaka’s signature on a contract, and in so doing makes it clear that he doesn’t think very highly of the Jays– not in terms of their chances of landing the Japanese ace, and also not in regard to their chances of being competitive in 2014.

In actuality, though, are things as grim as these pieces seem to suggest? I’m sure you won’t be shocked to discover that I really don’t think so — though, to be fair, my rosy disposition is mostly because I’m determined to be entirely sure that the Jays won’t be adding a front line pitcher for 2014 before I completely lose my shit on this organization — but that doesn’t mean that they’re not worth looking at a little more closely.

It’s maybe not going to be the gong show promised by the title of this post, but nonetheless… shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Interesting stuff from Foul Territory, the blog home of Rangers beat writers Jeff Wilson and Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, as they wonder if J.P. Arencibia might be a fit now that he’s eminently available. Or… y’know… now that his availability is known more publicly than it was prior to the Jays’ acquisition of Dioner Navarro.

The idea that Wilson puts forth is that Arencibia could be a fit to pair with the Rangers’ top backstop Geovany Soto– in fact, he says that Texas has discussed the idea internally. Of course, “discussed” can mean a whole lot of things without knowing how far the idea advanced, but they seem to think there could be a little bit of interest there, especially given the low cost– and also because “the Blue Jays have been studying the Rangers this off-season.”

Hmm. They continue:

Early in November the Blue Jays looked into left-hander Derek Holland and second baseman Ian Kinsler for a possible trade for outfielder Jose Bautista, according to a source.

Again, “looked into” can mean a lot, but it’s not like this is the first we’re hearing of these sorts of rumblings– it is, however, I think the most specific that we’ve heard about such a thing. Or maybe it isn’t– it’s definitely been speculated by fans… and probably shot down around here as being more than the Rangers would be willing to give up. And maybe it was, not that it matters now anyway, with Kinsler off to Detroit.

So… there’s that.

There’s also this:

Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist on this front, but I kind of have a hard time believing that the Jays would have gone down this road without having something close to lined up. Guess I’ll be here all night waiting on it…

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