Archive for the ‘Minor Moves’ Category

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Per an email blast from the club, in a slightly surprising move this afternoon, Erik Kratz returned to the Jays, as Dioner Navarro has been placed on the bereavement/family medical emergency list. Meanwhile, Neil Wagner has returned to the bullpen, with Chad Jenkins being optioned down to Buffalo.

First and foremost, thoughts are with Navarro and whatever it is that he’s going through that has forced him to leave the club briefly here. As for the baseball stuff, according to the release, he’ll be gone a minimum of three, and a maximum of seven days. Not sure how much they can fudge this, but with him ailing a bit the other week, and this being in his first season of full-time duty behind the plate since 2009– plus the potential that whatever he’s attending to is something that’s happening in his native Venezuela —  I’d wager he’s out for closer to the latter than the former. Entirely a guess, though.

Erik Kratz is a fine-enough replacement — strange words given his Arencibia-like .231/.231/.462 line (in a horribly tiny sample size, with a much better walk rate for his career), but he is at least bringing defence and the understanding that the gig is only temporary. And also is still just a backup one — Josh Thole starts tonight with Dustin McGowan on the hill.

Wagner makes all the sense in the world, and always did. Well, except for the time when he was dealing with a minor arm injury and Jenkins was recalled in his stead, but he was back in action on Sunday, pitching an inning in Charlotte, allowing one hit and striking out one, and apparently that’s all the club needed to see. Ol’ Gibbers seems to trust him — something we can’t say of half the relievers back there, it sometimes feels — so we can add that to go with his vast superiority in a short relief role to the reasons why he’s a better fit than Jenkins. And who knows how long Stroman is going to be back there? J.A. Happ probably needs to pitch reasonably well on Thursday to keep his job another five days, in which case Gibbons loses another right-handed power arm from the ‘pen, so they might as well have Wagner up and rolling by that time — especially since Stroman won’t be available over the weekend if he really does end up being slated for a move to the bullpen after an inevitable Happ farm-walking, eh?

Meanwhile, the White Sox activated right-hitting, formerly lefty-smashing second baseman Jeff Keppinger from the DL today, and then immediately designated him for assignment. In other words: the roster carousel may not have come to a complete stop just yet, as Keppinger could actually be seen as a useful piece for the Jays, provided they’re willing to look beyond the pitiful 113 plate appearances against left-handed pitching that he took last season for Chicago, in which he posted a .256 wOBA and a wRC+ of just 53.

Not good, but his overall numbers did rise after a terrible start to the year (his second half wOBA was a still-not-good .294), and it also needs to be noted that he played the whole season with a shoulder problem (which he had off-season surgery for, and was the reason he began this year on the DL — but was also, if Robin Ventura is to be believed, having more of an impact on his throwing than his hitting). For his career his wOBA against lefties is a far, far more impressive .358, and his wRC+ is 121, and in the three seasons prior to the shoulder injury it was .363 and 131. That wRC+ is actually top 50 in baseball in the split over that span (minimum 300 PA), though Kevin Youkilis ranks second on that list, so… y’know. On the rehab assignment in double-A that just ended he had two hits and two walks in eight plate appearances against lefties, for whatever that’s worth (read: nothing), too. (Also, veteran presents, eh Alex?)

Since 2011, Keppinger has been used exclusively at first, second, and third, but in the years before that he also saw some time at short and in the outfield as well. So: versatile? Capable of playing second? Arm enough to play third? Crushed left-handers before a shoulder injury he’s supposedly recovered from? He and Steve Tolleson would be somewhat redundant, I guess, except that it’s not like the Jays don’t need two caddies for their platoon infielders/DHs anyway (or that Tolleson couldn’t just be tossed back to the scrap heap they found him on in exchange for a superior hitter). If they believe his restored health has restored his lefty-killing prowess, they might totally make a move — that is, if only they could bring themselves to dump one of the relievers they don’t have enough innings for anyway to make room for him. Ugh.

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Kevin Pillar providing a visual approximation of what AA is doing to this club with his roster management.

So, remember last night, when I defended the Jays’ decision to call up Jonathan Diaz and not, say, Kevin Pillar? Y’know, the guy who, despite being the hot bat at Buffalo right now, isn’t far into his triple-A career and struggled mightily last year when pressed into big league action, about whom I wrote, “that doesn’t mean the Jays should necessarily shield him, but is it an ideal situation to bring him up and hope the hot bat continues in the big leagues in a limited role? Is it not defensible to choose to not introduce him to such potential for failure, and just let him continue to apprentice at the triple-A level?”

Well… about that.

The game of musical chairs continued today for the Jays, as Diaz was optioned back to Buffalo, and with Colby Rasmus exiting last night’s game with a tight hamstring, it was indeed Pillar who got the call to re-join the big club. He’ll start tonight in centre.

I don’t even know, man — and not just because I seem to have this damn cold that’s going around (and take two guesses at what that means for the likelihood of a podcast in the next day or three). I do know one thing, though:

So… yeah. It’s frustrating.

On the other hand, Pillar really is a hot bat: a .305/.344/.461 slash line, a .361 wOBA, a 124 wRC+, coming off a streak of reaching base in 26 straight games (or something), and, excluding a cold six games to start the season, actually slashing a ridiculous .353/.397/.543 since then. And as a damn right-handed bat, too. He’s not really a platoon guy — his splits are fairly even in Buffalo — but as far as being a genuine replacement for Rajai Davis, the right-hitting platoon DH slash spare outfielder that the Jays have sought all season, he’s about as close as this organization has got. Maybe it works.

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With word last night — though, admittedly, none around here — that Sergio Santos was headed to the DL with a right forearm strain, the ol’ wheels started cranking about what move the Jays might be making next, as they continue to try to patch together something that, at least in their minds, resembles a coherent roster. But did anybody see this one coming?

According to a report on the Rogers-owned Jays from the Rogers-owned Rogers Sportsnet and Shi Davidi, it’s Chad Jenkins who’ll be back up with the team… for some reason. And Jonathan Diaz!

Diaz adds a bit of what the club lost when they D’d Chris Getz FA in order to get Casey Janssen back on the roster, but will come at the expense of yet another roster move, which has yet to be announced.

So, for those of you keeping score: Jenkins went down when Adam Lind was activated back on Thursday; Janssen came back yesterday, with Getz being D’d FA to make room; Santos got hurt and will be placed on the DL, making room for one of Jenkins and Diaz to come back; and some as-yet-unannounced move will make room for the other.

As much as I’m sure everybody is ready for the Jays to just end the madness at the back of their bullpen already, the return of Jenkins suggests to me that madness is in full swing, and with Dioner Navarro having been healthy enough to be back behind the plate for two of the last three games, I’m thinking we’ll hear shortly that Erik Kratz is on his way to Buffalo. Of course, with the Jays this year, who the hell knows?

If it is Kratz, having Diaz up at least doesn’t offsets the removal of a right-handed bat, technically — though in Diaz’s case I use the term “bat” loosely, since he’s 0-for-24 with two walks in 27 plate appearances since being sent down to Buffalo less than two weeks ago. Which… is… fucked. But hey, but since the Jays probably have got to keep the suddenly-cold bat of Juan Francisco in the lineup by playing Brett Lawrie at second, it’s not like Diaz will see much of the field anyway. (Right???)

The team isn’t even that bad! This stuff is just a bit weird, though. Still.

I don’t know. The Jays are covered for any and all garbage time situations, at least. And look at the bright side: it might not be Kratz, it still technically might be Lawrie actually needing to go on the DL (though the rumblings out there don’t make that seem like the case at this point).

Ugh.

Santos, for his part, told reporters — including John Lott of the National Post, who takes us through Sergio’s grim injury history — that while he’s beyond frustrated at hitting the DL for the third time in three season, ““I’m hopeful it’s just a strain. I think it is. That’s what I feel. That’s what I believe.”

Not exactly a well-reasoned medical assessment right there, but fingers crossed — though… y’know… it’s not like Santos was doing the Jays much good at this stage anyway, so whatever it is, at least he’s going to get it right, and hopefully come back with some semblance of a repeatable release point, and the ability to go more than just a couple outing between monumental blow-ups. Because fuck, when he’s on, he remains a filthy fucker indeed.

So it goes…

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Here’s something that’s sure to warm the battered cockles of Jays fans hearts: J.A. Happ will get himself a turn in the rotation on Monday in Philadelphia, bumping… nobody, but giving the rotation an extra day of rest, and the bullpen — chalk as it inexplicably is full of long men — another day of headache. Or so tweets Scott MacArthur, though not in nearly so many words.

The club had talked about toying with the idea of giving Happ some spot starts (which is all this really is — there is no six-man rotation to get apoplectic about) to help ease the load on the rotation during a run of twenty straight games with no off day, so it’s not entirely surprising, but… really? Is this, like, a thing that teams do now? A rotation of two veteran plough horses who won’t touch 85, a 23-year-old Drew Hutchison who looks fine, a Brandon Morrow who many would rather see not to being coddled, and a Dustin McGowan who needs to keep showing something to shake off the “seat-warmer” tag, seriously can’t go four turns through without an extra day off somewhere?

Well… OK, so maybe the fact that none of the three non-plough horses has thrown over 200 innings in a season — and the closest any has got was McGowan’s 191.2 way back in 2007 — is reason enough to not entirely try to run them into the ground. I get that, even if acting on such a thought at this point in the season is premised on the notion that they’ll all make it to September healthy and still in the rotation, which, for at least two of these guys, is not something most would bother even contemplating betting on.

But maybe that’s the point. Maybe the club thinks there’s a better chance that Morrow and McGowan stay healthier for longer if they get just a little bit of extra rest. And maybe they’re concerned that the third one, Hutchison, has yet to break the 150 inning mark in his career, and is coming off a season in which he threw just 57 across multiple levels.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Welp, we now have something resembling an honest-to-goodness bench (y’know, once everyone is healthy), as the Jays have gone and made some roster moves, including the highly encouraging D’ing FA of Moises Sierra. They’ve also optioned Jonathan Diaz to Buffalo, and recalled Steve Tolleson and Anthony Gose.

None of these guys are the lefty-masher that the club badly needs to pair with current DH Juan Francisco, or regular DH Adam Lind, but Tolleson has hardly been hopeless with the bat in the minors — he at least takes walks, leading to an OBP of .345 this year, .381 last year, and .358 in the Orioles system in 2012 — and provides some defensive versatility, having played at second, short, third, and in the corner outfield spots in the last couple of seasons. Gose, as you probably know, is a left-handed bat, so not much use as a straight replacement for Rajai Davis — who over the past few seasons had been used as a platoon mate for Lind, in addition to his duties as a backup in centre and as a pich runner — but he at least will bring the club some great outfield defence for when Colby Rasmus needs a day off, and can be a threat on the basepaths. Again, for Anthopoulos, versatility is the name of the game — covering for the ailing Lawrie and Cabrera is another game of his — as it certainly has its advantages when you’re running a damn three man bench.

It’s not as simple a call as certain cranks would like to to tell you it should have been — for example, Gose isn’t going to see a lot of action, and while dreaming on something eventually clicking with his bat sounds more absurd by the day, it’s certainly not going to help him, and Sierra, while wholly miscast in his role as a spare outfielder and lefty-masher, isn’t entirely a nothing piece to let slip away — but it sure feels like the right one. At least in so far as the internal options available to the GM.

Or at least a step in the right direction.

The big thing, though, like I say, is the fact that the club has finally cut bait on an out-of-options guy for the betterment of the current roster. Yes, they did this with Jeremy Jeffress earlier in the year, as well, but the fact that they actually recognize that wins for this year that this club needs to be picking up are slipping away because of how badly they’re clinging to guys who barely scrape above the title of non-asset (if they even do that), would seem to me to be a very good thing.

Now they just need to do it with some relievers.

That’s going to be a tougher row to hoe, for sure, just because of how valuable pitching depth is — yes, even pitching depth named Esmil Rogers and J.A. Happ — but you’ve got to think it’s going to happen, too. SO LET’S SEE IT ALREADY.

When The Goins Getz Tough…

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According to a team release from the Jays, Ryan Goins has been demoted to Buffalo. A reciprocal move wasn’t announced, however according to a report from Shi Davidi of the Rogers-owned Rogers Sportsnet, the Rogers-owned Jays will be calling up middle infielder Chris Getz, though they first will have to find a way to add him to the 40-man roster.

So… that’s weird. But maybe not super weird. Yes, Munenori Kawasaki — also a middle infielder with a left-handed bat — is already on the 40-man, and wouldn’t require anyone to be removed. However, Getz is pretty clearly outhitting Kawasaki at Buffalo so far (a woeful .189/.205/.216 for Mune, compared to .309/.382/.338), and so you can understand the pressures to actually reward a guy like that. Plus, Getz has a little bit of speed — he stole 16 bases in 19 tries last year in just 237 PA worth of time with Kansas City — and we saw over the weekend how that could be useful off the bench.

Hey, at least it’s not going to be another damn pitcher.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There should be some roster shuffling over the next week or two, as the club tries to figure out what it’s going to do with its bench, with Moises Sierra, with Dustin McGowan, J.A. Happ, Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers, while making room for the eventual returns of Casey Janssen and Adam Lind, not to mention a helping hand from Marcus Stroman at some point. There’s also the possibility of adding a guy like Steve Pearce, recently released by the Orioles, and the kind of outfield-playing right-hand hitting guy it’s been obvious the Jays were in need of since Rajai Davis left (however, MLBTR noted today that Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun explained that the O’s could re-sign Pearce and return him to their active roster in place of the injured Chris Davis — though a more permanent role here might be more enticing, I suppose).

It’s a shame that the guy who had never demonstrated that he can hit demonstrated that he didn’t suddenly, over the winter, for the first time in his life, learn to hit, but… yeah. No need to gloat here, especially since they’re not giving him an interminable amount of rope. In the meantime, it will be mildly interesting, I suppose, to see which other shoe drops tomorrow. I guess. And maybe interesting to reflect on how anybody with the club ever believed this was going to work, and what that says about their acumen. But it’s not like there were a tonne of perfect options out there either — and before you say Stephen Drew, while I agree that he’d be a terrific upgrade for the club, surely it’s not like the Jays are the only team with a middle infield need that isn’t willing to meet his demands (especially since he and Boras are building into their asking price their assumption that the market will inflate for him once the draft is over and the compensation pick null), and with the way payroll commitments were frozen this winter, signing him to the kind of long-term deal he’d supposedly require is hardly the kind of no-brainer in the overall that the part where you get to add him to the lineup right now for 2014 is.

Would be nice, though, eh?

As for this move, it’s not particularly inspiring or outlook-changing stuff. But that’s OK. It’s not like there’s a tonne of difference here between the way the club looks today and the way it looked when they left the field on Sunday. They’re sacrificing defence for offence — seems reasonable enough, right?

But also, mostly: whoopty fuck.

 

Crotch grab in the direction of @weirdscience for the title.

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Maicer Izturis left today’s game with a left knee sprain, and it was serious enough that he was placed on the DL immediately following its conclusion. This means that until Jose Reyes returns — which, barring setback, won’t be long, given that he’s no longer travelling with the club, in order to be down in Dunedin for a rehab assignment — the Jays needed to find themselves a spare middle infielder, and they have done so by bringing up last year’s super special spirit animal, Munenori Kawasaki.

It makes sense, and it’s nice to see him get some more time in the show, as last year he brought everything you could possibly hope for from a depth infield piece. However, Izturis was going well, and looking a far cry from the worst player in baseball (which last year, according to FanGraphs’ WAR, he was), so — surprisingly — this feels like a bit of a loss. Especially when you remember precisely where the club’s middle infield depth is at, and you see a tweet from Barry Davis explaining that Izturis says that he “tripped on dugout stairs just prior to game. Felt 2 pops. Says he’s concerned with what he may have done to it.”

Ugh. And that’s the “good” news! (Well, apart from the awesome performance the Jays just put in today).

The bad news — the first bit of it, at least —  is that the Jays are back to an eight-man bullpen, having chosen to avoid the difficult questions about just what the fuck to do with J.A. Happ, activating him from the DL and returning Erik Kratz to Buffalo to create room.

Happ is certainly a better pitcher than he showed this spring, so having him in the bullpen as a left-handed long man seems fine enough thing in the abstract. As part of an eight-man bullpen, though, it’s obviously dumb. But the Jays are in a tricky spot here. Casey Janssen, like Reyes, is about to begin a rehab assignment, and when he returns it will either be at the expense of Esmil Rogers (deserves demotion, but is out of options), or Neil Wagner (deserves to stay, but has options). Remove Happ and Rogers when Janssen comes back, and you have a pretty fine looking unit, but, of course, it’s not so simple, because doing so would carve off a hefty bit of depth from the organization.

Sure, everything is going swimmingly now, and those guys are fairly fungible — maybe more so than Alex Anthopoulos wants to admit, especially with Stroman, Hendricks, Nolin, Jenkins, Walden, and (when he returns from the temporary inactive list) Stilson as perfectly fine depth pieces in their own right (plus Jeremy Jeffress potentially about to be “sneaked” through waivers). But they’re also probably less fungible than fans, who have a tendency to always err on the side of sending some scrub’s sorry ass packing, want to believe, either. Rogers and Happ have logged real big league innings, been parts of big league rotations, and as much as they’ve also done those things fairly poorly, they’ve got the kind of stuff that makes organizations at least think they’ll be able to survive in the majors, and that actually does say something.

Not a whole lot, though. And it would be nice to see a resolution to this roster construction nonsense here sooner rather than later — Happ for the bench bat the club so badly needs again, maybe?

Of course, with injuries, things tend to have a way of sorting themselves out, and that’s likely another reason Anthopoulos is holding his nose and choosing this option for the moment. At least, let’s hope it’s for the moment.

Hey, and while we’re hoping for stuff, let’s hope that Colby Rasmus’s hamstring is doing alright, too. That’s because, according to a tweet from John Lott, he didn’t leave the game because of the crooked scoreline, rather it was due to hamstring tightness. John Gibbons says that it’s not considered serious, for whatever that’s worth. And Lott adds that Rasmus says he felt it “kind of grab” after lunging to catch a Nick Markakis drive in the fifth inning, but that, with tomorrow’s off-day he hopes it will be OK.

So does the man who manages this clusterfuck of roster, too, I’m sure — Melky, Jose, or Moises will see time in centre if Rasmus can’t go… unless they make yet another unwanted move and find a way to bring up Anthony Gose.

Ugh. Ideally it won’t come to that.