Archive for the ‘Minor Moves’ Category

diazsingles

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…

happthrows

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.

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anthonygosehits

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…

goinsmisplay

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.

kawasakiMTL

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.

tuiasosopo

The Jays claimed utility man Matt Tuiasosopo from the Diamondbacks late Thursday afternoon, releasing hard-throwing left-hander Luis Perez in the process. It’s a… it’s a move. I don’t know if it’s a curious one, or even an interesting one, but it’s a move. Tuiasosopo is out of options, and will report to big league camp in Dunedin as soon as he arrives — which may not be for a while, since Bluebird Banter notes that he’s currently in Sydney with the Diamondbacks contingent getting set for the season-opening series against the Dodgers.

I’m not sure that he’s anything, but… maybe? You’ll see a lot of people lazily citing a reverse split in a tiny sample of big league at bats, which might encourage you to question the move, especially if it’s with a view to replacing Moises Sierra as the default right-handed bat off the bench, but a closer look shows it’s probably quite a bit smarter than that.

In 2013, Tuiasosopo put up an impressive 114 wRC+ and a wOBA of .342, but did the vast majority of his damage against same-sided pitching (158 wRC+/.389 wRC+), despite getting the bulk of his plate appearances against left-handers. Against lefties he was basically an average hitter, posting a 99 wRC+, a .320 wOBA, but how he got there was interesting: his walk rate was a robust 15.3% — nearly double what it was against right-handers – and his power was slightly above average, as he posted an ISO of .155, but his BABIP was a bit low at .274, leading to an unimpressive-minus-the-walks slash line of .216/.336/.371 in the split.

Thing is, he was getting all those plate appearances for a reason: against left-handed pitching for Buffalo (when it was a Mets affiliate) in 2012, Tuiasosopo slashed .304/.395/.461 against left-handers, which was over 200 points of OPS better than his split against righties. The year before for the PCL’s Tacoma Rainiers it was .241/.366/.482.

Granted, those numbers only cover just over 250 plate appearances in total, but they’re impressive enough. Especially since the Jays are currently looking at handing the job of Lind’s platoon-mate — when they’re not making dumb-as-shit pronouncements about letting Lind and his wRC+ of 37 in the split actually hit against the occasional lefty… like intentionally — to Moises Sierra, who has never had a strong platoon split, and certainly didn’t in 2013, putting up an ugly .222/.301/.370 against left-handers in time split between Buffalo and a nifty big league cameo.

Sierra’s typically below-average walk rate spiked to 11.5% when moved up to the majors last year. He cut down on his strikeouts, increased his power, and basically forced his name back into the conversation, despite having a pedestrian year in Buffalo that had made him something of an afterthought — and probably for good reason. The 25-year old isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in camp, but he’s also out of options, and has certainly looked better so far than Tuiasosopo, who has just four hits and four walks in 39 plate appearances.

One could pretty easily think — despite some chatter on Twitter that some sort of a deal might be in the works that would make one of these two players less redundant — that we simply now have some healthy competition for the role, and that the team figured it cost them nothing given they quite possibly would have lost Luis Perez anyway, had they tried to slip him through waivers. However, there are some legitimate reasons to think that Tuiasosopo might be the favourite: in addition to the better production in the split at the minor league level, he’s more versatile — in 2012 at Buffalo he played every position but pitcher or catcher — and his numbers in the big leagues in 2013 may have looked even more impressive had it not been for a ribcage injury that sent him to the DL in mid-June.

He returned to action on July 8th, a week before the All-Star break. Granted, that’s quite a long time, in baseball terms, before he went 0-for-September in 22 plate appearances, but perhaps the effects of the injury lingered. It’s a stretch, but the difference between his first half (195 wRC+) and his second half (20 wRC+) are extraordinarily stark.

The fact that the ability hasn’t returned yet this spring is a concern, but perhaps that will give the club a better chance to sneak Tuiasosopo through waivers to Buffalo and keep both of their options open.

Or perhaps this is the signal of something coming on the pitching front involving an outfielder. There are obvious doubts to be had on that, given that the outfielders the Jays would conceivably be giving up — i.e. none of their three starters — would be minor pieces to any deal, but that doesn’t mean pitching isn’t still the talk of the rumour mill…

The Latest Trade Pitch

Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago wrote on Thursday that the Jays had three scouts watching Jeff Samardzija’s latest outing for the Cubs, “including their director of professional scouting, top scout and former Cubs general manager Ed Lynch.”

It’s not like the Jays are the only team interested, though, as Levine says that as many as 25 scouts were in attendance for the performance, likely because, as he tells us, “the Cubs and Samardzija are no closer to a deal on a long-term contract now than they were the last time they had substantive talks in December.” He adds that “the sides seem to have differences that could amount to $15 million-$20 million over the life of a long-term deal.”

However, those scouts may soon need to switch locations, as Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson may be a trade candidate, now that we’ve learned, via a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, that extension talks between the two sides have broken off, and free agency at the end of the season seems a likely option. And get this: all Masterson was asking for was a three-year deal around, but under the same average annual value of Homer Bailey’s six-year extension with the Reds ($17.5-million). That’s… uh… that’s pretty doable-sounding to me. So go do it already, Anthop– oh… fuck it, who are we kidding?

Of course, if they knew what was good for them the Jays may not even need an extra starter. That’s a stretch, I know, and also irrelevant because they clearly don’t know what’s good for them, but Dustin McGowan pitched really well again today. Like he did all of last year.

He wants to start. He’s getting built up. He could pitch the home opener on April fourth having made two more spring starts on regular rest to keep pushing his arm to get beyond the 45 pitches he was at today (though one start would have to be against minor leaguers in Dunedin). When healthy he’s a clear, obvious cut above Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond. Most importantly, if he gets hurt — which, naturally, is the fear — they’re really only losing their fourth-best right-handed reliever.

The thing about his getting built up, though, is that it’s not really what it looks like — or so say the Jays for now.

“We just kind of figured [the bullpen] was where I was going to be, just because I hadn’t built up enough innings to even really compete for the [starting] job,” he told reporters today, including John Lott of the National Post. “But I think they wanted to get me out there and see if I can even go three or four innings, just to see how I would bounce back. Who knows, in the ’pen, you might have those days when a guy needs to go three or four.”

Those are valuable innings, sure, but not as valuable as ones in the rotation. More valuable, I guess, than ones that he can’t pitch because he’s overextended himself and ended up hurt, though. And maybe I’m being a bit too romantic about the notion that this should be a serious consideration, but if not now, when? This is the last guaranteed year of a deal that includes a $4-million club option for 2015, which is no slam dunk to be picked up. He wants to do it. He’s got them weighted balls! He’s going to be thirty-two damn years old next week. Take off the fucking Water Wings already and let’s see if he sinks or swims.

Ahh, but this is the Jays we’re talking about, so even though they’re stretching McGowan out, they’re not really stretching him out. Dr. Gibby’s orders.

Ugh. Hey, but maybe this is just a hilarious dose of classic bullshit from the club and they really are thinking of doing it. That would be… good? I don’t even know anymore.

baker

In yesterday’s Brent Morel post (or was it yesterday’s Brett Morel post?) I wrote a little bit about Jeff Baker, the free agent lefty-masher with positional versatility who seemed like such an obvious fit for the Jays — at least until this afternoon, when Jon Heyman tweeted that he’d agreed to a two-year deal with the Marlins, while Joel Sherman added that it’s for $3.7-million. Mostly I was trying to dream up ways that the club could conceivably justify passing on him, given the paucity of platoon options for Adam Lind currently available in-house, and the fact that last year he saw time at first, second, third, in left field, right field, and at DH.

All we’ve really ever heard about why the Jays weren’t being linked more strongly to Baker, as far as I’ve come across, is what Mike Wilner had to say about him on last week’s edition of The Blue Jays This Week on the Fan 590.

“Jeff Baker would be perfect,” he explained. “He’s a free agent out there, and late of the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs. And he can play six positions poorly, and he can wail on lefties. But I’ve talked to a number of people out in the baseball world about him, and the consensus is that this is a really, really bad dude, who you don’t want anywhere near your clubhouse. Which is why the Blue Jays haven’t moved on him.”

That was certainly a new one to me, but it’s not like I’m doing a lot of talking to the sorts of people who would know enough about Baker to make such claims. I was, however, able to put the suggestion out there on Twitter to see if anyone might be able to confirm that which, as far as I have been able to ascertain, only Wilner has said. Lo and behold, Mike Ferrin of MLB Network Radio, and Baseball Prospectus’s outstanding Fringe Average podcast took up the mantle.

Ferrin added that he hadn’t heard any of this on Baker himself, but cautioned that none of this means what Wilner is hearing isn’t true.

What struck me more, though — and what caused me to raise the issue again on Twitter, which prompted the above exchange — was a tweet from Jon Morosi, who yesterday said that he had spoken to Scott Boras, and that the über-agent told him he was very close to deals on his clients Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Suk-Yin Moon, and… Jeff Baker.

Aha!

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