Archive for the ‘Minor Moves’ Category

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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getzgoins

According to the busy twitter fingers of the reporters currently at the Jays event in Buffalo, Alex Anthopoulos has revealed that the club has signed second baseman Chris Getz to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Ryan Goins now has another small measure of competition for his spot, as Anthopoulos also says that Getz — like Goins a lefty at the plate, so not a platoon option — could earn playing time at second base once the position battle Getz Goins (sorry).

Thing is, it’s Chris Getz.

If you want to be glib about it, Getz is just another left-handed bat can’t hit and won’t play defence nearly as well as Goins. And… well… the more I look at it, the more it seems like you probably don’t need to say a whole lot more than that.

He’s depth.

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dance

Fear not, Mike McCoy fans.

Or.. maybe fear a little. But don’t be so sure that all is lost, even though the most well-travelled man in recent Jays history is among the players in the organization who have qualified for minor league free agency, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America. But as Juan Perez demonstrated earlier today, being released by the Jays doesn’t necessarily mean that a player’s time in the organization is done. According to a team release, after electing free agency (and thereby being removed from the 40-man roster), Perez signed a minor league deal with the club, with an invite to Spring Training. He’ll join, the release noted, Mike Nickeas and Andy LaRoche as guys on minor league deals with invites.

Will that be the case for anyone else? Meh. I don’t know, or particularly care. But here’s the full list anyway, which includes several names that you’ll recognize, as does the full list of 550 players qualifying, which includes for the first time draft picks from 2007 who aren’t on their club’s 40-man roster– meaning one-time Jays prospect Kevin Ahrens, who was J.P. Ricciardi’s second ever first-rounder selected out of high school, following Travis Snider the previous year. Ahrens ended up truly stalling out in high-A, spending parts of four seasons with Dunedin of the Florida State League, including full years in 2009, 2011 and 2012– he was demoted to Lansing for part of 2010, and managed to spend this season in double-A.

Man, Ricciardi’s draft record is a-fucking-bysmal.

Anywho, the list:

Toronto Blue Jays
RHP: 
Chad Beck (AA), Tyson Brummett (AA), Buddy Carlyle (AAA), Joel Carreno (AAA), Alan Farina (AA), Marcus Walden (AA)
LHP: Willie Collazo* (AA), Juan Perez (AAA)
C: Brian Compton (Lo A)
1B: Luis A. Jimenez (AAA), Clint Robinson (AAA)Jon Talley (AA)
2B: Daniel Arcila (SS), Oliver Dominguez (Hi A), Jim Negrych (AAA), John Tolisano (AA), Lance Zawadzki (AA)
3B: Kevin Ahrens (AA)
SS: Mike McCoy (AAA), Amadeo Zazueta (AA)
OF: Blake Gailen (AAA), Adam Loewen (AA), Ricardo Nanita (AAA)

The star next to Willie Collazo’s name is just to indicate that he spent the entirety of 2013 on the DL.

So… yeah. Some names we’ve followed a little bit over the years, but certainly nobody who was going to help the 2014 Blue Jays. (Sit down, Negrych fans!)

I was going to pour over the entirety of the list for some intriguing guys who the Jays might be interested in taking a flyer on, but… uh… 550 names? Most of whom I’d have to at least check out the BR and FanGraphs pages of? Yeah, I think I’m just gonna mail this one in and leave it at that. Er… I mean… why would I want to hog all of that fun for myself? Go to Eddy’s piece and knock yourselves out!

Godspeed, Ricardo Nanita, et al.

muniBP

Well that didn’t take long. The World Series ended last night, I’m told, and today the Jays were already getting down to business.

To wit:

Yes, the Munenori Kawasaki Era may already be over, though that’s not necessarily going to be the case, as Davidi explains:

Lind will earn $7 million, Janssen $4 million and DeRosa $750,000. Kawasaki would have earned $1 million, but may still return on a minor-league deal.

So… yeah, I don’t know. All of those moves seem pretty obvious to me. Lind and DeRosa will make for a nice DH platoon combo, with DeRosa being able to spell the odd infielder from time to time, continuing his bang up job babysitting Brett Lawrie, and otherwise just kinda being awesome. Janssen, obviously, continues to be surprisingly terrific– so much so that his terrificness should have probably stopped being a surprise by now– while Kawasaki looks a whole lot better off the 40-man roster than on it.

OK, maybe not a whole lot. But better, I think.

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2008 Baltimore Orioles Photo Day

The Jays quietly made a rather interesting move on Sunday, signing former Orioles (and Reds, and Padres, and Moneyball-era A’s) catcher Ramon Hernandez to a minor league deal and, according to a tweet from Shi Davidi, assigning him to Buffalo.

Now, I’m not going to take too seriously the thoughts in my head that Hernandez, who was below replacement level in 52 games last year with the Rockies, might actually be better than the current incumbent at the position, but… well… this line from MLB Trade Rumors kind of stuck out to me:

The Dodgers acquired the 37-year-old from the Rockies back in April in exchange for Aaron Harang. The backstop saw only 55 plate appearances for Los Angeles, batting .208/.291/.438.

J.P. Arencibia is batting .219/.247/.427.

No, I don’t think it’s remotely plausible that the Jays would consider replacing their starting catcher mid-season with a 37-year-old from outside the organization. But… Hernandez, who over two seasons put up 4.3 WAR for the Reds in 2010 and 2011, miiiiiiiiight actually be the organization’s best catcher.

If that sounds more like an indictment of Arencibia than it is lauding of this hidden gem discarded by the shitty Dodgers, that’s because it is. But seriously! Since Arencibia has been in the league (2010), in a comparable number of plate appearances (931 for Hernandez, 1186 for JPA), Hernandez has provided double the value by FanGraphs’ WAR and out wOBA’d the player ten years his junior by 25 points (a respectable-for-a-catcher .326 for him, versus a declining-by-the-year .301 mark for young Aaron Cibia).

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Philadelphia Phillies v Toronto Blue Jays

Holy! A bevy of moves this afternoon from the Blue Jays, as the club’s ridiculous tyranny of “veteran presence” took a large step in the direction of the guillotine, as did it’s… uh… tyranny of Chad Jenkins, apparently.

Anthony Gose was optioned back down to Buffalo last night, per a tweet from Shi Davidi, with a reciprocal move set to come today. That seemed simple enough, as we learned later, also via Davidi, that Andy LaRoche would be coming up, as an extra hand for the club’s third base spot made vacant by Brett Lawrie’s injury. But when the official release from the club came, there was a bit of extra news, as it was revealed that catcher Josh Thole would also be joining the big club, meaning R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher, Henry Blanco, has been designated for assignment.

And if that’s not newsworthy enough, soon after some bad news for Chad Jenkins– who was thought to be on his way to the Majors in the near future, in order to start for the Jays on Tuesday– filtered out by way of a tweet from Ken Rosenthal. The once-excellent New York Yankee Chien-Ming Wang has opted out of a minor league contract with his old club in order to sign with the Jays, and he will be making Tuesday’s start– his first in the Majors since a somewhat dreadful stint with the Washington Nationals last season and the season before.

That’s right, the Jays’ rotation now has a Johnson, a Dickey, and a Wang. No, you turn six already!

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