Archive for the ‘Should He Stay Or Should He Go’ Category

juanfranciscoPHI

This week Dan Szymborski had a piece at ESPN.com (Insider Only) in which he told about just how close the AL East is now expected to be, based on the ZiPS projection system. As of yesterday morning, he explained, “ZiPS projects four of the five teams in the AL East to have a mean projection of finishing at 83 wins, with Toronto only a couple of games back.”

“Now,” he continued, “that doesn’t mean that 84 wins will win the AL East; it just means that, according to the projections, no single team in the division is more likely to finish with more than 84 games than not. In other words, the AL East isn’t likely to come down to who has the most talented team, but simply luck and which of the very evenly matched teams play above their expectations.”

So how can a team do that? There are all kinds of variables at play in this, but on a very basic level, one way for a team to play above what the projection system can register is to have a players come out of nowhere, to make a change, or to simply have something click in a way that it couldn’t be foreseen by any mere assessment of his track record — and in case you haven’t noticed, the Jays may genuinely have some of those.

Without a doubt, Drew Hutchison could be one, but 2014 has also been going swimmingly so far for a player whose grip on a contributing role may loosen this week — provided Adam Lind comes back on Thursday, as expected, and Brett Lawrie doesn’t wind up on the shelf — and that, of course, is Juan Francisco.

And Francisco really could play above the expectations/projections if he continues taking walks at the highest rate of his career, I think.

But can he?

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derosalawrie

There was an interesting conversation that took place between Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez (no, really!) in the top of the seventh inning of Sunday’s Jays loss at Fenway Park. It happened when Mark DeRosa was at the plate, and if you’ve read the title of this post, you probably have a pretty good idea of what it was about.

To wit:

Buck Martinez: Think DeRosa comes back?

Pat Tabler: Yes.

Buck: You didn’t hesitate. [Laughs]

Pat: [Laughs] I’ve talked to him. They have an option, and he said he thinks that they will exercise it. He’s played a long time, and he’s getting to that spot in his career when he wants to go out a winner, and wants to finish on a strong note. He thinks he’ll be playing next year.

The option on DeRosa’s contract is for $750K (with a $25K buyout), so the money is clearly not the issue as to whether he sticks around. Nor, in a vacuum, is his performance. DeRosa has been better than advertised, which… actually that’s not terribly impressive, seeing as he basically came advertised as some kind of spirit animal/glorified babysitter.

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encarnacion-lind

Player A has a .391 wOBA, a wRC+ of 147, a 13.2% walk rate, and a .370 on-base in 492 plate appearances.

Player B has a .385 wOBA, a wRC+ of 143, an 11.4% walk rate, and a .376 on-base in 396 plate appearances.

Over two seasons, Player A has a .386 wOBA, 144 wRC+, 12.6 BB%, and a .371 OBP in 968 PA.

Player B, over two seasons, has a .369 wOBA, 133 wRC+, 10.4 BB%,and a .361 OBP in 653 PA.

Obviously Player A is a shade better– especially factoring in the two year data, where his numbers are basically the same, whereas Player B’s 2012 was not quite as good as this season, which is dragging him down in the overall. But it’s pretty close, and those are some pretty spiffy numbers, regardless.

As you could probably guess from the image and the title of the post, one of those lines belongs to Adam Lind. No, really! Player B is Lind’s split against right handing pitching.

And Player A?

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gibbyclash

In each of their two current pieces on the subject, the Toronto Star has a poll up about what the fate of John Gibbons should be. The one in Cathal Kelly’s evenhanded piece, in which he states emphatically that “in every instance, the specific fault for each incremental failure that led to this long slog into mediocrity lies with the roster,” is buried at the bottom. The one in Damien Cox’s puddle of goo is practically front and centre– at the end of his sharted out rant, but in the middle of a bigger pile of ramblings on a number of topics.

Not that I’m suggesting placement has all that much to do with it, but at the time of this writing, Star readers are about 82% in favour of Gibby being shitcanned.

This is, of course, incredibly dumb, and rests on foundation of assumptions that crumble easily with a nanosecond of thought, but which are so ingrained that people will defend them like you’re questioning the existence of God– which, given what they seem to think about a manager’s magical powers, you essentially are.

“Nobody could fairly blame Gibbons for all that has gone wrong,” Cox fully admits.

“At the same time,” he continues, “he’s hardly come in and re-set the table or established a new winning culture.”

Well, then, I guess he’s dogshit, because he hasn’t met some magical expectation that I’ve created for him in hindsight in order to mask the fact that I can’t be bothered to challenge the hopelessly dumb idea that all the injuries and underperformances that sank this year’s club somehow lead back to the manager’s office, and whatever establishment of a winning culture he totally cocked up by not sufficiently filling Josh Johnson or Brandon Morrow or R.A. Dickey with the kind of winning mentality that only winning winners win with (and would have prevented them all from getting hurt to varying degrees, apparently).

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