Here’s an idea: try winning a damn game, maybe. Remember?

eebautistasunset

So Gose goes so Francisco can sit on the bench while Valencia plays against a right-hander?

Actually, I can deal with that. It means that keeping Francisco is a matter of asset management more than actually wanting to play. Keeping him to see what they’ve got next year or if he can be moved in a deal, in exchange for two weeks without Gose? Ahhh, fine. Fine.

Anywho, at 40 games out it’s still early. Too early, at least, to say the Jays are fucked — and if you’re someone whose sphincter tightens any time someone tells you it’s still early, might I suggest to you that you’re a fucking garbage clown — and too early for there to be “must win” games.

That said, the Jays had better fucking win this game.

Scuttlebutt

EDWIN IS BACK!!!!!!!!!

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:10 PM ET @ Chicago (AL); Sunday, 2:10 PM ET @ Chicago (AL)

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
1B Adam Lind (L)
DH Dioner Navarro (S)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Danny Valencia (R)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)

RHP Marcus Stroman

Chicago White Sox

LF Alejandro de Aza (L)
SS Alexei Ramirez (R)
1B Jose Abreu (R)
DH Adam Dunn (L)
RF Dayan Viciedo (R)
3B Conor Gillaspie (L)
C Tyler Flowers (R)
CF Jordan Danks (L)
2B Gordon Beckham (R)

RHP Hector Noesi

klawchips

Yesterday Keith Law had his weekly chat with readers at ESPN.com, and… uh… for lack of a better preamble, here are your Jays-related tidbits…

Logan (Saskatoon)
Is Dan Norris a viable September bullpen option for the Jays?
Klaw
He’s clearly coming up. No way they promote him to AAA that quickly (too quickly – what did he learn in AA? A little New England geography?) unless the plan was to get him to the majors.

I tend to agree with all of this stuff — the fact that the Jays do seem to be fast tracking Norris to the big leagues so he can help their bullpen, and that it maybe is a little quicker than you’d like to see. Norris had just eight starts in Double-A, with a walk rate of over four batters per nine innings. He walked four guys each in his second- and third-last starts at the level (eight walks in nine innings), but then spun a gem and got moved up. The Eastern League has just twelve teams, and you’d think that if you were more interested in his development, you’d maybe like to see him handle going through each of them a couple times.

On the other hand, if they’ve basically already decided he’s going to be in Buffalo to start next season anyway — which isn’t entirely unreasonable — I can understand why they might have come to the conclusion not to bother, since there’s less than a month left in the Double-A season.

Plus, as I noted in a Daily Duce earlier this week, according to a recent piece at Baseball Prospectus, he certainly already profiles as a guy who could help a big league bullpen. “Norris has ridden his fastball/slider combination all the way to the upper levels of the minor leagues this season, with Buffalo representing his third stop along the way,” they wrote. “He’s missed bats in droves at every stop and showed no sign of slowing down in his first Triple-A start on Sunday. He’s still got a ways to go to become a complete pitcher, including the development of the changeup he’ll need in the majors, but for now he’s able to get by with two potential plus pitches.”

Steve (Boston)
Keith: can you give us a floor and a ceiling on the two new pitching additions to the Sox system: Edwin Escobar, and Eduardo Rodriguez? Thank you.
Klaw
Escobar’s probably a reliever, slight chance at a back-end starter, real ordinary stuff without a good third pitch. Rodriguez could be a 2, a well above avg starter – up to 97, sits 92-93, projects to have a plus change and avg breaking ball.

Not necessarily Jays-related, but Rodriguez, you’ll remember, is the pitcher the Orioles dealt to Boston for 20 innings of Andrew Miller. As was said by anybody not preoccupied with whinging at the time, they Jays sure could have used a guy like Miller, but that is one hefty fucking price. Norris-like, in fact, which maybe is all the more reason to say fuck trades and start moving him towards that role.

Chris (Toronto)
Franklin Barreto is doing well in the Northwest League as an 18 year old. He has a shot at top 25~ for 2015 right?
Klaw
Top 25 Blue Jays prospects, absolutely.

Pro tip – there can only be 25 prospects in the top 25 and only 100 in the top 100. I’m sorry but that’s math.

Yeah… Barreto sure is doing well, and there is lots to be excited about in that bat, but this is kinda nutty.

James (Toronto)
What are your thoughts on Pompey and Jimenez? Is Jimenez more of an org guy now with the elbow issues? Secondly where would you start Pompey next year?
Klaw
AJ Jimenez? Backup for me. Pompey’s a potential regular/leadoff guy – I’d start him back in AA next year.

After his .276/.327/.394 at New Hampshire last year, this season has definitely been a disappointing one for Jimenez — .223/.275/.340 for the Fisher Cats, and .270/.309/.355 at Buffalo — so it’s hard to quibble with the backup knock. Especially since that’s been a thing we’ve heard on him for a long while now. Pentecost gets the dreaded “Jays Catcher Of The Future” label now, I guess.

Pompey stuff is certainly nails, though.

Alden (Toronto)
Is Dwight Smith Jr. nearly as good a prospect as D. Pompey?
Klaw
No. LF only, lacks the power for the position. He’s under 5’9″.

I have nothing to offer on Smith, but this does seem like a good opportunity to share this note on him from Baseball Prospectus earlier in the week, after he went 2-for-2 with three runs scored, a stolen base, and three walks for Dunedin:

“Because of his left-field profile and lack of home run power, this is the kind of production that Smith will need to have to be an everyday player. He’s not going to be perfect at the plate too often, but drawing walks, hitting the gaps, and scoring runs will allow him to make up for not having power at a power position. If not, he’ll be a tweener or fourth outfielder, but one who has a spot on a major league roster.”

Seems to line up.

goseHR

So here’s the news that a lot of Jays fans weren’t hoping to here, but should probably have been expecting: according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Anthony Gose is headed to Buffalo for a couple of weeks, in order to make room for Edwin Encarnacion.

This won’t sit well with those who are ready to run Colby Rasmus out of town — or even those who still like the promise Colby holds, and think he can do better than we’ve seen so far, but have also noticed that Gose has been worth nearly a win more to this team in 2014 in over a hundred fewer plate appearances.

And it definitely won’t sit well with those who are ready to stop watching Juan fucking Francisco tumble deeper into the goddamn abyss.

Francisco has been awful basically since the start of June — a .184/.240/.380 and a 67 wRC+ in 171 plate appearances — and somehow even more fucking terrible than that over his last month. His defence isn’t good, which is why he’s mostly been at DH or first base of late. But, unlike Gose, he’s out of options, and hey, at least when the other team needs a key strikeout, Big Juan’s a guy they can totally count on.

Ugh.

Bitterness aside, the decision seems to be based on the fact that the club currently doesn’t have anyone other than Munenori Kawasaki who can hit right-handers at all. Steve Tolleson and Danny Valencia can’t. Problem is, um… Francisco can?

As much as we love a good, old fashioned platoon, they become a bit unwieldy with respect to the finite number of spots on the roster, and the Jays are in a bit of a pickle with this one. But, as is usually the case with these matters, it’s not necessarily as completely fucking stupid as it seems — though that maybe depends on how big a risk to their seasons you think moving Bautista or Encarnacion to third against right-handers until Lawrie is back would be. Francisco has to have a short leash here. Ryan Goins can come back after the mini-series with Milwaukee, and while he gives absolutely nothing with the bat to this offence-starved club either, at least he does fucking something well. And it’s not like Francisco can’t heat up, either — plus, the power is a very nice asset, and given the career turnarounds of Encarnacion and Adam Lind in recent years, you can sort of understand not wanting to expose him to other clubs… sort of — it’s just… are they really so desperate that that’s what they feel they need to hold out hope for at this point?

Maybe they are. Yeesh.

dailyduce2-595

I tell ya, I haven’t seen this many ants since Cincy in ’84.

It is, of course, an off-day for the Jays, with a trip to Chicago and a reunion with Edwin Encarnacion upcoming. That means a roster move, too — and could spell the end of Juan Francisco. But so then you make Danny Valencia your starting third baseman against right-handers? I don’t know about that. Maybe? Francisco has been so awful lately (and brings so little with the glove) that it’s almost the better move, but don’t be shocked if the fact that Anthony Gose has options left makes him the odd man out either. We probably won’t hear about that until tomorrow, or later tonight at the earliest. In the meantime, here are some links…

“When the Jays needed a huge performance from starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, he allowed a two-run, two-out home to DH Kendrys Morales,” writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. “Dickey overall did not pitch poorly, but once again, as has been the case with all of the Jays starters, he did not pitch well enough to win.” I mean, those lines are maybe not the essence of the article as a whole, but come the fuck on.

Griff did, however, have some nice words to say about the great travelling crowd of fans that once again greeted the Jays at Safeco Field.

Meanwhile, at Sportsnet, Arden Zwelling wraps up a big series that sure looks like a blow to the Jays’ playoff chances. While the Tao of Stieb tries to remind us of what Faith No More roadies looked like. And also that “even when things were good for this franchise, they were nerve-wracking and tense and often profoundly disappointing,” and that more delight and agony are sure to be in store over the next two months (assuming the Jays ever actually score a fucking run again).

Oh, but be sure to pause the autoplay video at the top of that Tao piece before you start reading, otherwise you’ll see one “getting poured out” for the Jays season (which is apparently over?) by Six Seixeiro… because he is a garbage clown. Hey, and speaking of Sid, him and I are just two of the guests who’ll be appearing at the next edition of Pitch Talks, which will be taking place a week from today — Thursday, August 21st —  along with Stacey May Fowles, Jenn Smith, Erin Valois, Shi Davidi, and Jeremy Taggart. Get your tickets here – use the promo code DJF for $5 off! Cool-ass poster here.

Hey, and two days earlier, come watch the Jays take on the Brewers at 8:10 PM over at Opera Bob’s! It’s an old fashioned DJF Drink-Up! (That’s Tuesday, August 19th, for those of you counting — and Opera Bob’s is at Dundas and Ossington here in Toronto, for those who haven’t been).

Anywho… hey, here’s a team whose playoff chances I don’t mind worrying about nearly as much as I do the Jays’: the Detroit Tigers. Michael Bauman of Grantland writes that it’s time for Tigers fans to worry. For Jays fans, though, the piece is worth noting because of how it illustrates just how quickly the Tigers’ fortunes turned around (*COUGH*) and how damaging it may have been that they over-extended themselves at the trade deadline and with big contracts, only now to find themselves in a position where they must fight to be in a play-in game (*COUGH, COUGH*)

Elsewhere at Grantland, Ben Lindbergh gives us The Managerial Meddling Index, in which he measures the in-game activity of managers, and finds — unsurprisingly, given all the platoons he’s had to run — that John Gibbons has meddled more than any manager in the majors so far this year.

FanGROFs Alert: I linked it in yesterday’s Game Threat, but definitely do check out Drew’s appearance on the FanGraphs podcast from this week — especially as he and Carson Cistulli spend a good deal of time talking about the DJF and Getting Blanked podcasts (the former of which, I should make clear, will definitely rise again — it just might be a little while) — and his latest FanGROFs piece, in which he looks at the importance of “the good miss.”

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron looks at the Baltimore Orioles, and the idea of accepting random variance.

A couple pieces from over at the Toronto Sun, as Bob Elliott looks at prospect Mitch Nay, and also interviews Munenori Kawasaki.

I’ve been pushing this lately in the Game Threat, so I might as well do it here too: since Facebook changed its algorithms with respect to sharing, it’s really become a much more powerful social media tool, and so it’s probably in your best interest to just go right ahead and like DJF on Facebook. That way you can get everything that’s posted here injected straight into your feed-veins. Do it.

Lastly, Kendall Graveman continues to be something of a groundball machine, and at Blue Jays Plus we can see in one handy GIF all eleven groundball outs he induced last night for the Buffalo Bisons. Impressive stuff. I wrote about Graveman last week, in case you missed it, trying to make sense of his success, his rapid ascent, and his status as a “real” prospect.

stromanBOS

In this guest post from Kyle Matte, he looks at the stellar rookie season being put together by Marcus Stroman, and the potential for it to become an historic one (in Blue Jays terms, at least) if he’s able to keep up his current pace. Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleMatte.

Way back in February, I wrote an article for Drunk Jays Fans in which I looked at all of the Blue Jays number one prospects (according to Baseball America) dating back to 1983. Despite suggestions to the contrary in the comments section, it was not an attempt to predict the specific future of Aaron Sanchez, but instead to share as much information as possible from the historical record of this organization’s number one prospects that shows the steep learning curve at baseball’s highest level. The average number one prospect progressed on a slow, linear scale (roughly 1 WAR in year one, 2 WAR in year two, 3 WAR in year three), and given the lack of success developing top prospect pitchers, I wanted to stress patience with Aaron Sanchez, as it would be unfair to expect him to light the world ablaze immediately upon reaching Toronto.

Then Marcus Stroman happened. While not necessarily the Blue Jays unanimous number one prospect (many evaluators and prospectors were split between he and Sanchez), the pair was 1A and 1B in some regard. Everyone knows Stroman is having an excellent rookie season. What many don’t realize is the potentially historic nature of his inaugural year.

Marcus Stroman has made five relief appearances and thirteen starts, earning -0.1 WAR in the former and +2.2 WAR in the latter for a total of +2.1 WAR this season. He’s done this in just 86-and-a-third innings, no less. That production ranks second amongst Blue Jays pitchers behind only Mark Buehrle, who has earned 0.2 more WAR in his 63 additional innings.

As previously mentioned, when inspecting Stroman specifically as a starter, he has produced 2.2 wins in 13 starts – or roughly 0.17 WAR per start. After Wednesday’s game, the Blue Jays will have 40 remaining on their schedule, with Stroman tentatively scheduled to pitch eight of them. The club continues to give no indication that they intend to limit or shut down the right hander over the season’s final months, and should they remain in the thick of the playoff race, I suspect they’ll remain true to their word (or lack thereof). If Stroman continues to produce at a pace of 0.17 WAR per start, he’ll earn another 1.4 wins over the remainder of the season. Those 1.4 wins would raise his season total to 3.5 WAR, and place him in elite company amongst Blue Jays rookies.

Currently, the two best rookie seasons by pitchers belong to Mark Eichhorn and Gustavo Chacin, who produced 5.1 WAR (157 IP) and 3.3 WAR (203 IP) in 1986 and 2005 respectively. Should Stroman continue to play the way he has, he should surpass Chacin despite making significantly fewer starts and having far fewer innings in which to accumulate value. When expanding the criteria to include position players, Eric Hinske slides into the picture thanks to his excellent 4.6 WAR season in 2002. Really consider this for a moment: in the 38 years of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, Marcus Stroman is on pace to have the third best rookie season ever.

As a reminder, to attain this level of value, Stroman will need to continue pitching like one of the better pitchers in baseball while avoiding the dreaded shut down. Stroman has averaged 6.15 innings per start, and should he maintain that rate over his final eight starts, he’d finish the year with 135.2 innings in Toronto and 35.2 innings in Buffalo. That 171.1 inning total would be a significant increase upon his 2013 workload of 123.1 innings [plus however much he worked while suspended for 50 games -- AS], and one that may be too great for the organization to risk. Still, given all we know about Stroman’s ability and attitude, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Would it be enough to win the American League Rookie of the Year? In a word, no. Major League Baseball considers both Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu to be “rookies” despite starring in the Japanese and Cuban professional leagues respectively for years, and the two are/were having exceptional seasons. Tanaka was in the early running for the Cy Young award before succumbing to an elbow injury, while Abreu has produced 4.0 WAR, leads the world in home runs with 31, and likely finds himself in the MVP discussion (or in the discussion for second place behind Mike Trout and his playoff-bound Angels, at least).

That meaningless award should be of no consequence to Blue Jays fans, however. After years of having our dreams fall by the wayside, it appears as though the club has finally developed the home-grown star we’ve always coveted from afar, and have lacked since Roy Halladay. And, most important of all, he’s all ours until through least 2020.

chart (10)

August? More like the Ugh-est, amiright?

So the Jays lost again, and continued not doing themselves any favours. They wasted an excellent start from R.A. Dickey (season ERA: 3.95 now), failing again to get any semblance of offence going. They’re now 7.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, and 3.0 games back of the two teams who now hold the second Wild Card spot, the Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers. They’re 3-9 since the calendar flipped to this month. Not a lot of folks would bet on this club being three games better than those two over forty games, or 7.5 better than the Orioles in that span — especially at this rate — and I couldn’t blame them for declining to do so, either. But as we’ve discussed ad nauseam around here of late, it certainly can happen, too.

Edwin coming back should help, and the White Sox and Brewers certainly ought to be better for what ails them than the Mariners were.

The longer they keep failing to get back to winning, though…