I have nothing but respect for Jordan Bastian. The former Blue Jays turned Clevelands beat writer for MLB.com is very good at his job. When he was writing about the Blue Jays, I probably read him more than any other writer on the internet. I still find time to check out his excellent blog, MLBastian, where he writes intelligently about the Clevelands.

But this past week, Bastian did his 2012 predictions, complete with awards predictions and there were a few things that make me wonder what sort of wonderful drugs Mr. Bastian has in his possession. Now, it should be acknowledged that predictions are a funny thing. First of all, they’re never right; it’s a huge exercise in futility. I should know, I’ve clumsily tried to predict the outcome of MLB seasons for years.

Bastian made two predictions regarding our Toronto Blue Jays that are head-scratchers to say the least. First, he predicted the team to finish second to the Yankees in the AL East, beating out both the Rays and Red Sox and then later on predicted Ricky Romero to win the AL Cy Young Award.

To be honest, in order for Bastian’s prediction to come true, Romero would need to put up a Cy Young-calibre season, but the likelihood of such a thing happening is less-than-slim.

It’s not that Romero is a bad pitcher, but his 2.92 ERA in 2011, although impressive, is hardly sustainable. Romero has settled in as a pitcher who will strike out between seven and seven-and-a-half per nine innings, but will also walk between three and four per nine leading to middling K/BB ratios. A depressed home run rate in 2010 led to a 4.1 fWAR season, but that mark normalized last year and brought him down to 2.9; a mark that tied him for 57th in baseball with Bartolo Colon and Carl Pavano. He posts consistently excellent groundball rates which could allow him to continually outpitch his peripherals, but he simply doesn’t have the ceiling of a David Price, Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia. If anything, Brandon Morrow, just based on pure talent, has a better chance at contending for a Cy Young than Romero.

Not to get all Dustin Parkes on you here, but I just don’t see the Blue Jays being true contenders in 2012. Yes, they are better than last year’s team and the second wild card helps, but there are too many question marks, especially in the rotation, for them to compete with the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox in the East. Predicting them to finish ahead of both the Rays and the Red Sox seems highly unlikely.

Having said all that, please follow Jordan Bastian on Twitter and support his work, because he is one of the best beat writers around and everyone makes questionable predictions. For the sake of us Jays’ fans, I really hope it comes true.

And the Rest:

Red Sox President Larry Lucchino says that his team would be willing to add payroll to improve the pitching staff [Peter Abraham, Boston Globe]. The Red Sox have some serious questions with their pitching what with Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront rounding out the back half of their rotation. The injury to closer Andrew Bailey has also placed their bullpen depth under the microscope. Although, I’m not as worried about the Red Sox pitching as most seem to be, adding someone like Roy Oswalt or possibly a Matt Garza through a trade would go a long way to them getting back to the playoffs.

Injured Pirates starter A.J. Burnett made a minor-league start yesterday and allowed two hits and one run over 4.2 innings [Tom Singer, MLB.com]. Burnett is battling back from a broken orbital bone after being struck in the face by a ball during a bunting drill this spring.

Today starter for the Clevelands, Ubaldo Jimenez, plans to drop his appeal and serve his five game suspension after today’s start [Dennis Manoloff, Cleveland Plain Dealer]. Jimenez was suspended for hitting former teammate Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch during a Spring Training game last week. The suspension sounds like a bigger deal than it is considering it will merely push Jimenez’s second start of the year back by one day.

The Kansas City Royals tried to sell the naming rights of Kaufmann Stadium to U.S. Bank, but whiffed [Paul Koepp and Steve Vockrodt, Kansas City Business Journal]. Stadium naming rights are the most visible example of the corporate takeover of sports. This should represent nothing but a win for the Royals and their fans. Unfortunately, it’s probably not the last time Royals ownership will attempt such a move for a little extra cash.

Speaking of the corporatization of baseball, the Padres are close to having their $1.2-billion TV deal finalized by Major League Baseball [U-T San Diego]. Such a deal should immediately improve the financial ability of the Padres to keep their emerging impressive young core.

The Braves provided a blueprint yesterday on how to potentially reign in Mets’ first baseman Ike Davis who has the talent for a breakout season in 2012 [Bill Petti, FanGraphs].

Bradley Ankrom writes his first prospect post for Crashburn Alley from Clearwater, FL. He’ll be doing something similar in the very near future for our very own DJF.

After their loss last night to the defending NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants are on pace for their worst season in franchise history [Grant Brisbee, McCovey Chronicles].

For all your Getting Blanked needs, follow us on Twitter and “like” us on Facebook. Do the same for our friends at DJF [Twitter/Facebook].

Comments (9)

  1. Bah humbug!

    I detest the “your comment was a bit too short” error message. Sometimes few words are necessary to get my point across. Hopefully, now that I have lengthened this response, it will post without the error message.

  2. Huh? How is Romero wearing the “away greys”? After two games, it would appear that the alternate blues are fast becoming the main stream. I now ask, “alternative to what?”

    Do you think they will always use the blues for away games? Not that I’m complaining, because they looks great. But still, the old school part of me likes battleship grey away unis.

    But again, where did that pic of Romero wearing the away greys come from?

    • They wore the greys in the first game…the one that Romero pitched.

      • Wow, really? Damn, I’m getting alziemers. Could swore it’s been blue both times. At any rate, I can’t say enough about the new look it’s one of the best unis out there.

        • …You know what it is, the guys wear the blue zip-ups in the dug out., and they look just like the alternate jerseys.

  3. “A depressed home run rate in 2010 led to a 4.1 fWAR season, but that mark normalized last year and brought him down to 2.9″

    Excuse me? You’re suggesting that a 9.4% HR/FB rate is “depressed”, but a 12.8 and 13.2 mark are “normalized”? That’s crazy.

    Anyways Fangraph WAR for pitchers is pretty stupid. We evaluate hitters on how they performed, not how we expect they should have performed. So it makes no sense to evaluate pitchers by how we expected them to perform with metrics like FIP. FIP tells us what they should be doing, or if they’ll regress, not how they’ve performed.

    I don’t like ERA as a stat, but it makes much more sense to base WAR off of ERA then it does off of FIP. WAR is based on the value they provided, not the value they expected us to provide.

    Although I do agree that Romero will generally outperform his FIP/XFIP due to his GB%, which is a key factor.

    Not that I’m saying he’s a Cy Young contender, cause that’s crazy. But he’s much better than you’re giving him credit for, and the HR rate was out of whack in 2009/2011, not 2010. Pretty much every pitcher has a 10% HR:FB rate, which is why XFIP was created in the first place.

    • RE: HR/FB rate,

      That isn’t true at all. Pitchers generally perform at previously established HR/FB rates (kind of like hitters with BABIP; there is an element of skill there) which would suggest that Romero’s 2010 HR/FB is the outlier and his 09/11 ones are normal.

      As for WAR, it’s not perfect, but I was just trying to quickly illustrate that his peripherals do not suggest “Cy Young calbre.” If you look at the guys who routinely win the award (or who are in contention for it), they tend to be excellent in every regard, both in actual performance and in peripherals. To suggest FIP is somehow worse than ERA is nutty. FIP is certainly not perfect, but it does a nice job of summing up perpherals, which is all I was trying to do there.

      If you want better ERA predictors, how about SIERA? 4.65 in 2011. tERA? 5.97 (!!!!). Hardly Cy Young worthy.

  4. The one thing about baseball, more than other professional sports, is that the law of averages really bites over a 162 game season. While in any given game — or any given 7 game series — any team can pull off an upset, things tend to balance out over the course of a season.

    This team is better than last year’s team, no question. But, at 81 wins, last year’s team came in on the high-end of what could have been reasonably expected from them. I could see this year’s team end up near there, or manage to push their way to the high eighties if things go right. It’s very hard to crack MLB’s elite, by now people in Toronto should know this.

    I’m pretty uncomfortable with all of the expectation-stoking going on in the press. I see fan polls thinking the Jays finish second and take the wild card, win over 90 games and all kinds of other juvenile fantasies of grandeur. I’m glad there’s interest, but I worry that failing to meet expectations will be more damaging than this good buzz is worth.

    If the Jays make the playoffs, it’s much more likely that they’ll sneak into the second wild card than triumphantly take second place in the AL East. The former is still an exciting prospect, as no one knows what can happen in the playoffs. I’m very excited to follow the Jays this season, just like everyone else. There is no need to blow up expectations this year beyond that.

  5. I think the Jays will finish third. I do believe they’re better than Boston this year.

    As for Romero, there’s a funny philosophy surrounding the Jays: if someone said our team and players sucked, we’d be all up in arms about it. But, when someone says something like “The Jays may challenge for a playoff spot this year”, or “Romero has a shot at a Cy Young”, or “Bautista should win the MVP”, we deny it. It’s a curious thing. I say, just enjoy the fact that for the first time in 20 years, the Jays are finally getting some attention – not just here, but around the entire league.

    Besides, if Cy Youngs were won and lost just on pure stuff, AJ Burnett would have won one by now. Last year, Ricky put up much better numbers than Morrow; no reason he can’t do so again even if Morrow’s stuff is better. The fact that we have 2 guys who could easily be Cy Young candidates year over year is pretty sweet, and we should be celebrating THAT, not the fact that Toronto sports fans are too modest for their own good (unless you’re a Leafs fan, that is).

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