Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 pm
By Matt Snyder
The 2011 Blue Jays were 81-81, despite blowing an AL-worst 25 saves. So the task heading into the offseason for general manager Alex Anthopolous was pretty clear: Improve the bullpen. And he did, in trading for Sergio Santos and signing Francisco Cordero, among other upgrades. If the Blue Jays can knock off 10-15 of those blown saves and basically play similarly in every other aspect, they'll have a great shot at one of the two wild card spots. And the good news for the Jays is that they appear a bit better in other aspects than last season, like getting a full season from Brett Lawrie, to name one example.
Major additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jason Frasor, OF Ben Francisco, IF Omar Vizquel
Major departures: C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Eric Thames, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Henderson Alvarez
4. Brett Cecil
5. Dustin McGowan
Kyle Drabek is also in the mix.
Closer: Sergio Santos
Set-up: Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen
Important bench players
OF Rajai Davis, OF Ben Francisco, OF Travis Snider, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel
Prospect to watch
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, one of the players who came over in the Roy Halladay trade, just turned 23 years old and is considered a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers in 114 Double-A games last season. And while Arencibia hit 23 bombs last season, he also had a paltry .219 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. He struck out 133 times while only walking 36. So it's entirely possible he struggles mightily and is replaced by d'Arnaud at some point this season. Or maybe the Jays trade one of them? We'll see, but keep your eye on d'Arnaud's progress. Many believe he's special.
Fantasy sleeper: Henderson Alvarez
"Alvarez wasn't considered a high-profile prospect at this time last year, so understandably, his 10 starts during a late-season trial weren't enough to put him on most Fantasy owners' radars. But consider just how impressive those 10 starts were. Better yet, consider how impressive his final eight were. He pitched at least six innings in each, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He also issued only six walks during that stretch. Six. In 53 innings. And this isn't some soft-tosser who took the league by surprise simply by throwing strikes, a la Zach Duke in 2005. Alvarez throws in the mid-90s. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff to go along with a good feel for the strike zone and has already tasted success in the heavy-hitting AL East." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Fantasy bust: J.P. Arencibia
"Arencibia was one of five catchers to hit 20-plus homers last year, and he did it as a rookie. But before visions of Mike Piazza start dancing in your heads, keep in mind he was especially old for a rookie, turning 25 before the start of the season. He's 26 now, which means he's already in the thick of his prime, which means what you see with him might be exactly what you get. And it's even worse than it looks. Arencibia hit only .219 in 2011, which is discouraging enough, but when you consider he got worse over the course of the season, hitting .199 over the final four months, you have to wonder if his excessive strikeout rate makes him a sitting duck against major-league pitching." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Morrow has a huge breakout campaign, giving the Jays a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. Alvarez blossoms into a good No. 3 while Drabek realizes his potential and has a huge second half. Lawrie enters stardom early and Rasmus reaches his potential, making the offense even more potent than before. Plus, the new back-end of the bullpen is dominant. That gets the Blue Jays into the 90s in victories and they win a wild card.
The Jays just didn't do enough to close the gap, as they still aren't good enough to finish ahead of any of the following, at the very least: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers or Angels. Instead, they're more on the same footing as the Royals and Indians. Thus, it's another fourth-place finish for the Blue Jays, who haven't made the playoffs since 1993.
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Tags: 2012 spring training, Adam Lind, AL East, Ben Francisco, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Francisco Cordero, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jeff Mathis, Jose Bautista, Kelly Johnson, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Omar Vizquel, Rajai Davis, Ricky Romero, Sergio Santos, spring training, spring training 2012, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:15 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
The American League East is the biggest, baddest division in baseball -- in large part because of the deep pockets of the Yankees and Red Sox, but also because of the drafting and development from the Rays. Somewhere in the middle is the Blue Jays, a team that could be a giant in maybe any other division in baseball. In our exercise, the Blue Jays have an argument as one of the best teams in baseball, largely because of a stout rotation.
1. Reed Johnson, CF
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Michael Young, 1B
4. Adam Lind, DH
5. Vernon Wells, LF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Ryan Roberts 3B
8. J.P. Arencibia, C
9. Cesar Izturis, SS
1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Ricky Romero
4. Shaun Marcum
5. Alfredo Aceves
Closer - Brandon League
Set up - Marc Rzepczynski, Tim Collins, Brandon Lyon, Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen
Long - Jesse Litsch
Notable Bench Players
Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Casey Blake, Travis Snider, Eric Thames.
That rotation, are you kidding?
There's Rios and Wells -- two of the most overpaid players in the game. Those two are not just overpaid, they're also not very good. Eric Thames could step in for either one. There are some decent players on the bench, but not a lot of pop.
Comparison to real 2011
The 81-81 season was seen as a step forward for the Blue Jays in 2011, but with this lineup the expectations would be much, much higher. The rotation alone makes this team the favorite in the AL East in our hypothetical. The offense lacks the impact of Jose Bautista, but there's enough to support the pitching staff. Not only is this team better than the real Blue Jays, they have a shot at winning it all.
Next: Colorado Rockies
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, AL East, Alex Rios, Alfredo Aceves, Blue Jays, Brandon League, Brandon Lyons, C. Trent Rosecrans, Casey Blake, Casey Janssen, Cesar Izturis, Chris Carpenter, Dustin McGowan, Eric Thames, Felipe Lopez, homegrown, J.P. Arencibia, Jesse Litsch, Jose Bautista, Marc Rzepcynski, Michael Young, Orlando Hudson, Reed Johnson, Ricky Romero, Roy Halladay, Ryan Roberts, Shaun Marcum, Tim Collins, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells
Posted on: November 30, 2011 1:18 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Just when you thought award season was over -- move over Justin Verlander, you're not going to be on this list -- the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team was announced on Wednesday. This is actually the 53rd, or so they tell us, All-Rookie team the baseball card company has put out (and did include Verlander back in 2006).
So, here it is:
C J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
SP Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
In all, it looks fine. I'm a bigger fan of Eric Hosmer than Trumbo, but I can see why some would pick Trumbo. I'd also take Dustin Ackley over Espinosa, but otherwise, it seems difficult to nitpick all that much. And in the end, if you're nitpicking the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team, you may need to get out of the house a little more.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL Central, AL Cetnral, AL East, AL West, Angels, Ben Revere, Blue Jays, Braves, Brett Lawrie, C. Trent Rosecrans, Craig Kimbrel, Danny Espinosa, Dee Gordon, Desmond Jennings, Dustin Ackley, Eric Hosmer, J.P. Arencibia, Jeremy Hellickson, Josh Reddick, Mariners, Mark Trumbo, Nationals, NL East, NL West, Rays, Red Sox, Royals, Twins
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:00 pm
By Matt Snyder
Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...
Team name: Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 81-81, 4th place in AL East, 16 games back
Manager: John Farrell
Best hitter: Jose Bautista -- .302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 105 R
Best pitcher: Ricky Romero -- 15-11, 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 178 K, 225 IP
2011 SEASON RECAP
The Jays played .500 ball pretty much throughout the season. By month, they were one game under .500, two over, three under, four over, two under and two under, respectively. That's the very definition of an average baseball team, but there are mitigating factors. Namely, the Jays are playing in the best division in baseball, trailing the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. If you removed those three teams from the schedule, the Jays went 60-48. So you can argue this is already a very good baseball team caught in the wrong division. Of course, they aren't going to be getting out of the AL East anytime soon, so there's no use in thinking about what could be.
They're actually set up to have a legitimate shot at the division. The Yankees are aging and have pitching questions, the Rays have monetary issues, the Orioles aren't close yet and who knows what happens with the Red Sox? The Blue Jays will need steps forward from young players like Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil and either Colby Rasmus or Travis Snider. They also need to shore up the bullpen. The Blue Jays were ninth in the AL in bullpen ERA. Saves and blown saves are flawed stats, but 33 saves against 25 blown saves doesn't bode well in close games. Only the Astros had a worse save percentage in 2011. I'm not necessarily of the opinion that a team has to have one closer and always use him in save situations, because sometimes a three-run lead in the ninth doesn't need maximum protection, but each team should have one reliable guy to shut down the opposition and Toronto lacked that for most of the season.
The good news for the Blue Jays is that they are in position to increase the payroll, reportedly pretty significantly, in the next two seasons. That doesn't mean it's all happening now, but a big splash is coming.
Jose Molina, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B/DH ($3.5 million club option)
Shawn Camp, RP
Frank Francisco, RP
Jon Rauch, RP ($3.75 million club option)
Tags: Adam Lind, Adeiny Hechavarria, AL East, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jesse Litsch, Joel Carreno, Jose Bautista, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Prince Fielder, R.I.P., Ricky Romero, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: September 21, 2011 10:12 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 11:22 pm
By Evan Brunell
You've seen who Eye on Baseball tabs as the AL Gold Glove award winners, and who should take home the hardware in the NL. But let's flip the switch and take a look at who is deserving of tin gloves. That is, who were the worst defenders at their respective positions in the American League this season? Let's take a look.
Catcher: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays: -- The Jays would love it if Arencibia become a viable starter behind the plate. Unfortunately, that doesn't look as if it will work out. In his first full season as a catcher amassing 116 games, Arencibia registers as one of the worst catchers by advanced defensive metrics and more basic ones, too. Defensive Runs Scored (DRS), errors, caught stealing percentage, passed balls... all are leaderboards that Arencibia appears on, and not at the top.
First base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- Ah, first base ... where inept fielders make their home. That includes Miguel Cabrera, who is a really, really good hitter but just can't add value fielding. He doesn't have much range and is a statue in the field, leading all AL first basemen in errors with 12 (second in the majors behind Prince Fielder). There isn't anything in the field he does particularly well, so he lands here with a tin glove.
Second base: Jemile Weeks, Athletics -- Weeks takes after his older brother, Rickie, in that he's just not a very good defender. Despite playing in just 88 games, Weeks has committed 12 errors, most among all second basemen. Ian Kinsler has committed one less error in 50 more games. Infielders -- middle infielders, especially -- can rack up errors if they have great range, committing miscues on balls that the average infielder wouldn't have gotten to. But even Weeks can't claim this, as his range factor is among the worst among second basemen.
Third base: Mark Reynolds, Orioles -- This one is really easy, and is a player that everyone can agree on. Both advanced metrics and traditional defensive stats all agree that Reynolds is awful with -30 DRS, 26 errors and no range to speak of as well. There's a reason the Orioles have been giving Reynolds looks at first base, and it's because he's that bad at the hot corner.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees -- Yeah, Jeter has five Gold Gloves to his name, but that just shows you what's wrong with the voting process. The fact is that Jeter has been a bad shortstop, and been one for quite some time. He has zero range to speak of with poor reaction time and throwing accuracy or strength. His instincts and ability to make plays on balls he can get to can only take him so far.
Left field: Delmon Young, Tigers -- You know how in the little leagues, the worst fielder was usually put out to pasture in left field, where he'd befriend weeds while the game played out around him? Yeah, well, that player turned out to hit pretty well, which is why Young is in the majors. Because he's certainly not in the bigs for his defense, which is among the worst in the league by any player at any position.
Center field: Alex Rios, White Sox -- How much must GM Kenny Williams be regretting claiming Alex Rios off waivers? Not only has the center fielder not hit, he can't even fulfill playing his position. What does Rios in, and it's not like he does well at any aspect of defense this year, is his lack of instincts and range. He may have a solid .991 fielding percentage, but how much does that matter when you can't run balls down in the gaps?
Right field: Nick Markakis, Orioles -- In right field, a player's arm is one of the more important characteristics as right-fielders need to be able to gun players out both at home and at third base. Markakis' arm is not one of his better attributes, but he's also lacking in speed which is odd given his 12 stolen bases are his most since 2007, but stealing bases and covering ground in the outfield are two very different things.
Pitcher: A.J. Burnett, Yankees -- As a pitcher, range doesn't really matter. If a ball goes somewhere easily out of the reach of the pitcher, other fielders will handle the play. So it can be tricky to gauge just how good of a fielder a pitcher is. Looking at errors is one way to judge how surehanded a pitcher is, and Burnett's five errors tie him with two others. He doesn't have good range either, with his lack of mobility leading to just eight putouts and 21 assists, which rank at the bottom of the pack.
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Tags: 2011 awards, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Alex Rios, Athletics, Blue Jays, defense, Delmon Young, Derek Jeter, Evan Brunell, Gold Glove, Gold Glove, Gold Gloves, J.P. Arencibia, Jemile Weeks, Mark Reynolds, Miguel Cabrera, Nick Markakis, Orioles, OriolesA.J. Burnett, Tigers, Tigers, White Sox, Yankees, Yankees
Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:03 pm
By Matt Snyder
During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Rookie of the Year.
View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young | NL Cy Young
Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who get to vote for the Rookie of the Year in either respective league are forced to narrow the field to three players. In looking at the American League rookies in 2011, that's not a simple task. It seems like the three best at the moment haven't been up for long. Others were stellar for a stretch but have also suffered through rough patches. It's a subjective award, so let's throw some names out there.
Here are seven players who have a realistic shot and three more who could have had one -- if they were recalled from the minors earlier (denoted by an asterisk).
*Dustin Ackley, Mariners. One of the future anchors to the Mariners lineup has only been up for 71 games, which likely isn't enough to garner tons of support here. He is hitting .300 with 13 doubles, seven triples and six home runs and an .845 OPS. He scores well in WAR (wins above replacement player), but he probably needed to be overly spectacular to win the award with what will be just over a half season.
J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays. Big power (21 home runs) at a tough defensive position is a plus. It would be awfully difficult to overcome the .221 batting average and .281 on-base percentage to win the award in a crowded field, though.
Jeremy Hellickson, Rays. It feels like he'll have a good shot, depending on how the rest of the season goes. Hellickson is currently 12-10 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He also has two complete games and is averaging 6 2/3 innings per start. It's been a very solid rookie campaign, even if not spectacular.
Eric Hosmer, Royals. The 21-year-old first baseman has been very good since getting his call in May. He's hitting .285/.335/.458 with 16 home runs, 66 RBI, 55 runs and nine stolen bases. Like Hellickson, though, Hosmer's been more steady than spectacular. The next two guys have been spectacular, but only for a short time ...
*Desmond Jennings, Rays. He's only been up for 44 games, but he's hitting .302 with nine home runs, 15 stolen bases and a .936 OPS. He also passes the eye test, as he comes through in the clutch and has made a few highlight-reel defensive plays. The talent is immense, but the service time probably keeps him off most ballots.
*Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays. In just 32 games, Lawrie is hitting .324 with eight homers, 21 RBI, 19 runs, six steals and a 1.076 OPS. He also has a few clutch home runs (see the picture to the right) and plays the game with a youthful enthusiasm (again, see right). Had he not broken his hand on a hit-by-pitch earlier this summer in the minors, a promotion was likely to come earlier and he'd probably have a real shot at the award, Instead, he's going to have enough service time to qualify as a rookie, yet probably not near enough to gather many, if any, votes.
Ivan Nova, Yankees. Do you like win-loss record in judging pitchers? If so, Nova's your guy here in a no-brainer. He entered Thursday 15-4 for the first-place Yankees. If you don't love win-loss record, he probably doesn't win the award. He has a 3.89 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with a low strikeout rate (again, these numbers are prior to Thursday's start).
Michael Pineda, Mariners. The gargantuan starting pitcher was the easy favorite to win the award at the All-Star break. He was 8-6 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 113 strikeouts in 113 innings at the time. Since then, he's 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA. Still, did he do enough to hold on? His full season numbers: 9-9, 3.74 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 163 strikeouts in 159 innings. It will be interesting to see how the early stretch of dominance (6-2, 2.16 ERA through nine starts) plays in the minds of the voters.
Mark Trumbo, Angels. His power numbers look great -- 26 homers, 80 RBI, 28 doubles -- and he's playing in a pennant race. He's also had the job since opening day and has admirably filled in at first for injured Kendrys Morales. Trumbo also had some clutch moments of his own. Do the average (.256), on-base percentage (.295) and strikeout-to-walk (102 to 24) rates hurt him? We'll see.
Jordan Walden, Angels. The 23-year-old closer made the All-Star team, but he's faltered in several rough stretches. What looks good: 29 saves, 2.55 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 53 innings. What doesn't: Nine blown saves out of 38 chances. That's awfully high. So do the positives outweigh the negatives? There's sure to be some disagreement among voters.
So who is the best candidate? What would be your top three? Let us know below ...
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Posted on: July 14, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:59 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Has Bartolo Colon's magic worn off?
In his first start of the second half, the Yankee right-hander turned in a stinker, his second in a row. Colon gave up six hits and eight runs -- three earned -- in just 2/3 of an inning against the Blue Jays on Thursday before being replaced by Luis Ayala, who didn't help matters when he balked in a run to give Toronto a 9-0 lead after just one inning.
Colon walked two -- he was averaging just 2.2 per nine innings before Thursday -- and didn't strike out any, throwing 42 pitches to get two outs. Well, actually, he used fewer to get two outs, as seven straight Blue Jays reached with two outs before Colon was lifted.
Several Yankee beat writers speculated on Twitter that Colon could still be dealing with a hamstring injury, something that's not out of the realm of possibility. Colon went on the disabled list last month with a strained left hamstring and didn't look good coming off the mound to try to field two balls hit back at him by Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar -- not that the 38-year old, 265-pounder (that's his listed weight) ever looks too good coming off the mound.
After coming off the disabled list, Colon pitched six scoreless innings against the Mets on July 2 and then picked up the loss in 5 2/3 innings against the Rays that lifted his ERA from 2.88 to 3.20. Thursday's outing put his ERA at 3.47, with thanks to third baseman Eduardo Nunez's error on J.P. Arencibia's grounder that loaded the bases with two outs.
Now, two bad outings happen -- it's not exactly unheard of for a pitcher to struggle at this point of the season. But Colon wasn't in baseball last season and was 14-21 with a 5.18 ERA over his last four seasons before missing 2010, so it's natural to wonder if he will regress to the mean. The Yankees are covered; Phil Hughes has returned to the rotation (with his rediscovered fastball) and Ivan Nova is in the minors just in case someone else in the rotation goes down.
Even if all Colon does is give the Yankees a great first half (6-4, 3.20 ERA), he will have been one of the best signings of the season. (He signed a minor league contract in January that pays him just $900,000 this season.) For the Yankees, $150,000 a win is like ordering off of the dollar menu. Last year the team paid $1,095,238.10 for each of CC Sabathia's 21 wins and $1,650,00 for each of A.J. Burnett's 10 victories. Between Colon and Freddy Garcia's $1.5 million contract, the Yankees could have appeared on Extreme Couponing with their bargain hunting -- even if they were stocking up on boxed macaroni and cheese to put in the pantry at their beach house.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 12:23 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 11:46 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Another day in baseball, another bad call that could have been reversed with the simplest form of instant replay review.
But once again since the play in question wasn't a boundary play, instead a play at the plate, the Blue Jays were dealt a loss instead of getting a chance to play for a win at Fenway Park.
After Jose Bautista's two-run homer off of Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon moved the Jays to within a run, Edwin Encarnacion singled. After J.P. Arencibia's two-out walk, John McDonald singled to left. Red Sox left fielder Darnell McDonald charged the ball and made a good throw to the plate that beat Encarnacion there. Catcher Jason Varitek blocked the plate with his left leg, tying up Encarnacion's lead leg. However, Encarnacion swiped the plate with his other leg, his right, before Varitek could put the tag on him.
Home plate umpire Brian Knight called Encarnacion out, ending the game. Watch the play here.
"We should still be playing right now," Toronto manager John Farrell told reporters (via the Boston Herald). That play is right in front of Brian Knight. It was clear that Edwin did a good job of sliding around the plant leg of 'Tek, but his swipe tag missed him by no less than a foot. So right now we should be out on that field playing."
Farrell said he couldn't see the play live, but when he saw the replay, he knew Encarnacion was safe.
"After the replay, absolutely, because from our vantage point Edwin is right in line with the play at the plate," Farrell said. "But the wide margin which he missed the tag, a little surprised that the call went that way."
It's understandable why Knight called Encarnacion out, but that doesn't make it right. Once again, I'll go into my broken record mode, but the goal of umpires and Major League Baseball should be to get every call right. We have the technology, we should use it. Let the players decide the games, not the umpires.
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