Friday, October 29, 2010

Positional Review: Team Canada

I'm a HUGE fan of the World Baseball Classic (WBC.) I was when they started it, and even more so after I attended the Team Canada loss to the USA at The Rogers Dome. Nationalism and sports seem to be made for each other, and I can't wait for the next one.

That said, I thought that since Jays news is a bit slow (Save for the re-signing of Jose Molina) that I'd take a look at who might be playing for Team Canada at the next WBC.

1B/DH: Who wouldn't want to start here? First base is quickly becoming a position of Canadian Baseball pride. Already with one MVP in Justin Morneau, Joey Votto added his name to the list of stand-out Canadian first-baggers. Hopefully Morneau can get past his concussion issues next year, and play himself into form. Whichever of these two is playing better defensively will start in the field, and the other will likely DH.(Although Votto has some experience in LF, but I doubt that the Reds will risk injury to their MVP candidate) Not only are these guys established all-stars, but they are both young enough that Prospects don't necessarily need to be considered. Of interest however, is that the Blue Jays sent Adam Loewen to the Arizona Fall League to work on playing 1B. Scott Thorman also regained some of his form with the Omaha Red Birds this year, batting .297 with 19 HRs in only 97 games. He could work his way back to the Majors soon, although he was also listed in the Team Canada World Cup Media Guide as an Outfielder. I'll consider him in both roles.

C: Russell Martin is still the incumbent, despite his recent struggles. He is a 2 time all-star, and favorite Joe Torre-Catching-pin-cushion. He calls a good game, and is the premier name as far as Canadian catchers.

It will be interesting to see how the position battle emerges though, as behind Martin, there is a plethora of Catchers in baseball: George Kottaras lost his eligibility when he played for Greece at the most recent Olympics. Max St. Pierre was recently granted a September call-up by the Tigers, as was Mike Nickeas with the Mets. Chris Robinson (Texas Rangers AAA) and Cole Armstrong (White Sox AA) represented Team Canada at the most recent Baseball World Cup, so that may earn them some brownie points. And I still haven't mentioned Kellin Deglan, who was drafted by the Rangers in the first round this year, and will begin playing affiliated ball next season. He could rise quickly through the rankings here depending on his play. Definitely one to watch for the 2015 team.

2B: I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that as long as he's healthy when the 2012 WBC rolls around, this position belongs to Brett Lawrie. Lawrie will likely make his Brewers debut sometime next season, and although his defence is suspect at this point, his bat will more than make up the difference. He will likely be a household name by the end of next season.
The only other player with any time in the majors is Pete Orr (Syracuse AAA) He's been a minor-league journeyman. The team could also try to talk Stubby Clapp out of retirement.

SS: If you thought that second base was thin, SS will give you a heart murmer. There is very little available Canadian talent available at this position as things stand now. Cale Iorg is likely eligible for the WBC, as he was born in Toronto while his dad played here. He would have to be the top of the depth chart at this point.
Chris Barnwell was the starter in the last WBC, so he'd presumably still be in contention. Other notables would include Jonathan Malo and Emanuele Garcia, botho of whom play in the Mets system. Malo logged some time at AAA this year, but has mostly been shifted to 2nd base.

3B: Mark Teahen of the Chicago White Sox is somehow connected to Canada. Being the incumbent, and the lone major leaguer, he would likely get the nod.
His competition could come from Lawrie, if his defense was considered a liability, or from Shawn Bowman (Blue Jays AA) There's not much in the pipe line for Maple-fed third basemen, so unless someone moves from another position, this is likely it.

OF: The Outfield for team Canada looks VERY promising. There is a large amount of talent to draw from. CF will likely be manned by Michael Saunders. He's young and athletic enough to not be a liability there. Adam Stern would be a better defender, but his bat is less potent at this point. Stern would likely be a 4th OF, and could come in for late game defense. Jason Bay is obviously the big house hold name of the bunch, and he would need to play Left. Right field could go to whoever is hottest/healthiest going into the tournament. Team Canada could choose from: Nick Weglarz (Akron AA, a top prospect for the Indians), Adam Loewen, Scott Thorman, Rene Tosoni (Futures game MVP 2009, top prospect Minnesota) If Tyson Gillies (Reading AA- Phillies prospect) can get his legal problems behind him and realize his potential, he could play RF or CF. He has the talent for either. Marcus Knect and Dylan Pompey are both in the Jays system, and if the play well, could move up quickly.

I'll follow up in the next few days with a profile of Team Canada's potential pitching staff.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

John Farrell: Pitcher Developer

A few days ago, I looked at John Farrell's record as a player developer. Continuing down his resume, I thought I'd look at what he was able to accomplish as a Pitching coach, and see how his abilities look in that department.

The Red Sox before Farrell joined, had a pretty impressive pitching staff. They had won the World Series in 2004, with the famous Curt Schilling bloody-sock mess. The pitching staff that year had a team ERA of 4.18, and was second in the AL in wins. The pitchers accounted for 19.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and would likely still be an impressive group of starters: Schilling, Martinez, Wakefield, Derick Lowe and Bronson Arroyo.

The next year was a down year for both the team, and its pitching staff. The team ERA balooned to 4.74, and the WAR dropped to 17.4. The caliber of pitchers dropped as well, (Matt Clement replaced Pedro Martinez, an aging David Wells replaced Lowe. Schilling missed most of the year with ankle problems)

Those 2 seasons make up the baseline for what John Farrell was starting with. He came on board in 2006, and immediately inherited Josh Beckett. He also got to work with John Lester in his first full season. To a lesser extent, he oversaw the emergence of Jonathan Papelbon in the Bullpen (I know there is a separate coach for that, but the pitching coach is still the primary guy)

The 06 team was a team in transition. Their ERA ballooned to 4.83, which was 11th in the AL. Amazingly, the pitchers were 8th in wins. The Pitching WAR was down to 13.3, despite the obvious influx of talent.

The next season, the Red Sox brought in Japanese Phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka. They also lost Lester for most of the season as he battled 'the big C'. In the second year of Farrell's tenure, this pitching staff put up some stats that can only be labeled as gaudy: 3.87 team ERA (best in MLB), #1 in wins, A 22.6 WAR!!!! This was a season that also included Clay Bucholz's no-hitter. Overall, this was an incredible turnaround, with mostly the same cast as the previous season.

In '08, the team managed to maintain their pitching success, posting another HUGE WAR #: 22.5, but seeing their team ERA rise to 4.01. The 2009 team was still over 20 WAR, coming in at 21.2, although team ERA was still up again at 4.35. Last season, the Red Sox clung to their injuries on ofense, but the entire pitching staff took a collective step backwards. They lowered their ERA to 4.2, but only contributed 15.1 WAR.

When you look at the improvements that Farrell was able to make, especially during the 2007-2009 teams, and carrying those impressive WAR totals, it is easy to see why he was so highly regarded as a coach. 20 wins from a pitching staff is incredible by any standard. For comparison, this season's Blue Jays only managed a 14.9 WAR, though the Bullpen was a net-negative in contributing to this (see my post on next year's rotation)

Whatever Farrell's involvement with next year's Pitchers, it can only bring good things. For his time as a pitching coach, I'm giving him an A. The 2006 and 2010 teams bring down his overall mark enough that he couldn't ace this test, although it's still very impressive.

I'm really looking forward to seeing if he can mange the bullpen well enough to add another 4-5 WAR, and this team could become a juggernaut in the near future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

John Farrell: Player Developer

SInce everyone has been raving about what a great "player development guy" John Farrel is, I thought I'd take a look at his track record with the Cleveland Indians from 2001-2006. I'll try to put together a separate piece on his success with Boston's pitching staff.

The first thing that I noticed when examining this period of time within the Indians organization, is that their draft record was HORRENDOUS during this era. I mean, brutal. In the 2001-2006 first rounds, the team managed to take only 3 major league players (I guess so far, but really...) they were: Jeremy Guthrie (1st round '02), Jeremy Sowers (1st round '04) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (6th round, '03) I should mention that they also managed to get some replacement-level relievers, but I'm not counting them. Based on how terrible the drafting was, it comes to me as a great surprise that the team ever ranked highly on organizational health surveys conducted by the likes of Baseball America, Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

Not only was the team highly ranked, but they even managed to top the lists. Credit needs to go to some shrewd trades, and excellent international free-agent signings. It's funny how well that seems to line up with Alex Anthopoulos' plans.

For reference, here is a list of players that spent at least parts of some seasons in the Indians' minor league systems during Farrell's time as director:

Victor Martinez (International Free Agent (IFA))
Fausto Carmona (IFA)
CC Sabathia (aready in the majors, but not a bad reference point)
Cliff Lee
Grady Sizemore
Brandon Phillips -these three were all collected in a 2002 trade for Bartolo Colon. If Farrell can claim ANY input into this deal, he is automatically an unparalleled genius...
Kevin Kouzmanoff (Draft, see above... Included mostly for his value as a 6th rounder)
Ryan Ludwick (Developed later)
Milton Bradley
Coco Crisp
Brian Tallett (couldn't resist)
Shin-Soo Choo (from the Mariners)
Franklin Gutierez (went to the Mariners)
Casey Blake (After the Blue Jays had written him off)
Luke Scott
Ryan Garko

obviously there's been a lot of talent go through the system, and it isn't really fair to give all the credit to Farrell, but if he was running the ship, it was a very, very good ship. Especially considering how little he got from the Draft.

Speaking of the draft, that is the only possible area for concern. Either the Indians scouting team was completely inept, or there was a disconnect in the way top-level draft picks were managed. COnsidering how little the Indians were able to get out of their drafts, it does beg the question: Why did so many of these players not turn out?

I would say for that reason alone, Farrell can only be graded an A- for his time in Cleveland. A good grade, and it's too bad that the team didn't draft better, or he could have had an A+

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sorry I'm Late....

I was waiting for my flight in the Atlanta airport, and I walked into a book store to kill some time. I noticed a copy of Dirk Hayhurst's book: The Bullpen Gospels. I picked it up and began leafing through it. I was 5 pages in when I ponied up some cash and bought it. I read, and read, and read.

I literally did not put the book down until a surly customs agent informed me that I was next. I sped home and continued reading.

I can not say this clearly enough: THIS IS A GREAT BOOK. GREAT! if you haven't already, go buy a copy. Support this guy. Read this book any way you can get your hands on it.

If you have ever played an organized sport: you will be able to relate to the stories he tells about the dressing room.

If you have ever questioned yourself, your career, or your family: you will appreciate the candid way that he admits to his self doubt. You will feel his pain when he talks about his family. You will feel his joy when he succeeds.

Dirk tells the stories in a relateable manner. This was a fun read, and for that matter, a book that warrants several read throughs. I am certain that this is a book that will stand the test of time.

I hope it gets made into a movie.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Whatever happened to: Windows Restaurant?

Windows restaurant, a significant part of the architecture within the Rogers-Dome, was once a profitable venture. When Rogers agreed to let Aramark run the concessions within the Rogers-Dome, the Restaurant was allowed to become an afterthough. As of now, the venue is only available for group functions. And is seemingly kept open as a result of nobody knowing what to do with that space.

There had been significant rumblings that the entire center-field architecture was due for a face-lift, but as of now it appears that the only renovation will be the new video screen.

I'd love to see some serious renewal in Center Field. The Batter's-eye aside, the whole outfield section looks barren. I think it would be terrific if Rogers, and the Renaissance Hotel could come up with some kind of joint-venture to re-face the Hotel on the inside of the stadium. As part of the project, they could tear down the restaurant, eliminate the batter's-eye, and install an open-air patio (which I belive is an idea the crew at mop-up duty suggested as well)

Alternatively, I would really like to see some kind of water feature, similar to the ones in Kansas City or at Angels stadium in L.A. There wouldn't be any potential to draw revenue from this option, and it may interfere with the Football configurations (Really, who cares about the CFL?) so this might not get much attention. It would however, qualify as a major renovation, and would definitely help bring fans back to the Dome.

A third option would be to build some kind of fan-experience center. Many parks have installed these, and vary in what they offer. Some are more kid-focused, with sand-boxes and slides. Others are historically focused, and act as a team-specific hall of fame (i.e. Yankees statue garden)

I'm sure there are even more options as well, but regardless, it's time to upgrade that part of the stadium.

I'll be out of town for the rest of the week, and if anything comes up I'll try to post, but otherwise I'll have to wait until I get back for anything non-groundbreaking.

I'd love to hear other suggestions for renovations at the Rogers-Dome in the meantime.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Myth of Dustin McGowan

Let me preface this entire article with this: I want this guy to succeeed. I was a really big fan.

But, at some point, when should we take a step back and realize that Dustin McGowan is never going to contribute to any Blue Jays success going forward. It just isn't happening. I read a lot of other Blogs and message boards, and his name is tossed around as though he is some hidden gem in the Jays system. So, I thought I'd take a closer look:

Dustin McGowan was drafted 33rd overall by the Blue Jays in the 2000 draft, out of high school He worked his way through the system as both a reliever and a starter (I'm sure that this has something to do with his injury problems, this is a VERY poor example of player development. Also see: Brandon Morrow) McGowan made his debut for the Jays in June 2005, as a reliever, but couldn't stick with the club. He bounced back and forth between AAA and the Majors until 2007, when he was allwed to become a full time starter. He was called up for the last time in May of that season and posted a 12-10 record. As a top prospect, this was a very promising start to his career, which included his most famous performance: The one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies.

In July of 2008, he was forced to leave a game due to shoulder pain. It was later revealed that he had fraying of his Labrum in his throwing shoulder. Surgery was required. While rehabbing, he injured his knee. More surgery. He appeared to be healthy again approaching the 2010 season, but toward the end of spring training, he experienced "dead-arm." After trying varios rehab techniques to rebuild velocity without success, McGowan and the team began searching for medical explainations: Torn Rotator cuff. More Surgery.

To summarize: in the last 2 years, Dustin McGowan has had 3 Major reconstructive surgeries. I have not, to this point mentioned that he is also diabetic, which impedes his body's ability to recover quickly.

Many people believe that it is only a matter of him recovering his health to regain his previos form. The list of Major League Pitchers who have succesfully returned from Labrum surgery is very short. The most famous being Chris Carpenter, who the Jays let get away, and it is still haunting the Jays' fanbase. Curt Schilling also had success after a labral repair, and Roger Clemons did as well (though he may have had help.) The list of failed recoveries is much, much longer.

The situation is further compounded by the subsequent surgeries to his knee and rotator cuff. These can only serve to compound the problem.

And further: Even if McGowan were to return to form, what then? At best, he might be in the discussion to be a 5th starter (see what I did there?) If his stamina is an issue, he may be an option as a reliever. But let's look further: Over parts of 4 Major League seasons, McGowan is 20-22, with a 4.85 ERA, and a 1.375 WHIP. These are hardly numbers that are inspiring. His entire body of work may qualify as "passable" but on a team that is building to become a perrenial contender, this well below what is required.

It appears to me that Dustin McGowan has become a Fairy Tale. He had potential, but thanks to injuries and mis-management, he will likely never realize any of it in Toronto.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Much is Too Much: Part 3

So, I spent a bunch of time over the weekend preparing my final case for Rogers to increase the Blue Jays Payroll. I actually read the entire 2009 Rogers Annual Report (it's kinda boring mostly, and they do their best to disguise any Blue Jays Related revenues)

Here is what the Jays contribute to the Empire:

-$181 Million in total Revenue. This is the only line where Rogers admits that the Jays bring in money, though they make several references to $19 Million in contract buyouts (which they used to save money on taxes, but that's a minor point)

-The Media wing of Rogers Corporation took in 674 Million in advertising revenue in 2009. Considering that Sportsnet accounted for about 1/4 of those channels, I will assume that they provided 1/4 that revenue. (About $168 Million) Since the Jays provide 162 days worth of prime-time content, they must be considered the primary contributor for this revenue (not counting 30 or so hockey games that Snet broadcasts)

-interesting note: The first quarter of each of the last 4 years has been the poorest performing revenue wise. There is a sharp increase in revenue for the Media arm at the beginning of each Blue Jays season. I have no evidence to prove correlation, but I'd like to think they are related.

-The Ownership and ad Revenue from the Rogers Dome is not clearly explained in the report, but it has to be assumed that it is accounted for elsewhere.

Other statistics:

-10 Million people within 2 Hours drive of Rogers Dome. This has to be considered as the total market. Forbes Magazine incorrectly uses 2.5 Million people as the population of Toronto, which SEVERELY diminishes the valuation of the Franchise. Since the size of the market is so large, they have much higher potential for ticket sales, as well as ancillary income (Jerseys, Hats, etc)

-In 2010, the Media arm introduced Sportsnet One. They are expected to be the primary carrier of the team next season.Various reports have Sportsnet one costing $3 per month per subscriber, and Rogers expects it to be available to all homes in Canada by the end of 2010. There are about 15 Million Potential Subscriptions in Canada, and if we only account for the 6 months that the Blue Jays season lasts, they will be helping the new channel to genereate $270 Million dollars. This is accurate within the sport, as the Yankees and Red Sox both receive in excess of this amount as part owners of their respective broadcasters.

Based on the FACTS that I've been able to gather from publicly available sources, I am going to make an educated guess: The Toronto Blue Jays are directly responsible for approximately $500 Million in Revenue for the Corporation. This is completely in line with my estimated revenues for the Boston Red Sox, who play in a smaller market, but have a larger National Brand Presence.

Obviously, I don't have access to internally available numbers, so this analysis can't be concrete. But, if the Jays revenue matches the Red Sox, what is preventing them from matching the Red Sox Payroll?

I would go another step: If the Blue Jays manage their brand carefully, and develop additional, complementary revenue sources, the ultimate goal SHOULD be to match the New York Yankees in Payroll. A lofty goal to be sure, but with smart fiscal management, it can be accomplished.

I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Much is too Much: Part 2

So I decided to do a bit more research on team finances (special thanks to Forbes magazine's business of baseball special)

The Blue Jays were ranked by Forbes as the 26th most valuable (or 5th LEAST valuable) franchise in the MLB, ahead of only the Marlins, Rays, A's and Pirates, in that order.

The major shortcomings were the lack of paid attendance, and the revenue that is declared as part of their media contracts. (Also, the stadium rights agreement pays less than other teams receive)

All of this is accurate based on Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) as the Rogers Corporation chooses to minimize the value of the Jays as an ASSET, to increase their profitability for both the media and cable divisions. It also helps the corporate arm control their debt-equity ratio.

I am now determined to estimate the potential revenue that the Jays bring to the Rogers Corporation with the hope of building an even better case for a $150 Million payroll. Check back later.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Much is Too Much?

The media and casual fans spend a lot of time complaining about the oversized payroll of our division rivals. Alex Anthopoulos refuses to give us an absolute payroll ceiling, so I thought I'd take a closer look at the businesses involved, to get a clear picture of what Rogers Media can realistically afford to spend on the Jays payroll by comparing them to some other organizations:


Payroll of 206.3 Million this season (2nd Highest ever in MLB)

How they really do it: The Yankees own a stake in the YES network, which generates an estimated $350 million in revenue through subscriptions ANNUALLY. Even if the Yankees never sold a ticket, the TV station could cover the cost of their best property.

For Tax purposes, the Yankees only "recieve" $67 million from the network for the broadcast rights, but it's much more complicated than that, when the Steinbrenner's get a cut of the revenue and then funnel that into the baseball team as well.

As for the ticket revenue side of things: There are various reports that the Yankees grossed almost $400 Million in Ticket sales ALONE.Their stadium seats 52,325, and most of those seats are occupied 82 times per regular season (Plus playoffs)

So, when people ask why the Yankees outspend other teams by so much: It's to add value to their brand. This value drives incremental revenues that make the cost of their product seem miniscule.


Payroll: $163 Million

How'd they do it? Fenway only seats an advertised 36, 298. And, since it was built before rich people existed, the suites aren't big revenue generators.

The Sox do the same with their cable company. They own 80% of NESN, and the subsequent revenues are directed to the team. The team also "dabbles" in other business oriented acquisitions. Of note, they own a controlling share in Rousch Racing. They use the advertising revenue to fund the Ball club.

It is actually extremely hard ot get concrete revenue numbers (try a Google search if you don't believe me) So I'm speculating that their revenues are not quite at a Yankees-level, but Likely approach $500 Million.

SO, To bring this back to the Jays:

Rogers Media arm is who the Jays report to. The Cable Arm owns the Sportsnet family of Channels, but again, this is a tax-trick. It's like taking money from your left pocket and putting it in your right.

2009 Operating revenue was $11.7 BILLION! this covers all arms, including wireless, though Cable and media account for 45% of this total ($5.2 Billion). If we look at PROFIT, using the same 45% ratio, The Cable and Media divisions generated $1.98 Billion.

Since there are no specific data as to how much the Jays contributed to these numbers (it's actually in the team and league's interest to hide this data- It helps in collective bargaining) so again, I'm speculating when I say that Rogers COULD afford to spend more than the Yankees (Share prices might take a hit, but it would be about a 1.5% profit reduction overall to add $100million MORE to the payroll, putting the Jays comfortably among baseball's top spenders.

I plan to look into this deeper at some point, but it makes you wonder why people consider the Jays a "small market" team. Toronto is the 5th largest Census Metropolitan area in North America (Mexico City, NYC, LA, and Chicago are ahead) so the fanbase is there if the marketing and brand development is there.

Bottom Line: Lets up the payroll, Draft and Develop well, And keep our star players.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Available On Base Percentage

So, after spending the evening browsing Jays blogs, it seems that On Base Percentage is the hot topic for this offseason. Here is a list of Players that are/could be available, and their 2010 OBP. I'll sort them by OBP:

Jim Thome- .412 (If he's still playing next year) Not an interesting prospect long term, and he pushes Lind into the field full time. VERY unlikely

ManRam- .401 in a dissapointing year with the Dodgers (.420 with the White Sox) He'll be looking to rebuild value and plays LF and can DH (moving Lind to 1B or LF). I would like to see the Jays make a run for him if they think they can contend.

Prince Fielder- .401. I listed him second for 2 reasons: Manny's .420 with the Sox, and the added cost of a trade to pick him up. Would definitely cost Drabek, and either a major leaguer, or else we'd gut the system ans send Stewart, and likely Carlos Perez

Paul Konerko- .393. I was surprised to see how high his OBP ended up. If he came to Toronto, I'd have to be pleased. I would hope for a short term deal though. Also, if we stole 2 players from Chicago, Joe Cowley would petition congress to invade Toronto and bomb the Rogers-Dome.

David Dejesus- .384- His team option will be picked up, but could be had in a trade. Plays both corners well enough.

Derrick Lee- .384 after he went to the Braves

Brett Gardner- .383 If the Yankees do as expected and sign Crawford, they could rebuild value in their system by flipping Gardner for prospects. not sure what it would cost, but he'd be a perfect fit as leadoff man, and is controllable for the future.

Jed Lowrie had a .381, can play 2B, and might be available (Ellsbury was a dismal .241 in a shortened season, and is widely considered to be trade bait if the Sox get either Werth or Crawford)

Lance Berkman was Over .380 while in Houston (and when healthy) He could look for a 1 year value rebuild.

Kelley Johnson- .374

Johnny Damon- .355- He's out there, but doesn't excite me.

David Wright- .354 (be careful what you wish for, although he could be an upside play.)  Brian Roberts, who is rumored to be available, had the same OBP

Aramis Ramirez- .294. Has a way better career mark at .340, but has mysteriously lost some pop and bat speed since drug testing was introduced. Just sayin'

Since we're all so happy to rosterbate this time of year (there have been great posts at and at Seriously, go read them) so here's what I propose:

If we want to press FF on our Rogers Cable boxes, and start contending now, we could sign Ramirez and Konerko, play Bautista at 3B, and would be considered a Playoff contender for sure.

If Anthopoulos sticks to his slow building model (a safe bet) then I could still see him pursuing Brett Gardner, and pushing Wells to RF. This would give us a speed/OBP threat that we've almost never had. I hate the idea of trading within the division, but if Gardner's available, he's worth a shot.

Anybody I missed?

Open Positions Posts

It's been well documented that the Jays have some holes to fill for next season. Over the next week or two, I plan to look into this more in-depth but here is a preview:

OF: if the Jays were to move Jose back to 3B (Where I think he belongs) then who would fill the void in RF?

1B: Is the bring back Lyle Overbay thing really gaining momentum? ugh. We can/should do better

3B: If the Jays decide that Jose belongs in the Outfield, who fills in here?

DH: If Adam Lind can move to first with any degree of success, the DH position would be easy to fill. I'll examine who will fill it.

The Curios Case Of Edwin Encarnacion

There are so many topics to cover, so I chose to start here. Mostly, it's because I have an irrational fondness for the man who has become known as "E5."

He is definitely a non-tender candidate after the season-and-a-bit that he's had here in Toronto, but let's delve into things a bit deeper:

Despite playing in only 96 games this season, he managed to post a 1.8 WAR. (Fangraphs values his contributions at $7.2 Mill, which more than justifies his contract)

His 21 HR, pro-rated over 150 games (Which most hitters are able to start) could have been as high as 33.

For the 2008 Reds, he managed ot post a 1.9 WAR, which was his last season of full health as a starter.

Also of relevance is the fact that he will only be 28 next season. A fact that many people miss because he has been around the league for so long already.

As for his obvious shortcomings:

At third base, his defense is a boat anchor to his value. He has never had a positive UZR in his career at third. He hasn't hit for much of an average as a Blue Jay, but hit .289 with the 2007 Reds, so there is potential. He also doesn't take a walk.

So, what do the Jays do with him? He would likely get a modest raise if he is tendered a contract, somwhere in the $5-6 Mil range, which would be too large of a risk.

But, what if they non-tender him, and then bring him back at a more reasonable salary? If he would accept something like Jose Bautista's 2010 salary of $2.4M?

He has the flexibility to play 1B as well, or he could DH as Lind learns the trade at first. I hope that the Jays staff takes a serious look at bringing EE back for one more try.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Next year's 5 man rotation

So, it seemed like a pretty good year for our beloved Blue Jays' Pitching staff, didn't it?

How good you ask? well, if you believe in advanced stats, the current 5 man rotation had a WAR of approximately 15.7 (fangraphs)

For perspective, only ONE current playoff team had a better total WAR number than the Jays. The San Francisco Giants (15.9). Their current starting 5: Lincecum, Cain, J. Sanchez, Zito, and Bumgarner. That's a formidable list by any standards. Which brings me to my main point: Who will be our 5 next year, and how will they stack up against the league?

Romero (4.0), Marcum (3.5), Cecil (2.5) and Morrow (3.6) are locks (2010 WAR in brackets). Current options for 5th starter include:

-Marc Rzepczynski: Has proven he has the stuff. Was a 1.1 WAR as recently as 2009, and has been worth a half win this year as well. Definite upside.

-Shaun Hill: Not yet old, at only 29 as I write, and has also contributed a half WAR to this year's team. Was a 1.5 WAR player for the Washington Expos in 2007. His 16 starts that year were the most of any of his major league seasons. Has shown himself to be good enough in limited action this year to estimate as high as 2 WAR (IF he can stay healthy. That's a BIG IF)

-Kyle Drabek: The boy wonder. Everyone's favourite Prospect. Believe it or not, his 0-3 record is actually worth 0.2 WAR for the 2010 season. Easily projects as a 3-5 WAR player based on his "stuff," and has shown that it is good enough for the show right now. He's the pre-season favourite for the job, especially considering that he will forever be "the guy we traded Halladay for."

Other options:

-Zach Stewart: Proven all he can at AA. Las Vegas isn't a great place to go for more development. Personally, I think he's best suited to move to the 'pen, because we're stacked at SP for now.

-Brad Mills: Nobody seems to be very high on him and his Engineering degree. He's a smart pitcher, and doesn't have enough pure stuff to work from the bullpen. I can see him as a back-of-the rotation guy on another team.

-Jesse Litsch: Out until at least July. Was a 2.6 WAR player on the 2008 Jays. Interesting if he returns to form.

-Dustin McGowan: Everyone wants this guy to return to form. Labrum surgery is still a career killer, even with today's medical advances. I'd be happy if he could even get back as a reliever. Sadly, I doubt it.

-Other prospects: Robert Ray has a future in the majors, though not likely in front of most that I've listed here. Henderson Alvarez is probably a year or two away. Chad Jenkins has taken a step back. Deck McGuire could be close, but has limited upside.

I'm interested in hearing what everyone has to think. Who will be the Jays 5th starter to begin 2011?

Another Offseason, time to start my own Blog

Hey Everyone.

Another Blue Jays offseson is upon us, and the only thing that I like better than the hot-stove action of the offseason, is the actual games themselves.

Here's what you can expect from this blog going forward:

-Lots of speculation/discussion of trades
-A bigger focus on advanced stats (WAR is my favourite) and using CHONE projections to estimate wins
-The odd conversation about other sports
-As much info on prospects as I can uncover

Please contribute to the conversation as much as possible, I'd like to create an open forum for discussion, rather than just sending my thoughts out for my own benefit.

Talk to you soon