As of Sunday Morning everyone is still waiting for free agent pitcher Ervin Santana to decide if he will take the Jays reported offer of one-year for 14 million, or the offer from Baltimore which is reported at one-year at 13 million dollars but there are supposedly incentives involved with the Orioles offer.
If Santana does sign with the Jays, which according to some sources Saturday night that Santana could take Days” it wouldn’t necessarily be the doom and gloom that some Jays fans have said that it would bring. It’s only going to be a one year deal and even though there is risk there, it’s not as risky for the Blue Jays as would a multi-year deal would be. So even if Santana’s health were not to hold up the Jays would be out from under the deal at year’s end. The Jays could even recoup that second round pick they would stand to lose if Santana signs here by at least offering him a qualifying next winter.
Signing Santana would also help the Jays long-term even if he only signs a one year deal, The Jays would add another arm to their pitching depth and the Jays wouldn’t have to rush Marcus Stroman to the big leagues, I know that Alex Anthopoulos has said all Spring that Stroman is major league ready but a year in Buffalo wouldn’t hurt either. Let Stroman dominate in Triple A and call him up in September, it would also delay the Jays having to start his service time, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.
Santana is also a guy that is going to give the Jays 200 innings, which is the Jays biggest need, another starter that can give them innings and not burn up the bullpen. Lets face it, once you get past R.A Dickey and Mark Buehrle the rotation is a crapshoot. Brandon Morrow has never survived a season without landing on the Disabled list, Drew Hutchison has looked great this spring but is still coming off of Tommy John Surgery and you don’t exactly know what you’ll get and J.A Happ has been inconsistent and is now suffering through a back injury this spring and has been temporarily shut down for the time being.
A few weeks ago the idea of Santana signing a four-year deal would have seemed risky with him being a fly ball pitcher playing half of his games at the Rogers Centre, which has become the American League’s version of Coors Field, but now that Santana only wants a one-year deal it’s a smart move that would serve the Jays future well.
And in reality there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal. So come on AA let’s get this done.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos held a scrum with the media it’s documented by the Toronto Sun’s Ken Fidlin and talked about how Spring Training has gone so far and some of the players with an inside track on a roster spot when the Jays start the season on March 31st in Tampa.
When asked about Drew Hutchison AA says that he is surprised by the velocity that Hutch has shown this Spring, “We saw that velocity at the end of his time in 2012 before he got hurt. When I went to the Arizona Fall League, it was so encouraging to see him pitch that way. He really started to come into his own in 2012 before he got hurt so I’m not surprised. I think I said it before, he’s a guy I expected to really impress. He’s off to a great start, he’s definitely opened some eyes, he’s a strong candidate to make the rotation but he’s got to make it. But I love what I see.” says Anthopoulos. AA compared Hutch’s situation to that of Shaun Marcum the year he came back from TJ surgery and threw 195 innings. AA also added that Hutch and Marcus Stroman will not have inning limits placed on them.
Speaking of Stroman, AA says this of him, “The results matter, but at times you’re looking at stuff. (His one outing) was promising overall because he looked good. He got out of some jams. We say sometimes somebody pitched better than his line. It’s a limited, limited look but I expect Marcus to continue to impress throughout spring. I think he’ll just continue to get better.
“It’s not like the decision gets made tomorrow, but every outing for him is important. He has a chance. I can’t give you percentages but there’s a reason he’s getting stretched out. There’s a reason we’re giving him the innings.
“I haven’t seen anybody blow bubbles on the mound while throwing a pitch. I don’t think that’s being arrogant or cocky. I just think he’s very calm and composed. He does a lot of things to help himself, by holding runners, by working on his change-up. There is a reason he was a consensus first-round talent. He’s always had success … Team USA, success at a Division 1 school, success in the minors. Success everywhere he’s been, as much as people doubt him because of his size. What comes out of his arm is great. We’ve talked about the Sonny Gray comparisons. I think they’re fair. I think Marcus is ready to be up here. Do we have a spot? Is he performing better than some of the other options? Those are some of the things we have to look at and make a decision”.
So it sounds like there is a possibility that Hutch and Stroman both make the club out of Spring training if they keep impressing and J.A Happ’s back keeps flaring up, which is why he has supposedly struggled according to both AA and John Gibbons. like I’ve said all along the Jays should take the best team north with them regardless of starting the clock on Stroman’s service time.
It also looks like Erik Kratz night have the inside track on the back-up catchers job because of the power in his bat according to AA, “Still early. We’re giving Kratz the reps simply because we know Josh can do it. Josh has almost 800 innings with R.A. (Dickey) back there. Biggest thing we want to see from him is to swing the bat the way he did with the Mets earlier in his career. With Erik, we think he has upside with the bat. He has power. It’s about how he can handle R.A. The only way you find out is to continue to see him in games. We already know Josh has done a great job with (Dickey).”
With Thursday’s rain out of the Jays exhibition game against the Pirates, the Jays reworked their rotation pushing Mark Buehrle’s start till Friday when they face Tampa Bay, Marcus Stroman and Ricky Romero are both scheduled to pitch as well on Friday. Hutchison is the scheduled starter for Saturday when the Jays face the Twins and R.A Dickey gets the ball on Sunday against the Astros. J.A Happ gets bumped from his Sunday start. The Jays did not announce when Happ will pitch again, with Monday being an off day for the Blue Jays before two split squad games on Tuesday, one against the Tigers and one against the Canadian Junior National team.
And finally a sad note to end off this Thursday night, Dr. Frank Jobe who was the doctor who performed the first ever surgery that is now called Tommy John surgery in 1974, has passed away, he was 88.
— Kaley Viola (@KaylVi) March 6, 2014
First it was trading for R.A Dickey then signing Tomo Ohka and now the Jays have signed Frank Viola the third, who is the son of former Blue Jays hurler Frank Viola.
Viola signed a minor league deal on Wednesday with the Jays. Viola was initially drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 29th round of the 2005 draft. Viola missed all of 2006 undergoing Tommy John Surgery and was released by the White Sox in 2007 and last played pro ball in 2010 for the Independent League St. Paul Saints.
Viola got a chance to throw his knuckleball in front of fellow knuckler Dickey when Dickey was a member of the Mets in 2012 and spent sometime earlier this Spring watching him throw the knuckler again, according to reports Dickey was impressed with the what Viola had to offer.
With Viola turning 30 in June it’s a long shot that he makes the Major Leagues, but being a knuckleballer one never knows if he gets and maybe shows some promise and sticks in the big leagues.
OTHER SPRING NOTES
The crew from the MLB Network Radio made their annual Spring visit to Dunedin and preview the Blue Jays on Wednesday. Hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette wasted no time dumping on the Blue Jays pitching and disagreeing with the Blue Jays version of pitching depth that AA and crew have been high on all Spring. The pair also picked the Jays to finish last in the AL East just like every other pundit out there.
They did interview manager John Gibbons who is high on Drew Hutchinson and Marcus Stroman, Gibby also said that this year’s camp seems much more relaxed and distraction free allowing guys to get their work in and not worry about all the hoopla that surrounded the team last Spring, not to mention guys that were at the WBC and not with the team.
When asked about everybody picking the Jays to finish last in the East Gibby says they didn’t do anything last year to prove they deserve to be picked higher. Gibby also says that he thinks the guys like flying under the radar and that club has had an upbeat and positive attitude in camp so far.
Jose Bautista was also interviewed and mentioned that he changed his workout habits in the offseason and focuses more on Baseball activity type exercises than a just working in the weight room. Bautista says that he is less bulkier this spring but feels a lot stronger than he has in the past.
J.A Happ had a miserable start Monday not even getting out of the first inning in his second spring start. Happ allowed four runs in a third of an inning, allowing two hits but walking four. Happ has now allowed six earned runs in one and a third inning this spring.
I know that most fans don’t put a whole lot of stock into Spring Training numbers, but as in the case last year with Ricky Romero who had a miserable Spring and found himself in the minors, it might be worth taking note of Happ’s next outing and if he shows signs of pitching better. One bad outing can happen in Spring Training, but three sub par outings should raise alarm bells with Alex Anthopoulos.
The injury bug is back and we’re not even through a week of games so far, Casey Janssen has been shut down for a week with a sore shoulder, Colby Rasmus is out with a stiff neck and Brett Lawrie missed a game with a hamstring issue. Janssen’s shoulder should be a concern to keep an eye out for, he had it operated on last offseason which forced him to miss most of Spring Training last season. Janssen’s shoulder didn’t flare up during the season last year as Janssen began his first full season as the Blue Jays closer in which he saved 34 games. Janssen has said however that it is muscle soreness and not anything ligament related.
I do however think as Jays fans it’s not completely ridiculous to tend to think that the Jays are not the most open and honest team when it comes to injury reporting. In 2012 when Sergio Santos went down in April with elbow soreness the Jays said it was just a few weeks, which turned out to be the rest of the season. It happened with Jose Bautista as well in 2012 as he suffered the wrist injury and was told would be a few weeks, that as well turned out to be the rest of the season. Last year it was Brandon Morrow when he went out with at the time was forearm tightness and that he would be back at some point last season, which ended up being a pinched radial nerve in his pitching forearm and Morrow missed the end of the season.
So you can see why any time the Blue Jays bring up injuries I take it with a grain of salt when they estimate the length of time a player will be out.
The Jays exhibition game against Minnesota on Monday was the first to include expanded instant replay, both challenges where on close plays at first base and both were upheld. The first challenge took two minutes while the second one took two and a half minutes. I’m still not sure how I feel about the replay challenge set-up. With only two challenges available to a manager you wouldn’t want to burn both challenges early in a game in case there was a call late in the game that was close enough to be challenged. In the end we all want the right call made, and maybe Jim Bowden has the right idea, have a fifth umpire added to each crew and his job would be to look at all the plays in a game and if the wrong call is made on a play buzz down to the home-plate umpire to have the play looked at and the right call being made. The more I think about Bowden’s idea the more I think he just might be right in this case.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) March 1, 2014
Jerry Howarth broke the news during the pregame show on the Blue Jays radio network that the Blue Jays have found Jack Morris’ replacement in the radio booth.
Joe Siddall, a 46 year-old Windsor Ontario native is a former catcher who played in 73 big league games spanning parts of four seasons with Montreal, Florida and Detroit has been named the new analyst on Blue Jays radio broadcasts.
Sidall had worked with the Detroit Tigers the past several seasons handling pre-game catching duties.
Others that were considered for the job according to Toronto Sun Baseball columnist Bob Elliott were C.J Nitkowski and Jeff Nelson, both of whom were not interested once they were told it was a 162 game commitment.
Sidall, who has only done a few games as a fill in analyst worked his first game on Wednesday, but was finally officially announced Saturday.
Only listening to Sidall work Saturday’s game, he didn’t sound out of place, and sounds like he has the potential to become a really good analyst. He wasn’t afraid to say when a pitcher didn’t execute his pitch or admit when a player should have made a play instead of making an error.
Sidall lost his fourteen year old son to cancer just last month.
Photo Credit:(Nick Brancaccio/The Windsor Star)
Boston University is offering a course in introduction to Sabermetrics, baseball analytics, data science, the R language and SQL.
They describe the course as such on their website;
This course will cover the theory and the fundamentals of the emerging science of Sabermetrics. We will discuss the game of baseball, not through consensus or a fan’s conventional wisdom, but by searching for objective knowledge in hitting, pitching, and fielding performance. These and other areas of sabermetrics will be analyzed and better understood with current and historical baseball data.
The course also serves as applied introduction to the basics of data science, a growing field of scholarship, that requires skills in computation, statistics, and communicating results of analyses. Using baseball data, the basics of statistical regression, the R Language, and SQL will be covered.
It also says that the course has been taught successfully since 2004 and that most of the graduates of the course have gone on to careers writing about baseball and working in various capacities in MLB front offices.
The cost of the course is a contributing fee of 25,50,75 dollars (US) or you can donate a larger amount. You also have the option of auditing the course and work at your leisure and be able to access online discussions, tests and course material.
You can find out more information by visiting Boston Universtiy’s/EDX’s website
Ken Rosenthal had an interesting article on Fox Sports where agent Scott Boras rips into the Jays ownership for not spending big money on free agents this offseason.
Boras tells Rosenthal.
“There is no one who has the asset base of Rogers, It’s a premium city. It’s a premium owner with equity. And it’s a very, very good team that with additional premium talent could become a contending team. They’re a car with a huge engine that is impeded by a big corporate stop sign . . . a successful and committed ownership that needs to give their baseball people financial flexibility.”
Or in other words, Boras is pissed that the Jays didn’t overpay on big free agents and haven’t given an offer to either Kendry Morales or Steven Drew, both happen to be Boras’ clients.
In one sense his statement is right. Rogers does have a huge asset base and makes a small fortune off the Blue Jays and if they wanted to could go out and spend money in free agency. And as well Jays have two protected picks, which gave them an advantage in the market.
At the same time however lets look back on what was available on the pitching market other than Masahiro Tanaka.
There was Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana-who is still available. And A.J Burnett, who only wanted to play close to home so lets not really include him in that group. All of the pitchers I mentioned had red flags with either medical concerns or performance concerns. And with Alex Anthopoulos history of finding value on the market with free agency it’s no surprise that he passed on the market this winter.
Boras’ anger should really be at Baseball’s CBA which changed the free agent compensation in the last CBA in 2011, not at teams that just don’t see the value in the market. Boras could also be using the negativity directed at Rogers to put pressure on them to jump into the market and drive up the demand for one of his clients.
If we’ve learned anything from AA’s tenure with the Jays he won’t be pressured into overpaying into the market regardless of which power agent is trying to get him to bite.
Alex Anthopoulos held court with the media on Thursday morning and proceeded to tell us nothing that most of us already knew. The first thing he mentioned was that the Blue Jays aren’t planning on adding any new players to the roster, which most of us already kind of figured out as each remaining Free Agent has been signed to a team and the only thing that AA and Paul Beeston would say was that they were waiting for the market to come to them. Which also leads me to think there is more truth to the reported offer made to Ervin Santana which was three years at 29 million that Santana’s agent Bean Stringfellow said was completely untrue. Read into it what you want.
The next big thing that AA mentions is that they were close on a few trades and not close when it came to any Free Agents. Everyone knew about the reported trades for Brett Anderson that fell thru and Ian Kinsler refusing not to waive his no trade clause to come to Toronto and we know that the Jays never had a chance at getting Doug Fister. As for the Free Agency, the news of the Jays not being close on any signings isn’t a big surprise the only free agent that the Jays ever commented on was Masahiro Tanaka after he signed with the Yankees and even then AA admitted to dropping out of the bidding once it got beyond five years.
Anthopoulos mentioned that Ryan Goins has the inside track at the second base job which we all kind of figured for months. When talk of the rotation came up, again, he used the same talking points that he’s used for months, that he likes what they have, they have potential and on and on.
So for the most part AA’s little chat with the media this morning was nothing more than a time filler for him and a waste of time and ink for the media because it’s info that we’ve known for weeks.
Next time that Anthopoulos does one of these media sessions lets hope there is some actual news and it’s not more of the same recycled talking points we’ve heard the last three months.
Gregor Chisholm had an interesting little tidbit in his piece yesterday about the battle for the last two spots in the Blue Jays rotation.
Chisholm says that the thought of Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek or Marcus Stroman of possibly winning the final spots in the rotation may not actually come down to their actual performance on the field this spring. It could very well go to players without options left like Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers and if you want to include the bullpen there is Sergio Santos, Luis Perez and Jeremy Jeffress.
R.A Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and J.A Happ have been given the top four spots already, even though I think Happ should have to again earn his spot as he lacks a put-away pitch and isn’t very efficient when it comes to his pitch counts in games and the Jays get into the pen way too early in Happ’s starts. Which leaves by my count seven guys for the fifth spot, if you count Ricky Romero and Dustin McGowan..
I might be wrong in thinking however that the fifth spot in the rotation coming down to who is out of options just seems, well, you know, backwards to me. I would understand that idea if the Jays were in a building year, but they’re not, there in a spot where they are expected to win so it would seem to me that if winning now is your strategy then wouldn’t it be in the Jays best interest to take the best five guys for the rotation to start the season?
It doesn’t mean that at some point during the year that the guys that weren’t the five best don’t pitch for the Jays in 2014, the injury bug has been known to hit the team and usually they need every depth arm they can get.
Redmond isn’t going to light the world on fire so if he doesn’t make the rotation chances are he would make it thru waivers and pitch in Buffalo. Esmil Rogaigers most likely would still stay on the big league roster and probably could be used as the long man out of the pen. And out of Drabek, Hutch and Stroman, it would seem that Hutch would be the most logical choice to make the rotation. Drabek still needs some work in the minor leagues to work on his control and I think regardless of how Stroman does, I think the Jays probably wait till July before they bring him up as to not burn a year on his service time and gain another year of control.
So maybe in the end the fifth spot in the rotation doesn’t exactly come down to who has options, but it would be nice to think that the Jays bring the best five they have north with them. The Jays don’t need another Jo Jo Reyes in the rotation just because he’s out of options and the Jays are scared of losing him for nothing. If the Jays are so worried about losing some of these “out of options” guys the Jays could always try to trade them.
It’s been roughly 24 hours since the news broke of Ubaldo Jimenez signing with the Baltimore Orioles for 4 years for 50 million dollars. Whether the Jays were ever close might never been know, but it’s been reported that Baltimore was the only team to make Jimenez a offer, despite John Gibbons saying earlier today that Alex Anthopoulos had been in constant dialog with Ubaldo’s camp.
The Fan reaction has been mixed, with some saying that they didn’t think he was the right fit, to some saying they were scared off by his inconsistencies. And then some that are outraged by the Jays lack of doing anything. And some further still saying that the Jays could go out and get Ervin Santana.
Perhaps Andrew Stoeten over at Drunk Jays Fans sums up a lot of the anger in the fan base, hell, the comenters to his post some have even more vitriol when it comes to the Jays and how they’ve handled this offseason. I guess twenty years of not even coming close can do that to a fanbase.
But it does raise the question, Do the Jays still have an organizational plan?
It’s one thing to say last offseason after the Jays went out and made the Miami trade and then the Dickey deal with the Mets that the goal was to make the playoffs three out of the next five seasons, but it’s a completely different thing when the team crashes and burns and has definate weaknesses that AA talked about upgrading last fall, and then basically did nothing to improve the ball club. Sure they jettisoned J.P Arencibia but his replacement Dionner Navarro hasn’t played more than 89 games since 2009.
Sure, management talked a good game all offseason but in the end it seems as if they were trying to see what bargains they could find in the market despite having a concieved leg up on every other team because of the two protected first round picks. There isn’t a reason why they can’t go out and get Santana. Santana is a guy that will give you 200 innings and after the last two years if you can get a guy that can give you 200 innings a season you do it unless Rogers has decided to reign in the purse strings or AA is gun shy after last season.
Do the Jays really look at last season as just a off year despite the holes at second and the pitching rotation? Or are they just a team mired in mediocrity? What if 2014 goes like 2013 did? Many think heads will roll if this season is another disaster so one would wonder why AA just sat back and lost out on guys while trying to play the market. What if the Jays are long out of it come July will it be time to blow things up and start over? It will set this franchise back years, when in reallity they were on the right track before 2013 started.
I’m sure that’s the last thing that the fanbase wants to see, they’ve been left with nothing but disapointments and having to listen to the PR Bullshit that Paul Beeston has been saying since they went all in last offseason. Should we really believe management when they say the money will be there when they need it? I’m really having a hard time buying that statement now.
After this offseason does management really still think that the fanbase believes this team can still win? If they do they’re only fooling themselves. As well all the goodwill they won over fans with last year is gone as fans have shown with ticket sales being down. Beeston says that if the team wins then he feels the fans will be back, he’s right when he says that but when you do nothing to improve in the offseason you can expect the kind of reaction they have gotten this winter.
I believe the Jays were on the right track when the 2012 season started, they preached youth and building up the minor league system and when the time was right they would go and spend. What happened in 2012 was the Jays had the injury bug hit the pitching staff and then the PR nightmare with John Farrell leaving the team to go to Boston. I honestly think AA panicked, he looked at how the season ended and he thought he had to make a big splash. The problem was the big splash he made cost the Jays talent that could help now.
As for now I don’t think the Jays really have a plan beyond the trade deadline this year, and I think the future depends on how this team does in the first half, if they are out of it I honestly believe that the fire sale will begin.
As for Beeston’s claim that this is a three year win now gamble, I’d be more apt to believe it if management had done something this offseason, and I’m sure the fans would have believed it too.