Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday: my status, Ohka, Further updates

Hi everyone, well sorry for the lack of updates, I fell sick the last couple days and it just added to everything else going on that has made me extremely busy. I have a short news update for now and later on I'll finally take a look at the PECOTA numbers and possibly the GM rankings.

Olney has a quote on the Ohka signing from one "Toronto decision maker":

"We're just hoping he's healthy enough so he can give us some innings. Maybe between he and [John] Thomson, we'll get the 15 wins and 180 innings that we lost with [Ted] Lilly leaving. We've got more depth now than we've ever had, and the way the sport is being played today, you probably need nine or 10 starters to get through a season, anyway."

The Jays actully have more than 10 so let's hope something works out. A lot of depth is never a bad thing..

The Reds made two moves, first trading for Kirk Saarloos and then signing Mark Bellhorn to a minor league deal. I'm guessing Beane really likes the young guns involved in this deal because Saarloos is one of those rare guys who can give you good(if not average) innings as both a reliever and a starter. Bellhorn is a guy worth taking a risk on but he has not played well in recent years.

Thanks to Nick for both making me notice that I said that Ohka might struggle in his move to the NL(being sick affects my brain) and pointing out this article. At least one reporter believes that the Jays' spending will pay off.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ohka, Ohka, Ohka, OHKA, Ohhka!

It looks like the Jays will add Tomo Ohka to their candidates for the starter's job. Ohka, a 29 year old Japanese pitcher, is ocming off an injury riddled season. Allegedly, his agent states that Tomo took less money to play for Toronto, win and prove he was healthy. His contract is for $1.5 million and another $1.5 million in incentives. Interestingly, even if the Jays have 11 startets for five spots...

Ricciardi might not be done his tinkering, saying that another move or two to further deepen the pitching staff remained possible.

''If there's one thing this game teaches you it's that you can never have enough pitching, enough depth,'' said Ricciardi. ''We know we're going to need more than five starters.''

Ohka will have to battle back from his worse MLB season and get accustomed to the National League to fight off the likes of Thompson, Marcum, Janssen, Towers, Taubenheim, McGowan, Banks for the last two spots in the rotation. The Jays weren't able to find a great starting SS nor a great #3 pitcher this off-season so instead, Ricciardi is accumulating as much talent as possible at the positions to create a competition that may find a diamond in the rough. Think of it as the MLB version of American Idol...At the very least, injuries won't affect the Jays AS much and there's gonna be a good flock of players in AAA this season.

More updates coming with PECOTA and those GM rankings we saw...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tuesday lunch...Pirates, Rays Payroll, Soriano

Quick update...A lot of stuff going on with the life so I'll have a better update later tonight or tomorrow...

Trying to figure out the Pirates lineup With a lack of hitters, would it be better to put them all at the top?

Rays payroll at $24 million: What a division, what are they $60 million away from the nearest payroll in the AL East? If they finish anything but last it would be incredible...

The Bonds and Drew deals still aren’t done This is surprising...when will they be finalized?

Soriano fantasy position Good article about Soriano's fantasy value now that he can no longer be used at second base. Also has some other notables that may interest you fantasy players.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday: Jays middle infield, Ohka, Soriano, Utley,

Today we look at the Jays continually changing middle infield, a rumoured pitcher for the Jays, a former slugging second baseman becoming a centre fielder and possibly the best hitting second baseman getting an extension and Bud Selig's replacement...

Not sure how much baseball matters today after that incredible football game last night, good for Manning and the Colts to finally make that Super Bowl. There's a lot of stories going into this one and it will be interesting to see Offense vs. Defense.

The Jays middle infield gets murkier as Ryan Roberts gets designated for assignment and the Jays pick up another slick glove, no bat player from the Reds: Ray Olmedo. It seems that there's mutual interest between the Indians and John McDonald, will there be a trade? The Jays had too problem spots they could not address during the off-season with a big signing or trade but they are doing the next best thing...that's accumulate as many players as possible to compete for the spot. The competition will hopefully make one player stand out! Olmedo might be the worse offensive player of the bunch but he's also the youngest. It looks like they may add a starter to compete for the spots...Tomo Ohka.

Pinella says all the right things with his lack of centre field help by saying that Soriano may play there. AtHomePlate attempts to put some sense into the Soriano signing but doesn't really come up with one answer. Oh and the Cubs want to sign Cliff Floyd who really regressed last season..lots of money spent...but i'm not sure they're a playoff team. Hopefully with all the signings that former Red Sox prospect Matt Murton still has a starting job.

Chase Utley signs an extension for 7 years, $85 million...not a bad deal for one of the better hitters in the league at a position where there is not much offense. His home run total has consistently climbed, and had a VORP over 60 last season (better than any Jay last season).

Crasnick talks about who could replace Bud Selig when he retires in 2009. Oh and finally, I have a deal with the ScoreBoards forum to be a discussion board for the posts...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lunchtime update

May as well make an update...there's a couple things going on this morning:

Trot Nixon is officially no longer a Red Sox player. He has signed with the Indians for one year, $3 million. They don't come much more consistent than Trot, usually an above average hitter every season, one small injury a season, good right field defense. I'm not sure where he plays because that Indians outfield seemed locked in with Choo, Sizemore and the left field platoon. Does he learn to play 1B and spell Casey Blake from time to time? There must be a trade in the works because it seems the Indians just have too many players for the OF/DH/1B and that's without including the rumours of Victor Martinez playing 1B. Olney reports that the Pirates wanted him to help build up their new offense.

Speaking of the new offense...Joe Starkey loves the move. Unfortunately, Littlefield gave up prized SS prospect Brent Lillibridge. This is a kid whose projected WARP for 2007 is the ninth best among shortstops in the Major Leagues. Sickels says that Brent has more power than the average shortstop and has plenty of speed. In that same Sickels link he analyzes Adam Lind, and says that he should be a Rookie of the Year candidate this season. His projections for him are off the charts: .824 OPS with 15 home runs, although he has him slotted for too many at-bats. I don't think Lind makes the team out of Spring Training...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Finally Friday

Well I've been incredi-busy at my new job...for those who don't know, I sell ticket packages and advertising at the Ottawa Senators now. Let me know if you want access to this year's playoffs.

Not much going on in the world, so enjoy quick news:

Pete: "Hey Mac, we gotta do something about Barry, we'll never get in with his support"
Mac: "Pete, please never call me again...bad enough Bonds is supporting me, I don't want to have my name associated to yours"
Pete: "Betcha 20 bucks you never make the Hall of Fame"
Updates throughout the day on Comments..

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

FINALLY! Gonzalez for Laroche! And more...

The much rumoured, denied, speculated trade of closer Mike Gonzalez + a piece for Adam Laroche seems to finally have happened! As of yet, the piece going to Atlanta with Gonzalez has not been identified, and both teams are not confirming it as of yet. The Braves now have Bob Wickman, trade pick-up Rafael Soriano and Gonzalez in a re-built bullpen after leading the league last year with 29 blown saves. The Pirates finally acquired the lefty power bat they have coveted all off-season to compliment outfielder Jason Bay. I think this is one of those deals that helps both sides and fills a need for both. This clears a spot at first base with the Braves for canadian Scott Thorman..I don't think much of a stat evaluation needs to be done on this...but check back later :)

J.P. denies the Wells rumours, they're only "kicking the tires". The Jays have also signed catcher Sal Fasano to a minor league deal. Should give some competition to Phillips but I don't think he'll make the team. He doesn't have much of a bat left...
Ken Rosenthal (Again) talks about many teams lacking a starter, including the Jays. I don't think the Jays could have gotten Billingsley...and if! Last season, in 90 innings he had an ERA+ of 121 last season at the age of 21!

Neyer examines D-Mat while
Sean McAdam examines the Boston closer situation

An interview with Twins GM Terry Ryan

Finally, Harball Times looks at rotations...again..check comments for updates throughout the day

The hump: Overbay's new number, Neyer, and more

Apparently, changing his number to 17 was a priority to him re-signing. He will wear it to honour Grace and Todd Helton. And the Wells signing helped him make the decision.

Continuing with Jays news: Arbitration figures were exchanged and it's not too bad. Vernon Wells may need to start wearing a V in front of his name on his jersey. Wouldn't be bad for the Jays to take a flyer on Boomer, depending on cost.

A couple tidbits from the Rob Neyer chat yesterday:

About the Orioles: "They'll compete again when Angelos is not the owner and DePodesta is the general manager. "
I'm surprised to see DePo get some support, after doing the DePo's Reign I think he was fired too fast and deserves a second chance. I'm not sure Baltimore will be the place though...
About Josh Beckett: "My theory -- which I drove into the ground in this space last summer -- is that Beckett changed his style to avoid getting the blisters. And he did solve the blister problem. I'm just not sure he can avoid blisters *and* consistently pitch well. "

Well that's good news for Toronto fans, but bad news for a good young pitcher. It just goes to show that even a small injury can screw up the entire mechanics of an athlete.
About Gil Meche: "It's actually worse than it looks. Yes, I know there's talk about Meche's tools . . . but are the Royals' scouts really smarter than those of the other 29 teams, all of which were looking for starting pitching this winter? I kind of don't think so. "
Well, looks like J.P. "dodged a bullet". Meche has to thank his lucky stars he became a free agent when he did

Buster Olney wonders where Pena can get some playing time...what a wasted trade by Boston...Arroyo looks to be a good pitcher and they took a flyer on an over-valued player.

Keith Law talks about Alex Gordon's greatness and other good prospects. How excited should Royals fans be? What's that? Still no core around Gordon? It will be a long few years...

And our good friend Elijah Dukes was busted...I bet that you can't guess for what...Finally, some huge arbitration figures are being asked for by some key players...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Slow Tuesday...let's do some reading.

Nothing much going on...let's just do some reading today...

Apparently, the Blue Jays offered Ryan Franklin more money than the Cardinals did but he chose them. The Jays probably moved fast to pick up Thomson after that news.

Hardball Times examines whether Clemens' late arrival in Houston cost them a playoff spot.

The Rangers have worked out Sammy know you're desperate when...It's ridiculous that in a year where Mark McGwire is not voted into the HHOF because of alleged steroid use that someone would even consider bringing Sammy Sosa back. But if he helps win ball games than he's worth it to someone unfortunately.

The Marlins have re-signed Dontrelle Willis to a one year deal...what I really like about this news is that Willis has kept his agent Matt Sosnick. If anyone read License to Deal, a fantastic book, there were questions whether Willis could afford to keep his young inexperienced agent when arbitration came around but he did.

ESPN continues their serious of baseball articles by looking at who could be THE impact rookie...bad news for the Jays is, he's in Tampa...

Over at the Sporting News, they check out the best dumps of the off-season by means of addition by substraction. The Yankees are listed twice...groannnnn

Weekend review

The biggest news of the weekend for the Jays is the Overbay signing. Something I didn't mention yesterday but in 2010, 4 major contracts would come off the Jays' books: Roy Halladay, B.J. Ryan, Lyle Overbay and A.J. Burnett. Along with this, it could be J.P.'s last year because his contract expires that season. So with or without a new GM, the Jays could rebuild and receive 8 possible 1st round pick + sandwich picks but lose a big chunk of their team. It would also give an incoming GM a lot of decisions to make about his top two starters, one closer and their starting first baseman. Just some thoughts to ponder...there was also other news for the Jays: Roberto Alomar is about to join the Leavel of Excellence!

The Blue Jays will invite Alomar to Toronto this summer to herald his induction onto the team's Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre. The club wanted to do it this past season when the Philadelphia Phillies were in town for an interleague series between June 30-July 2 — Phillies general manager Pat Gillick and former president Paul Beeston were to be part of the ceremony — but couldn't get all the ducks lined up.
It's great news, Alomar is one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time. USA Today has a Jays organizational perspective up. It's a week old so it doesn't include John Thomson...There's also news around the league...
It looks like the Orioles are getting ready to trade Rodrigo Lopez...he has struggled the past two seasons and they have a pretty set rotation. No comments on who they could acquire for him...

It looks like the long rumoured Mike Gonzalez/Adam Laroche trade is dead, although
it got VERY close. The Pirates are now examining many options to bring in a new hitter...

D-Rays fans have a trade proposition for the Jays...troubled prospect OF Elijah Dukes for Marcum and Josh Sowers...not going to happen, why would the Jays want to take on a low character outfielder when they already have plenty of outfield talent.

A good article about the Scott Schoeneweis signing here...The final tally? That it's apparently a bad signing...high walk totals are no good!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Weekend: Overbay extended

The Jays have apparently signed Lyle Overbay to a 4 year extension worth $24 million. As always there is a good chunk in a signing bonus and he will make $7 million in each of his final two seasons, which were his first two free agent seasons. It seems like a relatively good deal to lock up yet another player, especially considering that Hillenbrand will make $6.5 million next season, and he has never had an OPS+ of 110 or higher and is sub-par defensively, although he can play 1B or 3B. I'm not sure about the money being tied up to a player on the second most left part of the positional spectrum and who's career high OPS+ was of 127.

He apparently has growing power, even at the age of 29 as he achieves his highest SLG of his career with .508. Bill James baserunning analysis, featured in The Bill James Handbook, has Overbay as a very poor -10, making him a double play risk. With his gap swing, could you imagine how many triples this guy would get with even average speed? The VORP/$ analysis seems to like this signing as it comes up with Overbay being paid $165,289.26 per 1 VORP with last year's numbers and even less with the three year numbers: $146,222.58 per 1 VORP. ZIPS also projects him to be the second best offensive player for the Blue Jays, although since they project him with more at-bats than Thomas, he may actually be more valuable.

There are now three players left going to arbitration: Alex Rios, Reed Johnson and Scott Downs, they should all be signed before arbitration since J.P. has never let a player get to that stage. The Jays are locking up almost all their position players, and control a player at each position for the next couple seasons (if Adams counts as a SS). I'll keep updating this with more stats and what not throughout the day...

ESPN has two articles on GMs today:

  • The first is by Jays friend Keith Law where he talks about desperate GMs signing players to contracts where the bulk of the cost to the franchise is after their own contract expires. He does have a blurb about J.P. about the Wells signing:
    You can even see moral hazard appearing in contracts handed out by GMs who aren't on the hot seat. The Blue Jays gave Vernon Wells a heavily backloaded extension through 2014 (assuming Wells picks up his three-year, $63 million player option), but more than two-thirds of the money comes due after GM J.P. Ricciardi's contract expires in 2010. By deferring most of the payments due, Ricciardi keeps more payroll in the 2007-2010 years available to pay other players, even if it means killing the team's financial flexibility in 2011 and beyond.
  • Meanwhile Sean McAdam writes about the Jays joining the battle at the top of the AL East. Good read for everyone and I don't think it's an Insider article so enjoy.

Some more ZIPS thoughts coming up too.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Projecting the 2007 Blue Jays

The Zips projection for the 2007 Blue Jays came out and they look good! Some thoughts:

  • Let's start with the offense...Frank Thomas is listed as projecting the best OPS(.892) but having only 314 ABs...
  • There are four starters who are above average at their positions:
    • Thomas
    • Overbay who is projected as having the best AVG and OBP on the team
    • Wells who vastly outperforms the Average CF (.845 OPS to .774)
    • Glaus, predicted to hit 34 home runs
  • And obviously 5 under-average: Zaun, Clayton, Hill, Rios and Johnson
  • Alex Rios I believe is under-valued in this...his HRs are projected to go down by 4 in 40some more at bats? His numbers across the board going down? I just don't see it...
  • Middle infield is a problem...there's a surprise...
  • Zaun isn't even a league avg catcher...
now on to the pitching staff:
  • For the under-rating of the hitting group...i think this pitching staff is over-rated
  • FOUR members of the bullpen are projected with better ERAs than the league avg reliever!!! Led by closer B.J. Ryan (2.o5 ERA, 79 IPs), Brandon League (3.38 ERA, 96 IPs), Jeremy Accardo (3.69 ERA, 78 IPs) and Jason Frasor (3.77 ERA, 74 IPs)
  • The big two are both slotted to miss starts (28 GS and 27 GS respectively) but are seen to have great ERAs, both under 3.7 and a combined 27 wins.
  • 6 starters are seen as better than league avg for this team! SIX! Including Towers (even while giving up 28 HRs in 176 IPs). Thomson ranks as the third best starter but with only 127 IPs.
All in all, this is a good good team according to the projections! Now let's have a fun, using a Lineup Analysis tool we find that this team would score 5.237 runs per game with the lineup as I project it. It's actully pretty darn good but could be .1 run per game better. The lineups with the most runs according to this would have Overbay leading off...somehow I think that will not happen. Batting Rios first would be absolutely horrible with these projections so let's hope the Jays don't think about it. Also, Wells as a third hitter is seen in most of the worse watch for that...Jays fans should be optimistic with these projections even without the signing of a true third starter...but they are just computer projections! NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO GET CARRIED AWAY! Parade usually goes down Yonge St right?

Finally in other news:

Three Days of Thomson: On Day 3, he bashed New York Players

Goodbye Shea Hillenbrand and Ted Lilly...hello John Thomson. Apparently, Thomson isn't quite enamored with the New York Mets, who were the other team bidding for his services.

About Paul LoDuca:

"As far as just looking at Paul Lo Duca across the field, I'm not really into how he acts behind the plate,"
But before we judge Thomson's comments, let's take a look at the new Rosenthal column:
"Blue Jays right-hander John Thomson is not alone in his criticism of Mets catcher Paul LoDuca. Many rival players believe LoDuca is overrated defensively, and some Mets officials are still miffed that LoDuca allowed right-hander Guillermo Mota to abandon his changeup in a pivotal at-bat against the Cardinals' Scott Spiezio in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. Mota got ahead 0-2 on changeups, but Spiezio hit a two-out, two-run double off a fastball to tie the score. ..."
Good to know that Thomson only calls them as he sees them...

The outfield defense?
"And then with Vernon Wells in center field, I'm not really concerned about the outfield with him out there. ... Just watching the Mets' outfield, if Cliff Floyd is still there it's not a real good fit for him out there. He can hit the ball, but as far as defense, he's a little shaky."
Someone forgot to tell Thomson that he's suppose to hate the Yankees, not the Mets...and also that Floyd is no longer a Met...I like his competitive fire and his comments were probably just explanatory but I hope that for Jays management he's not as confrontational as he seems since John Gibbons is not winning any sensitivity awards lately. Is it too early to get him copies of this? I personally don't think so...But hey, Jays fans if nothing else, he should make for another entertaining season of when is" Gibby going punch him"? Let's just hope he doesn't write on the whiteboard or almost blow huge leads and get pissed off for being pulled before throwing the mandatory innings for a win. Maybe the new Jays slogan should be "Even when we're losing, things are ALWAYS exciting" since there seems to be this confrontational nature from the top of the organization down. Maybe J.P. can sign Floyd...

However, Thomson did have some good things to say about the Jays, as mentioned he praised Vernon's defense and:
"I know a bit about [Toronto catcher] Gregg Zaun and I know he wants to win and he's not going to let anything get in his way to do that, and I like that."
Also mentioned in this article is that A) Thomson makes $1.5 million if he makes the Opening Day roster and B) he's been told that a rotation spot is his to lose. Finally, he talked about his late season appearence I mentioned yesterday... "I threw nine pitches. I threw eight strikes and I got three outs so I was pretty happy," Thomson said.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

John Thomson...not Thompson

Thank Bob Elliott for today's title. Well if you didn't read the last post, John Thomson is a Blue Jay with a low risk signing of $500,000 plus incentives that could reach $4 million based on starts. Along with providing us with today's title, Bob Elliott also provided us with this:

Speier, who signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels, phoned Jays manager John Gibbons this week to sell him on 33-year-old right-hander John Thompson, who the Jays signed yesterday.
Wait, what? This guy doesn't have an agent? Is he that injured that he needs to be sold to managers? Can we pretend we didn't see that so Jays fans can stay optimisitc? Apparently his injury last year was a mild fraying of the labrum. J.P. had a couple quotes to give to the official Jays site...:
"Our optimistic outlook is to see him as a starter," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "There's a lot of arms we're bringing to camp that can hopefully round out the four and five spots [in the rotation]. I think it'll all take care of itself at Spring Training."

"We have no interest in Armas at this point," Ricciardi said. "We've liked Tony Armas in the past, but I just think right now -- with where we are financially and maybe where he's at -- we're just a little bit too far apart."
All in all, it's a depth signing and worth the limited risk. With the Jays depth he won't start unless he's good so the bonuses are well worth it. Interesting stat from Mooser7: "Thomson had the NL best ERA as at May 15th last year (after 9 starts)at 1.87."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jays sign a starter...John Thomson

Ricciardi has finally brought a starter into the mix...former Atlanta Brave John Thomson. He agreed to an incentive-laden contract with a $500,000 salary on Tuesday. Ricciardi explains his rationale:

"This is the kind of veteran guy we’re trying to bring in here to give us some innings,"
The veteran only threw 80 innings last season because of a couple injuries but he didn't throw too badly with an ERA of 4.82, ERA+ of 91, 46Ks and 32 BBs. His career ERA+ is of 103. He threw one perfect inning on September 27th against the Mets after coming back from his injury suffered in this July 9th game. This is a low risk signing by the Jays of only $500,000; certainly compared to the salaries being handed out this year. The Hardball Times had him ranked as one of the five most interesting free agents left...
Several weeks ago, it was reported that the Mariners were on the verge of signing Thomson to a one-year, $4 million contract. I was ready to hail that as an underrated, promising signing until ... well, it didn't happen. Thomson, of course, has quite the injury history, and perhaps interested teams have been scared off by medical data they've acquired.

If he's healthy, though, he could outperform many of the pitchers scoring three-year deals. Thomson has thrown 160 innings or more in five separate seasons, and his lowest ERA+ among those campaigns was 98, in 2002. His '06 performance is tough to put in a positive light, but '05 is a different story: while his ERA was below average in about 100 innings, his FIP, at 3.39, was a full run lower than his ERA. He'd be a gamble, but a few million bucks for a league-average starter? I'm surprised no one has yet rolled the dice.
Mariners had a $4 million dollar offer to him? This may be a sign that he failed a physical or that his health was a concern. But as stated, if he's healthy he's well worth the risk, certainly in this market. At the very least it allows the Jays to start the season with Taubenheim-McGowan-Janssen in AAA. BTW McGowan was apparently given another option to allow him to back to AAA because of his injury problems. More stat analysis later tonight or tomorrow, it's supper time.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback

Did anyone expect that Florida blowout? Me neither!! Well the Big Unit deal is official...and Jays fans want Ricciardi need a pitcher.

And there's good news for Jays fans:
(A.J. Burnett) is one of the premier pitchers in baseball when healthy.
And looking at the comment box...
I'm curious, what's your opinion on Jaime Campbell?
I like the guy, he works hard, he may not be the best in the biz but he's still a good commentator. I'd pick him over watching Glenn Healy on a hockey game any day.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Quick look at the news...

Not much going on today...

Ricciardi knows what the Jays lack:

"The thing is we don't have a No. 3 (starter) yet," Ricciardi said of his rotation. "We need somebody to replace Ted Lilly's innings (1821/3).

"One of our young guys is going to have to step up."

Obviously, he's been unable to get it because of the price of pitching. Even Vernon Wells as a trade chip couldn't bring in enough return...Well Janssen/Marcum/Towers/McGowan it is...Also mentioned in the article is interest in Tony Armas...really? This guy? At least it's betther than '06 Towers I guess...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What If?!? Josh Towers

I have been quite critical of the Jays for not getting a starter this off-season. I understand that the price, through free agency or trades, is much too high. You look at the examples with the contracts given to Eaton, Meche and Lilly and the trades of Johnson and Jennings. But, looking at the roster it seems that, unfortunately, the team has taken a step backwards. If Josh Towers is the 5th starter, it could be a complete disaster! But what if, what if he returns to his 2005 form or even his 3 year 2004-2006 form? Let's investigate...
Towers' career took a horrible turn last year with no true explication...a look at one article shows how even the pitching coach was dumbstruck about the lack of success:

"I've run out of ideas to try and help him get better," pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said of Towers, "but it really comes down to his ability to pitch on the plate when he needs to and on the edges when he has to.

"It's frustrating for all of us to see him have such an extraordinary year last season and be so on top of his game and then not be able to get close this year," Arnsberg said.

Towers was 2-10 last season in 62 innings with an ERA of 8.42, ERA+ of 56 and VORP of -18.9. He avged just over 4 innings per appearence (12 starts and 3 relief appearances). According to a BBTF article, the ERA+ of Toronto's 5th starters was a combined 71; the third worse in the AL (after NYY and Baltimore). Another article on Hardball Times has the 5th starter ERA for Toronto at 6.44; good enough for 5th worse in the AL. The lack of optimism for this year's pitching staff from Blue Jay fans can be well understood...
So WHAT IF Josh Towers re-discovers his 2005 form?
This version of Towers threw over 200 innings with an ERA of 3.71, which corresponds to an ERA+ of 120. That ERA would be over 2.5 runs per game better than last year's "composite 5th starter". His VORP for that season was 34.1 or about 53 VORP better than last year's. It's a difficult stat to split up and therefore it's hard to make a composite VORP for the "2006 5th starter" but let's split up the starters per starts (33 for the first two, 32 for the latter three)
  • 1st starter: Roy Halladay 32 starts, Francisco Rosario 1 start
  • 2nd starter: Ted Lilly 32 starts, Brian Tallet 1 start
  • 3rd starter: AJ Burnett 21 starts, Scott Downs 5 starts, Shawn Marcum 6(of 14) starts
  • 4th starter: Marcum 8 starts, Chacin 17 starts, Janssen 7 (of 17) starts
So according to this 10 of Janssen's starts should be considered for the 5th starter spot, and his VORP is 6.1, it goes down from there. So, to rough estimate that the rest of the pitchers who contributed to the 5th starting role's VORP is around 0 isn't too far fetched...But to have a nice round number, I'll say that their VORP was 3. That means that if Towers somehow finds his 2005 form, his improvement is worth approximately 5 wins to this team. That makes up for the 4.5 wins that the Jays have lost this off-season according to my previous little research. In essense, if he somehow finds that form...the Jays are about the same team they were last year with Lilly in the rotation. However, this does not include possible imporvements from young players or regressions from older players.

If he somehow finds his 3 year (2004-2006) form, his avg VORP for those years was 8.5, the improvement over last year's numbers would be good for approximately 2.5 wins, not enough to cover the losses the Jays have suffered this off-season.

So what? Well essentially, the Jays are hoping that Towers somehow re-finds his form to help compensate for the loss of Lilly. If Towers is in the rotation whichever starter takes the other empty spot also has to perform better, and they have to hope that Chacin can at least bounce back to give them 200 IPs, and a league average ERA+. If not, it could be a long season.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

First Weekend update

I'm working on a longer update, but there's a lot going on that needs to be shared with the Nation.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Lots of Jays news for a January Friday

The Big Unit deal is not yet official, so I will not yet report it :). When it does happen, you can expect a trade review here. However, lots of lil tidbits to pass along...

The official Jays site has an off-season ranks the off-season as a 5(out of 10) for J.P. and says that *GASP* the pitching staff still needs to be addressed. No kidding...certainly when their best guess at the rotation includes this: SP Josh Towers as the 5th starter.

The cause of the infection that afflicted Rios and Taubenheim was found and it's a big problem in Canada.

Hillenbrand keeps showing his "love" for the Jays in this article, taking shots at the Jays for getting mad at him for taking time off for the adoption. Not the Jays as much as Gibbons since he says Ricciardi knew and was ok with it. I think this was all a MASSIVE miscommunication and I'm not willing to place blame on Mr. Hillenbrand but I wish he'd just let it be at this point.

I've been working on a side project involving another sport...but expect another book review and another GM Analysis shortly. I've also been working on another side baseball project which shall be partially unveiled soon.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

AL East: Signings, Trades...oh my

The AL East keeps busy as the Red Sox signed a pitcher, the Yankees signed another and have almost completed the Big Unit trade.
The Red Sox signed Joel Pineiro to a one year, $4 million deal. They fully intend to have him compete for the closer's job. It seems the Sox are trying to find a bargain at closer now that Papelbon is back in the rotation.

The Yankees are apparently close to completing the Randy Johnson trade as he has already agreed to an extension with Arizona. One player we know that will be coming to New York in this deal is reliever Luis Vizcaino. They also signed an agreement in principle with Doug Mientkiewicz.

The Yanks lose a starter who has struggled in his two years with New York with ERA+ of 117 and 88, although he threw 200 IPs in each year. Arizona is hoping he returns to his 2004 form where he had a 171 ERA+ in 245.7 innings for a team that was absolutely awful. Along with shedding Johnson's salary and picking up a couple prospects, New York adds a reliever who had an ERA+ of 110, 119 and 133 in the past three year, all years in which he threw over 65 innings. This trade deepens their bullpen but they are placing a lot of expectations on Carl Pavano bouncing back from his injury problems.
And a quick scan across the league....

It continues...looking at the Jays off-season

Ok the Baltimore/Toronto is raging. Just to re-iterate...I have a bad feeling in my gut that the Orioles are in a better position than the Jays to compete. It does not mean that I refute the statistical evidence, it just means that it's a feeling. Obviously I don't feel comfortable with the Jays roster let's look at it.

Jays have lost (this off-season):

Bengie Molina C 433 At bats, OPS+ 98, VORP 15.5
Justin Speier RP 51.3 IPs, ERA+ 158, VORP 26.4
Frank Catalanotto LF 437 At bats, OPS+ 108, VORP 17.4
Ted Lilly SP 181.7 IPs, ERA+ 109, VORP 16.1


Shea Hillenbrand DH 296 At bats, OPS+ 107, VORP 11.4
Scott Schoeneweis RP 37.3 IPs, ERA+ 73, VORP -1.2
Eric Hinske RF/CI 197 at bats, OPS+ 118, VORP 10.4

Totalling it off, on offense the Jays have lost 1363 at bats for a total VORP of 70.8. They also lost 270.3 innings from their pitching staff with a total VORP of 41.3. So a total VORP of 111.3 was lost in the players that have left this team in since the mid point of last season. That equals about 11 wins taken away from the Jays team (10 VORP is roughly one win). What they've brought in:

Frank Thomas DH 466 at bats, OPS+ 141, VORP 41.3
Royce Clayton SS 454 at bats, OPS+ 66, VORP -1.9
Matt Stairs LF 348 at bats, OPS+ 88, VORP 2.4

And what have they brought in from other teams? The Jays have signed 3 players who last year had 1268 at bats for a total VORP of 41.8. So that added about 4 wins to the total and this is of course if Stairs makes the team. The new players almost make up the difference in at bats, although it will be difficult to find a place for Stairs to get that many at bats. So with the Thomas signing by itself, Ricciardi and co. have almost made up the losses on offense of the past year and reduced the loss of wins to around 3. This analysis does not factor in Adam Lind (60 abs, 156 OPS+), who may have a role in the Jays offense but will probably start at AAA.

But let’s say that Lind picks up the slack for the 95 at bats that are lacking…Lind put up an 8.4 VORP in his 60 at bats, I don’t think there’s any way he replicates this kind of production but let’s give him an 8.4 VORP in 95 at bats to go with a decrease in production. So with this rough estimate, the Jays lost about 2.5 wins because of their offense.

More worrisome is the pitching staff, where the Jays will look internally to replace the 270 innings thrown by Schoenweis, Lilly and Speier. Janssen/Marcum (ERA+ of 93) will be asked to pick up the innings that Lilly’s loss have created while Accardo (ERA+ of 79) and League (ERA+ of 186) should see more action out of the bullpen. I think the Jays will lose maybe 2 games because of the pitching changes. Accardo should be better, League should not be as good and one of Janssen/Marcum should be better. So all in all, the Jays instead of taking a step towards Boston and New York have taken a 4.5 win step backwards. Considering they beat the Orioles by more than 15 games this shouldn't be that worrisome? So the stats go against the gut?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Baltimore vs. Toronto Part 2

Well before we get to a bit of a statistical analysis, there's some required reading

  • Dayn Perry weighs in on the Mets off-season and says that it helps Minaya's rep
  • Kevin Kennedy uses the Cardinals as a model for General Managers
  • Slezak compares Ken Williams to Billy Beane...and uses the Beane Count title...
  • I also updated the AL East Review and will work on updating the free agents table throughout the day
On to the Orioles vs Jays argument...I've posted an article I just wrote up here with the statistics study I completed to try to evaluate what my gut was telling me. Naturally, the study goes against my gut, which is why you should always thorougly examine something in as many ways as possible. Do I retract my statement? Not at all, the gut says the Orioles could be 2007's Detroit Tigers...while I think every day of how one injury can derail the entire Jays season. Quick overview of the two teams compartively:
  • The Jays have an advantage offensively, but the Orioles offense should not be dismissed, they have a better catcher, second baseman and shortstop, along with a better bench. The Jays' position players are not as versatile as the Orioles and therefore, since a couple have injury histories, it will be tougher to adjust if injuries hit. The lineup is also very right-handed, Stairs and Overbay are the only dependable lefty bats.
  • The biggest difference is, surprise surprise, at shortsop where Tejada is a much superior player than the Clayton/McDonald combo
  • The rotation advantage goes to the Jays because of their top duo of Halladay and Burnett , however Bedard is getting better and Mazzone's impact should not be dismissed in his second season. Also, the Jays have injury concerns with two of their top three starters (Chacin and Burnett) and although they have tremendous depth at the position...the depth starters should not be counted upon to replace Halladay or Burnett for an extended period of time
  • The Jays have the better closer after having signed him away from the Orioles last season but the Orioles have great veteran depth in the pen and the Jays do not yet know who will be relied upon as their top reliever after Ryan. So the bullpen is better in Baltimore until the ninth inning
So what does everyone think? The Jays obviously look like the better team but one injury to one of the key players could be over for the Jays. If I'm the Jays, I'm more scared of Halladay, Burnett, Glaus, Wells or Zaun going down than the Orioles are about any player except Tejada or Hernandez I believe.

Baltimore vs. Toronto

So the thing about posting a statement that goes on your gut on a web page that's visited often is that somebody will call you on it. Sometimes, you don't have the evidence for what you're saying, it just comes from down there...I like the Jays team, I think the offense could be dominant...but then I look at the pitching staff. So having said that, a scan of comments yesterday gives...

Wow, I'm surprised that you think they're(Orioles) in a better position than the Jays. What's your reasoning behind that?
I don't know, I made the statement on a first glance, I just have this feeling that they can make up the 16 wins on the Jays, but more importantly can compete for the top position in the AL East. It's a team that has attacked all their holes this off-season without touching their depth (aside from Britton and Hawkins). They still have some trade chips including Hayden Penn who right now slots in as a long reliever. The Jays have a couple ok trade chips(the spare young starters after the rotation is set) or trade chips they probably won't trade (Johnson/Lind/Rios) . They've lost their platoon catcher and left fielder, their number three starter and their setup man. This is after trading their LOOGY, Utility bat and their DH in-season. They've added Frank Thomas and Royce Clayton...Is it enough to make up 16 games on the Jays? Maybe not, but I believe it's more likely of everything going right for the Orioles than it is for the Jays.
Their bullpen albeit expensive looks inproved but bullpens are so hit or miss. Who knows if Bradford won't turn back into a pumpkin? Walker, Williamson are name guys but are they even going to be better than replacement level? Depends on how they use them I suppose.
I like what they've done with their bullpen, them along with Cleveland have just signed some very good relievers to help out a young bullpen. We've seen that throwing money at a bullpen isn't always the best way to improve it but the relievers signed should give the O's effective above-average innings.
I don't think their hitters are better than the Jays and I'm not just using my rose colored Jays glasses. Mora's seems like he could be done anytime, Patterson was solid last year and seemed to just kill the Jays but what if he goes back to hitting .250?
The hitters as a whole I don't believe are better but they're better than the Jays at SS, 2B and C. I like the flexibility that Payton and Huff gives them in case of injuries and unlike the Jays they have a good mix of lefties and righties. The double-play combo has bene together for a while instead of the rotating Jays middle-infield and have an above-average defensive catcher. Of course, this is based on looking at the roster without statistical evaluation...which comes tomorrow...Happy New Year everyone.