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One of Happ's teammates, Brandon Morrow, is a good example of how diversifying your repertoire can help elevate a pitcher's game. Morrow is throwing more changeups and breaking pitches and hitters can no longer sit dead red. He's become more of a pitcher, less of a thrower (though he can still dial it up).
My friends swear by the Jake Peavy patch.
The Jays have a bunch of guys who (arguably) belong in this category:
Not quite a comeback (more like, "Oh, this thing has another gear?"), but how about the formerly-mocked Edwin Encarnacion?
OPS by year (2009 - 2012): 729, 787, 787, 935
DJ Davis and Marcus Stroman are having nice starts, too.
Encarnacion may be merely good, but he's having a great season.
Maybe. I'm a Jays fan, and the organization has impressively retooled in recent years, but I want to see more results before anointing them the next anything. And who is going to be in the 2015 rotation? Lots of potential, but also lots of question marks. Plus, the competition is going to remain fierce.
The Jays' #22 pick is now protected, per the new CBA, no?
Kevin, a commenter in Toronto noted Carlos Ruiz as a possible comp for d'Arnaud, citing his body type and hitting style. Any thoughts? Too conservative or about right?
Is Aaron Sanchez a potential #1 down the road?
Nicolino is basically Hamels without the power stuff. Hamels is like Jamie Moyer, but with a lot more power and projectability. Moyer, unfortunately, is sui generis.
Any chance (a) Nicolino adds some velo over the next couple of years, and (b) Syndergaard improves his secondary stuff? I know you'd like to see more present velo (Nicolino) and a breaking ball/change (Syndergaard) from them, but they are still pretty young.
This is a heady group of prospects (the Jays' five best, more or less).
Scary to think that the list doesn't even get to faves like Norris, Sanchez, Hutchison, Cardona, to name a few. Also: Toronto fans are monitoring the Hechavarria situation, as he's an awesome defender and is off to a good start with the bat in 2012 (tiny sample size).
Here's another: 21-year-old Henderson Alvarez is going to be (is already) a very good starting pitcher.
Roberto Osuna is another pitching lottery ticket in the Jays system, although he's really far off. Wojciechowski could eke his way back into the company of Syndergaard and Nicolino with a good 2012.
How close were Jays prospects Hutchison, Nicolino and McGuire?
Lawrie's star is brighter now than it was at the time of the trade. At the time, he looked very good but not yet great offensively in AA, his defense at 2B was in question (and he didn't want to play there), with many observers anticipating a move to a corner OF position, and there were doubts about his makeup.
Obviously, a great job by AA to see Lawrie's promise and to make what was a pretty bold move at the time (one-for-one deal, no other prospects to turn to if Lawrie failed to pan out).
Who has a better arm: Anthony Gose or Sergio Santos?
Given the spending and draft comp constraints under the new CBA, how do moderate-budget teams like the Jays keep their farm system burgeoning? After this summer (when the Jays have some extra first and supp round picks in the draft), it seems like some key avenues for stockpiling talent have been closed off (extra picks for Type Bs, going over slot in the draft, spending aggressively on IFAs). Where do AA, LaCava & co. find a strategic advantage?
Also: does Chad Jenkins still have a shot at being a respectable #4 or 5 starter in the AL East?
How close was Roberto Osuna to the top 20?
Glad Sugar made the list. Very good movie.
Any word on Travis d'Arnaud (thumb)?
Saying "Ni! Ni!" incessantly would certainly raise questions about a prospect's makeup. However, I would be more concerned about seeing him "silly walk" his way down to first after a base on balls.
I guess he could be a semi-valuable trade chip as a versatile outfielder come July, maybe for a young prospect with upside to add depth to a rebuilding system.
If the batting glove don't fit, you must acquit!
Oh wait, sorry...wrong trial.
Not a bad idea, although I would hate to give up on Drabek at age 23. It looked like he got overwhelmed in his first go-around in the majors, although it's true that he seemed a mechanical and mental mess by the summer. Beckham, on the other hand, is 25 and has had close to two full seasons of poor performance, with the trend getting worse, not better.
I would give Drabek the better chance (even if it isn't a great one) of turning it around and becoming a frontline player.
I don't really see Fielder signing with Toronto unless he wants to accept a five- or six-year deal, and someone is going to give him seven or eight years--maybe more.
Besides, the Jays aren't really contenders yet. The rotation is thin behind Romero and Alvarez, the bullpen needs a partial overhaul, and there are question marks about the lineup apart from 1B (2B, CF, LF, possibly C). The Jays have a lot of prospects coming, but the vast majority of them are still at least a year or two away. The team is going in the right direction, but is betwixt and between at the moment.
It's not very sexy, but if I were AA I would stay away from the big-name, mega-expensive free agents and stick to the "build from within" game plan (supplemented by trades). When the talent is really flowing (as it did in the mid-80s and early 90s), go ahead - add a free agent or two to put you over the top.
So, now that AA has collected his Type B pick for Molina, who should he sign to back up Arencibia in Toronto (assuming that d'Arnaud is about a year away)?
Snider often looked a mess this year, and didn't have much patience at the MLB level either. The potential is still there, but his mechanics seem to have been altered so many times that he no longer knows whether he's coming or going. If Snider emerges as a first-division corner OF, great, but I wouldn't count on it happening.
Oh, and of course Norris belongs in that group of talented young arms.
Somehow the Jays need to get a couple of above-average arms into the rotation. Anthopoulos has proved his mettle thus far, so I wouldn't put it past him to get it done through trades or FA/IFA signings. If the Jays go the internal route, it could be at least a couple of years before we see some of the pitching prospects performing well in the majors. Most of the better arms in the system are pretty young (Hutchison, Molina, Syndergaard, Nicolino, Sanchez, Cardona, Osuna). The older ones (McGuire, Jenkins, Drabek) could be OK but each has had some issues in 2011.
And on July 30th?
Maybe the Jays could loan the Brewers Lawrie and Escobar (and a case of real beer) next year so that they can make the playoffs again, and the Brewers could loan the Jays Marcum and Greinke in 2013, so that *they* can make the playoffs. Instead of the Jays making the playoffs every 20 years, they can play in the postseason every two years. Hey, a new market inefficiency!
The Rays wouldn't even be in the playoff conversation had the Red Sox not swooned in recent weeks. On July 30th, the Rays were 10.5 games behind Boston and 8.5 games behind New York. It's hard to fault them for not rushing out to trade for Carlos Beltran, Heath Bell or Ubaldo Jiminez. The team probably decided that it was best to regroup for 2012 and beyond - not an unreasonable approach, given their young core and excellent farm system. The Rays look like they could be very competitive for the next several years.
As for Desmond Jennings and Matt Moore, Kevin's point is well taken, but as a Jays fan, I've seen prospects implode when called up too early (Snider, Drabek), so I think it's reasonable for the Rays to want their prospects to be well-seasoned, not only for service time issues but also for developmental purposes. I probably agree that Jennings should have been called up earlier, though. Fuld may be a legend, but he's been ineffective for many months now.
Is D'Arnaud a better catching prospect than J.P. Arencibia was at a similar stage in his career?
Oh, and Travis D'Arnaud, the Eastern League MVP. The list goes on.
The Jays' farm system has been remarkable this year. Other guys that have exploded this year include Henderson Alvarez, Drew Hutchison, Nestor Molina, Justin Nicolino, and Noah Syndergaard, to name several. The future looks bright in Toronto.
Doubt McGowan will be in a position to pitch back-to-back games. My guess is he'll pitch in whatever role allows for a predictable, steady workload, week in, week out - at least until he builds up his shoulder strength. I could see him as a 5th starter or in the back end of the bullpen (pitching 1-3 innings every few days).
The Jays under AA have thus far avoided handing out big free agent contracts, preferring to build from within and through trades. What are the chances that changes this off-season? Signing Pujols or Fielder seems unlikely, as either player would require a huge financial commitment over at least six years. However, Lind has been mediocre this year and there doesn't appear to be a solid internal option for 1B. Do the benefits of signing a late-20s Fielder or an early-30s Pujols outweigh the risk?
D'Arnaud / Marisnick - wow. Both players have had brilliant 2011 seasons.
Drabek - not so much. Kevin, have you heard any scouting reports on what's wrong with him? Is he having mechanical trouble? Steve Blass issues? Does he need to be rebuilt, the way Roy Halladay had to be overhauled in A-ball in 2000?
Marisnick: future CF or RF? And what might be his ETA in the majors?
Who knows? Personally, I think he's tried to assimilate too many mechanical suggestions, and is having major confidence issues to boot. The pressure of being the offspring of a successful starting pitcher probably isn't helping.
I don't think anyone can say definitively that he's done - he's still relatively young - but he's got a lot of work to do.
Hechavarria reportedly made a mechanical adjustment with AAA hitting coach Chad Mottola, and has done well so far at that level (small sample size alert). Still a long shot to make it as a full-time SS, or is there still hope that he can hit enough to make the grade?
Next up: trading John McDonald and a PTBNL for John McDonald and a PTBNL, with the PTBNL in both cases being John McDonald. That would take the concept of "rent-a-player" to new heights.
What would be the incentive for KJ to agree to decline arbitration, should AA offer it? It doesn't seem as though AA has any leverage in the matter (apart from his natural boyish charm).
McDonald dropped several hints during the press conference that he has discussed returning to Toronto with AA (as a player, and eventually as a coach). I imagine that most Jays fans would be happy about this. Hill also expressed an openness to returning to Toronto via free agency, although that seems less likely. In any case, the Jays will need *someone* to play 2B next year.
Plus $100M or so in annual player payroll. Silly little details. Really, it's all about team chemistry, not money.
I think that's true.
I think part of the subtext is just how despairing Jays fans had become during the Ash and Ricciardi years. In just a couple of years since, AA has made a series of bold, transformative (and yes, ingenious) moves that the two previous GMs seemed utterly incapable of pulling off. So there's a lot of pent-up happiness being released by the fans around the internet and on call-in shows.
But yeah, the true test is still to come: taking an improved roster and farm system and producing a championship team.
AA still has a lot to prove, but it's hard to deny that he's done a great job so far (Morrow, Escobar, Rasmus, Lawrie, extending Bautista for 5/$65M, re-signing EE for $2.5M, the Wells trade, the ROD (return on Doc), acquiring surplus draft picks, early draft returns, increased IFA bidding, revamping organizational philosophy generally towards more scouting + higher-ceiling acquisitions).
To do all this as a rookie GM in his early 30s is pretty impressive.
Any votes for Jake Marisnick? He's having a fabulous year for low-A Lansing.
Not really a prospect, but how about a shout-out about Dustin McGowan? Just pitched 4 shutout innings with 4 K's in his latest rehab stint with apparently good stuff. He's steadily making his way back to the bigs after a litany of injuries (including shoulder labrum surgery and rotator cuff surgery, I believe) and several years of rehabilitation. He last pitched in the majors in 2008.
Kevin, what is Marisnick's likely timetable to the majors? Dunedin in 2012, New Hampshire/Vegas in 2013, Blue Jays in 2014?
KG, I know that comps are usually a mug's game, but does Hutchison remind you of anyone? I'm curious as to what kind of pitcher he is. He's about average height (6'2") and fairly slight (165 lbs), but has decent velocity and good strikeout numbers. His control is apparently very good, and he rarely allows HRs. And he's young for the league. It's an intriguing combination.
Re d'Arnaud: who are the other Cs in the discussion for top catching prospect?
It's not that adding those prospects doesn't help Houston's long-term plans, it's just that some people think they could have done better, considering that Pence and Bourn were hot commodities at the deadline.
Good summary of the deadline winners, although some might quibble with the inclusion of certain teams. Personally, I felt that Houston could have received more in exchange for Pence and Bourn.
As a Jays fan, I'm thrilled about the Rasmus trade. Toronto can be a good place for a player to get his career back on track (see, for example, Bautista, Escobar and Morrow). Colby doesn't have to become an all-star to make this trade worthwhile. Considering who he's replacing (Corey Patterson and Rajai Davis), solid-average would be a major upgrade.
Rzep found a niche as a late-inning LHP reliever with Toronto, in much the same way that Scott Downs reinvented himself as a top lefty reliever with the Jays several years ago. IMO Rzep isn't dominating enough to be a closer, and lacks the repertoire to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. However, some Toronto fans feel that he could contribute more value in the rotation.
Rzep is a useful reliever, but certainly shouldn't be considered the centrepiece of the deal (E-Jax is the main player going to St. Louis). The Rasmus trade helps the Cards compete in 2011, but it doesn't do a whole lot for them beyond this season. It's a win-now deal.
These updates are a great "quick hit" on interesting performances in the minors. The Future Shock blog and articles are among the first sources I check out each day. Great work.
Oh, I know he's nothing like Bautista - it's just that his last ten days vaguely resembled Joey Bats' stratospheric triple slash line this season. For one thing, Marisnick has speed and could end up in CF. Also, Marisnick is unlikely ever to hit anywhere close to 50+ HR in the majors. It was sort of a dumb comp - how about Mike Trout instead? Kidding, just kidding!
I know you've highlighted him several times, but I thought I would post a shout-out about Jake Marisnick, who hit HRs on July 14, 15 and 17, and is hitting 381/435/738 in his last 10 games (the 20-year-old is hitting 315/380/498 overall in low-A ball). You'd almost think he was modelling himself after some org guy named Bautista.
Did Drew Hutchison and Anthony Gose garner any consideration? Would they make a top 75 list? Top 100?
Thanks for the update. How would you rank these 2010 Jays pitching draftees at this point: Sanchez, Syndergaard, Wojciechowski, Nicolino, Murphy?
Fun article. I would be interested in reading more of these (comparing two or more elite prospects), although the chance to compare outsized talents such as Trout and Harper will obviously be rare.
I absolutely love Trout and his skill set, but I would probably go with Harper. Nothing is a sure thing when it comes to prospects, but Harper simply has too much prodigious talent to turn down.
The dearth of top-shelf SS prospects in the minors makes the Jays' acquisition (and subsequent extension) of Yunel Escobar look that much better. Yunel has rock-solid defensive skills, a respectable bat, and an arguably team-friendly contract. He's also in his prime and seems to be fitting in nicely with some mentoring assistance from Bautista. He's been anything but a headache for the organization this year.
No love for Noah Syndergaard? His minor-league debut for the Bluefield Blue Jays: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K.
This move and the Bautista signing also send a nice signal to Latino players considering signing with the Jays, ie, that Toronto is a welcoming environment for Latinos. Bring on the international talent!
Cooper is hitting 386/442/575 in the admittedly inflationary PCL. He has 27 doubles so far (but only 4 HR). His BB:K ratio is 22:17. It's weird - these number would suggest that his hit tool is already quite advanced, but he often looked overmatched during a brief callup this year. It might be worth it for some NL team to try to obtain him cheaply - he could have a similar trajectory to that of Brett Wallace.
Not sure if the Jays would let him go for a song, though.
KG, any word on whether Brett Cecil's velocity is back to normal (ie, FB in the low 90s)?
I would be happy if Deck were consistently good, but not great, in the majors. Maybe (thinking optimistically) a solid RHP with good-but-not-amazing stuff like James Shields, Shaun Marcum, Wade Davis, or Bronson Arroyo.
I'm a huge Jays fan, but I didn't think the article was out of line. Everyone knows that the Jays have made some good moves under AA, but that a lot of work still needs to be done. And after many years of hype under JP, it's reasonable to hold off on getting excited until the team starts demonstrating consistently promising results on the field.
Marisnick 3/5 today - batting line now up to 365/455/576.
NIce start from Hutchison too (future Future Shock entry? He has pretty solid numbers after five starts).
Kevin, does Marisnick have a shot at playing CF in the majors? That would make him all the more exciting as a prospect.
Thanks for this - my sense is that AA is a very intelligent GM, but likes to fly below the radar. He tends to give credit to others, and doesn't do much in the way of self-promotion, which is refreshing.
No mention of Zach Stewart? His April 18 start for AA New Hampshire: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. More potential competition for the Toronto rotation this year and next.
I think Zach Stewart and Adeiny Hechavarria have an outside shot at being the top prospect next year. If Stewart consolidates his gains over the last two years and steps up, he could well be the top pitching prospect in the organization (with competition from Sanchez, McGuire, Alvarez and a couple of others). Similarly, if Lawrie is promoted around mid-season, Hechavarria (if he has a good year) could eke out d'Arnaud, Perez and Gose among positional prospects.
As a Jays fan, I have to highlight Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Gose, Travis d'Arnaud, and Carlos Perez - four up-the-middle players with lots of defensive promise and some offensive potential. Jays fans are pretty excited about these four prospects.
Anecdotally (as a Jays fan), I can confirm this. Gregg was quite good last year when he pitched with sufficient rest. It amazed me that Cito kept calling on him on consecutive days, even after the pattern became apparent. Naturally, in the latter situations, he would nibble, walk the house, get even more tired, give up a big hit or two, and the Jays would lose.
The O's should use him fairly frequently, but always give him at least one day of rest (preferably two or more) between outings. If they adhere to this approach, he should be fine (30 saves or so, walks a bit higher than you'd like, but good peripherals overall).
AA has made great moves so far. To name just a few: Morrow, Escobar, Drabek/D'Arnaud/Gose, Lawrie, the 2010 draft, jettisoning Wells, the decent players acquired cheaply and parlayed into draft picks (Gregg, Buck, Olivo), the forays into the Latin American market, the 2011 bullpen. However, it's still early days. After many years of mediocrity it will take time to really turn the Jays franchise around. Let's give AA his due for getting off to a good start, and see how things go over the next two or three years before getting our knickers in a knot.
Made all the more poignant by his inclusion on this list.
I think your headline-writer misspelled the GM's name...
Interesting article, though.
Edwin Encarnacion - as Alex Anthopoulos said (quoting from memory here), "I think he has one more gear in him." Now, one more gear doesn't get EE to 54 home runs, but a bit of hitting-coach magic and he could rack up a respectable HR total, and maybe add some more walks into the bargain. There have been a couple of series in the last year or two where he's completely gone off. He just has to do it a bit more consistently.
Anthopoulos is likely also angling for one or more compensation picks next off-season (ie, from one or more of Frasor, Dotel, Rauch, Camp, Bautista...). Of course, he may decide not to offer arb to some of the average-ish relievers, but he could if they have strong seasons (a la Kevin Gregg).
I think the most exciting player in the system is Gose. High upside, high risk of being a bust. Like Devo, he could be a very valuable player without being an outstanding hitter.
AA has not only gone a long way toward rebuilding the farm system, he has also added some good young major-league talent in Morrow and Escobar.
Personally, I would have rated Arencibia a three- or four-star prospect. But he's a bit of an unknown quantity at this point. He could do really well or fizzle out altogether.
Any chance that Lawrie could play 3B, instead of a corner OF position?
"Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes."- Buck Murdock, Airplane II
Any chance that the savvy John Farrell uses Dotel as something of a ROOGY to get players like A-Rod, Longoria, and Pedroia out? Then Purcey can come in and pitch to Cano, Ortiz, Gonzalez, et al. Of course, between the two of them there will likely be a walk or two thrown in, maybe a hit batter, but they could be a sorta-effective combo.
How about Jays prospect David Cooper?
I don't think AA expects his team to contend in 2011. I would say 2012 is the earliest the team could be a serious contender, and more likely 2013 or 2014. At that point the rotation (Romero/Morrow/Cecil/Drabek/Stewart, maybe McGuire) should be both talented and experienced and there should be some good positional players at the MLB level (Snider, Lawrie, Arencibia/D'Arnaud/Perez, Hechavarria, Lind, Hill, Escobar, maybe Gose).
The Jays have a terrible team OBP. This is the main reason why they won't contend for a playoff spot. They have some decent hitters, but on the whole it's a lineup of hackers (Hill, Encarnacion, Wells, Arencibia, to some extent Lind).
Dotel could be effective if used judiciously with an eye to matchups. Rzep and Purcey could be used against some LHB to limit his exposure. Having Dotel come in to face Crawford, Gonzalez and Ortiz, or Teixeira, Cano and Posada, simply because he's a "proven closer" with a big arm, would seem to be courting disaster.
NIce summary of the trade from each team's perspective. I think it's a good move for Milwaukee, although injuries (and depth, or lack thereof) are always the wild card in this type of scenario. Championship teams usually have one or more players emerge unexpectedly (sometimes from the farm) to make significant contributions, and it will be harder to do this with a decimated farm system.
It's funny - remember how much everyone loved Seattle's chances last year after the Lee acquisition? I think at least one of this off-season's paper tigers will end the season with a meow, not a roar. In any case, I'm looking forward to some exciting divisional races in both leagues.
How about Jose Bautista, Mark Rzepczynski (or Zach Stewart), and Jason Frasor for Domonic Brown (+ maybe a lesser prospect)? In exchange for the highly touted (but still unproven) Brown, the Phillies get:
- An athletic, versatile, home-run machine w/ high OBP who also happens to be a good RF (with a cannon for an arm). In other words, the perfect replacement for Werth - if you believe in his transformation in 2011 (most Jays fans do)
- A solid late-inning reliever with good peripherals, providing bullpen depth
- A cheap, promising starter with #2/3 upside (Stewart) or #4/5 upside (Rzep)
- Two or three draft picks for Frasor (likely a Type B next year) and Bautista (Type A or B) after 2011
In exchange, the Jays get more young, high-upside talent to help with their (thus far impressive) rebuilding project.
The Jays are deep in catching prospects, with the likes of Arencibia, D'Arnaud, Jeroloman, AJ Jimenez, and Carlos Perez.
I think AA needs to stay the course, add a few draft picks by offering the free agent relievers and catcher arbitration, stay aggressive in the draft and in the international free agent market, make a couple of more high-upside acquisitions via free agency and trades (like Hechavarria and Anthony Gose), extend Marcum for a few years, and look to trade Bautista for an A and a B prospect at the deadline if he keeps up his offensive surge in 2011.
Contention is likely a few years away, but the team seems to have the right management team in place to get it done. A lot will also depend on whether Rogers is willing to spend enough, year-in and year-out, to put the team over the top.
As a Jays fan, I'm interested to see how Wimmers compares to Deck McGuire over time (Wimmers was available to the Jays at #11 and would have been a reasonable draft choice for a team that has developed a lot of pitching, including the likes of Shaun Marcum, who seems to have a similar profile). McGuire waited until the 11th hour to sign and won't make his professional debut until next year, so Wimmers has a head start on the Georgia Tech righthander.
Jose has had a wonderful season, and has been a joy to watch, but I don't think AA will break the bank for him. The GM is on a long-term rebuilding plan and the Jays still aren't good enough to beat the elite teams in the AL East. I'm guessing he either (1) goes the arb route with Bautista (preferably settling on a figure), then deals him at next year's trade deadline (or takes the draft picks), or (2) signs him to a three-year deal (if the team and Bautista can come to terms). But I would be surprised if he offers Jose more than three years, $30M or so.
My guess is that Stewart will be recalled as long as it doesn't interfere with New Hampshire's AA playoff hopes. He's almost 24 and has earned a September callup with his performances over the last two years.
Zach Stewart is also in the mix for the Jays' 2011 rotation, should someone get injured or traded. He's a good starting pitching prospect who has excelled over the last couple of months. The next tier of potential starters includes players like Mills, Rzepczynski, Litsch and Ray.
A front six of Romero/Marcum/Cecil/Morrow/Drabek/Stewart could be very good. The offense and defense probably isn't quite there yet, but with players like Snider, Arencibia, Escobar, Hill, Lind and Bautista, there is a good foundation in place at the major-league level. Adding a couple of players like Beltre or Crawford could vault the team in contention, although I expect AA to continue on the rebuilding path for the time being (which is probably wise).
It may still turn out that the M's picked the right trading partner, but my feeling is that Montero would have been the better acquisition, even given his defensive issues. 20-year-olds with an 867 OPS in the minors who have already advanced to AAA (and who have already managed to kick it into high gear after a couple of months at that level) don't exactly grow on trees.
The trick is to trade for guys like Domonic Brown *before* they become the best prospect in the minors (preferably when they're having an off season at an early age). That's what the Marlins did so brilliantly in trading for Ramirez.
Buster Olney recently reported that Bautista could be awarded $10-12M in arbitration after 2010, and therefore might be more easily obtainable in a trade (i.e., because the Jays would be unwilling to pay him that much). Is there a precedent for a career utilityman making $2.4M to receive such a huge salary boost, essentially quadrupling or quintupling his earnings, following a breakout year (even with 40+ HR, 100 RBI, among the league leaders in walks, etc)?
For me, this trade is win-win.
The Braves solidify their roster for a playoff run (Gonzalez provides very good defense, adequate offense, and has excellent makeup). Collins and Pastornicky are underrated prospects who could be solid major-leaguers, especially in the NL. All three players acquired by Atlanta appear to have outstanding makeup.
The Jays parlay a low-cost free agent signing (Gonzalez) and two decent-but-not-top prospects into the age 27-30 (or more) seasons of a big-time SS talent who has had significant success in the majors. It's a gamble, but a worthy gamble for a rebuilding team. The Morrow trade is a reasonable comp (buying low on a major talent) and that deal already looks like a coup for Toronto.
However, my gut tells me that Atlanta comes out ahead on this one, possibly because I love overachieving players. A-Gon has impressed me this year (I'm a Jays fan) and I like both Jays prospects - Collins especially. Time will tell, obviously.
Scott Downs is another intriguing reliever, depending on the acquiring team's needs. If you want a solid eighth-inning lefty setup man, Downs is the guy. If you want a RHP who can close or pitch late in the game, Gregg could be useful (note: the key to having Gregg excel is not to overuse him).
Downs is a likely Type A free agent, which means the Jays will want more in return for him. Gregg could end up as a Type B.
Point taken, but you know, Ryan Howard has only had one 1000+ OPS season, and Justin Morneau (career OPS: 868) has never had one. A first baseman who regularly posts 850+ OPS seasons is actually pretty valuable. Of course, Wallace has a long way to go before being in Morneau's league.
What about Brett Wallace? For me, choosing between Arencibia and Wallace in the Jays system is a tough call. As you note, Arencibia is posting massive numbers this year, but Wallace is eight months younger, has hit more consistently in the minors, and is hitting 301/363/507 (to Arencibia's 308/357/615). It's true that Arencibia plays a premium position (and is apparently a plus defender), but Wallace looks like someone who could play a decent 1B and post 850+ seasons on a regular basis in the majors.
I initially thought that Shaun Marcum could be the ideal fit for a contending team looking for a #2 or #3 starter (outstanding competitor, phenomenal changeup, solid numbers, relatively cheap, under team control for 2.5 years), but now I'm thinking that teams might have concerns about his workload, given that he's coming off TJ surgery and his previous high in IP is 159.
Nice article...I don't see the Jays as serious contenders (although they could hang tough if the bats of Lind/Hill/Overbay wake up, Morrow continues to get untracked, and a 5th starter emerges from among Litsch, Rzep et al. Having Snider back could help as well). The main thing is to keep the long-term rebuilding project on track, which means that the Jays will likely be sellers at the deadline (with Downs, Frasor, Gregg, Tallet, Overbay, and maybe Bautista, Gonzalez or Buck on the block).
A rotation of Marcum, Romero, Cecil, Drabek, and Morrow has the potential to be pretty solid for the next few years.
The Jays have rebounded nicely from the Gregg/Marcum/Downs meltdowns with a couple of wins against the Yankees (including a 14-inning game in which the bullpen pitched very well). Both Cecil and Romero were dominating. The weird thing is how well the team has played despite (a) the bevy of late-inning losses, (b) Hill, Lind and Overbay hitting poorly, and (c) Litsch, Rzep and Snider being on the DL. I'm not sure if they're a legit contender, but the Jays have been an exciting team to watch this year.
Alvarez has amazing BB:IP and HR:IP rates. Last year he walked 19 and allowed one HR in 124.1 innings. This year? Eight walks and zero HR allowed in 45 innings. If he ends up with even average MLB stuff, he could do very well as a #4 or 5 starter.
Christina, do you think we'll see Jarrett Hoffpauir in a Jays (or other major league) uni this season? Or is he the Randy Ruiz of utility infielders, destined to spend his career mashing in AAA and getting passed over for prospects with a better pedigree? He's had a nice start to the season, hitting 342/405/507 (with an admittedly drastic home/road split).
How about John Buck?
Fair enough. I think in Romero's case the relentless criticism (including among BP writers, if I'm not mistaken) has been directed at Ricciardi for drafting him instead of Tulo, not necessarily at Romero himself. Obviously it's still early in both players' careers, but it's no longer obvious that the Rockies came out ahead on that one.
Goodness, Vernon Wells raking, Ricky Romero dealing...pretty soon BP is going to run out of Jays players to run down!
Well, Wallace and D'Arnaud are all off to excellent starts, and Drabek is a top pitching prospect, so the Jays seem to have received decent value for the last year of their ace. It's tough watching him pitch for Philly, but I'm happy that he's finally getting a chance to play for a contender. Not only is he a fabulous pitcher, but he's a class act and a role model for ballplayers of all ages. Plus, I'm looking forward to seeing him start (and win) two or three games in the WS, possibly against one of Toronto's AL East rivals.
If the Jays have indeed signed Cuban SS Adeinis Hechavarria, what would his odds be? Maybe around the same as Chad Jenkins's?
The Jays' farm system might have been a nightmare before the Doc trade, but it's starting to look promising, with a top ten that includes players like Drabek, Wallace, Stewart, D'Arnaud, Hechavarria, Jenkins and Arencibia (who is off to a good start this spring), and an upcoming draft that includes a handful of extra picks in the first three rounds.
Yes, and there were reports that Overbay's hand troubles may have spilled over into 2008, when he hit 270/358/419. Apparently even that year, he had trouble gripping the bat with his injured hand (broken by a John Danks pitch in June of '07).
If you toss out 2007 (severe midseason hand injury) and 2008 (possible lingering hand injury), his OPS stats from 2004 (his first full season as a big-leaguer) on are as follows: 863, 816, 880, 838. Add the fact that he's an excellent fielder, and he suddenly looks like a significantly more valuable player than it appears at first glance. And who knows how well he might have performed in his age-30 and 31 seasons if he'd been healthy? I agree that he might not bring quite enough offense for an AL championship team, and its true that he can't hit lefties, but this article might be underrating him a bit.
I was as disappointed as anyone in Wells's subpar 2009, but it is worth noting that he had wrist surgery in the off-season. I'm hoping a full return to health could bump up his numbers a bit (say, to 270/330/450), but I'm not holding my breath. It wouldn't be so bad if his defence hadn't taken such a hit as well.
Except for Toronto, Tampa and Baltimore--and they have a much bigger problem than Boston.
2009 opening day AL East payrolls:
Blue Jays: $80.5M
Red Sox: $121.7M
Basically, in 2009 Boston had almost double the payroll of the Rays and Orioles, and a substantially higher payroll than that of Toronto. And that doesn't even get into the difference between amateur player budgets among the five teams (Dice-K, anyone?).
I have no issue with Boston's overall budget and don't dispute that they've managed their resources well. I think they're a solid franchise. It just gets me when their management/players/fans act as if they're the scrappy overachievers of the division.
I find it amusing whenever Boston (with a 2010 payroll pushing $170M) casts itself as the underdog in the AL East. New York has "a lot of money"? For the rest of the league, Boston isn't that far behind the Yankees in terms of resources. They have tremendous payroll and player development flexibility in comparison to most teams.
If Alex Anthopoulos converted Doc into Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace, and Travis D'Arnaud, I'd say he did pretty well (and arguably better than some BP writers predicted he would). I think the key to the transaction was Halladay's willingness to agree to a Phillies-friendly extension (and the Jays' willingness to partially subsidize Doc's 2010 season). As a result, Amaro received one of the very best, and most durable, starters in the game through his age 32-36 seasons at around $18M/year.
I think the Jays held their own in the deal (assuming it's being correctly reported).
Interesting article. I know Travis Snider has yet to really get it going, but I could see him as one of the top 20 or 30 players of the decade (Travis's age 22-31 seasons) when it's all said and done.
Adam Loewen improved significantly in the 2nd half...another reason for cautious optimism about his development as a hitter.
Ricky Romero arguably has better stats than all of the above pitchers (possibly with the exception of J.A. Happ, but Happ pitches in the NL, whereas RR pitches in the tough AL East).
I've suspected for a while that BP has been going downhill. Gaffes like this one lend support to my theory.
I'm a Jays fan and the current arrangement is just about the worst of all possible worlds for my team. The Jays are right in the playoff race, despite a payroll that is roughly 40% and 65% of the Yankees and Red Sox payrolls, respectively. While the Yankees lavish juicy contracts on players like AJ Burnett (whom they poached from the Jays, incidentally), Toronto has mostly built a contender out of spare parts and castoffs (Rolen, Scutaro, Overbay, Downs, Tallet, Richmond) and young talent (Hill, Lind, Romero, Cecil, Marcum, Snider), while hanging on to Ash-era veterans (Halladay, Wells, Rios).
The Jays front office isn't perfect--for one thing, they doled out a back-loaded $121M contract to Wells that is looking more and more like an albatross for the organization. And they failed abysmally to find competent players in LF and DH last year (consider the players used at those positions in 2008: Thomas, Stairs, Stewart, Wilkerson, Mench, Barajas, Inglett), probably the two easiest positions at which to find replacement-level talent, thereby torpedoing the team's playoff chances by midsummer.
But they've made a lot of good drafting and other under-the-radar moves in recent years--for example, they're currently getting all-star caliber performances at SS and 3B, despite their complete and utter failure to develop minor-league talent at those positions. In short, they've pieced together a good team on a budget using unconventional tactics. Once again, however, they're likely to end up with nothing to show for it, in part because of the wealthy behemoths of the AL East (take a look at the first- and second-place teams in the division over the last 15 years to get a sense of the long-term power imbalance).
The Jays may have played an unbalanced schedule thus far, but 26-14? They're definitely doing something right. Of course, BP will likely be the last to acknowledge this, having excoriated JP and the organization repeatedly over the last several years. Apart from the outstanding offense, the interesting thing is just how deep the Jays' pitching is. Not only do they have a top-three starter in Halladay, but they also have an excellent bullpen and a half-dozen promising young starters (Cecil, Janssen, Romero, Litsch, Ray, Mills), in addition to Richmond and Tallet (who have been subbing in nicely as back-rotation starters), and Marcum and McGowan (both currently injured, although Marcum is making solid progress and could return in late '09).
The other notable thing that you're not likely to read about on BP is how well JP's draft picks (Hill, Lind, Cecil, Romero, Ray) and low-cost/reclamation projects (Scutaro, Carlson, Tallet, Richmond, Frasor, Downs, Rolen, Bautista) have performed this year. The Jays' payroll is $80M, compared to $122M and $201M on the part of the Red Sox and NYY, respectively.
The Jays are still a dark horse in '09--they don't have the positional depth, resources, or experienced starting pitching that the competition boasts. But they're certainly making life interesting in the AL East, and calling into question some of the Jays analysis that has been gospel around here for many years.
I've watched the Jays pretty closely for years. IMO these are the key factors that will determine whether they hang in the AL East race:
- Positional player health. The team doesn't have a lot of depth to cover players like Rolen, Scutaro, Overbay and Barajas--or even their outfielders. A few injuries and the lineup is suddenly a lot weaker (this will change as some of the better prospects mature, but for now the depth is lacking)
- Whether Litsch, Janssen, Romero can return to the rotation and stay healthy. At the moment the Jays have an ace, a solid #5 (Richmond), and a good swingman (Tallet). They need to shore up the #2-4 slots in the rotation
- Whether one of Mills or Cecil heats up enough to join the pitching staff this summer. The team already has a good staff, but as they say, you can never have enough pitching
Whatever happens, I'm enjoying every moment of the team's fantastic start.