I Miss Arnsberg Already

So, it's official, the Jays have acquired Brandon Morrow from the Seattle Mariners. There's isn't a ton to say about this trade, honestly. The most interesting part of the entire trade were the hilarious thoughts from Mariners fans that they would be getting Brett Wallace or Zach Stewart as the unnamed prospect.

Listen guys, as it stands right now, Brandon League is a (much) better pitcher than Morrow. The only reason this trade included a prospect was because Morrow is a starter and can pitch a higher number of (lower quality) innings. The prospect was only going to cover the innings gap, because a 25 year old injury-prone pitcher with a walk rate pushing 6 and a WHIP close to 1.5 over 3 different seasons doesn't have a ton of trade value, no matter the upside. The unnamed prospect ended up being [Y/J]ohermyn Chavez, which is honestly more than I thought they would get (I was guessing Brad Mills).

This trade makes sense for both teams. The M's are currently trying to win the AL West and are currently about even with the Angels in terms of talent. They need every marginal win they can get and they can't afford to go into next season relying on Brandon Morrow to magically learn how to be a good pitcher. They minimize downside by adding 60-ish innings of League and get a prospect for 5 years down the road. It also helps that League fits the M's team better than Morrow. The Mariners are built around defense, and League's groundballing ways and decent control play better to that kind of team than the Three True Outcomes bonanza that is Morrow.

The Jays, on the other hand, are in a rebuilding phase and need to be trading for guys like Morrow who might maybe somehow possibly be able to get his BB/9 under 4.5 one and become the Jays' version of a younger right-handed Oliver Perez. Of course, the odds of this happening aren't good, and with Brad Arnsberg now coaching for the Astros, there really isn't much hope to latch on to.

Watching Morrow walk the universe in 2010 isn't going to be fun, but it's exactly what the Jays need to be doing right now.

The Halladay Trade

Well, the big trade went down last week, and I have to say, I’m disappointed. Not because of what the Jays got back; I think they did quite well in that regard. I know I said the Jays should “go for it”, but since then the Yankees have gone out and gotten ridiculously better by adding Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson (and Javy Vasquez since the Halladay trade) and going for it was no longer a viable option, making the Halladay trade a necessary, if soul-destroying, evil. No, what I am disappointed about is the distinct lack of articles titled “The Doctor Is Out” in the wake of the trade being announced. Guys, I know times are tough, but let’s not completely forget what sportswriting is all about: awful titular puns.

The guys the Jays got back (Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace, Travis D’Arnaud) are probably the best the Jays could have hoped for in a trade, though I would have liked to have seen Carlos Triunfel come over from the Mariners instead of Travis D’Arnaud.

I would say Anthopoulos did well here. I would say he did well here, except that immediately after the trade was completed, Anthopoulos said the plan was to transition Wallace to first base. This I don’t understand. At all. The general opinion on Wallace’s defense is that he could probably be a below average third baseman, which is fine, but that he would likely have to move to first base eventually, which is also fine. What I don’t understand is why move him now? The Jays aren’t exactly rife with third base talent. On the major league roster there are Jose Bautista (average hitter, slightly below average defender) and Edwin Encarnacion (above-average hitter, horrible defender). In the minors there is... well no one. Not until you get to Kevin Ahrens, who just raked to the tune of a .215/.282/.302 line in High-A in ’09. If you’re going to move someone to first base, why wouldn’t it be Encarnacion? He’s proven that he can’t play third base effectively (though I’d like to see if Butterfield could fix him), mainly due to the fact he can’t throw with any kind of accuracy whatsoever. Which, you know, would make him well-suited to playing first, since being able to throw isn’t necessary to play that particular position. This is made even more confusing based on this quote from Anthopoulos:

We think Wallace is capable of playing third. But, we see him being an above average defensive first baseman. Our hope is to have a strong as a defensive club as we can and putting players in a position where they have a chance to impact the club in the best way defensively. 

Well, if you think he can play the position, why not make him show he can’t before moving him? Anthopoulos’ justification thus far has been that he thinks Wallace can be an elite-defender at first base, but I still don’t ever like moving a player down the defensive spectrum if you don’t have to, because finding a replacement for the position the player is moving from is harder to do than finding a replacement for the position the player is moving to.
The thing that REALLY gets me though is, if the Jays were simply planning on moving Wallace to first anyway, why not trade for a first base prospect? It’s not like they would need to look far. Oakland’s top hitting prospect, along with Brett Wallace, is Christopher Carter, a right-handed hitting first baseman who is the same age as Wallace and hit 40 homers in the minors in 2008, and raked last year too. Is Carter the first baseman, who is currently the better hitter, worth more than Brett Wallace the third baseman? I don’t think so. Unless the A’s saw Wallace as a first baseman, like the Jays do, I don’t see why they would be willing to trade away Wallace, but not Carter.
In a vacuum, I’m not against the swap of Michael Taylor for Brett Wallace. Except, you can’t evaluate moves in a vacuum, and with all the circumstances, what with the premature position switch and Carter being readily available, I’m just not sure I agree with Anthopoulos’ decision-making process here.
Of course, I could be completely off base and maybe the Athletics really do value Carter that much more. Or maybe the gap in defensive abilities between the two players really is that significant, trumping Carter’s edge in hitting. Or maybe Anthopoulos just plain likes Wallace more. I don’t know. I just think it’s a little curious.


A Barajas By Any Other Name Stills Sucks As Bad

According to Jayson Stark, the Jays have just signed John Buck to a $2mil/1year contract. Buck currently rocks a .235/.298/.407 career line. That's actually slightly better than Barajas' .238/.284/.408 line, but Buck can't throw out baserunners to save his life (career CS% of 26%). If he's anything more than a backup (or, worst case, platoon partner for Kyle Phillips) next year, I might just have to staple my eyelids closed just to save myself from the horror of having to watch this team.


Welcome Back, Buck!

Buck Martinez is back on the Blue Jays announce team! I only wish this had come a couple years ago, so I could have heard Buck rave about A.J. Burnett's devastating (read: non-existant) slider, as he did in this year's playoffs. If nothing else, I'm sure I'll enjoy Buck's ramblings about Aaron Hill's blazing speed and how Keith Law is ruining baseball and what a fantastic clubhouse leader Vernon's Nerf Gun is.

As Buck might say: "Jim Hughson is spinning in his watery grave. [citation needed]"


Fuck. Me.

Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill and new shortstop Alex Gonzalez discuss manning the cornerstone in 2010.

 So, the Blue Jays have officially signed Alex Gonzalez. I thought about making a nice, long post about how stupid this signing is, becoming completely pointless and redundant since they just signed the exact same guy yesterday. But, instead, I'm just going to throw up a quick pros/cons because I'm lazy.




What the Jays Should Do Over the Offseason (But Won't)

During my years as an indentured servant in a Cold War-era Siberian Gulag, I learned many things. How to properly season 5 month expired beef. The best way to tan in temperatures that could freeze jet fuel. What ratio of antifreeze to astroglide to use to so that there's enough antifreeze to keep the lube from crystallizing mid-prison rape, but not so much that it will turn your dong/colon green.

Now, despite the educational value of my internment, I desired to get out. The problem with escaping from a Gulag in the middle of Pissfreeze, Siberia is that if you aren't killed by the guard, you're more likely than not going to turn into the biggest piece of ice this side of Mr. T's neck. With only one chance for success, it is imperative that your plan be as retardproof as possible. In addition, since whatever materials you manage to find to write on, you could be using to blanket yourself from the ball-shriveling cold, it's best to keep things brief.

And so, I decided to take a crack at building a roster for the Toronto Blue Jays which could actually compete in the AL East in 2010. Let me state right now, for the record, that "going for it" should 100% be the Jays' intention going into next season. If they want to have ANY hope keeping Halladay going forward (they should), they need to compete in 2010. I will do my best to keep this both short (kinda like your penis) and quick to the point (definitely like your penis).

The Position Players

There are 4 new dudes here. Dan Uggla is freshly acquired from the Marlins for a couple of young and cheap players. Think Brad Emaus, Brian Dopirak, Josh Roenicke, Darin Mastroianni etc. If they're being huge dicks about it, though, center the trade around one of Eric Thames/Moises Sierra/Yohermyn Johermyn Chavez. To fit Uggla into the lineup, I've moved Aaron Hill to shortstop, where he was moved from in 2006 for being terrible (but that was before he learned how to properly Butter-field (the puns!)). I estimated Hill as being a -5 UZR shortstop, though you can knock off a half-win of value for him if you happen to think he's worse than that. The second new guy is Carlos Gonzalez, who, in my plan, I have traded straight up for Marc Rzepczynski. For those who don't think the Rockies would do this I present to you that a) the Rockies have Seth Smith, who is pretty close to the same talent-wise, except a few years older, to immediately stick in the outfield and b) Rzepczynski is a groundball/strikeout pitcher. He could rock a BB/9 of 6 and he would still be perfect for pitching in Denver. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Dan O'Dowd threw in a couple of complimentary handjobs just to seal the deal.

"Rzepczynski you say?"

Gonzalez's career UZR/150 in the corner outfield is about +20. That seemed way too high for me, so I toned down the projection to a much more reasonable +10 (and Cito would never actually put him in center over Vernon, despite it being the much better defensive alignment). Third newcomer is Ryan Doumit. The Pirates are actively shopping him and, while I would certainly prefer Michael Naples, he is the best catcher openly on the market (with a very team-friendly contract to boot). A trade centered around J.P. Arencibia (whom I have no doubt will be anything but a massive failure in the bigs) will get this done. Lastly, I brought back the patron saint of this here baseballlog, Carlos Delgado, back on a 1-year deal to DH. There is basically no difference between Overbay playing first in a strict platoon and Delgado playing a (mostly) fulltime DH, so I went with the cooler option. This also lets us find out if Lind can play first base in the majors (I estimated him at -5 UZR).

Other stuff: I kept E5 because I think there's upside in his bat and I would like to see him field after getting a chance to work with Butterfield over a full season. Also because there are absolutely no third basemen out there excep, like, Troy Glaus which... yeah.

Ruiz is the "pinch hitter" (hahahahaha ahhhhh.... fuck you Cito) and quasi-platooner for both Lind and Delgado. Bautista is an above average OF/3B backup. Kyle Phillips is the backup catcher because who gives a shit. He might be able to hit and I know Raul Chavez can't, so I prefer this route. Recent waiveree, Mike McCoy is the utility guy because he's literally the only guy in the entire organization, any level, that is actually a shortstop. He also flashed some on-base skills in '09 so why the fuck not. I'd also like to mention I estimated Vernon's UZR as -15. Jesus, what happened to him?

The Pitchers

Despite what basically every analyst out there will tell you, there is a fantastic (and easily exploitable) free agent class of starting pitchers this offseason. 3 of the best starters in the MLB are free agents, and all can be acquired on the cheap due to injury concerns. Durability is easily THE most overvalued commodity in the market, but that's a subject for a separate post.

For Sheets and Bedard, they'll be looking for a) the most guaranteed cash, which I have no problem offering them (along with whatever incentives) and b) a home park where they don't need to worry about giving up 300-foot big flies (such as Fenway and New Yankee Stadium) so they can properly rebuild their respective values and land multi-year deals next winter.

Rich Harden's biggest issue will be contract length. I have absolutely no issue with giving Harden 3-years guaranteed, which I suspect pretty much every other team will. A $7mil base with appropriate incentives will keep him happy on the money front. This contract is legitimately risky. Harden is a big injury risk, but he's pitched 300 innings over the last 2 season, and 300 innings of Harden is, in my opinion, easily worth 21 million dollars (plus incentives).

Closing Thoughts

Overbay's gone. I don't particularly care what the Jays get for him. He's a much better player than he gets credit for, but there just wasn't any room for him, and $7mil is way too much for a backup first baseman.

I don't think any of my estimates in terms of IP/PA and WAR values are particularly outlandish. I have all the position players except for Uggla, Delgado, and Lind as being essentially league average hitters, and I have everyone except for Carlos Gonzalez being below average defensively. With the WAR totals I have listed, this is a 91 win neutral luck team (43 WAR + 48 wins a replacement level team would win). Now, that alone probably won't get the Jays into the playoffs. Not in the AL East. But that isn't with full predicted seasons from all players. If the Jays can manage to get 450 innings from the triumvirate of Sheets, Harden, and Bedard (not a likely event, by any stretch), then you can all just go ahead and print off your playoff tickets right now, because that's the best rotation since the mid-90s Braves. Also, Halladay might actually re-sign.

Of course, the rotation could end up looking like a M.A.S.H. unit and they could all end up even falling short of the modest innings projections I laid out above. If that's the case, you trade off Halladay at the deadline, along with Sheets and Bedard if either happen to be healthy at the time.

This entire roster is an upside play based on the health of the starting pitching. If they're healthy, the Jays make the playoffs. If they don't, no big deal, you get an extra couple prospects at the trade deadline for your time and money. There's also some upside with offense in Snider and E5, though there's also some downside in Delgado (age) and Doumit (health). For whoever cares, this team's payroll comes in at approximately $94MM after estimating raises for the arbitration-eligible players, including money owed to B.J. Ryan.

So, in the end, that was nothing like your tiny, premature ejaculation-riddled penis. It was actually more like my penis: it was long and it took you on a circuitous and deeply convoluted ride that ultimately would leave you feeling more confused than satisfied. How I ever got out of that Gulag, I'll never know.


Aaron Hill is a Top 5 Second Baseman in the AL East.

This past season Aaron Hill finished 9th in the majors in home runs! That's good! He also finished just inside the top 50 in slugging percentage (min. 350 PA)! That's!... uh, good, I guess. He also finished 165th in on-base percentage! That's... pretty bad actually.

"But, hey!", you might be saying. "Aaron Hill is a second baseman! A lot of those 'substantially better hitters' are first basemen and the like! He provides additionally value by playing a much more difficult defensive position and playing it EXCELLENTLY you asshole!" And you would be exactly right!

In fact, Aaron Hill finished fourth in WAR in 2009! Among second basemen. ...In the AL East. Yeah....

Name.........................................2009 WAR

Ben Zobrist.............................................8.6
Dustin Pedroia.......................................5.2
Robinson Cano.......................................4.4
Aaron Hill................................................4.2
Brian Roberts.........................................3.2

Aaron Hill, in his career year, still couldn't match up to the second basemen of any of the 3 teams ahead of Toronto in the standings this year. Even if you don't trust the accuracy of defensive metrics, I don't think it's a highly controversial statement to say that Aaron Hill is the worst hitter of the 5 going forward. He's the only one of the 5 to have a below average on-base percentage and the only one close to him in that respect, Cano, strikes out less often and has a higher BABIP for his career, meaning his OBP is more likely to be made acceptable by a high batting average.

The thing that really made Hill noticed this year was his power. He hit 36 home runs. The problem is, in order to hit all those homers, he needed, by far, the most at-bats in the American League. As a result of all those extra outs, even with 36 homers Aaron Hill couldn't quite crack a .500 slugging percentage. And he likely never will. Not unless he can drastically improve improve his walk rate, thereby decreasing the number of outs he creates and increases the value of each individual hit.

The bottom line is, when it comes to second base, the Jays are, at best, treading water within the AL East. Over the offseason you will hear a lot of people talk about how "great" Hill is, especially as a hitter. Don't listen to them. He is a good player who allows the Jays to focus on improving the team without worrying about second base, but he isn't any better than any of the other second basemen in the division and he doesn't provide the Jays with any kind of advantage over the Yankees, Red Sox, or Rays. If in 3 years people still think Hill is the best hitter on the team, the Jays are in a lot of trouble.

A Quick Paraphrased Synopsis of the Anthopoulos Press Conference

"No comment? No, I wouldn't say that. I mean 5, 10, 600 years down the road, I might be able to actually give a comment, so I don't want to definitively give a 'no comment' right now, since, at some point in the future, that may or may not change. I mean eventually, at some point, within the next millennium (maybe, I mean who's really to say?) this team may or may not be in a position where we feel we can attempt to try and contend. Just as things currently stand, I don't really feel comfortable actually answering any questions directly. But I just want assure you all that we are working hard to get to a point where I can actually do things like 'reference players by name' or 'not just speak in vague generic sports cliches'. Eventually."

Thanks, Alex. Way to give us something to look forward to.


It's Pronounced "Naples", Asshole!

Yes, I'm fully aware of the rumours. It's a good sign if that's the type of player Anthopoulos is targeting, but he's not my first choice for catcher next season. No, that person is Mike Napoli. Or, as I like to call him, Mike Naples.

Last year Napoli hit .272/.350/.492 in 432 plate appearances. Additionally Mike Scioscia had a tendency to sit Napoli against lefthanded pitchers, whom he hit .330/.417/.606 against in '09 and .278/.388/.521 against for his career, late in the season, so you would expect a better full season line with a not-retarded manager (the Jays do not fall in this category). By WAR (wins above replacement), Napoli 3.2 was worth the same as Brandon Phillips, Lance Berkman, and Justin Morneau in '09 and was basically identical to his WAR from '08. And just for reference, the difference in WAR last year between Napoli and Rod Barajas was basically the same as the difference between Albert Pujols and Chone Figgins.

Now, obviously, Napoli wouldn't be easy to pry from LAA, but with John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar leaving in free agency, Brian Fuentes coming off a bad year as closer, and Los Angeles having a monster offence still without Napoli (plus Hank Conger coming up from the minors sooner than later) I don't think LAA would be completely opposed to trading Napoli away for the right pitchers. Would Ricky Romero and Jeremy Accardo or Scott Downs be enough? Maybe, maybe not. But the Jays have the pitching to pull it off regardless.

Do it, Alex. The Greasy Italian Quotient of this team has been sorely lacking for YEARS. Bring me Mike Naples.



Kyle Phillips, the only catcher in the entire organization even remotely capable of hitting, has just been taken off the 40 man roster. This move probably signifies that Rod Barajas will be back as catcher next season, along with Joe Carter as the starting left fielder.

Congratulations, Alex. You have still yet to do absolutely anything right.

Just A Quick Request

Since it was just announced that the Brewers have traded J.J. Hardy to the Twins, who I was planning on including in a post about what the Jays should do in the offseason, I would like to make one simple request to the offices of Alex Anthopolous & co.

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, keep Orlando Cabrera as far away as humanly possible from Toronto.

I swear to Christ, I would rather the Jays take the reanimated frozen head of Ted Williams, put it on a stick, and have THAT play shortstop next year over Orlando Cabrera.


Vernon was playing injured. In other news: grass is green, snow is white, Kirstie Alley is fat.


Raise of hands: who didn't realize that Vernon Wells had been playing injured for basically the entire season? Okay, now all of you with your hands raised, take that hand and slap yourself across the face as hard as you can. If you're lucky, the impact will be jarring enough to knock your IQ all the way up into triple digits!

Yeah, so it came out yesterday that Vernon is going to need surgery to repair some torn cartilage in his wrist. This should come as a surprise to exactly none of you.

Vernon's season was a lot like the fairly recent movie, Die Hard 4. Both started out with high hopes but, much like the Christmas that I wanted the Ninja Turtles with the Stretch Armstrong arms, those hopes were quickly dashed. Something was clearly wrong. Both struggled out of the gate. They were both clearly being held down by something (a complete loss of bat speed and a PG-13 rating, respectively) and, despite getting good near the end, it wasn't enough to make up for the crappiness leading up to that point. And then Bruce Willis drives a car into a helicopter.

Pictured above: the same thing twice.

Watching Vernon swing the bat in slow motion this year compared to last year, it was apparent that he just wasn't capable of swinging with any kind of effort. Not that he was mailing it in, but that "flail softly at pitch" was absolutely as hard as he could swing. Hopefully the announcement of this surgery will momentarily keep all the people bitching and moaning about how Vernon is "finished" from being turned into a fine paste from the sky falling on their heads.

On the other hand, it could just fuel a bunch of lame jokes about how he's just as likely to hit the DL as he is to hit into a double play.


Alex Anthopoulos Sets Precedent of Being a Bitch

I don't think J.P. Ricciardi was a bad GM. He did a lot of good things here. He completely flushed a lot of that goodness away by letting Alex Rios go on a waiver claim, but a lot of good things nonetheless. Having said that, similar to rocking a leisure suit in the mid-90s, sometimes you just have to let go and look for something new. I was looking forward to Anthopolous' start as a GM; nervous because I didn't know what to expect, but excited at the possibilities. And then he took all that optimism and threw it right out the fucking window, set it on fire, and pissed on the flames with one move. (Did I mentioned he also raped it first? Because he did.)

Earlier this week, Anthopolous announced that Cito Gaston would be returning as the manager for the 2010 season.

Why?? Why would you do this?? Cito Gaston is a terrible manager. He has no idea what he's doing. He bats the good batters at the bottom of the order and the bad ones up top. He hit Aaron Hill and his well-below average OBP second in the order all season. He hit one of the only batters on the team who excels at getting on base (Overbay) either 6th or 7th for the majority of the season. He had Rod motherfucking Barajas and his major league worst on-base percentage of .258 (min. 350 PA) hitting cleanup in September when the only thing Barajas should have been doing was sitting in the bench. Other days he had either Kevin Millar or Vernon hitting in that lineup spot. I assume he chose between the two based on which medication he had to take that day. (Barajas meant Cialis.)

The most egregious mistake Gaston made was starting Barajas in September. AS SOON as rosters expanded, Kyle Phillips should have been the starting catcher. This is not up for debate. Rod Barajas is a terrible baseball player. I don't care many home runs you hit, when you have a slugging percentage lower than Craig Counsell and get on base less than.... well, EVERYONE, then you shouldn't be starting. Ever. Kyle Phillips is an unknown commodity who may or may not be able to hit at an above average level for a catcher and may have a future with the team. We don't know because Cito gave him a grand total of 4 starts during the month (all while Barajas stunk it up to the tune of a .153/.189/.294 line for the month). We do know, however, that Barajas has no future with this team (not that I have any faith whatsoever in Anthopolous after this). Yet there he was, starting. Every. Single. Day.

In addition to the absolutely baffling vote of confidence from the new GM, it was announced that Cito would continue on as an adviser for an additional 4 years after the 2010. Once again, why?? His managing has shown that he has no idea what makes a baseball team successful. Why would you want him advising the GM on acquiring players? And make no mistake, Anthopolous will be pressured to take Cito's opinion seriously. This adviser position has shown that Cito is untouchable and has impregnable job security. If Anthopolous tells Cito to fuck off and let him do his job, you can bet that he'll be hearing it front Beeston.

And really, that's the most upsetting thing about this. Beeston and Anthopolous has made it known that the people who are nostalgic for '93 again and get boners from WAMCO dreams (despite the fact that this new managerial stint is drawing attention to the fact that the W and C components of WAMCO weren't especially good hitters and it's obvious that Cito was clueless back then too) and who haven't watched a baseball game in 15 years are the fans that the team is REALLY catering to. All the people who actually watch all the games and follow the team have to take a backseat to nostalgic sentimentalism about "the glory days". The entire concept of forward thinking is completely foreign to anyone in the front office and Anthopolous either a) does NOT have full autonomy as the GM, and is therefore a lame duck GM and should be fired or b) actually thinks keeping Cito around is a GOOD thing, in which case he clearly isn't fit to be GM and shouldn't be allowed to screw up this franchise. Either way, I've already lost all faith in him.

There's still plenty of room on the Fire Anthopolous bandwagon, so feel free to hop on.

Having gotten all that out of my system, don't expect as many venom-fueled posts in the future. Of course, as long as Cito's around, there will always to be mind-explodingly stupid things to vent on.


The Maiden Post

It takes a certain kind of man to start a sports blog right at the beginning of an offseason. Some people might call this man "brave". Others may find him "curious". Most would consider him to be "retarded". That last group is definitely the most correct.

Why did I decide to start this blog at the absolute worst possible time? Well, the Toronto Blue Jays have a brand-spanking-new General Manager and his first order of business (the bringing back of Cito Gaston (more on this in a later post)) was already the exact wrong one! If Anthopolous is going to drive me to insanity with doing a terrible job (I already have no faith in him), I figured I might as well have my feelings on his tenure written down hear, so my future psychiatrist can easily follow my descent into madness.

Most of my posts will be on the Toronto Blue Jays, but I'll still be commenting on the doings of other teams because I'm a baseball fan first and foremost. I'll try to keep things interesting with my personal brand of "humour" (not humour, but "humour") so as to distract any readers (readers? what readers?) from my extraordinarily boring and poorly formatted prose. Also, I'm a big fan of parentheticals (could you tell?) and if you don't like it, well, too fucking bad!

Post on Cito to get this shitshow underway later tonight.