Joey Gathright Hits Like a Girl or Maybe a Corpse

Quick post.

Recently some people have been suggesting Joey Gathright should be starting against righties instead of Jose Bautista.

Here are the lowest career isolated powers (SLG-AVG) for outfielders in baseball history, minimum 1000 plate appearances:

Career ISO
Playing Era
Stump Wiedman
Rip Cannell
Spike Shannon
Jud Birchall
Tim Murnane
Bob Gilks
Joey Gathright
Fuck my life.

So, as you can see, not only is Gathright the wimpiest outfielder in over a fucking century, but people had way cooler names way back in the day. Rip and Spike? Bad. Fucking. Ass.

So, please, don't suggest Gathright starts and leads off against righties. He's historically bad. Worst since the deadball era. Of course, I now fully expect Cito to do this. Sigh.

Brian Dopirak & Randy Ruiz: Soulmates

Spring training is come, and one of the stories of the spring for the Jays is Randy Ruiz and Brian Dopirak battling for a spot in a first base platoon/a permanent spot on the bench because a platoon would mean filling out two different lineup cards and that ain't how Cito rolls, motherfucker!

Now, honestly, I don't really care one way or the other who gets the roster spot. For all intents and puposes, they are the same hitter. They've both had an OPS over .920 their last 2 seasons. Neither has a notable platoon split. Neither is especially good on defense. Brian Dopirak has the edge in age, 26 to 32. Ruiz has the edge in reliability, as he continued to dominate after he called called up to the majors. Those are really the only differences.

As I was looking over their many similarities, I remembered that Ruiz got some praise last year for his power to all fields. Now, personally, I don't care whether a player tends to pull all his homers or if he can slap them over the opposite field wall, but I thought it would be interesting to see where Dopirak tends to hit the ball. Enjoy:

The three shaded sections show 250 feet, 350 feet, and the Skydome's outfield wall, respectively. As you can see, power to all fields. As you can see, yet another thing Dopirak and Ruiz eerily have in common. As you can see, Dopirak and Ruiz appear to possibly have been seperate at birth... and then Ruiz was sent six years into the past... and then he got turned hispanic... and then he moved to New Yo-- ah, fuck it.

Or maybe Dopirak just really idolizes Ruiz, and wants to be like him in every way. It certainly would explain a lot.

Or maybe they're gay.

"I want you, Randy--er, I mean I want to be you. Yeah, that's what I meant. Heh... *cough*"

Now that'd be a story worth following. Fuck spring training.


J.P. Arencibia's Obvious Problem

J.P. Arencibia, the Toronto Blue Jays'... uh... "catcher of the future", as some people might call him, is kind of "terrible", as I might call him. The obvious reason for this is his laughably bad career minor league OBP of .305. An optimistic homer might suggest that this is merely a horribly misguided attempt to rep his hometown, while a more reasonable person, however, would realize it has more to do with his complete inability to draw a walk, as evidenced by only having done so 58 times in 1286 minor league plate appearances. For comparison, the legendarily impatient Miguel Olivo managed to draw 134 walks in 1641 plate appearances over his minor league career (versus 98 in 2631 in the majors[!].... clearly Olivo isn't a fan of the old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it"). So as of right now, Arencibia is simply looking like a poor man's Rod Barajaggkiyffvnjkm............... Ugh, sorry. My brain started shutting contemplating the implications of that sentence.

Now normally, I would just point to his obvious impatience as the root to his problems and leave it at that. But, not today.

MLB.com has recently released their 2010 fantasy preview, and their entry on Arencibia was very revealing. Specifically this picture:

What's so interesting about this picture? Nothing. Nothing, that is, until you realize that the catcher's mitt is in the foreground. Which means that Arencibia has to be standing on the left-handed side of the plate. Which means that he sets up before every pitch with his back to the plate.

Now, I remember a number of children's shows using this as a visual gag to illustrate a specific character's ridiculous unathleticism. But I never thought anyone actually ever did this. Let alone pros.

Quite frankly, I'm astonished this hasn't been identified and corrected by the Jay's minor league hitting coaches yet. I know the Jays have been incapable of developing hitters for a while now, but I never thought the instruction in the minors was this bad.

Honestly, it's a testament to just how talented J.P. Arencibia is. 51 homers over 2 seasons while facing the wrong direction is quite remarkable. If this gets fixed, I can only assume that it will fix his problem with distinguishes balls and strikes as well, seeing as the ball will no longer be, you know, behind him.

Fix this, Blue Jays! Do not allow for Arencibia's Pujolsian talent to be suppressed by his baffling batting stance any longer! Renew the faith! ARENCIBIA FOR MVP!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!


Corner Outfield Trade Candidates

As the day pitchers and catchers report approaches (only 16 days!), the Jays' most glaring hole is their need of another corner outfielder (likely a right fielder because Cito is dumb and won't stick Snider there) or someone who could DH, which would push Lind to prancing around like a girl in the outfield. The notable free agents that people have been talking about are Johnny Damon and this baseballlog's own patriarch, Carlos Delgado. Now, while I would love for the Jays to sign either of these two guys, perhaps it would be in their best interest to take a shot on someone younger.

What I did was, I looked at all 30 teams' 40 man rosters, and I looked for whichever outfielders were blocked at the major league level, and were likely considered to be non-prospects by their parent organization but have had enough minor league success to warrant a major league roster spot. Preference was given to right fielders (because Cito is dumb) who were also left-handed so they could platoon with Jose Bautista to maximize offence.

In no particular order, here are the 4 best, realistically acquirable outfielders who fit the Jays' needs:

Travis Buck

Buck will be 26 next year, and was already going to have trouble finding playing time in Oakland with the A's presumably going with an opening day outfield of Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp, and Ryan Sweeney, relegating Buck to a backup role. But with Oakland's signing of Gabe Gross a few days ago, this means Buck is likely AAA-bound to start the season.

Buck's had a rough go of it in the majors the last couple of years, hitting .223/.289/.392 in 287 plate appearances, however he still raked in AAA in '08 and poorly in '09, though this was primarily babip-driven as his BB%, K%, and ISO were all near his minor league averages.

Buck's upside is pretty good, considering his last healthy season had him hitting .288/.377/.474 in majors and putting up 2.3 WAR in only 82 games (!). He rates as above average at both outfield corners according to UZR (sample size warning), though his ARM rating rates as below average in right. He also fits the left-handed requirement.

Buck's comes with a big warning flag, though. He suffered a concussion sliding into the outfield wall on June 30, 2008 and has been put on the DL with post-concussion syndrome two different times since then, as recently as October 5th of this past season.

Josh Reddick

Reddick plays in the Red Sox system and isn't a prospect (he didn't make Keith Law's Red Soz top 10) , so his future lies with a different organization anyway. He has a .291/.343/.512 line in the minors. The power is encouraging, though his inability to draw walks means he might be destined to be a 4th outfield. Of course, he'll only be 23 next season, so he has plenty of time to improve.

He's split his time more or less equally between right and center field in the minors, so I would assume he is a good defender. Eyeballing his minor league Total Zone ratings suggests he is slightly below average in right and poor in center, however.

He's also left-handed, but he holds a neutral platoon split in the minors (actually slightly reverse: OPS of .864 vs. LHP, .850 vs. RHP), which actually isn't preferable for our purposes, since it would lead to an inefficient platoon with Bautista.

John Bowker

On the downside, he'll be 26 next year. On the upside, he's left-handed and rakes minor league pitching. While his career minor league line of .301/.369/.489 is decent by itself, he showed huge improvement in 2009 in AAA. He struck out at a career-low rate of  17.5% and more than doubled his walk rate from the previous season, going from 6.9% to 16.4% (!!). For reference, Adam Dunn's career walk rate is 16.9%. His overall AAA '09 line was .342/.451/.596, with a Major League Equivalent of .294/387/.502 against RHP.

Bowker has played mostly right field in the minors, though he also has experience in center and at first. His minor league Total Zone numbers suggest he is above average in right field.

Delmon Young

Man, Delmon sure is terrible isn't he? Anyone reading this should be more than aware of Delmon, so I won't bother going over his stats. He'll only be 24 next season, and it wasn't too long ago that he was considered the #1 prospect in baseball. He's right-handed, is a terrible fielder, and hasn't played in right since 2007. In these regards, he is sub-optimal for the Jays' immediate needs, but he easily has the highest upside of any of the other 3. He'll make $2.6MM next season and he's only 3 years from free agency, so if he breaks out, he won't be cheap for long.

I'm not sure how willing Minnesota would be to move Delmon, despite getting rid of him would immediately improve the team, opening up left field for Kubel and allowing Thome to be the everyday DH.

In Closing

If given the choice, I would really like to see Anthopoulos acquire John Bowker and stick him in a right field platoon with Bautista. He's the most well-rounded player and he showed real, tangible improvement in 2009. The only difficulty I see in trading for him, is that SF might want him to compete for an outfield job in ST.