2011-02-13

Weekly Round Up: Another Double Shot


Consider this your required reading. Consider this a close second place.

Consider this your required listening. Consider this a close second place.

Consider this your required viewing. Consider this a close second place.

Courtesy of Ken Fidlin:

“I won’t be open to it after the hearing,” said Bautista following a workout at the Jays spring training facility.
“After the hearing, I believe we will notify the team that (a long-term deal) is not going to be a possibility, unless it’s in that window they have from the end of the season until the free agency period begins.”
It’s a crapshoot for both sides. By season’s end, Bautista’s value could be through the roof or plummet back into the real world.
Bautista contends the reason he will close off negotiations is that he doesn’t want any distractions for himself or for the team. Nobody should read into this decision that Bautista wants to play anywhere else but Toronto. He made that clear.
“My desire is to play in Toronto long term but, after the hearing, or during the season, I have come to the conclusion that it’s probably not the best thing for me to be negotiating any type of deal,” he said. “I want to focus on the game and trying to win ballgames.
“If I’m in that type of negotiation, it’s going to shift my focus from what I need to worry about and that’s baseball. I don’t want my mind to be elsewhere when I come to the ballpark to help my team win.”

I'll start off with the elephant in the room. I have said it before and I'll say it again, there is no way - if I'm Jose Bautista - that I sign any contract extension of any length for any amount. As an athlete all you can ask for is an opportunity to show how good you can be. J-Bau was given that last season for the first time in his career. And he will be given that again in 2011. I think he easily wins the arb case tomorrow and doesn't talk extension until that small five day window after the World Series ends.

Courtesy of Replacement Level Yankees Weblog:

I’ve updated the 2011 CAIRO projections to version 0.6 and have uploaded them to the site.  They can be downloaded at the link below:
Cairo_2011_v0.6.zip
I’ve basically just updated rosters again and fixed a few issues.  I’ve also added a projected standings page.

TM W L RS RA Div WC PL W+/- RS+/- RA+/-
Red Sox96.2 65.8 831 687 45.6% 17.6% 63.2% 7.2 13 -57
Yankees92.1 69.9 821 726 28.8% 19.4% 48.2% -2.9 -38 33
Rays87.9 74.1 737 663 17.3% 14.6% 31.9% -8.1 -65 14
Blue Jays77.2 84.8 709 738 4.2% 5.0% 9.2% -7.8 -46 10
Orioles76.9 85.1 739 788 4.2% 4.8% 9.0% 10.9 126 3

Here is the first of many predictions with respect to standings. 77 wins sounds about right to me.

Courtesy of Yankeeist:


Interesting stuff right there.

Courtesy of North Of The Border:

Four games will be nationally televised on Rogers Sportsnet, four games on bluejays.com while eight games can be heard on Sportsnet Radio Fan 590, with an additional two games being available on the Blue Jays network of stations. Specific details are below:

Feb. 26  --  vs. Detroit Tigers --  1:05 (FAN 590)
Feb. 27  -- at  Detroit Tigers --- 1:05  (FAN 590)
March 2 -- vs. Tampa Bay Rays  -- 1:05 (Bluejays.com)
March 5 --  vs. Detroit Tigers -- 1:05  (Jays Radio Network)
March 6 -- at Pittsburgh Pirates -- 1:05  (SNET/FAN 590)
March 11 -- vs. NY Yankees -- 1:05  (Bluejays.com)
March 12 -- vs. Pittsburgh Pirates -- 1:05 (FAN 590)
March 13 -- vs. Tampa Bay Rays -- 1:05  (SNET-1/Jays Radio Network)
March 15 -- vs. Philadelphia Phillies -- 1:05 (Bluejays.com)   
March 19 -- at NY Yankees -- 1:05 (FAN 590)
March 20 -- vs. Minnesota Twins -- 1:05 (FAN 590)     
March 23 -- at NY Yankees -- 7:05 (SNET)
March 24 -- vs. Atlanta Braves -- 1:05 (Bluejays.com)
March 26  -- at  Philadelphia Phillies -- 1:05 (FAN 590)
March 27  -- vs. Baltimore Orioles -- 1:05 (FAN 590)
March 30 -- vs. Tampa Bay Rays -- 4:10 (SNET)

Anybody know WTF the Jays Radio Network is and whether or not I have to pay the cheap bastards @ Rogers to get it?

Courtesy of Sporting News:

When talking about the A.L.'s top rookies, don't leave out Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia.
He heads into spring training with a starting job to be won. He's doing what he can to make sure he's ready.
"J.P. has been here since Jan. 3," said Blue Jays TV play-by-play man Buck Martinez, who resides in Dunedin, Fla., the Jays' spring home.

I'm so happy that we will actually have a Rookie of the Year candidate this season. Go get em J.P.

Courtesy of Sporting News:

Toronto also is asking Lind to learn to play first base after serving primarily as a DH the past two seasons. Regaining your batting stroke while learning a new position doesn't make for a stress-free spring.
"Sometimes you can make a drastic change and it can affect your hitting," Blue Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy says. "I hope it doesn't. I don't think it will."
The 11 games Lind played at first base last season were the only times he has played anywhere but the outfield or DH in his professional career, other than one game at first base in the minors. General manager Alex Anthopoulos prefers to have Lind take over for Lyle Overbay, who signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent, in the field because it will give the club needed flexibility at the DH spot.
Murphy doesn't believe Lind, 27, will have much trouble at the plate.
"He didn't have the year he wanted, but look at the numbers he put up— 23-72. So it wasn't like he had what I would consider a bad year," Murphy says.

Mmmm K. I guess.....

Courtesy of THT:

Drabek has the stuff to be a big league starter. He throws five pitches, although he didn't use his change-up against right-handed batters in his three September 2010 starts for the Blue Jays.

Average pitch speeds

PitchMPH
Change87.5
Fastball94.5
Cutter90.9
Sinker94.8
Curveball84.9


Kid throws hard, that's for damn sure.

Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus:


Division LHB% SHB% LHB+SHB%
AL Cental 35.6 15.6 51.2
AL East 37.8 15.6 53.4
AL West 27.8 19.4 47.2
NL Cental 25.9 3.7 29.6
NL East 35.6 17.8 53.4
NL West 31.1 11.1 42.2

With the exception of the Jays, each AL East team figures to have at least four left-handed and switch-hitting batters in their lineup most days. Even with the righty-heavy Jays included, the AL East is tied for the highest rate of switch- and left-handed hitters with the NL East. On the other end of the spectrum is the NL Central—coincidentally Dotel’s home for most of the 2010 season—with more than 70 percent of the expected starters batting right-handed.

I found this article particularly insightful. Take a second and check it out. 

Courtesy of Fanhouse:

Spring training and the 2011 regular season are just around the corner, which means it's time to take stock of the top potential future stars in the minor leagues.
Below are the Top 100 prospects in baseball right now, based upon my years of experience in the industry as a scout and talent evaluator.
In order to be eligible for the list, the player must be part of a major league organization and still considered a rookie (fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues and fewer than 45 days on an active roster, excluding September call-ups).

Your Toronto Blue Jays had 5 of the top 100 on this list.

Courtesy of Fox Sports:

As spring approaches, baseball fans' minds turn to the possibilities of the season to come. Which teams will emerge victorious? Which players will rise above the rest? And which rookies will capture our fancies?
As much as baseball fans appreciate the game's history, they also look forward to the future stars.
My list of baseball's top 50 prospects was compiled based on my personal scouting of the players along with input from all 30 teams including GMs, scouting directors and other evaluators in the game.
With that, let's take a look at the top players of the future going into the 2011 season.

And we had 4 of the top 50 on this one. Kyle Drabek at number 5 overall!

Courtesy of Minor League Ball:

A.J. Jimenez, Grade C:

Jimenez hit .305/.347/.435 last year in 70 games for Low-A Lansing, with 17 steals in 21 attempts, 18 walks, and 56 strikeouts. He's got impatience issues but Midwest League sources seemed to think he has a good chance to keep hitting at higher levels. His defense is also intriguing: he caught 51% of runners and didn't give up an excessive number of passed balls or errors. I gave him a Grade C in the book, but with the notation that he could take a big step forward in 2011. Looking at him again right now, you can make a really good case for a Grade C+ and that is how I would rate him today, though of course it is too late to change the book grade. He was drafted in the ninth round in 2008 from high school in Puerto Rico.

Don't sleep on A.J. when discussing our depth at the catcher position. Cannon of an arm, great wheels and he can hit. Look for him to start at High A and push d'Arnaud all year.

Courtesy of Fox Sports:

Lind, Hill and Rivera all performed below their career norms in 2010 — just as Wells did in 2009. As long as one of them reverts to the mean — like Wells last year — Bautista should be suitably protected. If that doesn’t happen, Bautista might lead the majors in walks, not home runs.
Either way, Bautista acknowledges that he won’t see the same (hittable) pitches that he did in 2010. By now, opposing managers and pitchers are well aware of the data, at Baseball-Reference.com and elsewhere, that says 52 of Bautista’s 54 home runs were to left or left-center.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Bautista said. “I don’t expect them to try to get me out the same way they did last year. I can’t try to hit home runs to left field if they throw it down-and-away.
“The good thing is that the changes I made (before last year) weren’t about hitting the ball out to left. I was just trying to get ready earlier, so my swing was on time. It was all about driving the ball more. If 85 percent of the pitches I see are outside, hopefully I can hit a lot of hard balls to right.”
I know what you’re thinking: He’s going to overswing. Actually, I don’t think he will. The guy drew 100 walks last year, second-most in the American League.
“The most impressive thing about Jose’s season was the pitches he didn’t  swing at; he had an unbelievable eye,” Hill said. “I think Jose will have another big year. He’s obviously going to have big expectations, but he’s been very good at just focusing on the task at hand.”

Man I can't wait for baseball season! It's going to be a lot of fun watching pitchers not let Bautista beat them this year. Somebody, anybody, needs to get hot early in order to give our opponent something else to think about.

Courtesy of SportsLogos.Net:

 
My $20 bet on the Toronto Blue Jays to take the 2011 World Series, $1020 in my pocket when they pull it off

Gotta love the spirit!
 
Courtesy of ESPN:

Is it hyperbole? Probably, but it might be fitting that Scioscia invoked baseball history, because last year’s Angels outfield was historically awful. It became a sore subject for fans, pitchers, coaches and, especially, one keenly interested observer.
“I’m not trying to be disrespectful to any players, but we really had a lot of problems in right field and left field last year,” Angels owner Arte Moreno said recently. “There were balls falling short, over their heads, in the gaps … Torii [Hunter] was running everywhere and, to be a good hitter, you’ve got to have your legs.”
The ultimate zone rating data -- which seems to be as good as any defensive measure -- suggest that Juan Rivera (minus 4.9) was well below average as a left fielder, Hunter (minus 3.8) was well below average as a center fielder and Bobby Abreu (minus 6.2) was a borderline disaster in right.

Juan Rivera can't play LF - let alone RF - according to his old teams OWNER. Consider yourself warned.

Courtesy of Jeremy Sandler:

A pair of Canadians who less than two years ago looked to be on the path to the big leagues will not be among them.
In 2009, the Toronto Blue Jays selected University of Kentucky pitcher James Paxton of Ladner, B.C., 37th overall in baseball’s June amateur draft.
It was the highest the Blue Jays had ever taken a homegrown prospect since Canadian players were included in the draft in 1985.
Just 31 picks later, Toronto selected Newmarket high school pitcher Jake Eliopoulos with a second-round choice.
No general manager, scouting director or player would suggest 20 months is any kind of time frame to evaluate a baseball draft pick given development often takes four to six years.
But nearly two years later, both Paxton and Eliopoulos are unsigned and waiting to take the next step in their baseball careers.
Each pitcher took a different path to their current place in a kind of baseball purgatory.

Yet another update on The Paxton Affair. Shoulda just signed the fucking contract James.

Courtesy of The Seattle Times:

In that 2010 draft last June, the Mariners picked Paxton -- who is from Ladner, British Columbia -- in the fourth round (132nd overall). Many scouting analysts felt it was a shrewd sleeper pick by Seattle, and that the Mariners had stolen a potential first-round talent. Yet here it is Jan. 31, and Paxton still hasn't signed. Because he is no longer in college, Paxton was not subject to the Aug. 16 signing deadline. The Mariners thus own his rights until the week before the 2011 draft in June -- but Zduriencik is hoping it doesn't get that far.
"There has been a conversation or two over the course of the winter,'' he said. "It will be an interesting one, because here's a guy who lives just an hour and a half up the road, and there's a point in time he needs to get his career moving. You know, he's missed time in pro ball. I couldn't think of a better scenario for him and his family (than) to drive right down the road and play for the Seattle Mariners.
"As we move forward and we get closer, we'll see what happens. I would hope there's a motivating factor on his part to try to get something moving. Scott (Boras) and I have had a few discussions here and there over the winter, but we haven't had any lately."

This one is from the Seattle perspective. Total waste of a perfectly good 4th rounder right there guys.

Courtesy of SI.com:

Not every team buys into this type of program. Teams such as the Nationals, Orioles and Mets have had below average results for the studied period. (There are no accurate records of injuries before 1997.) Some teams, like the Blue Jays, show solid results, but have had difficulty over the past three years keeping pitchers healthy. In 2009, the Jays were a bit better than average overall, but broken down by pitchers and position players, there was a huge divide. The team couldn't seem to keep pitchers healthy at any level. There was no pattern. The injuries happened to different body parts. They happened at different levels. They happened to starters and relievers. They happened to American and Latin players. There was no pattern, just flukish results. The Jays stabilized to a more normal level with pitcher injuries in 2010, but while teams like the Mets improved over a horrendous '09 campaign that reached historic injury levels, they only made it back to below-average. How bad can it be? The Orioles lost over $30 million more than average over the last 10 years. The Nationals were worse, but they had that whole Montreal situation in there that I can't fairly adjust for.

A real good read on injuries in baseball.

Courtesy of Gregor Chisholm:

At the time, manager Cito Gaston was burdened with most of the blame. The 66-year-old was set to retire at the end of the season, and he was accused of sacrificing the long-term benefit of the club in order to finish his career with the best possible team on the field.
Anthopoulos said while he understands the criticism the organization received, the move was made because of the promise that was given to Buck.
"When we give our word to someone ... that's part of our brand," Anthopoulos said. "When I'm negotiating with an agent or I'm trying to recruit a player, and we have to tell them something, whether it's good or bad news, they know that we're going to honour our word and we're going to be straight shooters.
"People in the game are starting to realize that the way the Toronto Blue Jays operate, they're men of their word and they keep to their commitment."

In keeping with the same train of thought, this helps explain why Boy Wonder dealt Napoli away. I'm guessing he promised E5 full time at bats and Napoli had some trade value.



Courtesy of CBS Sports:

Check out the size of the bat Bryce Harper is swinging in the first half this video, which was posted to YouTube this week. It's a 36-inch, 47-ounce Marucci, custom made for the 2010 No. 1 draft pick.
If you're not familiar with bat sizes, that's like swinging a tree trunk. Most major-leaguers use bats between 32-34 inches and 30-34 ounces. Many years ago, sluggers would sometimes use heavy bats, notably Babe Ruth, who reportedly started his career using a 54-ouncer but in his prime was at about 40. I held one on the 54-ouncers in a Hall of Fame exhibit, and it's tough to imagine swinging it with any speed.
Heavier bats hit the ball farther (look here for more than you ever wanted to know on the subject), but it's a tradeoff for bat speed. Even though players are bigger than ever now, most sacrifice bat size for the confidence they can catch up to a 100-mph fastball -- and be assured Harper would look a lot different taking those hacks against Aroldis Chapman than in a BP setting. I asssume the monster bat is just for show and the 34-ounce models shown later in the video are his game bats.
(Also, in case you were curious, the bible verse Harper has engraved on his bats, Luke 1:37, reads "With God nothing shall be impossible.")

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