Posts tagged Colby Rasmus

The Mark DeRosa Signing, Michael Bourn Rumours, and Other Jays Tidbits

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Photo Courtesy of Barbara Moore via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Moore via Flickr

Since the Blue Jays acquired R.A. Dickey from the Mets in late December, there hasn’t been a whole lot of Blue Jays news. This has been a stark contrast to last year’s offseason where even at this time, the Jays were linked to such players as Prince Fielder and Matt Garza. The obvious reason behind the lack of recent Jays news and rumours is the fact that, for the most part, the Jays as a team, are set. They have a full lineup, a stacked rotation, and a bullpen overflowing with additional relievers. Up until recently the only position that the Blue Jays needed to fill was that of the 25th man on the roster.

That position was filled earlier this week with the signing of Mark DeRosa to a guaranteed 1-year $750,000 contract with an option for an additional year at the same price. DeRosa, strictly as a player, fits a need within this Blue Jays team. He plays a number of positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF) and he’s been well above average vs. LHP in the past. This skill was present in 2010 wherein DeRosa posted a 138 wRC+ versus lefties (in a small sample size) and 2009 wherein DeRosa played a full season and posted a 141 wRC+ vs. LHP. On the other hand, there’s been a significant amount of time since then and the time in between has been filled with a number of injuries as well as poor performance. Though pure performance is not the only thing that DeRosa provides.

As Drew Fairservice of Getting Blanked quite excellently noted in his write-up of the transaction, “Mark DeRosa is the mascot to the stars.”

DeRosa’s meaning to the 2013 Jays will likely be no different than what Omar Vizquel meant to the 2012 Jays, he’s a veteran presence. He is reportedly a ‘great clubhouse guy’ and one that can ‘mentor the younger the players’. Whose to say what that’s really worth, but it would be hard to argue that DeRosa’s character and on field performance don’t at least have the potential to create the 1/15th of a win above replacement required to justify his contract.

With that said, DeRosa is the 25th man to a seemingly complete Blue Jays roster, but despite that, early last week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had this to say about the ongoing Michael Bourn free agency mystery.

6. Michael Bourn, CF, free agent — The Rafael Soriano signing by the Nationals is a reminder to never underestimate the market Scott Boras can create for a client. Bourn seemed like a good fit in Seattle before the Mariners acquired Morse, and the Phillies, who could use another outfielder, remain an obvious choice. The Mets are not out of the picture if the price and length of commitment come down. Could the Blue Jays be a long shot? They have Colby Rasmus, but he could be traded. The Yankees?

Considering that Anthopoulos has stated on a number of occasions that the Blue Jays roster for 2013 is all but set and that there is purportedly some financial parameters, the rumour doesn’t make a whole lot of initial sense. However, thinking about the Jays in relation to the teams around them, talent-wise, the rumour begins to hold some worth.

Right now the Blue Jays are a very good team, they’re likely the best team in the AL East. The problem is that there’s a number of other very good teams in the AL East, namely the Yankees and Rays. As saddening as it is, it isn’t too hard to picture a situation in 2013 wherein the Blue Jays finish 3rd in the division. The Jays are still banking on 600 plate appearances from a number of injury-prone players and solid seasons from breakout stars like Edwin Encarnacion and Melky Cabrera.

By signing Michael Bourn the Jays would put themselves on a level above the two aforementioned teams. Bourn would represent somewhere between a 2-4 win upgrade over current centre fielder Colby Rasmus and might push this team past the 95 win mark.

Of course, there’s the little issue of getting Bourn to agree to a reasonable contract. Many have speculated that Bourn might take a ‘pillow contract’ or in other words a 1-year contract. This is such that he can go back on the free agent market next offseason.

If this ‘pillow contract’ is really what Bourn is looking for, there’s a case to be made to sign him.

For one thing, Bourn makes the Jays better in 2013 and gives them an even better shot at a World Series. For another, because the Blue Jays have a protected 1st round draft pick, by signing Bourn they would have the potential to ostensibly transfer their 2nd round pick this year into a 1st round compensation pick in the 2014 draft.

The Blue Jays have the 42nd pick in the 2013 draft. They would lose that pick if they signed Michael Bourn. However, it is fair to assume that Bourn would warrant a qualifying offer after 2013 considering that he hasn’t produced an fWAR below 4.0 since 2008. If he is then signed by another team without a protected pick in the 2013/2014 offseason the Blue Jays would get a compensation pick in the 31-34 range. They would also get an additional $250,000+ added to their draft budget based on 2012 slot values. Not to mention that the 2014 draft is also (so far) looking like a draft with more depth than the 2013 draft.

Though if Bourn is signed, Colby Rasmus becomes a player without a place on this roster. Any trade involving him, would likely be selling low, but keeping him on the roster would be a waste. It’d leave the Jays in a tough position.

This is why, in the end, attempting to sign Bourn could easily become a logistical nightmare. It’s highly unlikely that the Blue Jays sign him, but Bourn is an interesting free agent case given the situation he’s in and the protected pick that the Jays have. If the Jays don’t sign Bourn, who will? Mariners? Mets? Rangers? No one seems to be biting, but then again no one seemed to be biting on Rafael Soriano either. So whose really to say what will happen.

With that said, I leave you with a Sporcle Quiz that I whipped up about players that the Blue Jays have acquired this offseason. It includes all players acquired between October 29th and today (January 28th). This includes any player who was signed, traded for, or picked up on waivers. The date that the player was acquired is listed. To view the quiz in it’s Sporcle form click here, or click read more to view the embedded version.

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The Season That Was: 2012 Edition

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The Blue Jays 2012 Season in a Nutshell

So thats it…the season is done, the playoffs have already started, but once again without the Jays. 2012 marks the 19th straight season without a Blue Jays playoff berth and their .451 winning percentage is the worst it has been since 2004. Instead of a Blue Jays playoff berth the baseball world is enthralled with the season of the Dustin Parkes dubbed Baltimore #YOLOrioles who have not only secured a playoff spot, but are marching their way right on to the World Series, or at least so it seems. That’s because this year among other things the Orioles found the ever so coveted luck dragon, they found some way to win despite the limitations of what would seem like a relatively crappy team. Quite a few people have tried to quantify what exactly we saw this season, but it seems like the best answer is still shit happens.

In Toronto, the narrative has been similar as fans watched this season and saw a bevy of players go down with injuries, while simultaneously ruining any hope of a Blue Jays playoff berth, shit happens. The list of injuries is a long one and includes such key players as Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Jose Bautista among others.

If you take a quick glance at that list you’d probably assume it to be the reasoning behind the Blue Jays’ mediocrity and 99 times out of 100 you’d probably be right, but in this case it doesn’t tell the entire story. On top of being one of the most injured teams in baseball the Blue Jays experienced some worse than expected performances from a majority of their starting lineup.

This is the list of Blue Jays’ hitters who outperformed their wOBA as projected by ZiPs, one of the most trusted projection systems available: Edwin Encarnacion, Rajai Davis, and David Cooper.

As you can see that list includes one, maybe two everyday players. Not only is that slightly depressing, but it’s a major factor behind the Blue Jays’ lack of a playoff berth.

Beyond the obvious demoralization of a terrible season there was one other sad point this year and that’s how inquisitive it has left us. Coming in to the year, 2012 was supposed to be a year that answered questions, but it seems like it has left us with more questions than it answered.

Sure there was the breakout seasons from Encarnacion and Morrow, and sure Bautista reaffirmed himself as one of the leagues best hitters, and sure maybe even the bullpen looks pretty damn good going forward, but what’s one to make of the rest of the team?

Yunel stepped back this year both on a hitting level and a likability level for most of the fan base, this coming after one of the better years in his career. Lawrie was praised as a super prospect after his unpredictably amazing finish to the 2011 season with the Blue Jays, but this year he hasn’t progressed to the level that was expected and has instead shown the ere of his injury ridden ways. Last, but…well maybe least, Colby Rasmus wasn’t all he was cracked up to be, if you take out his promising production from the month of June he ends up with a 69 wRC+, which would rank 2nd last among qualified hitters. While the last of those statistics is rather arbitrarily conceived, it still goes to show the general ineptitude that Rasmus showed during the majority of the 2012 season.

As for pitchers, Ricky Romero wasn’t exactly the staff ace that some expected him to be…in fact he wasn’t even the slightly above league average pitcher that I expected him to be. Instead he posted the 3rd worst qualified ERA in Blue Jays history and the 5th worst qualified FIP all to go along with his now record 13 straight losses for whatever that’s worth (Hint for the latter half, not much). Then there’s Henderson Alvarez, who despite posting a similar ERA and higher FIP than Romero as well as the lowest K% among starters in the MLB, probably isn’t getting enough flack. Sure he’s 22 years old and has fire coming out of his arm, but he still halved his K% and doubled his BB% from 2011, not a great trend.

Not to mention that the above list of players doesn’t include the lost seasons of Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison due to Tommy John Surgery.

With all that said it doesn’t really leave the Jays with much certainty for 2013, which was basically what was said going in to 2012.

Beyond the supposed mainstays in the lineup and rotation there is a glut of players like Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose, David Cooper, and Hechavarria who showed some promise, but don’t really have an affirmed spot for 2013. This probably isn’t exactly what Alex Anthopoulos imagined his roster would look like for what is going to be his 4th full season as Blue Jays General Manager, which makes the 2013 offseason particularly interesting.

Anthopoulos has already said that he’s likely going to increase payroll, but to what level is unknown. As well whereas after 2011 AA was the Silent Assassin, the Amazing Alex Anthopoulos, and the Jedi among other endearing names, this year he has undergone more criticism from the both regular and hardcore fans alike. If he doesn’t do anything big in the offseason and fails to win in the regular season it would be reasonable to assume that his job could be on the line.

Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of Anthopoulos’ processes but a situation has been created in which he has a lot of players who haven’t panned out as expected and if the ownership doesn’t have absolute confidence in Anthopoulos whose to say that he won’t be gone come 2014 or even sooner. If that is the case then there is the potential that AA rushes the process and while it isn’t a likely occurrence it could be a defining factor for the Jays going forward. Only time will tell.

Photo Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Side Note: Posts on the blog were pretty sparse towards the end of the season as I was quietly enjoying some of the performances from Morrow, Gose, Sierra, and Hechavarria, but as we move into the off season you can expect more posts including a few in depth breakdowns with what went for some of the players mentioned in this post.

Hindsight is 20/20: The Scott Rolen Trade

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Photo Courtesy of Getty Images via Daylife

Official Transaction:
Three years ago today, July 31st 2009, the Blue Jays sent Scott Rolen and $4 million to the Cincinnati Reds for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart.

The Situation:
At the time of the trade Scott Rolen was 34 years old and in the midst of a typical Rolenesque season. He had a 121 wRC+ and was playing his usual top notch defence at the hot corner. At the time the Blue Jays owed Rolen ~$4 million for the rest of the 2009 season and then $11 million in 2010. Following the trade it was reported that Rolen had asked to be traded for personal reasons.

WAR Since Trade:
Scott Rolen 7.3 fWAR

Edwin Encarnacion 6.9 fWAR
Josh Roenicke 0.0 fWAR
Zach Stewart 0.2 fWAR

Discussion:
At the time of the trade there seemed to be a very mixed reaction to the transaction in its entirety. On one hand the Blue Jays gave up a player in Scott Rolen who was having a nice little season, but on the other hand the Blue Jays were 11.5 games out of a playoff spot and it looked like it was maybe time to sell.

In terms of the return it may not have been exactly what was expected for a player who was performing to Rolen’s level. In Encarnacion the Blue Jays got a “third baseman” who was touted as a player who at 26 had not yet reached his potential. As for the other players in the trade Roenicke and Stewart were two Reds minor leaguers who ranked uniformly on the border of the Reds Top 10 Prospects. Following the trade Roenicke was praised as the closer of the future, but as we now know that didn’t really happen.

As for Stewart he finished the 2009 season in fine fashion and ended up at and I kid you not #1 on the Blue Jays’ 2010 Baseball America Top 10 Prospect List. However that list doesn’t include any of the players from the Halladay deal who would be traded for a couple of weeks after that prospect list was posted. Furthermore despite his #1 ranking Stewart found no spot  on the Baseball America 2010 Top 100 Prospects List.

As time moved on Josh Roenicke became somewhat of an afterthought in that trade and he has gone on to become a fringy MLB player. As well despite what fans were told of Encarnacion’s potential it sure didn’t show up in game action between 2010 and 2011. If anything it seemed all of the players that came back in the Rolen trade would never really pan out as expected.

Of course some of that feeling was mitigated when at the 2011 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline the Blue Jays included one of the Rolen pieces, Zach Stewart, in a trade for Edwin Jackson. Edwin Jackson would later be traded for everyone’s favourite Georgian Colby Rasmus.

Verdict:
At the time of the trade it seemed like the Blue Jays were kind of caught in a corner. Rolen wanted to be traded and as is in the world of professional sports when a guy wants to go somewhere else you at least need to look around. Because they “had to” trade him they likely got less than they could have for him.

By FanGraphs WAR measures before the 2012 season the Blue Jays were down a total of 4 wins in that trade. However now that Edwin Encarnacion has become what people projected him to become the trade suddenly looks different.

Not until 2012 has it looked like the trade brought back the Blue Jays players of any particular use. Zach Stewart was a nice prospect who never really panned out…but was useful in the Rasmus trade. Josh Roenicke was a nice prospect, but was an older prospect and it may not have been crazy to expect what has become the outcome of his career.

As for Edwin, in 2012 he has produced at a level far higher than anything he has produced to in his career and it doesn’t seem unsustainable for the future. Not only that, but the 163 wRC+ that Edwin has thus far in 2012 is higher than any weighted runs created plus that Rolen has produced in his entire career.

Now that the Blue Jays have signed Encarnacion for the next three years they will hold him for his age 30 to potentially 33 seasons and an average annual price of $9.7 million. On the other side of things the reds are paying Rolen $6.5 million dollars for 2012, the last year of a two year contract, but are getting Jamey Carroll like hitting production. As of now the Reds have got more production on their side of the trade, but at a higher cost. Going forward the Blue Jays have found a player in EE that will become a mainstay in the lineup with the potential for more.

Grade:
★★★★

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