Posts tagged Henderson Alvarez

The Night that Anthopoulos Acquired the Marlins

3

The collective sigh that Blue Jays fans began the 2012/2013 offseason with has assuredly subsided as the Jays completed what may be the biggest trade in their history. In the transaction, the Blue Jays got Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, and $4 million (maybe more?) from the Marlins in return for Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, and Anthony DeSclafani. Jon Morosi first reported the rumblings of the deal and summed it up pretty nicely too.

Despite the intended sarcasm, Jon Morosi was right, the Blue Jays acquired $163.75 million of total salary from the Marlins and before arbitration the Marlins are left with $32 million committed to their 2013 payroll. That figure comes just one year after their $101 million payroll and the opening of their new publicly funded ballpark. The trade resulted in reactions ranging from “HAHAHA F U Loria” to “OMG OMG OMG”, but on the whole it produced a state of excitement in Blue Jays fans unparalleled by anything in quite a long while.

Simply on a player for player basis, the Blue Jays gained roughly 10-12 wins in their acquisitions, but nothing comes without a catch. In the process of the deal the Blue Jays increased their 2012 payroll by roughly $30 million to a total of $108 million for 2013. That $108 million figure is by no means exact, it is a prediction, but it does include all payroll obligations plus MLBTR’s projected arbitration numbers. Nonetheless that projected figure would mark the highest Blue Jays payroll in…well…ever. The previous high came in 2008 when the Blue Jays ran on a payroll of $97 million dollars.

Furthermore, while it is amazing that the Jays managed to keep Travis d’Arnaud in the deal, they still traded away their No. 3 and No. 5 prospects in Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino. Since the trade has happened there have been quotes from scouts who’ve shown hesitancy towards predicting Marisnick with as bright a future as Marlins fans might hope, but nonetheless both he and Nicolino are Top 100 prospects.

In return for their prospects, their players, and their money the Blue Jays got an improved starting SS in Reyes as well as two pitchers to plug into the top half of their starting rotation in Johnson and Buhrle. In Reyes the Jays are getting an additional 3 or 4 wins over what Yunel Escobar provided for them in 2012. In Buehrle the Blue Jays are getting a consistent pitcher who can and should give them 200 innings in 2013, a change of pace from what we saw with the rotation in 2012. Lastly in Johnson the Jays are getting a guy who has been among the Top 15 pitchers in baseball over the past four years, in terms of WAR, which if he’s healthy should mean a 3-5 win upgrade on whatever back end of the rotation starter the Jays would have otherwise used.

Then along with the big three, the Jays acquired 32 year old J.P. Arencibia (aka John Buck) and a better Mike McCoy (aka Emilio Bonifacio), two players who are likely to be used in backup and utility roles. Bonifacio missed significant time last year due to injury, but he can and has played 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF while also being one of the best base runners in baseball.

The only curiosity I had with the trade was the fact that the Blue Jays acquired two players who were free agents during the previous offseason, Reyes and Buehrle. Whether this means that the Blue Jays didn’t have enough funds until attendance increased, that they’re more hard set on their “No Contracts Longer than 5 Years” rule than we thought, that they simply couldn’t convince either of Reyes or Buehrle to come to Toronto, or for some other unknown reason it is speculation that peaks curiosity, but speculation nonetheless. Of course all of this is easy to say in hindsight, but it would still be interesting to see how things would have played out both this season and this offseason had the Jays signed the two players they traded for.

With that said, in the Land of Blue Jays fans, where apparently anything is possible (yes Kevin Garnett you were right) this megadeal has amounted to proclamations of the Jays being the best team in the AL East, in the American League, and from the mouths of a few Twitterers, the best team in baseball. While the trade represents a significant upgrade, the injury ridden Blue Jays acquired two more injury ridden players. While that isn’t the end of the world, creating a team with plenty of injury prone players could very easily hamper the 2013 record.

Even then, whether or not this team is even a playoff contender is still a legitimate question, but one that can be answered another day. For today we can revel in the benefits of an increased payroll, hopes for contention, and the excitement of seemingly limitless possibilities as we await both the rest of the offseason and the beginning of Spring Training.

PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The Season That Was: 2012 Edition

0

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.

Projecting Performance: Starting Rotation

6

Projecting Performance will be a series outlining each position of the Blue Jays roster with my thoughts on who should play the position and how well I expect them to perform for the 2012 season. Up first is the Starting Rotation, with the Infield and Outfield coming in subsequent weeks.

In 2011 the Blue Jays starting rotation definitely wasn’t a strong point. It saw twelve different pitchers start a game and 20 starts given to Jo-Jo Reyes (Yes, that Jo-Jo Reyes). Those 20 starts ranking third most among Blue Jays pitchers (Ugh). Going forward things look much brighter. As it looks to be shaping up so far, rather than having innings whisked away by giving starts to Brad Mills and Luis Perez, the Jays look to be transferring those starts to higher upside arms in Dustin McGowan and Henderson Alvarez. Beyond that the Jays have quite a few players in the minors that could be pushing for starts in 2012 including Drew Hutchison, Deck McGuire, and maybe even Chad Jenkins. Without further ado the player breakdowns.

Ricky Romero
Between 2009 and 2011 each year the Jays had a new Opening Day starter. In 2009 it was Roy Halladay, in 2010 it was Shaun Marcum and in 2011 it was undoubtedly Ricky Romero. With that said it looks like for the first time in three years there will be a similar face starting come Opening Day and that would be Ricky Romero.

Each of the last three years Romero has been consistently improving, culminating in a 2011 season that saw him pitch to 2.92 ERA, but only a 2.9 fWAR. Though it was encouraging that Romero pitched deeper in to games and ultimately got to 225 IP, there was a couple other factors that diminished his perceived performance.

For starters it is true, Romero did have a 2.92 ERA in 2011, but numbers like his 4.20 FIP or 3.80 xFIP or 3.78 SIERA suggest that things may be different in 2012. The likely reasoning behind this being that for one Romero’s home run rate jumped back up to a 1.04 HR/9, which is significantly higher than the 0.64 number that he posted in 2010. As well, though Romero’s .242 BABIP may suggest otherwise, Romero actually seemed lucky in 2011. The reason being that in 2011 Romero’s LOB% was much higher than his career average at 79.2% and his LD% was much lower at 14.2%.

The Verdict:
Ricky Romero did have a fantastic year in 2011 in terms of ERA, but not so fine in terms of his peripheral stats. Despite the possibly luck driven 2011 I actually expect Ricky’s peripherals to be better in 2012, but it looks like the ERA will come back down to earth.

WAR Prediction: 3.0

Brandon Morrow
In 2011 Brandon Morrow was Brandon Morrow. He struck out a ton of batters, he walked a ton of batters, and he produced a xFIP and SIERA that was much lower than his ERA. Numbers like his 3.53 xFIP suggest his ERA should be much lower, but he has yet to have produced to that level. It isn’t a question of the stuff either, Brandon Morrow has some of the better stuff in the league, it just hasn’t translated to enough big league production.

Steve Slowinski of FanGraphs suggested that Morrow may need to add another pitch to become more effective. Could that pitch be the cutter that Morrow added late last season? Its quite possibly could, because the cutter is known as a ground ball inducing pitch, which in the past has been precisely Morrow’s problem.

After he added it late last season, the first couple of games whilst using it didn’t turn out so well, but in the last three Morrow finished strong. Not that this means too much because it is far too small a sample to really make anything of it. With that said it will surely be interesting to see how Morrow does with a developing cutter in 2012.

The Verdict:
Morrow is always cited as a breakout candidate and this may finally be his year. He is developing that third pitch and he’s going in to his third full year as a starter. His peripheral stats don’t look to get too much better in 2012, but it seems like this is the year his ERA may actualize.

WAR Prediction: 3.5

Brett Cecil
Cecil seems to me to be one of the most peculiar players at this year’s Spring Training. At the start of Spring Training, most people (including myself) seemed to think that Brett Cecil had the No. 3 starter spot locked down. Now upon further investigation I’m having second thoughts.

Yes, Brett Cecil did have a 2.6 fWAR season in 2010, but since then he has been lack luster to say the least. He dropped 1 MPH off his fastball last year, and in his first Spring Training start he was reported to have topped out at 88 MPH and averaging around 87 MPH.

For most guys losing that much in velocity is detrimental and to a guy like Cecil is could be career ending, that is assuming its permanent, which it’s likely not. Nonetheless the drop in fastball velocity is discouraging for both us fans and maybe even for Farrell too as Stoeten inferences at Drunk Jays Fans.

What’s most discouraging about Cecil is the fact that there was nothing really in 2011 that makes me think he should improve in 2012. Rather than returning to 2010 form, in 2011 Cecil seemed to regress back to his 2009 season, which as short as that 2009 season was it was not very good.

The Verdict:
Unless Brett Cecil gains back some fastball velocity, improves on his offspeed pitches, or becomes Bruce Chen 2.0, it seems doubtful that he’ll get back to a level where he could be a No. 3 starter. Initially I and what seems like many others thought Cecil would simply return with some new found form after the whole weight loss story, but after some number crunching it showed that supposedly Cecil was pretty lucky in 2011 and still wasn’t very good. That is never a good combination.

WAR Prediction: 0.5

Henderson Alvarez
There’s not too much to say about Henderson Alvarez from a statistical standpoint. He started 2011 in HiA Dunedin and astonishingly climbed all the way to the big leagues before the September roster expansion. Once in the big leagues he seemed to perform much better than anyone had expected, but one does have to be aware of the relatively small sample size.

Going forward it is likely that Alvarez’s insane 5.00 K/BB ratio comes back down to earth because he doesn’t strike out enough guys for that to be sustainable. However it doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to perform. In fact Kevin Goldstein said that, “Henderson Alvarez’s ceiling is close to what Ricky Romero is today.”

This is obviously quite encouraging for Alvarez’s case because after a pretty terrible 2010 season Alvarez was forced to repeat HiA Dunedin and his prospect status seemed to have been permanently tarnished.

The Verdict:
There isn’t nearly enough statistical evidence on Henderson Alvarez to do any real analysis. With that said considering what Kevin Goldstein said to be true, it isn’t unreasonable to expect  at least No. 4 starter like production with the potential for much more, not only in 2012, but beyond.

WAR Prediction: 2.1

Dustin McGowan
Dustin is the miracle pitcher, the man who no one thought would ever return. All the odds were against him, but he battled through it and started his first MLB game in 3 years on September 6th. The narrative is with him, but now McGowan will once again have to face adversity. This adversity being the question of whether he’ll actually be able to pitch. He didn’t do to well in terms of stats at the end of 2011, but then again it was less than 25 innings.

The reports out of spring seem strong so far. After McGowan’s first start today. Gregor Chisholm reported that he reached 96 MPH and was averaging around 93, which would be about where he was velocity wise, back in 2008. Mike Wilner also pointed out that, “[McGowan's] fastball had good life and the slider had great bite.”

All of this is great in theory, but McGowan still has yet to consistently produce at the major league level since coming back from injury. He seems to have the same stuff, and on the FAN 590′s JaysTalk Wilner noted that he felt “just like the other pitchers” in the sense that he wasn’t be held back at all. As well he’ll surely be given plenty of chances as he is essentially the Jo-Jo Reyes of 2012 being a starting pitcher who is out of options, which almost makes him a shoe in for a rotation spot. Just hopefully he doesn’t take on Reyes’ performance level as well.

The Verdict:
I’m not really sure what to expect out of Dustin McGowan in 2012. He seems to be relatively similar in terms of stuff as he was in 2008. The only problem is he has yet to show that he can sustain that stuff over the course of a full game or over the course of the season. That right there could really be his Kryptonite this season, but it could also not matter at all. The only way to see what McGowan truly is will be innings and time and that won’t come until the regular season.

WAR Prediction: 1.5 (Only because of a possible innings limit)

Kyle Drabek
Last, but certainly not least is the former top prospect Kyle Drabek. In a lot of ways Drabek is like Henderson Alvarez, but also different at the same time. They are similar in the fact that both have under 90 innings of MLB pitching experience and both have a possible No. 2 starter ceiling, but are polar opposites in terms of their production in their first taste of the big leagues. As stated before Alvarez was fantastic last year and well Drabek kind of wasn’t.

However both have the same relative pitching ceiling, which why I thought both should have a chance to prove themselves in 2012. Obviously Alvarez has the edge having performed well in his big league time, but Drabek hasn’t been terrible in Spring Training either and at this point I’d rather see him in the rotation that Cecil.

The reason being that at this point Cecil’s ceiling appears to be a No. 3 starter at best and at this point he may not even reach it. Where as this year Drabek could be a serviceable No. 5 with upside for so much more.

The Verdict:
Unfortunately like Alvarez, with Drabek there isn’t enough statistical evidence to do any real analysis. Instead we have to turn to the scouting reports, which are unsurprising high on Kyle Drabek. He still has the talent, he still has the stuff, he just needs the command, which I don’t expect to come this year. Though with some repetition and major league innings it could very well be Drabek’s year come 2013. In my opinion he just needs to be given a chance.

WAR Prediction: 0.8 (Only because I don’t think he will get the chance)

Look for Part 2 of Projecting Performance, which will be on the Blue Jays Outfield, the post will likely come out sometime later this week. 

Go to Top