Posts tagged Sergio Santos

Thinking Blue: Weekly Recap – April 23rd

Courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

After a couple of weeks of a few lucky wins, it looks like the Blue Jays are getting back in the swing of things. Edwin is hitting, KJ is hitting, Colby is hitting, and even the so called slumping Bautista is recovering from early season troubles. Furthermore after yesterday’s win against the Royals the Jays sit now atop the AL East tied with the Yankees for first place.

These next couple of weeks look to be pretty crucial in establishing the standings in the early goings. Both the OriLoLes, who haven’t been so LoL worthy thus far, and the Rays are only a half game back of the Jays and Yankees. Of course the Red Sox and all of their beer and chicken issues are sitting firm in last place, and despite their atrocious relief pitching and the pessimistic beliefs of Red Sox fans everywhere they are still a force to be reckoned with in the AL East.

Hutch’s First Big League Start
As I’m sure most of you saw, Drew Hutchison (Yes, that’s H-u-t-c-h-i-s-o-n with one N) made a start for the Blue Jays on Saturday. Yes, the Blue Jays Top 10 prospect (and Top 100 MLB Prospect if you ask Keith Law) took to the mound in a duel against Luis Mendoza. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch his entire outing as I missed the beginning, but from what I saw he looked like he held his own.

His line on the night didn’t end up being exactly what you’d like to see. He gave up 5 runs over 5 1/3 innings and two home runs. To go along with that Hutchison walked 3 batters and hit one more. On the surface that doesn’t look so great for a pitcher’s debut, but Hutch is only 21 and most pitchers don’t produce Kyle Drabek like debuts. Besides Hutchison did end up striking out 4 over the 5 1/3 innings and got the win, if thats the sort of thing you care about (I don’t).

The outing wasn’t the most impressive thing in the world, but I also wasn’t disappointed. Again, he’s still only 21 and will be for another 4 months, he was just called up from AA and its his first start in the majors. Not to excuse the performance, but occasionally that kind of pressure can be pretty daunting. Before we make any rash decisions or evaluations on Hutch lets at least see another start of his, an opportunity I hope the Jays give him.

P.S. If you want a more In-Depth Analysis of Hutch’s first start, the kind of thing I have been known to do from time to time, you can check out MjwW’s FanPost over at Bluebird Banter where he excellently broke down the start using Pitch F/X numbers.

Santos to the DL
One week after coming back from the birth of his first child, Sergio Santos is on the 15 day DL for Shoulder Inflammation as reported by @SNBarryDavis. This isn’t exactly the news you want to hear from your favourite team, but it doesn’t project to be a huge pressing issue. If you assume Santos is as good as he was last year over the course of this season, you lose only a little more than 0.1 WAR off the season total, which in the grand scheme of things is a relatively small number.

In the meantime the Jays have thrust “Capital C Closer” Francisco Cordero into the closer role. Cordero isn’t as good as Santos, but having him as your closer isn’t the worst thing in the world. He has a declining skill set, which I have outlined before, but he should be fine in the role for 15 days. However, one thing I fear with Cordero is if he actually performs “well” in his little stint in the 9th inning role, there may be pressure to keep him there.

Santos hasn’t been great so far this season, but it has been an extremely small sample. Nonetheless if Cordero performs well, I could easily see the fans and the media for that matter building the narrative that Cordero needs to be in that closer role citing Santos’ two blown saves in this short season. Of course I don’t care about blown saves, but the Toronto media, well they sure seem to.

Colby Haters Be Gone
Colby Rasmus is always going to be easy pickin’s as an entity that everyone can throw their anger at. He is the inevitable scapegoat, he is athletic and graceful both on the field and at the plate and that has gotten him the J.D. Drew treatment.

Nonetheless Colby has done his very best to silence his naysayers, which seemed to be more than half of the fan base after last year’s debacle. After a terrible showing last season following his transition from NL to AL, St. Louis to Toronto, and La Russa to Freedom, Rasmus definitely wasn’t helping himself in the fan appreciation department.

People called him lazy, people called the trade stupid, but people say a lot of things. Well at least they did.

Nowadays with Colby having hit 3 home runs thus far with an OBP of .321 all good for a 120 wRC+, people aren’t saying a lot. These “people” have seemed to have been silenced by Colby’s admittedly fantastic performance both at the plate and in center field.

He is not hitting to the level that he did in 2010, his wRC+ is 9 points lower, but his defense is being rated better by the always confusing UZR. This has put him on pace for a 5.4 fWAR season. That pace likely won’t continue, but there is a chance that it very well could. Rasmus has the potential for that type of season, it will be interesting to see if he has that in him.

He’s hitting that triple, double, single, that smooth home run, he is fire burning in the outfield and quickly sliding his way right back into Toronto fan’s hearts…for the time being. #Colby2012

Side Note: Does anyone else see the resemblance?

Courtesy of Daylife via AP Photo and Getty Images

The Super Bullpen

What’s that on the field a catcher an outfielder, no it’s the Super Bullpen

Yesterday the Blue Jays signed former closer (not that it matters) Francisco Cordero. Surprsingly to some fans at only 1 year and $4.5 million Cordero’s contract is the largest guaranteed free agent contract that Alex Anthopoulos has signed in his short tenure as Blue Jays General Manager. Now as the offseason is coming to a close Anthopoulos has acquired four top end relievers in Sergio Santos, Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver, and now Cordero. With the Jays having already had Casey Janssen they now have five different guys with late inning experience. To me that doesn’t matter, but to the fans who believe in the flawful (Yes I made that up) save statistic, it carries a lot of weight.

Beyond that on paper the bullpen surely looks good, definitely one of the better bullpens the Jays have had in the past decade, well until we see the production of course. Collectively Sergio Santos, Darren Oliver, Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen, Jason Frasor, Carlos Villaneuva, Litsch had a 3.23 ERA in the 2011 season. That number would rank 6th in the league, which is 15 spots higher than where the Blue Jays 3.88 bullpen ERA ranked this year. Of course that looks good, but rather than hyping up the bullpen as many are, I thought I’d take a conservative approach.

As I said before the bullpen sure looks good on paper and has pretty good depth with Joel Carreno, Chad Beck, and more, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform. Last offseason the Jays signed Jon Rauch and traded for Frank Francisco expecting a couple of pretty good pitchers. In 2010 the collective ERA and FIP between the two of Rauch and Francisco was 3.44 and 3.03 respectively. Only one year later at the end of the 2011 season their collective ERA and FIP was 4.20 and 4.53. The collective ERA was 0.76 points higher and the FIP was a whole 1.50 points higher. Granted some of the production loss can be attributed to injury, but injuries are just another potential issue with relief pitchers.

Now getting to this year’s potential relief pitchers there is some upside, but there’s also reason to be concerned.

Sergio Santos
Being a converted shortstop, despite being 27 this will only be his third year in the MLB. So far he has been effective with a 3.29 ERA, 2.97 FIP, and 31 saves if you care about that stuff. On top of that Santos raised his strike rate and lowered his walk rate in 2011. Though all that is encouraging what also happened last year is Santos’ HR/FB% raised to 11.3% and his BABIP was a concerning .269. Granted these numbers could be statistical anomalies as both were more “average” in 2010. I guess the real problem here is just that there isn’t a lot of data on Santos, but he does have one of the best sliders in the league and doesn’t have a whole lot of innings on the arm.

Darren Oliver
Oliver at 42 is almost twice the age of Brett Lawrie, but like a fine wine has only gotten better with age. The whole thing on Oliver is that he has posted a better ERA every year for the last five years, but what is even more encouraging is the 2.77 FIP that he posted in 2011. One thing to consider is that his strikeout rate dropped last year, but so did his walk rate so it kind of balances it out. The only real knock on Oliver would be his age and how long he can sustain success, but even that is a argument with really no basis.

Francisco Cordero
Cordero on the surface looked to have a pretty good year in 2011 with a 2.45 ERA and 37 saves (Whoopee!), but just a quick look at his FanGraphs page has quite a few reasons why he wasn’t very good in 2011. For starters Cordero’s FIP was at 4.02 and 1.57 points higher than his ERA, which is never a good thing. Beyond that it looks like he was pretty lucky in 2011 with an unsustainably low BABIP at .214, 80 points lower than his career average and a LOB% at 82.3%, 5.4% above his career average. Finally the stuff seems to be declining as according to Pitch/FX (via FanGraphs) he lost 1.5 MPH on the Fastball velocity. All of this sums up to an interesting 2012 for Cordero, if he doesn’t get lucky again, we could be looking at a long season.

Casey Janssen
Janssen had a very good 2011 and was arguably Toronto’s best relief pitcher. Beyond that there isn’t much need be said. The peripherals match up with the ERA, the velocity was consistent. The only real knock I see on Janssen is that from year to year he has been a bit inconsistent, but this year and previously in his career he has shown he can be a great relief pitcher. The question really is will we see that great pitcher in 2012?

Jason Frasor
Frasor was a piece of the Colby Rasmus trade at the 2011 trade deadline and now its seems the Jays only payed pennies on the dollar to re-aquire Frasor. Besides that, over his career Frasor has been as consistent as a relief pitcher not named Marian Rivera can be. He has only posted an ERA above 4.50 once and and posted the third best numbers of his career last year. I’d really like to point out something wrong with Jason Frasor, but to my knowledge there just isn’t anything.

Carlos Villaneuva
Last season Villaneuva was the swingman of sorts for the Blue Jays. He filled in when the Jays needed a starter and he wasn’t as bad as Jo-Jo, but that sure isn’t saying much. This year with a bevy of options for the rotation Villaneuva will almost surely be in the bullpen, where he belongs. Though despite that what is concerning about Villaneuva, last year he almost cut his K% in half, which is never a good thing. Maybe it was the extra innings that caused a lack of Ks, but I’m not so sold. Villaneuva had similar production to the rest of his career, but if he doesn’t start striking guys out it could be difficult to sustain success and he could add another half a point on his ERA to match his xFIP.

Jesse Litsch
I remember the days when Jesse Litsch was pitching way above his head to a sub 4.00 ERA as a starter and how the peripheral stats suggested he would regress. Now he has reached that point and stats like xFIP and SIERA suggest that he will get better and sometimes I just don’t get it. If he pitches to his peripherals again he could put out some very good production and if he doesn’t well then he just won’t be a very good pitcher, kind of like last year.

Final Thoughts
On paper the Jays bullpen looks scary good and maybe the best they’ve had since the early 90s. But as we baseball fans should know bullpens are volatile and things don’t always turn out the way they were “supposed” to. Notwithstanding the great bullpen that Anthopoulos built, I don’t really see the value in all the money on the bullpen, when for example you could have let Joel Carreno pitch instead of Francisco Cordero and he could not have possibly been much worse. Some say that Anthopoulos is stockpiling arms for the trade deadline, but once we get to the deadline I’m sure we’ll realize teams are willing to pay as much as they used to.

The reason being that in past years when a good, but not great relief pitcher went to free agency he’d likely end up being a Type B free agent, meaning the Jays could have gotten a supplemental first round pick out of him. That means that in negotiations at the deadline Alex could have always said that whatever you’re offering, it better be worth more than a supplemental first round pick.

Now with the new CBA nixing the Type A and Type B free agent systems all of these good, not great relief pitchers will be worth nothing come the offseason. So rather than having the leverage of the possible pick that Anthopoulos could obtain, if he really wants something out of them, he’ll have to take whatever he can get. More often than not I’m guessing the “prospect” will not be better than a supplemental first round pick, nor will it be worth half of the salary that is paid out to the reliever. If Alex Anthopoulos truly wanted a good bullpen thats fine he built one, but to suggest he’s stockpiling arms seems a bit naive.

Of course we haven’t seen how the market will react to the new CBA, so come July 31st I could be the one looking like the idiot. Because we all have to remember that last year Anthopoulos did trade some relief pitchers for one of the better young outfielders in the game at last year’s trade deadline. At the very least this “Super Bullpen” should shush up the FAN 590 Jays Talk callers, and for both our sanity as well as Mike Wilner’s I sure hope that happens.

As a side note I know the last couple posts have been kind of crapping on people’s expectations, but in the next post their will be something quite a bit more optimistic so you can stay tuned for that.

Anthopoulos’ Blue Jays Christmas List


In Blue Jays beat writer Gregor Chisholm’s most recent blog post he talked to Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos about his thoughts on Kelly Johnson, the Pujols contract, and most importantly Anthopoulos’ objectives and wish list for the rest of this offseason. On the topic of his wish list for the rest of the offseason Anthopoulos said, “I think there are a lot of areas we could still address. You’d always love if you could add a bat to the middle of the lineup — that would be great. Realistically, I don’t know how possible that would be and right now I don’t see us being able to do that but things could change…I would love to add a mid to front rotation starter, again, that’s easier said than done because I think every team in the game is going to look to do something like that. We definitely still need to solidify our bullpen. We’ve taken care of the ninth inning but we still need to take care of the eighth inning and continue to build that depth.” In the spirit of the holiday season I thought I would go over a couple of options to fulfill all the items on the Jays GM’s Christmas list.

Middle of the Order Bat
Currently the Blue Jays have two “middle of the order bats” in Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind, but after some lack luster production from Lind in the second half and Edwin in the first half, Anthopoulos obviously wants an upgrade. To start the offseason there was two prime first base bats in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but with Pujols signing with the Angels and in the process reseting the market for Fielder, it has become a little bit more difficult. Despite that there is still some bats in both the trade market and free agency that Anthopoulos has the chance to go after, I’m just not sure he needs to, but nonetheless I looked at options anyways.

Ike Davis

2009 22 NYM-min A+,AA 114 488 58 128 31 3 20 71 0 2 57 112 .298 .381 .524 .906
2010 23 NYM NL 147 601 73 138 33 1 19 71 3 2 72 138 .264 .351 .440 .791 115
2011 24 NYM NL 36 149 20 39 8 1 7 25 0 0 17 31 .302 .383 .543 .925 155
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Recently we heard that the New York Mets are willing to listen to everyone on their roster save for David Wright, which would therefore include first baseman Ike Davis. Davis spent a majority of the past season on the disabled list, but prior to his injury in the month of April Davis had the 3rd highest wOBA in the MLB only after Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera. In that short time Ike Davis hit 7 home runs and was on a 30 home run pace despite playing in one of the worst hitters parks in the MLB. To go along with his Major League success Davis was ranked as the number 62 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season. As the market has yet to be set for Ike Davis I can’t really say what it would take to get to acquire the young cost-controllable first baseman, but I will guess something along the line of Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Perez.

Kendrys Morales

2008 25 LAA AL 27 66 7 13 2 0 3 8 0 1 4 7 .213 .273 .393 .666 72
2009 26 LAA AL 152 622 86 173 43 2 34 108 3 7 46 117 .306 .355 .569 .924 139
2010 27 LAA AL 51 211 29 56 5 0 11 39 0 1 12 31 .290 .346 .487 .833 129
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

With the Pujols signing the MLB lost the best free agent option, but also presumably gained another great option in return. This is because with the signing the Angels now have four 1B/DH types in Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, and Kendrys Morales and with only Trumbo to move to third base, there is likely going to be one who is the odd man out. Granted Morales is coming off a season in which he was injured and the Angels would likely be selling low, but it doesn’t seem like they have another option. Plus the sell low likely works in the Blue Jays favor. Like Davis there has been no set market yet, but if I had to guess I would say it could take the likes of Deck McGuire and say J.P. Arencibia.

Prince Fielder (In Depth Look)

2009 25 MIL NL 162 719 103 177 35 3 46 141 2 3 110 138 .299 .412 .602 1.014 166
2010 26 MIL NL 161 714 94 151 25 0 32 83 1 0 114 138 .261 .401 .471 .871 135
2011 27 MIL NL 162 692 95 170 36 1 38 120 1 1 107 106 .299 .415 .566 .981 164
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Since the Albert Pujols signing has gone through Prince Fielder has by default become the most sought after power bat. We have heard that the Cubs, Brewers, Jays, Mariners, Rangers, and even the Orioles could be players for Fielder. Currently the reports are such that Scott Boras is looking to get Fielder a 8 year 200 million deal, which would be out of the Jays price range as they have stated that they won’t go past a 5 year deal at this point. There is still the possibility that the market for Fielder falls through and the Jays can become a player, but it is highly unlikely. Fielder would look great hitting behind Bautista, but I doubt it happens.

Mid-Front of the Rotation Starter
Currently as the Jays rotation stands it looks to be Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil, and Dustin McGowan. With that rotation the Jays have a usable set of starters, but not one that is anywhere close to being a contending rotation in the AL East. With that said here are a few options to up the front of the rotation.

Yu Darvish (In Depth Look)

Link to Yu Darvish‘s “Japanese Baseball Players” Page

Darvish was recently posted by his team in the NPB the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and has become the most sought after pitcher on the market. It has been reported that the Red Sox, Rangers and Jays are the ones with the most interest, but in the posting system it only takes one team to change everything. With that said the Jays have had reported interest, mostly based on the fact that Anthopoulos himself went to see Darvish in Japan, but with the Jays policy of not commenting on any players it is impossible to know their true thoughts. I personally believe that Darvish will make a good transition to the big leagues and would love for them to pick him up, but with the posting system it is such a crapshoot anything could happen.

Jon Niese (In Depth Look)

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA GS IP H R HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2009 22 NYM NL 1 1 4.21 5 25.2 27 12 1 9 18 98 1.403 9.5 0.4 3.2 6.3
2010 23 NYM NL 9 10 4.20 30 173.2 192 97 20 62 148 93 1.463 10.0 1.0 3.2 7.7
2011 24 NYM NL 11 11 4.40 26 157.1 178 88 14 44 138 84 1.411 10.2 0.8 2.5 7.9
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Niese rumours like Ike Davis rumours are a product of the Mets statement that they would be willing to trade everyone on their roster. Niese also like Davis is young and cost controllable and potentially an undervalued asset. He may take a little more than expected as he is supposedly sought after by multiple teams, but I believe he is worth it. Based on his peripheral stats as well his scouting reports he seems to be a good bet to become a future #2 starter, something the Jays could always use more of. In my other post I outlined that I thought it would take Travis Snider and Deck McGuire to acquire Niese, which may seem like a lot, but the pitching market is low and Niese is a lot better than you think.

Ervin Santana

2009 26 LAA AL 8 8 5.03 23 2 139.2 159 83 24 47 107 87 1.475 10.2 1.5 3.0 6.9
2010 27 LAA AL 17 10 3.92 33 1 222.2 221 104 27 73 169 102 1.320 8.9 1.1 3.0 6.8
2011 28 LAA AL 11 12 3.38 33 1 228.2 207 95 26 72 178 112 1.220 8.1 1.0 2.8 7.0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Before the offseason you would not have thought of Santana as a obvious trade candidate, but he is coming off a career season that the Angels could sell high on in an offseason with very little pitching. Plus with CJ Wilson being added to the Angels pitching staff Ervin Santana becomes expendable. First off of the three candidates listed Santana is probably a last resort as the Angels are selling high and Santana would likely cost much more than he is worth. As well on top of the sell high aspect Ervin Santana only has two years left on his contract and would be paid $11.2 million in 2012 and $13 million in 2013, likely above what both Niese and Darvish would get, for what could quite possibly be lesser production. The reason I see to acquire Ervin Santana is a better track record and therefore more probable production, but with Niese and Darvish you have the upside, which may appeal more to AA.

Solidifying the Bullpen
This offseason the bullpen is often brought up as the biggest thing that the Blue Jays need to address because of their “25 blown saves”. As flawed as the argument is I’m not going to get into it and instead look at the bright side. First the Blue Jays acquired their closer for a little while in Sergio Santos and second the Jays have many young arms vying for a bullpen spot, which are both positives for the team. I’m sure Anthopoulos will acquire some middle reliever be it in trade or free agency, but picking the starters and positions players that the Jays will acquire is hard enough with The Silent Assassin as the Jays GM, trying to guess which relievers he acquires would be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Sergio Santos is a prime example, I bet you could count on one hand the number of people that projected that the Jays would trade for Santos. The Santos deal came out of nowhere just like the Rauch deal from last year as well as the Francisco trade, it’s simply too hard to guess. All we as Jays fans can hope for is that the Blue Jays bullpen is better and has less blown saves, not because blown saves matter, but to silence the complainers who have no idea what they are talking about.

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