Posts tagged Yunel Escobar

The Night that Anthopoulos Acquired the Marlins

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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

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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.

Making Sense of The Hanley Rumours

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Picture Courtesy of AP Photo via Daylife

On Monday after a trade that sent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to Detroit we learned that despite their offseason free agency splurge the Marlins are ready and primed to sell. This morning in a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale we heard that the Blue Jays are interested.

With regards to a possible Hanley trade there is a few things we need to get out-of-the-way.

1. Hanley Ramirez can play shortstop
In his MLB career Hanley Ramirez has played 829 games at shortstop and looked to continue playing there until the Marlins signed Jose Reyes this offseason. The subsequent action to the Reyes signing was to move Hanley to third base.

2. Hanley Ramirez should not play shortstop
Despite playing 829 games at shortstop in his career, Hanley is really not a very good shortstop. In fact from the time of his call up until he was moved off of shortstop after the 2011 season Hanley was the second worst shortstop in the league by UZR standards and only moves up to third worst by DRS standards. Beyond that the scouts haven’t exactly been kind to Hanley either.

3. Hanley Ramiez is not a bad hitter
Over the last two years Hanley has produced a .245/.328/.405, which amounts to an even 100 wRC+. However looking at some of Hanley’s more intricate stats this year one can see that his ISO is up ~50 points to .183 or that his batted ball data is back to where it was in the early part of his career. He is replacing ground balls with fly balls while keeping a consistent line drive rate…ultimately it is producing more home runs. He has even pushed his contact rate up above his career average of 82.2%.

The thing that really seems to be hurting Hanley this year is his .271 BABIP, which is 4 points lower than it was last year and still a whole 62 points below his career average. Beyond that one might speculate that the large confines of Marlins Park may be hampering some of his offensive production.

In fact if you look at Hanley’s hits at Marlins Park and overlay them on the Rogers Centre you can see Hanley may even have had a few extra home runs if he was hitting in Toronto.

The dots that are not dark blue would not be home runs at Marlins Park
Picture via Katron

Now getting away from all the technical stuff and towards the trade itself one can see that there are definitely a few logistics that would need to be sorted out. First off the Blue Jays already have a shortstop in Yunel Escobar who is more than capable of staying at the position. Granted Yunel has produced a wRC+ of 75 that currently ranks 14th last among qualified batters and 7th last among qualified shortstops, but Yunel’s pull is his defence at SS…something Hanley somewhat lacks.

Part of what makes this trade complicated is that the Blue Jays would likely have to include Yunel in a deal, which puts Hanley at shortstop for the Blue Jays. Ideally you don’t want to put Hanley at shortstop,  instead you’d like Hechavarria to be able to stick there. In order for that to happen it would require Hanley to move to another new position, second base, something he may not be too inclined to do. I’d speculate what else the Blue Jays would have to give beyond Escobar but to tell you the truth I’m not exactly sure who to include.

The reason being that on one hand Hanley seems to be an undervalued asset at this point with the way he has played and it would appear that the Marlins are selling low…assuming they don’t know anything we don’t. On the other hand despite his struggles Hanley has been the 8th best player in baseball per fWAR between 2006 and 2012. The fact that Hanley has been good in the past is why other teams like Boston, Oakland, Baltimore, and even Toronto are in the supposed bidding.

They see what Hanley can do, but the problem is they all can see it, making it a classic case of supply and demand. The supply of potential superstar players in the MLB is very low and the demand is obviously very high.

This doesn’t seem to be like the Colby Rasmus case as it appeared to the public that no one else was in on Rasmus…no one even knew Rasmus was on the market until the trade happened. With more teams in on Hanley the bidding will get higher and higher and it may come to a point where it is no longer a buy low…and not the ideal Alex Anthopoulos trade.

Beyond that when compared to the other contenders for Hanley, the Blue Jays don’t exactly line up perfectly in terms of what they have to offer.

With what all the logistics amount to a Hanley trade seems like somewhat of a pipe dream, but then again so did acquiring Colby Rasmus…so I guess we will have to wait and see.

As well like any other Blue Jays rumour this could all be hogwash and a month later we may find out that the Blue Jays were never in on Hanley at all…it could just be due diligence. Despite that it’s fun to speculate, so speculate away…just don’t get your expectations up too high and don’t let your speculation get too.

Have safe trade talk everyone…it’s what is best for us all.

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