Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An actual Blue Jays post!…

For a blog, I wished to use to vent about the Blue Birds they have given me precious little to write about this off-season. There are a couple of issues I can touch on so let’s work with what we have, shall we? Josh Towers will be offered arbitration. I doubt he’ll get $3 million considering he has a 6.50 ERA over his last two seasons. I see it as harmless; of course the Jays could simply non-tender him but pitching does have some value. He has a career BB/9 of 1.51 (1.85 in 2007) and whiffed 6.4/9 this year. He’s dynamite from the windup but he is absolutely destroyed pitching from the stretch. In 2007, opposing batters hit at Royce Clayton levels (.266/.301/.339) off Towers from the windup but they mashed like Matt Holliday from the stretch.

What can be done?

One option is having him speed up his delivery from the windup with men on base. Another is having a catcher with a cannon to work when Towers pitches. A third is have him work on various pick off moves to keep the men on base guessing--or all three. I think the Jays are at the point in time where pitching from the stretch is quite simply not an option. You cannot have a pitcher who opposing batters completely mauls (.350/.380/.632) once runners get on base. Even if they run wild on Towers, it is hard to steal home. Finally, with his precision he should be able to come inside fearlessly. He absolutely needs to keep hitters off balance and uncomfortable in the box if he hopes to be successful. I hope that the Jays can try some of these things during spring training.

Further, they can showcase him in spring training provided he enjoys some success. As a fly ball pitcher, he could probably give close to 180 league average innings in a big NL park like AT&T, Chavez Ravine, Petco, Shea, RFK or Dolphin Stadium. Towers has a career GB/FB ratio of 1.03 after posting a mark of 1.33 in 2007. Whether he’s learning to get more ground ball outs or last year was a fluke remains to be seen; nevertheless, for less than $3 million the Jays may have a potential trade chit.

It is an O.K. gamble to offer arbitration.

The Jays also claimed OF Cody Haerther (.303/.363/.474 in just under 1500 minor league AB) from the Cardinals for outfield depth. On the one hand, we have enough outfielders however other than Matt Stairs, the Jays had an abysmal bench last year. The Jays gave over 1300 AB to guys who were barely replacement level (.233/.275/.325) in 2007 so Haerther might be a potential bat off the bench. He has a better track record than the recently released John-Ford Griffin does (.262/.342/.454 minor league line) so who knows?

Speaking of which, a minor trade brought Marcos Scutaro over from the A’s. My west coast contacts speak well of him. He’s your prototypical ‘scrappy’ ballplayer although he does possess some on base skills (.350 OBP in 365 AB in 2006). His career line of .259/.320/.384 while not awe-inspiring is a step up from the “.233/.275/.325 club” of last season. I hope that the Jays won’t have a bench where you wish you had pinch hitters for your pinch hitters in 2008.

A-Rod vs. Maggs

To open, obviously the BBWAA got the AL MVP vote right but Magglio Ordonez was not a completely brain-dead choice to garner a couple of first place votes, even though the votes he got were for the wrong reasons. Consider:


Player BA OBP SLG Hits BB XBH OPS+ RCAA PA Outs
A-Rod .314 .422 .645 183 95 85 177 83 708 428
Maggs .363 .434 .595 216 76 82 167 73 678 405


We see that not only was Ordonez on base more often but he reached there via contact rather than the walk. With men on, a walk isn’t as good as a hit since a base on balls only moves up any base runners 90’. A hit can move runners a lot further and unless the bases are loaded a walk will not plate a run. Also noteworthy is Maggs struck out over 40 fewer times than A-Rod. Factor in that Ordonez played better defense than Rodriguez and you can see some justification for somebody giving Ordonez first place votes. Don’t get me wrong, I would have noted for Rodriguez myself however, I could see why somebody in good faith could have given the nod to Ordonez.

I see that Jimmy Rollins was named NL MVP. As I wrote last Sunday, it is not has bad a choice as a lot of the sabermetric crew will make it out to be. It should be noted that had the Mets not collapsed and the Phillies missed out on the NL East, David Wright most likely would have come away with top honours (Zero first place votes? 4th?? What's with that?). It is the classic ‘to the victors belong the spoils’ situation. I am biased and freely admit that the decision makes me happy as seeing Willie Stargell cop the hardware back in 1979 (yes, I am that old). Thirty years from now folks will look back at the numbers and wonder what the BBWAA was smoking when they voted (some will be doing that even as I write this) but make no mistake, Rollins did have an awesome season. Don’t forget, he set the National League record for total bases by a shortstop in 2007. Rollins defenders three decades hence will be able to point to that record, winning both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger and not missing a single game while doing it as justification for winning the 2007 MVP.

Of note, both MVP this year hold their respective league records for total bases by a shortstop--go figure.

Congratulations to both.

Best Regards

John

7 comments:

Jonathan said...

Whaaaaaaaaaaaa? From the windup with men on base- has this ever been attempted? Even if Towers could keep runners glued to the bag, as soon as he starts to move his left foot backwards they can take off with impunity. I'm all for giving up a few SB's if it helps a pitcher, but it would either be absolutely ridiculous (i.e. almost every runner almost every pitch) or they'd have to change his windup so much that it was basically the stretch...

John Brattain said...

Bob Gibson did it. He couldn't hold base runners so he never bothered to try. He just reared back and fired.

Of course there is a huge difference between Towers and Hoot plus Gibson had a very quick delivery to the plate and threw serious heat.

That's why some adjustments would have to be made to compensate. Plus, I'd try it in spring training to see if it was viable.

Hey, you're the station-to-station /three run jack guy--why are you so worried about the effects of the stolen base? ;-).

Best Regards

John

John Brattain said...

P.S.

Consider it inspiration for your next post on Mockingbird.

No charge.

Best Regards

John

Jonathan said...

Well...I don't think the stolen base is much to worry about because you have to steal a ton of them at a ridiculously high rate to really make much of a difference- but that's what going from the full would probably do. Some rookie pitcher did it against the Jays by mistake a couple of years ago and Reed did a double take and then pretty much jogged to second...

Thanks, but not nearly objectionable enough to merit serious Mocking. ;) You're going to have to compete with some dude from Fox calling Aaron Hill journeyman-caliber!!

John Brattain said...

Thanks, but not nearly objectionable enough to merit serious Mocking. ;) You're going to have to compete with some dude from Fox calling Aaron Hill journeyman-caliber!!

I'll have to try harder then.

Heh.

I don't think I can top the Hill remark but I'm gonna check out what you said about it.

Best Regards

John

Jonathan said...

Hmmm...evidently 'some dude' is a highly respected sports writer. Although he did cause an uproar by leaving Wade Boggs off his HOF ballot. That whole article just rubbed me the wrong way for being willfully ignorant and one-sided. Why do I always end up defending J.P. ?!?

John Brattain said...

I don’t think J.P. has done as bad a job as his critics maintain. He’s put together one of the better pitching staffs in the AL. It’s not his fault that Glaus, Overbay, Wells and Johnson got hurt. I’m still optimistic about 2008; there’s a surplus of pitching which is nice to have. My biggest complaint is that for a saber guy he has no idea how to assemble a bench.

How hard can it be to find league average hitters (.271/.338/.423) that aren’t terrible fielders? There was nothing in the Lunas, McDonalds, Roberts, Smiths etc. careers that indicated they could post a 750-ish OPS.

Oh well.

As long as the veterans are within their career norms while Hill and Rios continue to progress, and a serviceable bench is put together I can see the Jays in the playoff hunt in 2008.

Best Regards

John