Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kevin Slowey

According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Blue Jays were watching a Twins "B" game versus the Pirates, and more specifically, the starting pitcher Kevin Slowey(seen in the picture above initiating an arm wrestling war with Joe Mauer due to an argument over pitch selection). One scout was video taping him, likely proving that the Blue Jays' massive scouting network is just a secret voyeuristic operation.

You have to know that the information is accurate because Christensen writes about handlebar moustaches. Further credibility is provided by the fact he was told this, sort of in the same way Glenn Beck told me that the U.S. President Baraq Osama is a racist. I also give a lot of credibility to someone like Christensen, who posts stat lines of pitchers using HP, in what I am assuming is a new sabermetric called "Health Points".

On the outset, many may find Kevin Slowey to be a poor target. Clearly Minnesota is fine with moving him, and some of his base career statistics are not the prettiest, including his glaring 1.4 HR/9. There are however peripherals that paint Slowey in a better light - his 1.28 career WHIP and 4.58 K/BB being two of them. As a prospect watcher, it's hard for me to not have a soft spot for a guy like Slowey who blazed through the minor leagues with a 1.94 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 6.94 K/BB. He is only 26, and it could be argued that he is now coming into his prime and he will be controllable for two more years.

On the flip side, it's less about Slowey and more so who he would block in the rotation. Currently, we have a battle for the #4-5 spots between Drabek, Rzepczynski, Litsch, Richmond, and Reyes. I personally believe Drabek will end up in AAA, where he can fine tune his game in an extremely difficult hitter's park. Fans seem to just love Richmond, and I can't for the life of me figure out why. He's done absolutely nothing in his pitching career to show he warrants this type of fan response, other than the mere fact he is Canadian.

So that leaves us with Litsch, Rzep, and Reyes. Slowey is a definite upgrade over JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and outside of ERA, is statistically better than Litsch, who hasn't shown us anything since 2008 due to a slew of injuries. Rzepczynski had a blown season last year, but he has the pure stuff. He has done more than enough to show that he deserves a full-time shot.

If we were to trade a reliever or two for Slowey, I wouldn't be upset with it. I like the guy. But there are two reasons I'd prefer we didn't:

1) Does he make us a definitively better team over current options? Litsch put up a 2.6 WAR in his shortened 2008 season. Kevin Slowey has only once posted a higher WAR, which was also in 2008. Even Kyle Drabek is projected for a 2.3 WAR as a rookie.

2) David Golebiewski over at FanGraphs showed a lot of concern last year about Slowey's groundball ratio, and the significant drops over the years. It certainly seems like his curveball has become problematic.

And, playing Devil's Advocate again, there are two reasons I believe trading for Slowey wouldn't be a poor idea:

1) The guy has dealt with wrist injuries on and off since 2008. If his wrist is healed, it is very likely he can return to being the player who everyone saw had so much potential.

2) I am a huge believer in continuing to stockpile the Jays' system. If you allow a half-season for Drabek and Stewart in AAA, and fill the rotation with guys such as Slowey who have a major league track record, they are easily tradeable at mid-season, and usually for a lot more than what a middling reliever will get you. If Slowey doesn't pan out, he's "only" being paid 2.7 million.

Whatever the result may be, and if the Jays are even interested in Slowey, I don't believe I would rant or rave in either direction. This would simply be a trade for the sake of a trade.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Catching up.

I spend four hours a day minimum searching around baseball websites just trying to find something, anything interesting to read during Spring Training. It seems almost every other blogger/writer out there feels the same way. On the bright side, this will allow me time to get many of the pages around the website set up finally - including the 2010 draftees list and a review of some drafts from earlier this decade.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring, spring, spring

Okay, so let's be honest. I'm not really the best at "sticking" to something. The last six months have been a crazy time in my life, and thus, there hasn't been any blog posts. I spend a few hours a day talking about the Jays and reading about them. I know every minor leaguer by name. But then when it comes to the posting, I tend to lack the effort, despite rambling off an entire essay at a time to my buddy.

So, it's a new year. And it's spring. It's time to start firing off incoherent thoughts about my favourite sport and my favourite team. Let's do this.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Auburn and Toronto to Part Ways

Somewhat of a sad day for Doubledays fans - it is being reported that Toronto will be leaving Auburn after this year. Check the link for more information.

Auburn Doubledays and Toronto Blue Jays to part ways.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Elias Rankings & The AL East Arbitration Outlook

Sorry for the lack of updates again, I've been quite busy on the job search and conceptualizing where I plan to go with this blog.

Latest Elias updates:

- John Buck passes Jason Kendall and Gerald Laird, moving up quite a bit in Type B. Even Jose Molina now only has Kendall and Laird in his way for Type B status.
- Against other First Basemen, Lyle Overbay is four spots out of Type B status. He has Cantu, Branyan, Morales, and Nick Johnson ahead of him. With Johnson and Morales likely to fall out due to injuries, he would need to pass both Cantu and Branyan, which seems highly unlikely.
- Scott Downs is firmly planted as Type A still, and with Jason Frasor dropping a couple spots back, he's now more comfortably in Type B position with Kevin Gregg just a couple slots behind him. Both will likely finish as Type Bs.

Here is the number of Free Agents for AL East teams that qualify for Type A/B status:

- Toronto: Four (4). Buck, Frasor, Downs, and Gregg.
- Tampa Bay: Seven (7). Pena, Crawford, Soriano, Balfour, Choate, Wheeler, Benoit.
- Baltimore: One (1). Uehara.
- Boston: Five (5). Martinez, Varitek, Ortiz, Beltre, Lowell.
- New York: Four (4). Berkman, Pettite, Vazquez, Rivera.

Number of players likely to get arbitration offers (if options are not exercised, etc):

- Toronto: Four (4). Buck, Frasor, and Downs are almost locks to get arbitration offers. Gregg's options may or may not be declined at this point, but the majority is leaning towards declined.
- Tampa Bay: Four (4). While Tampa is looking to shed payroll, most of that will come from Pena. He would likely accept arb, and with his performance, chances are he won't get offered it. Wheeler's option will likely be exercised at 4M. With Balfour's success in TB, he is likely to decline but would definitely be offered. Benoit might be offered arb, but he might also sign a contract in advance of that. Choate's performance has been poor and he will likely not be back.
- Baltimore: Zero (0). It is highly unlikely that Uehara will receive arbitration with his salary already at 5 Million, especially with his injury issues and the fact he did not become the ideal starter they were looking for.
- Boston: Two (2). If an extension can't be reached, V-Mart will certainly look for a long-term contract elsewhere. It's hard to imagine they would give a raise to Varitek and his 5M salary, which is already way too high for a back-up catcher. Ortiz' option could be declined, and they may try and bring him back for cheaper (same with Varitek). Beltre will decline his 5M player option, and there is a good chance the Red Sox give him a multi-year deal. Lowell's time in the Red Sox, and maybe even in the majors, is done.
- New York: Zero (0). If Berkman's option is declined, I can't imagine they would offer him the chance at a raise. With his unusual peformance this year, he will either be a Yankee next year or on the FA Market. Pettite and Rivera will surely re-sign if they wish to continue playing. Arbitration isn't even a question. Vazquez might be brought back, but he has fallen out of favor this year and I can't imagine they'd want to commit over 12M to him.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Meet Eri Yoshida, Knuckleball Princess

If someone comes up to you and tells you they watched a knuckleballer pitch side-arm, you'd probably laugh. Then they proceed to tell you they're an 18-year old girl. You laugh again. Then they tell you she's playing professional baseball. They stop dead in their tracks.

Meet Eri Yoshida. Standing just above five feet tall, she's considered short by any league's standard. Her fastball non-chalantly clocks in at 65 MPH, a hitter's dream. Lucky for her, she's not a flamethrower. She's a knuckleballer.

In all my years of baseball, I never imagined a woman would have made it in pro-ball as a pitcher. I told myself over and over again, how could someone who physically is unable to throw heat going to succeed? I secretly hoped there would be a female eephus specialist, but that still hasn't happened. What I can say is, watching her play was a fantastic experience.

The Chico Outlaws were in town to battle my local Calgary Vipers on an overcast sunday afternoon. At first, it felt like we were never going to see Eri pitch. The Outlaws kept scoring, and the starting pitcher for the Vipers just couldn't hit the strike zone. Run after run, and sooner or later, Yoshida came up to bat. Now, my understanding is she is actually a quality hitter - but there were runners on first and second, so she was asked to bunt. She almost beat out the throw, too.

It felt like we were never going to see Eri pitch. Chico ended up scoring 11 runs in the first inning, 10 of which were before an out was even recorded. What felt like hours later, we finally were going to get our chance.

The crowd went wild with excitement as she threw her warm-up pitches. Her knuckleball constantly came in at 53-56 MPH. The ball wasn't dying off as it neared the plate as much as a knuckleball should, and she seemed to be getting more rotation on it than she wanted. Finally, it was her turn to face live batters.

The first batter came to the plate. The crowd of 1,759 clapped loudly in anticipation of the first pitch.

Unfortunately for Eri Yoshida, things did not go as planned. Batter after batter, sharp line drives were hit into the outfield. There was a couple defensive miscues that could have been avoided, and the ball wasn't launched too much outside of one home run, so there were some good things to note in her performance.

Whether you view her as a gimmick or not, it's absolutely exciting to see a woman play baseball. Not for the sake of being progressive, but simply to see a barrier being broken. She might not be Jackie Robinson, but she's still breaking ground. Her stuff is more than likely nowhere near good enough to be in the major leagues - but maybe one day, this will open up the door for someone else to do it.

And when that day comes - she better be an Eephus specialist.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Spinning The Gose

Sorry for the lack of updates. Just trying to get things going and unfortunately there has been a lot on my plate!

As everyone knows, "First Baseman of the Future" Brett "My Neck is Thicker than Snider's" Wallace has been traded for Anthony "Grey" Gose. For those who are unaware, Anthony Gose is an almost-20 year old Center Fielder from the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He was someone we asked for in the Halladay deal and were denied.

Over on MLBTR, all I've read is people calling for AA's head. Luckily the blogosphere seems to have much more reasonable responses, but there's been a myriad of knee jerk reactions over this trade.

On the outset, it looks like this:

Wallace, in AAA: .301/.359/.509/.868, 18 HR, 0 NSB, 27 BB:83 K.
Gose, in A+: .263/.325/.385/.710, 4 HR, 9 NSB, 32 BB:103 K.

Ew! I mean, look at those numbers. Clearly, Wallace is the better player. Right? Well, maybe. Unfortunately, we can't prove that Wallace is the better player. What we do know is, Wallace has been posting average numbers for someone in Las Vegas. He has an .809 OPS away split, which is well below average for anyone, especially a first baseman.

And that's the big issue when it comes to Wallace. His numbers are not BAD, they're just below average for a 1st baseman. Even worse, he plays a terrible defensive game.

That being said, I never trust anyone who tells me how I should think about a player without providing evidence. When Alex Anthopoulos tells me "Gose is a gold glove-caliber all-star center fielder in the future", I take that with a grain of salt. On the outset, as we've seen, Gose's numbers look terrible.

Let's do some comparison.

I decided to take a look at the Florida State League. The first investigation was to check all players in 1990 who were doing better than Gose.

There was one.

1: Junior Lake (Chc): .258/.338/.409/.747, 8 HR, 0 NSB, 28 BB:69 K
2. Anthony Gose: .263/.325/.385/.710, 4 HR, 9 NSB, 32 BB: 103 K

Now, Lake has 150 or so less PAs, so the strikeouts work out around the same level but with Lake taking a few more walks and obviously showing more power. But otherwise, Gose is 2nd among players in the FSL born 1990 or later.

I figured, posting one year isn't enough. I thought I should compare with those born in 1989. Players born in 89 ahead of Gose in OPS: Michael McDade (.783), Quincy Latimore (.727), Travis D'Arnaud (.713).

I respect everyone's opinion on Gose and I don't see this as a "woohoo! We won big time!" trade. In fact, it's possible other teams might have offered us someone better for Wallace. But this trade is about ceiling. It's about finding potential all-stars in premium positions, not guys who can be stop gaps and fill holes. It's about becoming an Atlanta or a Philadelphia when it comes to producing stars, not an Oakland Athletics.

Let's review the trade in a few years, when it actually matters.