No this isn’t a déjà vu. For the second straight offseason, Alex Anthopoulos has swung a deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Granted this move isn’t as exciting as last year’s Wells for Napoli swap, it gives a fresh start to 2 young players who have had trouble finding success at the big league level.
Coming to Toronto is catcher Jeff Mathis. He was selected in the first round of the 2001 draft and rose quickly through the ranks of the Angels’ farm system. By 2005 Mathis was playing for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. Bengie Molina left the Angels in 2006 leaving a spot open for Mathis to platoon with José Molina. So far in his major league career though, Mathis has failed to perform. He’s a career .194 hitter over 6 full seasons in the majors, only hitting over the Mendoza line in 2 of the 6 campaigns. The end of Mathis’ tenure in Anaheim was foretold on Thursday, when the Angels traded for catcher Chris Iannetta.
Leaving the Blue Jays is perennial let down Brad Mills. Selected twice by the Jays in subsequent amateur drafts, ultimately signed in 2007 after being selected in the 4th round. Mills showed lots of promise in 2008, posting the best record of all pitchers in the minor league organization. He finished the season 13-5 with 159 strikeouts over 147 innings, and an ERA of 1.49 in 27 starts. Mills appeared in 14 games with 9 starts over 3 seasons with the big league Blue Jays and, just like Mathis for the Angels, was not able to translate his minor league success to the top level. Mills has a major league career ERA of 8.57, and was 1-2 in 4 starts with the Jays in 2011.
There’s no question that anyone expects this move to be the one that makes or breaks either team’s season. Mathis was destined to play only 1-2 games per week backing up Iannetta in Anaheim while there was no guarantee Mills would even make it to Toronto’s major league roster in 2012. Unless Anthopoulos has some other plans for Mathis, it seems that he will backup JP Arencibia for a couple starts per week and serve as a late inning defensive replacement. It’s hard to see the logic behind bringing Mathis into the fold, in an organization that has catching prospects Travis D’Arnaud and Brian Jeroloman I have to question whether a career .194 hitter is a better option than a sophomore/rookie platoon.
The offseason is only warming up for the Blue Jays. As Anthopoulos prepares to enter the winter meetings Monday in Dallas there is still a glaring hole at 2B, too many major league ready outfielders, and a need for a bonafide closer. Big names in the bullpen have gone to Philadelphia and Miami in the forms of Jonathan Pappelbon and Heath Bell this offseason, and rumour has it that the Jays have their eyes on Oakland A’s closer Andrew Bailey. Anthopoulos has made no secret that he prefers to plug holes through trades rather than the free agent market, and the A’s have announced that just about everyone on the roster is on the trading block. With up to 6 other teams interested in acquiring Bailey, the Jays’ chances are limited, however there is no questioning Toronto’s organizational depth that could give them the edge in trade talks. If nothing else, the winter meetings next week in Dallas should be very interesting for Blue Jays fans as they seem to always be.
Designated for assignment on November 18th by the Indians, Luis Valbuena was acquired today by the Jays in exchange for cash considerations. Valbuena, 25, has been a prospect in the Indians’ organization since December 2008 when he was picked up as part of a 3-team trade with Seattle, the team that drafted him in 2005.
Reports out of Cleveland are that Valbuena had an outstanding season with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, but his success didn’t translate well to the big club. In 17 games he hit .207 with 1 home run. Valbuena was used as a backup outfielder on a roster that was overwhelmed with injury. This comes after a horrible 2010 season where he appeared in 91 games where he hit .193 with 2 HR and 24 RBI. No question Valbuena’s Triple-A stats were respectable, and this is the reason why the Blue Jays are taking a flyer on him.
I don’t expect to see Luis Valbuena as the solution to the Blue Jays glaring 2B hole. Until he translates his potential to the major leagues, he will continue to be nothing more than an emergency callup from Las Vegas. Kelly Johnson is still unsigned and has been offered arbitration by the Blue Jays. There are also several free agent second basement floating around free agency that could fit in quite well with Toronto including Adam Kennedy, Jose Lopez, and Nick Punto. The Blue Jays 40-man roster currently sits full though, and someone would have to be designated for assignment if one of those guys were to be acquired.
Depth Chart – November 26, 2011
- JP Arencibia
- Travis D’Arnaud
- Adam Lind
- Edwin Encarnacion
- David Cooper
- Mark Teahen
- Mike McCoy
- Luis Valbuena
- Yunel Escobar
- Mike McCoy
- Brett Lawrie
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Jose Bautista
- Mike McCoy
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Adam Lind
- Mark Teahan
- David Cooper
- Ricky Romero
- Brandon Morrow
- Brett Cecil
- Henderson Alvarez
- Dustin McGowan
- Casey Janssen
- Jesse Litsch
- Joel Carreno
- Luis Perez
- Carlos Villanueva
- Danny Farquhar
- Chad Beck
Much to the chagrin of Blue Jays fans everywhere, Jose Bautista was NOT awarded the AL MVP for 2011. To make matters worse for Jays fans, he wasn’t even 2nd place. Verlander had 13 first place votes and 280 total points, followed by Ellsbury at 242 (4 first place votes), and Bautista with 231 (5 first place votes).
For a moment lets pretend that pitchers shouldn’t be considered for the award. How would the MVP look if we take Verlander out, and move everyone that was behind him up a spot on all cast ballots? It seems that without question, Jacoby Ellsbury would be the winner. It’s safe to say the majority of Ellsbury’s 13 second place votes came behind Verlander’s 13 first place votes, and even though Bautista had more first place votes than Ellsbury, he earned votes as low as ninth place.
So what gives? Everyone in Toronto thinks Bautista should have been the MVP this year. He led the league in home runs for a second straight season, and he won his second straight Hank Aaron award. How could he not be the MVP? Is it because the Blue Jays were out of the playoff discussion by the end of August? Well that shouldn’t matter. After all, Alex Rodriguez won the award in 2003 playing for the, at the time, last place Texas Rangers. Maybe playing for a team based out of Canada hindered him, but it certainly didn’t stop him from becoming the highest all-star vote getter ever this past June, and it’s not unheard of for a player on a Canadian team to win the MVP. George Bell won in 1987. I don’t know what else Bautista had to do to win the MVP this year, maybe he should have sold souvenirs at the Jays Shop between innings.
Now for our winner. For weeks now the debate hasn’t only been who will win the award, but should a pitcher even be considered. No doubt from my point of view there is overwhelming evidence that the majority of fans (likely not including the city of Detroit) thought that pitchers should not be allowed to win the MVP. The question here was not should Justin Verlander be the 2011 winner, but should pitchers in general be considered. Without further ado, here’s what I think.
Should Pitchers Be Considered For The MVP?
Categorically yes I believe they should. Just looking only at the name of the award, Most Valuable Player, by definition says yes. Last time I checked, pitchers were players too. In the criteria presented to voters, there is no distinction between pitchers and position players and all are fair game. The pitchers do have their own award though, in shape of the Cy Young making it a little bit unfair that they are eligible for the MVP as well.
So how can we fix this? Well, the hitters have their own award too. The Hank Aaron award has been given to the top hitter in each league since 1999. Unfortunately the Hank Aaron does NOT hold as much weight with hitters as the Cy Young does with pitchers. Therefore I propose that the Hank Aaron award is given more meaning to make it just as important as the Cy Young. Then the MVP can be truly considered all encompassing where there is no question both pitchers and hitters are to be considered. Both sides of the ball have their own award so everyone can be considered for the top dog MVP. How about making it part of the ballot, vote Cy Young and Hand Aaron then from your two first place votes pick the MVP. The Cy Young and Hank Aaron awards will be decided as they currently are, and the MVP by the total votes received.
Now that we’ve determined that I’m not against pitchers winning the MVP award, let’s decide if Verlander is deserving. I will put aside the no-hitter against the Blue Jays in May. I will also ignore the fact that Justin Verlander earned himself a triple crown by having the most Wins and Strike Outs, plus the league best ERA. I will take each of Verlander’s stats and look at the numbers individually.
Wins – 24
Verlander chalked up the most wins in the AL since Bob Welch won 27 games in 1990. The most wins in 21 years is quite a feat but only 3 more win that the league average of 21 over the last 12 years. This span includes 23 wins by Barry Zito (2002), 22 wins by Roy Halladay (2003) and Cliff Lee (2008), and 21 wins by Mark Mulder (2001) and CC Sabathia (2010). None of those guys won MVPs in those seasons.
Strike Outs – 250
The 12 year average since 2000 is 245 strike outs per season, only 5 less than Verlander’s season total. Pedro Martinez threw 284 strikeouts in 2000, and Verlander himself threw 265 in 2009 but neither won of them won MVPs in those seasons.
ERA – 2.40
While it was tops in 2011, a 2.40 ERA is fairly average when you consider past ERA champions Felix Hernandez 2.27 (2010), Zack Greinke 2.16 (2009), and most notably Pedro Martinez 1.74 (2000). Over the past 12 seasons since 2000 the average ERA for the AL ERA leader is 2.49 making Verlander’s only 0.09 better than average.
Take those 3 categories on their own and you’ll see that Verlander had a good season, with stats right around average for the league champion. There’s no question that Justin Verlander is more than deserving of the AL Cy Young award, but the numbers are no better than previous league champions. Those guys weren’t MVPs and neither should Verlander.
As expected the new look Blue Jays were debuted Friday at noon. Those of us unfortunate enough to have to be at work during the announcement watched on BlueJays.com, keeping our fingers on ALT+TAB in case the boss walked by.
As expected, the main focus of the logo was spot on from what was leaked a few months ago, spread online and in printed in the Toronto papers. It appears on the cap, the front of the jersey and as a part of the official franchise logo. My personal opinion of the logo is that I like the call back to the past. The original logo with a few minor tweaks such as sharper edges around the bird’s face. I’m glad to see the word BLUE has been returned to the name, while never officially taken out by the team it seemed as though they were going for the same angle as the Rays who dropped the word Devil completely in 2008. The maple leaf is back to much relief of the fans who saw the elimination of Canada’s symbol as a sign the Jays would one day be leaving Toronto. the striped lettering on “Blue Jays” is reminiscent of the font of the 90’s but with much sharper edges for a sleek new look. Overall, I am happy with the new logo, and will have the new hat on my head as soon as I can get to the Jays shop.
While it seems everyone else is excited about the Jerseys however, I am not. Don’t get me wrong, I like throwback jerseys as much as the next guy but throwbacks are to be worn on flashback nights not every day. I think they should have completely redesigned the jerseys with the call back to the past coming in the form of the logo.
I imagine a simple jersey in the solid White, Grey, or Royal Blue with piping around the neck and down the front with just the logo on the left breast akin to the Yankees, Red Sox, or Tigers simple jersey designs. I have to admit I liked the Black jersey and I’m sad to see it gone, but I understand what they are going for here. My personal favourite out of the 3 is definitely the royal blue alternate jersey that can be used with either the white home pants or the grey road pants. I hope the alternate jersey gets the majority of use this season.
Don’t be lulled in by this Jays fans, new looks don’t equal championships and this team still has some work to do. Which leads me to:
In Other News…
MLB clubs had to finalize their 40-man rosters in advance of the rule V draft on friday. In order to protect them from the draft, the Jays added C Travis D’Arnaud, 1B Michael Dade, RHP Nestor Molina, and LHP Evan Crawford. The Blue Jays also claimed Padres RHP Andrew Carpenter off of waivers. This puts the Jays roster at 38, with 2 spots left open.
Just 2 days after the Blue Jays claimed Cole Kimball from the Nationals, they took him back. Kimball had to clear waivers before he could be placed on the Triple-A roster in order for the Blue Jays to make room for Carpenter. It seems the Nats never wanted to let him go and were very quick to snatch him back up.
The David Ortiz to Toronto rumours got a little bit more heated on Thursday when it was reported by CBSSports.com reporter Scott Miller that the Jays were poking around with Ortiz’ agent. I’m trying not to get my hopes up about the Ortiz to Toronto rumours because I don’t want to be let down in the end but if it were to happen and by some twist of fate they were able to sign Prince Fielder too, could you imagine a 3-4-5 lineup of Bautista-Fielder-Ortiz? It would be unreal!
The countdown is on. One more day until the folks at 1 Blue Jays Way unveil the new (old) Jays logo and uniform designs for the upcoming season. Thanks to the investigative work of @Soopa_D, I’ve found out that you won’t be able to buy all this exciting new apparel, at least not yet. For all of you that wanted to get a head start on Christmas shopping for the Blue Jays fans in your life after the new duds are dropped tomorrow, you’re going to have to wait. After poking around Foot Locker, and Lids @Soopa_D was told that you won’t be able to buy the apparel for another week. However as I write this, @BlueJays just posted on twitter that there is a special even happening at the Jays Shop in the Eaton Center between 5-6pm. Presumably we’ll be able to buy them during that hour.
For those who don’t know, speculation is that the new Blue Jays logo is in fact a return to the old one. Not exactly but tweaked a little bit. Nothing, of course, is official until the big unveiling tomorrow but the leaked logo came from the same place as the Marlins’ new logo and it ended up being right.
In Other News…
The Blue Jays have claimed Cole Kimball off of waivers from Washington. Kimball is recovering from a July surgery and is expected to rehab until February. He was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 12 games with the Nationals this year.
The Houston Astros have been sold to Jim Crane and will move to the American League for the 2013 season. The leagues will be even at 15 teams a piece but means that interleague play will start from the first series of the season. There will be a National League team playing an American League team virtually every day of the season. Along with this move comes word that an additional wild card team is likely being added in each league. The new format, which is rumoured to be a 1-game play-in type between the two wild card teams which will then lead into the familiar division series, will bring a new tier of teams into the September excitement.
Now that the relationship between Jorge Posada and the New York Yankees has been ended, the speculation on where the veteran catcher winds up for 2012 can begin. Of course there’s always the possibility that 40 year old Posada could just hang up the cleats and stay home with his family, ending his career with the only team he’s ever played for, but I think he’s got too much left in the tank still with a desire to really stick it to the Yankees.
Earlier this week Posada announced that he had spoken informally to 6 MLB teams, and that there was virtually no chance that he would ever play for the Yankees again. The reason being, GM Brian Cashman told Posada that he would not be welcomed back as a catcher. If Posada decides he wants to play another year, it will have to be with a team that has a young backstop he can mentor, a need for a backup catcher who can also DH or play first base, and be a contender so that he can showcase what he has left in some meaningful games. Sound familiar?
Could Posada fit in with the Blue Jays? Let’s check the criteria:
- Team that has a young backstop he can mentor – CHECK
- Team that has a need for a backup catcher who can also DH or play first base – CHECK
- Team must be a contender so that he can showcase what he has left in meaningful games – CHECK
- Posada wants to stick it to the Yankees