Category: Headlines

Blue Jays Look For Revenge Against Orioles

A great pitchers duel for half the game last night turned into a home run derby in the later innings before the Orioles got off their schnide last night to top the Blue Jays and create a 4-way tie for first in the AL East with a 4-3 record.  It was a tale of two Morrows who at time looked dominant and at other times couldn’t get the ball down allowing Baltimore to take him deep on 2 occasions.  Morrow left with the lead, however an 8th inning string of bad luck turned into a blown save for Darren Oliver and a no decision for the Jays #2 starter. The Orioles jumped out in front 4 times last night, and 3 of those times the Jays answered back to either tie it up or take the lead immediately in the bottom half of the same inning.  They couldn’t recover from the 8th inning lead loss however, and ultimately fell 7-5.  To their credit, the Jays bats finally started to make an appearance as they were able to produce 4 home runs to double their season output to that point.  Kelly Johnson, Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yunel Escobar all went deep to provide 4 of Toronto’s 5 runs.

The truth is nobody wins every game in the season, and realistically winning 2 out of 3 would be enough to get into the playoffs.  That would give you a record of 108-54 if you could take 2 of 3 from every series you play throughout the season.  Unfortunately that would be just as unlikely as going 162-0. If the Blue Jays are to be successful in 2012, they need to sweep series’ from teams like Baltimore to make up for potential series losses to stronger teams like Detroit later in the year.  A season record of .500 in the East won’t be enough for the playoffs I’m afraid.

Today the Orioles send Jason Hammel to the mound for his second appearance of the season.  He is coming off an 8-inning no-hit bid against the Twins last sunday where he ultimately gave up 1 run on 2 hits.  The Blue Jays will counter with Henderson Alvarez who was in line to win his season debut against the Boston Red Sox in Toronto’s home opener before a 9th inning blown save by closer Sergio Santos left him with a no-decision.  Alvarez went 6 innings allowing 4 hits, one of which was a home run to Dustin Pedroia.

Baltimore Orioles (4-3)

  1. Reimold, N – LF (.308)
  2. Hardy, J – SS (.167)
  3. Markakis, N – RF (.292)
  4. Jones, A – CF (.357)
  5. Weiters, M – C (.333)
  6. Betemit, W – 3B (.200)
  7. Reynolds, M – DH (.143)
  8. Davis, C – 1B (.211)
  9. Andino, R – 2B (.308)

RHP Jason Hammel (1-0  1.13 ERA)

Toronto Blue Jays (4-3)

  1. Escobar, Y – SS (.200)
  2. Johnson, K – 2B (.286)
  3. Bautista, J – RF (.192)
  4. Lind, A – 1B (.217)
  5. Encarnacion, E – DH (.267)
  6. Thames, E – LF (.227)
  7. Lawrie, B – 3B (.241)
  8. Rasmus, C – CF (.125)
  9. Arencibia, J – C (.083)

RHP Henderson Alvarez (0-0  1.50 ERA)

Blue Jays Make A Trade With Angels

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.

Jeff Mathis

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.

Brad Mills

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.

Andrew Bailey

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.

Baseball North Offseason Tracker – Week 4

This week is highlighted by a couple of moves including the trade for Luis Valbuena from the Indians for cash considerations and former backup catcher Jose Molina signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Players listed here fall within 4 criteria: Canadian, Blue Jay at the end of the 2011 season, Blue Jay at some point in the 2011 season, and acquired by the Blue Jays for the 2012 season. Players are listed alphabetically by last name. Canadian players coloured in RED.

Player Position Old Team New Team Trans. Date Notes
Shawn Camp RP Blue Jays
Jesse Carlson RP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Kyle Davies SP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Octavio Dotel RP Cardinals Club Option Declined
Edwin Encarnacion DH/INF Blue Jays Blue Jays Oct 31/11 Club Option Exercised
Frank Francisco RP Blue Jays
Jason Frasor RP White Sox White Sox Oct 31/11 Club Option Exercised
Chad Gaudin RP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Rich Harden SP A’s
Aaron Hill 2B Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Nov 14/11 2 Years, $11M
Kelly Johnson 2B Blue Jays
Cole Kimball P Nationals Nationals Nov 18/11 Claimed by Blue Jays Nov 16, Nats reclaim him Nov 18
Wil Ledezma RP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Rommie Lewis SP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Adam Loewen OF Blue Jays Mets Nov 12/11 Minor League Contract
Trystan Magnuson P A’s Blue Jays Nov 4/11 Traded For Cash
John McDonald INF Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Nov 2/11 2 Years, $3M
Jose Molina C Blue Jays Rays Nov 28/11 1 Year + Club Option, $1.8M
Jayson Nix INF Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Pete Orr 2B Phillies Minor League Free Agent
Corey Patterson OF Cardinals Club Option declined
John Rauch RP Blue Jays Club Option Declined
Matt Stairs OF Nationals Aug 1/11 Released, Retired Aug 3/11
Brian Tallet RP Blue Jays Aug 31/11 Released
Luis Valbuena 2B Indians Blue Jays Nov 26/11 Acquired From Indians For Cash
P.J. Walters SP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Dewayne Wise OF Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Chris Woodward 2B Blue Jays

Blue Jays Acquire Valbuena From Indians

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.

Acquired By The Blue Jays November 26, 2011

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

Catcher

  1. JP Arencibia
  2. Travis D’Arnaud

First Base

  1. Adam Lind
  2. Edwin Encarnacion
  3. David Cooper
  4. Mark Teahen

Second Base

  1. Mike McCoy
  2. Luis Valbuena

Short Stop

  1. Yunel Escobar
  2. Mike McCoy

Third Base

  1. Brett Lawrie
  2. Edwin Encarnacion
  3. Jose Bautista
  4. Mike McCoy

Designated Hitter

  1. Edwin Encarnacion
  2. Adam Lind
  3. Mark Teahan
  4. David Cooper

Starting Pitchers

  1. Ricky Romero
  2. Brandon Morrow
  3. Brett Cecil
  4. Henderson Alvarez
  5. Dustin McGowan

Bullpen

  1. Casey Janssen
  2. Jesse Litsch
  3. Joel Carreno
  4. Luis Perez
  5. Carlos Villanueva
  6. Danny Farquhar
  7. Chad Beck

Baseball North Free Agency Tracker – Week 3

Players listed here fall within 4 criteria: Canadian, Blue Jay at the end of the 2011 season, Blue Jay at some point in the 2011 season, and acquired by the Blue Jays for the 2012 season. Players are listed alphabetically by last name. Canadian players coloured in RED.

Player Position Old Team New Team Trans. Date Notes
Shawn Camp RP Blue Jays
Jesse Carlson RP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Octavio Dotel RP Cardinals Club Option Declined
Edwin Encarnacion DH/INF Blue Jays Blue Jays Oct 31/11 Club Option Exercised
Frank Francisco RP Blue Jays
Jason Frasor RP White Sox White Sox Oct 31/11 Club Option Exercised
Rich Harden SP A’s
Aaron Hill 2B Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Nov 14/11 2 Years, $11M
Kelly Johnson 2B Blue Jays
Cole Kimball P Nationals Nationals Nov 18/11 Claimed by Blue Jays Nov 16, Nats reclaim him Nov 18
Wil Ledezma RP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Rommie Lewis SP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Adam Loewen OF Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Trystan Magnuson P A’s Blue Jays Nov 4/11 Traded For Cash
John McDonald INF Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Nov 2/11 2 Years, $3M
Jose Molina C Blue Jays
Jayson Nix INF Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Pete Orr 2B Phillies Minor League Free Agent
Corey Patterson OF Cardinals Club Option declined
John Rauch RP Blue Jays Club Option Declined
Matt Stairs OF Nationals Aug 1/11 Released, Retired Aug 3/11
Brian Tallet RP Blue Jays Aug 31/11 Released
P.J. Walters SP Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Dewayne Wise OF Blue Jays Minor League Free Agent
Chris Woodward 2B Blue Jays

Examining The 2011 AL MVP

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).

Jose Bautista

2011 Hank Aaron award winner Jose Bautista finished 3rd in MVP voting

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.

2011 AL Cy Young and MVP Award Winner

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.