Archive for November, 2012

An Early Look At Marcus Stroman

Kiley McDaniel from Fangraphs had a detailed look at our latest first round pick Marcus Stroman from instructional league, it is well worth the full read here.

Here are a few snippets:

I got a quick look at Stroman in instructs and I think there’s value in promoting him quickly as a reliever, but I don’t see a reason why he shouldn’t be given a chance to start sometime in the next few years.

Stroman sat 93-95 mph with heavy two-seam life, effectively spotting it under the hands of right-handed hitters. He backed it up with a hard slurve at 80-84 mph with three-quarters tilt and at the high end of that range; it looked like a true plus slider with depth and late bite. Stroman also worked in a hard, 88-90 mph cutter that is plus at its best due to its length, enough to give fits to hitters in either batter’s box. He also threw one changeup at 81 mph that turned over with fade and depth, flashing above average potential and there may be more in the tank.

So, we’ve got a small righty that flashed four 55 or 60 pitches (on the 20-80 scale) in a relief stint, but he’s got to sell out with a high-effort delivery to generate that kind of stuff, right? Surprisingly, no; Stroman has a balanced and controlled delivery along with good athleticism and general feel that allows him to put the ball where he wants to. It isn’t pinpoint or infallible command, but you can pretty easily project it to above-average to where the question is what Stroman has proven he can’t do well, as the size concerns are projecting and adjusting for possible future problems.

AL East Rumour Roundup – November 27, 2012

Here are a few odds and ends from around the American League East, as per MLB trade rumours:

-MLB executives see Zack Greinke obtaining a deal of at least six years for as much as $25MM per season, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. It’s possible the free agent right-hander will obtain a deal worth $150MM and establish a new record for right-handed pitchers. Matt Cain’s deal, worth a total of $127.5MM for six years, now represents the largest contract obtained by a right-hander, and C.C. Sabathia’s seven-year, $161MM contract represents the largest deal ever obtained by a pitcher.
 
QUICK TAKE: It appears the Boston Red Sox are not serious bidders and it will possibly come down to the Los Angeles teams bidding on him.  We haven’t heard a single Blue Jays rumour with respect to signing Greinke… Hmm… Just saying.
 
-MLB officials don’t have a clear sense of where Josh Hamilton will sign, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. Hamilton, who is said to be looking for Prince Fielder money, could end up with the Brewers, Rangers, Red Sox, Mariners or Orioles in the view of Olney’s sources.
 
QUICK TAKE: It would be nice if Josh Hamilton headed to the National League in terms of Blue Jays implications.
 
-The Rays have done it again. For the second time in four years, they’ve signed Evan Longoria to a surprising long-term contract extension that will keep the third baseman in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future. The Rays announced that they extended Longoria for an additional six seasons by guaranteeing three club options on his previous deal and adding $100MM in new money to the contract. Longoria will now earn $136MM from 2013-22 under his contract, which includes a club option for 2023. 
 
-A Major League source confirmed to WEEI’s Rob Bradford that the two teams have indeed discusseda trade that would center around Lester and Myers. According to Bradford, the talks also included the possibility of Boston sending outfield help to Kansas City with some pitching heading back to the Red Sox. He echoes that nothing is close.
 
QUICK TAKE: Are the Royals crazy?  Trading one of the top prospects in the game for Jon Lester?  A pitcher who is clearly on the decline.  This must be coming from the Red Sox media because this makes no sense for Kansas City at this point in their development plan.
 
-The Yankees are confident they can re-sign Ichiro Suzuki, Heyman reports. The Yankees expect to reach a deal with the free agent outfielder, who has said he hopes to return to New York.

-The Red Sox, Braves and Giants appear to be looking at Nick Swisher, Heyman reports. The market for Swisher seems strong enough for him to obtain a deal of at least four years and executives see the outfielder signing for $12-14MM per season. The Red Sox like Swisher’s versatility since they have openings at first base and in the outfield. Meanwhile, the Braves and Giants are also looking for corner outfield help.

-New York Yankees are expected to re-sign Canadian backstop Russell Martin.
 
 

Should The Blue Jays Trade JP Arencibia?

Let’s get right to the point, Travis d’Arnaud is our catcher of the future and he will eventually be given the reigns from incumbent J.P. Arencibia.  There is no other way around it as d’Arnaud is one of the top rated catching prospects in baseball, if not number one. 

He has been our top prospect for two straight seasons and if not for a knee injury late last season I believe he would’ve been given an extended opportunity to show off his skills in the big leagues.  With that said is this the season to hand over the ever important job of handling a pitching staff to a daisy fresh rookie?

Trade rumours have been swirling around JP Arencibia, who turns 27 this season since he was hitting homeruns in the minor leagues.  There has always been someone seemingly better or ready to push him out the door yet here he is, fresh off another campaign where he hit would have hit 20+ HRs with 400+ PAs.

Let’s glance at his past two seasons to get an idea of what he can contribute:

J.P. Arencibia PA   AVG  OBP  SLG  HR  BB%  K%  wOBA  UZR   WAR 
2011 486 .219 .282 .438 23 7.4 27.4 .311 -11.0 0.8
2012 372 .233 .275 .435 18 4.8 29.0 .304 -1.1 1.3

 While the occasional homerun is nice his plate discipline and on-base skills leave a lot to be desired.  Given the way d’Arnaud has dominated minor league pitching over the past two seasons I am not sure he couldn’t out produce Arencibia almost immediately (in the triple slash line department) besides homeruns. 

Let’s take a look at how Bill James projects his 2013 statistics:

2013 Bill James PA   AVG   OBP  SLG  2B  HR  wOBA  wRC 
J.P. Arencibia 444 .233 .275 .451 24 22 .311 49

 John Gibbons strikes me as a bit old school and I find it unlikely he would hand over a fragile pitching staff to a player with no major league experience but if the Blue Jays get an offer for JP Arencibia that would upgrade the pitching staff I think a platoon of Buck/d’Arnaud could be workable.

The most prominent trade rumours have come out of Texas where the Rangers are looking for a replacement for Mike Napoli (not that he was really a fully fledged catcher) and apparently have had eyes for the powerful bat of Arencibia. 

The stadium in Arlington would be a near perfect fit for a bombs away approach and let’s be honest I don’t see Mr. Arencibia reinventing himself as a patient hitter anytime soon.  He would be a solid addition to almost any club (without a blue chipper waiting in the wings like Toronto) and Texas in particular.

If he were dealt to the Texas Rangers what could the Blue Jays expect or want in return?  I would have to guess that the Jays would be targeting pitching and more specifically a starting pitcher.  The Rangers do have half decent depth there (is there ever enough?) with Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis, Scott Feldman, Martin Perez Alexi Ogando though none of these starters are really top notch or without some risk of injury or regression.

Yu Darvish will definitely not be on the move considering the sizeable investment the Blue Jays Rangers made when they won the bidding process.  He had a pretty solid rookie season (191 IPs, 10.4 K/9, 3.52 xFIP) all things considered and I think he can be better than what he showed in 2012.

Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz are both talented hurlers however both are coming off recent Tommy John surgery and aren’t expected to pitch until late into the upcoming 2013 season. 

I have liked Derek Holland in the past and feel he still has potential to develop into a top of the rotation (#2-3) starting pitcher.  However the Rangers may value him higher than his actual worth and his stats have never seemed to catch up with his perceived ‘stuff’.  Martin Perez is a highly touted prospect who has disappointed over the past couple of seasons. 

Alexi Ogando is a very talented relief pitcher and has had one pretty decent season as a starting pitcher in 2011 however he is not without durability concerns and certainly not a guy I would trade a 500+ PA catcher for.

I guess that leaves Matt Harrison. 

Harrison is coming off another solid season in the Rangers rotation and is a serviceable guy sort of in the Ricky Romero mould.  He won’t dominant or overwhelm opposing batters but he does a nice job keeping the ball in the yard and is a pretty decent southpaw to plug into a rotation.

Let’s look at his past two seasons:

Matt Harrison IP ERA  K/9  BB/9  HR/9  BABIP  xFIP  GB%  WAR 
2011 185.2 3.39 6.1 2.7 0.63 .290 3.85 47.5 4.4
2012 213.1 3.29 5.6 2.5 0.93 .284 4.13 49.0 3.8

 Given their own issues with the starting rotation the Rangers might be hesitant to move anyone who can possibly give meaningful innings, especially one who is relatively consistent like Harrison.  There is currently talk the Rangers are looking to extend Matt Harrison so whether that is posturing or not remains to be seen. 

If this offer were on the table would you accept it if you were Alex Anthopoulos?  I’d have to say yes but again I am not so sure the Texas Rangers can afford to lose a pitcher who has put up over 8 WAR in the past two years.

Would it perhaps be prudent to deal Travis d’Arnaud instead?  It is not likely his value will ever be much higher than after two years atop most top prospect lists.  Considering the hyper-inflated value of young, cost controlled assets this could be a great time to add a really good young arm (i.e. not Matt Harrison).

The thought process behind this is that JPA is basically ‘good enough’ behind the dish for the foreseeable future, has experience handling a staff and the return d’Arnaud would bring back would definitely be higher than what Arencibia would return.

Considering that I am writing this you know there is virtually no chance of this trade coming to fruition.  Has any blogger ever predicted an Alex Anthopoulos transaction?    

What do you guys think?  Will we trade JPA?  Should we trade JPA?  Any (realistic) trade ideas or targets?

Gettin’ Roysterish: A Look at Negative WAR

I was reading an article at fangraphs.com about how bad Chone Figgins was during his three-year hitch with the Mariners, and it got me thinking.  I wondered if Chone Figgins was as bad as Adam Dunn was in 2011.  Nope.  Okay, I thought, has anyone ever been that bad?  Sure enough, several players have forced their fans to endure worse seasons than Dunn inflicted on the White Sox faithful, and Jerry Royster was the worst.

Jerry Royster was a young infielder looking for an opportunity to play in the early ’70s.  He came up through the Dodgers organization but, just as they were about to peak, he was dealt to the Atlanta Braves.  Finally, Royster got his shot.

He was decent in his first year as a starter when he was 23, walking and striking out at almost identical rates, but one problem was that he played 3B and had virtually no power.  An ISO of .056 isn’t good enough at the hot corner, especially when the big gun at the time was Mike Schmidt.  During the 3+ years before 1976, 3B Darrell Evans hit 89 home runs for the Braves; Royster hit 40 HR in 1428 career games.

His audition was good enough for him to become the Braves’ main utility guy after it became clear that he wasn’t going to cut it at 3B in 1977.  That’s when things got bad, historically bad.  According to baseball-reference.com, Jerry Royster’s –4.1 WAR in 1977 is the worst mark ever.  Fangraphs.com pegs him at –3.4 WAR for ’77.  The interesting thing is that, aside from ’77, Royster’s WAR numbers were pretty much what you’d expect from a replacement-level player (–0.6 to 2.0 over the next 12 seasons).

WAR (What is it good for…?)

Most of you know that WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement.  WAR is a single, catchall statistic used to measure a player’s overall ability and value.  Fangraphs measures this value by adding together relevant statistics for offense (wRAA), defense (UZR), and base running (UBR).  Baseball-reference.com uses a different formula, giving a slightly different value.  A replacement level player, as Royster became after his first full season, will typically have a WAR between 0 and 2.0.  The top 15-20 players in the game will be worth 6.0 WAR and higher.  Contrary to Edwin Starr, this WAR is good for something.

But what’s all this negative WAR stuff?  Simply put, some players are so bad that the team is actually giving away runs by playing them.  Put another way, it would be better to put a replacement-level (AAA or AAAA) player in the game.  One of the worst players in recent years is Delmon Young.  Delmon Young’s career high WAR is 1.7 (’10).  The other 5+ years of his unspectacular career total –0.9 WAR.  A team would be wise to replace Delmon Young with someone like Mike McCoy.  McCoy’s a career .190 hitter who’s worth 0.6 WAR.

That leads me to the next part of our look at negative WAR: what does a negative WAR season look like?  Delmon Young typically puts up decent—not good, but decent—Triple Crown stats.  An average season, projected to 162 games, would look something like this:

PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVE OBP SLG
658 73 176 34 2 16 89 27 115 .284 .317 .425

Not bad, huh?  That’s 52 extra base hits, a .284 average, and 89 ribbies every year.  SEA would give their eyeteeth to have that kind of production from a LF or DH.  The problem is that this season from this player produces negative WAR more often than not.  Another problem is that we tend to look at a player’s so-called Triple Crown stats and evaluate their talent level and impact accordingly.  That’s why we wind up in deep discussions about Trout and Cabrera.  WAR evaluates a player on the basis of his offense, defense, and base running.  The latter two facets of a players’ game aren’t found in a box score.

Typically fewer than 10 players finish a season with negative WAR.  Some players, like Delmon and Jeff Francoeur, are a threat to finish there every year.  These players score poorly across the board, or score so poorly in two categories (usually defense and base running, where the stats are admittedly less precise), that any useful offensive contribution is simply overwhelmed.

Other players, like Adam Dunn in 2011, have one bad season.  Dunn scores very well offensively, partly because he creates a lot of runs (wRC+) and is average on the base paths.  His defense is terrible but he’s a full-time DH, so it’s less of a factor.

The lowest WAR values over the past decade belong to Adam Dunn (-3.0, 2011), Bernie Williams (-2.2, 2005), and Yuniesky Betancourt (-2.1, 2009).  Where could we put them on a spectrum of full-time major league players?

Pigeon-Holing Recent Negative WAR Players

The Pretty-Good-But-Declining

Bernie Williams was at the tail end of a productive, title-filled career.  His offense was very good and his base running was just about league average, but he was one of the worst defensive OF of his generation.  His defensive scores for the last 11 of his 16-year career totaled –149.4.  His average score on defense in those years was –13.6; league average is zero.  It’s hard to believe that the NYY won as often as they did with such a poor defensive CF, but win they did.  Having several other superstars and terrific team depth helps hide some shortcomings.

A recent addition to this category is Michael Young of the Texas Rangers.  During his career Young has been poor defensively, but is a very good base runner and has a wide variety of offensive skills that play well in The Ballpark in Arlington.  He’s a good teammate, who is a versatile, above-average ballplayer at the tail end of a good career.  Yet he was worth –1.4 WAR in 2012.  Big deal, you say.  Who cares, you say?  Well, the game and a half that TEX lost by playing Michael Young looms large when you consider that OAK won the division by one game.  Perhaps not having to play BAL in the wild card play-in game gives the AL playoffs an entirely different look, but I digress…

The Not-Too-Bad

We’ve already mentioned Dunn’s case: it was one very bad season.  Mike Lowell fits this category.  He was unspectacular on defense (slightly above-average) and a poor base runner (below average every year but two) who had career lows on offense pretty much across the board in ’05 (0.5 WAR) at a crucial time in his career (he was 31).  Because of the timing of his bad year, the Marlins were happy to send him to Boston in the Josh Beckett/Hanley Ramirez deal.

Lowell rebounded to contribute meaningfully during the balance of his career with the Red Sox, which included a title in 2007, but they always seemed to be on the verge of dealing him if the right opportunity arose.

The Pretty-Darn-Ugly

Yuniesky Betancourt is different story altogether.  He’s a poor defender, a slightly below average base runner, and poor offensively but he’s not historically bad in any criteria.  He has two other things going for him as well: he plays a premium position (949 games at SS; 63 games at 2B/3B), and he has a little pop in his bat (38 doubles in ’07; 16 HR in ’10).  One would think that it’s bad strategy to play a poor defender at a key defensive position, but that tricky little supply-demand principle applies here.

It’s in this category that we would put players like Delmon Young and Jeff Francoeur: year after year, they score poorly in each criterion.  They don’t add very much to the team for which they play, and even their ‘good years’ put them only slightly above a replacement player.

Typically, though, a breakout season like Delmon Young’s 2010 season with the Twins makes people think that players like him are valuable.  They aren’t.  Delmon’s Triple Crown numbers that year were 21/112/.298 and his OPS was .826.  Pretty good, right?  Not really.  His fielding (-10.0) and base running (-3.6) were so bad that Fangraphs has him at 1.7 WAR for the season.  You want your team to sell high on these players.

Since Delmon finished 10th in MVP voting that year, there must be something inherently wrong with WAR as a meaningful evaluator of a player’s performance, right?  Well, that’s one interpretation.  If you want to go that route, you need to ask yourself when was the last time that a player was considered to be a strong MVP candidate on the basis of defense/base running.

The truth is that those criteria are rarely considered very seriously, otherwise players like Bill Mazeroski, Ozzie Smith, Marty Marion, and Tim Raines would have received much greater consideration. Only one player in ML history has won an MVP based almost exclusively on one of those criteria (Marty Marion), yet base running and defense are valuable.  That’s why they’re included in WAR calculations.  Rickey Henderson probably added 5 years to his career because of his base running.

Do you want to know something funny?  In 1976, the year before Jerry Royster’s historic campaign, the Braves called up a young shortstop.  His name was Pat Rockett and he wasn’t very good: he was worth –0.1 WAR in ’76 and –2.6 WAR in ’77.  He was well on his way to the worst mark of all-time in ’78 when the Braves showed that they learned from Royster, and scrubbed Rockett’s mission after 55 games.  He was worth –3.0 WAR in those 55 games, and –5.7 WAR in his 152-game career.

Wes Kepstro

Will the Toronto Blue Jays Contend in 2013?

I’ve been thinking about the Jays recent upgrades lately (who hasn’t?), and wondering about where they stand relative to the rest of the AL East.  These deals aren’t made in a vacuum: the Jays want to be more competitive, and their main obstacles to getting better are the four other teams in the AL East.

The offseason just began and some teams, like the SFG and DET, are just catching their breath.  Also, the free agent season is barely under way.  Teams are talking to free agents and free agents are considering different teams, while each tries to assess whether the other is a good fit.  In addition to these factors, the Winter Meetings are a week and a half away.

For these reasons and a host of others, the question posed in the title is a difficult one to answer because it’s premature.  Still, there’s good value just in asking the question.  Opinions about where the Jays stand (relative to the AL East; relative to their deeply disappointing 2012) are pretty sharply divided.

The initial reaction to the blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins was predictable: finally, we thought, the Jays have made a substantial change to the team in order to be more competitive.  Heading into the 2012 season with two very young pitchers (Drabek; Hutchison), an unproven #2 (Morrow), and an underdeveloped #3 (Alvarez) proved to be disastrous.  Injuries to three of them, and poor performances from the other two contributed to a 73-win season.

Injuries (Bautista; Arencibia; Lawrie; Rasmus; Encarnacion) and poor performances (Lind; Johnson; Lawrie; Escobar) also played a role.  Good performances by some players (Encarnacion; Rajai) were overwhelmed.  These, coupled with unnecessary distractions (Lawrie; Escobar), resulted in a 73-win season and, as we’ve seen, a host of changes.  [This is just a rabbit trail, but are you as intrigued as I am at HOW the changes occurred?  John Farrell wasn’t fired, Lind wasn’t released, Escobar was a footnote in a major trade, and the Jays have made a slew of unpredictable moves (Melky; Izturis; etc.).  It’s fascinating.]

How do the Blue Jays’ recent upgrades stack up against what we’ve seen from NY, BOS, BAL, and TB over the last few seasons?  Let’s consider each of them individually.

Baltimore

Five pitchers in their ‘pen had career years.  Joe Saunders pitched well. Rookie Wei-Yin Chen was terrific.  Tillman, Gonzalez and Hammel all pitched pretty well.

Everything, and I mean everything, went BAL’s way for them to make the playoffs.  When someone was hurt, someone who produced replaced him.  When a significant change was made (Markakis to the top of the order; Reynolds to 1B), it worked.  Adam Jones had a career year.  Chris Davis had a career year.  19 year-old Manny Machado showed his potential and contributed meaningfully.  Matt Wieters is the real deal.

They will look to improve by filling holes and gaps with good players in cost-effective ways.  One question that the ’13 season will answer is, ‘were the 2012 Orioles for real, or were they the result of so many unpredictable factors?’  I suspect it’s the latter.   Run differentials of +7 don’t often translate into 90+ wins.

Boston

The Red Sox imploded at the end of ‘11 and made a host of changes (notice how differently their changes were handled), and they finished last in the division in ‘12.  Owing to the nature of their collapse and their injury issues, I wasn’t surprised.  Several things weren’t predictable, though, like blockbuster trade with the LAD and sub-par performances by front-line starters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

Hiring John Farrell as their new skipper to replace Bobby Valentine is a move that has some Blue Jay supporters snickering, albeit very quietly.  The Red Sox still have a lot of talent.  How will they use this talent?  The scuttlebutt is that John Farrell was brought in to deal with the residual clubhouse/personnel issues and the pitching problems.  If that’s the case, then it’s a lead pipe cinch that they won’t trade key pitchers.  Given his track record in ‘dealing’ with clubhouse problems in TOR, I’d say that there might be more turbulence in their future.  One significant item in their favour is that the trade with the LAD freed up substantial resources, which they’ve demonstrated that they’re prepared to use to improve.

New York

Two significant changes were made before last season: the Bombers shipped Jesus Montero and others to SEA for Michael Pineda and others; and they signed veteran Hiroki Kuroda.  Kuroda pitched very well but Pineda was hurt, and didn’t pitch at all.  Yes, Pettitte was re-signed and pitched well but he didn’t pitch very much, and the NYY drama queen is still deciding whether he will pitch in 2013.

They’re always looking improve because they like it on top.  They spend a lot of time on top because they acquire top-flight talent.  Top-flight talent likes it in NY because they pay well and they win a lot.  ‘Round and ‘round it goes.  They won the division, but looked like an old team when they faced DET in the playoffs.  Who knows how well Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter will recover from their injuries?  Expect the Yankees to re-load (they’ve already re-signed Kuroda), using their significant resources (the YES network generates more revenue than most teams in MLB, and it’s just the entertainment and broadcasting wing of the Yankees empire…), to sign players to one-year deals (so as to avoid the 2014 luxury tax threshold).  It’s easy to imagine NY signing a player like Josh Hamilton to a huge one-year deal.

Tampa Bay

Perhaps the most consistently surprising team in the AL East has the strongest management team.  Anyone who can identify talent as they do, then translate that talent into yearly contention deserves our admiration.  Seriously, is anyone surprised that Fernando Rodney had a career year?  Evan Longoria missed most of 2012, but they still competed until the very end.

They like to keep their payroll low, so they won’t likely be big players in the free agent market.  That said, they have the means to sign low-cost players and coax terrific years out of them.  Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman are top-notch talent evaluators, who get the most out of what they have, and what they have is considerable.  Their biggest concerns are offense and returning to form defensively.  The offense can be boosted by one or two (1B; DH) key acquisitions.  Expect them to contend, unless they experience a rash of season-ending injuries or Joe Maddon decides to pursue some as-yet-unknown, life-long dream, like being a world tiddlywinks champion.  Still, Dave Martinez would jump in and they’d still be in the mix.

So…

Is this overwhelming?  No.  As a matter of fact, the Jays seem well positioned to make some noise.  Sure, it hinges on a lot of things, but when doesn’t a successful run hinge on a lot of things?  Players need to be healthy and perform to their capabilities.  Managers need to make good decisions and manage the team well.  General managers need to make the requisite moves to improve the team, whether by addition or subtraction.  Then there are the innumerable other factors that need to go just right…

During the press conference when John Gibbons was introduced as the Blue Jays’ manager, Alex Anthopoulos stated very clearly that they would continue to look into improving the team.  They have surplus in several areas, most notably at C, which leads to some healthy speculation.  However, even if they don’t acquire anyone else before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, there are good reasons to believe that they are in a (much) better position to contend than they were at the beginning of the 2012 season.  Part of the reason is that the Jays are poised to usurp a position traditionally reserved for AL East ‘Big Guns’, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  Why?  The Jays have higher-quality players on the roster than they did before the ’12 season started.

Wes Kepstro

Latest On Josh Johnson & Mark Buehrle

Here are some of the latest notes and news on our acquisitions from the Florida Marlins.

Josh Johnson open to contact extension with Blue Jays:

Josh Johnson has yet to throw a pitch for the Blue Jays after being acquired in a 12-player blockbuster earlier this month, but the right-hander is open to remaining with the team beyond 2013. Agent Matt Sosnick told Brendan Kennedy of The Toronto Star they’d be receptive to a new deal to remain in Toronto.

“If there is anyone in the game I’d be receptive to talking to about it it’s (Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos),” said Sosnick. “It hasn’t come up in any of our conversations … (Anthopoulos) hasn’t volunteered it and I haven’t asked him about it. It’s probably something that if he wants to talk about it we’ll talk about it down the road.”

Johnson, 28, will earn $13.75MM next season, the final year on the four-year, $39MM contract he signed with the Marlins prior to 2010. He pitched to a 3.81 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 191 1/3 innings this season, though his fastball velocity dipped and both his strikeout and walk rates declined for a second straight year.

From 2009-2011, Johnson posted a 2.64 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 453 innings across 70 starts. A return to that level of performance with the Blue Jays this year would potentially put Johnson in line for a nine-figure contract as a free agent next offseason, when he will be arguably the best starter on the market.

Mark Buehrle not overly happy with Miami:

Being traded after only one season in Miami isn’t sitting well with Mark Buehrle. The pitcher and his agent fired a parting shot at the Marlins, saying team officials lied to him about his future in South Florida.

“Just like the fans in South Florida, I was lied to on multiple occasions,” the 34-year-old pitcher said Wednesday in a written statement.

Buehrle was one of five players traded by the Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I’m upset with how things turned out in Miami,” Buehrle said.

Buehrle signed a four-year, $58 million contract in January. But the Marlins, per team policy, refused to grant him no-trade protection that would have allowed him to veto any deals he didn’t like.  Still, sources said Buehrle was assured by owner Jeffrey Loria that, despite the absence of a no-trade clause, he need not worry. The team had no intention of trading him.

“Throughout the recruiting process, the Marlins made repeated assurances about their long-term commitment to Mark and his family and their long-term commitment to building a tradition of Marlins baseball in the new stadium,” said Buehrle’s agent, Jeff Berry, in a prepared statement

AL Eastbound Turns One!

Last year right around this same time I wanted to write a piece defending the Toronto Blue Jays against what seemed like an onslaught of negativity as the team was being bashed, beaten and mostly written off by a good majority of the fan base.

It was a “State of the Union” story that took a contrarian view to what the populist view towards the team was.  I didn’t see a failing or regressing franchise because we couldn’t sign Yu Darvish and I certainly wasn’t disappointed that we weren’t the team lucky enough to sign Prince Fielder for a decade and $200+MM.

I saw a robust and booming farm system considered by sources I trust as among the game’s best.  We had an intelligent, driven and hard working front office led by one of baseball’s best young general manager’s in Alex Anthopoulos.  I had a cautious optimism that our ownership was indeed willing to spend the type of money needed to compete in the AL East.

I also saw a renewed presence in Latin America and an increased focus on the things that truly turn a franchise around – scouting, player development and the draft.  We were signing the best international prospects, spending incredible amounts of money (over-slot) on high end talent and starting to actually churn out a young big leaguer or two.

We had recently signed one of baseball’s best hitters to an extremely club friendly contract and if healthy (2011) had a chance to be a wild-card contender. 

“It was a mission statement”.  –Jerry Maguire.

What was supposed to be only a one time story morphed into an entire blog! 

It’s been a great year, filled with an up and down baseball season and trial and error here at AL Eastbound.  We have taken an active interest in bringing all of the latest Blue Jays news, rumours, stats and prospect news on almost a daily basis.

One of our most active readers and participants turned into the second writer and the best move made all season was the addition of “Wes Kepstro” to the site.  Like the Blue Jays this blog is definitely ready for the 2013 season and we hope we can continue to inform, enlighten and entertain one of the most knowledgeable fan bases in baseball.

Some of our regular features include a daily prospect report highlighting the top prospects as they grind out a minor league season, top prospect of the month, monthly minor league system recap, latest trade and free agency rumours, statistical analysis and more. 

Thanks for making this a great year!

Check us out on Twitter (@ALEastbound) and like our Facebook page!


AL Eastbound On Twitter!

  • Every Jays batter is hoping Gibby doesn't substitute them out due to blowout. This is low hanging fruit for the hitters right now. 6 hours ago
  • #Dodgers prospect fans - what's going on with Yadier Alvarez? Making me nervous. This is not a top prospect worthy season so far. 6 hours ago
  • Stroman has been terrible in May, record be damned. 4.61 FIP and 1.63 WHIP for the month. Not including tonight. 6 hours ago
  • Come on Blue Jays. Kidnap Joey Votto. Convince him to become our 1B. 8 hours ago
  • JD Martinez left game today. Injury? 1 day ago

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