Archive for May, 2013

AL East Prospect Report – May 31, 2013

Hitters:

BAL HiA Webb, Brenden CF, 1-4, .210, 2B (10), BB (20)
BAL LoA Marin, Adrian SS, 1-4, .258, 2B (6)

BOS AA Bogaerts, Xander SS, 1-2, .284, 2B (10)
BOS AAA Brentz, Bryce RF, 1-4, .284, 2B (11)
BOS HiA Cecchini, Garin 3B, 2-4, .360

NYY AA Flores, Ramon LF, 2-5, .248, BB (28)
NYY AA Heathcott, Slade CF, 4-6, .246, 2B (8); Heating up
NYY AA Murphy, J.R. C, 3-6, .291
NYY AAA Mesa, Melky CF, 1-5, .249, 3 SB (6)

TB AA Mahtook, Mikie RF, 2-5, .236
TB AAA Beckham, Tim SS, 1-4, .283, 2B (9)
TB LoA Toles, Andrew CF, 2-4, .328, 2B (13), SB (33)

TOR AA Pillar, Kevin CF, 1-3, .329, 2B (15), 2 BB (17), SB (14)
TOR LoA Hawkins, Chris RF, 3-4, .221

Pitchers:

BAL HiA Davies, Zach 6 7 3 3 0 5 3.92

BOS AA Britton, Drake 5 7 5 1 1 7 4.11
BOS AAA Wilson, Alex 1.1 2 1 1 1 2 9.00
BOS LoA Johnson, Brian 4 7 3 3 1 5 4.03

NYY HiA Black, Corey 5 0 1 1 4 7 4.22

TB AAA Geltz, Steve 3 0 0 0 0 3 2.87
TB MAJ Colome, Alex 5.2 5 1 0 2 7 0.00

TOR HiA Ybarra, Tyler 2 0 0 0 0 2 3.63

Mission ’13, Game 54: Braves win 11-4

The Jays look to take advantage of their improved play and their surprising interleague record (4-1) in the second game of the second miniseries with the Atlanta Braves. RA Dickey was finding a groove before his last game; the pitcher-friendly confines of Turner Park should help.

Melky’s May Meter

0-4

35 hits

Melky’s hitting well, gimpy gams and all. Hamstring problems haven’t hampered Melky’s bat, as he reached the 35-hit mark for the month with a 3-3 effort last night. That means he has 2 more games to add to an already-good total. Given the Jays’ pitching situation (injuries, combined with general ineffectiveness from the rotation), Melky’s offense at the top of the order has been welcome.

RA Dickey is all too hittable. There has been talk that the neck issue that he’s suffered has cost him a couple miles per hour on his best knuckler. Given his lack of attention to the strike zone, I doubt very much whether an extra 2 mph will help.

The Braves hit him pretty well, with 5 hits and 2 runs in the first 2 innings. A ‘misplay’ by Edwin Encarnacion—generously scored a single, despite the fact that it was hit right at the pocket of his trapper—didn’t help, but ‘misplays’ didn’t factor into the other 4 hits, including Jordan Schaefer’s lead off double in the first inning. The Jays can’t afford to give up much more, since there are two auto outs at the bottom of the line up: Henry Blanco and RA Dickey.

Lefty Mike Minor confounded the Jays early on, with 3 of strikeouts and 3 ground balls in the first 3 innings. Minor sports a tremendous K/BB ratio, doesn’t give up many walks, and gives up about 6.5 hits per 9 IP. The Jays need to be creative offensively.

Freddie Freeman, a longtime nemesis of RA Dickey, hit his 4th homer of the season. It was his 10th career hit against RA Dickey. This gave the Braves single runs in each of the first 3 innings, making the score 3-0 Braves.

After a couple of scoreless innings, the Jays took advantage of an error by Andrelton Simmons to knot the score at 3-3. A lead off single by RA Dickey (!) and a single by Jose got the ball rolling. A single by Edwin and a double by Mark DeRosa cashed the three runners.

Not to be outdone, RA managed to give all three runs back in the bottom of the inning. Through 6 IP, RA’s given up 11 hits and 6 ER. Going 2-5 with RISP doesn’t matter much when your pitcher can’t get anyone out. Braves lead 6-3.

There are two pitchers that I loathe watching: RA Dickey and Brad Lincoln The Dickey trade is a complete bust, and Lincoln can’t get batters out regularly. I have no problem whatsoever handing the remote to my wife when either of these two take the mound.

To my great pleasure, they both pitched tonight. When Dickey was finished giving the Jays little-to-no chance to win, Lincoln came in to throw gasoline on the fire. He loaded the bases on 2 singles and a walk, then everyone’s favourite defensive catcher, JP Arencibia, was charged with a passed ball that scored Freddie Freeman. Didn’t anyone let JP know that Dickey wasn’t pitching anymore? An infield single by Ramiro Pena led to a couple more runs. Make it 9-3 Braves. A catcher interference call against JP added colour to an already colourful inning.

A 2-run HR by Reed Johnson put an end to the 11th time the Jays have been blown out. Ugly.

If the Jays continue to play like they have—win one, lose one, win two, lose three—they won’t make up ground in the division any time soon, regardless of their opponent. The starting rotation is in a shambles, and there aren’t any solutions. We’re stuck with this for the foreseeable future.

Wes Kepstro

Early Blue Jays Schedule Has Been Brutal

There haven’t been many positives to the 2013 MLB season for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Injuries have decimated the starting rotation (yes, Esmil Rogers made the start yesterday), slow starts and underperformance have cost the teams runs and some awful fundamental baseball has led to this season becoming an unmitigated disaster.

The Blue Jays currently sit at 23-30 and given the current state of the roster I think that is actually an accomplishment.  Wes touched on one of the lone bright spots for the team this season and it is pretty fitting that it is a relief pitcher.  No offense to Brett Cecil, who is having a great start to the season but when your bright spot is a guy who might throw 60 innings in a season thing must be pretty bleak.

The schedule makers did the Blue Jays no favours in April & May.  The team played a total of 18 series (I split the Atlanta home/home series into two) with ten at home and eight on the road.  The combined records of our opponents in those 18 series is a ridiculous 514-427 – good for an impressive .546 winning percentage.

Compare that to the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers who currently sit at 29-22.  In April/May their opponents had a combined record of 428-457 – or a meagre .484 winning percentage.  Such is life in the AL East I guess but when pondering the relative success (or lack thereof) of the Blue Jays in the grand scheme of the American League one must definitely factor in the absolutely relentless schedule we just faced.

Ponder the stark difference in overall strength of schedule between two American League teams for a minute – 546 vs. 484?  To put that number into perspective the Blue Jays April & May schedule on average has essentially been like playing the Baltimore Orioles (29-24) given the O’s current winning percentage sits neatly at .547.

Things get a touch easier heading into June and July for the 17 series our opponents current combined record is 462-425 – or a .520 winning clip.  While much of the optimism and hope has faded with a loud thud after a terrible start none of the teams in the AL East has really pulled away.  Whether or not the Jays are capable of putting together a big-time winning streak to get within striking distance remains to be seen.  Wes touched on this very subject HERE.

AL East Prospect Report – May 29, 2013

Hitters:

BAL AAA Hoes, L.J. LF-RF, 2-4, .301, BB (24), SB (5)
BAL LoA Lorenzo, Gregory CF, 2-4, .197, 2B (5)

BOS AA Bogaerts, Xander DH, 2-5, .271
BOS AAA Bradley, Jackie RF, 1-4, .354, 2B (7), BB (13)

NYY AAA Mesa, Melky CF, 2-5, .250, 2B (10)
NYY AAA Neal, Thomas RF, 2-4, .353, 2B (10), BB (15)
NYY HiA Gumbs, Angelo 2B, 3-5, .239, SB (5)
NYY HiA Sanchez, Gary C, 2-6, .279, HR (9)

TB AAA Beckham, Tim SS, 2-5, .276
TB AAA Myers, Wil RF, 2-5, .266, 2 HR (9); 5 HR in past 6 G

TOR AA Pillar, Kevin CF, 3-5, .330, 3B (2), HR (5)
TOR LoA Lopes, Christian 2B, 3-5, .320, 2B (7)
TOR LoA Smith, Dwight DH, 2-5, .287

Pitchers:

BAL MAJ Gausman, Kevin 4 8 7 7 1 0 11.00; Exhibit #5,502 that jump to MLB is hard
BAL MAJ McFarland, T.J. 2 1 0 0 0 0 2.92

BOS AA Barnes, Matt 6 4 3 3 1 4 4.50
BOS LoA Kukuk, Cody 4 4 2 2 2 3 5.45

NYY AAA Montgomery, Mark 2.2 3 0 0 1 4 2.08
NYY LoA Campos, Jose 2.2 3 3 3 2 4 4.45

TB AAA Montgomery, Mike 5 8 5 4 1 6 5.27
TB HiA Gomez, Roberto 7.1 1 1 1 1 4 6.19

TOR AA Nolin, Sean 5 4 2 2 3 4 1.77

Marcus Stroman Hit Hard – AL East Prospect Report – May 30, 2013

Just catching up on the AL East prospect report for May 29 + 30, 2013.

Hitters:

BAL HiA Walker, Christian 1B, 2-5, .333, 2B (5)
BAL LoA Marin, Adrian SS, 2-4, .258, 2B (5)

BOS AA Bogaerts, Xander SS, 3-4, .282, 2B (9), 2 HR (4), BB (24); Huge day
BOS AAA Brentz, Bryce RF, 2-4, .284, HR (10), BB (14)
BOS AAA Holt, Brock SS, 2-4, .255, CS (3)
BOS HiA Cecchini, Garin DH, 2-5, .356

NYY AA Austin, Tyler RF, 2-4, .266, HR (5)
NYY AA Heathcott, Slade CF, 1-4, .231, HR (4)
NYY HiA Sanchez, Gary C, 2-4, .283

TB AAA Beckham, Tim SS, 2-3, .284
TB AAA Myers, Wil RF, 1-5, .265, 2B (10)
TB HiA Shaffer, Richie 3B, 3-4, .258, 2B (10)

Pitchers:

BAL MAJ Johnson, Steve 2.1 0 0 0 1 2 8.00

BOS AA Ranaudo, Anthony 7 1 0 0 0 8 1.48

NYY AAA Betances, Dellin 2.1 2 1 1 0 3 5.73
NYY HiA Mitchell, Bryan 7 8 3 3 0 6 4.50

TOR AA Stroman, Marcus 1 7 8 7 1 2 8.10
TOR LoA Norris, Daniel 4 4 2 1 3 6 6.34

Mission ’13: Can We Expect a Hot Streak?

No, not because of the weather in Atlanta, San Diego, or San Francisco. This is more of a schedule-related hot streak.  Let’s look at some facts.

Fact: with 4 teams above .500, the AL East is again the toughest division in Major League Baseball.

Fact: the Blue Jays have played more games against their own division (32) than any other team in MLB.

  • Interpretation of these 2 facts: for a variety of reasons the Jays struggled out of the gate, and playing so many game against their own division has exacerbated these struggles; it’s not only prolonged them, but it’s made them seem worse than they are.

Fact: the Blue Jays are playing better.

Fact: they don’t play against an AL East team until June 21.

  • Interpretation of these 2 facts: the Jays are poised to make some noise and maybe, just maybe, move up in their division.

We all know that the Jays have underachieved to a startlingly degree. The idea is that there have been a variety of factors exerting negative influences on the Jays (injuries, new teammates, a new manager, poor play [in all facets of the game], and their schedule), but that one of them is changing significantly:

  • The new teammates explanation doesn’t really apply any longer since the core group has played 50+ games together. Can they still learn about one another? Sure. Is it still a valid explanation? Nope;
  • The same goes for the new manager thing: John Gibbons is showing good promise as a manager, now that he knows and understands his troops. I enjoy watching him do the x’s and o’s;
  • Apparently the injuries thing is going to be with them for a while. Besides, everyone else is suffering various major and minor maladies. Heck, the Yankees are missing four-fifths of their infield and they’ve been replaced by new teammates;
  • Their play is improving in most facets (except the starting rotation) and is a major reason that the Jays are playing better;

That leaves the schedule. The Jays have played AL East opponents 32 times; no other team in MLB has played against their own division more than 29 times (COL). For the most part other teams have played in their own division between 15-24 times. The Jays are 12-20 against the AL East. Toronto’s extra-division AL opponents were Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit, the White Sox, and Seattle. The Jays are 6-7 against the AL Central and 1-2 against the AL West. Their interleague opponents have been San Francisco and Atlanta. Heading into tonight’s game, the Jays are 4-1 (!) in interleague play. The Jays are a .375 team against the AL East and improving; they play .524 ball against the rest of MLB.

This is what the Jays’ schedule looks like for the next little while. Their next 19 games are against teams from other divisions. Then they play BAL, TB, and BOS for 10 games. Then they play 31 of 37 versus other divisions. That means 50 of the Blue Jays’ next 66 games are against opponents from other divisions.

One difficulty is that, by the percentages, they’re looking at a 32-34 record over their next 66 games. However, that doesn’t account for their improvement of late.  Another is that they’re weak on the road.

Also, after San Diego, they don’t face another lower-quality opponent from another division until early July.

On the plus side, they don’t play the Yankees again until August 20.  The Jays are 1-8 against the Yankees, and 11-12 against the rest of the AL East.  This means they’re a .500 team against the rest of MLB (22-22).  Improved play of late could spike their winning percentage.

How many times will they win over the next 66 games? How many wins do they need to climb back into the thick of things?

Wes Kepstro

Mission ’13, Game 53: Jays win 3-0

This will be game #18 that Melky’s playing against one of his former teams. Without researching this much deeper, it seems like an awful lot of games against a former team. He even has Jose Bautista beat, and Jose counts the O’s, Rays and Royals among his former teams (and Pitt, whom the Jays don’t play this year). Anyways, going back to the Tampa series Melky is now 12 for his last 36 so he’s still cookin’. He’s hitting the ball hard, and is tied for the team lead in both doubles (Bautista; Arencibia) and triples (Kawasaki; Lawrie).

Melky’s May Meter

3-3

35 hits

It’s the Bravos again, but this time in Georgia. They split the two-game miniseries at The Rog, and now they continue hostilities at Turner Field. For the record The Rog is one of the most generous parks for giving up runs (1.131 PF; #5), while Turner Field is one of the stingiest (0.903 PF; #24). Here’s to hoping that this two-game set helps Esmil Rogers (72.6% LOB) tonight, and helps RA Dickey (67.4% LOB) round into his Cy Young form tomorrow night.

Tonight there are some new faces in Blue Jays’ jerseys. Brett Lawrie has been placed on the 15 day DL, Ramon Ortiz was DFA’ed, and Thad Weber was optioned to AAA. The Jays recalled pitchers Todd Redmond, Neal Wagner, and Juan Perez from Buffalo to fill out the roster. Redmond was hit pretty hard in AAA, but Wagner and Perez put up solid numbers as relievers.

The first inning was a good one for the Jays. A lead off single by Melky against Kris Medlen and a hit by Edwin allowed JP Arencibia to plate the first run of the game. The Jays led 1-0.

The bottom of the inning was equally encouraging. Esmil Rogers, who has pitched very effectively of late, allowed a lead off single to Andrelton Simmons. That hit was erased by a double play and then Rogers struck out Justin Upton to end the inning.

Maicer Izturis made an out to begin the second, then the Jays came alive. A single and a stolen base by Bonifacio, then a walk by Munenori Kawasaki brought the pitcher, Esmil Rogers to the plate. Rogers executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, leading to a Melky single into left field. The Blue Jays scored two, making it 3-0.

Rogers got himself into a jam in the bottom of the second by giving up a triple to Freddie Freeman and a walk to Brian McCann with nobody out. He recorded two outs—a strikeout and a fielder’s choice—bringing BJ Upton to the plate. BJ Upton has hit 15 HR against the Jays in his career, all of which came when he was patrolling the OF with the Rays. Rogers fell behind in the count 3-0 before coming all the way back for the strikeout. The lead off triple was stranded. That’s two good innings for Rogers.

Kris Medlen was hurt by a line drive in the 2nd, and was relieved by David Carpenter. Of note is that David Carpenter was a throw-in in the JA Happ trade last July, and was the player traded to the Red Sox in the deal that sent John Farrell to Boston.

It’s good to see Maicer Izturis come to the plate in an inning with promise. He’s one of the worst players in MLB (check www.fangraphs.com) and David Carpenter struggled with his control. Maicer swung at the first pitch he saw. Carpenter had already walked two—Edwin and Colby—and instead of bunting the players up a base, he swung, grounding into an inning-ending double play. The only plus is that it makes it seem as if Carpenter pitched well, meaning he’ll bat lead off and he’ll pitch next inning.

Carpenter flied out to Bautista in RF and Andrelton Simmons flied out to Rasmus in LCF before Rogers walked massively-struggling (.155/.305/.258) Jason Heyward on 4 pitches. The Braves, though, strike out an awful lot, and Justin Upton—who’s cooled off after a very hot start to the season—struck out to end the inning. It was another good inning for Rogers.

A slap single into the hole at short by Bonifacio started the 4th inning, but was erased almost immediately on a CS. Given the two walks in his first inning, perhaps stealing wasn’t the best call by the Jays. Munenori worked Carpenter for a full-count walk, bringing Rogers to the mound in another sacrifice situation. Carpenter’s had trouble throwing strikes to Rogers but Esmil laid down another excellent sacrifice bunt, this time up the first base line. Melky, who came into the game sporting a .368 OBP in May (.291 in April), walked to put runners on first and second, but Jose popped out foul on the first pitch to end the inning. The Jays squandered an opportunity in this inning. Carpenter wasn’t sharp and the Braves have only 6 pitchers in the ‘pen. A single and 2 walks didn’t lead to anything. The Braves are a quick-strike team with their power; hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

Esmil Rogers put two of the first three hitters on base in the 4th inning, and was relieved by Juan Perez. It was a good spot start by Rogers, who was on a pitch count of about 65 pitches. Not only did he acquit himself well on the mound, but he was an important contributor at the plate with 2 sacrifice bunts. His line: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 B, 4 SO.

Perez is a career minor leaguer, but a fringe major leaguer. He throws a fastball and a lot of sliders. He came in with runners on first and second and induced a foul pop-up by Juan Francisco. The next batter, BJ Upton, struck out on 4 pitches, 3 of which were sliders.

David Carpenter’s contribution was amazing. The Blue Jays have become a good offensive team but Carpenter held them at bay by being effectively wild. He faced 12 batters, walking 4 and giving up an infield single, without giving up a run. He only struck out one.

34-year old Juan Perez was considerably less wild than Carpenter, but no less effective. He retired all 8 batters he faced, 4 by strikeout, and got Rogers out of a jam. Because of injuries and ineffectiveness the Blue Jays have pitched by committee again tonight, and they’ve done well.

The Braves have also pitched by committee—not by design; Medlen was injured—and have also done well. Anthony Varvaro retired the Jays in order in the sixth, keeping his team close.

Neal Wagner relieved Perez to pitch the 7th inning. Wagner’s numbers at Buffalo were eye-popping, as he filled the closer’s role in AAA about as effectively as Janssen has with Toronto. Not for the first time, I wonder how AAA fans feel when their best players are cherry-picked to fill roster spots. Wagner’s 29, throws a fastball, slider and a splitter, and in his first inning he hit 98 mph on the gun. He struck out the first two batters he faced and induced a medium-depth fly ball to Bautista to complete his first ML inning since 2011. He was consistently in the 95-97 mph range, and topped out at 98 mph If he can command th strike zone, he’s a keeper.

Jordan Walden, formerly the ‘next thing’ with the LAA, pitched effectively in his one inning of work. Walden, fresh off the DL because of shoulder inflammation, also topped out at 97-98 mph.

A broken-bat duck-snort into shallow left field by Jordan Schaefer broke a string of 11 straight batters retired by the Jays. Andrelton Simmons then immediately grounded into a 1-4-3 DP and Jason Heyward popped out to third to end the 8th inning.

Esmil Rogers and the call-ups—Juan Perez and Neal Wagner—did their job very well with 8 IP of 4-hit, 2-walk, shutout ball. They turned the ball over to Casey Janssen for the 9th inning. Justin Upton popped to deep short/shallow center for the first out, Freddy Freeman flied out to shallow left, and McCann struck out.

This was one of the Jays’ best games of the year, with the combined four-hit shutout. The offense was timely—it was th first time in 6 games that the Jays counted neither 11 hits nor 5 runs—and efficient, the defense was solid, and the pitching was excellent. It was a good win.

Wes Kepstro


AL Eastbound On Twitter!

  • Ugh. My reaction every time I hear Paul Romanuk's voice before start of Leafs game. 1 day ago
  • What a win for the Raptors. Down 15 against Chicago (who had beaten us 11 straight times) and Ibaka ejected from game. Overtime victory. 1 day ago
  • @DSzymborski especially baseball. Of all sports. 2 days ago
  • I'm old school. I love PJ Tucker. He doesn't sing and dance and hug opponents. He's Oakley like all business. #hustlehard 2 days ago
  • How can leagues honestly still justify blackouts in certain viewing regions? Begging me to stream for free. 2 days ago

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.