Archive for December, 2013

Blue Jays Sign SP Tomo Ohka

File this under ‘ho hum’.  The Blue Jays strengthened their minor league system (sort of) by adding 37-year old SP Tomo Ohka.  The team announced they signed Ohka to a minor-league contract today and will likely report to Double-A New Hampshire to start the season.

It’s been a very quiet off season thus far for the Blue Jays management team and as I peruse various sites for any news or rumours on the Jays there is literally nothing.

I am still waiting for the return of the ninja…

Break From Baseball: Message to Owners

While I wish the Blue Jays brass would dive into the free agent madness, I felt this song was appropriate looking at some of the rich deals being given out.

Blue Jays Trade Brad Lincoln, Actually Receive Value

Brad Lincoln has been a plug, there is no other way to put it.  In 22 games for Toronto last season he had a 7.1 K/9 and a shoddy 6.3 BB/9.  He was essentially worthless to the organization until tonight when Alex Anthopoulos turned him into backup catcher Erik Kratz and reliever Rob Rasmussen.  Kratz was a former long time Blue Jays farmhand and rejoins the team that originally drafted him.

Only a day after appeasing a Blue Jays fan base that had grown increasingly frustrated with catcher JP Arencibia by signing Dioner Navarro the team now adds another useful backstop in Kratz.  Kratz, who will turn 34 in June was actually very underrated in 2012 as he posted a 248/306/504 slash line and 1.3 WAR in only 50 games.  He is known as a solid defender and will be a great compliment to Navarro and a guy who can hit lefties off the bench as a pinch-hitter.

Kratz slipped in 2013 as injuries took their toll but Steamer still projects a .312 wOBA and 95 wRC+ over 165 PAs next season s – probably conservative projections.  It cost us nothing and will definitely help our overall depth and bench.  Two areas that were in dire need of improvement.

Rob Rasmussen is turning 25 years old and has shown some promise in the past however it is doubtful he contributes anything to the major league roster at any point.  He was a starter last season during stints in AA/AAA with mixed results.  Rasmussen combined to post a 4.11 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 28 games (24 starts) for the Dodgers Triple-A and Double-A affiliates.

I think this was a solid addition for the Blue Jays at basically no cost.   Kratz has shown the ability to mash (in small sample sizes) in the past and will compete with Josh Thole for the backup catcher spot.

New York Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury

Well I think Ellsbury can expect some massive booing upon his return to Fenway Park for the foreseeable future as he has agreed to join the New York Yankees – a bitter rival.  While it would have been nice if Ellsbury signed in the National League from a Blue Jays perspective this is essentially neutral.  He strengthens a rival and weakens one at the same time.  If it limits the Yankees ability to sign Robinson Cano perhaps it is even detrimental long term for the Yanks.

UPDATE: 8:41pm: Ellsbury’s deal is worth $153MM over seven years, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).  That tops Carl Crawford‘s deal by $12MM.

As per MLBTR:

The Yankees have agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the two sides were closing in on a seven-year pact.  It is believed the deal will top Carl Crawford‘s $142MM, seven-year deal with one estimate pegging the deal at about $150MM, according to Heyman.

Ellsbury offers more pop than the typical center fielder, with a career slugging percentage of .439 and isolated power of .141.  While his power is more of the doubles and triples variety, which is aided by his speed, he did hit 32 home runs in his stellar 2011 campaign.  In that year, Ellsbury led all of baseball with 9.1 wins above replacement, finished second in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team.

The 30-year-old has also consistently posted above average UZR and DRS numbers in center field.  While he has come back to earth somewhat since ’11, he checked in with 5.8 wins above replacement in 2013, which is second only to Robinson Cano among free agents.

Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center with Brett Gardner moving to left.

Blue Jays Sign New Starting Catcher, Name Unimportant

The Blue Jays signed a catcher and JP Arencibia will not be returning to Toronto.  Does anything need to be said?  Well actually yes because the new catcher is actually fairly useful as well, both offensively and defensively.

A rumoured acquisition target has actually come true today when the Toronto Blue Jays announced the signing of catcher Dioner Navarro to a 2-year $8MM dollar contract.  Fans of the team have grown disenchanted with the body of work from former starting catcher JP Arencibia and are glad there is a new sheriff in town so to speak.

My initial reaction was “alright I like this signing” and after looking at the thin free agent market and alternatives I am happy the Blue Jays brought in a serviceable backstop at a reasonable rate.  Navarro, who will turn 30 at the beginning of the season is expected to be the starting catcher in 2014.  Steamer projects a pedestrian 2014 slash line of 254/321/398 in 334 PAs – good for a .316 wOBA.

That isn’t amazing however do not forget he is replacing JP Arencibia who managed to post a horrendous .259 wOBA & 57 wRC+ in a full season of games last year.  I think the projection systems will punish Navarro, deservedly so, for a few putrid offensive seasons prior to last.

Last season Navarro slashed a very fine 300/365/492 in about a half seasons worth of plate appearances (266 PAs) for the Chicago Cubs.  He cracked 13 HRs and walked at an 8.6% clip while only striking out in 13.5% of his at-bats.

Defensively UZR has pegged him as above average every season in the bigs.  Any way you slice it this is a huge upgrade for the Blue Jays.  Hopefully he will have a shiny new starting pitcher joining him over the next few weeks.  Oh and in case were wondering about the future of JP Arencibia, he will not be a Toronto Blue Jay next year according to MLBTR.

Sadly, in the end I think this signing is more about who is not coming back than who was added.  That is just how pathetic JP Arencibia was in 2013.


AL Eastbound On Twitter!

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