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Roster moves R Us.

Updated: 2017-11-22T14:34:45-05:00


The season that was: Aaron Loup


Looking at Aaron Loup’s 2017 season Coming into the season, Aaron Loup was the second lefty in the Blue Jays bullpen. Then , when J.P. Howell couldn’t get anyone out, Loup became the number one lefty in the pen. Then, at times, the only lefty in the pen. Then, occasionally, someone would be called up and would become the first lefty, until he had a terrible game, then they would send him back to the minors. It seems to be the way Loup’s career has gone, he’s been less terrible than the other lefties we’ve used. So, after six seasons, he’s still in our bullpen. Year Age W L ERA G SV IP H ER HR BB SO HBP ERA+ FIP SO9 2017 29 2 3 3.75 70 0 57.2 59 24 4 29 64 6 123 3.66 10.0 Baseball Reference had him at a 0.5 WAR. FanGraphs 0.6, giving him a value of $4.6 million to the Jays. He had 6 holds. Gibby seemed to use him in blow outs, at least early in the season, giving him higher leverage spots as the season went on. Loup had a 3.66 FIP and a 4.05 FIP. Batters had a .340 BABIP against him. With RISP .254/.359/.403. Compared to 2016, Aaron’s strikeout rate was exactly the same (24.2%). His walk rate was up (10.9%, from 6.5). He gave up far fewer line drives (20.1%, from 32.5). Fewer fly balls (26.4%, from 27.5). More ground balls (53.5%, from 40.0). Fewer of his flies left the park (9.5%, from 18.2). His hard contact rate down (22.3%, from 27.5). His left/right splits were pretty even (lefties .280/.356/.366, right-handers .250/.365/.356), a change from his norm. He was hit harder at home (.283/.367/.381), than on the road (.241/.356/.339) but his ERA was much the same (3.72 home, 3.77 road). His second half (2.73 ERA, .255/.339/.343) was better than his first half (4.60, .268/.379/.374). Loup by month: April: 1.04, .242/.375/.242 in 8.2 innings. May: 3.27, .233/.327/.349 in 11 innings (4 hit batters). June: 8.64, .371/.450/.571 in 8.1 innings. July: 5.73, .214/.298/.310 in 11 innings. August: 2.45, .319/.407/.426 in 11 innings. September: 1.17, .160/.300/.200 in 7.2 innings. Loup went through a little stretch where batters were getting in the way of his pitches (one of those pitches broke the wrist of Freddie Freeman). In May he faced 49 batters, hitting 4. I thought he problem was mostly against lefties, but, on the season, he hit 3 right-handers and 3 left-handers. He hit 1 of every 36 lefties, 1 out of every 52 right-handers. After breaking Freeman’s wrist, on May 14th, Loup didn’t hit another batter until July 15th. Of course, he also went through the worst stretch of his season at the same time. Gibby used Loup as a LOOGY, some of the time, but also in long relief. He pitched 2 innings in 5 games, 4 of those in the first 27 games of the season. He pitched more than an inning 15 times. It seems like maybe we can’t afford to use anyone as a LOOGY all the time, if you are in the pen, sometimes you are going to have be used in less than optimum roles. For a reliever with a career 3.34 ERA, he seems to get more than his share of hate. I never really understand it, but then we seem to pick some guys as heroes and some guys as villains. I’d imagine the front office would like to find another lefty for the pen over the winter. Aaron’s arbitration eligible for the second time, so he’s still relatively inexpensive. And he’s out of options. And, as Matt pointed out, Aaron is our team tenure leader, having over 5 years of service time with the Jays. I have little doubt that he’ll make it to spring training as a Jay. What will happen during spring is anyone’s guess. On our 40-man roster we have lefties Ryan Borucki, Matt Dermody and Tim Mayza. I’d imagine there will be some spring training invites. And, perhaps someone signed or traded for by then, to add to the competition this spring. I’m not sure what I’d guess the odds are that Loup starts the season on the Jays roster. 50/50? [...]

Tuesday Bantering: A One Stop Winter Tour?


Plus Joe Morgan rants The Blue Jays announced their ‘Winter Tour’. I guess it’s Winter and Winter Fest. I don’t understand calling something a ‘Tour’ if it only has one stop. Winter Tours, in the past, have had a few stops. They have alternated going east and west and would hit a few cities each year. They would show the players doing ‘winter’ things, as well as doing autographs for hundreds. Anyway, if you are in Vancouver, the ‘winter tour’ will visit you January 12-13. It will include visits to schools, to Ronald McDonald House, a baseball clinic and autograph session ‘by lottery ticket’. In Toronto, there is a Winter Fest at Rogers Centre. There will be players appearing, ‘exclusive’ ball park tours, spring training activities, Canadian Hall of Fame exhibit, and more. Joe Morgan feels that PED users shouldn’t be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he’s sent a letter our stating that (in lot more words than that). Morgan, of course, doesn’t believe that the amphetamine users (of his generation) should be also be blocked from the Hall, because.....oh I don’t know, because he did it. Because it wasn’t the same. Because there are levels of cheating. If you cheat his way, you are a good guy, if you cheat a different way it is wrong. He doesn’t tell us that if PEDs were available at the time he played, the players that used amphetamines would have used PEDs (I guess amphetamines are also performance enhancing drugs, but lets make a distinction for now). Joe doesn’t feel that the voters should be making decisions on who should be in and who shouldn’t. He (as a former player) should be the one deciding these things. He is pretty much the same as former players have been saying since the dawn of time, “it isn’t the same as it was in my day”. He even tries the blackmail of saying other Hall of Famers won’t show up at the ceremony if a ‘cheater’ is indicted. And he invokes children (please won’t someone thing of the children). I get that there is a fair bit of ‘look at me, look at me’ involved in this, it is tough for a former player to deal with post player life. Others are getting the glory they feel they rightly deserve. Morgan was one of the 2 or 3 best second basemen of all time. You could easily argue that he was the best of all time. I would think that should be enough, but it isn’t enough for him. You can read the full letter here. There were a ton of roster moves yesterday. And the Jays were given a Gift (Ngoepe). Connor Greene, Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, Tom Pannone, and Rowdy Tellez were all added to the 40-man roster. Max Pentecost, Jordan Romano, Patrick Murphy, Justin Shafer, Angel Perdomo, Francisco Rios and Andrew Case weren’t added. I guess there is a chance Pentacost gets picked in the Rule 5 draft. If you were a team that doesn’t expect to compete, would you take a shot at a player who could become a star, if everything goes just right. The problem would it that it is tough to hide him on the roster. He’s really not ready to catch, in the majors. When teams have 13 man pitching staffs you can’t have someone on the roster who can’t do anything. In the old days, when they had 10 or 9 man pitching staffs, you could carry a pinch hitter or a pinch runner, a guy that can only do that one thing and appear in a handful of games a year in a very narrowly defined role. It’s tougher now. I wonder if Alex Anthopoulos will consider picking up Pentacost? Is there any Jay farm hand you expect to see lost in the Rule 5 draft? [...]

Blue Jays add Conner Greene, Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, Tom Pannone, and Rowdy Tellez to 40-man roster


After a flurry of moves this afternoon that netted out to opening up two more spots on the 40-man in addition to the four they already had, the front office went about filling them back up Monday evening in advance of the 8PM (ET) deadline to protect prospects from next month's Rule 5 Draft. In the end, there were no surprises as the Blue Jays added RHP Connor Greene, catchers Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, LHP Tom Pannone, and 1B Rowdy Tellez to the 40-man roster. Below is background on each of the players added, as well as a summary of those not added. Greene, 22, was drafted in 7th round of the 2013 draft. He was the breakout player of the 2015 season, dominating low-A and high-A and making it up to New Hampshire for the last month. But he’s stagnated at the AA level in 2016-17, with his walk rate increasing and strikeout rate decreasing. The raw stuff remains top notch, with a fastball that sits in the mid/upper 90s and will touch 100 and is a ground ball machine when he’s on. That’s complimented by a curveball and change-up that will both at least flash as plus pitches that could be putaway weapons. Jansen, 22, was drafted in the 16th round of the 2013 draft. He put himself on the map with a strong 2014 in Bluefield, showing a good eye and drawing good review behind the plate. He missed significant time to injury in 2015-16 and was not productive at the plate when healthy, though maintaining strong plate discipline. Last offseason he was diagnosed with astigmatism and got corrective lenses, and carried over a strong AFL stint last fall into a breakout 2017. Jumping from high-A Dunedin all the way to AAA Buffalo, he hit .323/.400/.484 to become one of the top catching prospects in baseball. McGuire, 22, was drafted 14th overall in the 2013 draft by Pittsburgh, and acquired in the 2016 Liriano deal. He draws very strong reviews for his defensive prowess behind the plate, but his bat has lagged behind. As he’s moved from level to level, he’s posted below average batting lines at every level, with OPS’s in the .600 range. That indicated a profile as a future backup, but after missing half the season in 2017 his bat showed significant life in August. That may well have been the difference between him being added to the 40-man and not. We’ll see if he can build on that in 2018: he was very well regarded as an amateur and catcher is a very tough position to learn defensively. It’s not uncommon for that to slow offensive development. Pannone, 23, was originally drafted in the 9th round of the 2013 draft by Cleveland and acquired at the trade deadline in the Joe Smith trade. His career got off to a bit of a slow start, repeating rookie ball and then mediocre results at low-A in 2015 (though strong peripherals). He was much better repeating low-A in 2016, and dominated high-A and AA over the past two years. Post-trade, he was more okay with New Hampshire. Pannone doesn’t have huge raw stuff, his fastball in the high 80s/low-90s with a curveball and change-up. If all goes well, he projects as a backend starter. But the new front office clearly likes him, and as a lefty with almost a full season in AA, he would be a candidate to get selected and potentially stick especially if this stuff ticked up as a reliever. Tellez, 22, was drafted in the 30th round of the 2013 draft, signing for a $850,000 bonus more representative of a late second round pick. He hit his way up through the system, before stumbling last year in AAA. This would appear to be a vote of confidence in his ability to be an impact MLB hitter by the new front office, since thet were not responsible for drafting him. The conspicuous name missing from the players added for some will be Max Pentecost. The 11th overall pick of the 2014 draft has had his career has unfortunately been derailed by multiple shoulder surgeries that largely kept him off the field for two years after signing. He’s performed decently over the last 18 months at the plate, albeit with some more time lost [...]

Jays Trade for Gift Ngoepe from Pirates



The Jays have traded for Gift Ngoepe from the Pirates, for a player to be named or cash (I would think cash for a Gift would be fair).

Gift is 27, turns 28 in January. He played 28 games, in the majors, for the Pirates last year, hitting .222/.323/.296. In Triple A, over the past 3 seasons, he’s hit .221/.295/.362 with 14 homers in 200 games. He’s played mostly second, short and third in his minor league career.

Other than a bunch of bad jokes about his first name (it’s Gift giving season for the Pirates?) I really can’t tell you anything more about him, other than he was born in St. Petersburg, South Africa and was the first South African to make it to the majors.

He would give us 34 players on the 40-man roster now.

Blue Jays Rumors: J.D. Martinez



Also Rob Refsnyder lost to Cleveland on waiver claim

Jon Heyman tells us that the Blue Jays could be a “dark horse” (running on a dark race course)(I need Hugo around to get the reference) candidate to sign J.D. Martinez.

Heyman says that it’s more likely they would go for Jay Bruce, but Martinez would fit a need, a power hitting outfielder. Martinez is rumored to be asking $200+ for 7 years, and he’ll likely get something close to that.

He hit .302/.366/.741 with 29 homers for the Diamondbacks this year. And his OPS has been over .875 in each of the last 5 seasons.

Half the teams in baseball have been rumored to be talking to him, so I have my doubts, but I wouldn’t be against the idea of signing him. The Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Giants and Cardinals are among the teams interested.

He’s 30 now, so younger than the average free agent.

Also Cleveland has claimed infielder Rob Refsnyder off waivers from the Jays. I don’t think any of us will miss him much.

Our 40-man roster sits at 33 now. There is a lot of room to add players to keep them safe from the Rule 5 draft.

Blue Jays outright Rowley and Ramirez



So the Blue Jays are going to do today’s roster moves a little at a time.

Chris Rowley and Harold Ramirez have been outrighted off the Jays 40-man roster, giving them 34 on the roster, at the moment.

Rowley pitched in 6 games, starting 3, for the Jays this year. He had a 6.75 ERA in 18.2 innings. In Buffalo, he had a 2.66 ERA in 12 games, 8 starts, totaling 64.1 innings. He allowed 60 hits, 17 walks with 46 strikeouts. And you’ll remember he was the first West Point grad to make the majors, he’s a first lieutenant is the US Army.

Ramirez came to the Jays in the Drew Hutchison/Francisco Liriano trade, along with catcher Reese McGuire. He hit 266/.320/.358, with 5 stolen bases, in 121 games at New Hampshire, playing mostly right field. He dropped down the outfield depth chart a fair bit, in the last year.

Monday Bantering: Bautista’s wedding


Plus Hall of Fame Ballot, 40-man notes The big news, of the weekend, was Jose Bautista got married. I’m sure my invite got lost in the mail. Congratulations Jose. There were some pictures posted to Twitter: I don’t understand why this is worth talking about yet, but: There really is no rush. If it isn’t done in February, then I’d start wondering. And the Jays, and all MLB teams, have to set their 40-man roster before 8:00 PM Eastern to prepare for the Rule 5 draft. They have 4 open spots, at the moment, and likely could make a little more room by dropping Chris Rowley and/or Harold Ramirez and/or Tom Koehler. The only thing I’m sure of is that Danny Jansen will go on the 40-man. Beyond that? Rowdy Tellez? I’m still a fan of Max Pentecost, but I can’t see any team grabbing him (unless Alex still loves him). Conner Greene? I could see someone putting him into the back of their bullpen. Matt W took a good look at the choices the Jays face here. I’m curious to see if the Jays leave an open spot to make a pickup of their own. We’ll have to wait until December 14th to see what happens in the draft. This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was released. One notable name not on the list is Roy Halladay. Halladay will be on next year’s ballot. Occasionally, a player who dies gets on the ballot early, but his death came too close to this year’s balloting. I guess the most famous example would be Roberto Clemente, who died on New Year’s Eve, 1972 and was voted into the Hall from the 1973 ballot. This year’s ballot, the names in bold are on the ballot for the first time. We will run out own polls over the next two or three weeks. Barry Bonds, Chris Carpenter, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero, Livan Hernandez, Trevor Hoffman, Orlando Hudson, Aubrey Huff, Jason Isringhausen, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Jeff Kent, Carlos Lee, Brad Lidge, Edgar Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Fred McGriff, Kevin Millwood, Jamie Moyer, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Johan Santana, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano. There are a few with Blue Jays ties: Carpenter, Clemens, Guerrero (he was in our minor league system for a couple of weeks, before deciding to retire), Hudson, Kent, McGriff, Rolen and Vizquel. Did I miss anyone? [...]

The Middle Infield Dilemma


In the late evening of July 27, 2015, the Blue Jays acquired Troy Tulowitzki. Two days later he made his Blue Jays debut, coincidentally the day after Devon Travis played in what would be his last of the 2015 campaign. Starting from then, the Jays have played 405 games (385 regular season, 20 postseason). Of those, Tulo has started 251 games in the field (62%), and Travis has started 144 games in the field (36%). Below is a diagram, roughly to scale, showing how that breaks down: Only 89 times - 22% of the time - have Tulo and Travis started alongside each other in the middle infield. That's actually less often than the 24% of the time neither have started over the same time. Fully three quarters of the time that both have been Blue Jays, the team's backup middle infielder has been pushed into starting duty. Granted, this probably underestimates to some extent how often both can be expected to play in 2018, based on "regression" but also the sample's timing. Nevertheless, it clearly illustrates both the need, and the front office's focus on adding quality middle infield depth this winter. Both Tulo and Travis are supposed to be ready for Spring Training, and so long as that's the case both should slot in as starters: Tulo given his long history of production but also simply the money left on his contract, and Travis given that when healthy his production has translated to 4+ WAR over a full season. But if the primary infield guy off the bench is going to be starting something on the order of 50-75% of the time, then you need much better production than the 70 wRC+ and -34 batting runs accumulated by all layers at 2B or SS in 2017 other than those two. Ideally, it would look something like Darwin Barney's 2016 season: a good defender capable of handling either position with a serviceable-if-below average 87 wRC+. The issue of course, is that in the context of his career, that represented closer to the high end of his production level than his median or likely expectation. Which is why the Blue Jays were able to acquire him essentially for free in the first place. Basically, the Blue Jays are looking for a "second division regular": a player who projects below the level of an average MLB regular, more on the level of a fringe starter. Finding such a player represents a pretty significant dilemma, as it means threading a pretty tight needle between good enough to hold one's own as a regular, but not so good that other teams see them as regulars and pay accordingly. A regular if necessary, but not necessarily a regular (to borrow a line). So it's a tough task, but let's survey the landscape. Compounding the above difficulty, the free agent market isn't terribly inspiring: Neil Walker: some talk of pursing him and then moving Travis to the outfield. If Walker's market collapses, maybe, but it would eat up a significant amount of the available budget space and wouldn't help with SS depth. Eduardo Nunez: has hit for the last three years, but he's a butcher defensively with injury issues of his own. Sort of a poor man's Jose Reyes as a Blue Jay, but beggars can't be choosers and at the right price perhaps. Howie Kendrick/Chase Utley/Brandon Phillips: only options at 2B, and Kendrick more of an OF at this point. But could do worse than veteran stopgaps on a one year deal. Alcides Escobar: basically hits like Ryan Goins. Actually, basically is Ryan Goins at this point. Others: Danny Espinosa? Have to buy heavy regression with the bat. Yunel Escobar and Jose Reyes can still hit some, but done defensively and off-field baggage. Stephen Drew seems done. So if the free agent market doesn't have palatable options, that means looking to trades. There are some potential rentals (last year of arb) available that shouldn't cost too much to acquire: Jose Iglesias: Should be available from a rebuilding Tigers team ($[...]