May was a fantastic month for the Jays, a lot of people (including the Baseball Prospectus) are presently placing the Jays #3 favourite to win the World Series this year. Oof. This is where the wheels typically come off; when the expectations grow higher.
Lets take a moment and review a previous post of mine with respect to Alex Anthopolous’ sleep quality to see how my predictions panned out:
I wonder how the Jays are doing today… I’ll just sign in the ol’ MLB app and —WOAH.
Got some kind of crazy going on there Ricky. If being a wildman on the mound makes you more effective, I got no complaints.
One other thing: perhaps Ricky is tipping his pitches? That’s pretty obviously a circle change he’s got there, and I could probably see it from 90ft away…
Spring Training is underway, the Jays are 3-3. All should be well and good in the world…
Except for some presently unknown reason, my quality of sleep has been utterly destroyed. Each morning I’m waking up with less energy than the day before, and I find myself in a state of exhaustion. It should be noted that I’m prone to fits of anxiety during particularly stressful times in my life, but this isn’t how it normally manifests itself. Normally I would have trouble falling asleep in these situations. Right now I’m falling asleep normally but waking up more tired than when I went to bed. It’s truly puzzling.
I fell asleep on my palm this morning over breakfast, mid-conversation. That scares me.
ANYHOO. All personal baggage aside, I put myself in the GM’s chair for the Toronto Blue Jays, wondering what would be affecting his sleep schedule at this point:
Stuff that’s like warm milk or a fuzzy teddy bear or whatever:
I was conducting a thought experiment with the advanced batting metric of Batting Average of Balls In Play (BAbip), which is effectively the batting average less homeruns (which cannot be fielded by the opposition’s defense), strikeouts (which doesn’t rely on the defense) and adds in sacrifice flies.
Typically, once the ball is put in play the advantage goes to the batter, as this stat includes only those plays where a defense can get involved. It’s not uncommon to see a 20-50 point increase over the regular batting average.
In reviewing the Blue Jays line-up in terms of BAbip, there were a few surprises.
The highest BAbip on the team belongs to Colby Rasmus, who has an 80 point increase (.276 to .356). Adam Lind is second on the team with the required at-bats (2 AB/G, .288 to .322). Colby struck out a lot, so in order to maintain a high average, he needed to be very efficient with the stick when he did put the ball in play.
The lowest BAbip on the team belongs to J.P. Arencibia, who doesn’t seem to be doing particularly well in just about any offensive metric. While hitting a mere .194, his ball in play average improved to .231. This makes sense, because he also led the team in strikeouts, but this isn’t anywhere close to Colby’s 80 point improvement.
The second lowest BAbip on the team belongs to Edwin Encarnacion at .247. — wait… what? This guy had a monster season! How is this even possible? Edwin hit .272/.370/.534 with 36 homers on the season, striking out only 62 times while drawing 82 walks (7 intentional) in 621 plate appearances.
It seems that while Edwin drastically improved his plate discipline, he was either extremely unlucky (hitting the ball at fielders), or he tends to make weak contact, when he’s not pounding the ball over the outfield fence. Bautista is in a similar boat, breaking even (BAbip=BA=0.259), with no improvement on his BAbip over the regular metric.
While all the production numbers are there, if I’m fishing for a base-hit, I would probably go elsewhere than these two guys to get the job done. Perhaps Mr. Seitzer will adjust their approach to be more versatile, and hit the ball where the fielders aren’t.
So it came out at one point yesterday during the State of the Franchise that Ian Kinsler might have been a Blue Jay – if he didn’t exercise his no-trade clause. I didn’t hear about it when I was there, so it must have been an individual disclosure following the ‘official’ part of the program.
Some fans are reacting with relief, with the reassurances that AA is working to make this club better. I’ve always assumed that’s a given. All of this silence from the Jays front office has been infuriating from a fan’s perspective, but I can’t imagine for a minute that AA isn’t a busy man.
I’m more concerned with what kind of deal it would have taken to land Kinsler… The radio show morning crew were convinced it was Bautista that would be on the move, given that it was Prince Fielder going in the other direction for the trade that was ultimately consummated. I’m a bit skeptical of that.
Time to put my GM hat on.
Kinsler is not a player that can be ignored. He’s a 3 time all-star, with a career slash line of .273/.349/.454, although he’s a few years removed from his seasons with an OPS over .800. Last season he put together something along the lines of what I would expect Brett Lawrie being able to produce. Anticipate an OPS between .725 and .775. He’s also well above average defensively, which is a plus if he would have agreed to play on our slick astroturf (DARN).
Keep in the back of your head that a Brett Lawrie type player (albeit a 3x all-star Brett Lawrie player) was worth Shaun Marcum…
Bautista is the face of the Blue Jay’s Franchise. He’s a monster when it comes to the long ball, and has had an OPS (well) above .850 for the past 4 of his all-star seasons. He’s a plus defender with a ballistic missile for an arm. His price point is also extremely reasonable, with his annual salary less than HALF of what Robinson Cano just got (and frankly, I’d prefer to have Joey Bats on my team).
I fail to connect how a straight up 1:1 trade would have made sense for the Blue Jays here. Perhaps the Rangers would cough up an established starting pitcher as well? Maybe an Alexi Ogando or Derek Holland? Perhaps that’s wishful thinking. 2-3 prospects to help replenish the Jays farm system? But the Rangers would need to surrender something else there to make that trade; The Jays would need to plug at least two holes for the cost of creating (a Bautista sized) one.
What would seem a bit more likely to me? Adam Lind + a reliever. Adam Lind plays like a MONSTER in the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. His slashline of .327/.361/.718 in 119 Plate Appearances was good for an OPS of 1.080, his highest of any ballpark with at least 100 AB’s. There is certainly some question with his performance over one full year (is that kind of production sustainable…?), as well as his dismal performance against left handers (OPS is in the range of .603… OUCH.) which is why I would imagine Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar or Aaron Loup (*GASP*) would likely be going as well to sweeten the pot a bit.
Something that adds credence to the Lind + Reliever thought is that Prince Fielder, whom was eventually traded 1:1 for Kinsler, also plays 1B. Perhaps the Rangers were looking for help at that position.
Salary would work out to be a wash in both deals presented above.
There is certainly reason to think that this deal would have improved both teams. Rangers get their monster bat at first base (assuming Adam Lind can continue to produce at those inhuman levels in Arlington), plus a reliable bullpen arm to add to their already solid stable, and the Jays can plug the second base hole while getting bench flexibility to add a more suitable utility man, and clear some of the log jam in the bullpen.
The gears are certainly turning in the front office! I’d be shocked if something weren’t done by the start of the season.
EDIT (31/01/2014): I’m in the category of sports fan that interpreted this story as “Kinsler exercised his no-trade clause.” In fact, this deal was ‘scuttled’ by the knowledge that Kinsler had Toronto on his no trade list, which could have happened at any point during the preliminary talks, or the deal could have been completely solidified. We’ll never know. Kind of a PR coup for the Jays though. Also — it seems that it was Encarnacion, not Lind or Bautista. Go figure.