Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bautista: Then and Now

I was searching for the sneak preview of the Jays' new  uniforms and I decided to click on the 'Jose Bautista' tag under another video. I decided to go back and look at a few of his Pirates highlights and really noticed the change in his swing mechanics.

I thought I would put up the video of Bautista's first homer as a Jay of what would be many more to come. Who knew that he would become such a monster in the future.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Potential Trade Targets

Buy low and sell high is something you often hear thrown around in fantasy sports, but Alex Anthopoulos has used this technique in his trades since taking over as GM.

He bought low on Brandon Morrow by moving Brandon League and OF Johermyn Chavez after they both had strong seasons. He bought low on Yunel Escobar with an aging shortstop who had an outstanding 1/2 season (Alex Gonzalez). In his best move yet, he moved OF Vernon Wells after a strong bounce back season in January.

Most buy low situations come up in the trade market, but Anthopoulos has also bought low on the free agent market with players like John Buck.

With the MLB trade deadline coming up I thought I would take a look at a few players who could be targets for Anthopoulos to ask about. There is one player in particular that I think could be a good player to go after.

SS Hanley Ramirez
This is a player who is in the line of the Yunel Escobar type. He is an outstanding talent with a track record of success in the past. The Dominican infielder is in a down year by his standards and is not on the best of terms with his front office and fan base. At just 27 years old I think he could be bought for a high price, albeit not the price it would have taken in previous years. Ramirez is currently playing short, but could potentially play second for the Jays in the event that Aaron Hill is not brought back.

CF Colby Rasmus
This is a player that every Jays fan has heard and dreamed about playing for the team. Rasmus is on shaky grounds with the upper management and field management at the moment and it is fair to say that he is not living up to the hype that was created as he was coming up through the Cardinals system. Last year he had a breakout campaign with a .859 OPS and solid defence in CF. The 24 year old is struggling a bit this year with a .742 OPS.

RP Joakim Soria
The Royals closer has had a bit of a rough year (by his standards) with an ERA above four and a reduced K/9 IP. At just 27 years old you would think he would be in the prime of his career and could be had for prospects.

SP Edinson Volquez
Volquez had a great year in 2008, as a 24 year old after being traded for Josh Hamilton, but has failed to replicate that success in recent seasons. He has maintained the strong strikeout rates, but has given up more base runners. A lot of the base runners come via the base on balls and that is something that has been pretty consistent in the last three seasons. If the Jays could get Volquez into their system and work with him they may be able to find success.

These are just a few names that popped into my head when I thought of underachieving talents.
Obviously you have to give up something to get something and some of these teams are still in contention for 2011, but if the right deal can be made for both teams Toronto could benefit both short and long term.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Arencibia Needs More Time

No, he doesn't need more time in the minors, but he needs more time behind the dish and at the plate in the majors.

J.P. was on a path to become the Jays main catcher for the 2010 season, but had a rough season in AAA Las Vegas in 2009. The Jays went out and signed John Buck and Jose Molina to catch last year and the tandem ended up overachieving expectations, particularly offensively.

Meanwhile in the minors, Arencibia began tearing up the Pacific Coast League. At age 24, repeating AAA, he produced a .301/.359/.626 slash line with 36 doubles, 32 homers, and a minor league career high 38 base on balls. Scouting reports always painted Arencibia as an "offensive-oriented catcher" which is a tough reputation to break. In 2010, it was reported that his offense began to shine while catching and calling a strong defensive game behind the plate.

With the offseason departure of John Buck the Jays were seemingly on the lookout for a starting catcher for 2011. Arencibia, even though he had a great ML debut, had a tough time hitting big league pitching (albeit in sparse opportunities). There were mentions of Russel Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, and even Rod Barajas as possible catchers and mentors for the young starters.

These options really confused me, especially after the Jays picked up the option on career backup, Jose Molina. Arencibia was a young catcher who needed to cut his teeth in the Show and Toronto was a perfect place for that to happen. The Jays, admittedly, are a team on the upswing and they could afford to have patience with a young backstop.

Along with new manager John Farrell, the Jays brought in a few new members of the coaching staff including bench manager Don Wakamatsu who had experience teaching the catching position. Wakamatsu was drafted in 1985 and played 12 seasons in minor league baseball (with a cup of coffee in the bigs) and is known for his great work with Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Arencibia has said that he feels much better while he is catching and he looks like it too. He has a strong arm and is getting better at framing pitches and blocking balls in the dirt.

During Spring Training, Farrell said that he felt that catcher was a "two-man position." This meant that Arencibia would catch Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, and Jesse Litsch. Molina caught the others (Kyle Drabek and Jo-Jo- Reyes) because of his success with Brandon Morrow a year earlier. Farrell, as a former big league pitcher, must believe in the idea of a pitcher-catcher "battery" because he held steady to that idea only once DH'ing J.P. on an "off-day." I am sure that John Buck could have caught Morrow just as successfully last year and I am also sure that Arencibia would be fine with catching Drabek and Reyes. The whole idea of a personal catcher just doesn't make sense to me.

That being said, Molina still is a useful backup, but he is just that. He is one of the worst hitters on the team and is getting time for no reason other than to follow the guidelines that were set out during the spring.

Arencibia, with the recent changes to the starting rotation should be given the chance to catch every starter (while being given acceptables off -days) becuase he is capable of being the future at the position. He is really only one of a few Blue Jays that are hitting above expectations at the moment (.289/.360/.622) and is sitting out games unnecessarily, in my opinion.