A couple ominous notes and things I gleaned from the last few games. Spoiler Alert: I just dusted off the "we're fucked" tag. Look at the pretty picture before digging in the dirt. (Via the essential Go Jays Go)
The 2009/2010 Blue Jays are not/will not be good defensive teams.
Trading away Alex Rios and Scott Rolen will do that to anybody, but replacing them with Travis Snider (after a few weeks of infielder Joe Inglett in right) and Edwin Encarnacion makes this a bad defensive team. There is a lot of debate surrounding the validity and/or value of defensive metrics, so I'll cut through the shit and get to a difficult number to argue: defensive efficiency &mdash how well a team converts balls in play into outs.
From Baseball Prospectus, here are the Jays rankings in all of baseball since 2004.
- 2004 &mdash 6th
- 2005 &mdash 2nd
- 2006 &mdash 10th
- 2007 &mdash 7th
- 2008 &mdash 7th
- 2009 &mdash 24th
I can't see how it will improve either. Losing Scutaro (as I expect they will) only drives this number down further. The three centerfielder outfield of Johnson Wells Rios from years gone by has given way to the three leftfielder outfield of Lind Wells Snider. 2009 seems to be a down year for Hill defensively, though his past performance indicates he can surely pick it back up. Even if the Jays DFA Encarnacion they're looking at nada internally or signing some sort of free agent and moving someone (Hill, as Wilner suggests) to the hot corner.
The umps didn't help matters the last two nights, but in no way are the Jays blameless. If Aaron Hill makes a routine throw; there is no blown call begetting a botched steal attempt begetting another blown call. Botched run downs, misplayed fly balls, they all add up. The only course of action to save the defence, nay the team, is acquiring J.J. Hardy and Carl Crawford. Another topic for another day, though.
Randy Ruiz &mdash One True Outcome
Hey guys, did you hear Randy Ruiz has a hit in every game he's played? Yeah, three home runs, too. He's playing for a job ya know. He's also playing with rabbit's feet dipped in barely legal cleavage sweat - his luck will soon run out. He's a nice story and certainly "doesn't get cheated", but his home run per fly ball rate is 60%! His walk to strike out ratio is 1:9. In his short time with the big club, he's profiled as a "free swinger." How free? Nearly 60% of pitches outside the zone, more than 2/3 of the total pitches he sees. He makes less contact than any other Blue Jay. In short, this won't last. Fun as it is, if word can even be bothered to get out on him, I'll have a better chance of getting within the court-order 1000 meter proximity to the local high school than Randy Ruiz will of seeing anything he can drive. I can drive too, girls. Would you like to go to the mall and try on somENOUGH.
While Randy Ruiz is a cute yet ultimately meaningless story (as far as the greater Blue Jays narrative goes, I suppose), the Jays inability to draw walks is becoming mildly alarming. Over the last month your Toronto Blue Jays pretty much stopped walking, drawing free passes at a slower rate than THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS. The Royals that just keep acquiring shitty middle infielders with no power but huge strikeout numbers. THOSE ROYALS. Lyle Overbay is the only hitter with the patience to draw a walk but that is all he wants to do. This is not what I had in mind when I coined the phrase Citocity, can someone please fix it? (so what if only I use it, it still gets to be a phrase)
Obligatory Travis Snider Positivity
Let me put the doom and gloom on hold for a second. Watch this video of Victor Martinez's home run off Brandon League (FML!). Go back and re-watch Travis Snider's home run from Tuesday night. Carbon damn copy, right? That, my friends, is a good sign. Why? Because Victor Martinez can fucking hit.
Victor's tater went further as it was propelled by the power of Kahuna, but the swing, the approach, even the stance is the same. V-Mart is a part-time catcher, but his offensive numbers are good (not great) for his career. .358 career wOBA (though two bad, injury-plagued seasons drag it down from good year levels around .370), 100 home runs, BB/K right around 1. I don't mean to suggest this is Snider's ceiling (he's still 21!!!) but the similarities exist. At this point, it's all we've got.