Thursday, August 20, 2009

Odds, Ends, and Ugliness

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
Ouch. I'm sure I don't need to impress upon anyone the value of converting balls in play into outs, especially with a young staff taught (forced?) to induce ground balls at the expense of their virgin tendons. If you're a disciple of Fangraphs, you already know UZR is no saving grace here either, establishing the 2009 Jays team defense a value of 15.4 runs below average. Bill James and John Dewan, only you can save us now!

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.


  1. I'd like to have a beer with Bill James and John Dewan.

    Some questions for you: what are your thoughts about Aaron Hill moving to third? Is the Jays's brutal defence the reason why they have the league's worst record in one-run games?

    "Barely legal cleavage sweat." Interesting.

    I guess we weren't messing around when we said "Free Randy Ruiz!" He's been freed, and more. But it's fun to watch. Keep swatting, big fella.

    Overbay's frustrating as fuck. I love his patience, but I get the feeling he strikes out looking, on 3-2 counts, a lot. (I'm too lazy to actually look it up.) SWING! I don't think you can be too patient for your own good in baseball, but Overbay is too patient for his own good.

    The Jays have a glaring hole at catcher. Wouldn't it have been nice for Toronto go scoop in and grab Victor Martinez? FML.

  2. Is Ruiz some kind of pedophile or something?

  3. The umpires last night were absolutely embarassing... I lost my voice screaming at them the whole game because of how brutal they were. Youkilis was out at least 3 times and the calls were missed, and thats just the beginning of it.

    Eyebleaf, Overbay does strike out a lot looking (esp 3-2 count), no need to look that up.

  4. Drew, get the sand out of your vagine

  5. As I said on the twitter the other night, I'm OK with a defensive hit in the OF if it means Snider's bat stays in the lineup.

  6. We lost a lot of one run games last year when we had a good defense.

  7. Good point Torgen. I can't see how defense would have a direct correlation with 1 run losses or even wins.

  8. By the way Drew, you sure you didn't write this:

    It's almost as good as your classic "Day in the Existence of Roy Halladay" post

  9. So maybe Ruiz is Guerrero reincarnated?

  10. I also considered that base stealing could lead to outperforming pythag (which would explain the Rays and Angels), but our success rate at both stealing and catching opponents stealing last year were both so good that we actually had a better stolen base differential than the Angels, so that's not it either.

  11. For a team that relies on inducing a lot of grounders from their pitchers, I can see the importance of a strong defence. But the team's inability to hit with RISP amongst other offensive woes seem to be the main culprit of the Blue Jays lack of success. Obviously a team succeeds with both a strong offence and defence. However, using my wholly inaccurate and unreliable eyes, I think I prefer a team that can play with a middle of the order defence and an upper echelon offence than the other way around.

  12. First of all, the true outcome to Randy Ruiz coming to the majors is one thing and one thing only: MV fucking P. Yeah, that's right. Ruiz in the majors is like a male model sent to a highschool prom and thinking that he won't score. Not gonna happen. Mark my typed words, if Ruiz is in the starting lineup next season he's putting up the MVP numbers and then all the haters will bow down to this post.

    PS I'm not a Randy Ruiz still drunk from last night on a Saturday morning. Fuckers.

  13. Ruiz reference invalid. Small sample size. Are those numbers similar to his MILB numbers?

  14. Obviously the SSS warning applies to Ruiz, but his hacking approach isn't going to change. Just by watching him you can see he'll continue leading the team in whiffs and likely trail in Pitches per plate appearance.

    Ruiz will always have a high BABIP because he does hit a lot of home runs while failing to put the ball into play 30% of the time.

    So yeah, not the most meaningful numbers but hardly invalid. I can't see him sticking.


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