Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Blue Jays Offer Invaluable Service to Fans Everywhere

Replacements - Bastards Of Young

The concept of VORP or WAR or any of the various statistics which tout the mythical "replacement player" can be confusing to the casual fan or non-geek first toeing the SABR waters. Who is this replacement-level player? Who is he replacing? Is it like average?

The replacement player is the 26th man on any team; a guy freely available to any team for a very minimal investment. The proverbial "guy off the street/man out of the stands" filling in for a more capable player.

If this definition is still too hazy, too abstract for you to fully grasp the concept, allow me to introduce your 2009 Toronto Blue Jays. The late season edition of the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays any way. These Jays starting lineup featured 8 players at or near replacement level during their weekend series with the Rangers.

Westerberg in QuestionWAR
Rod Barajas0.8
Randy Ruiz0.4
Jose Bautista0.3
John MacDonald0.1
Raul Chavez0.1
Joe Inglett-0.3
Kevin Millar-0.4
Edwin Encarnacion-0.4
Travis Snider-0.4
Vernon Wells-0.9

Now, not even I am dumb enough to suggest these are all "replacement players." Vernon Wells is having a terrible year and capable of much more, also his enormous contract makes him irreplaceable. Travis Snider is 21 and still learning his way, 9 Ks at a time. Randy Ruiz's boom or bust start to his Blue Jays career is only replacement level because of his limited at bats. Were he to play a full season at DH, he'd surely amass 200 strikeouts, 20 home runs and 10 doubles be worth 2 wins above replacement.

As I stated before, the moving target that is catcher's defensive evaluation keeps us from getting a true sense of Barajas's value. He's hit a bunch of home runs this week (two last night!) but don't get it twisted, he was terrible for a long, long time. Offensively he's been worse than many catchers that don't get nearly the at bats Rod does. Chavez doesn't get enough starts but he can't hit so what does it matter?

The rest? What's left is the true definition of replacement level. Guys with 50 PAs minimum (about 10 starts) that could easily be replaced by any available baseball talent. Millar, Inglett, Bautista, Johnny Mac, E5; they've seen reasonable amounts of playing time with as close to nothing to show for it as possible. Kinda sad.

The worst part of it is there isn't anyone beating down the door. The only players being blocked are Brian Dopriak aka Randy Ruiz 1.2 and quad A Buck Coats. All the food is on the table honey, looks like a lean Christmas this year.

A Few Random Thoughts

  • I find it really interesting when Jays fans get all riled up over Sportsnet showing the Fenway Faithfuls singing "Sweet Caroline." The Jays are about the most soulless, bland, corporate, and guileless organization around. What's wrong with something with a bit of character? Don't we all constantly whine about the sterile atmosphere at the Dome? Let them sing and let Sportsnet broadcast it, it's a part of the game and that's the show you're watching.

  • Another question along a similar line: are we fans unhappy with a lack of homerism from the Jays broadcast team? This shocks me, as nothing is worse than a cheerleader in the booth. Tom and Jerry never pretended only one team was on the field, I salute the numerous Jays broadcasters for avoiding the Hawk/Swirsk brand of blather. If Rod Black is praising Dustin Pedroia it's because he can play. We all hate on out-of-market announcers that do the same, we can't have it both ways.

  • Listen to the Walkoff Walk Podcast. Seriously. We do it live every Monday, but you can download it after the fact via Itunes or by clicking the fancy button on the right. I mention the Blue jays every single show because I'm biased and my scope of knowledge is narrow.

  • Not so narrow that I can't tell your 50 ways you could better live your life. I contributed A Handsome Man's Guide to Golf over at valued reader and rakish gadabout Archimedies home base; The Handsome Man's Guide to Life. I've played a lot of golf and done a lot of awesome stuff so consider yourself in good hands. Check it out and drop some valued golf/life nuggets of your own.


  1. I come for the baseball, I stay for terms like 'rakish gadabout'.

  2. Narrow perhaps but nonetheless accurate. This man hails Starship Troopers as the greatest movie of our generation. Lesser mortals! (or people who watch Scary Movie 4)- submit and cower before the intellect.

    So do you forsee a solution to our replacement problem? Bringing in Keanu Reeves as quarterback is hardly an option. Or are we the better-luck-next-year kid?

  3. Um...Boston fans get shown everywhere, all the time. Singing Sweet Caroline is not that interesting. So us something Tampa fans do, whose team is much more interesting to watch,possibly more talented, but whose fans, like their team, get no notice or respect. Boston has convinced themselves they are God's gift to baseball, ESPN has reinforced it, there is no need for Sportsnet to do it, too.

    Besides, would YES ever show Boston fans singing Sweet Caroline? I'm thinking not.

  4. Buck Coats has about a week of major league service time, right? When did he earn the AAAA label? When we let him rot?

  5. A few things:

    @alex solutions to the replacement problem? The DH/outfielder shouldn't be too difficult. A league average player like Murton or Matt Joyce is a lot better than the current options. Pie in the sky? The Jays acquire Carl Crawford.

    The issue at third base is far more grave. This was the concern leading up to the trade of Rolen; who would fill in? There is NO internal option and Encarnacion has a lot to prove before he can be legitimately considered an average every day player.

    @Joanna - is YES the model you want to be using here? The most homeristic and self-serving network employing single-minded announcers with little regard for the competition? No thanks, I prefer a more even handed approach with a less obvious but still prevalent Jays bias.

    Tampa fans do nothing because their like Jays fans in the 80's - oblivious and just happy to be there.

    @Torgen - good call. I guess I just assume if anyone thought he had a future, we'd have seen him by now. Then I remember I follow the Blue Jays. Sigh. Free Buck Coats!

  6. 8 players around the replacment value threshhold. Why ever bother criticizing Cito when it really doesn't matter who he plays...

  7. yeah outside of lind/hill/scutaro the jays have been bad at the plate this year no shit.

  8. and barajas is 1.1 WAR and $4.8M player - did that just update after him hitting 2 homers last night?

  9. 2 HRs and 5 RsBI shot Rod the Bod over Rios. Crazy.

    And I'm with Mattt; ain't no need to blame "CitoCity."

  10. YES wouldn't do it because they know there would be a riot. Boston and their fans can fuck themselves and Neil Diamond. It's a joke that Sportsnet plays it.


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