Monday, July 4, 2011

The DFA All Stars - And Then There was One

I cannot pretend the exodus of scumbags was unexpected, though I didn't think it would all happen so quickly. Jayson Nix? Whatever. People get turfed from Cleveland for a reason. Juan Rivera kind of, well, shocked me.

It isn't that Rivera's been good, it's more than he hasn't been awful. What makes Rivera expendable but saves Corey Patterson? Patterson was much, much worse in June (more than 200 points of OPS and 80 wOBA points behind Rivera) with a fielding advantage based more on perception than reality. But with Snider and Thames getting full time at bats, there just isn't room for Juan. Again, not sure why this move happens right now, ahead of the All Star break but who cares? Travis Snider!

As I mentioned in live streams or on a podcast or somewhere, I came around on the Eric Thames idea (more on that in a minute) with Thames DHing, Snider and Bautista in the OF and EE playing third until Brett Lawrie steals his job like a good Canadian.

AA and friends have very different plans, as evidenced by the move of Bautista back to third and the potential move of Snider to centerfield(!). Anybody who watches the Cardinals play knows that Colby Rasmus is no center fielder, so putting a bat first player in center isn't exactly groundbreaking. If Snider can make the great strides in center that he made in left, there's no reason to suggest he can't play a passable centerfield1.

This is it, though. We wanted a revolution and it is nearly complete. Eric Thames is playing every day, much to my surprise. He's a lot of fun to watch, especially when you ignore the total lack of walks (zero since his recall) and super-inflated in-play average.

While crediting hitting in front of Bautista for an increase in "pitches" to hit would be the easy/Tablarian thing to do, it is also dead wrong. Over the past 14 days, Eric Thames has the highest swing rate (a hair under 60%) and second lowest percentage of in-zone pitches (41%, just ahead of Adam "hey did you realize he's struggling badly" Lind.)

Which isn't to suggest the league will "figure out" Eric Thames and he'll fall into a life of quad-A sadness, as he does things not everyone can do. Taking Cliff Lee deep? That counts plenty. I'll be happy to admit I was wrong on Eric Thames when some of these numbers stabilize and teams get second and third looks at him. It's kind of the way it works.

As for our friend Edwin...I think we can graduate him from DFA candidate to guy holding onto a job for until the end of the year. Lots of starts at DH and maybe a couple at first. Snider in center? Sure, except when Brandon Morrow pitches.

All I know for sure is the return of Travis Snider gets me as excited as his demotion got me down. As for as blind spots go, Travis Snider is approaching irrational in my eyes. I still believe he's a big part of the team's future, for better or worse.

1 - There are many, many reasons to suggest he can't become a passable centerfield. Most notably: centerfield is very difficult to play, thus the existence of Rajai Davis. That's another story for another day.

Reuters image courtesy of Daylife.


  1. Snider in center is a weird thought. Thames is quickly becoming my favorite Blue Jays prospect.

  2. Why not Bautista in CF when Lawrie arrives?

  3. I was a little shocked as well, Drew. I figured if anyone was going down it was going to be the token nomad Mike McCoy or maybe even Luis Perez. But Rivera?

    I would've turfed Patterson ahead of Rivera, but I guess the Blue Jays thought Patterson would be more valuable this year than Rivera.

  4. Is it possible that AA has had atleast some interest in Rivera, but none in Patterson? Maybe he thinks that he can DFA someone and actually get something back? I'm not expecting much though.

  5. I understand that Davis is not a blow your socks off CF, but it seems to me he knows what he is supposed to be doing. He usually does the things he needs to do, makes catches, closes on the ball, picks the right base to throw too, and backs up and communicates to other OF players in a timely way. Everybody else the Jays have sent out that way this year has been a butcher. Give me Rajai on defense, let him lay off the slider outside once in a while, and Thames can DH.

  6. In response to G Man, Bautista has almost 500 innings of experience in CF over his career. However,this should not lead us to believe he would be a good fit in CF for the Jays. According to, his career UZR rating in CF is very poor (-14.9).

    Speaking of Bautista, check out my blog for a discussion of his valuable in comparison to the Mets' Jose Reyes

  7. Rivera is much worse defensively than Patterson. It's not even close. Having the ability to play CF is a big plus. Patterson is number 2 on the depth chart, Rivera is 5th behind Bautista and Snider.

  8. Bbbman is absolutely correct! According to, Rivera's fld rating is -0.5, while Patterson's is 1.2. The latter player also dwarfs the former in terms of speed, 2.0 and -0.4 respectively. Finally, it makes more sense to move Rivera given his contract of 5.25m for 2011, which significantly exceeds the 0.9m that Patterson is being paid.

  9. The contract size doesn't matter because they will have to pay it whether he is waived or released. Only time it comes into play is if a trade is worked out.

  10. While I don't really argue Corey Patterson is probably a better fielder than Juan Rivera, using half a season's data (with a decimal!) is like saying Eric Thames is as good a hitter as Jose Bauitista because his wOBA is nearly the same over the last two weeks.

  11. It's true that Vegas inflates offense, but Thames did hit 288/370/516 in AA for his first healthy season. He also hit 313/386/487 in A ball, although it's a smaller sample size.

    He's a kid who would have been a first rounder had it not been for the injury, and all he's done since he's been healthy is hit. In the minors he walked around what, a 10% clip? Should be good for a 200 or better ISO. Those are very promising numbers, especially if he translates them to the majors.

    It's disappointing he hasn't brought the plate discipline since he's been back, but he is hitting for more power. He had a 10% or so walk rate when he was up the first time. My guess, is he's being more aggressive now in the hopes that the power numbers will keep him in the majors a little longer (as he got sent down when all he was doing was walking), and then when he's comfortable the walks will come back. I don't like making these types of arguments, but considering it's only been a week I'm not ready to say that he's abandoned his typical patient approach.

    Either way, I'm very surprised that you of all people would judge Thames on a SSS. The guy has a history in the minors of hitting for power and getting on base, and not just in Vegas.

  12. That's a very good point, Mark.

  13. In response to Matt_CC, according to the following article from the National Post, the Jays will attempt to make a deal for Rivera, so, as you mentioned, the differences in the contracts of Patterson and Rivera are relevant.

    In response to Drew comments about the sample size on Fld ratings, Fangraphs also shows that Patterson is a career 42.7, while Rivera is a career 8.2. It's true,Patterson has played an additional year, but he is clearly the better fielder according to the numbers.

  14. Ekenyon if you want to make articles than you should make sure to get your facts straight. Even a quick glance at your article shows you're wrong on home runs for Reyes (3, not 15).

    Some of your other points are off too. While I agree with you on point 1 (SS is the hardest place to get offense from, and the most important defensively), points 2,3 and to an extent 4 are not valid. 2 is only valid in fantasy baseball. In real baseball power matters more. 3 is the general tired argument people like to use to knock Bautista down. Guess what, this is his level now. He's not the guy from 2008 and the Pirates.

    4 to a degree is important, but a 2.5% difference in line drive rate doesn't mean a whole lot other than statistical noise. Sure Reyes hits a few more line drives, but that is more than balanced out by the huge difference in walk rate between the 2. This year the difference is 20% to 7%.

    The only reason Reyes is even in the same ballpark as Bautista is positional scarcity. Despite the steals from Reyes, his baserunning actually ranks behind Bautista. The rest of the hitting repertoire also favors Bautista. He is a superior enough hitter to make up for the fact that Reyes plays SS.

  15. @Kasi Yes, thank you for your keen eye. I'm not sure how I missed that error.
    I don't think that the speed of Reyes can be dismissed so easily. In addition to the points that I made on my blog, let's look at extra-base hits. Surprisingly, as of today, Bautista only has three more than Reyes. This is primarily due to the fact that the former has 1 triple while the latter has 15.
    Regarding line-drive production, the differences between the career percentages of Reyes and Bautista are more significant (20% to 15.2%).
    Finally, you're absolutely right, the walk rates between the two players are very different. However, it must also be recognized that Bautista strikes out much more often than Reyes (career percentage 23.1% and 11.6% respectively). Does that affect your final point at all?

  16. Bautista has Reyes by almost 70 points of wOBA and 50 points of wRC+, which goes out of its way to include base stealing. It isn't really close. Jose Bautista makes far, far fewer outs.

  17. Not really, since strikeouts are not any more negative than any other sort of out.

    There are other numerous articles that go over that as well. Strike out rates are generally higher for power hitters, but there is nothing to suggest that striking out is worse than grounding out or popping up. Not really a big surprise since ground plays turn into double plays much more often.

    Really the point is that homers are more valuable than steals and nothing that Reyes does will make up the huge difference in their OBPs. Reyes' walk rate is okay, but it is nothing special. Sure Reyes hits a few more percent of line drives, but Bautista is powering fly balls out of the stadium.

    Jose Reyes is a special player and I'd like to have him, but I don't think his certain set of skills will age as well as Bautista's. He's too much built on speed and as we just saw, he's always a hamstring twinge away from losing a lot of his value. That's why I prefer to have JBau now and into the future. Not to mention Jose is the superior player this year. Which isn't a surprise since Bautista's OBP and power rates even after slumping in June are still numbers we've not seen since early last decade.


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