Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 pm
By Matt Snyder
The 2011 Blue Jays were 81-81, despite blowing an AL-worst 25 saves. So the task heading into the offseason for general manager Alex Anthopolous was pretty clear: Improve the bullpen. And he did, in trading for Sergio Santos and signing Francisco Cordero, among other upgrades. If the Blue Jays can knock off 10-15 of those blown saves and basically play similarly in every other aspect, they'll have a great shot at one of the two wild card spots. And the good news for the Jays is that they appear a bit better in other aspects than last season, like getting a full season from Brett Lawrie, to name one example.
Major additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jason Frasor, OF Ben Francisco, IF Omar Vizquel
Major departures: C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Eric Thames, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Henderson Alvarez
4. Brett Cecil
5. Dustin McGowan
Kyle Drabek is also in the mix.
Closer: Sergio Santos
Set-up: Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen
Important bench players
OF Rajai Davis, OF Ben Francisco, OF Travis Snider, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel
Prospect to watch
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, one of the players who came over in the Roy Halladay trade, just turned 23 years old and is considered a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers in 114 Double-A games last season. And while Arencibia hit 23 bombs last season, he also had a paltry .219 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. He struck out 133 times while only walking 36. So it's entirely possible he struggles mightily and is replaced by d'Arnaud at some point this season. Or maybe the Jays trade one of them? We'll see, but keep your eye on d'Arnaud's progress. Many believe he's special.
Fantasy sleeper: Henderson Alvarez
"Alvarez wasn't considered a high-profile prospect at this time last year, so understandably, his 10 starts during a late-season trial weren't enough to put him on most Fantasy owners' radars. But consider just how impressive those 10 starts were. Better yet, consider how impressive his final eight were. He pitched at least six innings in each, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He also issued only six walks during that stretch. Six. In 53 innings. And this isn't some soft-tosser who took the league by surprise simply by throwing strikes, a la Zach Duke in 2005. Alvarez throws in the mid-90s. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff to go along with a good feel for the strike zone and has already tasted success in the heavy-hitting AL East." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Fantasy bust: J.P. Arencibia
"Arencibia was one of five catchers to hit 20-plus homers last year, and he did it as a rookie. But before visions of Mike Piazza start dancing in your heads, keep in mind he was especially old for a rookie, turning 25 before the start of the season. He's 26 now, which means he's already in the thick of his prime, which means what you see with him might be exactly what you get. And it's even worse than it looks. Arencibia hit only .219 in 2011, which is discouraging enough, but when you consider he got worse over the course of the season, hitting .199 over the final four months, you have to wonder if his excessive strikeout rate makes him a sitting duck against major-league pitching." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Morrow has a huge breakout campaign, giving the Jays a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. Alvarez blossoms into a good No. 3 while Drabek realizes his potential and has a huge second half. Lawrie enters stardom early and Rasmus reaches his potential, making the offense even more potent than before. Plus, the new back-end of the bullpen is dominant. That gets the Blue Jays into the 90s in victories and they win a wild card.
The Jays just didn't do enough to close the gap, as they still aren't good enough to finish ahead of any of the following, at the very least: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers or Angels. Instead, they're more on the same footing as the Royals and Indians. Thus, it's another fourth-place finish for the Blue Jays, who haven't made the playoffs since 1993.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Tags: 2012 spring training, Adam Lind, AL East, Ben Francisco, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Francisco Cordero, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jeff Mathis, Jose Bautista, Kelly Johnson, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Omar Vizquel, Rajai Davis, Ricky Romero, Sergio Santos, spring training, spring training 2012, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 11:02 pm
By Matt Snyder
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
If you're exhausted by the constant rumors we're circulating at the Winter Meetings, here's your fun little break. Today's installment of Homegrown brings the most powerful team in the bigs. Everyday in Chase Field would be like this past All-Star break's Home Run Derby. And the fans wouldn't even have to boo the entire time.
1. Stephen Drew, SS
2. Miguel Montero, C
3. Justin Upton, RF
4. Carlos Gonzalez, CF
5. Dan Uggla, 2B
6. Carlos Quentin, LF
7. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
8. Mark Reynolds, 3B
1. Jorge De La Rosa
2. Brett Anderson
3. Max Scherzer
4. Josh Collmenter
5. Chris Capuano
Both De La Rosa and Anderson had season-ending surgeries in the real 2011 season, so if they did, we'd have to turn to Brad Penny and Ross Ohlendorf. We also have first-rounders Jarrod Parker and Trevor Bauer waiting in the wings. And good ol' Brandon Webb, too.
Closer - Jose Valverde
Set up - Javier Lopez, Sergio Santos, Daniel Schlereth, Vicente Padilla, Esmerling Vasquez
Long - Penny, Ohlendorf, Micah Owings
Notable Bench Players
Rod Barajas, Chris Snyder, Lyle Overbay, Conor Jackson, Scott Hairston, Emilio Bonifacio, Gerardo Parra
Wow, that's some serious power in the lineup. If everyone stayed healthy for a full season, there's every reason to believe all eight hitters would have at least 20 home runs, with Montero and Drew really being the only questions there. A handul of them would hit more than 30. So, yes, the power of the offense immediately jumps out, but really everything is pretty good here. There is depth, a solid rotation -- albeit injury-riddled -- and a good closer with quality setup men.
Reynolds is a butcher at third base. If Anderson and De La Rosa both fell injured before Bauer and Parker were ready, the rotation would become awfully thin. Even if they stayed healthy, there isn't a bona fide ace. The outfield defense isn't great, with Gonzalez and Quentin, but it isn't awful either.
Comparison to real 2011
The real Diamondbacks went 94-68 and won the NL West before bowing out in Game 5 of the NLDS to the Brewers. This team would be every bit that good, if not better -- and again, being that this is a hypothetical exercise, we're hypothetically assuming health to the top two starting pitchers. If this team played like it was capable, it could very well be a World Series champion.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Brad Penny, Brandon Webb, Brett Anderson, Brett Cecil, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Quentin, Chris Capuano, Chris Snyder, Conor Jackson, Dan Uggla, Daniel Schlereth, Diamondbacks, Emilio Bonifacio, Esmerling Vasquez, Gerardo Parra, Homegrown, Jarrod Parker, Javier Lopez, Jorge De La Rosa, Jose Valverde, Josh Collmenter, Justin Upton, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Matt Snyder, Max Scherzer, Micah Owings, Miguel Montero, NL West, Paul Goldschmidt, Rod Barajas, Ross Ohlendorf, Scott Hairston, Sergio Santo, Stephen Drew, Trevor Bauer, Vicente Padilla
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:00 pm
By Matt Snyder
Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...
Team name: Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 81-81, 4th place in AL East, 16 games back
Manager: John Farrell
Best hitter: Jose Bautista -- .302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 105 R
Best pitcher: Ricky Romero -- 15-11, 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 178 K, 225 IP
2011 SEASON RECAP
The Jays played .500 ball pretty much throughout the season. By month, they were one game under .500, two over, three under, four over, two under and two under, respectively. That's the very definition of an average baseball team, but there are mitigating factors. Namely, the Jays are playing in the best division in baseball, trailing the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. If you removed those three teams from the schedule, the Jays went 60-48. So you can argue this is already a very good baseball team caught in the wrong division. Of course, they aren't going to be getting out of the AL East anytime soon, so there's no use in thinking about what could be.
They're actually set up to have a legitimate shot at the division. The Yankees are aging and have pitching questions, the Rays have monetary issues, the Orioles aren't close yet and who knows what happens with the Red Sox? The Blue Jays will need steps forward from young players like Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil and either Colby Rasmus or Travis Snider. They also need to shore up the bullpen. The Blue Jays were ninth in the AL in bullpen ERA. Saves and blown saves are flawed stats, but 33 saves against 25 blown saves doesn't bode well in close games. Only the Astros had a worse save percentage in 2011. I'm not necessarily of the opinion that a team has to have one closer and always use him in save situations, because sometimes a three-run lead in the ninth doesn't need maximum protection, but each team should have one reliable guy to shut down the opposition and Toronto lacked that for most of the season.
The good news for the Blue Jays is that they are in position to increase the payroll, reportedly pretty significantly, in the next two seasons. That doesn't mean it's all happening now, but a big splash is coming.
Jose Molina, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B/DH ($3.5 million club option)
Shawn Camp, RP
Frank Francisco, RP
Jon Rauch, RP ($3.75 million club option)
Tags: Adam Lind, Adeiny Hechavarria, AL East, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jesse Litsch, Joel Carreno, Jose Bautista, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Prince Fielder, R.I.P., Ricky Romero, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:10 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 10:12 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Rays could catch the Red Sox as soon as Sunday following Saturday's 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays and the Red Sox's 9-1 loss to the Yankees. Tampa Bay trails Boston by just 1.5 games after Saturday's games.
Wade Davis takes the hill for Tampa Bay against Brett Cecil, while the Red Sox send Tim Wakefield and John Lackey to the mound for their doubleheader in New York against A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova. A Rays win and a Yankees sweep would tie the teams in the wild card standings with just three games remaining.
If you're a Red Sox fan, it looks like now's the time to get nervous (if you weren't already).
Here's what's left for both teams:Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 2 @ NYY, 3 @BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 88.4 percent
Tampa Bay Rays
87-71, 1.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 v. TOR, 3 v. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 10 percent
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 5:18 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
You know how blenders work?
They have a very sharp blade that spins very quickly, chipping up anything in its path -- and it doesn't have to even be moving to cut something. I've got to admit I once learned this the hard way, so did Blue Jays' left-hander Brett Cecil. Cecil has been scratched from his start Friday night against the Yankees after cutting his left index finger while cleaning out a blender. Right-hander Dustin McGowan will start in his place. McGowan was scheduled to start Sunday, with Brandon Marrow moving up to take that start.
Cecil is still listed as day-to-day, so his season hasn't been ended like fellow lefty Jeremy Affeldt, who had his season ended when he cut himself trying to separate frozen hamburger patties (which, it should be noted, you should never use -- you can always get fresh ground meat, get it from the butcher and hand-form it, just a little salt and pepper and you're golden).
Oh well, I guess it's just another case of lefties being a little… different and a bit clumsy, which I say as a lefty myself.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 14, 2011 12:41 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 12:42 pm
By Evan Brunell
Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.
BEST MATCHUP: Dan Haren and Brett Cecil go head-to-head as the Angels attempt to stay close to first place, slipping to three games behind after Saturday's loss. Toronto, meanwhile, is one game over .500 and would like to stay that way. It will be difficult against Haren, who has a 2.91 ERA on the season. Toronto isn't exactly a patient bunch and Haren has pinpoint control, so it might be a long day for Toronto. Angels hitters may have a long day in store, too. Left-hander Brett Cecil's 4.31 ERA on the season doesn't draw much attention, but he's been far better since returning from the minor leagues on June 30 and has been pitching well his last four starts, throwing 29 innings of a 2.17 ERA. Angels vs. Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET
CHASE FOR 34: At this point in Dan Uggla's hitting streak, every game is appointment-viewing. If the Brave can extend his streak to 34 games, he will be tied for the 14th longest hitting streak in baseball history. Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Luis Castillo and Jimmy Rollins (all four, coincidentally, were teammates for Philadelphia in spring training) are the only players with longer hitting streaks since the turn of the century, and Rollins tops the list at 36. Matt Garza will try to blank Uggla the first few times around the order while Atlanta counters with Brandon Beachy. Cubs vs. Braves, 1:35 p.m. ET
GOING FOR 200: The third time wasn't the charm for Tim Wakefield. Will the fourth be? It's the knuckleballer's fourth straight attempt at reaching 200 career wins. Seattle, with its moribund offense, is a pretty good target. Unfortunately, the Sox's own offense has been compromised by Kevin Youkilis, who has missed three of the last five games, including the first two of the Seattle series. Youk was mired in a slump prior to the injury too, so his absence as a force has been felt for some time. The Mariners counter with rookie Charlie Furbush on the mound. The lefty was acquired from Detroit in a deadline trade and is attempting to covert from relief to the rotation, which has been a bumpy road thus far. Red Sox vs. Mariners, 4:10 p.m. ET
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:56 pm
By Evan Brunell
When Brett Cecil was demoted to Triple-A, the lefty admitted it was hard to handle.
After all, Cecil had posted a 15-7 record and 4.22 ERA in 28 starts and looked well on his way toward being a fixture in the Jays rotation. While that future is still likely, Cecil had to take a brief detour back to the minors after coughing up 16 runs and 11 walks in 21 innings.
"It just shows you how quickly things can turn around from one year to the next," Cecil told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Given the year I had last year, it's kind of a tough thing to swallow. But I was just beating myself up [in Toronto]. My confidence was probably at an all-time low."
Cecil has righted himself with Las Vegas after giving up 10 runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first start, an outing Cecil was all too ready to forget. The start came at Colorado Springs, which is at high altitude to allow its players a chance to get accustomed to the next stop on the ladder: Colorado.
"That's a horrible place to pitch for anybody. The ball just flies out of there," Cecil said. "That's kind of why I didn't really pay attention to that start. It's a fluke, as far as I'm concerned."
Since then, Cecil has done just fine, with increasing velocity in each start, which is exactly what the Blue Jays wanted to see. The problem Cecil ran into in Toronto was a mysterious lack of velocity, with his average fastball this season in the majors checking in at 88.4 mph, two miles off his average mark in 2010.
"When you're throwing that speed, it's tough to get outs when you're up in the zone," he said. "Last year, my velocity was 91 to 93 and, for the most part, the ball was down.
"To have the velocity I had up there [this year], it wasn't good enough to put it by anybody."
That's changed in Las Vegas. Cecil reached 91 mph with his fastball Monday, marking a consistent increase in the velocity of his fastball in each of his farm starts.
"Right now I'm right where I want to be," he added. "The ball's down, my velocity's where it should be, and hopefully it keeps climbing so I can be consistently in the low 90s again."
Toronto will likely want Cecil to get a few more starts under his belt with consistent fastball velocity in the low- to mid-90s, but his return doesn't appear all that far off. Those in danger of losing their spot to Cecil are Jesse Litsch and Jo-Jo Reyes. Litsch was actually optioned to the farm prior to Cecil's demotion and returned to step into the breach. Reyes has struggled mightily this season but appears to be turning a corner.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 1:40 am
By Evan Brunell
Gavin Floyd, White Sox -- Floyd was masterful against the Yankees, pitching eight innings (he departed the game after giving up a single to lead off the ninth), while whiffing 10 and allowing just two runs in a win. Floyd now has a 3.60 ERA as the 28-year-old has proven himself to be a valuable -- and extremely consistent -- pitcher for Chicago after flaming out of Philadelphia. He could be poised to make a leap this year and has the Orioles next on the docket.
Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- Lind showed the Rangers what's what by bashing two home runs on a 3-for-5 outing, tallying up five RBI. It's more of the same for Toronto against Texas, as Anthony Andro noted on Twitter, given the Jays have cranked a staggering 31 home runs against Texas in the last 13 matchups. That's an insane number. It may be the breakout performance needed for Lind to get going; he has the potential to hit well over 30 home runs for the Jays but was off to a slow start before Tuesday's fireworks.
Daniel Descalso, Cardinals -- The backup infielder has gotten some additional time lately thanks to the Skip Schumaker injury and David Freese sitting out a couple of games. His offensive slash lines were rather poor, but got a boost Tuesday thanks to a 3-for-3 night with a double, triple and three RBI. He also tacked on a walk for a night that will certainly earn him a bit more playing time over Tyler Greene moving forward.
Aaron Harang, Padres -- Harang was part of the featured matchup On Deck earlier Tuesday as he was going for his NL-leading fifth victory. Instead, he gave up eight runs in six innings to the slumping Braves. Harang should still benefit greatly from playing in Petco Park, but being 4-0 with an 0.88 ERA just begged for a radical fix. Now, Harang has a more believable 3.90 ERA that he should hover around all year.
Brandon McCarthy, Athletics -- OK, so maybe the Athletics didn't make out like bandits with McCarthy. Having impressed out of the No. 5 spot up until Tuesday, McCarthy was due for a course correction and got it by coughing up seven runs and 14 hits against the Angels in just 5 1/3 innings. McCarthy got dinked to death with eight singles and did not give up a home run. It remains to be seen whether this is an aberration or the regression everyone has been waiting for. History suggests the latter.
Roy Oswalt, Phillies -- Oswalt got bombed Tuesday, coughing up five runs in three innings to the Diamondbacks. The right-hander has struggled with back spasms, but reports after the game indicated that his back was not bothering him. What's with the performance, then? An interesting twist is that Oswalt, usually accessible, left the stadium without talking to reporters, much to the surprise of Phillies media writers, some of whom wondered if something was up to cause Oswalt to depart quickly. He'll certainly have some questions awaiting him tomorrow.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brett Cecil, Blue Jays -- Cecil was demoted by Toronto after showing poor velocity and getting knocked around. It was good timing for Toronto to demote him, as he was burned for 11 runs 4 1/3 innings in his first start for Triple-A. Clearly, there's something not right.