If only all the Blue Jays decisions could work out like a Pearl Jam song? I guess that we would still be ‘Alive’ in the playoffs, and this ‘Jeremy‘ would be writing a lot more on this blog today.
The Blue Jay’s fix, for the forseeable future, is 32-year-old former Montreal Expo scout and Blue Jay assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos. Along with his scouting experience, Anthopoulos has an economics degree from McMaster University. Coincidentally, I also went to this school. Too bad I couldn’t catch his fall after doing a ‘keg stand,’ or something like that? It would have been a good networking opporitunity for me.
Anyway, Anthopoulos’ first priority came this week as he did a large revamping of the Jays scouting department. He also told the media that the Jays would committing more money to scouting and player development. Along with bringing in some new scouts, Anthopoulos hired an assistant named Dana Brown. The 42-year-old Brown left his position as scouting director for the Washington Nationals to take up the job with his old friend whom he worked with in the Expo scouting deparment.
It does seem a little trendy in baseball right now to hire a young GM. Anthopoulos is already being dubbed, ‘boy genius,’ but he is yet to prove anything. I do like the stance and measures that Alex is taking by committing himself to scouting and player development, but then again, every team committs themselves to that. Here is an old one, “the proof is in the pudding.’ Anthopoulos will inevitably be judged by the choices that he makes as GM. Working close with J.P. all these years, he must have learned a lot. J.P. did a lot of good things with the club, but he also made a large share of mistakes. I wouldn’t say that Anthopoulos has to totally rebuild the club, but he has a lot of holes to fill.
Here are a few:
Marco Scutaro‘s career might be in jeopardy, let alone his ability to play a demanding position like shortstop. Scutaro is a free agent, so the Jays will definately have to look into what they are going to do with him.
Jays catcher Rod Barajas is also a free agent. He did do some nice things, hitting homers and producing RBI’s this season. However, his .258 On Base Percentage is not exactly pleasing to Jay fans, or anyone for that matter. Barajas is definately NOT a long-term solution and it doesn’t see like some of our young catching prospects (i.e. J.P. Arrencibia) are making the necessary progression in the minors. Barajas was a temporary solution last season! Will he be that again?
The Jays pitching staff was in shambles last season. Injury plus guys being penciled then quickly erased due to performance, the Jays seeming had what looked like a 10-man rotation last year. We did have some young players progress into major leaguers, like Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepcynski and Ricky Romero but it also became apparent that the rotation could use some much needed depth. The possible return of Shaun Marcum may help Alex a little in that respect.
DH and first base are somewhat interchangeable in the American league some might argue. The Blue Jays are not getting the production they need from these two positions. They are usually filled with middle-of-the-lineup guys, but this is not true in the Blue Jays case. Kevin Millar did not have a comeback with the club, and Randy Ruiz, although incredibly impressive, might be too much of a risk to rely on for that position. Using Adam Lind as the primary DH will vacate another hole in the outfield, where the Jays desparately need athletes to run down balls. Lyle Overbay is nice player, he gives you a good On Base … yes. However, his trademark doubles have decreased and you’d be hardpressed to go around the league to find a firstbaseman that is just ‘a good On Base’ guy. We need a legitimate slugger at first! I say move Lind to firstbase, get some athletes in the outfield and use Ruiz temporarily at DH till we can find a better hitter.
Are we going to live with Edwin Encarnacion at third base? He showed some good things last year, but he does not look like a longterm solution.
When are we going to start benching Vernon Wells? The 20 million-a-year man would have a hard time hitting in the bottom of the order for any team in MLB. Sorry Vernon, but the Jays actually got more out of Jose Bautista last year in half the at-bats you had.
We don’t have a closer? We just don’t. Jason Frasor has proven ineffective in that role before? Can we live with him there?
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
I don’t envy your job Alex Anthopoulos. Wait, actually I do. If someone told me that I could possibly be the future GM of the Jays with a McMaster degree, I’d go crazy for it. I consider myself knowledgable in player evaluation. All I do is order and read ‘Baseball Prospectus‘ and ‘Baseball America‘ every year.
For the team right now, I say be bold, and think ‘out of the box.’ Our scouting system should have a wide range internationally. As the Jays have not made the splash into Japan yet. I say we go after one of the big two: either pitcher Yu Darvish, or outfielder Norichika Aoki. The amount of money the Jays would have to put into acquiring one of these guys would be catatrophic (especially Mr. GQ Japan Yu Darvish), but I wonder if that money could made back in endorsements, merchandise etc… marketing ourselves internationally? We all saw the Asian explosion in the World Baseball Classic, the Jays need to be bold and explore this a bit.
“You are Scott the Rock, you are rockin and rollin. I wanna rock with you all night and party everyday.” (quotation from a Scott Rolen fan that encounters his favorite player working at a drive-thru window in one of the very humourous Blue Jay advertisments this season.)
Scott Rolen has been a big suprise for the Blue Jays this season, hitting .325 and playing ‘rock solid’ defense at 3rd base. Never do I doubt Rolen’s ability to make a play at third base when the ball is hit in his direction. It is very reassuring to Jay’s starters to have a spectacular infielder like Rolen, especially during a Halladay start that often induces multiple groundballs. This season, Rolen has made a notable transition at the plate from previous years. He is hitting for a high average, but not nearly getting the power numbers that a player of his stature – when he is hitting for a high average – is accustomed to. Rolen made a significant transition in his stance, and batting stroke this offseason. He lowered his shoulder at the plate in response lingering problems in the area. By doing this, Rolen was able to shorten his stroke, giving himself better timing and plate coverage. The down side of that is keeping the shoulder high in a hitting position allows the batter the generate more power. With Rolen’s shoulder problems, this was a fair trade-off as his average is now soaring to (if it keeps up) a career high. Homeruns can definately be overrated. The new compact hitting and durable Scott Rolen is having a great impact on the team now. Can he keep it up? Cue mon!!! He is a rock! Que Bob Segar here … ‘Like a rock.’
Marco Scutaro made one of the most ‘heads up’ plays that I’ve seen in a long time yesterday in Philadelphia. On a ball four from Phillies starting pitcher, Joe Blanton, Scutaro alertly stole second base seeing that Blanton and the Phillies middle infield of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were not paying attention. How he did it? I don’t know? But with plays like that, you can definately tell the competitive drive that Scutaro possesses. He works works walk, gets on base, steals, and earns everything he gets. A very fine season Marco Scutaro is having, and I think All-Star consideration is not off limits to him. Here is an earlier derivative design of Scutaro that applies as much today, as it did when I made it last season.
To conclude. Go Jays! Way to sweep the World Champs!
Everybody wonders if there actually is such thing as a clutch hitter? A guy who can constantly come through when it REALLY (key word) counts for a team. A clutch player is something that is very hard to measure statistically, because often these moments are hard to define or label. A guy can be amazing at hitting with RISP, but not clutch because he hit into 3 double plays, at three 9th inning games in the playoffs. Comparing one clutch moment to another is relative and difficult to judge. Sometimes these clutch moments come up when the game isn’t on the line at all. When teams are looking for insurance runs, or just a little spark.
Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays utility infielder that has now become almost a full-time starter, is clutch, in my estimation. The guy always seems to be able to come up with a big hit. He has only hit 7 homeruns this season, however, those homers have always counted for something. I may only be writing in relative terms, since Scutaro just had great series’ against the Rays, Yankees and the White Sox (maybe the unforgettable Johnny Damon error was a fluke), but Scutaro has had a knack for game-winning hits his whole career. In last couple years, he is up there among many notable players, like Albert Pujols for example, in hitting game winning hits. A pretty big feet for a utility player. Is Marco Scutaro really this clutch? Or is it just a freak occurance that he is able to hit so well in these situations? I’ve observed his ‘competitive spirit’ watching the Jays play this season, and I really don’t think this is a fluke. He has got tha ‘Mana’, ‘Mojo’, or whatever you call it going.