Monday, May 3, 2010

The Month in Rebuke - April Power!

That first month of the season went awfully fast. It was barely here, and then it was gone. Although we suppose that is what happens when the league starts the season a full week into April, rather than starting at the beginning of the month and saving the week of World Series games in November.

Never mind. That's another rant for another day.

For now, join us as we look back with instant nostalgia at the opening weeks of the season, and study the lessons to be learned from April 2010.

The Jays Offense, or why OPS was invented
Through this weekend's games, the Jays sit in dead last in the American League in on base, with a skimpy .303 mark. On the other hand, the Jays sit just behind the Yankees in team slugging percentage, hammering the ball at a rugged .453 clip. Toss those two marks together, and the Jays sit sixth in the AL in OPS, at .756.

Going, going, A-Gon
No one exemplifies the Jays early season offense better than Alex Gonzalez. Through Sunday's game, Gonzalez had 29 hits, of which 19 were for extra bases (eight homers, 10 doubles and a triple), good for a .619 slugging percentage. At the same time, Gonzo has eeked out just three walks in 26 games so far, while striking out 28 times. So take Gonzalez's meager .303 on base, add it to the generous helping of slugicity, tally it all up, and he ends up sitting in 10th in the AL in OPS.

We believe in Vernon far
Speaking of the OPS leaders in the AL, V-Dub sits comfortably in fifth amongst qualifiers with a 1.075 mark. Moreover, Vernon is posting stellar Sabermetrically-correct numbers as well, ranking third in Runs Created (25.2), fourth in isolated power (.360) and fifth in secondary average (.450).

It's been an outstanding start to the season, and we hope that people aren't going to get used to it or get cynical about any drop off in performance from here on out. Vernon has looked like a new man, both at the plate and in the field. Or maybe he just looks closer to what we want him to be.

Either way, there's a lot less chatter about his contract. Which is good, because that talk is both boring and depressing.

Or if counting stats are more your bag...
The Jays finished the weekend with the most homers (38) and total bases (397) of any American League club. Boom baby!

Goodbye, hello
Every time the Jays send a player off the to the glue factory or back to the minors, it's an opportunity to meet someone new. As the month closed, we saw Jeremy Accardo sent out of The Manager's sights, and Merkin Valdez passed through waivers to see if he can ever figure out how to get his vaunted "stuff" over the plate. The Jays also sent Edwin Encarnacion away to deal with his crappy wrist and to make room for productive players, and they let hispter oaf Brian Tallet look after his severe case of too-many-cutters on the DL as well.

In return, we got a couple of appearances in high five lines (and four at bats) from Jeremy Reed; a nastier, more focused Brett Cecil, who appears to be here to throw strikes and here to stay; Fred Lewis, who we've grown increasingly accustomed to seeing at the top of the order and who makes the lineup make sense; Josh Roenicke, who looks like a keeper so far; and Rommie Lewis, who sounds like a swell story of determination that we may or may not remember a couple of months down the road.

At some point in May, the Jays are going to have to make decisions on what to do with Tallet and E5, which will mean that someone gets bumped from active roster.

The diminishing power of the 'pen
We cam into the season thinking that the saving grace of this team would be the bullpen. The pen was deep enough so that the Jays could send any number of pitchers back to the minors for further seasoning, and good enough to boast four guys who have had a regular closer gig in the past few years. All good, right?

Yeah, not so much. At this point, the only cushion in discussing the bullpen's performance in April is that there was one team that was worse. But if we're going to lean on the Royals' lack of performance as some solace, we might just as well direct our attention towards the forthcoming ice dance season through the rest of the summer.

The pen has tossed batting practice to the tune of a 4.92 ERA, while the starters have managed to be close to a run better (3.98, fifth best in the AL).

We love our jarheaded closer
Signing Kevin Gregg elicited a fair amount of derision this winter, but the big man has been the - really sorry for this pun - saving grace of the relief corps. Take a gander at his 0.66 ERA and six saves in six opportunities to go along with his 14 Ks versus one walk and one earned run, and you may come to appreciate him as much as we do.

We could talk about the crowds...
...but really, let's wait until the nice days come, and we actually know how bad it is going to be. It sucks that the Jays might lose 30% of their attendance year-over-year, but we actually think that this season might be the bottom, and that small increases are possible in the next couple of years if the management plays things right. All a part of the building, we suppose.

Although those Blue Jays in suits commercials aren't helping.

In closing, your honour...
We got through our look back at the first month of the season, and we haven't mentioned Silver Sluggers Adam Lind (.770 OPS through Sunday) and Aaron Hill (.761 OPS in limited time). And yet, the Jays pull through it with an even .500 record.

So, we're not exactly breaking out the party hats. But we're still here, and vaguely optimistic for something better than misery from here on out. Which is the faintest of notions around which one can wrap them arms in a loving embrace, but in a season like this, it'll do.


Darren Priest said...

You'd think the bullpen would come around, but that same logic means the bats have to get cooler.

I choose to believe Vernon Wells was playing hurt for a while and is too much of a man to make excuses. "This Things I Believe."*

*Really old Simpsons reference.

J. Michael said...

Isn't it possible that the bullpen comes around and some of the bats cool, but Snider, Overbay, Hill, and (to some extent) Lind start to get some consistency?

Balance restored!

Anonymous said...

Cecil and Snidey are looking like the real deals tonight!

Anonymous said...

@The Ack: Tonight Snidey looked like the "big mashing middle of the order raker that every contending ballclub requires." Look out ... here comes a Sniderman!

Gil Fisher said...

I saw R. Lewis pitch on the weekend and I'm not sure he isn't actually D. Purcey trying to pull a fast one on the Manager.

The Ack said...

Snider's HR tonight terrified me. Holy fuck. He belted the piss out of that ball.

And Cecil was nothing short of boss. These are the games fans of a Rebuild savor.

KP said...

Ha, "Hipster Oaf" is so very apt.

I'll go finish reading the rest of the post now.

plain_g said...

buck's slugging percentage went from 293 to 554 in 4 games.

brainiac said...

TONS of things to be exited about for the Jays - this year AND beyond.

Sniderman,Hill, Lind, Romero, Cecil all fantastic young players...the reemergence of Wells, Buck and A-Gon...


Anonymous said...

Great tweet on the pride of the Philadelphia Police Department. What a fat fuck.

William J. Tasker said...

1. "Hipster Oaf" Ha! Hilarious.
2. Vernon Wells will not slow down. This is who he will be all season.
3. Don't like Freddie Lewis at the top of the order. Doesn't get on base enough. But don't know who to replace him with.
4. Gregg has been great. I think Piniella messed his mind in Chicago. He's much better than he was there.
5. Hill, Lind and Snyder are all on the upside and will be better from here on out.
6. On the flip side, Gonzalez isn't this good of a hitter.
7. Starters great. Releivers not so much. But it will get better in the bullpen now that Cito has seen what some can do and can't do. Or maybe that's giving him too much credit.
8. This is a fun team to watch. I wish Toronto would get behind them.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I have my party hat. Got extras, too.