Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reprieves, squandered second chances and weekend stuff

We'd hate to go down the road of talking how something in a baseball helped us to see what really matters and all that jazz. Still, we were left dumbfounded when John McDonald hit his ninth inning homer on his first Father's Day after his father's recent passing. We don't really need to tart the moment up, because most of you readers saw it yourself, and had your own moment with it. We hope that you can remember whatever you felt in that moment, and we'll leave it there.

A bucketload of Sunday transactions
The Jays have been nudging the pawns around board for the past few weeks, adding players with marginal roles like DeWayne Wise and Nick Green to the roster, while sending Jeremy Reed away and waiting for Travis Snider's wrist to recover.

But Sunday's transactions are a bit more intriguing to us. The Jays dispatched Jorge Padilla to the Mets for essentially nothing, which tipped us off that something else might be moving later in the day. (We can't remember is Padilla was still on the 40-man, but we figured a move like that was making room for something else.)

Before the Jays even had time to hit the showers after yesterday's loss to the Giants, the team announced that they were calling up Triple-A slugger Jarret Hoffpauir, while sending Edwin Encarnacion off to Vegas to chill and get his swing back.

We love the move to bring up Hoffpauir, as it shows that the team might not be quite so stubborn about trying to get the most out of the minor-league veterans on its roster. He's posting a .910 OPS in Vegas, with more walks (21) than strikeouts (15), which shows a level of maturity with the strike zone. Moreover, he's in his 27 year-old season, which means (if the old scouting addage holds true) that the next few years might be his most productive. So why not give him a chance?

The only thing that is perplexing about this is the sequence of adding journeyman Nick Green and his career .656 OPS to the mix while dispatching Encarnacion, who's OPSing .765 this year. We're not entirely sure what Encarnacion is supposed to learn at this point in the PCL, and the Jays should know that they have a guy who will hit the ball hard and whiff a lot. We're not sure how that's supposed to change from here on out.

Maybe this is just the beginning of the end for Edwin.

A Minor League Hero is something to be
Another couple of transactions that might have slipped below the radar drew our attention this weekend. First off, our off-season mancrush Brian Dopirak was dropped from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Vegas.

It's funny to us now how much we spent the off-season bitching and moaning about the raw deal that Dopirak and Randy Ruiz were getting, and how the Jays should be making room for both of them on the 25-man roster. Now, Ruiz is getting back into game shape and helping the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, while Dopirak is rocking a sub-.700 OPS and grounding into double plays like your grandma.

We're sure there's a lesson to be learned there.

Meanwhile, Kevin Ahrens (the next Chipper!) and his .524 OPS was shipped from high-A Dunedin to end-of-the-line Lansing last week, with an order to stop with his switch-hitting nonsense (Thanks to Lott at the NP.) We'd say something hopeful about the young-ish (21) Ahrens' chances of pulling it together, but a slide back to the Midwest League at this point pretty much wipes clear most of the optimism that we might have had for him.

Litsch is bitchin'; Brian leaves us cryin'
How good did Jesse Litsch look on Saturday? Good enough that we're going to give him one week's worth of free passes. There shall be no discussion of his follicular colouring or pigmentation, nor shall there be any brickbats launched at the expense of his physique. You toss a three-hitter where you attack hitters like that, and you get yourself a nice reprieve.

As for the man he replaced in the rotation, Mr. Tallet: Shave your stupid lambchops, you beatnik.

Optimism! More Optimism Please!
Five Dunedin Blue Jays were named to the Florida State League All-Star game, including starter Henderson Alvarez, catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Yan Gomes and infielder Tyler Pastornicky. (And some other dude got added, but we're inclined to believe that it was a sympathy thing...or we're just too lazy to go back and find who it was.)

We've got a lot invested emotionally in Alvarez, d'Arnaud and Pastornicky at this point, so any good news coming from wherever they are is fine by us. We just wish we didn't have to wait so long for them to get here, because the more levels that they have to traverse, the more that we get nervous about whether if they can surmount the next obstacle.

On the other hand, the past few weeks worth of performance from J.P. Arencibia (still young at 24!) has us feeling like we might actually start to see real live prospects emerge from the system any day now. Arencibia is doing a passable job in terms of throwing runners out (24%) while reclaiming some of his past form at the plate (.884 OPS, 14 HRs, 35 RsBI.) It was in his 24th year that Mike Napoli finally emerged from the minors to start making a dent in Anaheim, and Arencibia's numbers compare pretty favorably with the Angel's backstop.

We could definitely learn to live with that.


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Great post, Tao.

About JMac, Bastian had a quote from Wells after the game, where V-Dub said it was "the happiest loss of our pro careers." That said it all right there. Just a fantastic moment. Thankfully Tallet shit the bed. Mac doesn't get a chance if Tallet pitches half-decent.

And I'm with you: I like all the moves. AA's been busy pretty much all season. As for Edwin, he'll be back. So we can listen to the Encarnacion song again.

I was at Jesse's start on Saturday. TOTALLY UNEXPECTED. I figured I was drunk with heat stroke and was hallucinating. Kid was dope. Those are the Litsch-Tits I fell in love with.

And this: Mr. Tallet: Shave your stupid lambchops, you beatnik. really ought to be on a sign.

I can't fucking wait for the Arencibias and Wallaces to get up here. Looking forward to seeing what Hoff can do. These are good baseball times.

Anonymous said...

I may be off here, but I'm thinking the EE move was more for his defense, it seems like every time he scoops one up that Overbay is gonna pull something he has to stretch so far.

The Ack said...

Perhaps the loss of the Encarnacion Song can be somewhat mitigated by the theme from Knight Rider or something. I'd suggest the Baywatch theme, but that would just be wrong.

Buck kinda missed the call on JMac's shot, I thought. Tabby jumped in with the "goosebumps", at least. Never heard Jerry & Alan's take, but I couldn't help but wonder how Tom Cheek would have handled it. Just a great, great baseball moment.

And yeah, load up or go young in the next few months - either way, I'm down, man.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Also: I've never been a big National Post guy, but Jon Lott does some fine bloody work over there. And he's created a niche for himself on Twitter, with his minor league updates, instead of telling me what's happening in the game at hand, like all the other MSM guys over there. Lott's a must-follow on the ol' Twitter, yo.

The Ack said...

Agreed on Lott with his minor league coverage....though sometimes I intentionally skip his nightly MiLB stat tweets because it spoils the enjoyment I derive from perusing the boxscores on my own.

Yeah, I'm a nerd.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Don't ever change, Ack.

Tony said...

I was listening to the radio broadcast on Sunday, and Alan and Jerry went through an interesting bit about EE. Apparently he had struck out on a wild pitch and proceeded not to even attempt a run down to first. Alan and Jerry said they thought someone needed to get in EE's face about a perceived lack of effort at the plate, though they weren't sure who in the Jays' clubhouse would pull such a move. I may have been reading into it, but it seemed like they were reining themselves in, not wanting to go off on EE.

I guess what I'm saying is that there could be all sorts of fun reasons he was sent down.

Anonymous said...

You want my take on EE's demotion? I think AA saw it as the only way to get Hoffpauir regular at bats. If he leaves EE with the big club, then Hoffpauir rots on the bench as Cito goes on about getting EE at bats so that he can get a good contract, feed his family, etc.

Anonymous said...

By the way, listening to Johnny Mac's homer on the radio was golden. It made me glad that I was in the car at the time.

Tao of Stieb said...

I had forgotten about that bit that Jerry and Alan had on EE, re: not making the catcher make a throw on that play.

I think they were conscious of the fact that it wasn't the end of the world, and Alan kinda said that EE might not have realized where the ball ended up, but still. You don't have to be a gitty gamer to at least make the catcher make a throw.

Re: Anon 11:56 comment - You're probably right. The Manager might not have given the opportunity to Jarrett if he still had EE there, and might have left him to rot for a month.

The Manager's reign can't end quickly enough.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...


Anonymous said...

The four and a half mill that he's getting this year ought to feed them for a while...

Ty said...

I listened to most of the games on the radio this past week, and Jerry and Alan (actually, mostly Jerry, surprisingly enough) made some very direct comments about Edwin's lack of hustle on at least three separate broadcasts, as I remember it. Jerry went to far as to drop the word "unacceptable" a few times and even said something along the lines of "if that's the hardest you can run, then you have no business being here." It reminded me of the time he went off on Rios after he went to Chicago, except EE was still on the team this time around.

I found it really unusual to hear at the time, but obviously Jerry and Alan weren't the only ones who noticed it. I'd be very surprised if his effort level didn't at least partially play into the demotion. After all, he has pretty much the exact same line as Aaron Hill so far this season, and I think it's safe to assume he won't be sent down any time soon.

Ty said...

As for why they didn't just send him to the bench, it seems to me that he'd be pretty useless there -- pinch hitting doesn't happen in Toronto anymore, and "defensive substitution" is definitely not on E5's resume.

Coincidentally that's pretty much the reason they picked up Nick Green in the first place -- they wanted to see what McCoy could do with every day playing time, and he obviously wasn't being used off the bench enough here to be useful in any way. AA said they had "some questions about him that could only be answered with regular playing time," which I think is more or less the same deal for EE.

BJ Fledgling said...

The beginning of the end of E5.

This doesn't mean that Brett Wallace is the team's third baseman next season, does it? Or is this the beginning of some rotating auditions for next year?

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Wallace is playing 1B out in Viva Las Vegas.

Bautista at 3B next year; Wallace at 1B. Lewis LF, Vernon CF, Snider in RF. Lind as DH. If they don't trade A-Gon and pick up his option, he's back at SS. Hopefully Arincibia's ready behind the plate, with Molina as his back-up (I figure Buck will find work as a regular with someone else; perhaps we can trade him.)

I'm very excited.

Tao of Stieb said...

Oh, and nobody look at what Hechevarria is doing in Dunedin.



I told you not to look, damn it.

The Ack said...

Am I crazy, or is Bautista a free agent after the season? Because if he is, I'm not paying the dollars he's sure to look for if he has even a moderate second half.

But maybe that's just me.

And no, I dunno who plays 3B if that's the case.

Tao of Stieb said...

Bautista's got one more arbitration year left. Then, free agency in 2012.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

We're in luck, because it looks like Jo-Bau isn't going to hit another home run this season.

Ack, now that Hoff is up with the big club, Brad Emaus will hopefully be the everyday third baseman down in Vegas. He's only 24 and since his call up to AAA, his line this year reads (18 games): .339/.409/.542

Tao of Stieb said...

And suddenly, no one gives a shit about Scott Campbell.

(Whaaaaat?! It's true!)

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

We should have known the Kiwi couldn't play baseball!1 In all seriousness, his numbers are frightful. Yikes.

The Ack said...

It's about time I took Emaus seriously, you are correct. At least until the Jays trade a young arm and a reliever for a high upside 3B. What?

(oh, and the GCL Jays underway today. Marisnick! Hobson! Prospects! Boxscores!)

Peter DeMarco said...

Hopefully people will remember next year not to get to excited about career minor league guys like they did with McCoy, Ruiz and Dopirak this year.

As for Arencibia, he is John Buck/Rod Barajas all over again, but will probably have a few inconsistent years before he's consistently mediocre.

Finally, I really really (did I say really) worry that Brett Wallace is a below average offensive and defensive 1B. His numbers are underwhelming, especially if you take out that two week period where he hit like 10 home runs.

The Ack said...

Peter D bringin' the sunshine on a cloudy Monday!

Here's what I hate about Vegas and the PCL: if a player doesn't OPS > 1.0, his numbers are suspect.

Arencibia might be Rod Buck v3.0, but maybe he's Mike Napoli. Wallace (at the dish) might be Overbay (which, 2010 notwithstanding, wouldn't be a total disaster), but maybe he's Kendry Morales. Why not twist the stats to say "get rid of the last 5 or 6 weeks, and Wallace is a monster!"? It's the same sort of speculation, and yet you say it with such certainty....

Point is, we don't know. These guys aren't stiffs, they're legit prospects with a pedigree, so nothin' wrong with hoping, is there?

The Ack said...

Whoa....E5 DFA'd?

Tony said...

EE DFA's, making me go WTF?

Okay, that was fun, but seriously... what?

Ty said...

Wow, didn't expect that one. The good news is that Emaus doesn't have to move off 3B to make room for him now, and I guess we don't have to worry about who'll sit when Snider gets back, but... crazy stuff.

AA's message to the rest of the team: run hard on ground balls, or get the fuck out, apparently. Fundamentals!!!1

Peter DeMarco said...

What concerns me is Wallace's K/BB ratio, which in my opinion should throw out any comparison to Overbay. If Wallace is to have success at the major league level, I think he will need to hit for a high average. Additionally, I do not see Morales being a good comparison either, this is because Morales was always identified as a player with a lot of power, most scouting projections believe that Wallace has limited power and is probably a 15-20 HR guy. Any positives I've read about Wallace are usually generic like 'This guy is a hitter' whatever the heck that means.

I would love Arencibia to develop into Napoli, but I would be surprised if this were to happen.

I think this organization should be looking at ways to acquire more hitting prospects, and given their depth at pitching, trading from depth is usually the best solution to address weaknesses.

Ty said...

Peter, for what it's worth, I read yesterday that Wallace stopped raking around the same time they started having him work super-duper-extra hard on his defence, which was lacking at the beginning of the year. They say he's now making plays he never could have dreamed of making back in April, but the extra hours of fielding practice every day were taking a toll on his hitting, so last week they decided to back off and just do a few sessions a week with him instead of going at it every day. Since then, he's already hit two home runs.

Peter DeMarco said...

To be honest, I find Wallace's minor results to be very similar to when a young Vernon Wells was coming up through the system. If that means anything?

Team Scrappy said...

Watching E5 turn on a few fastballs earlier this season, I would think there will be a GM out there that will take a flyer on the guy. KC Royals, I'm looking in your direction. The Twins are on the hunt. Angels to build a 1st base platoon for a while.

But come on, E5 was in the perfect situation for him to succeed and the Jays gave up on him. His defense was helped by having Overbay (and Gonzales, and Butters no less) plus a Manager and Hitting Coach are all about power hitters with a thing for vets.

If the home radio guys are taking shots at effort, then things behind the scenes are usually way worse. But, the guy does have a wicked swing when it works.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

As per the scribes, EE's DFA is just a paperwork move. Nobody's touching that salary on waivers.

Everyone's just shitting all over Edwin today. EE needs some loving. Or a drink. Hope he cleans up at the blackjack table tonight.

Ty said...

Team Scrappy: I dunno about KC, if they don't have room for Alex Gordon and his 1.000+ OPS in AAA then I'm certain they wouldn't have room for EE. But hey, I guess if any front office in baseball has their head far enough up their own ass to make that mistake, I guess it'd be them.

Leaker19 said...

After his hot return in the desert, you can count the number of balls E5 has squared up since on one hand. That guy was just a stiff who got lucky and talked some GM into a huge contract. He will not be missed.