Saturday, August 14, 2010

Depth in the formula

"The focus for us is to have a club that will have a sustained run of contention."

Boom. That's the money quote, right there. And now that it's seemingly starting to come together for our (yeah, "our" heard me, Wilner!) Toronto Blue Jays, it all seems so simple, doesn't it?

Build your big league club and organizational depth around young, cost-controlled pitching, and the rest will take care of itself. Dedicate assets to it. Make it a priority. You can never have enough. There is no such thing as a surplus. All the cliches apply.

....and they apply because they're all true. There's no such thing as a 5-man rotation. Not for 162 games, anyway. In a world where even the casual fan understands the implications of the phrase "Tommy John surgery", a steady supply of starting arms is no longer simply a luxury, it's a requirement. And if you happen to be so lucky as to escape the season relatively unscathed - you're probably the only one. Which means rival GM's will come calling, and you can name your price.

Friends, this is why I'm high on the future of the club. Under Anthopoulos, the Jays are well on their way to being there. Inheriting Ricciardi-era arms such as Marcum, Romero, and Cecil, Anthopoulos has added to the team's core strength by dealing for emerging ace Brandon Morrow and top prospect Kyle Drabek, and dedicating his first draft to further bolstering the arms race.

And just when you think you've got the near-future rotation all figured out (Marcum, Romero, Cecil, Morrow, Drabek...with maybe a spring push by Stewart), along comes Marc Rzepczynski tossing his hat (along with bowling-ball sinkers and well-placed offspeed pitches) into the ring.

So, yeah. I think AA might have it figured out. Mix in a core of young (and young-ish) hitters smashing the ball all over the park, a few well-timed and reasonably played upside trades (Wallace vs Gose), a blatant rip-job here and there (Morrow! Escobar!), a renewed dedication to scouting in general (fuck slot!) and Latin America specifically (Adeiny!)....and we just might be onto something here. Whether that "something" is the playoffs remains to be seen, but I'm optimistic.

Given the way the team is playing and the organization as a whole is can you not be?

More on RZep...
I stand firm in my belief that Kyle Drabek will be in the team's rotation plans next season - whether it's right outta' spring or a month or two in (arb clock...), which means that, barring trade or injury, there's no room in the rotation for Rzepczynski.

But he absolutely has to figure into the club's major-league plans next season, doesn't he? Would it be an egregious waste of his talents to assume a middle relief/spot start role - ie: a rich man's Brian Tallet? The value of such a pitcher can often go wildly overlooked - they're the dudes in the pen you don't notice unless they're getting lit up - and Rzep (though over-qualified) would fit the bill nicely.

Nice problem to have, isn't it?

...Less on JPA
How quickly the tides have turned. After following up one of the better big league debuts in, oh, history with a couple of 0'fers, seems JP Arencibia has earned back-up duties under the watchful eye of Cito The Manager Clarence.

Then again, it's tough to argue with lineup decisions when the club is playing as they are. So I'll hold off. For now.


Brad Fullmer Fan said...

Yeah, it would be a pretty big waste of Rzep's K/GB talents if he was a reliever going forward for this team (even if he does virtually take on the role as the 6th/7th guy in the rotation). He definitely has the skills to be a good pitcher in this division...he showed that last season.

If I'm AA, I look to see what the offers are for Marcum this winter. There's no doubt that AA could get quite a bit for 2 years of him.

Mattt said...

A massive upgrade for the long man position in the 'pen is very much needed. The games where long relief is a factor are games that are given away or salvageable, depending on whether the job gets done. If Toronto continues to score runs as they have this season then I think you've got to look at that role as a premium position for next year.

Gil Fisher said...

I don't think we trade Marcum. He's one of our best pitchers and we certainly seem capable of competing next year. You keep your best 5 in my books.

The strategy with the next few guys ready to go should be to keep them in the minors until you can't hold them back any more and then trade them for a younger, higher ceiling guy. Roll forward the guy close to the majors for the guy further away with more upside.

As for putting him in the pen, you can probably acquire good relievers for a good starter so don't waste assets that way.

Gil Fisher said...

meant to say "three" good relievers for a good starter.

mike in boston said...

Build your big league club and organizational depth around young, cost-controlled pitching, and the rest will take care of itself

if the goal is passing two of the Rays, Sox and Yankees then young pitching is not enough to "take care" of the rest.

this team is in the bottom 3rd of the league in payroll, and in need of another bat going in to the FA season.

for me, the proof of this organization's direction will be in the pudding this summer.

Jaysfan26 said...

I realize JPA had few 0 fers but Molina just looked lost at the plate last night.

And it dawned on me that if we (yes, we) move Hill to 3rd, we'd have our very own Ron Cey!

Headed to the game tonight.

The Ack said...

mike in boston...."take care of itself"...implication being, deal from that surplus of talent to fill other holes on the roster. Pitching is the one position that's always in demand. And yeah, supplement with smart FA dollars, if that's even possible anymore.

Mark said...

I think it's disgraceful the way they've handled Snider and Arencibia. There's no justification for benching Snider, who's been one of the best hitters on this team since he returned. Likewise Arencibia should be playing 3/4 or 4/5 games while he's up here so he can be more prepared for next season.

If the Jays were in a playoff race, I could understand not playing Arencibia. But they're not. They're 8 games back of the WC.

What's worse is Molina hasn't had a base hit since August 2nd. So it's not like we're really losing anything going to Arencibia. And if his defense isn't good enough to handle a major league pitching staff - now would be the time to find out. Not next year when Buck signs with another team and it's the middle of May and the starting catcher can't handle the young starters. Cause then who are you going to bring in to replace him?

There's no good reason for Overbay, Encarnacion, or Lewis to be playing over Snider - not just because he's the future - but because he's better right now than any of those guys. And there's nothing to lose by starting Arencibia when the Jays couldn't be further from the playoffs.

How is it that Atlanta, in the middle of a playoff run, can start their #1 prospect (Heyward) every day he's healthy, but the Jays, who are 8 games out of the wild card race, can't even be bothered to start 2 of their most promising position prospects?

plain_g said...

i say we keep marcum, he's the alpha of the rotation, and the young guys need that.

Anonymous said...

Any word on some kind of coordinated movement directed towards Bell ExpressVu to pick up Sportsnet One & get these damn Blue Jays games back on my TV?

Brad Fullmer Fan said...

I have no real problem with keeping him over the next 2 years, but I just don't want to have to give Marcum a long-term contract into his 30s.

Some numbers for thought with our lefties:

Rzep's career FIP (3.84) and xFIP (3.60)
Cecil's career FIP (4.42) and xFIP (4.38)
Romero's career FIP (3.90) and xFIP (3.86)

eyebleaf said...

Tough to argue with Mark, above.

But: RICKY!!!1

Freeze said...

Marcum brings leadership I think AA will be hesitant to trade - a la Bautista.

Jayszone said...

good read.... posted today

Anonymous said...

As a loyal fan in Alberta, I can't watch any of the games in the Oakland series- what a cash grab by Rogers. They are doing a great job of alienating the fan base.