Wednesday, February 23, 2011

List-o-Mania - Five Guys Who Give Us Worry

Hey! It's a new recurring series of posts!1

Why? We've probably gone to the genius well once too often around here2, and would prefer to indulge in some hacky, almost-writes-itself filler to make us feel like we've done our blogging job and that we've kept you distracted by baseball fun for an extra three-to-five minutes of your day. You're welcome.3

Besides, people love lists, and love to comment on them (YOU FORGOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING/GUY/STUFF! IDIOT!). And we are, above all, a comment whore.4

On with this week's exciting episode: Five Guys Who Give Us Worry...or The Proactive Analysis of Potential 2011 Whipping Boys.

1. Yunel Escobar: We know that there's some notion amongst us Jays fans that there was a magical healing power that washed over the Cuban shortstop once he left those bad guys behind in Atlanta. Look at that behind the back flip! Look, he hits homers! Drag bunts! But take a step back, and you see Escobar posting a sub-.700 OPS in his time with the Jays, with his numbers sliding backwards month-over-month.

2. Brandon Morrow: If only because we've started to recognize that we're starting to take it as an article of faith that he'll be a Cy Young contender this season, and we're not even sure if he can pitch more than 175 innings. Also, we worry about his diabetes. Which is kinda weak and vaguely offensive, but still. Pitching as a starter takes a lot out of a body, and we worry about the ongoing impact through the hot months.

3. Travis Snider: We keep seeing flashes of that nascent premium-level talent. But it keeps getting run off the rails by tweaky injuries. And this rib thing? Yikes. We keep seeing this year play out for Snider like one of Jeff Bagwell's late-career, injury-addled seasons.

4. Adam Lind: We worry about Lind on both the offensive side as well as in the field. While we have a suspicion that you'll see a return to form at the plate (perhaps even fueled by the happy vibes of playing first base), the helpless flailing that we saw from him against lefties last year occasionally gives us knots in our gullet. And as for the first base experiment: We figure he'll be okay, but we can see some spectacular eff-ups, which we hope won't pile up.

5. Kyle Drabek: The jump from Double-A to the fourth spot in the rotation isn't that small of a leap. Drabek pitched well enough in his brief September callup, but can he give the Jays 180 quality innings? Can he withstand nights in New York and Boston, where the umpires will offer him a postage stamp sized strike zones into which he can pitch? Is there enough movement on that fastball?

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1. Which likely means this is the last time that we do this.

2. ...or not.

3. Condescending much? I really need to check myself...

4. Seriously. We crave your approval.

22 comments:

Shapiro said...

I think Aaron Hill has to be on that list. If he's hitting .200 on May 1st, I suspect he becomes Whipping Boy #1. He'll be assuming Vernon Wells' old nickname.

Blandy said...

I am not worried about Morrow. I am worried most about JPA. I don't care if he hits .220 with 3 HR. He needs to be able to handle the young staff and grow with them. That is the most important thing. Because if he fails, the pitchers could even falter and push playoffs back another year or two.

KissMyPurpleButt said...

I think all the uncertainty around virtually the whole roster is what will make 2011 a very interesting season. I can't wait.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Commenting only because the author is such a comment whore that I would have guilt the rest of the day if I didn't comment, even if the said author coaxed me into following some dude who only had one follower on Twitter and that dude didn't even have the courtesy to follow back. The nerve!

Oh, and you forgot Aaron Hill, stupid.

Tao of Stieb said...

Yeah, JPA would be on the list, except that I figure that he'll scuffle through this season as the number nine guy in the lineup. I think I've already accepted that he'll be a peripheral player at best.

Beast mode, notwithstanding.

Tao of Stieb said...

Ok, so let's add Hill and JPA to the list...and let's see if by the end of the day, we can't get the whole 40-man roster on the list.

Because I lose sleep nightly over Alan Farina.

NoisyFlowers said...

Bautista would make my list. I'm sure you must have a least considered him for yours as well but maybe it's best to save that can of worms for the comments section.

Everyone seems to expects a moderate regression but I don't think the possibility of a dramatic regression should be discounted. We keep hearing that his season wasn't a fluke but the insane HR to flyball ratio he had last year begs to differ. Bautista doesn't bring enough defensively to sustain a deep offensive regression so the team better hope their projections on him are accurate.

Bautista's contract is hardly stratospheric but it's nonetheless the biggest contract currently on the books for the Jays. That alone would make the question of what kind of hitter he is post 2010, the most important question coming into this season.

Michael said...

I am worried about ACE. This is a make or break year from him. He has been with the Jays since 1999 and the sole mascot since 2004. He has never stepped out of BJ Birdies shadow.

Ace is in the decline phase of his career and his contract (and the fact he is a blue jay) make him virtually untradable.

He is out of options and needs to perform this year - there is little organizational depth at his position.

Spratt

Tao of Stieb said...

Indeed: I've noticed that Ace has lost a step or two, and has not whipped the crowd into a frenzy for some time.

Haven't had the chance to look at the advanced metrics, but he never really had much in terms of Wins Above Replacement Mascot (WARM).

Hozzleshank said...

What about Rance Mulliniks? Will he continue to provide tepid, cliche-ridden analysis brimming with "insights" even the most casual fan would have already considered innings before? Or will he... actually, forget it; he'll keep sucking.

sporkless said...

I don't think it matters that much if Escobar has a good year - I don't think he'll be around when the Jays win their 6 consecutive World Series.

Not too worried about Morrow, unless you're expecting him to win 20. I'm not even worried about Lind.

Hill is a worry. Hopefully he can learn to work the count again and stop popping up fastballs.

I am definitely most anxious about Travis. He's a guy you want to root for so much, but could be one of those guys that's never healthy.

Tao of Stieb said...

Rance isn't coming back. So whatever commentary he makes - tepid or otherwise - it will be for his own benefit.

Tao of Stieb said...

@sporkless

I think the Jays are expecting Yunel to contribute in the near term, including 2012 and 2013, when they would be making a playoff push.

Salty Cod said...

Sorry Tasker! I'm a little slow on the Twitter editicate! I'm on board now...

Cheers

GCM1979 said...

I think Morrow is still a year away from being considered a Cy Young contender. Needs those innings first.

Romero will have a big year, IMO. He'll have a Halladay type season, mark my words.

Doesn't anyone else find it scary that he's working on a cutter? Righties won't be able to touch him.

Salty Cod said...

Oh and Snider's ability to stay healthy is my big concern...

Editor said...

"We've probably gone to the genius well once to often around here"

Too

Tao of Stieb said...

sonofabitch! I had to edit this thing about eight times after posting today.

TOO much!

Yeoww! said...

I'm worried that Rzep will be awesome . . . while pitching for another team, while Jesse Litch, 5th starter for the Blue Jays, will be the new best friend of AL East sluggers.

KP said...

I'm worried about Bautista for the simple fact that if he doesn't hit more than 5 taters by the end of April it's going to be the only thing people want to talk to Wilner about. Seriously, it will. And it will ruin my entire summer.

Anonymous said...

Escobar will surprise all of you cynical buggers. He didn't have much time last year to acquaint himself with a new team, a new city and a new league of pitchers he's never seen. By August, you'll see a ton of his jerseys in the stands. Mark my words!

Darrell said...

Escobar may not actually be very good. All talent but no work ethic.

I worry about Snider staying healthy. Not getting hurt is a skill and he may not have it.

Lind will bounce back and be fine at 1st.

Hill is a worry because even his defense seems to be declining. Someone tell me if the numbers don't support that observation

Morrow will be great. If there is a link between diabetes and breaking down in hot weather I haven't heard it before

Drabek is a stud. Talent AND work ethic.

D'Arnaud is our primary catcher of the future so I'm looking at JPA to prove he can be a backup and provide power at DH