Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Up, Three Down - Heroes and Goats of the Season (So Far)

We're a bit past the 1/8th mark of the season, which to our minds provides enough just enough context to start to make judgments on who's been awesome and who's been awful thus far. Ergo: Three Up, Three Down. (New feature! Soon to be abandoned! Oh look...shiny!)

When you're up, you're UP...

1. José Bautista: This offseason's biggest signing and the most contentious talking point through most of the Winter (Sign him! Now! No, later! Too much!), JoBau has rewarded the Jays by being the best hitter in the American League thus far. ESPN's Eric Karabell, on yesterday's edition of the Baseball Today podcast, compared him the Albert Pujols, and while he acknowledged that sounded like "blasphemy", it's hard to argue with his excellence when Bautista leads the league in OBP and SLG, as well as homers. You can't ask for much more than that. (Though a little help would be nice...more on that later.)

2. Ricky Romero: But he's only 1-3! (And if we thought that the kids reading our blog were the "Jack Morris was a winner" types, we'd prattle on a bit about the meaning of pitcher wins. But that shit's boring to you and to us. The point's been made. The new orthodoxy has won.) RickRo is third in the AL in strikeouts with 33 (versus 10 walks), and aside from one blow up appearance against the Red Sox, he's posted quality starts and looked every bit like an ace and a Cy Young candidate.

3. Marc Rzepczynski: The Father-in-Law won't stop complaining that Rzep has been relegated to the bullpen, and to be honest, we tend to agree at this point. Of course, if Rzep is starting, who's the killer lefty in the pen? He's held the opposition to a .118 BA against in 11 appearances, surrendering four hits against in 10.2 innings, with 10 Ks versus 5 BBs.

...And when you're down, you're DOWN.

1. Aaron Hill: Hill's now hurt, and wasn't exactly killing it when he was in the lineup. A .265 OBP before the injury (lower than two other guys who you're more worried about) goes alongside three doubles and no homers so far this season. Those option years? They're not looking particularly appealing right about now.

2. Juan Rivera: He may have emerged from the crypt in the past few days (the prospect of a future without baseball may have awakened the corpse), but he still has a fair bit of digging to do to extricate himself from the early hole he's dug. Posting a meagre .270 OBP and a flacid .207 SLG thus far. He's not a slap hitter, but those are the numbers of a player who is having the bat knocked out of his hands.

3. Travis Snider: A couple of good at bats in recent days, and an OBP (.271) that sits above that of Hill and Rivera (and Patterson, and Rajai Davis)...and yet, The State of the Great Big Giant Pasty White Hope/Rosy-Cheeked Phenom remains an ongoing concern. This hasn't been the most exemplary start to the season, but there are 141 games remaining to pull it together.

Connective Tissue: The Link Between Snider and JoBau
There's no one getting on base in front of José Bautista, nor is there much going on behind him. So he's not getting pitches to hit, and has been walked more times than anyone in baseball (21). Of his 11 RBI, 10 have come through home runs (7 solo shots! And one three-run dinger).

On the other hand, Travis Snider has little going on ahead or behind him, and has been dealt a steady stream of breaking balls. And so he's walked nine times (okay) and struck out 21 time (aie yay yay.)

The point here is that the go-go Jays who were going to burn up the basepaths are sitting in the mid-pack in terms of getting on base in the first place (.320 OBP, 14th in MLB, 7th in AL). The 2011 edition of the Blue Jays might not be the one that is supposed to compete for a postseason berth, but eventually, this team is going to have to get runners on and create more of a threat than JoBau can muster up by himself.


Robbosleftpeg said...

All I got to say is .224 OBP and .485 OPS from our former clubhouse leader for the Angels.

Your selected Blue Jays duds are killing it compared to him.

All the waffle about JoBau was exactly that, bloggers have to fill up space just like Griffin has to. New Media Old Media same old claptrap.

Tao of Stieb said...

Well, Vernon has been better is recent weeks. But your point is taken somewhat...

But look at Vernon's replacement: Rajai has been hurt for most of the year, and wasn't doing much in his few games with the big club. There's concern there.

Not that I'm pining for Vernon's contract, or his obstinance over his role.

Robbosleftpeg said...

I agree on Rajaj time will tell but on paper it wasn't a bad swap. I think one thing that seems to be forgotten with baseball is other than the pitcher, in the sense if the pitcher throws mud-pies there isn't a whole lot that the team can do, it is in all reality a team game which sounds bleeding obvious but it is so personality driven that it seems to be missed sometimes. You can lose one piece and replace with others and not notice the difference. There are some stand outs obviously Pujols for one but the GM's intelligence and nous are key and as far as I am aware James hasn't come up with a stat that calculates that. I think we have a GM who gets it and to be honest I think the future is very bright. I think we may well be come the Twins of the North especially if the extra WC comes on. With our backing and potential revenue wise this may be a little under ambitious, but after 18 years of tut it is a definite step up.

Chad said...

It's a long season, but damn, I hoped they would prove the skeptics wrong. Why are the skeptics usually right? (I am mainly looking at SI picking the Jays to finish last in the AL East.)

The Bru said...

Remember, those skeptics are the ones who said the Jays would win at most 70 games last year, and maybe not even 60.