Friday, July 27, 2012

Tweet Bag - Your Tweeted Questions, My Blogged Answers

It's been a while since I opened up the old satchel of tweeted questions, and for those of you new to these parts, this is what we call a Tweet Bag. It's like a mail bag, only with far less room for people to pontificate and contextualize before getting to their questions. I'm a fan of brevity.

Let's roll the drum of your cards and letters, reach in and see what we find.

First up, the question that so many are thinking, but @J_Smitty90 had the temerity to ask: Realistically, would a trip to the minors help Ricky? Or are his days as an "ace" over? 

Oh, Ricky. Not so fine. Not so fine you blow my mind. Hey Ricky!

It's been a pretty hard slog watching Romero's outings for most of this year, as he's struggled with his command from Opening Day and generally looked a lot more hittable. But would sending him on a vision quest to Las Vegas do him much good at this point? I'd tend to concur with Sportsnet's Jays analyst and dapper dresser Gregg Zaun, who noted yesterday that a trip to Triple-A probably wouldn't give Romero much insight. Pitching to weaker hitters who might be deceived by stuff that isn't getting past big leaguers probably doesn't advance the cause at all.

Without the infinite resources of time and patience, it's hard to figure precisely what's gone wrong with Ricky, but here's something I gleaned while traipsing through his numbers on Brooks Baseball: The big difference that I see between this year and last is the effectiveness of his sinker. (Fangraphs calls this pitch a cutter...I think. But I'll let those nerds slap-fight it out between them.) Last year, Romero's sinker was called a ball 40.57% of the time, while this year, that rate has spiked to 51.87%. It was called a strike 15.9% of the time last year, but slipped to 10.28% this year. Those aren't minor deviations, and none of his other pitches have seen such a significant change in outcomes. 

As for the question about RickRo's status as an "ace", that's a bit more complicated. I think there are probably only about 15-20 "aces" in all of baseball, and although Romero was the number one pitcher in the Jays' rotation in recent years, he's probably a good number three pitcher who would peak as a number two on occasion. That's not to dump on him at all, as you need pitchers of that ilk when you're building a team. But this year is a pretty stark reminder Ricky's probably not a part of that upper echelon of pitchers.

And on that bummer of a note, let's move on to @captainlatte, who asks: Trying to figure out when AA's contract ends (2014?), do u know? If AA was freed, who'd snap him up?

I've scoured the interwebs for literally minutes trying to find the answer to this, and the impression that I have is that the term of AA's contract was never released, and that we'll probably not know when it is coming up for renegotiation. Moreover, we might not even find out if and when he gets it extended.

If Anthopoulos was set free for some reason, it seems likely to me that he'd be snapped up as quickly as he wanted to be. The question would probably come down to where he wanted to go, and it what role. But all this seems rather academic, as I'd expect that he has a lot of latitude in Toronto. He'd really have to mess up the team over successive years to reach a point where they were attempting to can him, and even if you don't like all his moves, it seems unlikely that he'll do significant harm to the franchise necessitating a change. At least, not for the time being.

Next, @RynoMcFluff asks: Who do you want to see called up for a look when the rosters expand? 

At this point, is there anyone left for us to see? If he were healthy, Travis d'Arnaud would obviously be at the head of this list, but with his knee injury, it seems fairly unlikely that he'll be in Toronto this September. He might have a brief cameo appearance, or get invited to come work out and spit seeds in the dugout, but anything more than that would surprise me.

Beyond that, I'd hope that Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire have a finish to the season that is strong enough to merit a look this September. Their poor seasons at Double-A New Hampshire are perhaps the most concerning developments of 2012, because the diminished expectations now create holes in the big league pitching staff over the next few years. 

I wouldn't mind getting a look at Moises Sierra in the big leagues. The 23 year-old Dominican has done okay in his first taste of Triple-A (.361 OBP, .482 SLG, 17 homers), with the standard caveat about those numbers coming in the PCL, and his numbers have been much better at home in Vegas. Sierra may profile as a good option to take over the fourth outfield spot in 2013, so it might make sense to give him at bats this year to see if he can hit the ball out of the infield on occasion.

Unfortunately, I think that Sierra will be blocked by Eric Thames and Anthony Gose, and might not get much time in the last month of the season.

Next question! @sboulton asks: Why the persistent "Yunel is bad in the clubhouse" meme, when there's been no whisper of that in Toronto? 

I don't want to act as though I've been anywhere within a country mile of the Jays' clubhouse. I've never seen how Yunel acts around his teammates, and how he gets along. But what if we're just gaming out the logic of the question you're asking, let me make the following inference: It's possible that the local guys wouldn't make as big a deal about Yunel's attitude on a day-to-day basis because they need to maintain a certain level of d├ętente with their subjects, whereas the national writers coming in and out would have a bit more latitude to make these observations.

It could also be that some sources around the team feel more comfortable in letting their frustrations slip to the writers from away, because they won't have to deal with daily follow ups from the local beats. Or, it could just be that the occasional drop ins are misreading the dynamics in the room. Your guess is as good as mine.  

Onward! @GrubersMullet asks: You currently have one of the best arms out of the pen in Darren Oliver. Do you trade him or keep him & hope he doesn't retire?

Oliver's really been something else this year, hasn't he? The ideal scenario from the point of view of a fan is that Oliver sticks with the Jays and comes back to be a key part of the bullpen next year as well. (And I don't just say that because I like having someone on the team who is older than I am.)

At this point, I have to imagine that the Jays have had a number of discussions with Oliver to suss out his position on playing next year, and his willingness to take his game elsewhere down the stretch this season. If there is any notion that Oliver might not come back next year, the Jays really need to move him and get something back for him while they still can. He'd be a valuable commodity for a contending team that needed the bullpen help.

Let's wrap it up with some rapid fire answers, shall we?

@mlse (those Pension Plan Puppets scoundrels) asks: If AA were made of spare ribs would you eat him? What, are you suddenly Ryan Dempster? Ripping off Will Ferrell's Harry Caray impression and passing it off as your own joke?

@archizuber asks: What's the deal with airplane food? I don't know, but is there anything cooler than getting a little tin of Pringles on a plane, and it's all pressurized, and it feels like the can is going to explode if you open it? That's pretty cool.

Finally, @wconnaught asks: Any potential Jays trades at the deadline? Yes. I'm sure there are. Josh Johnson would be nice, but his acquisition seems remote for some reason. And don't forget that there are still moves that can and will be made after this initial deadline. I'd expect the Jays to be active in August as well.

That's it for this time. For now, this is your best friend Tao signing off. Until next time, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars!


Small Potatoes said...

I'm surprised that Hechavarria doesn't make your heart beat just a little faster, especially as you seem to infer wrt Yescobar that where there's smoke, there could well be fire. In fact, I'm surprised that you basically tell us only who can't (d'Arnaud), probably won't (Sierra) or probably shouldn't (Jenkins/McGuire) get a look. I for one would love to see Hech play both 2nd & SS, to say nothing of getting a read on his bat (as we are currently getting with Gose.) However, I'm easily and often surprised.

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