Saturday, March 26, 2011

Francisco, Dotel and Morrow on the DL Oh My

According to the Globe and Mail, Brandon Morrow, Octavio Dotel and Frank Francisco will start the season on the DL.

I don't know how you feel about the Toronto Blue Jays 2011 team going into opening day next week, but my feelings for this team have been going back and forth from one extreme to another all spring.  You ask me one day 'how will the Toronto Blue Jays do in 2011', and I might tell you that they will really surprise a lot of people this year.  That they have a young, athletic and very talented club that may even make the playoffs.  Then you ask that same question the next day and I'll tell you that I will be shocked if this team doesn't finish in last place.

However, now with Dotel, Francisco and Morrow starting the season on the DL, the wind has really been taken out of my Blue Jays hopes sails.  On those days where my hopes were high, I'd probably tell you that Francisco will be an elite closer this year, that his numbers have been repressed from pitching in an offensive friendly ballpark in Texas, that the Blue Jays have great bullpen depth that will hold most leads into the 9th inning.  Now the Jays start the season with Jon Rauch as their closer and will most likely backed up by Jason Frasor, Carlos Villanueva, David Purcey, Casey Janssen, Shawn Camp and Marc Rzepczynski.  It's not a terrible group, at least I hope not, is it?

Again on the days where I have visions of 2011 Blue Jays glory, I would tell you that this is the year Brandon Morrow becomes an ace.  I'd reference all time great K to inning ratio's, a second half turnaround and a pedigree on par with Tim Lincecum.  He still may only miss one start and go on to prove me right, however it's never a good sign when a pitcher has forearm inflammation.  I really hope this is nothing to worry about, but I'm scared like hell.

It also doesn't help increase my confidence in this team when Jesse Litsch earns a spot the rotation.  I know he had seasons just as good as Shawn Marcum blah, blah, blah.  I know the numbers, however nothing has lessened this strong feeling I have that he will be a complete disaster this year.  Sorry Mike Wilner, I know you think he can be one of the best pitchers in the league, well I don't.

For the Blue Jays to be competitive in 2011 they need just about everything to go right for them, so far it sure hasn't started out that way for them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Training Statistics

The big question is do Spring training statistics actually mean anything?

As players like Brett Lawrie and Eric Thames are making cases for their inclusion on the 25 man opening day Blue Jays roster, many people like myself caution against reading too much into spring training stats.  As a supporting argument there are often quick references to former Jays who had big springs and never translated their success into the major leagues, guys like Simon Pond who hit .343 one spring or Buck Coats who hit .409 and actually made the team. 

However does this mean we should dismiss all spring training successes or failures?  What about Jose Bautista last spring who put up an .895 SLG in the spring and then went on to surprise everyone in baseball by hitting 54 home runs?  At what point should we start paying attention to spring training statistics or when do they actually mean anything?

I don't really have the answers to these questions, but for fun I thought I would look at the total Blue Jays spring training statistics since 2002 for players with more than 20 AB's and see if there is anything that jumps out for spring training numbers.

Here are the Top 10 Blue Jays with the most Spring Training At Bats:

Here are the Top 10 Blue Jays with the highest Spring Training SLG:

Well if that isn't the who's who of the all time great Blue Jays, I'm not sure what is.

Here are the Top 10 Blue Jays with the lowest Spring Training SLG:

This may suggest that if you have a terrible spring a major league career may not be your thing.

Without doing any in-depth analysis, mostly due to a lack of time, this exercise really hasn't changed my mind about the meaning of spring training statistics.  However if someone would like to look a little further into it, send me an email and I'll pass along my spread sheet of spring training stats for your enjoyment.