How the Dickey Deal is Killing Toronto

Courtesy: Blue Jays Buzz

When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired RHP R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets following his 2012 Cy Young Award, they took a huge gamble. After all, this was a man who had just completed his age-37 season,  but Dickey was very good over his three full seasons with the Mets and knuckleballers are able to pitch “forever”, right? Well, after investing $41 million into the knuckler, the Blue Jays are still without a title and Dickey is now floating pitches for Atlanta.

Unfortunately, the Blue Jays didn’t just invest millions of dollars. They gave up prospects to receive Dickey from the Mets, including C Travis d’Arnaud and the majestical, golden locks of RHP Noah Syndergaard.

Dickey’s 49-52 record and 4.05 ERA over his four seasons to the north would ultimately cost the Blue Jays a legitimate ace. While Toronto made the playoffs in Dickey’s final two seasons with the club, he wasn’t the ace – by any means – as RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Aaron Sanchez, RHP Marcus Stroman, and LHP J.A. Happ had gradually taken on larger roles in the rotation. The problem, however, was that none of the other pitchers could give the Blue Jays the innings necessary to go deep into the playoffs. With a lack of pitching depth around the incredible bats of 3B Josh Donaldson, OF Jose Bautista, and 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays faltered in the ALCS the last two seasons.

Courtesy: Fan Rag Sports

While D’Arnaud has battled injuries…constantly…Syndergaard has become one of the best young arms in baseball, even leading the Mets to a World Series in 2015, winning his only start against the eventual champion Royals. Since the World Series loss, Syndergaard has thrown 202.2 innings, striking out 238 (10.6 K:9), and posting a 2.44 ERA (2.15 FIP). Still just 24 (25 in August), “Thor” has a microscopic 0.95 ERA and 0.84 WHIP thanks to his 20:0 K:BB over his first three starts and 19 innings of 2017. The Mets have control of their young ace through the 2021 season, which, clearly, leaves the Mets as the winners of this trade.

However, hindsight allows us to look back at this as miserable; it wasn’t always the case:

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Courtesy: New York Daily News

Getting Dickey with LHP Mark Buehrle and RHP Josh Johnson was, on paper, a huge, smart investment. Injuries to Johnson and age affecting the results of Dickey and Buehrle didn’t allow this wonderful offseason to culminate into anything but a last place finish in the AL East in 2013. Bleacher Report had a nice collection, including Stark’s, that you can check out if you’d like.

There are prospects dealt every year. Hell, OF Michael Brantley became the “player to be named later” in the Indians’ deal that sent LHP CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 – and nine years later, “Dr. Smooth” is still rocking a Tribe uniform. You would think that teams would have learned about the value of those cost and team-controlled years, but we still see these types of deals. Risks are the norm when a team is chasing a title. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays’ gamble will likely go down with the acquisitions of Frank Robinson, John Smoltz, and Jeff Bagwell as one of the worst trades in baseball history, and Toronto fans will long for “Thor” as he continues to lead the Mets’ rotation for several years.

The series of trades that Toronto thought would bring them a title left their system bare. Sure, Sanchez and Stroman came up through their system, but when Syndergaard, LHP Justin Nicolino, RHP Henderson Alvarez, and RHP Anthony DeSclafani were dealt, the club’s depth took a hit. Now, sitting at 2-10 to start the 2017 season, the club needs a starter with Sanchez heading to the DL. What are their options? LHP T.J. House, RHP Mat Latos, and RHP Brett Oberholtzer. Another season without a title and another season with very little pitching depth at the Major League level, as many of their top pitching prospects are getting their first tastes of Double-A. They can always continue to just outscore the opposition, but it hasn’t worked this year. While we can look at this as the “Dickey deal”, it was so much more than that. The philosophy of buying a title by mortgaging the future is what continues to be problematic for the Jays.

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2015 Season Previews: Toronto Blue Jays

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks!

Toronto Blue Jays

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 83-79 (3rd in AL East, 11th in MLB)

Manager: John Gibbons (462-472 in seven seasons with Toronto)

Top Three Players: 3B Josh Donaldson (5.6), OF Jose Bautista (5.2), C Russell Martin (3.7)

Bounce-back Player: OF Michael Saunders

Saunders has battled injuries throughout his career, but there is quite a bit of unlocked potential within him that could burst out in the tremendous lineup that the Blue Jays possess. Even after having knee surgery in February, Saunders will get enough plate appearances to carve out value. In his native Canada, he could find levels of comfort that he wasn’t able to in Seattle, and at just 28, he has his prime and a solid power/speed combination to become another offensive force in Toronto.

Can the stuff be tamed enough for Sanchez to become a top starter? Courtesy: mlbtraderumors.com
Can the stuff be tamed enough for Sanchez to become a top starter?
Courtesy: mlbtraderumors.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: RHP Marcus Stroman (tore ACL and is out for the 2015 season) – RHP Aaron Sanchez

Sanchez was electric out of the bullpen in 2014, posting a 1.09 ERA and 0.70 WHIP over 33 innings and 24 appearances. He has electric stuff, but the inability to control it, as well as some shoulder issues, have led to a cautious approach from Toronto, but it still wasn’t enough to keep him from making his debut at 21. Now, seemingly locked into a rotation spot, Sanchez will have an opportunity to shine as a starter. It won’t always be pretty, especially with the potential for high walk totals, but he has enough stuff to warrant roster consideration in any and all formats.

Offseason Overview: Possibly the biggest addition a team could have made this winter was signing C Russell Martin, as his pitch framing and ability to produce solid offensive numbers impact the roster tremendously. If you consider the power and punch in the lineup, you’ll see that his true value will lie in his ability to work with the pitching staff. While Josh Thole will likely remain R.A. Dickey‘s personal catcher, Martin could play a huge role in the success and maturation of Opening Day starter Drew Hutchison (23), RHP Aaron Sanchez (21), and LHP Daniel Norris (21). The Jays lost 1B/DH Adam Lind to Milwaukee, they were able to sign former can’t-miss prospect Justin Smoak to an affordable deal, while handing the center field job over to Dalton Pompey after Colby Rasmus left via free agency. Adding Josh Donaldson was a coup to an already incredible offense, and his defense is just as stellar as the bat.

The Verdict: The loss of Marcus Stroman really hurt the rotation. As much as I, personally, wanted Aaron Sanchez to be a starter, he isn’t ready, and he would have been better served in the bullpen until the club knew that he had harnessed his stuff. That isn’t to say that who is around isn’t valuable. Hutchison should come into his own this season, and Dickey and LHP Mark Buehrle are about as sure a bet as you can get to penciling in 200 innings and 32 starts. With Norris and Sanchez as high potential wild cards, the Toronto rotation will certainly be worth monitoring. The offense is outrageously talented. Adding Donaldson to Edwin Encarnacion and Bautista makes the Blue Jays lineup an absolute nightmare for opposing pitchers. The AL East will continue to be a demanding division, but the Jays are heading in the right direction. They have plenty of major league talent and are utilizing their system to acquire more of it, as they did with Donaldson. The 83 wins seem about right, but, with Martin leading the pitching staff, 87 and contending for a wild card spot is within reason.

How the Toronto Blue Jays Can Fix 2014

Jays RHP R.A. Dickey
Jays RHP R.A. Dickey

After acquiring R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Melky Cabrera through trades and free agency prior to the 2013 season, it would have been easy to assume that the Toronto Blue Jays would become contenders in the American League East – immediately. With Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion already on board offensively, the Jays possessed a dynamic offense, and the added pieces to the rotation and the top of the order seemed like enough to help Toronto find their way back to the early-1990’s glory days.

Instead, the Jays went 74-88, 23 games back of the Boston Red Sox, battling Justin Bieber for the title of Biggest Canadian Train-wreck of 2013.

Johnson is now in San Diego and the Jays look to be struggling to develop a solid rotation around Dickey and Buehrle, as Brandon Morrow, who has battled numerous injuries and ailments over the last couple of seasons, Esmil Rogers, J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, and Todd Redmond will battle to fill out the remainder of the Jays rotation in 2014. For that reason, the Jays will likely need to win games by outscoring the opposition.

How can the Jays fix their already present issues?

Jays 2B (?) Brett Lawrie
Jays 2B (?) Brett Lawrie

First, the club needs to move Brett Lawrie back to second base. Ryan Goins, Brent Morel, and Maicer Izturis are currently listed on the club’s depth chart for second, and Lawrie would obviously be a huge offensive upgrade. Lawrie played 249 games at second in the minors and did a nice job fielding the position. If he were to stay healthy and live up to his lofty expectations, he would produce at an All-Star level offensively, likely becoming a fantasy darling and very valuable within the sabermetric community due to his ability to run – and his athletic ability should allow him to thrive as an up-the-middle player, once again.

Obviously, third base would then be open if the Jays moved Lawrie back to second. Edwin Encarnacion played the position horrendously in Cincinnati, but Toronto could move Jose Bautista back to third. Bautista has played all of 21.1 innings at third since 2011 and he posted negative value at the position in his career, but with such low expectations from the current options at second base, Bautista’s negative influence at third could still be smaller than what the Jays will likely receive from Goins, Morel, and/or Izturis.

Jays OF Moises Sierra
Jays OF Moises Sierra

To be honest, one of the major reasons that this move makes sense is because of the outfield options that the Blue Jays have. Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra could provide value to the club if either player was given a full-time opportunity, and both warrant a longer look than what they will likely be given due to the current lineup alignment.

Jays OF Anthony Gose
Jays OF Anthony Gose

Gose is just 23 and has two years of experience at the major league level, as he has 342 plate appearances in Toronto. Gose has over 900 plate appearances at Triple-A, though, and while he has a lot of swing and miss in his game, he seems to have a lot of similarities to Michael Bourn with a lesser hit tool. Tremendous speed and defensive skills will be his calling card, but he does have some power, as well. Giving him a bigger role in 2014 will allow the Jays to have a better idea of options on-hand for the 2015 offseason, as center field will be very weak and the club could lose Colby Rasmus on the open-market.

Sierra, 25, has shown some power at the major league level, posting an .827 OPS (126 OPS+) in 35 games in 2013, including 14 walks in 122 plate appearances after walking all of 17 times in 422 minor league plate appearances last season. The power seems legit, though, as Sierra ripped 46 home runs in 1,395 minor league plate appearances since the start of 2011. He profiles nicely as a corner outfielder, and, while he doesn’t have elite speed, he seems to understand how to utilize the skills that he does possess (77 stolen bases in his minor league career). Maybe he was just bored in the minors and it led to his horrific approach?

Of course, maybe the offense wouldn’t have to be manipulated in any way to improve the team’s chances if the Blue Jays signed another starting pitcher or two. Considering that the Jays’ 9th overall and 11th overall picks in the 2014 MLB Draft are both protected, why weren’t they more aggressive in the top-flight pitcher market? They would, essentially, be giving up a second round pick for a player who is tied to compensation, and their win-now approach, evident from their trades last offseason, warrants that type of investment.

Free Agent RHP Ervin Santana
Free Agent RHP Ervin Santana

It wouldn’t be too surprising for the Jays to settle on a one-year deal with Ervin Santana, just to show some kind of effort this offseason. A better option, however, would likely be Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, whose unfamiliarity with the league would at least allow for early success – if he were dropped immediately into the rotation. Other options at this point are not good – Joe Saunders, Barry Zito, Clayton Richard, Jeff Niemann, Jason Marquis, Jeff Karstens, Jair Jurrjens, Johan Santana, and Jon Garland are all that remain of major league free agent starters, while Brett Myers “could” be tried in that role once again after failing horrifically due to injuries with the Cleveland Indians in 2013.

Outside of changing the team’s offensive alignment or signing a free agent starter, the Blue Jays appear to be heading towards another last place finish in the AL East. The Yankees and Orioles made some interesting additions, the Rays re-upped with James Loney and have their core intact, and the Red Sox are only the defending champions. After mortgaging the clubs future (Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Jake Marisnick) to make a run in 2013, the quiet offseason should be disappointing to fans. After altering the competitive window, the club is now just out there in the land of mediocrity – not strong enough to truly contend and not bad enough to win the Carlos Rodon sweepstakes in 2014, and whoever the top player in 2015 will be sweepstakes, as well.

Marcus Stroman is nearly ready for the rotation, but the Aaron Sanchez‘s and Roberto Osuna‘s are too far away for the Jays to count on in 2014. After dealing so many of their near-ready prospects last year, the only way to salvage the season is to give Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose a larger role, while increasing the team’s ability to outscore their opposition.

Pretend GM: Signings and Trades That Should Be Made

With the big signing of Masahiro Tanaka by the New York Yankees on Wednesday, the market for free agency and trades could explode over the next several days. With that in mind, I was thinking about some deals that would make tremendous sense for several teams…although, they could just make sense to me. Regardless, here are some deals that I’d like to see made over the next few weeks before pitchers and catchers report.

Cincinnati Reds Trade Brandon Phillips to the New York Yankees for Brett Gardner

PhillipsWhy This Trade Makes Sense: The Yankees clearly want to get back to the top, as their $155 million investment in Tanaka showed. With Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, and Scott Sizemore as the current options at second base, New York could use a more reliable name to replace Robinson Cano. While the Reds don’t have an immediate replacement ready for Phillips (outside of Henry Rodriguez or another position change for Billy Hamilton), they need to clear some payroll in order to lock up Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, and Mike Leake, all of whom are eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, as well as Homer Bailey, who will be a free agent after the 2014 season. Phillips, who is due $50 million over the next four years, could be a bargain based on the current market, while his ability to play defensively at an elite level will provide quite a bit of value, as well. Gardner is unlikely to provide the on-base skills that Shin-Soo Choo provided last season in Cincinnati, but he would provide elite-level defensive skills, speed, and solid on-base skills (career OBP of .352). Gardner, earning $5.6 million in 2014 prior to reaching free agency after the season, would be an upgrade over a 2014 version of Hamilton, while providing quite a bit of financial flexibility to shore up the rotation for the coming seasons in Cincinnati. Even if Cincinnati had to chip in $10 million in salary relief, it would be an interesting deal for both clubs.

Baltimore Orioles Sign A.J. Burnett to a one-year, $14 million deal

burnettWhy This Signing Makes Sense: In 2012, the Baltimore Orioles surprised the world by contending and finishing 2nd in the AL East with 93 wins. In 2013, there was a slight regression, as the team dipped to 85 wins after doing very little over the offseason. The Orioles have been very active in the minor league free agent market this winter, but they could use a splash, and Burnett would be a tremendous addition to the club’s rotation. Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, and Kevin Gausman make a good, young rotation, but Burnett would be the anchor for the staff, and his presence would allow the club to move Norris to a (more appropriate) bullpen role. Burnett is from Maryland and he has been rumored to be retiring if he doesn’t re-sign with Pittsburgh, but Baltimore is close to home and he can keep his wife happy, and the spare change for one year would be worth it for both sides. Burnett rebuilt his value with two tremendous seasons with the Pirates, and he is worth a one-year deal for Baltimore for another shot at the AL East for the tattooed right-hander. Sure, it seems like it is going to be Pittsburgh or bust, but the Orioles are contenders with a healthy Manny Machado and consistent production from Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters – the O’s need to do their due diligence here.

Toronto Blue Jays Sign Matt Garza to a five-year, $60 million deal (I know he was rumored to have signed with Milwaukee for four-years, $52 million pending a physical, but it isn’t official…yet)

GarzaWhy This Signing Makes Sense: The Jays need another solid option in their rotation to compliment R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Brandon Morrow, so that their offense isn’t wasted on sloppy rotation options like Esmil Rogers, Ramon Ortiz, Aaron Laffey, and Rickey Romero, who combined to make 27 starts last season. While Garza has some injury concerns, the Blue Jays have already given him a dynamic weapon – Dioner Navarro. With Navarro as his catcher, Garza has logged 338.1 innings and managed a 3.25 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, while Garza has posted a 4.07 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP with anyone else behind the dish. While there is risk involved due to Garza spending 170 team games on the disabled list the last three seasons with right shoulder and elbow injuries, the Jays need a pitcher who is capable of pitching in the AL East (Garza has done it before), can toss 180 or more innings (Garza has done it four times), and would be a significant upgrade over Rogers, Todd Redmond, and J.A. Happ, while the club waits for Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Alberto Tirado, Daniel Norris, and Sean Nolin to reach the majors. Garza may not be a number one starter, but he is a strong number two or three option on a club that should compete with an absolutely loaded offensive group.

Philadelphia Phillies Sign Ubaldo Jimenez to a five-year, $85 million deal

Why This Signing Makes Sense: The Phillies first round pick, seventh overall, is protected, so while Jimenez would require draft-pick compensation, it would only be a second round pick going to Cleveland for Jimenez. After a tremendous second half in 2013 (1.82 ERA, 1.14 WHIP over 84 innings), Jimenez rebuilt his value, and, at the age of 30, would be a solid right-handed option for the Phillies to place between Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Jimenez has had some success during his career in the NL East:

I Split W L ERA GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
Atlanta Braves 3 5 3.79 9 0 1 1 54.2 47 25 23 6 28 66 1.372 10.9 2.36
Miami Marlins 1 2 4.07 5 0 0 0 24.1 23 19 11 1 16 31 1.603 11.5 1.94
New York Mets 2 3 3.40 6 0 0 0 39.2 27 15 15 4 21 29 1.210 6.6 1.38
Washington Nationals 5 1 2.61 7 0 0 0 48.1 39 14 14 1 16 36 1.138 6.7 2.25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/22/2014.

For those who don’t want to do the math, Jimenez is 11-11 with a 3.39 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and a 162:81 K:BB over 167 innings and 27 starts, and while that isn’t perfect, especially in a ballpark that is more favorable to hitters, Jimenez should, at least, be worth the money as an innings eater if he isn’t elite like he was in the second half of 2013. The Phillies may not be contenders, but they’ll always be spenders. They don’t have any arms ready in their system and Jimenez would be a huge upgrade over Roberto Hernandez and Ethan Martin, who appear to be options for the rotation currently.

Oakland Athletics Sign Nelson Cruz to a three-year, $27 million deal

Why This Signing Makes Sense: The Cruz market appears nearly dead after there was draft-pick compensation added to a PED suspension, but Cruz is still just 33 and he is coming off of an All-Star season with solid production (27 home runs and 76 RBI in just 109 games). With very little interest and risk involved, it’s the perfect opportunity for Oakland to swoop in and make an interesting signing. While the club has some solid right-handed pop in Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson, the remainder of the lineup is filled with left-handed hitters, including Josh Reddick, Eric Sogard, Brandon Moss, as well as switch-hitters Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie. Another right-handed, middle-of-the-order bat would be a tremendous addition, as Reddick or Moss could sandwich between Cruz and Cespedes, providing quite a bit of value and production for a team that struggles to find offense in a cavernous home ballpark. However, Cruz has struggled in Oakland, posting a .192/.248/.352 triple-slash in 202 career plate appearances there. The late first round pick and discounted contract, though, could be enough to overlook his struggles, while providing a little more punch to the Oakland lineup.

Texas Rangers Sign Bronson Arroyo to a two-year, $24 million deal

ArroyoWhy This Signing Makes Sense: Arroyo has been homer prone in the past and doesn’t have the stuff to avoid bats, but he has averaged 211 innings pitched over the last nine seasons and is someone whom the Rangers could count on with Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison coming back from injuries and Derek Holland on the shelf until mid-2014. Arroyo survived in a bandbox in Cincinnati over the last eight seasons, so he would be just as likely to post 200-plus innings and an ERA around 4.00 in Texas, especially with spacious ballparks like those in Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim within the division. There isn’t draft-pick compensation tied to Arroyo, and with Masahiro Tanaka gone and no real hope of acquiring David Price in a trade, the Rangers just need five starting pitchers, and Arroyo is a nice, reliable addition for the middle or back-end of the Texas rotation.

Atlanta Braves Trade Alex Wood to the New York Yankees for Gary Sanchez

Why This Trade Makes Sense: C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, and Hiroki Kuroda make a great top three and Ivan Nova showed drastic improvements last season, but the Yankees are relying on David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Adam Warren, and Manny Banuelos at the back of the rotation in 2014. While Alex Wood has one of the more violent deliveries you’ll ever see, he has solid stuff and is ready to be productive immediately in a major league rotation. With Brandon Beachy healthy and David Hale and Gavin Floyd capable of filling the back of the Braves rotation, Wood could be expendable for Atlanta to seek a long-term option at catcher with the departure of Brian McCann to the Yankees via free agency. Evan Gattis has a lot of power and Christian Bethancourt has tremendous defensive skills, but neither seem like strong options as an everyday catcher for Atlanta. While Sanchez still needs some seasoning and he could use a change of scenery due to his makeup and maturity concerns, the Braves have several upcoming arms, as usual, and they have a long-term need at catcher. Sanchez could be the answer and the eventual elbow surgery that Wood will need is worth this type of deal for Atlanta, and the production that the Yankees get out of Wood could be useful, as well.

R.A. Dickey: He’s Fine

Courtesy: businessinsider.com
Courtesy: businessinsider.com; CLICK TO VIEW GIF, IT’S AMAZING

Toronto Blue Jays  knuckleballer R.A. Dickey hasn’t been all that bad this season, despite his current 4.72 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. While those numbers are drastically different from his 2.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP from his 2012 NL Cy Young season, one needs to look a bit deeper into the statistics to see that Dickey is getting better.

In six of Dickey’s 17 starts, he has allowed five or more runs (he only did this five times in 33 starts in 2012). In three of his 17 starts, he has failed to go six innings (he only did this twice in 2012). If you take away his “not good” six starts, Dickey has a 2.18 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP over 74.1 innings, but how will he find consistency in the pitcher-unfriendly AL East?

 

Date Team Opp GS FB% FBv CH% CHv KN% KNv
2013-06-26 TOR @TBR 1 7.50% 81.1 92.50% 75.4
2013-06-21 TOR BAL 1 6.90% 82 3.00% 74.3 90.10% 75.9
2013-06-15 TOR @TEX 1 15.90% 81.3 2.80% 72.3 81.30% 75.8
2013-06-10 TOR @CHW 1 14.30% 81 6.10% 71.2 79.60% 74.7
2013-06-05 TOR @SFG 1 8.70% 80.2 91.30% 73.4
2013-05-30 TOR @ATL 1 9.20% 80.9 90.80% 74.5
2013-05-25 TOR BAL 1 17.00% 80.2 83.10% 73.9
2013-05-20 TOR TBR 1 5.80% 80.4 94.20% 74.1
2013-05-14 TOR SFG 1 16.50% 80.9 83.50% 74.5
2013-05-09 TOR @TBR 1 13.60% 80.8 2.70% 73.7 83.60% 74.9
2013-05-04 TOR SEA 1 8.00% 81.6 92.00% 75
2013-04-28 TOR @NYY 1 100.00% 73.4
2013-04-23 TOR @BAL 1 6.80% 79.6 0.90% 75 92.40% 73.6
2013-04-18 TOR CHW 1 1.60% 81 98.40% 74.6
2013-04-13 TOR @KCR 1 15.00% 81.7 2.00% 73.5 83.00% 76
2013-04-07 TOR BOS 1 19.20% 82.4 3.00% 74.3 77.80% 76.2
2013-04-02 TOR CLE 1 5.80% 82.8 1.00% 74 93.30% 76.7

Dickey2Unfortunately, there aren’t really any relationships between how frequently or with what velocity Dickey is throwing his fastball and knuckleball and his success. When considering the teams that have gotten to him (Boston, Seattle, Baltimore twice, Atlanta, and the Chicago White Sox), four of the six games seem excusable, but Seattle and Chicago are pretty brutal.  Considering that PitchF/X only shows that Dickey has thrown a changeup in eight starts and in three of those starts, Dickey has been shelled.

Perhaps Dickey is only going to thrive by being a two-pitch guy. Perhaps it is the nature of the beast when it comes to the inconsistency of the knuckleball itself. After all, how many knuckleballers have one Cy Young awards besides Dickey? That would be zero. In fact, Joe Niekro is the only other knuckleballer, besides Dickey, to win a Sporting News Pitcher of the Year award and Phil Niekro is the only knuckleballer to win 300 games in baseball history.

R.A. Dickey hasn’t lost anything. He still throws the hard knuckleball and he still shows glimpses of his dominance, more often than not. There will always be outings when the opposition sits on the knuckleball and it isn’t floating right. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dickey’s ERA is closer to 3.40 than 4.00 at the end of the season. He has shown the last few seasons that he can be consistent. Besides, he’s the king:

Dickey1

How Good Are the Blue Jays?

Courtesy: businessinsider.com
Courtesy: businessinsider.com

You can’t buy championships…Well, maybe you can. The New York Yankees have tried to and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels seem to think that it is possible. The Blue Jays are taking a new approach. They seem to be trading for AND buying a championship, acquiring an All-Star team this offseason (and their contracts) to become immediate contenders in the American League East.

Toronto is absolutely loaded. Starting pitching…upgraded. Bullpen…upgraded. Offense…upgraded. Manager…well, they brought back a former manager, John Gibbons, so that is questionable.

Still, you have to like what GM Alex Anthopoulos has done, and if you’re a Blue Jays fan you have to love it.

Courtesy: northjersey.com
Courtesy: northjersey.com

The starting rotation is stacked. If the club rotates right-handed, left-handed, the rotation is: R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Ricky Romero, and Brandon Morrow. Morrow could be the No. 2 starter for most teams, possibly the No. 1 starter for many other. Morrow’s BB/9 IP have fallen from 4.1 in 2010 to 3.0 in 2012, when he posted a 2.96 ERA, also the lowest of his career. If Johnson stays healthy, he is capable of winning 20-games, having won 15 games in 2009, the last time he pitched 200 innings. Romero was 42-29 with a 3.60 ERA in his first three seasons (2009-2011) before imploding to a 9-14 record and 5.77 ERA in 2012. Buehrle has only tossed 200 innings in the last 12 seasons, winning 170 games in that time, and Dickey…a Cy Young in 2012 and a 39-28 record with a 2.95 ERA since 2010, when he seemingly became a totally different pitcher from his 22-28 record and 5.43 ERA that he posted in his previous seven seasons.

The bullpen is solid, as well, providing an end game from the Jays dominant rotation. Casey Janssen was dominant as a closer in 2012, Darren Oliver (if he doesn’t retire) has been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball over the last seven seasons, Brandon Lyon is a former closer turned set-up man, Sergio Santos is coming back from shoulder surgery, and Esmil Rogers, Aaron Loup, and Brad Lincoln still have potential to become great bullpen arms.

Cabrera, Reyes, and Bautista - the new core. Courtesy: nydailynews.com
Cabrera, Reyes, and Bautista – the new core. Courtesy: nydailynews.com

The additions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera provide, quite possibly, the best leadoff and No. 2 hitter in baseball, setting things up perfectly for the powerful Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Brett Lawrie will continue to establish himself as one of the top third basemen in baseball, starting in 2013, as his power, speed, and athleticism make him an elite talent. Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus have shown glimpses of talent in the past and they are both young enough to rebound and become great contributors, even All-Star talents. The club has a lot of power at catcher with J.P. Arencibia around, who now has a clear future with Travis d’Arnaud going to the Mets in the Dickey deal.

While you can look at all of the deals that sent talent like d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, and Noah Syndergaard away from the club, the Blue Jays still have a lot of young talent in the system. Lawrie, Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose, and David Cooper will contribute at the major league level in 2013, and great prospects like Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris (who will surely rebound from a disastrous 2012), Marcus Stroman, Roberto Osuna, Sean Nolin, and D.J. Davis still within the system.

While the Boston Red Sox try to rebuild without making a huge splash in free agency and the New York Yankees aim to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014, the Toronto Blue Jays have just made their move…or moves…to become a huge threat to the entire divison and the league. Could Toronto be battling Tampa and Baltimore as the Red Sox and Yankees try to determine how they are going to build in the future? The future is now in Toronto and the Blue Jays could approach 100-wins with their upgraded roster in 2013.

2012 MLB Awards

The Second Annual Baseball Haven “I’m Always Right Before the Media Figures It Out” Awards are officially ready, just one day after the season.  These guys may not win the awards below, but they certainly SHOULD.

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

.330/.393/.606, 109 R, 40 2B, 44 HR, 139 RBI, 4 SB

Cabrera gets the award because he won the first Triple Crown in MLB since Carl Yastrzemski won it in 1967, AND because he carried the Tigers into the postseason in September and early October, blasting 11 home runs, driving in 30 runs and posting a 1.071 OPS in 31 games. He moved to a position, third base, to accommodate the acquisition of Prince Fielder. No one ever said that he would make a difference there defensively, but his .966 fielding percentage was still better than the league average for third baseman, .952. Sure, his WAR was lower than Mike Trout, but Mike Trout is at home and Cabrera proved his worth in 2012.

Honorable Mention: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers; Robinson Cano, New York Yankees; Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers;

NL MVP: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants

.336/.408/.549, 78 R, 39 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 103 RBI, 1 SB

Posey led MLB in batting average and OPS+, handling catching duties and occasionally playing first base to give his reconfigured knee together after a devastating injury in 2011. Posey’s absence from the Giants 2011 season may have had a lot to do with their inability to make the playoffs after winning the 2010 World Series over the Texas Rangers. Posey’s transformation from a collegiate shortstop to a top-level offensive catcher has gone about as smoothly as anyone could have anticipated. Even while playing in an extreme pitcher’s park, AT&T Park, Posey is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.

Honorable Mention:Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates; Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves;

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 238.1 IP, 239:60 K:BB

Verlander’s statistics in 2012 were not as impressive as his totals in 2011, but that doesn’t make him any less impressive. Verlander was the lone consistent starter for most of the 2012 season for the AL Central champion Tigers, and he scored a relationship with Kate Upton on top of that. The man is just a winner. The filth that he possesses rivals only Larry Flynt.

Honorable Mention:Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels; Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners; Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays; David Price, Tampa Bay Rays;

NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 217 IP, 170:49 K:BB

He pitches in an awful park for pitchers, he is on one of the best teams in the National League, and he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons, so Cueto deserves this award. While he doesn’t pitch in a major market and he did have a few stretches where he seemed to “lose it”, Cueto finally tossed over 200 innings, and, after suffering through a rough spot, he dominated late in the season. If you put the ballpark factor into play here, Cueto would garner many more votes. He should win, but it is unlikely thanks to the New York bias and the cool story that comes along with R.A. Dickey.

Honorable Mention:R.A. Dickey, New York Mets; Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds;

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics and Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

Who says you can’t share an award? These two managers deserve some sort of plaque and a key from their respective city’s mayors for the work that they did this season. With the high spending Angels and Rangers out west for the A’s and the Red Sox and Yankees in the east with the O’s, the teams found creative ways to maintain a solid group of players on their rosters through trading and drafting well over the last several seasons. As both teams head into the ALDS, thanks to Friday’s victory over Texas for Baltimore, this could only be the beginning for one of these teams.

Honorable Mention:Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays; Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox;

NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

With his All-Star outfielder banned 50-games for a positive drug test, his one-time ace, Tim Lincecum, posting a 5.18 ERA over 33 starts, and injuries to Pablo Sandoval throughout the season, Bochy managed to lead the Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. While you can question him for his lack of faith in Brandon Belt during most of the season, he seemed to make the right decision more often than not with his club.

Honorable Mention:Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds; Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates; Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals;

AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

.326/.399/.564, 129 R, 27 2B, 8 3B, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB

A WAR of 10.7 in his rookie season, which led the league, shows just how special Trout is going to continue to be. Having just turned 21 years old in early August, the future is as bright as a supernova, as Trout’s power, speed, on-base skills, and fielding ability will continue to make him a perennial MVP candidate. You can certainly argue that he should win the award this season over Miguel Cabrera, but due to the Tigers landing in the playoffs and the first Triple Crown in 45 years, it has to go with the Tigers chubby third baseman.

Honorable Mention:Yeonis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics; Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers; Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles;

NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier, INF/OF, Cincinnati Reds

Frazier was a monster while the Cincinnati Reds went two months without their best player, Joey Votto. He finished the 2012 season with an .829 OPS was second to Colorado catcher Wilin Rosario amongst NL rookies…I see you thought I was going to say Bryce Harper there, but he posted an .817 OPS. While Harper energized his club upon his callup and had one of the best quotes of the year (“That’s a clown question, bro), it was Frazier’s bat and versatility that helped the Cincinnati Reds win the NL Central.

Honorable Mention:Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals; Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies; Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks; Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs;

Comeback Player of the Year: Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres

2011: .289/.374/.399, 43 R, 28 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 13 SB

2012: .286/.376/.498, 95 R, 31 2B, 2 3B, 31 HR, 115 RBI, 17 SB

Petco can put bats to sleep like the vets that work out of the back of actual Petco stores can do to your pet; however, Headley was one of the few bright spots for the rebuilding San Diego Padres, delivering MVP-like numbers for the Friars. At the age of 28 and with two years of arbitration eligibility, you have to wonder if the Padres are going to trade him this offseason for more prospects, especially after his surprising season and how often Headley’s name came up at the trade deadline.

Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees;