Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Lazarus Project

We rise again. By "we" I'm referring to MOE, not the Jays. The Jays are still out of it, despite their modest success of late. Right? But if we take two more from Tampa.....

Here's why this team drives me crazy. We have a +36 run differential, pretty much equivalent to Tampa (+37) and the Janquis (+42). BP's 3rd-order wins would have us at 59-48, which isn't bad. So have we just been unlucky? I can't quite buy it. I look at this roster and just don't see a contender. But if Lind (now at a sweet .311/.339/.529) had taken some of the 260 PAs that have gone to Wilkerson and Mench (both at .680 OPS), we might have had another couple of wins and be in the thick of this thing. God, J.P.'s an idiot.

I disagree with Canate on a few points. I think Cito has done well. Who gives a shit about batting order? It means almost nothing. He's done a much better job with the pen than Gibbons, that master of the mid-inning pitching change. I can actually watch the 7th and 8th innings of Jays games now, or could, if I didn't hate the team.

I think it's a little optimistic to talk about moving Hill to short when right now he's lying in a dark room next to Al Toon wondering if he's ever going to see the field again. Assuming he does, the evidence is that he's an average shortstop and great second baseman. Why downgrade a position of strength? Because Joe Inglett hit well for a couple of months? That's madness. For all the rhetoric, shortstop has not been a significant weakness for us this year (in fact, Eckstein and Scutaro have outhit Hill). One of the main reasons we're still somewhere on the outer limits of possible contention, despite down seasons from almost all our supposed good hitters, is that we've had one major upgrade: moving the majority of the PMoD's at-bats to a couple of guys who actually resemble major-league hitters. McDonald looks good out there, but you can't win if he's your starting shortstop. Cito's one worrying tendency, in my eyes, has been to start McDonald a few times a week. That has to stop.

Rolen's been awful at the plate the last six weeks. Can he be done at 33? He's still lovely in the field, so I would think not. His athleticism is still there. Let's not forget, he was a better hitter over his career than Glaus before '08.

Losing McGowan would hurt, but let's wait to see who we get in the off-season, whether Janssen is coming back from his injury, and whether we get a new GM before we talk about our hopes being crapped on for '09. Take it easy, Canate.


Canate said...

Whoa. I actually thought Cito was a good move. It was quick hits and possibly poorly articulated, but I meant to say I forgave his early 90s errors, and embrace his present day presence. I'm giving him bonus points for Lind.

The Hill question deserves some debate. I'm not sure we know how good a SS he could be, but it seems he hits like a SS. What makes someone a great 2B - would all good SS be great 2B man. I'll look into this further. It's not that I think Inglett's necessarily the answer, but I do know finding a 2B is easier than a SS.

Portnoy said...

Sorry about that, Willie. On rereading, it's clear that you were writing in support of Cito. I guess I just couldn't quite believe you were writing something positive about the Jays.

Interestingly, it doesn't seem that all decent SSs would be great at 2B. Manuel Lee was an excellent defensive SS (career RAA2 of 22, according to BP, with a Rate2 of 105), but poor second baseman (career RAA2 of -16, with a Rate2 of 95). Michael Young looks to be an average shortstop (career Rate 2 of 100) and terrible second baseman (career Rate2 of 92). Craig Counsell and Orlando Cabrera have also been significantly better at short. Even John McDonald has been an excellent shortstop (career Rate 2 of 105) and below-average second baseman (career Rate2 of 97).

I'm not saying we've solved our shortstop problem, but I'm saying that moving a great defender at second to a position where he's below-average isn't the answer. I'd rather have one great defender in the middle and one stopgap than two mediocrities.

Razzer said...

It's not only Inglett, it's this guy in the minors. Here is what BP prospect Guru Kevin Goldstein had to say of him in a recent Monday morning 10 pack.

Scott Campbell, 2B, Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
A tenth-round pick out of Gonzaga in 2006, Campbell entered the year as an off-the-radar guy with averages of .284/.393/.379. Jumped two levels to Double-A this year, he's become a very real prospect, and the New Zealander was selected to the Futures Game roster as he guns to become the first New Zealander to reach the big leagues. Among the Eastern League leaders in batting and on-base percentage throughout the season, Campbell went on a surprising power surge over the weekend, blasting his sixth home run of the year on Saturday, and adding his seventh and eighth on Sunday, bringing his numbers on the season up to an even more impressive .333/.422/.474. Campbell's athleticism doesn't blow anyone away—he's a fundamentally-sound second baseman, though not especially rangy, and his speed is average at best. His power—this weekend notwithstanding—is below average, but the most important tool is the hit tool, and scouts are grading that high, convinced that the Kiwi will make history at some point next year.

Portnoy said...

I'm glad Campbell's doing well, but I don't think it's realistic to talk about moving Hill b/c we have a decent hitter at the position in AA. Campbell's still got a long way to go. If he did eventually make it, having depth/trade options is good....

Razzer said...

At 22 Hill hit 279/368/410 in AA with 11 jacks.

At 23 Campbell is at 336/427/484 in AA with 9 jacks.

Pretty superior in all aspects. I would call him more than a decent hitter. He is one of the best hitters in the league.

Regardless, let's hope Hill comes back first before he moves anywhere.

I wonder if Campbell can learn to play 3B