The Daily Duce: Friday, November 14th

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Hey, don’t get all Sophie’s Choice, man. You know, think of all the sympathy cooz I’m gonna get.

Hey, so that previous Presented Without Comment… probably needs a comment, eh? OK, here’s one: that sucks. And it sucks that this has been a known issue for years, and sad that Rogers so badly wanted to steal the Bills from Buffalo that they refused to take care of the team that they actually do own in this regard. It’s a fact of life we need to just accept, but it’s also stupid. I can’t blame a Kendrick or an Utley (or, let’s be honest, a Kendrick — Utley has some weird vesting options that I’d wager the Jays wouldn’t touch) for not wanting to put his earnings potential in peril by not just having to withstand the physical demands of playing on the carpet, but the havoc it can wreak with a player’s defensive abilities as well.

Then again, I might not have to blame those guys for anything: Mike Wilner tweets that a Jays source tells him that no trades were in place for either and nobody was asked to waive their no-trade clause. Because, y’know, if a player had just told them “hell no, I’m not playing there,” I’m sure the Jays would be rushing to let everybody know. Also: read the language closely. There was “never a trade in place” and “neither player was ever approached to waive” doesn’t necessarily mean things could have been discussed more informally. Or maybe it was nothing.

This morning I tweeted that Jon Morosi was on the Fan 590, suggesting that — if he’s really serious about being open to a position switch — Hanley Ramirez would be a terrific fit for the Jays and their collection of Dominican stars, especially as a guy you could play at third, you could DH, and you could even play in the outfield. Obviously it’s doubtful it would ever happen — Morosi certainly isn’t suggesting the Jays are interested, just that maybe they should be — but he’s a hell of a hitter. His last two seasons have seen him produce a 157 wRC+. For Jose Reyes that number is 107, FWIW (though Reyes has more than 200 more plate appearances in that span).

Oh, and don’t go rushing to believe this one, but speaking of Hanley, someone called Jorge Izaguirre, whose Twitter bio says he’s a Venezuelan baseball and softball commentator, tweets that the Jays are indeed interested. Yeah… OK.

Still getting reaction to the Gose-Travis trade, including Gideon Turk of Blue Jays Plus. John Lott has an excellent profile of Travis in the National Post. Rob Rogacki of Tigers blog Bless You Boys provides a scouting report for Bluebird Banter. Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail looks at the other side, focussing on the departing Anthony Gose. While Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at Travis’s impending return to second base, after being briefly moving to the outfield this season, as he was blocked at his preferred position in Detroit by Ian Kinsler.

Great stuff from Steve Adams of MLBTR, as he profiles the free agency of reported Jays top target, Russell Martin, and attempts to project his contract: “I feel that four years is the absolute floor for Martin, given his interest, and it’s hard to see him taking an annual value that’s much lower than McCann’s $17MM if he has to sacrifice a full year. Ultimately, I think there will be several teams involved and willing to go four years, but the team that pushes to a fifth year will be the one to land him. That fifth year will require him to take a hit on his annual value, and I think anything in the $70-75MM range is plausible, so I’m splitting the difference and projecting a five-year, $72.5MM contract.”

@Clutchlings77 has been following the Jays players who are playing winter ball in Australia, tweeting today’s lines from Canberra for guys like L.B. Dantzler, Griffin Murphy, and — most interestingly — Anthony Alford, who today went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and a home run. The former quarterback was showing more patience today. He “only swung at one first pitch today – and hit an inside the park HR on it,” we’re told.

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Presented Without Comment…

(OK, one comment: Jenn definitely has sources in the know — she had Danny Valencia coming to the Jays before anybody else, among other things. That doesn’t mean it’s true, it just means don’t be an asshole and assume it’s nothing just because you may not happen to know who she is.)

More Trade Reaction: Devo Is Divisive

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“Why is Devon Travis a non-prospect?” asks Jake in yesterday’s Keith Law chat at ESPN.com. “The better question is why you think he’s a prospect,” Law replies.

“What I’m told by independent scouts, like from other organizations — they say, ‘well, he’s average defensively, but the bat is really something special. He’s a guy that could win a batting title some year,'” said Bob Elliott on Thursday’s edition of Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590.

“His bat doesn’t profile anywhere else he might play. He has leaky hips and starts his swing from a dead stop with his hands loaded low, making up for it a bit with strength, something that won’t work as well against major league pitching,” says Law in his analysis of the transaction.

“In the case of Travis, he can defend very well at second base and he can flat out hit the baseball. The hitting mechanics are a little unorthodox—namely hitting off his front foot most of the time—but he consistently barrels the ball and drives it to all fields with very good strength for his size,” writes Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus.

“He taunts believers with the potential for a .280 average, 8-12 home runs and 10-12 steals but still has to answer questions as to whether he can adjust to advanced pitching,” writes Craig Goldstein in another piece at BP.

“He might be average in the field,” says an NL scout in an Elliott piece from Friday’s Toronto Sun. “But the bat. He’ll take Goins’ job for sure. He will hit a lot of doubles.”

“While Travis has put up very solid minor-league numbers so far, the tools don’t necessarily match the statistical profile. He has the potential to be a solid average hitter with limited power, and his limited athleticism and quickness limits his value defensively,” writes Jordan Gorosh in the same BP article as Goldstein.

“‘He makes solid contact and doesn’t strike out a lot. I’ve heard some people throw a Howie Kendrick on him. He might be a second base version of Bill Madlock.’ Third baseman Madlock was a career .305 hitter who won four batting titles with the Pittsburgh Pirates,” writes Elliott, quoting the same scout.

“That’s so inanely hyperbolic,” tweets Ewan Ross in response to Elliott’s radio quotes. ” I talked to 3 or 4 people, and ranged from .270 hitter, to not a big leaguer.”

“Glove works very well at keystone even with fringe arm,” writes BP’s Anderson. “Reads angles well and makes more plays than he should; good footwork when he gets to the ball; exceptionally soft hands; lightning quick on the pivot; turns an excellent double play.” He adds that, defensively, it’s an “above-average total package.”

“He’s a below-average defender at second base,” says Law. “The defense is fringy, as his range is limited and the arm is not a strength either,” adds Gorosh.

“An Altuve-type player that ultimately will be a two-hole hitter,” says Jays scout Dave May Jr., according to Alex Anthopoulos, via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

So… yeah.

The Jays, apparently, just dealt for a below-average/average/above-average defensive second baseman who will win batting titles/hit like Altuve/be a .280 hitter with 10-12 HR power/be unable to adjust to big league pitching with his unorthodox swing mechanics.

WELL THAT SURE AS FUCK CLEARS IT UP.*

 

*Yes, yes, I know there’s not every going to be unanimity of analysis on a prospect, but this is pretty damn divergent! Also I really wanted to do the Photoshop and it’s Friday. Sue me.

The Daily Duce: Thursday, November 13th

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Well, I didn’t go to computer academy!

Keith Law has elaborated in a on why he’s soft on Devon Travis in a post at ESPN.com analyzing several recent transactions, suggesting that the Jays’ acquisition is a “below-average defender,” and citing concerns about the second baseman’s “unorthodox” swing. “He has leaky hips and starts his swing from a dead stop with his hands loaded low, making up for it a bit with strength, something that won’t work as well against major league pitching,” he explains. It’s certainly not an unfair concern, though I’m glad that several other evaluators don’t appear to agree.

Bob Elliott’s piece on the Gose-Travis trade for the Toronto Sun includes some interesting information on the differences between the Jays and Melky Cabrera as they continue to try to come to an agreement that would see him return. Cabrera has told friends that the Jays offered three-years and $39-million, apparently, but “the outfielder’s agent is believed to be looking for a $50 million package.” Honestly, I think that’s a fair price for Melky to be pushing for, and a fair offer from the Jays. It’s not looking good.

So… you know that thing about how the Jays are supposedly after Russell Martin? I actually quite like the idea — he’s a marked upgrade on Dioner Navarro, especially defensively, and especially with respect to receiving and framing, and moving Navarro to a backup/DH/PH role would be rather ideal — but there’s a problem. As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and others, tell us, the Dodgers are interested. I’d suggest that maybe some Canadian sentimentality could work in the Jays’ favour here, but if a thing like that’s going to be a factor at all, all else would have to be equal. When Dodgers money is involved, I’m not sure I’m seeing the Jays being equal.

Shi Davidi wraps up the GM meetings in a piece for Sportsnet, explaining that the Jays’ deal with Detroit came about suddenly, that the club doesn’t have anything else imminent, noting that they checked in on Andrew Miller as part of their pursuit of a revamped bullpen, and suggesting that Brook Jacoby isn’t the only person being considered for the club’s vacant hitting coach position. “Asked about Jacoby’s chances of landing the job, one source said ‘probably,’ while another noted other candidates are in the mix,” we’re told.

As noted earlier, Ken Rosenthal tweeted this morning that the Jays were the team that the Tigers “feared most” in the bidding for Victor Martinez. That’s certainly a nice thought for a fan base that, despite all the early off-season rumours, still isn’t convinced that their team actually has any money that it’s willing to spend. But does it change anything? As much as Martinez would have been a better fit than Adam Lind — he’s a switch hitter who can even spend a little time behind the plate — he’s still not exactly ideal for a club losing two thirds of its outfield and still searching for infield and bullpen help. He’d have been a great addition, don’t get me wrong, and lately I’ve been of the mind that if any of the top free agents is willing to take the Jays’ money, they should go ahead and give it to him and sort the rest out later — they just so rarely get the opportunity to add top talent to this organization. But the piece from Davidi linked above, he characterizes Martinez as a player who the Jays “expected would remain with the Tigers all along.” Hmmm.

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Second Base Problem? Jays Whip It Good In Nabbing Devo From The Tigers

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So long, one third of Roy Halladay, we hardly knew ye.

The Jays, of course, traded their homegrown member of the Cybernetic Operational Optimized Knights of Science back in December of 2009 for Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Taylor. Taylor was immediately flipped to the Oakland A’s for Brett Wallace. A little over half a season later Wallace begat Anthony Gose from Houston (by way of Philadelphia). And now, as we learned last night, Gose has been dealt to the Detroit Tigers for second base prospect Devon Travis.

Not exactly the kind of diminishing returns you’d like to see from a trade of a Hall Of Fame pitcher in the prime of his career at the time. But it’s actually a nifty trick that Alex Anthopoulos has turned, now for the second time — first by moving Wallace — having backed away from a player whose value seems likely to have already peaked.

That’s not exactly a fair assessment of Gose — he’s still young, toolsy, and as GROF tweeted last night, “As much as I rag on Gose, if Billy Hamilton can play everyday, a centerfield that good — in a ballpark that needs one — probably can too” — but his value to the Jays was certainly diminished by the emergence of Dalton Pompey (and, to a lesser extent, Kevin Pillar). More crucially his value in the overall would, in all likelihood, have taken a massive hit at some point in 2015, as he is currently one demotion away from being out of options.

At that point the Jays almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to get someone that some are calling a potential future everyday player at second base — or any other position, frankly — in return for him.

Of course, not everybody is that high on Devon Travis — Keith Law tweeted last night, tongue firmly in cheek, “Failed prospect traded for non-prospect. GM Meetings Fever – catch it!” Fortunately, most opinions on Travis seem to diverge from that.

So who is Devon Travis, anyway?

We’ll start with the basics: He’s a second baseman heading into his age-24 season who spent the entirety of 2014 in Double-A after tearing up the Midwest League and the Florida State League the year prior (though it should be noted that he was old at the time for the first, and not terrible young for the second). Baseball America just yesterday damned him with faint praise, naming him the top prospect in the Tigers system, though they did rank him the 84th best prospect in baseball back in February. MLB.com, on the other hand, has updated their top Jays prospect list since the deal, ranking Travis ninth. He was a 12th round pick back in 2012 out of Florida State University, and apart from some struggles in last year’s Arizona Fall League, he’s hit everywhere that he’s played in his brief pro career.

A superstar-in-the-making he is not. But there’s definitely something there, too.

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