Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Blue Jays Preview, part 2

16 - IF Mark DeRosa

Age: 38
Nationality: American
2013 Contract: $750,000

While brought in primarily as a "glue guy" -- a player who is known for his clubhouse presence rather than his on-field skills -- Mark DeRosa hasn't stuck around the major leagues since 1998 because he couldn't play.  He had a five year peak between 2005 and 2009 where he was at least average and even showed some pop in his bat (he had a career high of 23 HR between the Cardinals and the Indians in 2009).  He can play a number of positions, but he's not particularly good (or even league average) at any of them.

DeRosa had a great spring hitting .442 with 2 HRs (and looked good when I was there), but he had a great spring last year with the Nationals, so I wouldn't read much into it.  Perhaps he has the kind of swing and approach at the plate that takes advantage of the lower talent levels and pitchers working on things that are much more common in Spring Training.  To demonstrate how important spring numbers are, DeRosa had a .457/.587/.600 slash line in Grapefruite League play last year, and followed it up with a .188/.300/.247 line in the regular season (101 PAs).  So, let's hope that he gets 100 ABs or so this season and does a wee bit better.

19 - OF Jose Bautista 

Age: 32
Nationality: Dominican
2013 Contract: $14 million

By now, we all know Jose Bautista's story.  Bouncing around through many organizations until he was acquired by the Blue Jays for minor league catcher Robinson Diaz, a small mechanical adjustment by the Blue Jays staff and Jose has emerged into one of the premiere power hitters in the game.  All that we can really hope for this year from Bautista is to continue the awesomeness that he's been having over the past three years and to stay healthy.

As I write this, Jose blasted a line drive home run off the left field foul pole in Philadelphia in the Jays final exhibition game.  That type of swing, which I saw firsthand when I was in Florida, is what tells me that his wrist (surgically repaired in August) is healthy and raring to go.  I saw him absolutely destroy a ball (hitting it out into a strong wind) as well as hit a ball out that he had to reach for, something that few players would be able to do.  Jose is definitely healthy and I'm sure he's just raring to get to the games that count.

21 - RHP Sergio Santos

Age: 29
Nationality: American
2013 Contract: $2.75 million

Santos was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks as an infielder and joined the Blue Jays organization via a trade in 2005.  He struggled as a hitter and eventually became a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox.  With the White Sox, he became the closer in his second year in the majors (2011), putting together a pretty awesome season, striking out over 13 batters per 9 innings and saving 30 games (not that saves mean anything).

For the Blue Jays, Santos was their closer of the future but only threw five innings in 2012 before getting shut down for the rest of the year due to injury and surgery.  He appears to be healthy now and has been looking good in Spring Training.  Whether he closes or sets up, he'll be one of the two main back of the bullpen guys this season and the Jays will be relying on him.

22 - C Henry Blanco 

Age: 41
Nationality: Venezuelan
2013 Contract: $750,000

Blanco, like DeRosa, is a veteran who has been brought in for his character as well as his experience.  Amazingly, in his long career, he has never had more than 357 plate appearances in a single season, parlaying his defensive abilities into a long major league career as a backup.

While well respected as a very good defensive catcher, "Hank White" (as he's sometimes called) hasn't been able to do much with the bat (compiling a career OPS of .658), despite looking alright in Spring Training, and winning the backup catcher's position over Josh Thole hitting only .258/.294/.387 (for a slightly above career OPS of .681).  Rumour has it that Blanco was a favourite catcher for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in 2010 for the Mets and was brought in by the Blue Jays to catch him.

23 - RHP Brandon Morrow 

Age: 28
Nationality: American
2013 Contract: $8 million

Morrow was acquired by the Blue Jays in a trade of Brandons with the Seattle Mariners.  After being moved back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen in Seattle, the Mariners sent him to Toronto for reliever Brandon League.  League, since traded to and signing a huge contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has become a very good reliever.  Morrow, on the other hand, is on the cusp of emerging as one of the league's best starting pitchers. 

Last season, Morrow made 21 starts (missing several weeks with an oblique injury) and showed the ability to much more efficient than he has in the past.  While his K% dropped (although still remaining over 21%, which is good), he got far more ground balls in 2012 (up over 5% from 2011) and cut down his fastball and slider usage, opting for more changeups and pitches that Pitchf/x classified as either cutters or splitters.  Obviously, Morrow appears to be maturing, being less of a two-pitch pitcher (fastball/slider) and having a much more well-rounded repertoire.

24 - LHP Ricky Romero 

Age: 28
Nationality: American
2013 Contract:  $7.5 million

Ricky Romero has had more ink spilled about him than any other Blue Jay this spring.  After three increasingly good seasons, Romero took a huge step backwards last year putting up one of the worst seasons by a starting pitcher in the major leagues (he had the worst ERA of all qualified pitchers in the majors).  His control was the biggest issue, walking 105 batters, leading the American League (and tied for the Major League lead) in that category and the mechanical adjustments that pitching coach Pete Walker has been making with him haven't paid off yet. 

So, Ricky stays in Dunedin to work his issues out.  Hopefully, it won't take too long and Ricky will be back to the pitcher he was even in 2010 and 2011.  That would probably make him one of the best 5th starters in baseball.

26 1B/DH AdamLind 

Age: 29
Nationality: American
2013 Contract: $5 million

Another player who has endured his struggles, Adam Lind is basically playing to hold on to a major league job this season.  After returning from a stint in AAA last season, Lind was much better, but still struggles against left handed pitching.   Lind's final stats from last year were actually in the vicinity of league average.  Unfortunately, two things work against him.  As a DH/1B, league average isn't really good enough.  To really be productive at a non-premium defensive position, Lind needs to hit much better.  The second is the aforementioned problem with left-handed pitching. 

Lind's problems have been traced by bloggers to his less selective approach at the plate (as compared to his outstanding 2009 season) as well as his poor overall conditioning.  Blue Jays broadcasters have been talking up his addition of Yoga to his regime, which, hopefully will help shore up his core strength and help him avoid the pesky back injuries that have plagued him. 


Note: All names now link to the player's Baseball Reference page!

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