The Weekend Wrap: The Listless Against Seattle Edition

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A deep dig into the numbers and performances from the past weekend of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, brought to you by Draft Kings — get your Daily Fantasy Sports on at Draft Kings!

Here we are again, the Jays having come out on the wrong end of a weekend series, but with a somewhat uplifting Sunday victory to wash the bad taste from our mouths. J.A. Happ was terrific (minus a couple too many walks and the fact that he only lasted six innings) in the series finale, the bullpen followed up a terrible Saturday with three scoreless innings, and Edwin Encarnacion powered the offence with a blast.

I mean, OK, you’d rather the offence had done better against a guy as wholly pedestrian (to be polite) as Wade Miley. And you’d rather not too often have to rely on Josh Thole — who was filling in admirably-ish for Russell Martin, who fortunately escaped a serious injury after a sauna/shower mishap — hitting a double and coming around two batters later for your second of two run scored in the game. Aaaand, oh man, Saturday’s game was a bigger pile of trash than the Rangers will be if they actually make good on their rumoured interest in the Royals’ Yordano Ventura Edinson Volquez (same diff, they’re all trash). And somehow the strike-two call in Michael Saunders’ ninth inning at-bat of Friday’s game was even worse.

But the Jays still sit a mere three games back of the Orioles, and Jose Bautista — fresh off being booed by the ingrates in Buffalo for not running out a double play ball on his still-recovering “turf toe,” and paying for dinner for both the Bisons and their weekend opponents, the Gwinnett Braves — is set to return to the club tonight.

Things are looking up!*

Been Storen up some terrible hot takes? Well, about that…

I just read back my piece on the trade that brought Drew Storen to the Blue Jays last winter, and I must admit, it was a whole lot more glowingly positive than I expected. And a lot more glowingly positive than I remember being about it once the initial excitement wore off, when Drew and I spoke on podcasts all spring and into the early parts of the season about the fact that Storen might be bad. Shit, in it I even passed along a tweet of Wilner’s, in which he wrenched some numbers around to make them look better than they really were, noting that Storen’s concerning second-half ERA of 5.82 dropped to 2.00 if you magically made one bad week disappear.

Yeesh.

That owned up to, while I’m not going to sit here, now that Storen has been released by the club, and try to claim that I wasn’t wrong to be so excited or that the trade was in some twisted way a successful one, I still do get why they did it. I still think the Jays were right to move Ben Revere, and am glad it was him and not Michael Saunders. And I still think it was a great thing that they attempted to bolster their bullpen, giving Aaron Sanchez that much more of an opportunity to move into the starting rotation in the process.

It genuinely did make sense to have picked up Storen on the cheap. And, with apologies to those poor confused souls who overvalue Revere, cheap he was.

Because of the red flags Storen carried — none of which was the fact that his velocity, apparently, was about to take a significant hit, or that this year he’d post a hard contact rate of nearly 40% (38.9%, down from 25% in 2015, and 23.2% the year before) — the Jays acquired him for a surplus outfield piece (who, it turns out, has been a sub-replacement level player for the Nationals this year, slashing just .216/.263/.303 over 260 plate appearances), and got Washington to pay the difference between the players’ salaries.

But obviously if you were going to move Revere for a reliever, you’d want it to have worked out better than this disaster — you’d have wanted to at least get someone else. Shit, if it had been Revere for Jason Grilli, that would have been entirely fine.

Still, we’re talking about a relatively small gamble with a potentially big payoff that simply didn’t. Made sense to roll the dice. So it goes.

Pay him tho

In the off-season, when contract talk was all the rage, I wrote more than once that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to pay the market rate for Edwin Encarnacion without another year of data on the oft-ailing slugger. Encarnacion was the best hitter in the majors in the second half of 2015, even as he battled through a finger injury and a sports hernia (which he had successful surgery for immediately after the conclusion of the Jays’ season). That means it was a typical year for Encarnacion, who is always productive, but whose list of ailments over the course of his career is nearly as impressive as his skills as a hitter.

Back spasms and a wrist injury in 2008. A 60-day DL trip for a wrist injury in 2009, then 14 games with a knee injury and two more for a groin problem. In 2010 he missed 30 games with an arm injury, then battled wrist problems again. In 2011 his left wrist again gave him trouble, as did his toe, his back, and his shoulder. In 2012 he bruised his hand, again needed time off for a sore shoulder, a wrist issue, a toe injury, and a strained trapezius muscle. In 2013 it was his left hamstring, and again his left wrist, which ended his season prematurely. 2014 saw him deal with a back injury and miss 33 games with a quadriceps strain. And in 2015, in addition to the finger and the sports hernia, he ended up listed at points as day-to-day because of a leg injury and a shoulder injury as well. That’s… a hell of a list.

And it’s a list that, I think, makes my stance at the time — and the Jays’ — pretty reasonable. If Edwin wanted to take a bit of a discount in exchange for the certainty of getting a deal done, that’s one thing, but if he was looking for something more like what he could expect to land on the open market, that was a lot to ask of the Jays — especially not then knowing what his age-33 season was going to look like, and whether those ailments would finally begin to catch up with him, as they do inevitably for just about everyone.

Well, I think we know now. And with Encarnacion having another typical Edwin season, he’s probably looking at a contract that will pay him through his age-37 season, and maybe even longer, if the market for his services gets especially frenzied.

David Ortiz is a bad guy to use as a comp for anyone, given how relatively healthy he’s remained and how truly astounding his career, and especially his late career, has been. But Ortiz is in the midst of his seventh season since he turned 34, the age Edwin will be in the first year of his next contract, and has shown that not all bad body DHs are destined to break down as their mid-30s becomes their late-30s and early-40s. Big Papi has hit 210 home runs over those seven seasons, slashing a Fenway-aided .293/.384/.563.

It only takes one team to believe in betting on Edwin to approximate that kind of production to completely blow up his market. But on the other hand, Boston has renegotiated with Ortiz three times since the winter prior to his age-35 season, signing him to a one-year deal, a two-year deal, and then a one-year deal with two club options. Their dollars speak volumes about what even one of the truly rich teams thinks about gambling on the health and production of even one of the truly elite DHs in history as he moved into his upper 30s. That’s smart management of resources, but I fear the Jays’ are going to manage resources so smartly when it comes to Edwin that they end up losing him. Not that we should necessarily be too upset about the club declining (or failing) to lock in another aging, big-money star for more years — at least in the abstract. But damn. It’s Edwin. Pay him.

What do you meme?

I…uh… I don’t think Josh Donaldson was too happy with that strike-two call to Michael Saunders in the ninth inning of Friday’s game…

I also don’t think he was necessarily wrong:

You’re fucking drunk, man.

Up Next…

It would be wrong to say that the Jays can’t afford to slip up this week in what ought to be a gimme series against the lowly Padres, but it sure wouldn’t hurt, given that they host the Orioles next weekend, then head to Houston for four and Kansas City for three. Big games upcoming, but there’s no overlooking anybody when you’re in the big leagues.

Hey, and a midweek afternoon home game with a bunch of screaming kids!

Monday – Tuesday vs. San Diego, 7:07 PM ET

Wednesday vs. San Diego, 12:37 PM ET

Thursday – Off Day

Friday vs. Baltimore, 7:07 PM ET

Saturday – Sunday vs. Baltimore, 1:07 PM ET

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* Er… that is as long as you’re not dumbly flipping out over R.A. Dickey’s last two starts and conveniently ignoring the previous eight, over which he posted a 3.02 ERA. Granted, with a still-concerning HR/FB%, and an ugly FIP and xFIP — though he’s not a guy FIP represents well, having out-pitched his FIP in every season since becoming a full-on knuckleballer, including by 0.56 runs since joining the Blue Jays. And he’s been worth 9.5 wins by RA9-WAR since arriving in Toronto, compared to only 5.7 by FanGraphs’ FIP-based metric. Which isn’t to say that he’s great, but with the Jays now nearly four years into the Dickey Era, I think we understand what he is enough to avoid the pissing and moaning at every opportunity, no?