Stoeten Opens Gregor’s Box – 03/06/17

GregorBag

What would happen if the Blue Jays played a season and there were no Griff Bags or Benny Fresh chats for me to hijack?

Not a whole lot, it turns out, because 2016 was a season without those sweet, delicious, painful collections of questions from utter dopes. And it turned out fine, I guess. Minus just a little slice of magic.

But we do have one other option, and that’s Gregor Chisholm’s Inbox. And while it may be the Griff Bag’s infinitely less bent cousin, and I may actually be mostly giving actual, serious answers here, I hijacked the shit out of his latest one for BlueJays.com anyway.

So let’s do it to it!

As always, I have not read any of Gregor’s answers. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Gregor in his post and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

If he continues to perform, does Rowdy Tellez have a chance to make the team out of Spring Training? Or is Justin Smoak’s job considered a lock?
 
— Jesse S., Waterloo, Ontario

 

Let’s pump the damn brakes on this “continues to perform” stuff maybe just a little. I get that this question was probably written before he went hitless over six plate appearances on Friday and Sunday, but the fact that Tellez did go hitless, and his Grapefruit League slash line now stands at .188/.316/.313, probably tells us something about having big thoughts about tiny granules of spring data.

Look, I’m no Justin Smoak stan — quite the opposite, in fact — and I get how easy it is to dream on a guy like Tellez when the team is playing dumb about the obvious fact that Steve Pearce should be their everyday first baseman and it looks like there’s only hot garbage standing in Rowdy’s way, but he still has a lot of hitting to do before anybody should be declaring him ready for anything.

Baseball America left Tellez off their Eastern League Top 20 Prospects list this winter because of concerns about his bat speed, and the fact that his power is mostly to the pull side and New Hampshire plays in a joke stadium with a short right field porch. At ESPN.com, Keith Law, in ranking him just the 9th best Blue Jays prospect, also said he “gets beat by good velocity” and cited Northeast Delta Dental Stadium as inflating his 2016 results.

Here is the ballpark in question. It… uh… it certainly does look a bit friendly to lefty power hitters *COUGH*:

nedds

That said, Tellez still put up some nice numbers on the road in 2016. He slashed .275/.358/.477 when away from the short porch, which is more than merely respectable. It just doesn’t translate nearly as nicely into big league success. And if there are concerns about his ability to handle velocity on top of that, we’re just not looking yet at a guy who has shown he’s ready to steal an MLB job — even from someone as wholly uninspiring as Smoak.

He might, in time, and I’m sure we’re all rooting for him to get there, but as much as we may want it to, a nice Spring Training isn’t going to answer some very big questions about his ability to be a legitimate bat at the big league level.

* * *

Where the heck is Dalton Pompey?

— David N., @newberryontour

Pompey was “under the weather” to start camp, and so we hadn’t seen much of him by the time your question was submitted, David. He’s made it into four games now, and has looked pretty good so far. Good enough to keep the Jays from doing something stupid like trying to platoon Ezequiel Carrera with Melvin Upton Jr. in left, or running Steve Pearce out there in the outfield regularly when he really needs to be cutting into Justin Smoak’s playing time at first base? I’m not sure about that, but he’ll get to see some good pitchers when he plays for Canada at the WBC, and the hope is that he’ll return to camp and hit the ground running.

He’s not without flaws, but it’s not like you can’t say the same about everybody else in the mix. So… we shall see…

* * *

Why isn’t Max Pentecost in consideration for a roster spot?

— Ryan O., Orlando, Fla.

Uh… seriously??

Pentecost’s young pro career has been riddled with injuries, and he’s only caught 83 innings as a pro since being drafted in June of 2014. He caught just 16 innings in 2016, though it was encouraging that he at least took 319 plate appearances at DH, after having sat out the entire 2015 season.

He did a nice job with the bat in 2016, but that was in Lansing (with a cameo in Dunedin at the end of the season), so he’s still a long way away, and nobody knows if he’s going to be good enough a hitter to stick elsewhere if he’s unable to catch.

By the sounds of an excellent David Laurila piece on him from last August at FanGraphs, the most recent surgery on Pentecost’s shoulder — his third (!) — alleviated the pain he’d felt in it, and at least gives him a chance to resume his career on a similar prospect trajectory. Unfortunately, he’s lost a lot of development time behind the plate. So… definitely don’t count him out, but maybe don’t hold your breath on him, either.

And definitely don’t think about how the Jays might have been gearing up to take Trea fucking Turner with the pick that landed them Pentecost, only to have their now-former scouting director fall in love with the Kenesaw State catcher over the course of a weekend, and bang the drum on him hard enough to win over the room on draft night (which is a whisper I’d heard a long while ago, and mentioned in a post back in November). Oof.

* * *

I want to see Melvin Upton Jr. get 450 at-bats with many coming at Rogers Centre. Considering it was the current regime that acquired him, could this happen?

— Craig. B., Toronto

Okaaaaaay “Craig. B”… or should I say “Melvin U.”?????

Upton’s wRC+ against right-handers was 68 in 2016. It was 101 (with a 5.6% walk rate, 27.8% strikeout rate, and a .303 on-base) in 2015. It was 75 in 2014. It was 68 in 2013.

You — I mean Melvin *WINK* — should not be facing right-handed pitchers. Like, ever. And unfortunately for… Melvin, there aren’t enough plate appearances to get to 450 hitting exclusively against left-handers.

So I’ll take a hard pass on this idea. And while I think the new regime is probably more willing to see what their free money has bought them (the Jays are only on the hook for $1 million of the $17.05 million Upton is owed this season), I want badly to believe that’s far too much Melvin for them to stomach as well.

* * *

Should Jose Bautista get ready to play some third base and first base to back up Josh Donaldson and Smoak in case of injuries? Looks like he is only getting ready for outfielder duties.

— Andrew C.

Have you been following Bautista around the back fields at the Mattick complex? Because, otherwise, how in good fuck do you think you’ve seen enough of his routine to say a thing like it looks like he’s only getting ready to play the outfield?

Like… I can’t even. Not only is Steve Pearce between Bautista and both those players on the depth chart, there are other obvious options as well (Darwin Barney, Ryan Goins, Kendrys Morales), so this is just trying really hard to have a piss take about something thoroughly inconsequential.

And, I mean, really. You think if Donaldson gets injured and they decide that Bautista is the best option to take over at third base, it’s going to matter whether or not he got in a couple extra live game reps in the first week of March???!? Come on.