Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports


I don’t know why I decided to write the title of this post in all caps, because holy shit, Craig Breslow isn’t a real sexy signing. In fact, if I didn’t feel some sort of obligation to do so, I might have just let it passed unmentioned.

Because what the hell does one even mention about this?

The particulars, first, I suppose:

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Breslow, who — if you’re like me (congratulations) — you’ll probably remember most as a member of the Red Sox, actually has some good seasons on his resume. Unfortunately they’re quite a far distance into the past.

From 2006 to 2013 he made 405 big league appearances, accumulating 3.6 WAR (per Fangraphs) over that span. WAR isn’t a great stat for relievers, but whatever: you get it, he was pretty useful.

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That 2013 season, though, marked a bit of a change. Through the end of the 2012 season Breslow carried a career strikeout rate of 20.7%. In 2013 that dropped to 13.9%, and it really hasn’t gone back since — from 2013 onward he’s struck out just 14.6% of the batters he’s faced. The number is even lower when he faces left-handed hitters, which (being a left-handed pitcher himself) is the role he’s really best suited to.

Well, unless you count pitching in Buffalo — which seems an even better idea.

But whatever! The Jays really only have Aaron Loup and Tim Mayza (UPDATE: oh, and apparently Matt Dermody) right now as potential bullpen lefties, and the fact that Breslow — who Benny Fresh notes has ties to the Jays’ front office (he pitched for Cleveland in 2008, and was at his best on Ben Cherington’s Red Sox teams) — is on a minor league deal with an invite means that his presence isn’t stopping the club from going out and getting an option that looks even better. (Tony Watson, I presume?)

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Should I add some numbers on what Breslow has done since 2013… ? Nah, fuck it.

So… sure! See if something’s there. SEE IF I CARE!!!!!

  • The Humungus

    I mean, small sample size (52 batters), but he did hold lefties to a .258 wOBA last year, which is pretty good.

    I’m fine with him as a LOOGY if he makes the team. Keep Mayza in Buffalo for depth.

    I look at it three ways:

    If he’s good enough to make the team and the team is good, then it’s a good signing.

    If he’s good enough to make the team and the team isn’t good, he’ll have lots of value at the deadline.

    And if he’s not good, then it was a free look at a guy who’s super interesting.




      • The Humungus

        Considering what Joe Smith brought back, and Breslow’s handedness, I’d say a good Breslow could be rather valuable at the deadline. I don’t think he’d get the return that say, Andrew Miller brought back when the Sox traded him, but it would be something of future value.

        Maybe lots is a bit of an overreach, though.

    • Player to Be Named Later

      That Breslow interview was pretty fascinating. Thanks. He did get hit by righties pretty soundly last season. But he dominated lefties. So maybe, if used properly, there’s something here.

      • Kris

        MLB Rumors pointed out that due to injuries in the pen, the Twins had to use him a lot Vs RHBs and they crush him. Project him against RHB and he may be good Vs LHB. But I wouldn’t hold my breath, his ratios are in decline big time.

        This guy is 4th in the depth charts for LHP reliever options, maybe 5th.

    • Voidhelix

      Unfortunately that would mean we have two LOOGY’s, because Loup showed last year, he was incapable of anything else. In fact, he struggled against lefties too. Do we have a LH reliever we can use in mid to high leverage situations? Because Loup is not that guy.

  • Barry

    I was very excited to hear that we’d signed Breslow. It reminded me of the time my friends and I were driving home to Toronto from Windsor in the early 90s, and decided to stop in Waterloo on the way to visit my dorm (I was a Laurier student). We got lost, somehow, and ended up in Breslau, where we had to ask for directions. What the hell was I talking about? Oh right. Craig Breslow. Hey, that reminds me of the time my friends and I were driving home to Toronto from Windsor …

  • The Original Mark

    Man, the front office loves washed up veteran bullpen arms on cheap one year deals! How many times have they gone to this well? I love for someone to tally it all up to see if it has actually worked out any better than just paying one decent guy over the same years. Who’s got some free time on their hands around here??

    • Barry

      It might surprise you to learn that signing many players to one-year minor-league deals with an invitation to spring training is actually very common around baseball, and by no means the specialty of the Jays.

      • Steve-O

        Complaining about this (so common it is completely unremarkable) approach to building the back end of a bullpen does seem to be a Jays fan specialty, though. #dumpsterdiving

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        I think by “specialty of the Jays” he means “I don’t really follow baseball much except for a bit about the Blue Jays on message boards, so it’s the only time I’ve heard of it”.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      It’s not a ‘one year deal’. It’s a minor league deal. You should check out the difference and what it means for your question. HINT: If none of them work out as you suggest, then there is no cost at all.

    • Warren_

      You’re still pretty deep in denial of the fact that Anthopolous traded away more a dozen serviceable young pitchers , aren’t you? The front office has had to plug holes in the upper minors for the last two seasons. They had to bring in guys like Latos, Oberholtzer, Valdez, Grube, Beliveau, Harrell, and now Breslow, Axford, etc. because they literally have no other options for Buffalo!

      What was that Ross Atkins’s quote from two years ago? “Our Buffalo rotation consists of five guys named blank”? That problem still isn’t resolved. It’s going to take a couple more years.

    • Terry Mesmer

      > washed up veteran bullpen arms…cheap [versus] one decent guy

      Mark, your statement seems to contain some unexamined assumptions.
      1) You argue as if these are one-year MLB deals — they are not.
      2) You don’t recognise reliever volatility — even decent relievers have bad years and injuries.
      3) You imply that minor-league deals prevent or are a substitute for teams signing players to MLB deals — that is obviously not true.

  • Guzman's Jheri Curl

    Signings like this one make March 29th feel way too far away. Definitely pulling a George Costanza and skipping end of work day for the opener….vs Costanza’s Yankees!

  • Voidhelix

    John Gibbons has the mentality that all relievers are transient. In reality, he wouldn’t know a good relief change if he asked Alexa. MAYBE Loup returns to form, but it’s unlikely. MAYBE Mayza improves in his second year. MAYBE Breslow finds something at age 35. There’s a lot of questions in this bullpen, but not many answers.

    Ah, and expletive, expletive, expletive. There, I fit in now.

    • The Humungus

      That’s funny, because if there’s one thing Gibbons is nearly universally praised for, it’s his bullpen usage. He obviously can’t control if guys perform, because it would be insane to think that a bullpen guy having a bad day or just being bad is the managers fault, but he definitely makes the right move more often than not.

    • Barry

      Can you explain what you think “transient” means, so that I can better understand your post? Also, I’m not sure what Gibbons has to do with the signing of relief pitchers. I’m confident that he is not part of the signing process.

      • Steve-O

        I’m just picturing the littlest hobo with a baseball mitt.

        “There’s a voice that keeps on calling me
        Down the road is where I’ll always be

        Every stop I make, I’ll make a new friend
        Can’t stay for long, just turn around and I’m gone again.

        Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
        Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.

        Down this road, that never seems to end,
        Where new adventure, lies just around the bend.

        So if you want to join me for a while
        Just grab your hat, come travel light – that’s hobo style.

        Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
        Until tomorrow, the whole world is my home.

        So if you want to join me for a while
        Just grab your hat, come travel light – that’s hobo style.

        Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
        Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on…”