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The Mailbag: Pillar’s Cape, Archer To The Dumb Yankees, Thank You Melky, And More!

I promise that I have answered all of these questions sober. I would never answer these questions drunk. I understand that we’re all responsible baseball-thinking adults, so it’s important to take this kind of stuff very serious because baseball is a very serious matter in life. So, let’s get to some of the mail in the bag and cut to the damn baseball chase, seriously!

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I am not a big fan of Kevin Pillar even though my husband loves him. Every spring I think that he has turned over a new leaf and then he ends up being the worst hitter on the Blue Jays. What are your thoughts about Pillar?

  • Sarah from Etobicoke

I know that many fans love the superman shit out of Kevin Pillar while others get spooked every time he sets foot in the batter’s box, Sarah. And I am definitely one of those Jays fans like you who get holy-shit-I-just-watched-The-Shining-for-the-first-time kind of scared.

I’ve just seen too many terrible at-bats from Pillar, and I’m not sure how much more horror I can take, as well. It’s just that watching him at the plate is generally frustrating, and I know that you’re not the only Jays fan out there that thinks this – that’s for damn sure. And, Sarah, I really want him to be April Kevin every day – I really do.

And it kind of sucks that I feel this way about him, and I know I have been hard on him in some of my pieces over the past two seasons. I don’t want to have these sorts of feelings for any player on the Jays. It’s just that Pillar kind of reminds me of Ryan Goins, Sarah. Some fans loved Goins and some fans didn’t – kind of like Pillar. And I know that his defence isn’t bad at all – it’s kind of good, to be honest.

Pillar’s 58 DRS over the past three seasons puts him fourth among all outfielders in the MLB – not too bad at all. The only outfielders ahead of him are Kevin Kiermaier (89), Mookie Betts (73), and Jason Heyward (60).

So why do we have such shitty feelings about Pillar? I mean, good defence from a center fielder is gold, no? But, his bat is just so bad. He had the best April of his career, yet his offensive numbers are so scary low and we’re not even in July.

How does this happen? I’m really trying to understand how Pillar’s OBP is .275. And his wRC+ 82 is worse than Kendrys Morales’ wRC+ 94. Somehow after Morales’ superbad start to this season and Pillar’s superman start to his, Morales has a higher wRC+ than Pillar. I just don’t understand how he always goes sideways so fast at the plate.

In good ol’ 2017, Pillar’s 27.3 % hard-contact rate landed him hard on the turf at 130th among 144 qualified hitters. And his 2017 5.2% walk rate didn’t help with reaching first base either. This year his 4.1% walk rate and 19% strikeout rate are not exactly helping.

So I guess I’m just trying to understand what’s going on, Sarah. Why is it that he can hit in April, but not for the rest of the season? Why does he swing at pitches outside the zone and chase everything? Pillar has never had his wRC+ over 100 once in his MLB career. This is very Ryan Goins-esque. Statistically Pillar’s wRC+ is only a tiny inch of his cape better than Ryan Goins’.

Now that the team has Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez and a logjam of outfielders in Buffalo, it might be time for the organization to move on from Pillar this offseason. And the truth is that I have enjoyed some of the catches that he has made since 2015. And I think it’s cool that he doesn’t get injured and all that stuff. Defensively, he’s not a bad center fielder at all.

It will be interesting to see what team Pillar will end up playing for when he’s eventually traded at the appropriate time. And I hope that he enjoys his new city and the fans and all that stuff. I guess, at the end of the baseball day, he stole home against the dumb Yankees and that’s some pretty cool shit.

Do you think that Happ will be traded to the Yankees like so many people out there are suggesting?

  • Jake from the East Coast

Well, Jake, it seems like a move like this makes sense, right? And there is a damn good possibility that this will happen. Joel Sherman from the New York Post said some things earlier in the week, which Cam wrote about. But, this little bit of information is what I found the most interesting:

Brian Cashman has in recent years used trades, including at the deadline, to preemptively address 40-man roster issues. The pruning has left the Yankees looking at less clutter this coming offseason. Except for one area: starting pitching.

Chance Adams, Josh Rogers, Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Dillon Tate must be put on the 40-man roster this offseason or be vulnerable in the Rule 5 draft, and all but Tate (at Double-A) are already at Triple-A. 

Now, that’s a whole hell of a lot of prospect-y pitching that Cashman gets to play with this trade deadline…

…Oh, yeah. And with injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery, clearly the Cashman is going to dive into the market and get himself a starter to add to the rotation. But, will it be Happ? Maybe, Jake…maybe, but maybe not.

It is the dumb New York Yankees we’re talking about. The same dumb New York Yankees who went out and got Sonny Gray from the Athletics in exchange for three top prospects. Sonny Gray is in his Arb-3 year in 2019 and is a UFA in 2020. And I’m sure the Yankees will offer a contract to him because they are the New York Yankees and they do what they want, which leads me to this, Jake…

…If I were the Cashman, would I want to use my prospects on a rental pitcher like Happ? I mean for the chance to have another Fall parade, of course. But, I would probably prefer to trade my prospect-y cash for a pitcher like Chris Archer who isn’t going to be a free agent until 2022.

I would want to trade my prospects for an awesome pitcher like Chris Archer who comes with control. Maybe the Yankees will be able to swing this, maybe they won’t. If the Yankees can’t make the Archer deal happen, they will definitely look to Happ or Texas Rangers lefty Cole Hamels.

I read earlier in the week that Cashman isn’t inclined to move Clint Frazier for a starter – so there’s that Jays fans. At this point in time, it’s all fun talk, but I bet the Yankees go all in on Archer. They’re the dumb Yankees and that’s what the dumb Yankees do, Jake. But, here’s to dreaming big on Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield Jays fans.

If the Jays somehow managed to be a handful of games back from the second Wild Card spot in the last week of July, do you think that will alter what the organization will do? I think the Jays should trade JA Happ no matter what, but what about the rest of the players?

  • Dave from Port Hope

(Dave asked me this question before Steve Pearce plus some cash were traded to Boston for minor-league infielder Santiago Espinal, who made Carson Cistulli’s The Fringe Five back in May – that’s pretty cool.)

Now, about this ‘Wild Card thing: it’s fun to dream, Dave. And I’m all in on dreaming as long as it doesn’t take me too far away from reality. I sometimes write up some wild ideas that I know aren’t realistic at all, but I do it because I think that it’s fun. Baseball is fun and it’s awesome to think about these sorts of trade-related things.

It’s also good not to take yourself too seriously; those types of people need to get over themselves – in the baseball world and in the real world. But, at the end of the baseball day, perspective is what’s important.

Here’s the thing, Dave. The Jays aren’t going to win the World Series this year. And they are not going to punch that Wild Card ticket. I am all for some exciting baseball in August and September and if the Jays happen to win a ton of baseball games, nothing would make any of us happier than that, right?

But, it would be foolish to think that the organization only moves Happ at the trade deadline because they are a handful of games back from the Wild Card. And it sure as shit looks like the sell-off has begun.

I think that they should definitely trade a bullpen arm to Cleveland, who desperately needs help there. The front office should try and swing another Joe Smith for southpaw Thomas Pannone and shortstop Samad Taylor kind of trade if they can. I think Ryan Tepera is someone that the Jays should definitely sell high on now.

Honestly Dave, it really depends on the quality of the offers that the Jays receive from competing teams who are checking in on their free-agents-to-be, but I’m sure you already know this. Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins won’t make a trade just for the sake of a trade. This duo will do its best to add to the Jays’ system. I hate using shitty clichés, but I’m going to use a shitty cliché: just trust the process.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, the real tough decisions for the front office will be about what they end up doing with players like Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Devon Travis, and Justin Smoak. The brass can’t blow this thing up; they have to be smart about who they re-sign, what free agents they bring in, and how to build a Vladdy team that can actually beat the shitty Red Sox and dumb Yankees.

What non Vlad/Bo prospect has impressed you the most this season?

  • Ali from Vancouver

Well, Ali, this is a terrific question and I could go on and on about this, but I will keep it short.

Danny Jansen.

He is an International League All-Star and is the future catcher for the Jays. There is a whole lot to like about him. And he is ready for his shot in the show. I think that once Jansen is up with the Jays, he will learn a lot from Martin, who has had an unbelievable career behind home plate. Jansen hasn’t been as hot lately for the Bisons, but whatever – he’s the real deal.

He’s currently slashing .299/.413/.474 with the Bisons, but don’t let his offensive numbers fool you. He is a catcher-first kind of catcher; he just knows how to mash, crush, and make hard contact on baseballs, too.

I also have enjoyed watching Sean Reid-Foley have the success that he has had this year. It was real cool to see him get promoted to Triple-A. And it’s even better to see him doing well there, Ali.

I really could go on and on and talk about so many prospects, man. But, I have really enjoyed watching Jon Harris put together quality starts in New Hampshire. And it’s terrific to see that he was promoted to Buffalo. And it was even better to see him toss 6 scoreless innings in his Triple-A debut. And the funniest thing about Harris, who was the Jays’ 29th overall selection in the ’15 draft, is that he was a compensation draft pick for Melky Cabrera. So, thank you Melky for rejecting the Jays’ $15.3 million offer. And thank you Chicago.

Okay, it’s time to hit the highway now and head North to Wahwashkesh Lake in Whitestone. I am going to get drunk, bbq like a savage, fish, jump in the lake, try to listen to the Jays, and enjoy the hoser hell out of this Canada Day long weekend.

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A big thanks and thumbs up to all you crazy humans who submitted questions through Twitter @thejaysnation and Cam’s email – cameron@thenationnetwork.com. You can also toss some questions my way @ difrancesco.ryan@gmail.com. So, make sure to send some for next week for some more Friday fun. I will answer as many questions as I can before I start to get bored.

  • sparklenshine

    why are you calling Dave, Steve?…boston will love pearce, archer to the angels on an interdivisional team – big brass ones on cashman, happ to LAA probably…please temper your expectations. Pillar is next methinks..to the national league…the fire sale begins.JD will not be traded and will accept the qualifying offer ala Bautista.

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Nice trade for half a season of Steve Pearce. I will wager that Espinal contributes more to the Blue Jays organization between now and the end of 2020 than Troy Tulowitzki.

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        How about this? In October 2020, or whenever before that the Blue Jays pay out Tulowitzki on the remainder of his contract (my guess is that after he spends next year on the DL too they just pay him out), you pay $100 to a charity of my choice.

          • Nice Guy Eddie

            I dont think we’ll have a hard time deciding who contributes more. I doubt Tulowitzki appears again for Toronto, and if he does, I think it’ll be pretty bad. The problem with WAR is that it’s based on rate, so a ‘player’ (and I use that word loosely) like Tulowitzki, who can’t even be a replacement player, is considered to be one. Tulo is miles below.a replacement player. He’s as much a replacement player as you and I are.

          • The Humungus

            So, you’re saying we can’t use an objective statistical metric that aggregates contribution at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths because you don’t like it?

            Like, I’m willing to go with both versions of WAR here. If he’s not positive by both fangraphs and Baseball Reference, I’ll concede.

            By the by, my charity of choice is Heart & Stroke.

  • Peter Gowdy

    Great stuff Ryan. Despite Pillar being a doubles machine and stellar defender, his pertinent bad offensive stats suggests to me that we should entertain offers for him at this trade deadline. Does any contender have a need for outfield defence? Everything else you wrote here is also spot on. I hope you’re splashing around and getting drunk and listening to the Jays up north! HCD!

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Humungus I’m not saying we can’t use an objective measure. I’m saying that WAR is not effective for measuring how completely useless Troy Tulowitzki is. It doesn’t distinguish between someone who plays at a replacement level, like Russell Martin for example, and Tulowitizki, who doesn’t play at all. If you go to the dog park near your home and reach into a garbage can, and pull out one of the little plastic bags, that is not a replacement level major league player. But that little bag has as much value to the Blue jays as Tulowitzki. Martin on the other hand is a replacement level player, So I’m not going to pretend that the completely useless Tulowitizki is a replacement level player because WAR doesn’t measure non-players. It measures players.

    • The Humungus

      Right. And I’ve said that he has to put up a WAR that exceeds the WAR that Espinal puts up for the Blue Jays between now and the end of 2020. By both fangraphs and Baseball Reference. Look, it’s pretty simple:

      I’m saying that Troy Tulowitzki will have more value to the Blue Jays organization from now to the end of 2020 than Santiago Espinal. So, you win if:

      1. Tulo doesn’t play another game for the organization, except in the unlikely event that he gets traded for a player of value.

      2. Tulo returns, but Espinal gets to the big leagues and cumulatively out-plays Tulo from now to the end of the 2020 by either measure of WAR (I’m willing to concede if Espinal has a higher fWAR but worse bWAR)

      3. Espinal gets traded for a player that contributes more to the Blue Jays between now and the end of 2020 than Tulo does.

      Those are the terms. They’re totally reasonable. $100 to charity in the other person’s name (that way you or I can also get the tax benefit of winning).