Richard Griffin’s Bullpen: Blue Jays draft class exposes flaws in new MLB rules
The Jays may have concocted and executed the draft model for other teams in the future, while at the same time exposing the flaws in the new rules under the current bargaining agreement.
The Jays had a budget of over $8 million for their 14 picks in the first 10 rounds. GM Alex Anthopoulos gave away rounds four through 10, selecting all grateful college seniors to fund the first three rounds and seven picks.
The strategy worked, as the Jays snapped up six of Baseball America’s Top 45 prospects, including right-hander Marcus Stroman, the closest to being major-league ready and outfielder Anthony Alford, the best athlete in the draft who the Jays are allowing to fulfill his commitment to quarterback at Southern Miss. But that is not the spirit of the draft. The Brewers, among many other teams, chose players that they believed fit the slot money that was attached to that pick.
The Jays, using their high-low strategy, signed 32 of their 44 draft picks overall, including all 14 in the first 10 rounds, but just 18 of the 30 between Rounds 11-40 that were slotted at a maximum of $100,000. The Jays were willing to go over their slot by 4.999-percent, in order to be penalized money by MLB that will be re-distributed to others, but not a future draft pick. They accomplished that.
The one player that they missed out on they would have loved to have signed was left-hander Ryan Kellogg, a 12th rounder from Whitby, Ont. Kellogg was a star on Canada’s Junior National Team that toured Florida in the spring. His personal highlight was facing Jose Bautista and popping him up to shortstop. Kellogg will attend Arizona St. University and be eligible again in the 2015 June draft.
If he remains healthy, Kellogg will likely be in the top half-dozen rounds of the draft next time. The Jays would have had to overwhelm Kellogg beyond the $100,000 offered. He had been expected to be drafted higher, but the club held firm to its offer. Many teams dealing with high school players included an education package above and beyond the bonus, so it’s not just about an education.
The Jays are thrilled with their draft and experts have rated them amongst the most successful organizations at interpreting and utilizing the new rules of slotting and penalties.
THE RANT: MR. OCTOBER SHOULD STICK TO HIS BEST CONVERSATION TOPIC, HIMSELF
Hall-of-Fame outfielder, Mr. October, Reggie Jackson shot off his mouth again last week and bit off far more than he can chew. In a far-ranging interview with Sports Illustrated, Jackson gratuitously ripped into some of his fellow Hall-of-Famers, saying that guys like Kirby Puckett, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, Jim Rice and the late Gary Carter were not really Hall-worthy.
The fact the Kid had just passed away and was laid to rest this spring makes the Jackson rant disgraceful. Reggie also questioned Bert Blyleven’s credentials, insisting that he wasn’t the best pitcher of his era, that Jack Morris was the dominant pitching force of the ’80s. Yes, Morris deserves to be in, but so does Blyleven who, by the way, dominated Reggie during his career. Oh yeah, the current Yankees’ senior adviser suggested that current Yankee Alex Rodriguez’ stats should be questioned since he has admitted some steroid involvement earlier in his career. Jackson has since been advised to stay away from the club by ownership, while still hanging on, for the time being, to his title.
Now Reggie is a charming, opinionated guy that can be an entertaining raconteur, as I have observed in lively, funny visits to manager’s offices with both Felipe Alou and Cito Gaston. But his best stories should remain about himself. This other stuff is beneath what Reggie should represent as one of the game’s best clutch hitters — at least in the post-season.
Besides, as an active American Leaguer, when would Reggie have seen Carter catch enough to form an opinion? Reggie insists that if the writers are going to vote in players that have been linked to steroids that there will be a general revolt among current members in terms of a willingness to attend the inductions. That is a legitimate observation, but Reggie, just shut your mouth when it comes to the deservedness of others to rub shoulders with you on stage in July at the Hall-of-Fame. Hey Reggie, in a fight, I would take Rice to pummel you. And he still might choose to do so. In any case, through the ball club, Jackson issued a half-hearted apology.
“In trying to convey my feelings about a few issues that I am passionate about, I made the mistake of naming some specific players,” Jackson said. “This was inappropriate and unfair to those players, some of which are very close friends of mine. I think there are ways to speak from the heart without hurting people, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t take greater care in expressing my views.”
MLB POWER RANKINGS
Last week’s rankings in parentheses
1. New York Yankees (1)
2. Texas Rangers (2)
3. Washington Nationals (3)
4. Chicago White Sox (5)
5. Los Angeles Angels (4)
6. Boston Red Sox (6)
7. Cincinnati Reds (12)
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (7)
9. San Francisco Giants (10)
10. Los Angeles Dodgers (9)
11. Atlanta Braves (14)
12. New York Mets (8)
13. Baltimore Orioles (11)
14. Tampa Bay Rays (13)
15. Oakland A’s (18)
16. Detroit Tigers (19)
17. St. Louis Cardinals (16)
18. Cleveland Indians (15)
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (17)
20. Toronto Blue Jays (20)
21. Miami Marlins (21)
22. Milwaukee Brewers (22)
23. Philadelphia Phillies (23)
24. Kansas City Royals (24)
25. Seattle Mariners (26)
26. San Diego Padres (27)
27. Minnesota Twins (25)
28. Chicago Cubs (29)
29. Colorado Rockies (28)
30. Houston Astros (30)
BLUE JAYS WEEK IN REVIEW (45-44, tied-4th AL East)
With the all-star break taking up the majority of the work week, the Jays came back on the weekend to take two of three from the contending Indians, wrapping up the season series against the Tribe with four wins out of six games. After losing 1-0 to Justin Masterson on Friday, the Jays came back to win 11-9 behind the big bats in the middle of the lineup and 3-0 behind Carlos Villanueva.
On Sunday, with closer Casey Janssen having pitched two straight games, manager John Farrell stayed with Darren Oliver following a six-pitch eighth inning, allowing him to work the ninth for his first save since last April 27 against the Jays for the Rangers.
The Jays enter the new week having to go 45-28 in the final 73 games in order to win 90 games, which is the minimum to contend for the second wild-card spot. They need help.
In the meantime, the Jays got good news and bad news on the injury front.
The good news was that right-hander Brandon Morrow threw a pain-free bullpen session on Saturday and was expected to try it again on Monday on the way to returning to the mound for at least one rehab start in the minors later in the month. Morrow injured his left oblique on June 11.
The bad news is that injured closer Sergio Santos tried again to throw a bullpen on Saturday, with the pain in his right shoulder forcing a painful Jays decision. Season-ending surgery.
“The recovery time was taking longer than normal, so that’s initially when we backed him down to address some strengthening issues, or take the approach of rehab and strengthening,” Farrell told reporters. “As he got back through his throwing program, flat ground and long toss — he felt good in that regard — but when he gets on the mound with that increased intensity, that’s where he feels the discomfort. So that’s where the surgery is the next step.”
The date of the surgery and the exact diagnosis of the shoulder pain with Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles had yet to be determined. Santos was obtained by the Jays for prospect Nestor Molina last December. A former shortstop, the 29-year-old Santos had been signed following the ’11 season by the White Sox to a reasonable multi-year contract — then traded. The Jays owe him the rest of this year, at $1 million, plus $6.5 million guaranteed for 2013-14 and $2.25 million in buyouts for the three option seasons 2015-17. The best case scenario is that he comes back next spring and he earns his salary.
The bad news kept on coming for the Jays. During the all-star break, the club announced that left-handed reliever Luis Perez, who began the season looking like an all-star, has suffered a torn UCL and would likely have to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Perez (elbow) joined a list of eight injured Jays pitchers that includes Santos (shoulder), Morrow (oblique), Jesse Litsch (shoulder), Dustin McGowan (shoulder), Kyle Drabek (elbow), Drew Hutchison (elbow) and Robert Coello (elbow). Hutchison was expected to pick up a baseball and begin a throwing program by the end of July with September the earliest return. McGowan’s progress has stalled again, while Litsch, Drabek, Perez and Santos are done for the year.
The Jays continue to struggle with the secondary arms in the bullpen. At the end of June they attempted to option Coello, who had not pitched well, however they were forced to change that assignment to a disablement when Coello reported pain in his arm. You are not allowed to option an injured player, meaning that Coello will earn his major-league salary and accumulate major-league days of service while he is disabled. It also likely means he will never wear a Jays uniform again.
Another secondary reliever, righty Jesse Chavez was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on the weekend. He entered Saturday’s game vs. the Indians with a seven-run lead to start the eighth. The Tribe went single-homer-walk-homer and Chavez packed his post-game bags. Chad Beck was recalled.
Farrell trusts Jason Frasor, Oliver, and Janssen. He has trouble any time he has to bring in Francisco Cordero, Drew Carpenter, Beck, Sam Dyson and Aaron Loup. The left-hander Loup was recalled to replace Perez. He had an impressive major-league debut on Saturday, retiring all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings with an 11-4 lead. It may be a different story at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park with a game on the line.
All-Star performance: The Jays’ lone all-star representative, Jose Bautista, had a busy week. He finished as runner-up to Prince Fielder in the Home Run Derby, hitting 20 homers in all. He played the first four innings of Tuesday’s All-Star Game, going 0-for-2, with a busy defensive day, chasing NL extra-base hits all over the field and making a diving, inning-ending catch to end an inning. On Wednesday, Bautista flew to Los Angeles for an appearance at The ESPYs award show and to promote his appearance in ESPN Magazine, the Body Issue.
Encarnacion signs: The Jays also announced the signing to an extension of Edwin Encarnacion. The 29-year-old Dominican agreed to a three-year extension, plus a club option for 2016. The salaries are $8 million for 2013, $9 million for 2014, $10 million for 2015, plus another $10 million club option, with a $2 million buyout.
The Jays now have eight players under contract though 2015 and beyond. Signed through 2017 is Sergio Santos; through 2016 are Bautista, Ricky Romero, Adam Lind and Encarnacion; through 2015 are Yunel Escobar, Morrow and McGowan.
Tigers ace Justin Verlander was pounded for five first-inning runs in the All-Star Game in Kansas City and he thinks he knows the reason why. He had never allowed five runs in any career start in K.C., but he was cranking it up over 100 m.p.h. in his 35-pitch frame, something he does not normally do in a regular start until he settles in after the early innings. “I know nobody wants to see me throw 90 m.p.h.,” Verlander said. “They like to see the 100 mph fastball. So, hey, I gave them that. It’s not like I was trying to give up runs; I went out there and gave everything I had. It’s just different than the way I normally pitch, which I feel really kind of messed me up.” With the importance of the all-star game in terms of the World Series, it’s not that Verlander was taking it lightly, but he did find something out about himself. He shut down the O’s for his 10th win on Sunday... Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine just won’t let anything fade away. With the White Sox set to visit on Monday, Valentine rekindled the Kevin Youkilis feud, blaming the popular Sox icon for not being willing to forget. Valentine just has an annoying, smug way of expressing himself. When asked to comment before Sunday’s game in Chicago, Youk refused to take the bait. His bat will do the talking in this series, which is something Red Sox management is likely not too happy about... The Red Sox are quickly returning to some semblance of themselves. Centrefielder Jacoby Ellsbury came back on the weekend and left fielder Carl Crawford is slated to return on Monday night... The Jays have had some interesting travel situations due to their Triple-A affiliate being in Las Vegas, but nothing like Angels’ rookie outfielder Cole Calhoun. The youngster was called up because of a nagging Torii Hunter knee problem. Calhoun played in the Triple-A all-star game in Buffalo. He flew Buffalo to Salt Lake City to Reno. Was recalled and flew Reno to Phoenix to Philadelphia to Newark, with a limo to Yankee Stadium. His luggage and equipment didn’t quite make the same trip, ending up in Detroit one city ahead of the Angels... The Yankees’ Robinson Cano talked about his choice of Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo for the AL Home Run Derby team. Apparently, at Angels Stadium, Cano went out on the field to ask Albert Pujols if he was interested in the Derby. “I see this big guy hitting balls into the rocks and I said ‘I have to have this guy on my team.’” The rest is history. Trumbo hit some of the longest shots in the Derby, but not enough of them... The Angels have had some keys to their resurgence, but none bigger than when they traded for closer Ernesto Frieri from the Padres. I remember the Jays were in Anaheim and they announced in the press box the Frieri deal and I just shrugged like, ‘So what.’ This streak is so what. Frieri went 26 1/3 shutout innings after joining the Angels, with the streak coming to an end on Saturday on a 3-run homer in New York by Mark Teixeira. The Angels hung on to win that game. “I’m a human, man,” Frieri said. “You can touch me if you want. I knew that was going to happen some time. I always kept saying to God, ‘When I give up a run, please don’t let it cost us a game’ and that’s what happened.”... The A’s resurgence into the wild-card and AL West mix has been credited to the dazzling array of young pitchers the A’s always seem to come up with. However, it should be noted that led by newcomers like centrefielder Yoenis Cespedes the A’s have hit 92 homers, whereas last year at the same time they had just 47 round trippers. Cespedes had his first four-hit game on Sunday... The Rangers started the season like a 110-win team, but the offence has come back to earth. Josh Hamilton is 2-for-23 and has seen his average drop to .301. He has mentioned his busy all-star break schedule as a fatigue factor, but it can’t have been as rugged as Jose Bautista’s... It turns out the White Sox and GM Kenny Williams also need starting pitching and are looking at the same guys as GM Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays. By the way, Molina is 4-8 with a 5.01 ERA at two levels of the White Sox organization.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is a master of deflection. With his team continuing to struggle, the controversial one has called Nats rookie Bryce Harper out. Guillen noticed that Harper’s bat may have been pine-tarred a little too high and complained to umpires during the kid’s first at-bat. Recall that after George Brett’s famous Yankee Stadium meltdown many years ago, the pine tar rule was clarified so that the only penalty is the bat is taken out of play. Nothing is reversed. In any case, the next time up, Harper looked over to Ozzie and waved his new lumber with a smile. That drove Guillen crazy and he ranted after the game. Hey Ozzie, “Just win, baby.”...The Braves have obviously decided that SS Tyler Pastornicky, a former Jays farmhand obtained in the SS Yunel Escobar trade is no longer their shortstop of the future. After injuries to SS Andrelton Simmons and veteran backup SS Jack Wilson, even with Pastornicky on the bench, manager Fredi Gonzalez tried Martin Prado at short for the first time in his career then the next day traded with the Reds for minor league SS Paul Janish who will play every day. One has to wonder why the Reds would help the Braves in the midst of a pennant race. They obtained minor-league RH Todd Redmond... There hasn’t been a more “cheeky” ending to a MLB game this year than Friday night’s ninth-inning comeback win keyed by Everth Cabrera’s steal of home. Nursing a one-run lead with two out and runners on first and second, with two strikes on the hitter, the Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen walked off the back of the mound to clean his spikes and Cabrera took off for home on a straight steal attempt. A stunned Jansen turned and fired the ball off the screen allowing the trail runner, Will Venable, to score behind him. The Dodgers were then unable to score. Elias Sports says that the last time a tying or winning run scored on a steal of home in the 9th inning or later was August 22, 1982 by Glenn Brummer of the Cards against closer Gary Lavelle and the Giants. Uhh, in 2008, in Lockport, N.Y., as manager of the Oakville A’s, I had a 15-year-old kid, catcher Jason Deichert steal home in the final inning, two outs, to tie the game against a slow-delivering, flame-throwing lefthander. Sorry, Elias... The Cubs have some pretty good chips to deal at the deadline. Right-hander Ryan Dempster tossed six more shutout innings on Saturday to run his streak to 33 straight, while fellow righty Matt Garza twirled seven shutout innings on Sunday on the way to a sweep of the D-backs. Dempster’s is the longest scoreless streak by a Cub since Ken Holtzman in 1969. The Cubs record is 35 and 37 straight by Bill (not the Spaceman) Lee in 1938. Big Bill finished that season with a 22-9 record and a 2.66 ERA... The Phillies have good news with the return to the rotation of Roy Halladay on Tuesday... The Braves brought Ben Sheets back to the majors after two minor-league starts and two years off since his last MLB appearance July 20, 2010 for the A’s... The Jays were at one time first runner-up in the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes. Granted, the Cuban fireballer is a bit of a social loose-cannon, with his off-the-field trouble and his on-field forward rolls, but he is a major talent. On Sunday he struck out the side for his 13th save, ending the game with a 102 m.p.h. fastball. In Chapman’s last 7 innings he has allowed 2 hits with 2 walks and 18 strikeouts. They swept the Cards.
THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL HISTORY
7/16/09 Ed Summers of the Tigers tosses 18 shutout innings against the Washington Senators, with no decision in a 0-0 tie, the longest shutout in baseball history... 7/16/20 The Bambino, Babe Ruth, against the Browns, sets a single-season home run mark with his 30th homer of the year, breaking his own mark of 29. He would go on to hit 54 homers... 7/16/41 The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio extends his hitting streak to 56 games, going 3-for-4 in a 10-3 victory over the Indians... 7/17/41 The streak comes to an end for Joe DiMaggio as Al Smith and Jim Bagby of the Indians hold him hitless... 7/17/90 The Twins turn two triple plays in the same game against the Red Sox, but lose 1-0... 7/18/27 The Georgia Peach, now playing for the A’s, Ty Cobb doubles against former teammate George Gibson of the Tigers giving him 4,000 career hits... 7/18/70 The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays bounces a single to left field against Mike Wegener of the Expos for his 3,000th career hit... 7/19/10 The great Cy Young records his 500th career victory, 5-4 over the Washington Senators... 7/21/73 The Braves’ Hank Aaron smashes his 700th career home run in an 8-4 loss to Ken Brett and the Phillies... 7/21/75 The lead-footed infielder Joe Torre of the Mets grounds into four double plays in a game vs. the Astros.
Birthdays this week: Lee Elia 75, Torii Hunter 37, Razor Shines 56, Joe Torre 72, David Segui 46, Dick Scott 50, Bengie Molina 38, Tony Oliva 72, C.C. Sabathia 32, Mike Bordick 47, Moe Drabowsky 77, Dave Stieb 55, Scott Sanderson 56, Tim Johnson 63, Cliff Johnson 65, Sparky Lyle 68.
JAYS MINOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP
AAA-Las Vegas (52-42) lost 12-5 to Sacramento on Sunday. CF Anthony Gose was 2-for-3 with a triple and a homer. He is hitting .293. RF Moises Sierra is hitting .295 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs. 1B Yan Gomes was 2-for-4 with a homer and is hitting .339... AA-New Hampshire (37-57) beat Portland 5-1 on Sunday. 3B Mark Sobolewski was 3-for-4 and is hitting .264. SS Ryan Goins was 2-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBIs. He is hitting .339... A-Dunedin (10-14) lost 5-2 to Fort Myers on Sunday. 3B Kevin Ahrens was 2-for-3 and is batting .250. C Koby Clemens is batting .310 with an OPS of .886. RHP Asher Wojciechowski is 7-2, with a 3.57 ERA. RH Dan Barnes is 1-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 22 saves... A-Lansing (14-9) beat Cedar Rapids 6-2 on Sunday. Canadian RF Michael Crouse has come down from Dunedin and was 2-for-3 with three runs and a double. RH Anthony DeSclafani (7-3, 3.26 ERA) allowed two runs in six innings. RH Noah Syndergaard is 6-2, 2.93 ERA. RH Aaron Sanchez is 8-1 with a 1.41 ERA. LH Justin Nicolino is 4-2, 2.98 ERA. LF Kevin Pillar is batting .322 with 35 steals... A-Vancouver (17-12) beat Boise 5-4 on Sunday. LF Matt Newman was 2-for-4 with 2 homers. C Jorge Flores was 2-for-5 with 2 runs and a double. RHP Javier Avendano is 3-1, with a 2.08 ERA and 32 Ks in 26 IP... A-Bluefield (9-14) was rained out on Sunday. CF Dwight Smith, Jr. is batting .247 with 3 homers and 11 RBIs. LH Daniel Norris (1-1, 3.31 ERA) has fanned 20 batters in 16-1/3 innings. RH Roberto Osuna is 1-1, 1.13 ERA... Rk-Blue Jays (6-18) RH Francisco Gracesqui is 3-0, 0.00 ERA. Brock University’s 3B Shaun Valeriote is batting .238. First round June pick OF D.J. Davis is hitting .234 with 2 HR and 3 RBIs.
ONE FOR THE ROAD:
The All-Star Game is not as much of a three-day party as people might think, especially with the Home Run Derby finally settling in as a Monday evening event that ends at around 11 p.m. Eastern Time. Monday’s All-Star Gala used to be a closed session for the participating players and their families, club executives and their guests and the media. In those days, everyone used to go. The GMs actually came to the All-Star Game and had a chance to discuss trade with about three weeks left to the deadline. In any case, this year’s gala was held in a huge party tent between Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead, home of the Chiefs. The best stunt of the event was the bars made out of ice. Advice No. 1 is when leaving a tip for your bartender try not to leave coins, as they tend to freeze to the bar. Of course with temperatures at 33 C and the bar shrinking faster than the polar ice cap, the party’s last call called itself.
The best time I had was after the game itself. With an afternoon flight Wednesday, it was a chance to head over to the clubbing area of K.C.’s Country Club Plaza. Went to a club with live rock ‘n roll featuring a guy that sounded at times like Van Morrison and at others like Kurt Cobain. Had some Bar-B-Q pork, that, if not invented in K.C., was certainly perfected in this town. There was a big guy sitting in on drums wearing a Justin Verlander jersey, about 6-8, 260 lbs. He was introduced as Aiden Smith, a backup linebacker for the San Diego Chargers in town for the all-star game. Sounded fishy and I would have to push the BS buzzer on that one, but it worked out for him, anyway as he was swarmed by the local women buying him drinks and chatting him up following the set. Bottom line is he wasn’t a bad drummer. When the live music was done, I headed down the street for an upstairs patio on a beautiful Midwest evening overlooking the street, with a cold Heineken and a hot DJ. Life is good.