Tag Archives: Jose Bautista

Mike McCoy: MLB pitcher

Watching the Blue Jays get absolutely blown out by the Boston Red Sox while getting intermittently rained upon because the roof at the SkyDome is, inexplicably, open is not what I would call a day at the park (except for the fact that it is, you know, a day at the park).

When a game is so completely out of hand and there are no signs it’s going to get any better, my attention tends to wander. Hey, did you know that the windows in the SkyDome Hotel can be opened? I certainly didn’t. Some things snap me back to full attention though: A Jose Bautista at bat; an E5 home run YEscobar making up for his earlier NOcobar by snagging a hard-hit line drive; and Mike McCoy coming on to pitch the ninth, to name a few.

Yes, in case you’re one of the few who might be reading this who hasn’t yet heard, you read that right: Mike McCoy, utility infielder, pitched the ninth inning for Toronto and the results were not at all horrible. Hard to believe, I know, but there’s even video, though it’s not yet embeddable, so here’s some photographic evidence:

Crazy, right? It probably sent some kind of message from John Farrell to the Jays players (why hello there, Brett Cecil’s wife’s instant anger! And subsequent apology) and it definitely got what little of the crowd was left back into the game.

McCoy got a standing ovation with each out and novelty of the situation, he deserved it. The only Jays pitcher except for Jon Rauch (who only faced one batter) to have a clean slate during the game, McCoy was throwing strikes and mixing speeds like a champ!

From 85 mph heater to 60 mph “knuckler” (according to pitch f/x), how’s a hitter supposed to time that? Throw in his funky delivery and you’ve got a stud in the making!

And check it out! 75% of McCoy’s pitches were strikes! That’s 20% better than a certain somebody in the rotation.

In conclusion, McCoy should be Toronto’s closer and I need to get one of those rooms in the SkyDome Hotel. Thank you.

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Slumps can’t bust Jose Bautista

Everybody’s favourite all-star vote leader is in a bit of a slump. It’s been 12 games since he last went deep. While I enjoy his particular brand of mashed potatoes and look forward to when he’ll start serving them again, Jose Bautista has not been unproductive in his 12 consecutive popless games.

Yes, since he’s last hit a home run, Bautista has posted a slash line of .316/.480/.342/.822. The missing power shows up in the third number there (slugging percentage, if you’re like me and are prone to things like slash-line brain farts), but the second number (on-base percentage) is just totally ridiculous.

Despite his almost complete lack of power, Bautista is still getting on base 48% of the time he comes to the plate.

To put that in a little bit of perspective: Bautista leads the major in OBP this season at .498. Joey (Can’t Wait Until He Comes Home) Votto is second overall at .463. In other words… sorry, this deserves its own line:

A slumping Jose Bautista is still better at getting on base than anybody else in the game.

Unbelievable, yes, but that realization is not even the best thing that’s come out of the slump. Check out what Ricky Romero had to say:

“He’s a human being, man. He’s not Babe Ruth out there,” said Ricky Romero, the Blue Jays starter.

Take that, John Danks.

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Antihero

What Brandon Morrow did with the goat, I don’t want to know. But whatever it was, it worked: Jo-Jo Reyes got a win. His winless streak ended at 28 starts — tied for longest all-time with Oakland’s Matt Keough, who did it in 1978-79.

As meaningless as a winless streak is, I’m sure Jo-Jo feels good to get it out of the way. Good on him.

I was only able to watch random bits and pieces of the game — and they were all when the Jays were on offence — so I’ve got nothing to say whatsoever about how Reyes pitched, but I did manage to catch the bottom half of the 4th, when Toronto’s offence exploded for 7 runs. Two things stood out to me. They were both base running decisions.

1) Bases loaded, Rajai Davis on second, Corey Patterson at bat. Patterson hits what looks like a double play to Indians second baseman Orlando Cabrera, but Cabrera misplays the ball and ends up facing the outfield. Davis gets to third, glances at Cabrera fumbling with the ball and breaks for home. He scores without so much as a throw coming his way.

2) Jose Bautista on second, Juan Rivera at the plate. Rivera grounds the ball to the left side, Bautista gets looked back to second, but breaks for third as soon as the ball is thrown to first. The first baseman sees this and launches the ball back to third after disposing of Rivera. I don’t know if the throw was slightly off or the third baseman made a bad tag attempt, but Bautista makes it in safely.

Davis’s break for home was very smart baserunning. When I see the Hustle & Heart ads, that’s the kind of thing I like to picture as the hustle. (What I picture as the heart? Nothing that happens on the diamond.)

Bautista’s decision was dubious. It was a risky play that barely worked out. On top of that, Toronto was already winning by 7. It’s the type of thing that could be perceived by the opposition as disrespectful — and it comes the day after John Danks got all huffy.

But you know what? If Bautista’s competitive fire drive him to be somewhat unlikeable for people who aren’t Toronto fans, I’m OK with that. Guy’s doing what he has to do to produce at an extremely high level. Keep producing and you can do whatever you want out there, Jose.

Besides, I enjoy rooting for the antihero.

Links!

• Time writes about Jose Bautista. This is interesting because the headline is false by the time you’re done reading it.

• Ghostrunner on First pulls thoughts about John McDonald out my brain and does much better with them than I ever could.

• A smart man calls the Rogers Centre “dreary and passé.”

• A different smart man takes the common “E5 should never play the field; he is a DH” argument and convincingly turns it into “E5 is not a Major Leaguer.”

• Toronto Life dirties itself up with some sport talk. Corey Patterson even! One problem though: They seem to think he plays centre field.

• Joe Carter did some great things in Toronto, but was he overrated in general? Yes.

• Bautista wears Chucks!

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.500 at the quarter

Here we are, 40 games done, a full quarter (or close enough, anyway) of the way through the season. While there are a few things that deserve to be talked about if we’re going to look at how the team’s performed so far, one thing, er… person, stands above all.

Holy hell, Jose Bautista is a goddamn monster. For real! The season he’s been putting together is without a doubt THE story of the year so far. It was going to be even if he hadn’t gone out today and hit 3 home runs against the Minnesota Twins.

You’ll probably see and/or hear a lot of people saying that Joey Bats is on pace right now to hit 65 home runs this year. What you won’t (or I haven’t anyway) hear is that he’s also on pace to play only 130 games.

You’re reading that right: Bautista is averaging a home run every two games. That’s unreal. I laughed when, during Saturday’s broadcast, the Sportsnet crew showed a graphic comparing what Bautista’s done this season to the best 3 full seasons Babe Ruth put together during his career. Really, at this point, it is still laughable but today I do feel differently. After watching what he did today, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bautista top 60 home runs this year.

Record

I probably should’ve mentioned this up top, but the Jays currently sit at 20-20, good for third place in the AL East at the time of this writing. The actual win-loss record doesn’t seem all that surprising to me, until injuries are taken into consideration, but more on that later.

Management

Some days, John Farrell looks like a fool out there. He really, really does. But not everything he catches crap for is something he deserves to catch crap for. Letting Rajai Davis run? Good management. Letting Corey Patterson run? Questionable. Pulling pitchers when they’re one out from a complete game shutout? Not so bad. Using Octavio Dotel against left-handed batters on a regular basis? HORRIBLE — and getting worse.

But the thing Farrell seems to get the most heat for is his lineup construction. Yes, the lineups sometimes look like a dog’s lunch, but what do you expect him to do? The injuries this team have suffered have been so ridiculous that they recently played a game with only ONE guy on the bench.

As for the other management figure worth noting, I’m still a big supporter of Alex Anthopoulos. And his decision to lock up Joey Bats is really making him look like a genius. But I don’t care how much he might say about Travis Snider and his swing issues — I still don’t understand the speed with which the Lunchbox Hero was demoted.

Speed

The Jays are fast. Like second-in-the-AL-in-stolen-bases fast. Sure only two teams have been caught stealing more than Toronto and I understand it can be frustrating to watch the team “run into outs,” but I enjoy the running game. Speed kills!

Injuries

So here’s the thing — the Jays are 20-20 despite having seen the following players spend time on the DL miss time for various reasons: Octavio Dotel; Frank Francisco; Brandon Morrow; Corey Patterson; Rajai Davis (twice); Jose Bautista (twice); Yunel Escobar (twice); Aaron Hill; Edwin Encarnacion; and Jayson Nix. (ed: How did I forget to include Adam Lind? That’s a hashtag fail.)

That’s 10 guys. Add that to Jesse Carlson hanging out on the 60-day DL for the whole season so far and Travis Snider raking in the Pacific Coast League for some reason and you’ve got to pretty impressed with the Jays and their .500 record. Get everybody healthy and getting Snider going to the potential we all know he has and there’s no telling what this team can do

Conclusion

This team’s still pretty unlikely to make the playoffs. They’re better, so far, than most expected, but they still play in the AL East. They do though have Joey Bats and he’s got pretty broad shoulders…

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Bautista, his eye and his RBI

Because I find waking up with my blood boiling to be a great way to start the day, I have my clock-radio set to turn on the FAN in the morning.

This morning, Greg Brady and Jim Land were talking baseball — Jose Bautista’s RBI totals in particular.

Brady was talking about Bautista’s home run-to-RBI ratio and trying to make the point that because the majority of Bautista’s RBIs come from his home runs, that means that the players around him aren’t doing their jobs. (You can listen here, comments are around the 19-minute mark.)

While there may be some truth to that, Brady’s argument misses the bigger picture.

Nearly 25% of Bautista’s plate appearances this year — 36 in total (stats here) — have come with runners in scoring position. You know what? Nearly half of his RBIs have come when he bats in that situation, and his OPS is similar to the other situation in which he comes to plate, but it’s not the same:

Bautista’s SLG is only .017 higher than his OBP when he comes up with runners in scoring position.

Compare that with, for example, a .142 difference in the numbers when he comes up with the bases empty and it seems to me there’s a simple explanation for Bautista’s seeming lack of production when there are runners to be driven in: He’s not getting anything to hit.

Everybody knows Bautista’s got a good eye. His walk rate when there are runners on second and/or third is an astounding 42%. That number drops by more than half to 20% when the bases are empty.

While it would be nice to say “Bautista should be getting more RBI than just from his home runs!” I’d much rather him keep doing what he’s doing and not start swinging at junk to make it happen.

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5 errors for E5

If there’s anybody out there who still thinks that ERA is a good stat by which to assess the abilities of a given pitcher, last night’s outing by Jo-Jo Reyes should serve as a nice nail in ERA’s coffin.

He pitched 2-2/3 innings and didn’t give up an earned run. Sounds good, until you realize that he started the game, pitched horribly and gave up six runs which, because of the rule that states runs can’t be charged against a pitcher if an error is committed on what would be a third out, weren’t charged against him.

I know he doesn’t have any options left, but how many chances are the Jays going to give him to keep proving he can’t cut it at the major-league level?

But this post is not meant to be about Reyes. This post is meant to be about the guy who committed the error with two outs.

I know John Farrell said, near the end of spring training, that Edwin (E5) Encarnacion had worked hard over the off-season, improved his footwork and really picked up his defensive game and, because of all that, he’d be playing third base. But, as I said at the time, E5’s problem is not his glove, it’s his arm.

Again, let me reiterate that Texas’s 6-run third inning last night was almost entirely Reyes’s fault. But if E5 doesn’t make a poor throw to first to allow Texas to keep the inning going, none of those six runs score.

I am not a big believer in errors or fielding percentage as a method of evaluating a player’s defensive abilities, but sometimes it can be used a decent shorthand, so I’m going to do it right now:

So far this year, in 58 innings at 3B, Encarnacion has been charged with 5 errors and has a fielding percentage of .615.

I don’t care what you think about fielding percentage or sample sizes or whatever — that’s a horrendous number.

So what to do with E5?

His bat’s nice enough that it’s worth keeping in the lineup, so how about he be used in the manner he was intended to be used in when he was brought back? Wouldn’t the Jays’ lineup look a lot nicer with E5 as the DH and occasional first baseman?

Of course, such a move would open up a hole at third and with the way Juan Rivera’s been swinging the bat lately, we’d want to keep him going, so why not go with an alignment much more like what we saw in spring training?

Encarnacion as 1B/DH, Rivera in RF Jose Bautista at 3B?

That’s what I would do anyway. I know it’s not perfect, but I don’t know how much more of E5 at 3B I can handle. It’s kind of like watching Reyes holding a spot in the rotation.

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Lunchbox Hero and the Safety Squeezers

One game can make all the difference, can’t it? Coming into tonight’s game against the Yankees, it seemed like people were fixated on the losses to the Red Sox, the slumps the Jays’ sluggers were going through and John Farrell’s seeming insistence on using Octavio Dotel against left-handed batters.

I tuned into tonight’s game during the eighth inning. I can’t speak to what happened before that, but what I saw afterward was pretty inspiring.

The bottom of the ninth. Down two to the Yankees. Mariano Rivera on the mound. This is not a situation many teams have been able to overcome. Ever.

Over the course of his career, Rivera had 566 saves in 615 opportunities. That’s a 92% success rate. That’s a pretty slim chance the Jays are going to win.

But win they did.

Yunel Escobar, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind: They all reached base. Travis Snider did not.

Escobar scored. Lind moved Bautista to third. Literally everybody’s favourite Blue Jay (if that’s not true, it should be) Johnny Mac comes to the plate.

Beginning the season, when the Jays were doing great, fans everywhere seemed excited about the running game and the willingness of the team under Farrell to take chances. Then, when the Jays started losing, the running game was the first target of many fans’ ire (and, in some cases, rightfully so.)

People criticized Cito Gaston for sticking to his guns, but Farrell does that, too. Last night, with the Prime Minister of Defence at the dish and down a run to the Yankees with Rivera on the mound, John McDonald executed a perfect bunt and Bautista came home to score on a safety squeeze.

Let me say that again: John McDonald laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt against Mariano Rivera to tie the game.

It was a thing of beauty.

Of course, asking for Rivera to take the loss in addition to blowing the save would be too much, and he got out of the inning. Extras. A good enough top of the 10th from Jon Rauch and the Jays again got a chance to end the game.

Ivan Nova comes in and Edwin Encarnacion immediately singles. Jayson Nix and Escobar proceed to hit deep fly outs, but E5, often slammed for a lack of hustle, runs his little heart out on those two flies. The man wanted to win, wanted to be the one to score the run that capped the comeback against the Yankees.

Two outs and Snider, who was 0-for-5 in the game had struck out three times — once apparently breaking his bat over his knee in frustration — comes to the plate. The same Snider who came into the game with a slash line of .151/.250/.245 and who seems to have been touted as a “bust” by impatient Leafs fans for years now.

But since you’re reading this, I assume you’re not one of the Snider doubters.

Snider comes to the plate and what does he do? He justifies your love.

Lunchbox Hero.

If you read this hoping for some kind of insight why what happened happened, I’m sorry. Sometimes when you witness something great, you just need to get it down.

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JoBau breaks my brain

Word on the street is that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista are close to a deal — a 5-year, $65-million deal. The word in my head is that this is a bad idea.

I’d been waiting all offseason for this signing to happen. Planned to lead the post with a song. The Pixies. Bone Machine.

“You’re so pretty when you’re faithful to me.”

Would’ve been great, in my head anyway. But, as I’ve already said, this deal, it doesn’t please my head so much.

Why? Because Bautista really just doesn’t have a very good track record. Yeah, his 2010 was off the charts, but everything else he’s done has been, well, less than impressive.

(If you want numbers on this, there are plenty of blogs that will give you that. Might I suggest Getting Blanked or Ghostrunner on First — assuming Drew tackles this subject — as a good starting point?)

So, assuming the report is correct, why would the Jays sign a deal like this one? I’ve got two theories. Maybe one’s correct, maybe there’s a third option that escapes me:

1. Blue Jays brass truly believes Bautista’s the real deal. Locking him up now may be more expensive in the short-term than going to arbitration and letting him mash his way through 2011, pushing his value even higher and potentially losing him to an outrageous bid from the Red Sox or Yankees.

2. Just as the Vernon Wells deal before it, the word came from on high: “I don’t care what you want to do, you’re going to sign this player.” From a marketing standpoint, this makes sense. Alex Anthopoulos has already built up a huge amount of credit with the “knowledgable” fans, but there are a lot of Maple Leafs fans in this city who aren’t happy with prospects and building the right way. Remember when VW was traded and the immediate calls to spend that $25 million elsewhere? This deal should go a long way toward keeping those people happy and, if you’re worried about ticket sales, that’s something you might want to take into consideration.

If the team made its move based on Theory 1 as listed above, and the gamble pays off, this is a great move. But I don’t see it working out quite that way.

That’s not to say I see Bautista completely falling off a cliff. No, I see him regressing to be a good, but not great, player. The kind of player you can likely get for less than $13 million per.

But you know what? Even if this deal is real and even if Bautista completely falls off a cliff, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It does give younger players something to look forward to (play well and be rewarded for it) and it should go a long way toward building up the reputation the team’s working toward (we take care of our own and we’re a great place to be).

So maybe it’s not the best thing, and I definitely don’t like it right now, but it’s not a horrible, stupid thing either.

And who knows, the reports of this deal may be false anyway.

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Homertastic!

In general, counting stats are a pretty horrible way to evaluate players. But sometimes they come in handy, sometimes like when you’re voting on the Stan Musial Award (the Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s MVP award) and counting stats can help you justify your homer pick for the award.

And homer’s the right word there in more ways than one. (I’m sure you already know what’s going on here.)

If there’s one counting stat that’s not sucky when it comes to evaluating players, it’s home runs. If you’re going yard on a regular basis, you’re helping your team win. Period.

I do have a few other arguments in favour of my choice. They’re not bulletproof, but here they are:

• Most Valuable Player is not Most Outstanding Player, although you have to be pretty outstanding to win the award. To me, the MVP really should go to, among the group of the league’s top players, the player whose team would miss him the most if he were to go down for an extended period.

The Texas Rangers, without Josh Hamilton in the lineup, were still a very good team, going 19-10 sans Hamilton.

Jose Bautista played in 161 games this year. Sure the Jays won the one game he didn’t play in, but that’s hardly a reliable sample size.

• The ability to play multiple positions and do whatever you can to help your team win is incredibly valuable.

Josh Hamilton played left field and a bit of centre.

Jose Bautista played right field, third base, first base and threw in a bit of centre for good measure.

• I like my taters mashed.

Jose Bautista hit 54 home runs this year.

Josh Hamilton ONLY hit 32. Pfft.

• WAR is a good way to measure players against each other.

Josh Hamilton turned in an 8.0 while Jose Bautista piled up a 6.9. BUT Bautista earned that playing in the AL East.

Now that you know my reasoning, here’s my ranked ballot for the AL Stan Musial Award:

1. Jose Bautista (TOR)

2. Felix Hernandez (SEA) [really, without him, Seattle probably wins 53 games or something even more pathetic than they did]

3. Josh Hamilton (TEX)

4. Miguel Cabrera (DET)

5. Evan Longoria (TB)

6. Adrian Beltre (BOS)

7. Shin Soo Choo (CLE)

8. Robinson Cano (NYY)

9. Carl Crawford (TB)

10.  Cliff Lee (TEX)

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50, 200, 0

Man, how awesome is Jose Bautista?

And that Ichiro? Frig, I wish he was a Jay.

I’m checking out for the rest of the home games. Today was my final time watching a Cito-managed team at the Dome. Even with everything he’s done wrong, he’s a hard man to hate and I’m glad a game like today’s was the last I saw him manage — live and in person, anyway.

Enjoy the rest of the season. I’ll be back to my regularly irregular posting in a week and a half or so.

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