Thursday, May 10, 2012

Save Us All

Well, Tuesday night the Jays closer, Francisco Cordero, blew his third save attempt. That makes seven out of eleven blown saves so far this season for the Jays. That’s 64%, pretty bad. The other leaders at blown saves are Sergio Santos with two and Darren Oliver and Casey Janssen with one each.

The Jays managed to go ahead in the ninth, up 3-2. Cordero got burned on an inside pitch to Cliff Pennington who hit a single, scoring Michael Taylor. The big one came with the “heavy hitter” Brandon Inge – .137 – on a breaking ball served over the plate for a grand slam. Inge was released by the Tigers for lack of offense. Goes to show, you cannot relax when even a weak hitter like Inge can stroke one out of the park. Cordero was not sharp and said as much after the game. How long do we have to wait for the return of Santos? Hopefully not long. Cordero and Santos have actually made two saves apiece. Cordero, with the grand slam last night, now has an ERA of 9.53. Santos was at 9.00. These ERA are not closer numbers. The best ERA is from Darren Oliver, but he has pitched only 20 innings. Late breaking note: Cordero is out as closer and Janssen is in.

So why, 30 games into the season, have the Jays had 11 save opportunities? The starters have done their bit with good starts and lots of innings. The bullpen – which gave so much last year until they burned out – has not been effective at all this year. The whole of the pitching staff have given up 42 HR, most in the league. Still, the real truth is the offense has been completely below average.

The big bats of last year have gone cold. Why, I have no idea. The Jays have plenty of people coaching the problem, but wow. The team is hitting just .238 with an OPS+ of just 91. The Orioles have BA of .254 and OPS+ of 109. The pitching is almost the same in WHIP, Jays – 1.254 and Orioles – 1.247

On the leader boards, the Jays don’t show up but with a couple of exceptions: Kelly Johnson with runs scored at 21 and the “Big E” Encarnacion number three in HR – 9 and RBI at 25.

Everyone has an idea on why Bautista is not hitting. But all the ideas have been tried. He is just too angry with himself right now. Anger will not help the mental state of each at-bat. Until last night, he was arguing every call on every pitch. The umpires simply will not put up with that attitude. They will not give him the calls they gave last year when you challenge them like that. You have to swing at good pitches, not the bad, and they will sometimes reciprocate when it’s close. I have said that with Bautista things will improve, but he has now had 137 at bats and not much is happening.

For both Bautista and Lind, the last 100 games is not a pretty sight. Both are well below .200. Adam Lind may be on the way out. His big year of 2009 has not materialized into consistent hitting since then. One reason the Tigers released Inge is because he cannot hit consistently. So… who would we get? Lyle Overbay (44 at bats) is hitting .289 with an OBP of .474 as a utility Diamondback. Just kidding.

Only two players have a positive OPS+, Kelly Johnson – 137 – and Edwin Encarnacion – 137. Both are surprises, especially Johnson. Most of the offense to date has rested on this pair. The shocking thing is that the Jays are still only 3 back of the miracle Orioles. If we had the saves and Lind and Bautista hitting for average maybe this could have been the year. Hopefully it’s not too late.

With so many players at the Mendoza line, I wonder if there really is some other problem going on. Has the positive clubhouse mentality broken down? Are there cliques that have formed? Something is going on outside of the lines and maybe now is the time to address it. John Farrell must get in the mix.

By the way, thanks to Will for his use of ERA+. It is a great number to use and that’s why I choose OPS+ for today’s blog.


Will Braund said...

It would be an interesting study to see whether any team has gone to the playoffs without a good closer. I would be willing to bet that no team has succeeded with the kind of blown save numbers the Jays are amassing. It's a shame when other pieces of the puzzle are working for them.

Larry Toman said...

The Jays signing Cordero was one of the worst moves in a long time. He has been in decline for the past few years, and his 37 saves last year were very misleading, as the stats back up.Signing Vlady Guerrero today is yet another message to Lind, because Vlady will only be used as a DH, and Encarnacions' bat is not coming out of the line-up. Lind is not in the long term mix, and that's okay, because he's just not that good. You and Will should not get your shorts in a knot this early about the blown saves. Santos is a legit closer and will prove so when he returns. The Jays are a good team that have issues to address, just like every other team in MLB, and that's reality. Cheers!!

John Trembath said...

I do not think Vlad is the answer. Too slow. His OPS+ was 101 last year. The O's would have kept him if they thought he was up to it. How about outfield production. The whole outfield is a mess. The starting three are not hitting. Rajai is fast but can't get himself on --thus the pinch-running. With the Big E in the filed he can't focus on what we need --hitting. Bad move all around. To little. AA needs to be more aggressive.