AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Rivera, Johnson, Andino

The Rays and Red Sox begin a four-game set at Fenway Park tonight that could very well determine the AL Wild Card.  Here are some items about both clubs, plus the rest of the AL East…

  • Trades and middling draft results have robbed the Red Sox of pitching depth, opines ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required).  With more good arms in the system, Bowden argues that Boston could have had reinforcements ready to step in when Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz hit the DL, or could've used those young prospects to acquire a more reliable starter than Erik Bedard.
  • The Blue Jays will at least check in on Jonathan Papelbon this winter, writes's Gregor Chisholm, though Chisholm notes that it isn't Alex Anthopoulos' style to sign relievers to expensive, multiyear contracts.  Chisholm also looks at Frank Francisco and Adam Loewen's respective futures in Toronto as part of the mailbag piece — Chisholm thinks Francisco will leave, while Loewen is out of options and will probably only have a spot on the team if the Jays cut Mark Teahen.
  • Mariano Rivera is a Yankees legend today, but Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York looks at how 20 years ago, the Sandman wasn't even the most regarded prospect in his own family.  "If you turn the clock back and you ask who was the best Rivera in our system, it was Ruben," says Brian Cashman.  "Mariano was just known as Ruben’s cousin.''
  • Writing for USA Today, Patrick DiCaprio looks at how Orioles reliever Jim Johnson fits the prototype of a closer.  Johnson could very well finish games next season given that Baltimore seems to have lost patience with Kevin Gregg, though we've also heard that the O's have explored converting Johnson to a starter.  You can keep track of Baltimore's late-game situation all winter long at MLBTR's sister site, Closer News.
  • Robert Andino has finally gotten the chance to show he belongs in the Majors, writes Brittany Ghiroli for  The versatile infielder has definitely earned a roster spot with the Orioles for next year.
  • The Rays' somewhat surprising performance in 2011 makes it clear that they will be contenders again in 2012 and possibly for years to come, writes Rob Neyer.

32 Responses to AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Rivera, Johnson, Andino Leave a Reply

  1. I hope he doesn’t think someone would actually keep Teahen over Loewen.

  2. NYPOTENCE 4 years ago

    I do think the Rays will be contenders……….for third place. Willing to bet the Red Sox beat them for the playoff spot not only this year but for years to come.

  3. chico65 4 years ago

    Eh, hindsight is 20/20.  I’m sure if the Sox knew that Dice-K and Buchholz would miss a majority of the season, and that Lackey would suck balls, they would have had a few more solid options.  You expect injuries, but essentially missing 60% of your season- opening rotation?   

    • andrewyf 4 years ago

      The only thing that couldn’t have been foreseen was Buchholz missing a lot of time. Dice-K has never been truly healthy and Lackey already sucked balls in 2010. Their depth was relying on their highly-touted pitching prospects panning out and virtually none of them did.

      • MaineSox 4 years ago

        No team ever expects to be down to two opening day starters. 

        Lackey put up 4.0 WAR last year, had a livable 3.85 FIP and pitched 215 innings; that’s not great, but if they had been able to count on that again from him it would have been a lot better than what they got.

        Dice-K had one year (’09) where he was injured and missed a lot of time, aside from that he has averaged 29 starts per year, so they may have expected him to miss a start or two here and there, but no one could have foreseen him only making 7 starts all year.

        That’s also not to mention the time that Beckett, Lester, and Lackey have all missed as well.  Plus some of the depth they do have had injuries themselves (Doubront, for example, spent a considerable amount of time on the DL).  And some of their depth came up and didn’t perform as expected.

        In other words Jim Bowden is a hack and doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.  Nobody has enough depth to replace 3 of their 5 starters for a considerable amount of time (and 2 of them for basically a whole season), and no one expects their replacements to come up and perform as well as the original starters (they are “replacements” for a reason, presumably).  The Red Sox actually had a respectable amount of depth considering the number, and scope, of injuries sustained by their pitching staff, and that’s even after trading two pitching prospects in the V-Mart deal, and a third (their best) pitching prospect in the A-Gon deal, as well as converting one of their AAA starting pitchers into a reliever (Michael Bowden).

        • andrewyf 4 years ago

          Actually, Dice-K spent significant amounts of time (two stints, actually) riding the pine in 2010. Everyone considered him a big-time injury risk, not to mention a performance risk. Counting on him for anything was supremely risky. Lackey had been declining since his last years in an Angels uniform. Anyone could tell you Lackey was a sub-par pitcher in 2010, continuing his decline trend. In fact, it was surprising he was actually healthy the whole year, given that he hadn’t put in a full season since 2007. Another very risky pitcher. Beckett missing time is nothing new, he usually comes up with some kind of ailment every year. But that’s not really an excuse, because Beckett is putting up a career year. No one counted on that kind of positive production either. Lester missed, like, a start. He’s been very good, just as expected.

          No, the Sox didn’t really have a lot of depth. They had a rotation full of risky pitchers with some limited-upside pitchers in their minors to back them up. Then they made trades for more risky pitchers who were much more likely than not to disappoint. I’m not saying other teams were any different (well, excepting the Phillies and the Giants’ pitching staffs) – the Sox just happened to roll snake eyes. Well, honestly they rolled like a 4 but they had enough risky pitchers that they all underperformed/got injured anyway. In any case, to pretend like the Sox’s roster construction in terms of pitching was in any way solid is a joke. It ain’t just bad luck.

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            “Anyone could tell you Lackey was a sub-par pitcher in 2010″ don’t tell me, show me; he didn’t live up to expectations, but he wasn’t “sub-par,” he actually pitched halfway decent in ’10. 

            Regardless of what you think of the pitchers that the Sox started the year with they did have a lot of depth. They had 7, yes seven, guys on the major league roster who could start for them, and they had (at least) three more who started the year in the minors who could/have started games for them, and they also picked up Bedard (who was a possible injury risk, but also a very good pitcher) at the deadline.  If 11 starting pitchers isn’t depth then no one has pitching depth.

          • andrewyf 4 years ago

            For one thing, Alfredo Aceves is simply not a starting pitcher – at least in the AL. I think he’s proven that given his performance in a starting role, and given that the Sox are starting guys like Kyle Weiland over him in the midst of a playoff race should give credence to that fact. Then there’s Tim Wakefield, who, I’m sorry, everyone has a pitcher better than Tim Wakefield not in their starting five. The dude is not a major-league caliber pitcher. So I guess we’re down to five actual starting pitchers, huh. Wow, five starting pitchers (if you actually counted Dice-K).

            In terms of depth – they had Felix Doubront. Alright, he’s a solid guy. Andrew Miller. Nah. He’s a never-has-been. Hard to count a guy like that. Who else. Kyle Weiland? Eh. Everyone has a Kyle Weiland in AAA.

            Yeeah, so, not really buying the whole ‘depth’ argument. Didn’t buy it in 2009 when they were boasting Brad Penny and John Smoltz, ain’t buying it today with Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller. Look – the Sox thinned out their system with trades. It happens. Just try not to delude yourself into thinking they had some kind of ‘enviable’ depth. They just didn’t. And you didn’t need the season to play out the way it did to realize it at the start.

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            You seem to be under the impression that “depth” has to be guys who can pitch above average in the AL East.  That’s simply ridiculous, if a guy can pitch as an above average starting pitcher in the major leagues, he is most likely in someone’s starting rotation already.  Depth is guys who are borderline starters, or prospects who haven’t made the majors yet; the Red Sox admittedly didn’t have any of the latter (as I said, they traded most of that away), but they had the former by the truckload, which would have been fine if they had lost one pitcher, but when you lose two for the year and are down three and sometimes four for periods of time, depth just doesn’t matter.  The problem became that they were short on above average major league starters, not that they didn’t have the “depth” guys to cover it, which is a whole different issue.

  4. MikhelB 4 years ago

    Ruben’s cousin… hehehe yeah, i remember that, i even have that old Baseball America issue with Rubén Rivera in its cover, as a can’t miss prospect… well he was pretty good when he first reached the majors, then was sent down and he never was the same (ultimately traded to the Padres for Irabu and speedy secondbaseman Homer Bush).

    • MetsFanXXIII 4 years ago

      Apparently Ruben is still a beast in the Mexican League.

      • MikhelB 4 years ago

        Yeah, he has tons of power, and could hit in the majors if anybody could give him the opportunity (i view him as a better version of Juan Rivera LOL), too bad he has the reputation of being a brat and that Jeter incident won’t help him either (he stole Jeter’s glove to ‘score’ with a girl).

        I talked briefly with Rubén while in Mazatlán a couple of years ago, and the guy really seemed ‘centered’ in his baseball goals, certainly better behaved than a few years ago when he first went to the Mexican Winter League (he has had better seasons in the Summer League but my town only has winter baseball), i had heard rumours of him behaving pretty bad, even dismissing fans requests for autographs at the park, but that day he even accepted to go and grab a snack after the game (invited him a beer but he declined).

        PSWinter Mexican League is about to begin in a few weeks, so, if i travel again to Mazatlán i’ll take my old Baseball America to show it to him and ask him for an autograph; i love how in those leagues one can get to know players one-on-one before they either try-and-fail or make it big (i remember: John Kruk with Mexicali, Curt Schilling with Hermosillo, and during the Caribbean Series at Hermosillo and Mazatlán, and one at Puerto Rico i went to: Bernie Williams, Carlos Delgado, Edgar Martínez, Roberto Alomar and Juan González… all of them with the same team… Puerto Rico, 1995).

  5. AmericanMovieFan 4 years ago

    Papelbon is gonna want Rivera money and probably at least 5 years guaranteed (so that 5 year/$75MM contract K-rod gunned for way back when) and he won’t get it. After the disaster that was B.J. Ryan these closers don’t seem to understand that the Sandman is an anomaly unto himself; he’s a totally unique, once in a lifetime, once in history pitcher. We don’t see how special he truly is because we’re witnessing his career as it happens, but history will look back on him as the greatest and they’ll look back on guys like Papelbon as a wanna-be prospects who might have gotten rich off the game but never had that special quality Mo has, hence the frustratingly complex contract issues of being a free agent closer.

    • start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

      I wouldn’t go as far as to say guys like Paps, etc are wannabes. But they certainly have to thank Mariano for teams realizing they have to pay closers.

      If Mariano isn’t the first unanimous election to the Hall then no player ever will be. Even if he is a yankee I am in complete awe with what the man has done in his career. He really deserves to be in the discussion of top 10 pitchers of all time.

      Of course the question does need to be asked… if Hoffman pitched for the yanks and Mo pitched for the Pads, how would history have changed?

      • MB923 4 years ago

        “if Hoffman pitched for the yanks and Mo pitched for the Pads, how would history have changed?”

        Rivera’s numbers could be even better (I’m Not referring to saves by the way) and Hoffman’s could be worse.

        While it’s a small sample size with interleague, both pitchers pitched during the first year interleague started so I guess it’s still fair to put

        Career ERA
        Rivera- 2.22
        Hoffman- 2.87

        Career Interleague ERA
        Rivera- 1.89
        Hoffman- 3.28

      • MB923 4 years ago

        And no player is ever going to get voted in unamiously. Some of the writers do the theory “If Ruth was not voted in unanimously, no one should”.

        I remember when Ripken and Gwynn got in, they mentioned that 2 of the BBWAA voters left their entire ballot blank.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          which is why after ballots like that those members should be booted, that’s completely embarrassing.

      • jb226 4 years ago

        “If Mariano isn’t the first unanimous election to the Hall then no player ever will be.”

        I would substitute “Greg Maddux” here, personally, since his eligibility is already ticking forward and Rivera’s hasn’t started.

    • I guarantee nobody is giving Papelbon anywhere close to that type of money for that long a contract. Dumb.

    • I guarantee nobody is giving Papelbon anywhere close to that type of money for that long a contract. Dumb.

  6. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    I sincerely hope thats a joke about signing papelbon, I would seriously hate that.

    • NYPOTENCE 4 years ago

      Why? If you want your Jays dedicated to win they need a strong back-end of the bullpen. Maybe they should not give Rivera money but Papelbon is strong option for any team looking for bullpen help

      • johnsmith4 4 years ago

        I am thinking AA targets KRod from Brewers…Type A on final year of contract seems to suit AA’s style more than signing a closer to a big risky five year contract and giving up a 1st round pick.  Maybe for Adam Lind and a good prospect if Brewers lose Fielder to free agency.  After all, can’t see Brewers picking up team option of $17.5 mil for a setup man with or without Fielder.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          If the brewers offer Krod arb i sincerely doubt AA would go anywhere near him

      • Sniderlover 4 years ago

        No, they just shouldn’t be pissing money away on a closer. Jays have much bigger pressing needs that is actually worth spending on.

        Jays will find a closer like how most teams find a closer: out of nowhere. 

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          With the arms on the way up, there is absolutely no reason to spend a single penny on free agency unless its a bargain low risk/high reward type player..

          Next years rotation is Romero, Morrow and 3 questions marks out of

          Mcgowan, Drabek, Alvarez, Cecil, Carreno, Jenkins, … the left overs of the rotation can join litsch, villanueva, and janssen in the pen. 

          • ARodinyourPujols 4 years ago

            I would like to see Carreno get a shot at closing. I don’t know what it is about that guy but he has really impressed me so far. 

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            I wouldn’t be opposed to that, let him close for a year or two.. You always have Janssen to back up. .

            If we could find 5 starters better than Alvarez he would be a pretty good closer, throws hard, doesn’t walk batters.. Unfortunately that doesn’t look like any way likely..

            Franky Frank has been pretty lights out since the all star break

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        signing any reliever, and I mean any reliever to a top dollar free agent contract isn’t exactly the smartest way to get to the top..

        Jays have other holes to fill that take precedent, so spending 50-70 million on 70 Innings pitched per year is a bad allocation of resources. not to mention it will cost the jays a draft pick and give 2 draft picks to a direct competitor who knows how to use them

        Plus, my personal bias is that I hate his face. . but that has little to do with my opinion

  7. here’s hoping the jays say NO! to papelbon this offseason. of all the ways they could spend a truckload of money this season, please do not spend it on a 30+ year old reliever, no matter how good he may be.

    i’d rather bring back francisco.

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