Showing posts with label Sergio Santos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sergio Santos. Show all posts

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Hello, Jays Shop? I'd Like to Return This Mike Aviles Jersey."


Hey, remember last week, when I looked ahead to how a new manager might make use of a player like Mike Aviles, holding out hope for some creativity and ingenuity with respect to platoons and defense and what-not?  Yeah, never mind about all that.
 
Alex Anthopoulos flipped Aviles quicker than a downtown Toronto real estate speculator, albeit perhaps with less expectation of profit.  Any added middle infield flexibility Aviles' presence on the roster represented evaporated quickly in favour of yet another hard-throwing righty reliever in Esmil Rogers, who (for now) joins Steve Delabar, Brad Lincoln, and some others of that ilk in a somewhat crowded bullpen.

It's a curious deal for a bunch of reasons, the first of which is related to the deal that brought Aviles to Toronto in the first place.  I remain of the view that getting a viable, versatile middle infield piece in return for a manager with a middling track record was a bit of a coup for Anthopoulos.  In fact, the GM himself seemed to envision some kind of 2013 role for Aviles too, based on his comments to the media after the trade was finalized. Yet here we are a week later with the same questions about second base that were there at the end of the season. There's obviously a lot of off-season left, with time to answer the infield questions and others, and we can't know which players the organization might be targeting as potential fits.  But it's certainly frustrating as a fan to see a roster gap partially dealt with, and then thrown back into uncertainty within a span of days.  And as Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus pointed out on Twitter yesterday, while two data points don't make a trend, this practice of appearing to win a trade, only to quickly move the most useful return piece elsewhere for a relief pitcher, does look to be a bit of an Anthopoulos specialty. 

If all that wasn't troubling enough, I had an even more uncomfortable thought yesterday as I mentally digested this deal:  what does it mean for Sergio Santos?  Or more to the point, is it possible that the team remains pessimistic about Santos coming back healthy enough in 2013 to be effective in the late innings?  Santos is surely Exhibit A for why accumulating bullpen depth is a good thing, because you never know how hard-throwing, maximum effort pitchers who tend to find careers in relief will hold up.  Santos certainly has the potential, as well as a short but impressive track record, to be a shutdown reliever for the Jays.  But shoulder surgeries are a tricky business, and despite reports that he'll have no problem being ready for Spring Training, it's interesting that Anthopoulos continues to accumulate right-handed relief regardless.  I mean, maybe I'm being paranoid and Santos will show up to camp buckling knees with a slider and blowing a fastball past batters like nothing ever happened.  I'd love if that were the case.  It's just... does that really seem like the most likely scenario?  And isn't it better to prepare for the possibility that he might not be the same pitcher again?

If there's a saving grace in this whole business, it's that the Jays are rid of Yan Gomes, a player for whom my dislike grew with every appearance.  I don't have anything against the guy personally, and he seems like an earnest enough ballplayer.  But frankly, there was no reason to think Gomes had a future as even a borderline utility player for the Blue Jays, and I'm relieved that the organization will no longer have to deal with the temptation to pretend he might.  At whichever positions he might have been expected to fill in, I truly think the team can find plenty of other options who can do the job more effectively at the same price.  I wish him well, but packaging him in a deal for a living, breathing major-league baseball player of any kind was probably a best-case scenario.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

San-toasted


In entirely unsurprising yet still disappointing news this morning, the Blue Jays announced that would-be closer Sergio Santos would miss the remainder of the season, after experiencing more shoulder discomfort following a rehab throwing session.

Jays fans got to see all of five regular-season innings from Santos, and in total, the converted infielder has still only pitched 120 innings in his big-league career.  Santos is still largely unknown to a great many fans, but his absence this season still hurts – his eye-popping numbers with the White Sox last season and the electric stuff he displayed when healthy are the sorts of things you can dream on.

A few thoughts on Santos, scrawled out as I watch the Jays take on the team against whom he made his final 2012 appearance, the Cleveland Indians:

Mike Sirotka 2.0?

Well, no.  Not really.  This comparison has come up over and over again, and it’s been troublesome to me.  The idea that the Jays bought “damaged goods” when they shipped prospect porn star Nestor Molina to Chicago to get Santos doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny or basic logic.

The reason we all remember the Mike Sirotka deal was precisely because it was so out of the ordinary, requiring the Commissioner of Major League Baseball to weigh in as the final arbiter.  Bud Selig pointed out at the time of ruling on the Sirotka deal that it’s up to teams to get the information they need on players before acquiring them:  “I hope that all club executives will take from this dispute a renewed awareness of their obligations under the caveat emptor rule.”  One of the things that fans have come to appreciate about Alex Anthopoulos in his term as Blue Jays General Manager is that he does his homework.  He doesn’t strike me as the type who would fail to do all the necessary checking to ensure the player he was acquiring was healthy.

John Farrell told the media today that it was in Santos’ season debut, against Kansas City, in which he first felt the shoulder pain that would eventually sideline him.  Yes, managers have been known to lie to the media before, and the way Santos was hidden from view during Spring Training may give the more suspicious among us reason to wonder whether the pain might have been present a little earlier.  But if Santos was in fact injured prior to the season, what benefit has there been, or is there now, in saying otherwise?  Saving face is about the only reason I can muster, but all things considered, I prefer to take Farrell and the organization at their word.

(Addendum to this after originally posting:  Santos signed a contract extension with the White Sox after the 2011 season as well, discussed below. Hard to imagine they'd commit guaranteed money to a pitcher if they knew he had a shoulder problem.  Hat tip to Mike Wilner and John Lott on Twitter for reminding me and everyone else about that.)

Dolla dolla bills y’all

Besides, Santos is far from a lost cause for the Blue Jays.  We’ve already seen how critical it is to have a stable of capable bullpen arms, and Santos should still be one when he’s healthy again, for a very reasonable price.  Even if his arm falls off in surgery, the Jays would only be on the hook for the price they paid to get him (Molina) plus $7.25 million – $6.75 million over the next two seasons, and $750K to buy out one of the three club options for 2015, 2016 and 2017 (as always, via the invaluable Cot's Baseball Contracts powered by Baseball Prospectus).

That 2013-2014 salary is less than the Jays will be paying Casey Janssen, who picked up ninth-inning duties (eventually) in Santos’ place and has been nothing short of outstanding.  Yet Janssen got that money when he was signed as a set-up guy, not a CAPITAL C CLOSER.  In a chat with the Tao during lunch last week, we agreed that a contract like that of Santos fits in almost anywhere in the back end of a bullpen.

All this considered, there’s still reason to be optimistic about seeing Sergio Santos striking batters out in the late innings in a Blue Jays uniform in April 2013.  Put a candle in your window.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let's Write the Whole Year Off

There's no question that the promotions and game operations side of the organization brought their "A game" yesterday for the Blue Jays' home opener. There was so much new video content with such a fierce tone that it seemed as though the team were ready to skip past the regular season and take on all comers in the playoffs starting last night.

But the other side of building that much anticipation all at once is that when you don't come through immediately, it can have the opposite effect on the fans.

After last night's disappointing 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, our Twitter feed was unsurprisingly blown up with those expressing their "major concern" over the feasibility of Sergio Santos, immediately writing him off as just another example of the poor excuses for closers that the Jays have had since Tom Henke left town. Others spoke ominously of how this one game may well have cost the Jays their shot at the playoffs, and that we shouldn't forget how last year's Red Sox and Atlanta Braves missed the post-season by just one game.

And what about all that talk about a new era of Jays fans and a new feeling of optimism? The Jays built the expectations, and suddenly, just four measly games into the season, the queue to exit the bandwagon is backed up. Which is patently ridiculous.

There are 158 games left in the season. Even if the Blue Jays do manage to defy expectations and take a big step towards the next level, there will be 60 to 70 more losses to come, and some of them will be even more disappointing and uglier than last night's.

The Blame Game: There's no question that Sergio Santos had a terrible outing last night, and that he began overthrowing his pitches to try to blow the Red Sox out of the batters box. Which is probably not the best approach to dealing with that lineup. It was also his second straight blown save, so there's some understandable uneasiness with his performance.

In our preview piece about Santos, we wondered whether if Jays fans were ready for a pitcher who is still somewhat raw, and has some control issues. The piece was written after watching him send two pitches past Jeff Mathis to the backstop in a spring training game, which is no small feat. Santos is a power arm, and one that is not yet refined, so there will be walks and there will be pitches in the dirt and beyond. But there will also be plenty of strikeouts and baffled batters along the way. The question is whether if the positives will outweigh the negatives over the long run of a season, as they have in the past for Santos.

Santos might have had a little more room for error had the Jays' offense put up any sort of showing last night. When Scott Atchinson holds you to a single hit over three relief innings, you really haven't done yourself any favours. Among those feeble Jays bats, no one looked worse than José Bautista, who went 0-for-4, leaving four runners on base and hitting into a double play. We doubt, though, that anyone is looking at yesterday's game and pondering a move down the lineup for the team's most valuable player.

Accentuating the Positive: Henderson Alvarez had a tremendous outing, giving up just four hits and one walk in six innings against the solid Red Sox lineup...We won't pester you with our Colby Rasmus love. But offensively and defensively, he was the highlight of last night's game. Take that as you will...Both Kelly Johnson and Edwin Encarnacion continue to have good at bats. Johnson is making pitchers work as hard as anyone in the lineup, and EE is squaring it up and hitting the ball hard on a regular basis...Darren Oliver's two-strikeout inning of work was quick and effective, and Coco Cordero also had a nice inning in the eighth.

Today's a New Day: Kyle Drabek gets his first start of the season against Daniel Bard. It's a whole new ballgame!

Monday, March 26, 2012

30 Jays in 30 Days - Sergio Santos Has a Scary Arm

Who: Sergio Santos, No. 21. Right-handed relief pitcher. 6’2”, 230 LBS. 28 years old.

Provenance: Bellflower, California. Drafted as a high school senior by Arizona in the first round (27th overall) of the 2002 draft. Acquired by the Blue Jays on December 6, 2011, for minor-leaguer Nestor Molina.

In Another Life: Was ranked the #37 prospect in the game by Baseball America in 2004 as a shortstop in the Diamondbacks’ system. Traded to Toronto as part of the Troy Glaus trade in December of 2005. Spent two seasons and a few months with Jays before being selected off waivers by the Twins.

Contract Status: Signed three-year, $8.25 million extension with the White Sox in September of 2011. Deal also includes three club options for the years 2015 through 2017, with a $750,000 buyout on each.

Career Stats: 3.29 ERA and 1.296 WHIP in 119 relief outings over two seasons with the White Sox. In 115.0 innings pitched, has struck out 148 batters (11.6 K/ 9), walked 55 (4.3 BB/9). 31 saves.

2011 Stats: 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 92 strikeouts (13.1 K/9) and 29 walks in 63 innings. 30 saves.

Looking Back: It doesn’t feel like all that long ago that we were watching Sergio Santos take ground balls at third base for the then-SkyChiefs of Syracuse. Our impression of him back then was that we was an impressive physical specimen, but he was not much of a bat, even against some fairly tepid Triple-A pitching.

So it was an odd bit of news two years ago when we started to see his name listed among the depth arms in the White Sox system. It was more of a curiosity until we got out first look at his 2009 minor league numbers, and saw the impressive strikeout totals he posted as he rocketed through the White Sox system. In that season, Santos leapt through four levels in 26 games, and while his cumulative ERA was 8.16, he showed enough of an ability to miss bats to make him an intriguing project.

His ascent to the White Sox in 2010 and subsequent move to the closer role last season followed as he began to find enough control over his pitches to make himself an imposing late game option. Santos averages north of 95 M.P.H. with his fastball, and mixes in a hard slider that elicits futile swings, along with the occasional changeup.

All of which makes it rather strange that the White Sox would ship him out of town after signing him to a very club-friendly deal that could have wrapped him up for six seasons.

Looking Forward: Santos enters the season as the undisputed closer, marking the first time since B.J. Ryan’s career-ending implosion that the Jays have had such clarity about the role in March. And given the unsatisfactory performances of the bullpen last year and the season before, Santos will find himself pitching before a fanbase with little or no tolerance for failure from someone in that vaunted role.

Having had a chance to see Santos this weekend, we wondered if those fans are ready to see a pitcher who is still somewhat raw. With a walk rate over four per nine innings, Santos will launch some of those mighty throws into the dirt and on to the backstop with the game on the line. He’s a power arm, and will throw harder than any Blue Jay closer since Billy Koch, but it won’t always be with pinpoint accuracy.

2012 Expectations: It seems like a bit too much to ask for Santos to repeat last season’s strikeout bonanza, and against patient teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, it will take more than stuff to get through closing assignments. Still, if he can post a K/9 in the range of nine or above, and keep his walks per nine below four, the Jays will have found that elusive bullpen ace.

And if it plays out that well, Santos could be among the most exciting additions to the franchise in some time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Observations on the Winter Meetings from a Distance

(From a distance...do we all have the sounds of hoary Bette Midler treacle assaulting our brains now? Awesome...)

We're miles and kilometres and then some away from the action in Dallas, so all of our Winter Meetings observations are being made through eyes that are straining to keep up with every tweet and bleep that pops across our screen. Most of this is conjecture and speculation at this point, but we'd offer a few thoughts that have coalesced here, far from the action.

Big Deal! Jays trade Nestor Molina for Sergio Santos: This deal popped up just as we were about to joke about the lack of action, so it goes to show what we know.

The curious aspect of this deal is the fact that Santos is returning to the Jays after having been in the organization as the prospect thrown into the Troy Glaus deal. We remember subsequently seeing Santos as a SS-converted-to-3B with the Syracuse SkyChiefs, and thinking that while he had a great build, the finer skills (infield footwork and strikezone judgment) eluded him.

In his new role as a power reliever, we'll confess to having a twinge of jealousy having watched him evolve into a big nasty hurler who throws mid-to-high 90's with a nasty slider. So there is some satisfaction in repatriating him. We love those crazy strikeout per nine numbers (13.01!), though the high walk totals (4.12 per nine) might have a tougher time playing in the AL East. (Where umpires defer their decision on close pitches to the Red Sox and Yankees' batters. Bitter!)

The cost - 22 year-old Nestor Molina - is probably a little higher than we'd have liked, especially since we'd started to consider him as THE pitching prospect in the Jays' system. Still, Santos is signed to a very club-friendly deal (three years, $8.25 million with club options that could make it six years and $30 million), and we'd guess that in spite of an all-out delivery, his arm doesn't have that much wear and tear on it. Yet.

Mostly, though, this is the "proven closer" deal for which the casual fans clamoured. Are you happy?

And now, second base: The main observation that we'd had before the Santos news broke was how many potential second base names were being floated as possibilities for the Jays.

We'd mentioned the White Sox' Gordon Beckham as a possibility last week, and part of our subsequent reaction to the Santos deal was that it likely closed the door on more dealings with the Southsiders. However, intrepid Fan 590 radio reporter Mike Wilner tweeted that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos mentioned that other deals between the two teams are still being discussed.

Aside from that, the names of the Braves' Martin Prado and Angels' Alberto Callaspo have been mentioned as possibilities through the digital scuttlebutt. We've got a soft spot for both players - they often make their way onto our MLB The Show franchises - and both are cheap and controllable, which is something for which Anthopoulos has a sweet spot. Callaspo made $2 million last year, and has two more arbitration years remaining, while Prado is in the same situation and made $3.1 million. (All contract details come from Cot's Baseball Contracts. Much thanks and praise to them.)

Another aspect of their games that Prado and Callaspo share is that they are jacks of all trades in the field, though masters of none. In fact, both do quite poorly in UZR/150's assessment of their work up the middle, with Callaspo posting a -6.8 for his career and Prado even worse, at -8.4. (Callaspo had great numbers at third base, but given how antsy we feel about UZR in the first place, we're not certain whether if that is as a result of a flaw in the formula,for better or worse.)

The other name popping up was the Mets' 26 year-old Daniel Murphy, who posted a very respectable line of .362 OBP/.448 SLG/.809 OPS in 2011. On the other hand, it seems as though the Mets have tried to hide him all over the diamond, and might we remind you that they thought so highly of Murphy's second base word last year that they started the season with Brad Emaus as their everyday option?

All of this discussion is academic should Kelly Johnson accept arbitration by midnight tonight tomorrow. But suffice to say that even the decent options at second are flawed, and another year of Johnson might not be the worst chioce for the Jays.

Because we know you're obsessed, a thought on Fielder: We'd actually started to cave earlier this week, and started to make the argument for going to get Prince Fielder. For the right deal, we supposed, he might just be worth the risk. And with it possibly being a buyers market, couldn't the Jays manage to get him on a shorter (i.e. five-year) deal?

But where this falls apart in our mind is that we suspect that any deal that the Jays could make, the Brewers could and would match. We're finding it hard to imagine the Jays finding the minute point of distinction that would be within their means and their philosophy but above the Brewers' capacity.

And besides, the Cubs and Cardinals might both be looking for a big first base bat, and we suspect that both would go six years or more at top dollar for the big man.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What a Mench!

Hey now!

Not only have the Jays made it official by acquiring Brad Wilkerson, but they've also gone out and traded a sack full of mountie quarters to the Texas Rangers for Kevin Mench and his gigantic fucking cranium. (Which, as we pointed out before, couldn't have come from excessive intake of Lik-a-Maid. Swedish Berries, maybe.)

DFA'ed to make room for the two new dudes? Sergio Santos (we barely knew ye) and Gus Chacin. The Machine is dead. Long live the Machine.

Incidentally, it was Mench who hammered a comebacker off Roy Halladay's leg a couple of years back in Texas, so Doc should at least be allowed to get one good lick in on Heavy Kevy before his first game. Towel whipping, bag tag, indian burn, purple nurple...whatever the weapon of choice, Mench should prepare himself for the worst.

Now the question is: where in hell do you find the lineup spots for Stewart, Mench, Wilkerson, and Matt Stairs? And what happens when Scrappy Doo and the PMoD are back in the house in 15 days?

Moreover, What's Edgardo Alfonzo up to these days?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Whither Sergio Santos ?

Even with the news that utility infielder and slap-hitter Ray Olmedo was banished to Pittsburgh last week, the Blue Jays have a veritable mess o' infielders on the 40-man roster. Somewhat lost in the shuffle amongst all these marginal major leaguers is Sergio Santos.

Santos, who came to the Jays in the Troy Glaus trade two winters ago, acquitted himself well in this year's Arizona Fall League (5 HRs, 20 RsBI, .922 OPS in 24 games for Scottsdale). He subsequently played winter ball in the Mexican Pacific League for the Yaquis de Obregon. Santos told Baseball America (registration required...sorry) that he wanted to play in Mexico to see tougher pitching, to work on his footwork at third and to improve his Spanish (no, really). Unfortunately, he was limited to just 14 games and was off the roster by the time the playoffs came.

Santos will turn 25 this July, and is on the cusp of becoming a "former prospect", if he isn't there already. He's dropped off of most publications' lists of top Blue Jays prospects, and he didn't handle the jump to Syracuse especially well this year. With Marco Scutaro, Russ Adams and Joe Inglett muddying up the Jays' infield picture, 2008 looks to be Santos' last chance to establish himself.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Random thoughts on a shakey video of Travis Snider

Someone's got their ReggieVision Handicam down at the Arizona Fall League, documenting the prospects with a cinematographic skill that can onle be described as "Zapruderesque" . Among them was this one of Travis Snider cranking out a double.




The Good: Didja hear the beautiful sound of the crack of the bat? Niiiiiice.

The Bad: Not that we want to ponder this for too long...but doesn't Snider's body look a bit "Hinske-esque"?

Snider is one of the few players in the AFL who hasn't played above the single-A level, and he's still ripping it up. In 21 games, he's rocking a 1.025 OPS with five doubles, four homers and 11 RsBI. (And a .342 AVG, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.)

He's still only 20 (which is a few years younger than most of the top prospect in 'zona), but his performance bodes well for a possible 2009 appearance with the Jays. (Maybe...)

Other Futuer Blue Jays in the AFL
  • Sergio Santos has 4 HRs and 14 RsBI along with an .823 OPS, and is playing a lot of third. In case the Jays should need new body at the hot corner sometime soon. Just sayin'.
  • David Purcey's got a wicked 1.59 ERA in five starts and 17 innings. He's struck out 17 and walked 8.
  • Ricky Romero's been pitching primarily in relief, and has a 4.22 ERA in 10-plus innings. He got off to a rocky start, but hasn't allowed a run in his last 7 innings of work, spanning four appearances.