Jays-related tidbits from Jonah Keri’s FanGraphs farewell


Incredible author and Montreal Expos aficionado Jonah Keri is officially no longer a part of FanGraphs, and he chatted for almost three hours yesterday here. There were a fair amount of Jays questions asked, so here’s a rundown of them in order.

Jays-related topics that were covered include Prince Fielder as a Jay next year, a Yanks fan being scared of the Blue Jays, should the Jays “go for it” in 2012, prying Ortiz and/or Papelbon from Boston this offseason, and Travis Snider‘s future, among others.

J.P. Arencibias expected BABIP is .306. This would raise his average to .252. A triple slash of .252-.351-.455… any stock to be taken from that? For next year or ROS?

Jonah Keri: Just wrote a piece on FIP that should be out later today. Like Expected BABIP and other advanced stats, the idea is that these are better predictors of future results than simple ERA or AVG. Doesn’t mean we should extrapolate it out and grant future stardom to a player who scores well by these metrics. I’d be optimistic about Arencibia, but that’s more because of his raw power and youth and cheap price tag than what xBABIP might suggest.

Your thoughts on Travis Snider’s future, now that he’s been sent down again?

JK: Talented player, Jays want him to get an extended run of everyday at-bats. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt on personnel decisions, given how many big hits they’ve had so far.

Brett Lawrie – great player, or greatest player?

JK: He’s no Terry Puhl or Doug Frobel.

Ricky Romero has been great for the last couple of months but when you look at his advanced stats, they seem very similar to last year. Does this necessarily mean that he is going to regress, or is it possible he’s figured something out that will help him maintain this performance?

JK: I do think it’s possible to “outperform” one’s advanced stats, and that pitchers learn things as they gain experience. Ultimately what potentially messes with Romero’s numbers is the AL East. You just have to look at AL East pitchers very differently than you would guys in the NL West. Do I think Ian Kennedy has shown real improvement? For sure. Would he have become a borderline ace pitching in Yankee Stadium? I kinda doubt it.

Jonah, I think most of us agree on Bautista as MVP, but who’s your MVRS (Most Valuable Red Sox? Ellsbury, Pedroia, or Gonzo?

JK: Marc Normandin wrote a great piece for SB Nation which showed how using 3 different metrics (FanGraphs WAR, BP WARP and…maybe B-Ref WAR?), we had 3 different MVPs: Bautista, Pedroia and Ellsbury. I get why people like to read, and write, in-season MVP columns. But the race has gotten significantly closer than it was when Bautista was on pace to hit eleventy billion homers and Pedroia was hurt. I’d say it’s still wide open, for both league MVP and MVRS.

If you had to guess, where does Fielder land next off season?

JK: I think the Jays are real sleepers for his services.

It’s been awesome seeing your work at Fangraphs, Jonah! Good luck at the new job. My question – should the Jays begin the ‘go for it’ phase in 2012 by coughing it up for Reyes/Fielder/a nice Starter and a bullpen, or should they spend another year evaluating what they’ve got (aka. getting a better idea of the true talent levels of guys such as Lind, Arencibia, Rasmus, Lawrie, and Morrow)?

JK: think they can go either way and it’s a defensible plan. Alex strikes me as a guy who lets the market come to him, rather than proclaiming I’M GOING FOR IT and making decisions which might not be optimal.

Can’t help but remind me of the Rays. They didn’t come into 2008 saying, “We’re going to win 97 games and roll to the World Series.” But they made a commitment to get better, they caught a bunch of breaks, and they did it. I’m guessing the market will dictate how the Jays proceed too.

Do you see Eric Thames as anything more than a 4th OF going forward in his career?

JK: Too soon to tell. Nothing wrong with giving him a chance to play and seeing what you’ve got, though.

Everyone keeps linking Fielder and/or Pujols to Toronto, why not Ortiz and the other high profile Red Sox FA, Papelbon? They make a lot of sense for their team needs and it will weaken a division rival to boot.

JK: Can’t see Alex paying a ton for a closer. Not sure he would for an aging DH either. Possible they could go elsewhere, but wouldn’t surprise me if both re-signed in Boston.

Yunel Escobar or Asdrubal Cabrera (non-fantasy)?

JK: Cabrera.

I think that you’re underestimating the potential rise to power of Toronto. AA is doing a good job wheeling’ and dealin’, they’re showing their farm a lot of love, they have a decent, albeit not overpowering, collection of young players, and their roster is fairly cheap. In addition, their coffers are deep enough to double their current payroll. As a Yankees fan, they scare me!

JK: Are you seriously arguing that I don’t love what the Jays are doing? I write about them as if I’m on the payroll!

– JM

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