For Fans, By Fans

Echoes From 527 : Off Season Shuffle

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With the regular season coming to a grinding halt, the off season moves are beginning to heat up across Major League Baseball. The Blue Jays, who finished the year with a 73-89 record head in to the winter looking to answer their share of questions regarding the state of the current roster and management.

It was announced on Saturday that the club had decided to break their policy on lateral movements and give current manager John Farrell his outright release following 2 seasons at the helm of the team. During his tenure with Toronto, Farrell compiled an overall record of 154-170 as an untested manager.

At times, his ideals were questioned by the fans of Toronto’s ball club and media alike. Although there were no immediate signs of tension within the clubhouse, veteran infielder Omar Vizquel was vocal towards the end of the season being quoted in the press about his distaste for the communication within the team.

“The coaching staff have a big responsibility to kind of get in there and tie things up a little bit – have a little bit more communication with their players”

Vizquel was referring to the amount of mental mistakes made by his team and the lack of leadership shown in the clubhouse. Farrell, a rookie in his own right, was tasked with having to manage a team consisting of a high number of first year players.

Injuries had left General Manager Alex Anthopoulos no choice but to call up a number of the teams top prospects in an attempt to simply keep the Blue Jays afloat as they limped to the finish line. With no immediate leadership to be found, the team was left in limbo and as their win loss record began to free fall, so did the confidence in the clubhouse.

Fans had began to turn on Farrell. Vizquel’s comments added to the speculation that Boston was aggressively perusing the Blue Jays manager only made things worse and when news broke regarding Anthopoulos and Farrell not seeing eye to eye, tension continued to mount as it became ovbious that John Farrell’s days in Toronto were numbered.

Mike Aviles became the bargaining chip used by the Red Sox in hopes of prying Farrell away from the Blue Jays and with Kelly Johnson ready to hit the Free Agent Market, the idea of letting their Manager leave in return for a controllable infielder just made sense. To Boston went Farrell and reliever David Carpenter who came to Toronto in the package with Brandon Lyon and JA Happ.

“If you look at the free-agent market right now with respect to shortstop, second base, it’s just so thin, the fact is that Mike does have control past this year. He is a hard-nosed player. He is a gamer. He’s not without his flaws, if you look at the on-base and so on, but he is a high-energy player.” Said Anthopoulos when asked about the trade.

This of course is the latest in a series of moves made by the Blue Jays in the past couple of weeks, all of which can be found below.

Acquired:

Mike Aviles – (31) IF .250/.282/.381 in 546 PA (Trade)
Aviles played SS, 2B & 3B for Boston in 2012 posting an overall fielding percentage of .975. This season saw the righty hit career highs in HR’s (13), RBI (60), 2B (28),BB (23) and overall games played at 136. He’s biggest downside is the range he possesses in the field and his Career .308 On Base Percentage however one of his strengths is the ability to put the ball in play having only struck out 77 times over 512 AB’s last season.

2008 saw Aviles break into the majors hitting .325/.354/.480 with 10 HR’s and 51 RBI in 102 games played. His early success was enough to land him 4th place in Rookie Of the Year voting for that season.

Cory Wade – (29) 6.46 ERA in 39 IP (Waivers)
Don’t let the 2012 numbers fool you, this former 10th round pick has shown flashes of brilliance in parts of 4 seasons between the Dodgers and Yankees. His strongest showing was in 2011 when he posted a 2.04 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 39.2 IP. The 6’2″ RHP features a Cutter, 4 Seam Fastball, Changeup, Slider and Curveball, all of which he can control effectively enough to induce weak contact.

Scott Cousins – (27) OF .163/.200/.267 in 92 PA (Waivers)
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2004 June Amateur Draft, Cousins has spent the majority of the past 7 season in the Minor Leagues. In 525 MILB games, Cousins has hit a modest .279 while getting on base at a .364 clip. During his time in the minors, the Nevada native has stolen 87 bases while getting caught a mere 28 times.

Tyson Brummett – (28) 3.62 ERA in 72 IP (Waviers)
Plucked off waivers from the Phillies organization, Brummett is a 6’0″ RHP who made his MLB debut during the last game of the season. Both outs he recorded in the big leagues have come via the strikeout

Choosing to elect Free Agency, the following players were under contract with Toronto in 2012:

MLB level

Aaron Laffey – (27) 4.56 ERA in 100.2 IP
Laffey appeared in 22 games with Toronto in 2012 having been used primarily as a starter following a series of injuries to the Blue Jays starting rotation. In 3 games vs Boston, the soft tossing lefty held the Sox to 3 earned runs over 16.2 IP.

Robert Coello – (27) 12.79 ERA in 6.1 IP
Appearing in 6 games at the MLB level with Toronto, Coello too fell victim to the Disabled List this season. Although the 6’5″ RHP got shelled in his brief appearances with the Jays he was able to strikeout 11 of the 33 batters he faced at the MLB level in 2012.

Shawn Hill – (31) 0.00 ERA in 3 IP
Mississauga native and former Expo Shawn Hill appeared in only 1 game with Toronto in 2012. His scoreless outing vs New York in September was his first action in the Majors since 2010 when he finished the season with a 2.61 ERA in 20.2 IP.

Bobby Korecky – (32) 18.00 ERA in 1 IP
Korecky’s lone appearance with the Jays came vs New York where he faced 5 batters and allowed a pair of earned runs. In 46 games with AAA Vegas, Korecky struck out 47 batters while walking only 19.

MILB level

Jesse Litsch – Did not pitch in 2012
Litsch came into Spring Training nursing a recovering right shoulder however the 27 year old was shut down due to inflammation  A PRP injection was given to the RHP and was supposed to help with the inflammation however the shot caused a serious infection and rendering Litsch out for the season. Over 5 seasons with Toronto, Litsch has compiled a 4.16 career ERA in 88 games.

Jim Hoey – (29) 4.60 ERA in 60.2 IP
Working out of Las Vegas’ Bullpen, Hoey racked up 45 strikeouts in his 46 games with the club. The 6’6″ righty struggled with his command as he walked 42 batters and allowed 59 hits in the hitter friendly PCL.

Juan Abreu – (27) 2.70 ERA in 3.1 IP
Abreu appeared in onlt 4 games with AAA Vegas in 2012. The RHP struck out 5 of the 16 batters he faced walking 2 and allowing only 1 earned run.

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