Anthopolous’s Latest Claims Can’t Sneak Through

Alex Anthopolous and his Blue Jays were a well-oiled waiver-claiming machine for the last two weeks of October. Starting on October 17th, the Jays claimed Scott Cousins, Cory Wade, Tyson Brummett, Bobby Wilson, David Herndon and Scott Maine off waivers.

This is a group, as a whole, with 1.6 career WAR. Still, these moves aren’t about filling high-profile roster spots, they were about depth, and the Blue Jays had 40-man roster spots open. The problem is, they wouldn’t stay open for long. The Jays had six players on the 60-day disabled list, and those players would eventually need the spots taken by those marginal waiver claims.

Chances are, though, at least a few of these players were never intended to remain on the 40-man roster. Tyson Brummett was ourighted and passed through waivers unclaimed this time around — unsurprisingly, as he has just 0.2 MLB innings at age 28. This is what Anthopolous and the Jays were likely trying to accomplish — pass these players through waivers to create depth beyond the 40-man roster, an are he had to dip early and often in 2012 as the Jays suffered constant injuries.

The latest two couldn’t sneak through — the Jays designated David Herndon and Scott Cousins for assignment on Halloween, but both were claimed yesterday by the Yankees and Mariners respectively.

Currently, the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster stands at 39. If the Jays need to add players to protect them from the Rule V draft or to sign any major league free agents, we can expect to see the Jays try and sneak a Wilson, Maine or Wade through waivers again. Even if they can’t, last season provides an excellent reason why to at least try.

The Jays received a total of -3.1 WAR from 17 players with sub-replacement seasons in 2012, covering 575 plate appearances and 183.2 innings pitched. If they can fill their upper minors with replacement level or slightly better depth, they could see a gain from three to six wins.

The risk was low — a mere $20,000 claim fee per player — and unlike many teams, the Jays had the 40-man roster spots and low waiver order to make use of this simple strategy. The payoff seems minimal, but for a team that was decimated by a lack of production from depth in 2012, it at least seems worth a try.

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20 Responses to “Anthopolous’s Latest Claims Can’t Sneak Through”

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  1. Jaysfan says:

    I was wondering what all those waiver claims were about at the end of October. Impressive way of attempting to gain a possible 2-3 WAR at minimal cost.

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  2. Mitch says:

    I think an important lesson from the Orioles this year is that depth matters. The Orioles got surprising contributions from a host of waiver claims and cast-offs (Nate McClouth, Miguel Gonzalez, Lew Ford, Steve Pearce, Darren O’Day, etc) that really enabled them to weather injuries at key positions.

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    • Krog says:

      The A’s had a lot of depth as well, mixing and matching platoon players, while getting good contributions from a ton of rookie pitchers. Meanwhile, the Rays had top tier talent at a few positions, but too many weak links to make it to the postseason.

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      • jcxy says:

        That’s a really excellent point about the Rays. In fact, it appears that the Jays are suffering from the same sort of thing–absent production from a lot of their draftees. Although I sense we’d disagree on the merits of “star heavy” roster construction, it’s clear that (almost) all teams need cheap serviceable depth and that both Toronto and Tampa have had trouble drafting/developing non-high schoolers of late goes part of the way to explaining both teams underperformance in 2012.

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  3. DD says:

    The title to this made me think it was about AA “claiming” something in an interview (like that they don’t have much extra money to spend in FA) not being able to slip past some investigative research to the contrary. Good article nonetheless.

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  4. No says:

    I don’t think you can simply take all the negative WAR and assume that having depth, you will turn that into positive or 0 WAR. Don’t get me wrong, depth is a good thing, and there is tangible benefits to it, but the 3-6 wins is way over the top – the nature of replacement level players is that some will be above 0 WAR, some below. So sure, the team had -3.1 WAR from 17 players, but they also had some amount of positive contributions from replacement level players. I would be surprised if the added depth would add any more that 1 WAR (which is still more than worthwhile to do).

    Really, I just disagree with the hyperbole of possibly adding 3-6 wins, when the reality is more likely to be less than 1 win, maybe slightly over 1 on the high side.

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    • Someanalyst says:

      By definition, if you replace last year’s group of fill-ins with guys who play at replacement level, you add 3.1 theoretical wins. Since that is the floor given the assumption, 3-6 as a guesstimated range is totally reasonable. What you’re taking issue with is the assumption itself: that he can put together a group that will necessarily produce at replacement level – if I read your “nature of replacement players” comment correctly.

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      • No says:

        What I am saying is that on average, a group of X true talent replacement level players will produce 0 WAR over a large enough sample size. Some will have negative WAR, some will have positive WAR. The group of fill-ins from last year were NOT -3.1 WAR – that was simply a summation of all players on the Blue Jays that had negative WAR. Some of the fill-ins had positive WAR, so you need to account for them. There were also a large number of negative WAR players on the opening day roster (Eric Thames, Omar Vizquel, Coco Cordero, and Kyle Drabek to name a few), and I’m not sure if they are included in the analysis (which would not be correct, since they are not fill-ins).

        Again, I am not arguing the concept – better fillins = better results. It’s just that the theory that you can simply take the fillins from last year that produced negative WAR and replace them with new replacement level fillins completely ignores the nature of small sample sizes of fillins.

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      • Butters says:

        What he’s saying is, if the 2013 Blue Jays use these 4 or 5 new “replacement level” players/pitchers, it’s extremely likely that *some* of them will actually produce negative WAR (and some positive), rather than all being exactly neutral.

        Therefore, 12 months from now, the Jays will quite probably be looking back at *some* amount of negative WAR contributions from their “replacement-level” players (as is true of most teams, I’m sure).

        Does that make sense?

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      • No says:

        As examples of my previous point, when looking at the contributions of fillins, you need to look at both positive and negative WAR fillins. If you remove Moises Sierra’s -0.5WAR, you also need to remove Anthony Gose’s +0.6 WAR. If you take away Joel Carreno’s -0.5 WAR, you also have to remove Aaron Loup’s 0.9 WAR.

        I would not be surprised if the Jays received negative WAR from their fillins, I just think it is being overstated here.

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      • Matt says:

        If the White Sox had replaced Adam Dunn with a replacement level player in 2012, they would have been 3 wins better than 2011?

        No, actually they would have lost 2 wins.

        If you cherry pick the bad performances after the fact and throw in a “what-if” you are going to overrate the possible gain.

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  5. Spike says:

    meanwhile I think the Yankees may have plunked the best FA, lefty Josh Spence.

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  6. ogator says:

    While it seemed as if the Jays suffered from “constant injuries,” I’m pretty sure you mean that the players on the team “repeatedly suffered injuries.” If the injuries were constant, there would be even more spaces on the forty man roster.

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  7. Butters says:

    Apropos of nothing, here are the Blue Jays’ run differentials over the past 5 years:

    2008 +104
    2009 +27

    Then Alex took over, and…

    2010 +27
    2011 -18
    2012 -68

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  8. Butters says:

    Sorry for trying to speak for you, Dr. No. Well-explicated, sir.

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  9. simo says:

    I would like to know the story behind the Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes for Esmil Rogers deal… Seemed to me that Aviles was going to take the place of the unpopular Yunel Escobar. Even if the Jays wanted to trade Aviles and liked Esmil Rogers’ stuff, it seems like they could have made some different moves… While I realize that his FIP is better, Esmil Rogers’ career ERA in almost 240 IP is 5.95. Assuming the Jays like him for some reason, they could have easily gotten him for less, one would think. Aviles is a veteran who can play second, short, and third, and is capable of hitting for average and a bit of power, while playing good defense and having a touch of speed. He doesn’t walk AT ALL, but is still fairly valuable. Throw on top of that Yan Gomes, who can catch or play the corners, and this trade seems ridiculous for the Jays. Gomes isn’t gonna be a star, but Rogers isn’t looking too great either. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t understand that trade for the Jays at all. I honestly think Anthopolous is getting reliever-happy. Snider for Lincoln, Thames for Delabar, and Aviles and Gomes for Rogers. The Delabar trade was pretty good, but the other two strike me as odd.

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    • No says:

      Years of control – Rogers has 4 years of control and will make league minimum this year, while Aviles has 2 years of control and will make ~2.9M this year. Gomes is pretty much a throw in, as he is really not very good. He does play a lot of positions, but he plays them all pretty poorly. Plus, as you mentioned, Rogers has a solid FIP, so regression of his ERA is quite likely.

      Snider for Lincoln makes sense when you consider Snider’s swing is still fairly broken, and he has no options left. I’m not saying its a slam dunk, and really the Jays probably take a hit in the trade, but it isn’t crazy I think.

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      • simo says:

        Makes more sense with the years of control… I still wouldn’t classify the trade as a good one for the Jays, but thanks for pointing that out, I didn’t think of that. And, yeah, Gomes isn’t very good, but as a catcher he could still be a little valuable eventually.

        The Snider trade bothers me because I still believe in Snider(hes only 24) and I felt the Jays gave up on him too early. It may not be crazy, but Lincoln can’t pitch when he starts, and I’m not even too sure about him in the pen, honestly.

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  10. Ian says:

    Really pedantic point, but it’s the ‘Rule 5′ draft. They don’t use roman numerals.

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