Restoring the rosters: No. 9 – Toronto

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
Coming in ninth is one of the game’s model franchises from the 1990’s. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of talent left over from the era.
Rotation
Roy Halladay
Chris Carpenter
Ricky Romero
Shawn Marcum
Dustin McGowan
Bullpen
Brandon Lyon
David Weathers
Brett Cecil
Kelvim Escobar
Brandon League
Casey Janssen
Alfredo Aceves
As one might expect given recent history, it’d be a deep pitching staff with everyone healthy. Of course, Carpenter, Marcum, McGowan, Escobar and Janssen have all missed huge chunks of time the last couple of years with arm problems. Alternate fifth starter Jesse Litsch is in the same boat, and while Dave Bush hasn’t undergone shoulder surgery yet, he’s been a wreck lately. If you want to replace McGowan with someone who isn’t such an iffy bet going forward, you could plug Cecil or Mark Rzepczynski into the fifth spot. Rzepczynski and Mark Hendrickson were next in line for bullpen spots.
Even with so many others hurt, Halladay and Carpenter counted for an awful lot here. The bullpen, on the other hand, couldn’t be rated very highly with so many question marks.
Lineup
LF Gabe Gross
SS Aaron Hill
DH Adam Lind
3B Michael Young
1B Carlos Delgado
CF Alex Rios
RF Vernon Wells
2B Orlando Hudson
C Robinzon Diaz
Bench
1B-3B Casey Blake
INF Cesar Izturis
OF Reed Johnson
C Kevin Cash
The Jays have had plenty of failed catching prospects over the years, and the inability to develop even a quality backup has dropped them a couple of spots in these rankings. 2007 first-round pick J.P. Arencibia was the one alternative to the Diaz-Cash duo, but he’s hit .227/.275/.416 this year in a terrific environment for hitters at Triple-A Las Vegas. Also, he’s an unexceptional defender.
The rest of the lineup is pretty impressive, even if there’s no real leadoff man in the bunch. Gabe Gross, who is getting on base 36 percent of the time for the Rays, seemed like the best choice, if only because I wanted Young hitting in the middle of the order. Rios would be another option when he has his act together.
Failing to make the team, even though there were good cases for both, were Felipe Lopez and Travis Snider. I think Hill would be a solid shortstop, but if we’re using him there, then it made sense to carry the more defensive-minded Izturis as the backup. Snider is well on his way to becoming a better player than Gross, but Gross has the advantage right now and Johnson can serve as his platoonmate.
Summary
This Blue Jays squad looks very good now, but it’s well worth noting just how much of the talent was brought in before J.P. Ricciardi took over after the 2001 season. Hill and Lind are the only two legitimate position players Ricciardi has developed so far, though Snider is well on his way to being the third. Ricciardi has done a better job at bringing in talented pitchers, but he and his field staff can’t seem to keep them healthy. Unless that changes and a few of the quality arms turn into strong rotation regulars, then the Jays won’t find themselves still in the top 10 the next time these rankings are updated.

Matt Harvey has a 13.19 ERA since coming back from the disabled list

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Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.

Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.

Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.

Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.

Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.

Noah Syndergaard is concerned about climate change

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Mets starter Noah Syndergaard has been on the disabled list for most of the season so it’s not like “sticking to baseball” is an option for him. The man has a lot of time on his hands. And, given that he’s from Texas, he is obviously paying attention to the flooding and destruction brought by Hurricane Harvey and its fellow storms in recent weeks.

Last night the self-described “Texan Republican” voiced concern over something a lot of Republicans don’t tend to talk about much openly: climate change and the Paris Agreement:

The existence of Karma and its alleged effects are above my pay grade, but the other part he’s talking about is the Trump Administration’s decision, announced at the beginning of June, to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement on climate change mitigation. Withdrawal from it was something Trump campaigned on in 2016 on the basis that “The Paris accord will undermine the economy,” and “put us at a permanent disadvantage.” The effective date for withdrawal is 2020, which Syndergaard presumably knows, thus the reference to Karma.

Trump and Syndergaard are certainly entitled to their views on all of that. It’s worth noting that climate experts and notable think tanks like the Brookings Institution strongly disagree with Trump’s position with respect to tradeoffs and impacts, both economic and environmental. At the same time it’s difficult to find much strong sentiment in favor of pulling out of the Paris Agreement outside of conservative political outlets, who tend to find themselves in the distinct minority when it comes to climate change policy.

I’m not sure what a poll of baseball players would reveal about their collective views on the matter, but we now have at least one datapoint.