- Winter Preview----Toronto Blue Jays:
All things being equal, the Blue Jays situation isn't that bad.
What they need: A shortstop; a catcher; a power outfield bat; a closer; to settle the Roy Halladay situation.
Free agents: C Rod Barajas; SS John McDonald; DH/1B Kevin Millar; SS Marco Scutaro
Barajas, McDonald and Millar are all gone.
Scutaro had his career-year at age 33 (he turned 34 a month ago); someone (the Red Sox?) will sign him to the one moderate-to-big money deal he'll get in his career to be a short-term solution to their shortstop problems. The Blue Jays don't have the money nor the wherewithal to keep him, although I'm sure they'd like to; it's lunacy to pay a decent but not great player like Scutaro based on the best season he'll ever have at an advanced age.
Players available via trade: RHP Roy Halladay; 1B Lyle Overbay; 3B Edwin Encarnacion; CF Vernon Wells
The Blue Jays would be better suited to get the Halladay situation solved before spring training because it's going to be a distraction from the beginning of the season until the end. They have no chance of keeping him as a free agent after 2010; he's never going to have more value than he does now; they can't run the risk of him getting hurt next year in a Blue Jays uniform; and he wants out.
What they need to do is go to the interested teams and tell them that they'll give a window to negotiate with Halladay for a long-term extension; present their demands to each club and say the first one to come up with the goods gets the pitcher. Halladay's been nice about the trade request; but if this drags out, he may not be nice for much longer and it could eventually turn into a "get me the hell outta here!" situation----the last thing the Blue Jays need to get the biggest possible return.
New GM Alex Anthopolous has said all the right things regarding Halladay----"we're under no obligation to trade him" etc.----but he knows they have to move him before the time bomb explodes. The lesson from what happened to the Twins in the Johan Santana trade should be taken very seriously by the Blue Jays; as one team after another drops out of the bidding based on a myriad of factors, they could end up with what the Twins got for Santana----nothing.
Trade him now.
Overbay's making $7 million next year after which his contract expires. They don't have to trade him, but he's out there and has good value as an extra-base threat and excellent defensive first baseman.
Encarnacion is a superstar talent who didn't impress after coming to the Blue Jays from the Reds in the Scott Rolen trade. He's arbitration-eligible and his abilities will always lead some team to take a chance on him. He'll only be 27 in January. I can't blame teams that want to take a shot; Encarnacion is a gifted physical talent who made Dusty Baker want to strangle him. How do you get Dusty Baker mad at you? (I can relate to those that frustrate the unfrustratable; many people would like to strangle me. I can't blame them.)
You want Vernon Wells? He's yours.
Non-tender candidates: RHP Jeremy Accardo; RHP Shawn Camp; C Raul Chavez; 3B Edwin Encarnacion; OF Joe Inglett; RHP Casey Janssen; RHP Brandon League
Accardo has closed before and done well; he's had injury problems; I've always liked his stuff. They'll probably try to trade him first and get something for him, but he'll be non-tendered.
Camp is one of those journeyman type relievers who gets signed and is occasionally a big payoff for a team sifting through the rabble. He won't be a Blue Jay next year.
Chavez is arbitration-eligible and easily replaceable as a backup catcher; he'll be 37 early next year.
Inglett has use as a backup outfielder, but it won't be in Toronto next year.
Jansson is arbitration-eligible; showed great potential as a reliever in 2007 and has struggled with injuries and inconsistency since. Gone.
League is an interesting case because he's got such a great arm. He throws an effortless fastball in the upper 90s and could be a steal for someone. Never having been able to put it all together; that he allows a lot of homers and is arbitration-eligible makes him a non-tender candidate; but it's hard to give up on an arm like that. Someone could catch lightning in a bottle with League.
Players to pursue:
Free agents: RHP Rafael Soriano (Braves); 3B Melvin Mora (Orioles); LHP Billy Wagner (Red Sox); RHP Kevin Gregg (Cubs); C Ramon Castro (White Sox); OF Jermaine Dye (White Sox); RHP Octavio Dotel (White Sox); C Yorvit Torrealba (Rockies); RHP Fernando Rodney (Tigers); SS Adam Everett (Tigers); 1B Nick Johnson (Marlins); C Miguel Olivo (Royals); SS Orlando Cabrera (Twins); RHP J.J. Putz (Mets); C Brian Schneider (Mets); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); 1B Russell Branyan (Mariners); C Gregg Zaun (Rays); C Ivan Rodriguez (Rangers)
The Blue Jays have in-house candidates who would be solid bets as closers, but it wouldn't hurt them to bring in one of the available veterans who could be had on a short-term, wait-and-see, mutually beneficial deal. You help us? You replenish your value in a year or two for another chance at free agency. Soriano, Wagner, Putz, et al all fall into this category with various upsides.
One intriguing idea as a closer is Myers. He's a free agent; he liked closing when he did it with the Phillies; it suits his personality more than starting; and he was pretty good at it.
There are reasonably priced catchers who could start the majority of the games for the Blue Jays and not embarrass themselves at the plate while handling the pitching staff. They could bring Zaun back or go for Olivo and his shotgun arm and feisty demeanor. Something tells me they'll end up with Schneider.
Dye fills the bill for an outfield bat; a lot would have to fall through for him to wind up in Toronto, but it's something to keep an eye on.
If they trade Overbay, Branyan could play first base for a couple of years and do what it is that Branyan does----hit for power and walk a lot while striking out a ton. At least teams know what they're getting. Johnson's an injury-risk, but when he's healthy is super-productive offensively and defensively; he probably won't cost very much as things shake out in the winter.
There are shortstops to replace Scutaro. Everett's a slick fielder; Cabrera's had trouble finding work in the past few years so he might fall to the Blue Jays. You could do worse.
Via trade: RHP Joba Chamberlain (Yankees); RHP Phil Hughes (Yankees); RHP David Robertson (Yankees); RHP Clay Buchholz (Red Sox); RHP Michael Bowden (Red Sox); RHP Daniel Bard (Red Sox); RHP Wade Townsend (Rays); RHP Jeff Niemann (Rays); INF Gordon Beckham (White Sox); C Tyler Flowers (White Sox); 1B Kendry Morales (Angels); RHP Ervin Santana (Angels); LHP Joe Saunders (Angels); RHP Kevin Jepsen (Angels); RHP Jose Arredondo (Angels); RHP Anthony Ortega (Angels); C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Rangers); OF Nelson Cruz (Rangers); LHP Derek Holland (Rangers); RHP Tommy Hunter (Rangers); RHP Brandon Morrow (Mariners); LHP J.A. Happ (Phillies); RHP Kyle Drabek (Phillies); OF Fernando Martinez (Mets); RHP Bobby Parnell (Mets); RHP John Maine (Mets); RHP Jason Motte (Cardinals); 3B Josh Vitters (Cubs); INF Mat Gamel (Brewers); SS Alcides Escobar (Brewers); 1B James Loney (Dodgers); SS Ivan DeJesus (Dodgers); C Russell Martin (Dodgers); RHP Chad Billingsley (Dodgers); 3B Ian Stewart (Rockies); OF Dexter Fowler (Rockies); INF Eric Young Jr (Rockies); RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies); LHP Madison Bumgarner (Giants); SS Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks); RHP Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks)
This is a long list.
Without going name by name, obviously the vast chunk of these players would be designated as untouchable by their respective teams...unless the player they're getting for them is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay. The list of teams that are interested, intrigued, attracted or whatever of Halladay is longer than the list of teams that aren't.
Team-by-team, the Yankees would have no choice but to surrender Chamberlain or Hughes; the Red Sox are in a similar situation with Buchholz. The White Sox, Giants, Rangers, Mets etc would have to surrender a bounty of talent to get Halladay, and supposedly more to negotiate an extension before completing the transaction.
As said before, the Blue Jays are taking a major gamble if they wait too long. Teams will drop out as they calculate the asking price and the money for an extension. There's also the chance that Halladay will waive his no-trade clause just to get out of the situation in Toronto and take his free agency at the end of the year.
It's a chess game. We'll see who wins. Or if some team gets very, very lucky.
If Anthopolous is smart, he could make a trade that will have the Blue Jays in a position to realistically contend as early as next year. Their club----if you look at it objectively and ignore the turmoil spurred by the loose cannon/former GM J.P. Ricciardi----isn't bad at all.
- CHONE vs The Prince:
I'm somewhat indoctrinated myself to believing certain generalizations the stat zombies make about the validity of their chosen ways of making projections in the pre-season. It's been said in certain quarters in recent days that CHONE was something to the tune of "eerily accurate" or some such nonsense in their predicted standings.
I sort of believed it without checking.
Then I checked.
I dunno if the person or people who put forth this bit of nonsense were referring to individual predictions or the standings, but the CHONE standings, based on whatever they're based on, were in fact, far less accurate than mine!!!!
Here's the link----CHONE Predicted Standings 2009.
Now here are mine on my Amazon Author page----Paul's 2009 Predicted Standings.
Long story short, they were way off about the Rays, Indians, White Sox, Twins, Rangers, Marlins, Rockies and Giants. I was waaaaaayyyyyyy off about the Indians, Tigers, Rangers, Cubs, Padres and Rockies. I think I nailed much harder-to-get right teams such as the Rays, Marlins and Giants. But I'm ridiculed because my predictions come from what passes for my brain, and they have all sorts of complicated (and evidently dumb) calculations to come to their conclusions.
It's a farce.
- Viewer Mail 11.19.2009:
John Seal writes RE Bobby Crosby:
Twice now you've referred to Bobby Crosby in your Hot Stove columns as either a good or a solid shortstop. I'm wondering what you're basing that on: I admittedly haven't seen any of the defensive metrics from 2009 (and besides, he played more corner infield than short last season), but I'm fairly certain that he ranked poorly in 2008. If you're relying on scouting reports, well, I'm not sure what I can say other than 'hire new scouts'. To my eyes he looked terrible the last couple of seasons with the A's (not hitting didn't help, either), and the consensus amongst fans was that, if Bobby was in the starting line-up, the game was already lost. So...what am I missing? Do I need to re-assess and re-assign ownership of the coveted Goat of the Year Award to another 2009 Athletic?
Dunno what to think of you John. On the one hand, I do need a conscience (I was born without that ethical albatross in most aspects of my life) and you're providing it in many cases. It's for my own good. Few people have the nerve to speak truth to power (such as my power is.) I don't want yes men so you're extremely valuable to my ends.
For the most part, I mentioned Crosby based on two factors: 1) I remembered him as the Rookie of the Year with pop who was also a respected defensive shortstop; and 2) he's a free agent who could be a stopgap for various teams.
Looking at Crosby's numbers, he's been horrific; and for anyone to pick him up even as a minor league contractual flier and expect anything other than what he's been in the past four full seasons would be ludicrous.
I will do my penance.
Y'know. Within reason.
Franklin Rabon writes RE Bill Belichick:
Paul, not to bring this back up again, and I feel kind of weird defending Belichick, but I don't think his decision had much of anything to do with stats. I think in his heart/gut he firmly believed that Peyton Manning, at the end of the game was going to score no matter if he had a short field or 65 yards (about what a punt would have put him at). I think he therefore felt that his only real choice was to just keep peyton manning on the sidelines. I am very confident that a percentage never entered his thought process.
I mean you can question the logic of peyton with a short field v. peyton with a 65 yard field all day long, and that's legit. However, you have to realize that what you're questioning is more Belichick's gut that Peyton would have almost certainly scored if given the ball at his 35-40 yard line. Not some stats based argument.
I have to disagree about Belichick's attention to the percentages. He might have thought that it was the smart play to try and end the game right there in practical terms, but he knows all the numbers in every part of running his team and a game including probabilities of such a move working or not. Even if it worked at that point in the game, it was a crazy thing to do.
I keep going back to the situation. The Colts needed a touchdown. If it was a field goal they needed, then maybe----maybe----you pull something so against reality; but for a touchdown? No way. You have to trust the defense and if the defensive guru Belichick doesn't trust said defense, the Patriots have some major problems.
Jeff at Red State Blue State writes:
Perhaps the Rays could get a new stadium built if they move their team to Dagobah.
By the way, Prince, what are your thoughts regarding Kevin "I'll Give Up a Ton of Homeruns No Problem" Gregg being tagged as a Type A free agent? This bit of news is almost as absurd as the things that come out of Sarah Palin's mouth.
Dagobah would be like going into Deliverance with puppets instead of backwoods country folk. The pre-2008 Rays would've been a perfect inhabitant, but alas, not now.
I admittedly still get confused about the Type A, Type B stuff. I'd think it's based on numerical calculations and looking at Gregg's numbers and not his overall results and shakiness, I guess he belongs in there.
I'd say that no one's giving up a draft pick for him, but then who thought a club like the Cubs----who had championship aspirations----would trust him as their closer? But they did.
I want the Blue Jays to keep their bullpen. It's the best part of the team, altough last year they imploded. A bullpen of League, Accardo, Hayhurst, Camp, Wolfe, Frasor, Downs and Tallet should be enough to help the Jays to win games.
I don't want to get your hopes up especially with the Halladay sweepstakes going on, but if Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch come back to join their current starters; along with the solid bullpen and a decent lineup, they're actually pretty good.
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes:
Wishful thinking about Halladay and the Mets. I thought you said he was bound for Colorado? And Miguel Cabrera in Boston? They have way too many bars.
Leave me alone with my fantasies, Jane.
You should see the ones that aren't baseball-related.
(No you shouldn't.)