Sunday, August 31, 2008

We need BJ

Another shaky (terrifying) ninth, another save for BJ Ryan.

I've been meaning to post about BJ Ryan for a while now, but with all the trade deadline-Travis Snider-we're still in this thing-now we're out of it drama of the past few months, never got around to it.

Today's game gave me the push needed, though. See, I've been quietly disagreeing with those who say the contract was a mistake and the Jays should look to move him in the offseason. I understand the logic and distaste for the size and length of the deal - but after this season, there are only 2 years left, and to dump him at this point would be to signal a rebuild. And I'm not ready to do that (you know, since I call the shots and all).

Contract notwithstanding, BJ's primed for a monster year next season. Just think about it - he's 24 for 27 (65 for 74 as a Blue Jay) in save opportunities this season in his first year after Tommy John. His velocity is almost all the way back - touching 90 on the gun - and he's finding his slider again. His control and command aren't quite there yet, but when they are (next season), look the fuck out. Fist pumps galore, my friends.

Of course, you need to put a winning team on the field in order to see those fist pumps, and BJ Ryan needs to be a big part of that. Now, I know the team had success with Acorn Accardo closing games last season in BJ's absence. But do you want to roll the dice with Brandon League closing next year?

Maybe I'm old school, but I'm of the mindset that a team needs a legit stopper in the bullpen. BJ Ryan allows Scott Downs to be Scott Downs (8th inning guy), Brandon League can be Brandon League (7th inning guy), Jesse Carlson can do what Jesse Carlson does (loogy plus), and Jason Frasor remains Jason Frasor (umm.....). You take the guy paid to be the stopper out of that equation, and you know what you have? Chaos. Let's not fuck around with a successful formula.

Saying goodbye to Exxxstein?

Nothing official as of this writing, but looks like the end of the line for another player on my trade deadline photo collage.

David Eckstein appears to be on the way out after what can only be described as a disappointing stint as a Blue Jay.

Through no real fault of his own, Exxx never really won the hearts of the fans (or Cito) after signing on with the Jays last offseason. Really, in hindsight, the one year deal should have been a pretty big tip-off this wasn't meant to be, but little Davey came in and did pretty much exactly what he should have been expected to do.

He's another guy whose taken his lumps on the Blue Jay blogosphere, but he'll land on his feet and sign a decent deal somewhere next season - and hey, looks like he'll play out the season on a contender, and potentially further add to his "World Series MVP" legacy.

You stay classy, David Eckstein.


Anonymous said...

Getting rid of Ryan = rebuilding? No way.

Choas? Come on...

If there is anywhere we can afford to get rid of a top player to improve somewhere else it's the bullpen. Downs has been lights fucking out and League has been solid enough to get a chance at the 8th inning.

I don't even think the B.J. deal is that bad but this frees up $20 mill over the next two years! We can use that money for hitters or even to help the starting rotation after losing Burnett.

Rolling the dice is not picking up a bat in the offseason because you think Snider is going to be able to fill that hole. Bumping League up to the 8th is like staying on 20 in Black Jack. It's not a gaurantee but it ain't bad odds either.

The Ack said...

Dave, the "chaos" was hyperbole.

But you know what I remember? I remember the 3 seasons before BJ Ryan came on board - the 3 seasons where the Jays tried to go on the cheap and had Miguel Batista, Jason Frasor, Cliff Politte, and Aquilino Lopez closing games. Not good times.

I just fail to see how taking away from an existing strength makes the team better. There's already, what, $35M coming off the books? Some of that needs to go to replace AJ (or not?), so there should be enough in the coffers to sign an impact bat. I'd rather keep a nails bullpen in place and fill the SS hole internally (or keep the Scutaro/Mac rotation).

I do agree, though, counting on Snider to be that guy is foolish, though I hope by mid-'09 he can be in the lineup making a difference.

Too many contenders are felled by a shitty bullpen - how often do you hear about contenders "looking for bullpen help"? All the fucking time. Look at some of the teams this year - the Yankees are getting killed because they're short a lefty and another arm. The Sox have given away games by not getting to Papelbon with a consistent 8th inning guy. The Rays - yes, they're an anamoly, I'll give you that. Over in the NL, the Dodgers are falling apart with young arm Broxton (League?) not being able to transition to closing after Saito went down.

By leaving the key components of the Jays pen in place, we've already solved that problem.

SP said...

Agree with ack. The feeling that 90% of the time you go to your bullpen, they will be lights out is such a huge luxury. No other team has that and I can't think of any reason why you would fuck around with that. To use a business term, the rotation and bullpen have insane "synergy"--the whole is greater than the sum of their parts. They add value to each other. Our rotation and bullpen is a huuuuuuge competitive advantage. Even with Janssen and Accardo hopefully back to 100% next year, I still wouldn't fuck around with anything since we'll probably lose Tallet, Frasor, and who knows who else. Also, at least one other reliever is bound for a dropoff or an injury.

Plus, we'll already have plenty of cash available to fill other needs. We're not at the point where we need to shed contracts.

Nichols said...

Wasn't the Jays pen pretty good without Ryan last year anyways?

Don't get me wrong, I like the Beej and realize the efficiency of a bullpen varies considerably on an annual basis. However, with Janssen and Accardo coming back, I'd take the risk by dealing Ryan if the return was a good bat or a MLB-ready prospect.

Anonymous said...

i just don't see how Ryan can bring back anything worthwhile in a trade with his contract. keep him, and keep the best pen in baseball intact.

SP said...

Some stats: The Jays bullpen leads the majors in ERA by far (a qtr of a run lower than the next team). They have also pitched the 2nd fewest innings. Last year they had the 3rd best ERA and 4th fewest innings. I'll take dominance over merely great.

Bullpen last year with at least 25 IP


This year with at least 25 IP


Sure last year they were fine without BJ, but remember they also had Janssen and Wolfe. While this year BJ, Carlson, League, Camp stepped up to replace Accardo, Janssen, Wolfe. Even with Janssen and Accardo coming back, we may lose Frasor and Tallet. I think it's important to maintain that depth and dominance.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that having a great bullpen is a luxury and you can't win without one (well you can but if the Mets had anything resembling one they'd be 10 games up in the East). What I'm wondering, though, is how much the Jays would really fall off by giving up Ryan.

Downs and League look ready to step up to me.

Maybe I'm being greedy, maybe we don't need even more money to spend. I just don't agree with people like Wilner that say our lineup only needs to be tweaked, that we just need ONE bat.

But how many consistent bats are available (I don't really think we'd be able to trade B.J. for one, I'm thinking trade him for some pine tar and use his money to get someone in)? Maybe it is better to make sure you have a dominate bullpen and hope that a bat and a half can make enough of a difference.

As for Snider, I agree. I'm actually hoping he pushes Overbay out of the lineup at some point in '09.

SP said...

I disagree with Wilner that they only need one bat. I'm not willing to take that chance next year. We can definitely get at least one great bat with the 35m or so that we'll have. If after getting another SP and maybe an SS, there's still not enough left for another bat, then Overbay is tradeable.

Anonymous said...

With BJ in the 9th he pushes better pitchers (Downs, League) into high leverage situations earlier in the game. Keeping him is a solid idea.

Anonymous said...

D-Backs got Eckstein.

MK Piatkowski said...

Beej needs to pitch almost every day to stay sharp. The times he's scared us recently has been when he hasn't pitched for days. A sharp Beej is a scary Beej. Remember how earlier in the year we heard how much better the team felt when they saw him come out of the bullpen? He's badass and that's an intangible we need to keep.

As for Scrappy, he was never going to win me over because he replaced Johnny Mac, who in my mind earned the right last year to be the starting SS. I didn't have a problem using him at DH or filling in at 2B when Hill went down. (He's going to be filling in for O-Dog - talk about going from the fat to the fire.) But he was exactly as advertised. He played hard and loved the game. I'm glad he's going to play somewhere that can use him. And we get a promising pitcher back, which can either use as a trading piece or fit into our own plans in a couple of years. It's a good deal.

The Southpaw said...

I take a third path. I don't think there's any need to move him (unless the payroll goes backwards which it won't) in any way BUT i would also let it be known that if you can solve our SS issue with a top shelf guy for him then we can talk.

for instance, if we could get Tulo or Drew or someone like that (and I don't see any chance of that) then it would be worth it.


Frank said...

Agreed. I'd trade him, but only for a good offer. And a good offer is unlikely to come for a 32 year old with a weird delivery and a big contract, who has recently had TJ surgery.

So let's hold on and enjoy the great bullpen. I reckon we take it for granted too often.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

JP will do his job this summer and listen to any and all offers, as he should. If someone knocks our socks off with a proposal for BJ, it's gotta be done. If not, Ack makes some great points as to why this bullpen should be brought back, pretty much intact, next year. Like Manute said, we definitely take it for granted. This bullpen is fucking sick. Period, full stop.

And Eckstein was a classy guy. Dude never bitched, even though it was clear to everyone that he didn't get a fair shake once the Gastonian one came back. I wish him well. Stay scrappy, Scrappy Doo.

Anonymous said...

I would absolutely love it if BJ can return to his dominating pitching form and combine that with Scott Downs and League, we should have a top notch bullpen.

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