Friday, November 21, 2008

A masher in the middle

Now that J.P. has apparently tossed a bucket of cold water on all of those Manny Ramirez fantasies that fanboys (like us!) have been concocting since midway through last season, the question remains: who's going to be the big bat in the middle of the lineup next year.

As always, the Tao is here to serve you with insider analysis and the latest poop and scoop. (Okay... so we're not an insider. But we did once share a Go Train platform with Sportsnet's Peter Loubardias, back when he had just lost all his baby fat. That's gotta count for something.)

Here's a brief run down of the candidates to drive in some RsBI next season:

1) Milton Bradley - There's lots of apprehension around the mercurial Bradley, who at times shows roughly the same level of emotional stability as the love child of Crispin Glover and Sean Young. But considering what a horrendously milquetoast crew the Jays will have next year (especially with A.J. dishing out shaving cream pies elsewhere), you have to wonder if they couldn't use a guy who doesn't mind running his mouth and going apeshit once in a while.

In terms of his numbers, they were sterling in 126 games last season (22 HRs, 77 RsBI, .999 OPS). Looking at his year over year trends, Bradley only seems to be getting better, posting an OPS+ of 153 in 2007 and 163 in 2008.

As much as we like the idea of Bradley in Toronto, there are three caveats that we see. First, his durability is a concern. He's never managed to play more than 141 games in any season, and he missed substantial time from 2005 through 2007.

Second, his career stats versus the Yankees and Red Sox are less than stellar (.565 career OPS versus the Yanks, and .716 versus the Sox.)

Finally, the switch-hitting Bradley's career stats versus lefties (.504 slugging) are a lot stronger than his numbers versus righthanders (.438 slugging, .801 OPS).

All things considered, it seems as though Bradley could be had with a reasonable contract for a shorter term, and he could represent an upgrade over Adam Lind in the short term.

2) Raul Ibanez - Dismiss him if you must, but Ibanez has driven in more than 100 runs in each of the last three years, and moreover, he has driven in more runs than any Blue Jay over that period.

3) Jason Giambi - Left for dead as recently as 2007, Giambi can still hit 30 bombs and drive in 100 if he stays healthy. He has also put up robust numbers at Rogers Centre over his career (.554 OPS SLG, 22 homers and 58 RsBI in 87 games).

4) The rest of the lot - It gets pretty sketchy at this point, with players who are on the downside of their career (Griffey, Garciaparra, Abreu, Kent, Jim Edmonds), players who aren't going to sign with J.P. in asny case (Adam Dunn), and players who have more question marks than the Riddler's unitard (Burrell, Rocco Baldelli, Garrett Anderson). Of those, Baldelli is the one that intrigues us most, if only because it would bring so much joy to the fellas at Ghostrunner on First. Our profound sense of nostalgia kicks in on Griffey, who has slugged .577 in Toronto over the years, but we've already been down the "future Hall of Famer's last hurrah" road before, and it didn't play out very well as we recall.

That's our list. As always, we welcome your scorn in the comments.

18 comments:

eyebleaf said...

I hope you bitch slapped Peter Loubardious. That guy is a jackass.

I'd be open to Ibanez. Like you said, the numbers don't lie.

And Rocco for GROF reasons is cool with me, as well.

I just hope J.P. does something.

The Ack said...

I'm still anti-Ibanez, as I think he's a guy more likely than not to underperform his contract - as if any free agent ever exceeds expectations.

I'm coming around on Bradley, though. You guys are pounding me into submission on him. Truth be told, I think it might be fun to have an asshole on the team.....and that's a perfectly good reason to pine for a signing, right? RIGHT??

eyebleaf said...

I've always kind of shat on Ibanez as well. I don't know why. He always puts up decent numbers. Maybe because I think he's a terrorist, I don't know.

Bradley comes with a LOT of baggage. And assholes haven't really done well in the clubhouse here in Toronto. It's hard to argue with that OPS+, though.

I don't know. J.P.'s got to sign one of these mother fuckers.

If he does, I'm assuming that means Snider will be down in Vegas, right?

Tao of Stieb said...

Our guess is that Snider plays more than 100 games with the big club next year.

And that certain other leftfield types play less than 100 games with Toronto. If you catch our drift.

Colin said...

I hope that the .554 for Giambi isn't actually OPS, and if it is then I hope you don't actually consider that robust...

The Ack said...

I catch your drift, and I can't shake the feeling that certain other leftfield types might find their way to a place like Pittsburgh in exchange for underperforming (underwhelming?) starting pitching types. I don't know why, but in my mind's eye (poetic!) I just don't see certain other leftfield types as being long for the team.

Tao of Stieb said...

Colin: It was slugging. Fixed.

Ian H. said...

Any of those guys are fine for DH, except for Griffey. He peaked way back on the Simpsons when he became addicted to nerve tonic. Hasn't been the same player ever since.

eyebleaf said...

Perhaps J.P. isn't shitting us, and Lind/Snider will split the DH/left field duties. I don't mind that terribly. If Wells is healthy, Overbay doesn't suck, Rios hits with pop, and Rolen plays like he did in September...

Way too many ifs. Fuck.

@ Ian: That was one of the greatest episodes. The hecklage of Strawberry was the best: "Darrrryl. Darrrryl. Darrrrryl." *a tear*

Torgen said...

Well Mr. Burns had done it/The power plant had won it/With Roger Clemens clucking all the while. And we need to add an LF/DH type, because there won't be free agents to sign once the season starts if someone gets hurt. At least, none that weren't there last year, and we didn't sign any of them.

Lloyd the Barber said...

Oh Rocco, My Rocco - The Ghostrunner on First musical.

Colin said...

Ah, well that is far more robust.

Who is it that you're looking at in Pittsburgh who's underwhelming? Because that pretty much describes their whole team...

Anonymous said...

Bradley. U are all stupid enjoy
4th place.

Tao of Stieb said...

Well, we can't speak for who has underwhelmed the Ack, but...

How about Ian Snell? Zach Duke? Tom Gorzelanny?

If you're going to sign Bryan Bullinger, why not take a stab at one of those dudes?

The Ack said...

actually, I recall (ie: I didn't bother digging up a link or anything to support) Ricciardi having a boner for Paul Maholm a season or two back.

Tao of Stieb said...

Maholm's awesomeness is pretty evident, though. We're assuming that there are lots of GMs who could become erect at the thought of him.

Darren Priest said...

I don't know if there are actual unseen forces at work in the universe (karma, God, G-d, fate, my latent telekinesis) but I honestly think the trade that sent Griffey to the Reds, and the terms a good man named Pat Gillick was forced to work within, cursed Griffey. Pokey fuckin' Reese was a dealbreaker?!

And if Leigh Montville writes a gushing article about you, you are sincerely and truly fucked. Witnesses for the prosecution: Mark McGwire, Drew Henson, and ken Griffey.

Yeah, I've been drinking. Why do you ask?

Ian H. said...

We're talking softball ...