Monday, August 10, 2009

You shouldn't read too much into the Alex Rios waiver claim. But...

The news that Alex Rios was claimed on waivers last week probably shouldn't be as big a story as it has become. It's August, which means that just about every player with a big contract is getting put through waivers, if only to assess the possible interest in their services.

Moreover, there are probably a handful of other notable players who have been claimed over the past week, although the gentleman's agreement amongst front office types usually precludes their names from getting out to the media and the public. Which is why J.P. looked as though he was ready to strangle Barry Davis in the pregame Jays Connected broadcast on Friday night.

The Toronto sports media, who occasionally wander through baseball stories like tourists, love this story because it gives them one more chance to simultaneously excoriate Rios and Ricciardi for their perceived failings. Rios doesn't care enough, and Ricciardi should have already received Tim Lincecum for him, blah blah blah freaking blah.

While he's been a bit of a mess this season, Rios' recent numbers point to a level of performance that is a bit more in line with what we should have expected. Since the All Star break, he's OPSing .805 with 4 homers, 16 RBI and 5 steals, and has been as solid as ever in right field, in spite of the fact that he really belongs in centre.

Moreover, the remainder of Rios' deal is not that bad given the current state of the market. He's owed $10.2 million next year, $12.5 million the following two years and $13 million for 2013. Were it not for the massive numbers coming to Vernon Wells in the coming seasons, Rios' deal would likely make sense for the Jays going forward.

Of course, that Wells deal - which EVERYBODY loved when he signed it - isn't going anywhere, so we're thinking that there is a pretty good chance that the Jays either work out a deal with the White Sox between now and tomorrow afternoon, or they simply let Rios go.

Above all, the Jays are looking for payroll flexibility, and the opportunity to completely unload a contract such as Rios' might prove to be too attractive an opportunity to pass up.

Have we mentioned how much we hate James Deacon?
Fatuous pantload James Deacon, who no longer writes for AOL Canada but is still invited to sit in with the aging white dudes forum that is Prime Time Sports, went on at length on Friday's show about how ludicrous it was that the San Francisco Giants could have Rios for free if they claimed him on waivers without having to give up their prized pitcher, and hey, isn't that a kick in the pants.

Yeah, Jimmy. When you drum up absurd hypothetical situations based on the thinnest, most threadbare information, they will seem unbelievable. But that's got more to do with you and the bizarre scenarios that you dream up than reality. So stop sharing these things. Just shut up and go away already.

Among his other gems on Friday, there was the bit about Milton Bradley (8 homers and 28 RBI) being a much more productive outfielder than Rios (14 homers and 61 RBI). And there was all of that talk about Rios and what other teams needed a "corner outfielder", when the truth is that every other team in baseball who would have any interest in Rios would look at him as a centrefielder.

Actually, Deacon likes to talk about "corner infielders" and "corner outfielders" a lot, as though he's just joined his first fantasy league with corner eligibility. We're guessing that he likes to rely on such axiomatic thinking because it helps reduce things down to the point where he can more easily pass spurious judgments upon them. Because James Deacon is unquestionably in the spurious judgment business.


Anonymous said...

Isn't 2B technically still a corner?

Anonymous said...

Dammit, you tease, are you fer or agin letting Rios walk?

Tao of Stieb said...

Well, at the risk of being a fence sitter, I could go either way on it.

I like the fact that it will free up some salary, and that it will mean someone else is responsible for Rios' contract when he's 32.

If it were up to me, the Jays wouldn't sign anyone to a contract longer than three years. With a hardline like that, I wouldn't have any half-decent players on my roster...but I'd have the flexibility to negotiate for guys who wouldn't sign such a one-sided deal.

Tao for GM! Woohoo!

Still, if they hang onto him, I think that Rios can still contribute and have a good 2010 for this team.

Mattt said...

I stopped watching those aging white guys a couple of years ago because the show is full of make believe. There are of course credible guests interspersed amongst the speculative, time filling ramblings of Bob et al, but not enough to continue tuning in...

The Ack said...

The bottom line is that all of these "rumoured" moves are borne from the albatross that is Vernon Wells' Contract. That's what's causing the payroll inflexibility - not the Rios deal, which is reasonable in comparison (and maybe even on it's own).

There's no magic wand to make that contract disappear, but wouldn't it be nice if Rogers would treat it as a sunk cost, "pretend" it wasn't on the books, and carry on with business as usual?

Then again, it would also be nice if Doc would commit for another 3 years at a below market deal, Snider would come up and be a 30 HR masher next season, Arencibia would regain his top prospect status and contribute in '10, and McGowan would re-write the standard for shoulder surgery recovery.

That's not asking for much, is it?


Chris from Windsor said...

Theory: Rios gets claimed on waivers and the Blue Jays save 60 Million over the next few years. I'm very ok so long as the following occurs.

1. The savings are re-invested into the team, specifically one ruggedly handsome right-handed starter going for his second Cy Young this year.

2. Snider gets the call-up (once he's past Super-Two eligibility) and is put in RF, which I believe is his natural position (correct me if I'm worng).

3. Adam Lind gets into LF. Call me old-fashioned, I just don't think a physically able 27-year old should be a DH.

4. That 15 Million a year they saved last september when AJ walked goes towards finding a suitable, full time DH.

With that kind of outcome, I would not feel all that bad about Rios walking to whoever has claimed him.

Stedron said...

The defense created from a Lind, Wells, Snider outfield would be atrocious.

Tao of Stieb said...

Snider is probably better suited to left. He's more mobile than people think, but he's not going to get to a lot of balls that Rios makes look easy.

I wouldn't anticipate the Jays going to get much of anyone in the coming year. If there is a bat that would come cheap, like Abreu this season, then maybe.

And Doc is gone. No matter how much they offer, there are three or four teams that can offer more after next season, and he will want to see what is out there.

What, are you people trying to depress me on a Monday afternoon? Geezus!

Darren Priest said...

We often talk about the cost/benefit of a winning team vs a middling team for Rogers. (Maybe we don't, but I needed a first sentence.)

Looking at it from a completely different perspective, I wonder how revenues would line up if the Jays just fielded a 40 million-ish team every year? Would they make a decent profit?

If the answer is yes, then that is probably what will happen. Ted is dead and without him, let's face it, Rogers is probably the worst type of owner you could have if you actually want to go for broke for the win.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Rios isn't the problem; for me, that's the bottom line.

He's one of the problems, sure, but not the be all and end all to what ails this team.

I'm also a sucker, and believe that he can be part of the solution. Same goes for Wells.

Stedron said...

What happens if Wells dies during this contract? Just curious.

Why are you all looking at me like that?

Anonymous said...

If the plan is to go for it next year and then rebuild after Doc leaves, this is a no-brainer. Give up Rios, use the $60 million saved on his contract and the $15 million saved from losing Burnett to field a strong team for next year.

Chris from Windsor said...

My thinking for the DH spot was also towards Abreu when I wrote the post.

So far as Doc, i'm trying to be an optomist about it. If the Jays can stay consistent next year, not runaway with the division, but be a consistently good team and be within a handful of games of a playoff spot going into the trade deadline and beyond, anything is possible.

It's put up or walk away for a lot of people next year, the organization is going to look a lot different post 2010 if they don't put forth a meaningful effort. Consider it, no Overbay, Scoots, Halladay, Barajas, Ricciardi and possibly Gaston.

I'm not sure my fragile heart or the waning interest of Toronto sports fans can take that.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Doc's testing free agency. End of story. We all have to come to terms with that. In his position, I think we'd all do the same thing.

And, dammit Tao, you passed me again in the pool last night, after my FLURRY of activity. (Said flurry of activity also included picking up Jose Contreras and Jamie Moyer. Ha.)

Our trading deadline is coming up. I should really trade Pujols. Fuck!

The Ack said...

Yes, you really should trade him, dude. TO ME.

Stedron, you must have been just soiling your pants over the Doc Halladay/trade deadline/Knudson angle.....

Darryl said...

Tao of Stieb vs James Deacon has the potential to be the feud of the summer!!

Anonymous said...

@Stedron: I don't know about anyone else, but I'm looking at you because I'm glad someone else said it first (not that I haven't thought it long ago)...

Pretty sure that a career-ending injury would cause the insurance to cover the contract and get Wells off the books...not that I would EVER root for Wells to lose a toe or something in a "tragic" weed-whacker accident and still be able to enjoy his $126MM, but not have the Jays have to pay his contract.............

Torgen said...

The Jays don't insure their contracts.

Anonymous said...

Tao, your post only lists four more seasons of Rios. It is five more plus an option year (according to Cot's).
-brent in Korea

Steve G. said...

Letting Rios walk would be a bold move, and I'd be in favor for it. His production is merely average right now, and I can't imagine it getting rapidly better *in Toronto* for the duration of his contract. Maybe he gets dealt to the NL and goes insane (either mentally or production would be interesting), but if I could get out from under the money, I definitely would. Pour it into the draft.

Steve G. said...

Of course, right after I post this...

Tyler Kepner is posting on Twitter that Rios is going to the White Sox. Blue Jays receive nothing in return.

Ice Cream Jonsey said...

Hahah, this Wells contract is going to cost us Roy AND Rios.

Rios's BABIP is the lowest of his career. He'd be an excellent centrefielder. I don't think anyone would really have a problem with his production if he played every day at CF. Yes, his head isn't always in the game. If it was, and he had no flaws, ownership wouldn't keep him anyway.

What a debacle.

i5aac said...

Well we let him go for nothing... great:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to say that we have some depth at pitching if we could keep anyone besides Doc healthy for a couple consecutive seasons. I saw Cecil in the list a la droite.

At this point; the roster is a mess, the owners should realize the only thing that might to rile up the fanbase is a perennial playoff contender (see division counterparts), we have a ton of holes going into next year with little to no prospects who anyone in their right mind would consider MLB ready to fill them.

So what's gonna happen, I'm guessing fill in the blank players like e-5.

If they didn't open the dome from time to time, there would be no reason to go. Watching a team finish average is a waste of time.

Christ, big sploogefest celebrating the last time we were relevant this weekend. I went, it was gay and we lost. Flush.

Anonymous said...

Yep, confirmed. Bye bye Rios. And we get nothing but the salary dump. Guess this opens up the roster spot for Snider. Bets that we wind up behind Baltimore next year. Dead last here we come!


The Ack said...

You know, I'm at a loss. I really fucking am.

"We're gonna keep Doc and try to win next year." Uh-huh. that theory works if the payroll savings of Rios, Rolen, Burnett, and Thomas are actually re-invested into the roster.

But you'll forgive me for being a bit skeptical.

"We're under no pressure from ownership whatsoever to cut payroll."

My fucking ass.

Chrsit. Somebody change my mind here.

Nichols said...


It's fucking brutal to look at the deadline in retrospect.

I don't think Ricciardi ever envisioned another GM taking a flyer on Rios because of his pricetag. And I can understand why they had to let him go.

However, even though it's probably in the best interests of the franchise to let Rios go, it signifies a rebuild and consequently, a lesser return on Halladay that will hurt more than any prospective return that Rios could have netted.

I think that's what stings the most.

Fucking dominoes...

Tao of Stieb said...

Just got home from Funny People. What'd I miss?

My mood right now: Seriously conflicted.


furcifer said...

Bye bye Rios:

Also Funny People=not so funny

Chris from Windsor said...

I've been a Jays fan all my life, but only with keen day-to-day interest for since 2000-Present.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but besides Clemens, at no point in the Interbrew/Gord Ash Era did we ever make free agent splashes or meaningful attempts to keep our players by providing them with at-the-time-fair-market-value contracts. (I'm looking at you Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado).

Rogers bought the team, made some assesments and allowed the Jays and JP to sign extensions for Roy (2X) Wells, Rios, Overbay, Hill as well as sign major free agents like Burnett, Thomas and BJ.

Now not all of the contracts have worked out perfectly, but it does happen to other MLB teams too (Right Mr. Minaya?).

Rogers to this point has earned the benefit of the doubt right now. They did what we all asked them to do 3 years ago, and are damning them for now. It's way too early to pass judgment on this summers transactions.

I'm willing to give them that benefit of the doubt and wait to see what happens this off-season.

Go Jays!

JaysGirl5 said...

I think we can now that's he gone. And seriously...we got nothing?

Stedron said...

Ack - Pants were indeed soiled, but I decided to just attack him personally on all his posts as a way to vent my anger/fear. He deletes all my comments, which gives me a strange sense of accomplishment because it leads me to believe that they bother him.

I'm a child. I know.

Anonymous said...

We still have 26 games against the Sox, Yanks and Rays. What if we could win them all? What if Rios was what was bringing this team down by keeping everyone out too late at the Latin club?

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