Saturday, December 19, 2009

Movin' on (A.D.)

We're an original bunch, aren't we? We all wrote the same melodramatic posts bemoaning our fates, cursing the baseball gods that took Roy Halladay from us. Here now in the aftermath of the deal, we're all writing the post-mortems. I wouldn't blame you if you tuned out right about now, but I do have a point to make.

I'm a bigger fan of the Toronto Blue Jays today than I was a week ago.

Whaaaa? I'm a bigger fan of the Doc-less Jays than of the team fronted by the biggest fucking ace in major league baseball? Well, in a manner of speaking, yeah. I guess I am.

Seems impossible, but it's true. Hell, I probably led the brigade dreading the inevitable transaction - where do you think the "I don't know what I'm gonna do if the Jays trade Doc" tag came from? And that tag is like, a season and a half old. I've been sweating this forever, man. But here we are, on the other side of Armageddon, and I'm OK. We're all OK. And if you're not - kindly feel free to jump the fuck off the train.

This is my team. This is our team. This is the team we all want to see return to glory. It was never going to be easy - with or without Doc. I'm starting to believe in The Plan. When it comes right down to it, we really have no choice but to believe, or risk turning into an even more cynical group of miserable pricks. But no, really, I'm starting to come around. I think I just might be buying what Anthopoulos is selling. Building. Adding to the core. Young players growing - and staying - together.

70 wins in 2010 or not, sign me up for a plate of that. It beats the shit out of 80 wins with Mencherson (God bless 'em) and Millar.

101 Reasons for Offseason Optimism: Vernon Wells. That's right.
Vernon Wells. You heard me.

Look (sorry HTV), forget about the goddamned contract. Wrap all of your thoughts on that matter into a tidy little ball and toss it in the G. It's not going anywhere, he's never going to exercise the opt-out (so save your booing), and it is what it is.

I think Vernon is going to bounce back. Our boy eyebleaf bankrolls that cheerleading brigade, and friends, I'm down. I had originally planned an entire post around this, but, uh, on further investigation, I don't really have a tonne of substance to back my belief. It's just a feeling I have.

Do I think we'll see a monster season, like the one the Jays based his contract on (you would have signed it too, so just stop)? No. Do I think we'll see a reasonable facsimile - a definite improvement over last season's debacle (too strong?)? Yeah, I do. Think .280/.340/.470. An OPS just north of .800. Is that worth $20M per? No, probably not, but Vern seems like a proud guy. He'll bounce back.

Building!

39 comments:

eyebleaf said...

I believe in Vernon Wells.

The Ack said...

Oh, I know you do, dude. This is me talking myself into it.

Peter Gentleman said...

Well, he was playing pretty much the entire season hurt (and it was obvious). I don't see why he wouldn't bounce back to somewhere around his pre-2007 averages.

Tony Viner said...

Look, I will deliver what it is the masses demand.

I promised that I wouldn't trade Doc to the Yankees or Red Sox, and that I would convince the Phillies to hand over their future, and I succeeded.

I may be conniving and generally dishonest; some may even (justifiably) call me a con-artist or a dirty thief, but I get results. Whether its overcharging consumers for NFL dreams or bringing second-rate US college football to town, you can't argue that I always win. And my team will win. Count on it.

In a couple years time, we will have one of the strongest MLB lineups and farm systems underhanded business deals can produce. You fans can count on my extreme wit and sexy business style to exorcise the ghosts of the recent past and fulfill your fantasy of a true contender in Toronto. Trust me.

What about 2010, you ask? The team that I have built will shock the world. Vernon will be back. Snider will explode. Rzepcynski will emerge. I also have a few tricks up my finely-tailored sleeves, in the form of a few surprise moves to come. Stay tuned.

My strategy has only begun to emerge. Keep watching SportsNet and listening to the FAN590, or you may be last to hear of my magnificent plays.

I am ridiculously handsome, and my wit is unparalleled. I expect you to have, or at least to show, a little faith in my utter brilliance. After all, you are lucky to have such a handsome, savvy business professional on your side.

Sincerely and honestly,

Handsome Tony Viner

The Ack said...

YES.

I shall sleep easy tonight.

Torgen said...

Wasn't the last successful tear-it-down rebuilt the 1997-2003 Marlins? That's not very good odds.

Swagmanjay said...

I posted it earlier, but I believe in AA. I've been sold this snake oil before, but this one sounds like it will cure EVERYTHING!

Will Vernon bounce back? I don't know. I do know he's good for 15-20 hr, 75-90 RBI, and .280 avg. That's not bad. It's not 20 million good, but like it's been said before - it's only Rogers money. Handsome Tony will just have to make due with Moet and Chandon in his bathtub instead of Dom Perignon until 2015.

dave said...

Though I have a hard time believing in VW anymore I do agree that it is almost a big positive to see they have picked a direction.

It'll be an interesting couple of years that will make the playoffs in 2013 that much more fun. Let's dig in.

Anonymous said...

Agree with this article 100%...the team finally has direction, or more importantly a strategy that is logically sound.

The Ricciardi experiment was nothing more than a novelty act, one that Rogers management bought into because there was little risk ($$). Why not try? At the time Moneyball had a pretty decent track record.

Nadir Mohammed, Tony Viner, Paul Beeston, Alex A. are all singing the same song. One that has a proven track record..build from the ground up. It has to be done to compete in the AL East.

Hate to see Halladay go, but that is more a reflection of the Paul Godfrey era than anything else. One of the greatest canadian sports brands at a time, and now zilch! I have lived in Toronto my entire life, and this is the only team that has bothered to win a championship. For that I am indebted.... Go Jays!

Leaker said...

This seems plausible. I mean, for Wells, there's nowhere to go but up, right? He couldn't get worse, could he?

The Ack said...

Torgen, you need to have a big bowl of happysauce, man.

Rebuild/Building/whatever - it's just a term to signify something other than opening the wallet completely amd trying to spend with the big boys (Yanks, Sox).

Look at the Phillies - they built their core internally with young players who grew together - Howard, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, Werth - who wasn't developed internally, but came over as an upside play, Hamels, Happ, etc. When those pieces were in place, they added through FA or trade - Ibanez, Lee, Blanton, Lidge, etc.

Isn't that exactly what the Jays are doing? Following the Phillies template?

Honestly, what's the alternative? Try to match the Yankees and Sox dollar for dollar? That's a losing proposition if I ever saw one. I think the last seven or eight seasons are a testament to that fact, in some regards. It would be one thing if the team was just one or two pieces away from being a championship club....but they're not. There isn't enough there at the major league level, and the system is pretty bare.

So, yeah. Building.

QJays said...

Great post Ack.
On the first point - none of us knew what it would feel like to have Halladay leave. The fact that we were able to build up to its inevitability probably helps, but there was a reason that we remained Jays fans in the past too -- so there it is. (and it helps that the trade wasn't crap)
Letting Vernon be Vernon is the best way to move past this mess. There is just no way to cut a loss like that - you gotta adapt. If the young pitching turns out, this team could be very good with a few additions in the near future, so let's see if it happens.

Anonymous said...

Torgen is just a contrary fuck-clown. And Handsome Tony is my personal hero.

building!!!!1

Torgen said...

The Phillies spent over $130M last year. Matching the Phillies' template IS spending with the big boys, because the Phillies are among the big boys.

Swagmanjay said...

The Phillies spend $130 million *now*. They sucked the ass end of a dead rhino for their share of years before they became 2-time defending National League Champs and a World Series winner.

The Jays will end up with a payroll in that neighbourhood growing a core internally, but we'll have to suck first. We had big budget teams already, and they didn't work out. I want to root for some kids making the major league minimum for a while. BUILDING!

Ari said...

"We had big budget teams already, and they didn't work out"

No we haven't. Spending 98m one time, the same year the Yankees are well over 200m, does not constitute having a big budget team.

"The Jays will end up with a payroll in that neighbourhood growing a core internally, but we'll have to suck first."

I just don't get this idea that you have to suck first to grow an internal core. It doesn't make an iota of sense. It's one thing to stay away from 5 year deals to Jason Bay when you don't think you can contend...but there's no reason for this team to not be spending at least 100m in this market at the same time that it's "building". The Jays could have picked up talent like Rich Harden, Erik Bedard, Nick Johnson, Orlando Cabrera etc. without having to compromise their future, but they are just taking the cheap and easy way out. Anyone oblivious to this is missing the boat, and continues to gobble up the lies Beeston starting selling you over one year ago.

Torgen said...

Look at the Mariners. It's Zduriencik's 2nd year and they're the favorite to win the AL West. And don't talk about their 100 loss year because 1) it came before Zduriencik took the job, and 2) it didn't happen because they were trying to sacrifice the present for the sake of the future--Bavasi just sucked.

Ari said...

Torgen, the next apologist excuse is that the Mariners have the luxury of not being in the AL East so they can do something like that...of course this will completely ignore the fact that, as currently constructed, the Red Sox are not a very imposing team and appear quite catchable for a Wild Card spot. Don't get me wrong, they are still the obvious favourites for it, but they can be caught the same way the Mariners think they can catch the Angels.

The Man with the Golden Arm said...

Vernon is on the decline. Face the facts.

The Ack said...

Oh, fuck off with playing the apologist card, Ari. Seriously. I'd rather go with young arms than pay market for injuries waiting to happen in Bedard and Harden. And Nick Johnson/Orlando Cabrera are championship pieces? Really?

Anyway, Torgen's point about the Phillies @ $130M is taken, though the number I saw was $113M. But whatever. Rogers is never going to spend $150M. $120M? Maybe. But anything above that is dreaming, so what AA is doing is prudent, in my opinion. Serious question - what do the Mariners project to be at payroll-wise this season? Anyone know?

What pisses me off, though, is that the big bitch last season (mine included) was the Jays had no direction. Well, now they do - and the new bitch is "I don't agree with the direction". Hey man, at least it's a plan.

And VW may very well be on the decline, but one down season hardly makes it "fact".

Ari said...

"I'd rather go with young arms than pay market for injuries waiting to happen in Bedard and Harden."

First of all, "market" incorporates their gigantic injury risk, which is why a pitcher of Harden's talents only got one year, 7.5m (which he's been worth in 4 of the last 6 seasons, and in 3 of them double that)...

But yet you'll apologize for the team when they sign guys like Bautista, JMac, and AGon, right? I'd rather have gone with Buck Coates, Joe Inglett, and Angel Sanchez than waste money on those useless veterans...either pretend like you want to field a competitive baseball team, or don't. Don't tread water in the middle, which is exactly the start this regime has gotten off to by being willing to spend money on barely above replacement level players, as opposed to none at all or on veterans who actually possess talent. Once the inefficient spending begins, there's no reason to not target Nick Johnson instead of Jose Bautista, and Orlando Cabrera instead of Alex Gonzalez in a market as big as Toronto's.

I got a call from the Blue Jays season ticket department this past week, and guess what, my tickets didn't go down this year because the Jays are "building". Payroll shouldn't either.

The Man with the Golden Arm said...

Ack,

I respectfully disagree. It is a fact. Stop by my site in a couple of days. I will have a post waiting for you....

Torgen said...

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p4ew-fwu2XT0DrpDLtMcrIg
Including the money owed to Eaton and Jenkins, it was ~$128.6M. (The spreadsheet comes from Cot's.)

The Ack said...

But yet you'll apologize for the team when they sign guys like Bautista, JMac, and AGon, right?

Uh, no, actually. Flip through the comment threads between here and DJF and you'll see me railing against the 2 year deal for J-Mac, not on the Bautista train, and indifferent at best on AGon.

I'm not saying we all have to agree on everything all the time - that would be boring...but don't throw the apologist tag on me just because I have a different opinion on the plan.

Torgen - thanks for that. My quick & dirty google search had the Phils at $113.

dave said...

When did angry people start commenting here?

You see no difference between the Mariners catching the Angels and the Jays catching the Red Sox? The Angles lost their top arm TO the Red Sox. The Red Sox are filling the couple of the holes they did have (at short for example) while the Angels are creating holes in their lineup.

You want the Jays to pick up a couple pieces here and there and make a run for it with this team? Another wasted year.

The Phillies analogy is a perfect one. Wait for when Wallace, Snider, Drabek, Romero, Cecil and Arencibia/d’Arnaud are ready to go, mix in the prime years of Hill and Lind, and THEN spend the money to fill some holes to make a REAL run for it. Not a half-hearted one.

Anonymous said...

Well put, dave. Exactly how I feel.

Ari said...

"You want the Jays to pick up a couple pieces here and there and make a run for it with this team? Another wasted year."

I don't want them to "make a run for it". I want them to spend at least 100m and be a good team. I have yet to see one logical reason why this can't happen at the same time that they are "building", as they claim. It's only a bad idea to do this if you are blocking the playing time of young people who deserve it; this is clearly not the case with the Toronto Blue Jays. We have more than enough innings for all the young arms, seeing as we don't have a starter who has thrown 200 innings at any level - a decent starter or two on a one year deal with an option would not hinder this team. And on the offensive side, there was room for improvement in the Gonzalez acquisition and the Bautista retainment, at the very least. The current FA market, which seriously hinders the ability for mid-level veterans to receive multi-year deals, is perfect for the Jays current situation.

eyebleaf said...

I can't wait for Vernon to prove the "Vernon's on the decline" cats wrong.

Anonymous said...

You can't just "go out and spend $100m" though. Otherwise you end up wasting money on FA's like Bay and Wolf.

The Phillies are an excellent example of how you build your payroll up to the $100m+ level. Most of their payroll is on Howard, Utley, Hamels, Rollins and Werth - guys who were developed or were brought in during Arb years. Then they paid them as they grew together.

From what I've heard Beeston say repeatedly over the past year, Rogers will shell out for a young core and supplement it with FA's as the need arises. But the first priority is to get the system to a point that can sustain the core.

Ari said...

"You can't just "go out and spend $100m" though. Otherwise you end up wasting money on FA's like Bay and Wolf."

I'll try a third time. How on earth is it a waste of money, if we're consistently told the draft and payroll budgets have nothing to do with eachother?! I specifically mentioned that you stay away from long term deals like Bay, because that has the potential to hamstring you in the future when you have to guarantee him 5 years. However, Randy Wolf is exactly the type of player they should be targeting. Last year Wolf signed for 5m plus incentives, and ended up with a shiny Type A status. It bothers me when guys like Abreu and Matsui sign for one year, 5-6m, and the Jays sit back on Jose Bautista for 2.5m. Either spend some money like the big-market team that you are, or don't spend any AT ALL.

Ty said...

Ari: Sure, in retrospect Wolf was a steal last year, but would you really want the Jays to sign him to the 3 years and $30 million the Brewers overpaid for him? That would be a waste of money, no matter how you look at it.

Ty said...

The Reds just extended Rolen through 2012, so presumably Juan Fancisco is available. His OBP has always been pretty low but he did hit 27 homers in the minors last season, and completely raked in his 20-something game callup with the Reds.

Anybody know anything about this guy defensively? If we can flip one of our young pitchers for him -- should we?

Leaker said...

I would like to kill the myth that Toronto is a small market team. This myth is perpetuated by various Jays ownership groups to forgive consistent failure.

Bwilly said...

Ari I hear what your saying, somewhat. I'd love for the Jays to go out and sign some vets that wouldn't be taking the spots of youngsters that are ready. Would they challenge for a playoff spot? no, would it make for more enjoyable baseball games to watch? yes. And who knows, maybe they put together a decent season and you flip them at the deadline for prospects or they gain a type A/B status and they end up with more picks.

But here's where the plan falls apart/we disagree. Nick Johnson does not take 1 year plus a "mutual" otion for 5.5 million a year to sign with the Jays. Abreu/Matsui are looking to win and aren't even going to look at a team like the Jays regardless of money (maybe years but thats against the plan). Why would Orlando Cabrera come to Toronto? So we are left with scraps like Alex Gonzalez, which, I can live with. The only exception may be getting in on a Harden/Bedard/Sheets/ starting pitching reclamation type player, but only if the money would make sense. But Harden's 6.5 plus 3.5 in incentives with an 11 mil mutual option for 2011 that has a 1 million dollar buyout, seems a little steep to be trying to catch some lightning in that bottle.

Ari said...

Come on...Adam Dunn signed an extremely reasonable, 2/20 deal last offseason with the frickin Nationals. Pat Burrell basically got no offers, he didn't go to TB "to win". Abreu settled for so little because no one was willing to offer him anything. OCab signed with the Athletics...The bottom line is these guys go after the best offer they can get, and only care about winning when all else is equal. Guys would come here on one year deals knowing it's a good opportunity for them to receive sufficient playing time to post nice counting numbers and have a better shot at the market the following offseason.

actionjackson said...

"I'm a bigger fan of the Jays today than I was a week ago."

Amen. There is actually a plan in place now. Oh I know JP said he had a plan, but I'm not sure looking back if he didn't make moves according to wind directionality.

Is it slow and painstaking? Yes. Is it the right and possibly only strategy to take in this God forsaken division? Absolutely. If you don't agree, ask yourself how the Jays built up to the championship years. Did they go out and buy a whack of free agents? Only when the core ranneth over. Up until that point, it was draft and development, scour the Dominican for as much young, amateur talent as possible, exploit the Rule V draft and make shrewd trades. Then when the organization had been built up from top to bottom, free agents were brought in to help put us over the top.

That's the blueprint for success in any sport except perhaps basketball due to its 12 man rosters which allow for top free agents to make a huge impact. That's the blueprint that will get us back to where we should be. That blueprint got lost in the wilderness during the Interbrew/Ash/Ricciardi years. AA appears to be showing signs that he wants to resurrect it and with it this franchise. I am definitely down with that.

QJays said...

Just on the topic that a few people have brought up --can someone provide some solid evidence that the Jays are a "big market" team? If actual market-size is the basis, a quick perusal suggests that the Jays market is about at the median and below the average.

Ari said...

The only American cities bigger than the megacity of Toronto are NY, LA, and Chicago, and Philadelphia is right there too. Note how the first 3 all have two teams. The fact that the Jays are the only team in Canada makes their potential market much greater. It's sickening how Rogers operates the Blue Jays.

Bwilly said...

Ari -The 4 players you listed are terrible examples. What good has Adam Dunn been? Nobody's clamoring to trade for him, if he leaves as a free agent he'll be tight to gain type A status, probably looking at Type B, 20 million for a sandwich? Tampa is desperately trying to dump Burrell now, they even thought about swapping him for Milton Bradley. Cabrera (FYI led the league in errors amongst SS) was a Type A free agent, he would have cost the Jays a 1st round pick last year, cost the A's a 2nd rounder, odds are that 2nd rounder will be better than the prospect the Twins sent at the deadline (not too mention the A's sent cash). There were a handful of teams that offered Abreu more money last year, but he went with the angels.