Saturday, November 28, 2009


Heyo friends - who wants to talk about shortstops?

Yeah, me neither. When do the Winter Meeting start again? Until then, I've got questions, maybe you have some answers....

When did prospect porn become the baseball fan's vice of choice?
Regurgitating discussion from comment sections this week....but seriously, what's up with the completely absurd fascination with unproven prospects - talented as they may be - who haven't even advanced beyond the low minors?

Honestly, if I read "No way I would give up (Casey Kelly, Jesus Montero, Ryan Westmoreland, Kyle Drabek, etc) for one year of a 32 year old pitcher" one more fucking time, I think I might just go on ahead and gouge my eyes out.

There are so many things wrong with the reasoning behind this line of thought that I'm not even going to bother taking it down. Actually, yes I am:

(1) That "32 year old pitcher" is one of the best (if I was biased, I'd say the best) in the game, he's at his peak, he's not declining, and nobody works harder. I understand, prospect fans, that you love to show just how clever and informed you are by touting your team's "next big thing"....but in actuality, all you're really proving is your ignorance by dismissing the greatness of Doc. Jesus, this makes me angry.

(2) In all likelihood, you're not getting one year of Doc, you're getting a contract-extended Doc. Oh, and don't worry about the goddamned payroll - you are all big market, free spending clubs. You'll manage.

(3) Your teams are involved in the discussions because they are built to win now. Prospect X, should he pan out, will be a guy who can help you win in 2 or 3 seasons. What, you have an aversion to winning today? You'd rather roll the dice on potentially being in the same position a few seasons down the road?

(4) Please, Yankee/Red Sox/Phillies/Dodgers (to a lesser extent) fans, don't insult our intelligence by clinging to the value of "cost controlled players". Are you just trying to be cruel?

(5) That player you're touting as the next big thing? The guy you've never seen play, but can't possibly bear to lose? He'll be replaced in short order by the next guy on your team's top-10 prospect list, or perhaps by the next high schooler who slips to the 6th round on signability concerns that your team drafts and "convinces" to bypass college.

So there.

Why can't Dustin McGowan become Toronto's Jonathan Papelbon?
....minus the part about being a douchebag, of course.

I'll remind you this is all hypothetical on my part. I'll let you know that I know there's probably a prettttty, pretty slim chance that ol' Dusty can even recover from his shoulder woes to be an effective MLB arm. But hear me out - didn't Boston go through the same thing with their (begrudgingly) nails closer? I can't pretend to know the severity of Papelbon's history of arm troubles, but I do recall (with a google assist) that Papelbon was a rising power arm who was moved to the bullpen in an effort to placate that tender shoulder.

Can this scenario unfold for McGowan? And really - doesn't he seem perfect for the role? Power fastball? Check. Hammer breaking ball? Check. Superficial "unique" look required for a memorable closer? His lambchops say "check".

Bears watching, is all I'm saying.

Shouldn't we be talking a little more about Jesse Litsch?
Hey, he is what he is. Jesse Litsch is probably no more than a back end starter who can provide the club with some serviceable major league innings. That's not a knock, that's just who he is. In fact, I mean it as a compliment, because I really do believe that he doesn't receive near the credit he should for being just that.

He doesn't throw 95 and he won't get you more than about 5K/9. But if he can bounce back from his TJ (does that stand for "Tommy John" or "Toronto Jay"?) surgery and provide the club with some rotation stability, the club will be much better for it. And that, my friends, would be admirable. I'm pulling for the guy.

Do writers make absurd claims because they think the Jays are wholly incompetent? Or are they just smug?
Actually, I've got the answers here:

YES, the Jays will offer Marco Scutaro arbitration.

NO, the Jays will not accept a package of Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, and Francisco Cervelli in exchange for Doc.

...and NO, Alex Anthopoulos will not "throw in" Adam Lind to "even out the deal" in exchange for your precious little prospects.

Can we convince ourselves that the disdain we feel for the Jays offseason moves to date will dissipate as the plan becomes clear?
Yeah, I probably can, personally. I've been getting on (for now) by telling myself that if these were the final moves of the offseason (throwing 2 years at Johnny Mac, signing Alex Gonzalez v2.0) rather than the first moves of the offseason, things would make more sense.

I'll carry on believing that these moves are not a precursor to more of the same in addressing the many other holes on the roster, and by April 1 we'll have reason for hope.

I keep telling myself that it's all part of the process, and AA knows what he's doing - because I want him to succeed. I'll keep believing that better days of baseball are ahead.

We have to, man.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chill, baby. Chill.

It was something else to see the diversity of reactions to yesterday's signing of Alex (Not Alex) Gonzalez. (Wait a second. Didn't I do this bit yesterday? Nevermind.)

We don't mind the Gonzo signing because we actually think that he can provide plus defense and near league average offense. It might be a step down from what we got from Marco Scutaro last year, but then again, who the hell knows what Scoots would do next year in Toronto?

Sure, it would be nice to have someone who promises huge numbers at short, and third, and catcher, and first, and off the bench. But these days, we're thinking that some fans have to just calm the fuck down over the perceived weaknesses in the lineup. Every lineup if going to end up having its holes, and if Alex Gonzalez ends up as a .700 OPS, plus defender hitting 8th or 9th, it doesn't immediately make this team a 100 loss nightmare.

Cripes, the vaunted '92 Jays had four regulars (Borders, Gruber, Manny Lee and Devo) who posted an OPS under .700, and the offensively monstrous '93 Jays had two regulars (Borders and Sprague) and two players with 200 ABs (Henderson and Darnell Coles) who OPSed under .700. So a few weak spots in the lineup doesn't necessarily mean that the team is headed directly in the crapper.

(Although we still would have rather taken our chances with J.J. Hardy. But that's neither here nor there.)

Okay, fine. We're calling it here: The Jays, as they stand today, are an 83-win team. So stop putting on the poor mouth.

Travis Snider - No free rides, and no second helpings at the buffet
The first thing we thought when we heard Alex Anthopoulos say that Sniderman had to earn his way onto the roster was: "How much weight has he put on this off season?"

The Doctor is in
Big ups to my good friend and fellow blogger Devin on his Ph.D. defense yesterday. (Schelling? Who the hell writes on Schelling?) He's a cool cat and the epitome of a San Francisco Bay Area Liberal, and we love the guy for it. Also, he's an A's fan, which we totally respect. If you're so inclined, his smartypants scribblings can be found over here.

Friday Rock Out - Grandaddy, "Elevate Myself"
And in the new doctor's honour, who else could rock us into the weekend but the pride of Modesto?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A guide to judging the appropriateness of your response to the Johnny Mac signing

(Editor's Note: This entire post was written and posted before the news that the Jays signed Alex Gonzalez. Maybe it isn't as funny or pertinent anymore. But read along anyhow.)

The vast majority of the responses that we received about the John McDonald signing yesterday were negative, but to varying degrees. (And yes, for some reason, people send their complaints to me, as though I could do something about it.)

But most people still felt somewhat conflicted, because how are you gonna hate on Johnny Mac? The Prime Minister of Defense! Come on!

To help you through this time, we offer a quick breakdown of the various subsets of reactions to the McDonald signing, and judge the appropriateness (is that a word?) of each of them.

The Oblivious "Fuck Yeah!" Happy Subset
Characterized by
: A general feeling of elation. These folks are totally stoked that Johnny Mac, the heart and soul of the Blue Jays, is coming back. They may have worn their "McDonald 6" jerseys over their jackets last night. May have had "PMOD 4 EVER" tattooed on their bits yesterday.
Is this reaction appropriate? Not at all. As nice a guy as McDonald is, this is not a great moment in franchise history.
Possible treatments: A quick gander at McDonald's career offensive numbers.

The Ambivalent Subset
Characterized by: A feeling that the signing is a terrible omen, followed by a profound feeling of guilt over their unspoken disdain for such a prince of a guy. May have spent time looking at the Jays 40-man roster, identifying the other "25th men on the roster". Relieved to hear that the Jays are still looking for a starting SS.
Is this reaction appropriate? Absolutely. It's what the sane man is thinking. (Well, it's what we're thinking. If you would characterize us as sane.)
Possible treatments: Watching YouTube videos of Johnny Mac's defensive prowess. Prorating JMac's four homers over a full season.

The WTF?!! Subset
Characterized by: Angry tweeting and angry commenting. Recriminations. May have drawn a link between McDonald's salary and unsigned draft picks. Sent over the edge by the news that the deal was for two years.
Is this reaction appropriate? Probably not. There is some truth to the fact that the signing is not the happiest news ever, and the second year is shocking. But signing a utility guy to a contract worth $1.5 Mill isn't the end of the world.
Possible treatments: Looking at the alternatives. Looking at the salaries of other utility infielders. Deep breathing. Positive visualization.

The Bandwagon Jumper Subset
Characterized by: Threats to stop going to games or watching games on TV. Declarations that this is "the last straw". Threats of cheering for other teams. Threats of canceling Rogers services.
Is this reaction appropriate? Oh, please. Stop. If you don't want to stick with the team through the bad times, then fine. Go cheer for the Tigers. (And what, pray tell) will you do when they trade Miguel Cabrera?
Possible treatments: Checking yourself before you wreck yourself. Sucking it up. Ceasing to be such a whining princess drama queen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Return of the Mac

Bastian tweets that the Jays are ready to announce the re-signing of team mascot John McDonald as soon as today. Jays co-mascot Ace could not be reached for comment.

What does this mean? Another season of Prime Ministerial punnery, pugnacious pinch-running, and picktacular playmaking in the field. (Also, alliteration. Always alliteration.)

Don't get us wrong, we really like Johnny Mac, and it is worth noting that he had a career high four homers in just 151 at bats, and his slugging percentage reached dizzying new heights (.384). But on the other side, he is one of four or five players that we envision as the 25th man on the roster, and we're a tad bit worried that all of those guys are going to make the team.

Also, what's this mean for Mike McCoy? Is there only room for one Mac on the roster? Too much mackin'?

The Halladay Sweepstakes, part XXXIV
So today, it is the Red Sox, who allegedly want to get this wrapped up before the winter meetings. Also, the Angels, although that report sorta looks like horseshit.

Yorvit? Our Vit!
Torrealba catching for the Jays? Meh. Could happen. He's no Miguel Olivo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Something about the West Coast makes you lose all sense of perspective

It's been stunning over the past few days to read a quote here and a comment there about how the Dodgers would be giving up too much if they let Chad Billingsley go in a trade for Roy Halladay.

Are you fucking kidding me? Or more to the point, why are you kidding yourselves?

Chad Billingsley is a guy who has had some success here and there by kicking the stuffing out of also rans in the National League West for the past few seasons. Sure, he's shown the Padres quien es mas macho, and he's schooled the Diamondbacks. He's faced down the mighty lineup of the Giants ("now hitting cleanup, Bengie Molina"). He's pitched in a lot of pitcher friendly parks. And he's thrown exactly 3.2 innings against American League East teams, namely the Jays.

Meanwhile, Doc has stepped to the mound for 516.2 innings against the Yankees and Red Sox over his career. So we're guessing that he could hang in the NL West.

We realize that as fans you can start to overvalue your own players, and develop unnatural attachments to them. That's the nature of fandom. But if you (or your general manager) can't conceive of how much better Roy Halladay is than Billingsley or anyone else that you have on your roster or in your system (yeah, Clayton Kershaw included), then you deserve to have Vincente Padilla pitching in crucial games for the next dozen years.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Roy Halladay is going everywhere and nowhere

It's a hell of a thing, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's been more than four months since we committed ourselves to "let go lightly" of Roy Halladay, and yet, he's still here, and we're still waiting to move on.

Somewhere, in the dark recesses in the back of our mind, we've actually started to resent Halladay. Maybe that resentment is misdirected, but it is there, and we can't help wanting to toss him - the greatest pitcher in the history of the franchise - overboard so that we can lighten our load and start moving things into something resembling a direction.

Oddly, it is precisely because Halladay is such an exceptional talent that moving him is going to be a significant challenge for the new Anthopoulosian regime. For the new GM, it's not simply a matter of figuring out who wants Halladay, because that would basically be all 30 teams.

In spite of the daily dozen rumours that have Halladay headed hither and yon, it doesn't take long to figure out why he's not headed anywhere anytime soon. If you start to work out the Venn diagram of who could be in the race for Halladay, you have to start by assessing who has money, who has money that is available, who has aspirations of competing now and who has aspirations for competing in the longer term. By the time that you intersect those four circles, you're pretty much left with two teams, and we probably don't need to remind you who they are.

The point - which we made much more succinctly in a Twitter post this weekend - is that even if everyone wants him, not many teams are going to have the resources to get him and hold on to him, and not many are going to be willing to part with much more than a nominal package in return.

Think of teams that should be in the mix like the Mets (might have money, don't have trade chips, might not be competitive), the Cubs (uncertain money), the Dodgers (money is an issue for the divorce courts), or the Cardinals (probably not enough money to keep Halladay). The Angels (without John Lackey) could be a destination, but will they have the resources to continue to compete over the next five years? Would Halladay allow such a trade to take place, given that he still holds the hammer of a no-trade clause?

There's an expectation amongst the fanbase and the media that the Jays' side of the Roy Halladay Trade should be generous and should replenish all of the franchise's needs. But taking a look at what real possibilities lie out there, we should probably brace ourselves for a move that will return less than we'd hoped, and send Doc somewhere that we wish he weren't.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pre Winter Meeting Musings

We're a little over 2 weeks away from this year's MLB Winter Meetings, where the bulk of the offseason action is likely to take place. That means your humble (no, really) weekend keyboard monkey has little of substance on which to pontificate.

Instead, here are some hot (er, lukewarm?) topics running through my head:

* It's been mentioned in the comments section, and it bears repeating here since I've often had the same thought - why can't Brian Dopirak be a serviceable option in the Jays lineup next year? No, really, I'm asking. I've heard - and can't necessarily disagree with - all the reasons why he's a longshot to stick at the major league level: it took him 4 seasons to get past 'A' ball, he's old for the level, he's beating up on minor league retreads, etc.

But here's the thing: his numbers have been fantastic since the start of 2008. He comes with a pedigree (2nd round pick). And he's no longer blocked (/sarcasm) by the manager's favorite, Kevin Millar.

Can't it be that he just turned the corner in his development and is now reaching that 2nd round potential? And can't we give the dude a shot before writing him off? For my money, he's exactly the type of player a "building" team needs to take a long, hard look at. It will be a disappointment - for me, anyway - if he doesn't break camp with the team (pending any substantial offseason moves to shore up 1B/DH, of course).

* .....and since we're here, is it completely unreasonable to assume (hope?) that one of Jarret Hoffpauir or Mike McCoy can be a useful player in the infield? I mean, as it stands, we're looking at Aaron Hill....and that's about it, as far as sure-fire returnees go. Personally, I'm hoping for one or both to make the team, if for no other reason than the blogging possibilities (Hoff! The Real McCoy!). Yeah, maybe I'm reaching now.

* We all now Alex Anthopoulos has floated the notion that he isn't adverse to trading Roy Halladay within the division. On the surface - as brutally gut-wrenching as it would be - it makes sense to take the best deal for the Jays out there. But I'm starting to think that might just be a smokescreen to drive up the market for non-AL East teams who might be interested in acquiring the services of the true Ace (Doc is a capital-A ace).

And maybe it's working? Fresh off the news that the Dodgers (let's ignore the implications of ol' Frankie McCourt's divorce) are focusing on Doc - with the name 'Chad Billingsley' being tossed around - comes word of early discussions with the Cubs.

During last season's trade deadline fiasco, the Cubs were never viewed as a serious players, due primarily to the perceived lack of prospect depth. But they do have Starlin Castro, who's generating some pretty serious buzz, and potential big bat Josh Vitters in the system, so.....

* I don't see any way that the (unreasonably) under appreciated Lyle Overbay returns, at this point. Given the volume of trade rumors surrounding him, and given the return of Cito....I just think it would end badly.

* Rethinking the Brandon Phillips speculation....unless one of Phillips/Hill were to make a move to SS....yeah, what's the point. His bat would not be an upgrade over Edwin Encarnacion, and it's impossible to say how he'd play defensively at the hot corner. But a double play combo of Hill & Phillips up the middle might not be so bad, would it?

* Something has to happen in the outfield, doesn't it? Can we really envision an everyday alignment of Lind-Wells-Snider defensively? That's assuming of course, that Snider sees AB's against more than just right-handed pitching, and Lind doesn't move to 1B, and....

* One thing's for certain: AA has his work cut out for him. He has no choice but to put his stamp on the team. Let's just hope it's his own.

Friday, November 20, 2009

You'll have to forgive our lack of protestations

This whole story of the rising season ticket costs seems a tad overwrought and orchestrated to create a story out of very little.

We know it has to suck if your seats have been "rezoned" into a higher price bracket. But somehow, folks have developed this notion that the Blue Jays, because they finished seven games under .500, should suddenly run the team like a factory-seconds carpeting store that's going out of business. They believe this because they say that it would be the noble thing to do after the team sucked so bad last year.

We just can't buy into this. (Maybe in part because there doesn't really seem to be anything of real substance to the stories that we've read.)

Which is not to say that we don't think that there are some overpriced seats in the Dome, because there are. And increasing the price of those cheap seats down the line will probably not help to fill the lower bowl.

Maybe you want to portray the Rogers folks as a bunch of greedheads who don't care about the fans, and who are extracting their pound of flesh from all of the die-hards. And if so, that's your thing, and have at it.

But we would remind you that the current ownership oversaw a monumental slashing of prices for all of the seats in the 500 level (you know, the tickets that you buy before you sneak down) just a few years back. We paid $30 to sit in 500-level seats in our first visit to the Dome more than a decade ago, and those seats last season retailed for more than 200% less than what we paid.

It could be that we just accept these sorts of things. That prices go up, we always seem to have less money, and someone, somewhere (centre field?) gets richer.

If you want to piss and moan about this, then have at it. We're certain that this is going to be an unstoppable refrain on JaysTalk all season long.

As for your faithful blogger: I'll reserve my ire for the decisions that are made (or not made) about the on-field product.

Friday Rock Out - Biz Markie

I dunno. It was just in my head.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No more free barbecues

The Globe's Bobby McLeod reports that the Jays have put the kibbosh on the annual season ticket holder's barbecue in Dunedin.

We're shocked at the idea that the Jays are looking to create further cleavages between themselves and the most dedicated members of their fanbase at a time when they've come off one of their more spirit-crushing seasons and on the cusp of jettisoning their most beloved player since Tony Fernandez.

(And as an aside...wouldn't it be kinda cool if Doc kept coming back to Toronto every few years for a one more nostalgic run?)

We should probably be pretty upset and freaked out, except for the fact that we're a bit shocked that the Jays would foot the bill to fly several hundred season ticket holders to Dunedin and presumably put them up and feed them. If these folks can dish out thousands of dollars for season tickets, can't they find themselves their own flight and hotel for the night?

It sounds as thought the Jays are going to find other ways to pimp out their players to make nice with the season ticket holders. We're sure that there will be some consternation, but hopefully these types can hold back on the white whining a tad, given the current shite state of affairs in the world.

Other shite
-The's Bastian of Knowledge says that Alex Anthopoulos might allow a negotiation window to help increase the value of Doc. Which makes a sense.

-Beeston hints for the 3687th time that Gillick might come back in an advisory role. We'd love this move if Stand Pat's first advice was to turf the manager, just like he wanted to in 1994.

-MLB Trade Rumors has a great piece on the reaction to the Vernon Wells contract signing way back when. This will be a bigger, longer blog post for us eventually. Maybe.

-Also from MLBTR, it sounds like the Jays and Scoots are just a couple a crazy kids who want to be together. We've seen too many romantic comedies in our lifetime to figure that they won't somehow make things work out in the end.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A One-Sentence Post on...Brandon Phillips

Further to Blair's floated notion this morning, we've got mad love for Brandon Phillips, even if he's never played a major league game at third, and he's only once OPSed higher than .800 in his career.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sometimes when there's no news....

I had a dream last night.

(OK, so I didn't really. Slept like a rock thanks to a wacked travel schedule and a few pints of cheap beer. But for the purposes of this post, let's pretend that I did.)

This being the "building" Toronto Blue Jays, Doc wasn't spared in my dream. Even my subconscious has come to accept it. No, Doc was traded away for the best haul of young talent AA could find, and that's that.

But in my dream, the rotation was just fine. Shaun Marcum came back dropping his beautiful change-up on the league. Dustin McGowan made it two straight Comeback Player of the Year awards for the Jays, dominating the opposition with his mid-90's heat and hammer breaking ball. Hey, the time off did him some good. He was much more poised in 2010 than we'd seen from him in seasons prior. Forgotten man Jesse Litsch was an adequate back-end starter coming off his TJ - a rite of passage for the club. Ricky Romero duplicated his '09 success and Brett Cecil showed the baseball world why he is held in such high esteem by fans of the Jays.

The bullpen held their own, made possible by one of the untold concessions Cito made to return as manager - complete autonomy over the staff by new pitching coach Bruce Walton.

Offensively, some said Aaron Hill regressed, dropping to 25 HR from his career high of 36 in '09. But me? I'm just fine with the power drop, considering his OBP climbed by 40 points. It was more of the same from fellow Silver Slugger Adam Lind, he of the .900+ OPS.

Randy Ruiz and Brian Dopirak held down the old 1B/DH fort, thanks to a salary dump of incumbent (and under appreciated) Lyle Overbay. The results? Not great, but not disastrous. Except for the defense - that was baaaad. A not unfamiliar story unfolded across the diamond, as Easy Ed Encarnacion left us all confused as to whether he was brilliant or awful, depending on the day of the week. Strange player, that one. Catching was a bit of a hot mess - that is, until September recall JP Arencibia proved he was ready to be The Man in the future. Let's not talk about what happened at shortstop. God, I miss Scutaro. Though not for that price, I suppose.

Surprises? Vernon Wells was pretty good. Not $20M good, and not good enough to drown out the season long chorus of boos, but a return to his career-average OPS of .800 was much easier to swallow than his shitshow '09 season we all lived through. And hey - Travis Snider got better - despite butting heads with his manager all season - and learned to lay off the occasional down & away breaking ball. He's going to be a good one.


Then I woke up. And cringed in fear at what this December's Winter Meetings hold in store.

I think I need a few more pints.

Friday, November 13, 2009

We've got these Silver Slugging guys

For all the talk about the core going forward, it's pretty freakin' sweet to have two Silver Sluggers in the middle of the Jays lineup. That's something you can build on.

It's the third time that two Jays win the award in the same year (Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells in 2003, Delgado and Shawn Green in 1999). Which might mean something.

Things that rhyme

Do you think that it makes Phil Lind, Vice Chairman Rogers Communications, feel good when he hears the names Hill and Lind together? Hill Lind, Phil Lind...Hmmm. We don't know what the hell we're driving at with this. We just want the Rogers execs to feel happy about the team and get off their wallet.

Friday Rock Out - The Rolling Stones' Sway
Because you deserve it. And because this demon life has got us in its sway.

The Rolling Stones Perform 'Sway' Live In Glasgow

The Rolling Stones | MySpace Video

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The case for impatience

It's felt strange over the past few weeks making the case against Alex the Ant's very rational and deliberate approach to building-not-rebuilding the Toronto Blue Jays. On the face of it, The Eternal Building Process seems like the thoughtful and prudent approach at this time.

You take your time, you build from within, you increase your scouting capacity, you draft well, you make good trades and you avoid crazy free agent contracts. You bide your time and you let your players develop until you've got a core that can compete with anyone, including the Yankees and Red Sox. And when the time comes, you add a veteran via free agency or trade to fill in the last spots to take you over the top.

How can you argue against that? How can you dismiss such a well-conceived plan and side with the braying ninnies in the cheap seats, calling for the team to sign every free agent and trade for every Canadian and spend a gajillion dollars today to compete and an extra gajillion next year to mop up the mess?

But the problem we have with that theory is that it doesn't account for the fact that the performance and health of players are such ephemeral things.

Just take a look at the last forward-looking plan for contention: It was based on a notion that Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, and B.J. Ryan would all be healthy contributors, and that Vernon Wells would be healthy and not play like horseshit through injuries and that Alex Rios would at the very least play something resembling baseball. It might have even considered that you would get some semblance of contribution from Gus Chacin or Jesse Litsch, depending on where you were when you looked ahead.

The point is that AA and the newish brain trust should be cautious about what they assume about the performance of Adam Lind or Aaron Hill or Travis Snider or Marc Rzepczynski or Brett Cecil two or three years down the road. If you are building with the notion that those guys are the foundation of the future, you should be prepared for the fact that some or all of them may give you less than you expect in 2011 or 2012.

Frankly, how the hell can you even know what to expect that far down the road? Anyone wanna place bets on who'll be closing games in Toronto in September of 2011? Or who will be the Opening Day starter in April of 2012?

Players are wildly inconsistent and fragile assets. To plan deliberately as though they will provide you with a dependable level of service well into the future is to set yourself up to be constantly refilling cracks in your foundation that you thought had been patched.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

101 Reasons for Offseason Optimism - Brian Dopirak

Did you see that the Jays added Brian Dopirak to their 40-man roster? Can you get excited about the prospect of an aging prospect (25 years young) who can put up some serious numbers (27 HRs, 102 RBI, .921 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A last year)?

We can. And we can also envision a scenario where Dopirak plays on the big club, and doesn't suck. And that's a good thing. Especially if the Jays are going to let go of their woefully under appreciated first baseman.

Don't get all negative about my negativity
We've been accused lately of being a bit of a grumpy Gus about the Jays and the decisions made in the past few weeks. Somehow, people are reading some degree of negativity into our lack of faith in Alex and the Ants and what in our view amounts to an underwhelming start.

Part of this we'll confess is for fun: We know that we're being impatient. But the idea of a blog post per day telling people to just hold out hope for a few more weeks (or a few more years) doesn't exactly inspire us to start tickety-ticking away on the keyboard. And we're not here to cheer you up.

Look, we're pulling for AA to rip it up and pull together a wicked awesome franchise. And we've actually got some faith that they'll be able to do it, except for two things.

1) Bringing back Cito is a kick in the nuts, and we're not going to get happy about this decision until he's gone.

2) AA's press conference last week was a pretty clear indication that this team has no intention of spending anytime soon. Nor do they feel any particular urgency in competing any time soon. The road is long, with many a winding turn, and all that sort of thing.

We recognize that these are still early days, in the newish regime. But we'll confess that like many other Jays fans, our patience is wearing pretty thin. Not that I'm going to leap off the bandwagon and find some other team to cheer for. But I'm not in much of a mood to indulge the young Mr. Anthopoulos and his doddering benefactor.

The Eternal Building Process might sound like a wholly rational plan. But it doesn't give us the giddy offseason excitement that a few interesting moves might. And at a certain point, this is a business that is about creating excitement and inspiring a dedicated fan base. Planning for the future is prudent, but don't expect your fan base to tag along as you meander back at your own pace to respectability.

Yes, the Tao is impatient.

Monday, November 9, 2009

That's it? That's your theory?

So at some point in his Declaration of Principles call over the weekend, Alex Anthopoulos noted that he wanted to build (NOT re-build, goddamnit!) the Jays with trades, the draft, free agents, international signings, and minor league free agents. That's Alex the Ant's plan. Beautifully fucking illustrated.

Actually, that's not really a plan. It's more of a regurgitation of a primer. (Someone was boning up the night before his, presser.)

And it stands in stark opposition to the previous regime, who, if they didn't acquire players in one of the ways listed above, must have just waited for players to fall from the sky through the roof of the Dome.

Whatever they think that they're doing, one thing seemed pretty clear from all of this jibber-jabber: There's no great sack of money that will be thrown at the team this year to address any of the problems or gaps that they have, and there won't be any additional money available to paper over the mistake that is Vernon Wells' contract. What we, as Jays fans, are being told is to be patient and that someday, someway, maybe there will be a competitive team in town.

This clearly isn't the mythical J.P. Five Year Plan. It's the newfangled Alex Ant indefinite plan, The Eternal Building Process in which the team will continue to set aside a serious run at the Wild Card or (god forbid) the AL East crown until such a time as they feel comfortable making a run. Because they wouldn't want to embarrass themselves, would they?

We used to pity Pirates fans, because it seemed like keeping the faith with the Bucs was a Sisyphean chore. It kinda feels like they might be pitying us by the end of this.

Picking through the entrails to find little shards of happiness
Look, don't get us wrong. It's not that we're rooting for Alex the Ant to fail. And it's not that we're totally pessimistic. After all, it sounds as though the team is in the midst of looking for a replacement for Cito Gaston, which should be Job #1 if they ever want to be anything in this league.

And to be honest, we can actually understand if the organization didn't necessarily want to can Cito after the player revolt, if only to head off an ongoing series of such clubhouse calamities every time the active roster members had their feelings hurt or their needs not appropriately attended to.

We're holding in our mind's eye a vision, and that vision is of the day in the early season this year where Cito steps aside and pulls the ripcord on his golden parachute. Maybe even before the season starts.

What a pleasant thought.

Talking 'bout rumours
It was weird that within 24 hours of our floating Chris Snyder's name out there as a possible target, there were rumours that he would be coming to Toronto, followed by assurances that he and his gimpy back were not to be exchanged for Lyle Overbay.

We're not sure if we have any powers to make these things happen...but if we do, here goes: We think the Jays should make a run at Lance Berkman, David Wright and Felix Hernandez. Please please pretty please.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alex the Builder

I suppose I would quibble with the semantics of it all.

"....Anthopoulos characterizes the Blue Jays as a team that's building, rather than rebuilding.

"I think when people talk about a rebuild, it would be tearing down a team and trading away numbers of players. I don't know that we have that necessarily," he said. "I think we have a lot of good young players, I just don't think we have enough. I think we need to continue to add to those players."

If you can't extend your franchise cornerstone (Halladay), and are looking to trade away key veteran offensive pieces (Overbay), while building around the young controllable players currently on your roster (Lind, Snider, Hill)....well my friends, that right there is a rebuild.

And what did we expect, really?

A magic bullet enabling the club to extend Doc for 3/$75 and gain a commitment from Rogers to pursue top flight free agents? That was never, ever going to happen, even if we had coaxed ourselves into maybe believing something of the sort could happen. And by "coaxed ourselves", I of course mean "bought into the Beest's hype". That's our bad.

And so it begins. I've often used the "I don't know what I'm gonna do if the Jays trade Doc" tag, but I suppose I'm about to find out. And really, that's the franchise's only play. My guess is the team approached Halladay and tip-toed around the idea of an extension, and were flatly denied. Pure speculation on my part (what am I, a journalist?), but it would seem to make sense in the context of this quote:

As for Halladay specifically, while Anthopoulos said the 2003 American League Cy Young award winner is one of a handful of players he would be reluctant to trade, he said the 32-year-old has made it clear he is not interested in tying himself to Toronto after his contract ends following the 2010 season.

"He's probably one of the greatest if not the greatest Blue Jay to ever put on the uniform," the GM said. "But he wants to win and really, at this time, we were a 75-win team last year.

"I think he's stated that his timeline for winning and ours may not mesh and may not match and for us right now," he added. "Roy's position is to wait and see what kind of a club we have in 2010, see what we can do from a win/loss standpoint. We respect that and we understand that."

So that's that. That's where we stand. We wanted to know, and now - mercifully - we do. The team is going to sell off any and all expendable parts that don't fit into the plan of building a winner down the line, and the Jays are going to go young.

It's a step up from where we were last season, when we slugged through 162 games of, uh, whatever the hell that was.

There's a lot to be excited about when you listen to AA's vision for the team. He speaks of building a model organization. He talks of Toronto becoming a preferred destination for scouts and front office types. He talks of becoming an organization that can be up there with the "Anaheims, the Chicagos, and the Bostons" (read between the lines - fuck the Yankees). He wants to build a franchise that develops championship talent and supplements it with key free agent pieces.

That's all good stuff. That's vision. It's a remarkable turnaround from where the organization currently stands.

The proof will be in the proverbial pudding, of course, but if that's what it takes - rather than chasing and throwing ridiculous contracts at the Jason Bays and John Lackeys of this year's FA class - then I can get on board. So bring it on.

Still, I don't know what I'm gonna do when the Jays trade Doc.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hermida, Hardy and...Halama?

As god is my witness, I thought the stories about the Jays scouting John Halama were just a throw away joke.

Not so funny, though, is it?

Now mind you, we were the ones who for two years defended the low-risk signings of Ohka/Thompson/Zambrano, and we still would. And to be honest, if we hear that Halama has transformed himself into a half-decent LOOGY, and they can sign him for a box of Timbits and a double-double, then so be it.

But Ivan DeJesus on a pogo stick, it sucks the life out of us to hear that two guys on whom we had irrational mancrushes, Jeremy Hermida and J.J. Hardy, are off the market before the Yankees' ticker tape parade has even begun.

Maybe there are better solutions out there for the Jays. Maybe Chris Snyder spends next year squatting behind the plate, or maybe maybe there is a deal in the works to bring some young promising short stop to Toronto. Maybe we just have to believe in The Plan.

There's 100 days until spring training, and they're going to be long, cold, and miserable. May your higher power or believe guide you through this.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The bad news sure can pile up

We've been otherwise engaged in earning a living for the past week, and so here we are, trying to sift through the piles of disconcerting and discouraging news from the past week. Frankly we don't even know where to begin, or whether if we've already whinged electronically about half this stuff.

Twice this week, a professional colleague tried to engage us in a conversation about the Jays, and we pretty much just shut down emotionally and stared off into space, sigh and repeated banalities to keep ourselves together. ("Yeeeeeeep...yep...yep. Somethin' else, eh?. Yep. Not too good. Nope.")

So where to start? How with about the Cito Thing? (That's what we've taken to calling it, even though it's not totally about Cito and it's not just one thing.)

For brief moments, we had these notions that the move to Alex Anthopoulos and his initial moves augured well for a newish direction for the franchise. It's not that they needed to strip everything down or blow everything up, but they needed to make some adjustments to the balance of pro versus amateur scouting and they needed bring in some new voices.

At this point, we're all good.

And we're even vaguely optimistic about the three-year appointment of Paul Beeston, and feeling vaguely regretful about the tenor and tone of some of the bad things we've said about him recently.

And then, the Rogers Baseball Operations, led by The Merry Idiot Beeston, decide to delay any attempt to change the on-field leadership, and put off any decision about managerial succession off until next year. Which is smart, and sends out a TREMENDOUS message to the players on the team and the players who they may be trying to recruit to come to Toronto.

"Look prospective Blue Jay! We are a shit show! A team which is governed by nostalgia! A team which is about to spend a full season indulging a manager who has ostracized his players as a bunch of pussies! Who doesn't cotton to those who don't respect the decision-making of his protruding gut! A man who could give a fuck about losing his clubhouse! And by the way: Fuck those crybaby players! Now, can I offer you a dollar more than the other teams trying to sign you?"

Ask a sailor, and they'll tell you: Some days, the wind is with you and sometimes it's against you, but the worst thing that you can do is to allow yourself to drift.

Oh, we know that some of you are clever cats who wanna say "What does next year even matter anyway, because all the good free agents are coming out in 2011." Well, wouldn't it be ready to right the ship now and bring in someone new who could potentially make Toronto an attractive place to play?

By taking action, and empowering their new GM, the Blue Jays could (and should) be making a decision now about how they want the field level leadership of this team to relate to and govern the players who step between the lines and make the magic happen. Instead, they've decided to sit back, take it as it comes and let tomorrow take care of tomorrow. Which sounds like the decision-making process of a retiree. Too bad Beeston's retirement is on hold for the next three years.

P.S. - Thanks to the Ack for picking up the slack. (You see what WE did there?)

A two-sentence post on....the end of the season

Congratulations to the New York Yankee$, Major League Baseball's 2009 Champions.

But was it just me, or was that one of the coldest, most unemotional post-game celebrations - both on the field and in the stands - in the history of the World Series?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baby steps (you gotta start somewhere)

Discounting the waiver claim of capital-P Project Sean Henn - who might have been worth keeping an eye on under the eye of now departed reclamation king Brad Arnsberg - the Jays began the inevitable (and necessary) roster makeover by claiming middle infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir from the Cardinals organization.

On first blush, it's an intriguing move, as Hoffpauir appears to have solid on-base skills, with a career minor league OBP of .365 (not a typo). The knock on the 26 year old appears to be his limited defensive skill set - and hello there, Brian Butterfield. Glad to see you weren't run out of town.

While Cards writer Brian Walton (see link above) seems to think this is just another Blue Jays "claim 'em & slide 'em through waivers" move (tough to argue the evidence), this addition to the 40-man bears watching for a variety of reasons:

1. These aren't your father's JP Ricciardi waiver wire claiming Blue Jays. It remains to be seen if these are really Alex A's Blue Jays, I guess, but let's give the retooled front office the benefit of the doubt on this one.

2. Outside of Aaron Hill, the entire infield - starters and reserves - is a major question mark heading into next season for the Jays, with Scutaro and McDonald heading to free agency. Jose Bautista and Eddie Encarnacion would be best advised to keep their real estate options open, too.

3. Did I mention the OBP? Oh, I did? How about the .843 OPS he put up in 350+ AAA at-bats last season. Why was this guy available again? Right - defense. Butter!!

Vernon Wells will remove the knife from his back and have it applied to his wrist
Word is that the much maligned Vernon Wells will have his left wrist repaired, after quietly dealing with the problem for a good portion of his brutal 2009 season. While it's certainly not unreasonable to believe the injury contributed to his miserable campaign, I don't think we should all go expecting the 2006 version of ol' Vern to reappear.

But a reasonable facsimile of the 2008 vintage Wells wouldn't be too much to ask, would it?

(No, seriously, I'm asking - what do you think is a reasonable expectation for Wells in 2010?)

Programming Note

Unlike his hacky (see what I did there) weekend contributor, the thoughtful and eloquent Tao is holding off on expressing his thoughts and opinions on all matters Blue Jay until such time as he is able to formulate a clear and concise discussion on recent developments.

That, or he is feverishly working on the blog's direction and long-term strategy.

That, or he is just too damn busy to post until later in the week.

Regardless, our benefactor sends his sincerest apologies for his absence. Until such time as he returns, you're stuck with below replacement-level efforts from yours truly. More to come later.