Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Tao's Tweet Bag - Extra Special Answers to Especially Good Questions

Oh, hi. Remember me? It's your delinquent baseball blogging pal. We've been tied up with solving all the problems in the world over the past week, and a little behind in writing up some whims and notions on the Jays. Luckily, you've done the work of several yeomen in filling up the Tweet Bag this week with great questions to fuel the discussion. Let's get to it.

To start, we should get out of the way one question that was asked by many of you over the past day, including : What do you think of the new Jays logo??

We can't seem to find out Jump to Conclusions mat, as it's buried at the back of our closet with our Doc Martens and our zipper ties. So we can't jump to any conclusions about the validity of this logo, nor does the alleged logo tell us much about the look if the entire uniform ensemble. But if you want me to look at this picture and pass judgment, we'd tell you we like it a lot. It's not exactly the old logo, but it's a nice new iteration thereof. But still, we'll need to wait until we see the team working the new duds on a catwalk before we can adjudicate the execution of the new branding.

Next, (who always contributes questions and who we shamefully overlook) asks: If Lawrie profiles as corner OF long-term, crazy to look into Aramis Ramirez this winter? Likely fewer yrs/$ than Prince/Pujols.

Indeed, Aramis will certainly cost less than either of the major free agents, though he may look for an increase over this year's $16.75 million. Still, over the next three years, we can see Ramirez putting up numbers similar or vaguely equivalent to those of Fielder, while providing more defensive value.

There's still the matter of who moves where and plays what next year if the Jays were to make a move for a third baseman, and there's a larger philosophical question as to whether if you move to get the best players you can find in free agency or trades and figure out their spot on the diamond afterwards. It seems to us that the Jays are set on Lawrie at the hot corner, but a move to the outfield or even to first base in order to accommodate Ramirez isn't the craziest idea we've heard.

Let's keep talking about the corners. Two questions (from opposite perspectives) on a Jays-Reds deal in the offseason.

asks: With Votto's contract rising to $17M in '13 and Y.Alonso waiting in CIN, will AA make a play? Cooper/D'Arneaud/Thames for Votto?

While asks: You think a guy like Yonder Alonso fits the Jays? Seems like a high-ceiling guy without a spot to play...

To the first question, we don't think that package comes anywhere close to getting you Joey Votto. For starters, you've suggested sending back a first baseman and a left fielder to help them deal with the 1B/LF glut that they currently have. That's ain't going to play. To get a player like Votto, it's going to hurt. You know that crazily amazing rotation that the New Hampshire Fisher Cats rode to the Eastern League Championship? Start with those names, adding a couple of them into the mix, and you've got the start of a Votto deal, and none of that even begins to factor in that he'll be looking for a Pujols/Fielder/Howard deal very soon. (Plus, you've also got the start of your future holes in your rotation, but we digress.)

To the second question, yes, we think that Alonso would come with a more reasonable price tag, and could be a decent solution to the Jays' lack of production at first base. Alonso may even profile to be more of a DH in the long term, so he'd fit better with an AL team anyways. We're not sure what they'd have to give up to get him, but we'd be all for a move that brings in a player on upswing of his career. Buy low, sweet GM.

More offseason talk, before we even reach the end of the year! asks: Is a better bullpen AA's main priority this offseason?

We're not going to say that the bullpen won't be part of the process this Winter, because it surely will. Just as last year, the Jays went out and signed three players who had previously served as closers, we can see them again looking at low cost arms on short deals with a team option attached. We're not sure that it will necessarily be the main priority, or the most important aspect of the roster reconstruction, if by that you mean "Are they going to spend a lot of money and make big deals on players who have big names." In part, this is because we think that some of the arms that will pitch from the bullpen next year are already in the system. But with four or five slots to fill, there will certainly be new bodies added. Just don't get your hopes up for a proven closer for hire.

Speaking of which, asks: Jonathon Broxton - Proven Closer for hire! Yay or nay?

Nay! A thousand times, NAY! (We suspect that Drew may have served us up a meatball, not unlike what the rotund Broxton might do to batters on a regular basis.)

Mind you, if you were to ask us if we'd toss a cheap, one-year deal at a 300 lb. pitcher with a history of injuries, but also the occasional dominant season (114 Ks versus 29 BB in 76 innings in 2009), we might take that gamble. If you slot him into an undetermined role in the pen (i.e. not necessarily as the closer), and you don't treat him as a bullpen saviour, you may well convince us. Would Broxton sign for one year under those circumstances? That might be a tough sell.

More bullpen queries! asks: Cecil next year = rzep this year. Converted starter who had lots of chances, turned into expendable bullpen arm?

See? This is what we were saying about bullpen solutions from within. Yes, we understood the old argument that Cecil had too much of an arsenal to be relegated to bullpen or closer duty. (And yes, for a starter, the closer role is a demotion.) But given diminished velocity, diminished effectiveness of Cecil's secondary pitches and a delivery which keeps falling out of sorts, we don't think his spot in the rotation is remotely guaranteed next year. On the other hand, Cecil is tough on lefties (.190 batting average,.283 OBP,.246 slugging against in 145 plate appearances versus left-handed batters this season), which might be an asset out of the pen.

If the Jays don't have better options in their rotation, then we wouldn't be in a rush to move Squints into a bullpen role. But if Cecil isn't looking to be a sub-4.00 ERA starter, then, y'know...why the heck not?

And it all comes full circle. asks Do you see the adding another piece to their starting rotation in the off-season?

While we don't know if the Jays will add someone to help improve the state of the starting rotation, our notion is that a) Only Ricky Romero and maybe Brandon Morrow have guaranteed starting jobs to begin next year and b) you can never have enough good starting pitching. If there is a player out there that can be had without emptying the system or overpaying in the free agent market, then the Jays ought to pursue that. Anyone in mind?

Apparently, maybe. asks: What do you think of The Jays going after CJ Wilson?

We haven't expended a lot of time thinking on Wilson up until recently, in part because we presume that the Yankees are going to pursue him so vigourously that the Jays won't get a shot at him unless they wildly overpay. Which is ridiculous, right?

Maybe we've just been worn down by too many conversations about "proven veterans" and all that nonsense, but the idea of a gaudy four-year deal for Wilson actually is starting to make sense to us. To keep him away from your AL East rivals, and you would have to accept some additional financial risk, but if there is a reason to sign a borderline bad contract, it might be to keep pace in the chase for good starting pitching.

Let's get a move on. Here's the rapid-fire portion of our semi-weekly exchange of ideas.

: You think Lawrie plays so hard that he'll always be an injury risk? We've had exactly this thought on more than one occasion since he was recalled. His injuries this year have been mostly flukey ones. But a player who plays at max effort levels as often as Lawrie does is a candidate for strains or tears.

: Correct response to being told to sit down during 9th inning rally at RC? A) Why don't you STAND UP? or B) Forearm to jugular? Depends on who was behind you (little old lady? mother with children?) and how you approached the situation (were you a jerk about it?) Generally, we'd suggest option A. Be nice.

: Why do pickles taste better then cucumbers and whats this team gotta do to get to the next level of good teams? In both instances, we'd offer the same answer: "Dill and brine."

: What do you think the chances are that Snider gets traded this winter, or will they wait until he re-establishes his value? If they have a notion that he's not going to turn things around ever, then we suppose it's possible that they'll look for a deal. But we think the Jays will give Snider another opportunity to prove himself, because his upside is likely better than anything they could extract in return for him.

Finally, : What are your thoughts on the Zooey Deschanel vehicle New Girl? We thought we were getting to a point where the whole cutesy fey thing that Zooey had going on would wear thin. Turns out, it hasn't yet. We kinda hate the show, but we can't not watch it. She's a peach, and it's fun just to watch her be a goofball.

And that's all you wrote. (Well, not exactly, but it's all we figured you'd read.) We're always happy to hear your thoughts, feelings and aspirations. Share with us in the comments, and please, enjoy the conclusion to the season. It's a long, long winter ahead.


12 comments:

Dewey said...

My whole thing with Alonso was supposed to be there as a Votto deterrent, but the Votto question still gets in. Love the idea of a fantasy baseball trade for the best (?) 1B in baseball when you consider his current contract.

I just feel like I've heard the name Alonso for so long. Even in the Rolen deal, it seemed like that was a name that was being tossed around as a possible return.

Here's the thing about hearing a prospect's name for so long: there's gotta be something wrong.

Alonso has always been about the hitting, but there have been a ton of questions I've heard on podcasts about his athleticism. It appears this is something AA is very big on, so I don't see that happening, and I really don't think it's worth giving up too much for a DH only... Anyone can DH...

Tao of Stieb said...

What if Alonso is the next David Ortiz? Can just anyone be that guy?

gabriel said...

Regarding Votto & Alonso, there just isn't a huge amount of excess value in Votto's contract, maybe $30m for '12 & '13. Toronto could probably resign him, but market rates for 1B aren't cheap. The d'Arnaud/Thames package is about what I'd give up for him, no more. Alonso is interesting, but there are other unproven 1B lying around baseball like fallen leaves after an autumn wind: we have a pair in Lind and Cooper- unless the scouting on Alonso is really positive, I'm not sure you want to give up value for a slightly better shot at a good 1B.

The more I look at C.J. Wilson, the less I want to be on the hook for a multi-year deal. He lives too close to the edge, with a good, but not great K rate, BB rate, and GB rate. He doesn't do anything special to make me think his low HR/FB rate is sustainable, and his stuff is in the good but not great category as well. Yu Darvish has a better chance of being worth spending a big chunk of money.

Drew said...

Does anyone really think Alonso is an upgrade, in any way, over Adam Lind?

Tao of Stieb said...

Kinda, yeah.

I suppose we're to give Lind a second full season at first, and let him reach the soaring heights of maybe being a 1B with a good glove, no range, and an OPS around .830, if it comes together and he's not achy and tired.

Or he could do what he's done over the past two years.

Maybe I'm focused on the shiny thing out there that's different from what the Jays already have.

Whatever...Chances are Lind is back anyways.

Alex said...

Lawrie is a better 3B so far than Ramirez

King_Cat said...

If the Jays are so desperate for a 1B that they are contemplating giving the job to a totally uninspiring prospect like Alonso than they might as well give it to the equally uninspiring David Cooper who they already have. Not that I would advicate either.

If you want to upgrade the position through trade then target someone who clearly has more upside than the internal candidates namely Logan Morrison.

Craig B said...

" The d'Arnaud/Thames package is about what I'd give up for him, no more."

Maybe you should offer to blow their offices with a howitzer, because that's about the value of that package. Joey Votto is a goddamn superstar. There are 28 other GMs who are probably also offering a mediocre DH and a catcher with an iffy glove...

Craig B said...

ONE of these days, though I don't expect it to happen soon, GMs are finally gonna realize that no Cuban hitter has ever been anything but a grievous disappointment.

The simple fact is, Cuban hitters never develop. Not, not, not ever. A few dozen Cuban hitters have come into pro ball, and the only one who's been worth more than a wet slap is Kendrys Morales, who had a very, very long time in pro ball and still took years and years to get going. (And now it seems like Yunel may become the second. Which is interesting.)

But, no one has ever picked up on it. Or so it seems, anyway. And yet, teams still pick up Cuban position players for huge dollars and tell themselves all sorts of elaborate lies about how great they will be. Never, ever happens.

(By "Cuban hitters" I mean hitters who learned their ball in Cuba. The Raffy Palmeiros of the world need not apply.)

gabriel said...

Regarding a trade for Votto, I certainly don't think that Cincinnati would take a d'Arnaud/Thames packatge for Votto. But I don't like trading high-ceiling prospects, especially at premium positions, and I recognize you're only getting Votto for 2 years; and at $26-30m over those two years he's a good deal, but not cheap.

Jerry said...

If Lawrie doesn't stop running around with his tongue hanging out, I predict a messy, gory injury in his future. Here's hoping someone mentions it to him.

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