Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Observations on the Winter Meetings from a Distance

(From a distance...do we all have the sounds of hoary Bette Midler treacle assaulting our brains now? Awesome...)

We're miles and kilometres and then some away from the action in Dallas, so all of our Winter Meetings observations are being made through eyes that are straining to keep up with every tweet and bleep that pops across our screen. Most of this is conjecture and speculation at this point, but we'd offer a few thoughts that have coalesced here, far from the action.

Big Deal! Jays trade Nestor Molina for Sergio Santos: This deal popped up just as we were about to joke about the lack of action, so it goes to show what we know.

The curious aspect of this deal is the fact that Santos is returning to the Jays after having been in the organization as the prospect thrown into the Troy Glaus deal. We remember subsequently seeing Santos as a SS-converted-to-3B with the Syracuse SkyChiefs, and thinking that while he had a great build, the finer skills (infield footwork and strikezone judgment) eluded him.

In his new role as a power reliever, we'll confess to having a twinge of jealousy having watched him evolve into a big nasty hurler who throws mid-to-high 90's with a nasty slider. So there is some satisfaction in repatriating him. We love those crazy strikeout per nine numbers (13.01!), though the high walk totals (4.12 per nine) might have a tougher time playing in the AL East. (Where umpires defer their decision on close pitches to the Red Sox and Yankees' batters. Bitter!)

The cost - 22 year-old Nestor Molina - is probably a little higher than we'd have liked, especially since we'd started to consider him as THE pitching prospect in the Jays' system. Still, Santos is signed to a very club-friendly deal (three years, $8.25 million with club options that could make it six years and $30 million), and we'd guess that in spite of an all-out delivery, his arm doesn't have that much wear and tear on it. Yet.

Mostly, though, this is the "proven closer" deal for which the casual fans clamoured. Are you happy?

And now, second base: The main observation that we'd had before the Santos news broke was how many potential second base names were being floated as possibilities for the Jays.

We'd mentioned the White Sox' Gordon Beckham as a possibility last week, and part of our subsequent reaction to the Santos deal was that it likely closed the door on more dealings with the Southsiders. However, intrepid Fan 590 radio reporter Mike Wilner tweeted that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos mentioned that other deals between the two teams are still being discussed.

Aside from that, the names of the Braves' Martin Prado and Angels' Alberto Callaspo have been mentioned as possibilities through the digital scuttlebutt. We've got a soft spot for both players - they often make their way onto our MLB The Show franchises - and both are cheap and controllable, which is something for which Anthopoulos has a sweet spot. Callaspo made $2 million last year, and has two more arbitration years remaining, while Prado is in the same situation and made $3.1 million. (All contract details come from Cot's Baseball Contracts. Much thanks and praise to them.)

Another aspect of their games that Prado and Callaspo share is that they are jacks of all trades in the field, though masters of none. In fact, both do quite poorly in UZR/150's assessment of their work up the middle, with Callaspo posting a -6.8 for his career and Prado even worse, at -8.4. (Callaspo had great numbers at third base, but given how antsy we feel about UZR in the first place, we're not certain whether if that is as a result of a flaw in the formula,for better or worse.)

The other name popping up was the Mets' 26 year-old Daniel Murphy, who posted a very respectable line of .362 OBP/.448 SLG/.809 OPS in 2011. On the other hand, it seems as though the Mets have tried to hide him all over the diamond, and might we remind you that they thought so highly of Murphy's second base word last year that they started the season with Brad Emaus as their everyday option?

All of this discussion is academic should Kelly Johnson accept arbitration by midnight tonight tomorrow. But suffice to say that even the decent options at second are flawed, and another year of Johnson might not be the worst chioce for the Jays.

Because we know you're obsessed, a thought on Fielder: We'd actually started to cave earlier this week, and started to make the argument for going to get Prince Fielder. For the right deal, we supposed, he might just be worth the risk. And with it possibly being a buyers market, couldn't the Jays manage to get him on a shorter (i.e. five-year) deal?

But where this falls apart in our mind is that we suspect that any deal that the Jays could make, the Brewers could and would match. We're finding it hard to imagine the Jays finding the minute point of distinction that would be within their means and their philosophy but above the Brewers' capacity.

And besides, the Cubs and Cardinals might both be looking for a big first base bat, and we suspect that both would go six years or more at top dollar for the big man.


Anonymous said...

Yep, alot of jays fans freaking out we gave up molina but you have to give up something to get something. Trading unproven for proven works for me.

Santos is still young and hopefully will only get better. I am tired of always hoarding prospects hoping they turn out, time to turn them into someone that can help us now!

Peter DeMarco said...

How can we eternally rebuild if we start giving up our prospect for proven talent?

Anonymous said...

Lol...exactly...everyone wants to trade for guys whether its hockey or baseball or whatever but don't want to give anything up.

We don't have a closer, now we do. We still have a half dozen great pitching prospects in the minors with or without molina.

And you know what I've never seen molina pitch, i have no idea how good he might be but I do know Santos is pretty good.

Jonathan Reimer said...

Balanced trade for both teams, meets each teams needs.

Jays gave up their 2nd best prospect – has TONNES of upside. They saw him as a closer, but was probably .5 – 1 season away from the MLB. His upside is probably Santos. Chicago gets a top flight prospect that helps them rebuild their system.

Jays get the closer they need, someone they are familiar with (was in their system as a SS prior). Farrell has said he wanted a K-heavy closer and was OK if command was not stunning. Santos is a strong closer, also had a great season in setup duty. Is cost controlled for up to six years. Gives the Jays a closer they need (basically what Molina would be in a year or two) while still cost controlled for 6 years.

Great trade for both teams.

Gil Fisher said...

Look! AA is "going for it"! He's made a big deal for SSPC (Sergio Santos, Proven Closer)!! More deals to come!!

Oh wait, look at all the long-term value in Santos' contract. Shit there's six years of value there. Molina's probably a reliever anyway. Oh well.

jerkstore said...

I think there are two potential conclusions to be drawn.

1) the jays don't think molina has the upside that some do.


2) the jays see themselves competing in the next 2 years. otherwise you just keep molina and let him become santos.

Drew said...

I used "intrepid reporter" early today. #sameguy

Gil Fisher said...

Six years of value in Santos' contract. Hmmm. If only I could think of a way to spend that value over the next six years....if only.....

Eric said...

Keith Law says Molina may only be the Jays 4th best pitching prospect, and may pan out to be a #4 starter in the bigs or a reliever. He's a control guy who pitched well in low minors. I think this was a good move.

Tao of Stieb said...


I'm getting us #SameGuy t-shirts.

(Don't tell me: You already have them ordered.)

The Ack said...

Tao - good thing I'm "retired", because I loved Grange's "Prince" article and have a hard time disagreeing with the premise.

Anonymous said...

"Mostly, though, this is the "proven closer" deal for which the casual fans clamoured. Are you happy?"

so wait, the 'hardcore' fans don't want talented, elite pitchers to close games?

does the hardcore set not get that this is MLB not PS3?

Anonymous said...

No, they don't get that this is MLB and not PS3. Mostly they don't see the reality that is Rogers owned BlueJays baseball.

They are willing to continue to buy into the hype of a team that "will contend" and look at every little move as vindication.

This move does nothing but keep the hype fuel burning. It shuts down talks of an elite closer, and it fits into the philosophy.

Here is the problem though, that they choose not to see. Now that the organization has made it abundantly clear that they will not spend more until revenue increases, we will not see a contender in a Jays uniform - ever. We will see what we have had for the past 15 years. A decent team, with a couple of very good players to be excited about, and then some shuffling around of different pieces to keep the hype fuel burning.

If anyone really thinks that this move makes the Jays contend, they are poisoned by the kool-aid.

If they believe that they are going to draw 10,000 more fans with the same win-lose ratio as they have had for the last 15 years, they are turning purple from the kool-aid.

If they think that this team can beat New York or Boston, then it proves one thing. Being a fan of a team is a lot like being religious. It requires a certain amount of faith. However, like religion, fans can lose their faith as they see their hopes dashed for a couple of decades. And those fans are not coming back for hype, they are only coming back when they see a real winner.

In short, this move is a good move for both clubs. Not a great one, but a good one. And it further proves that there is no real commitment from Rogers in building a true contender, we are no better off as fans now then we were when Interbrew owned the Jays