You may disagree for your own reasons, but we happen to think that we've been a pretty good boy all year long. As such, we feel well within our rights to make our wish list for theWinter Solstice Baseball Festival of Signings and Meetings a long one this year. So with the meetings starting this weekend, here are a few of the little goodies that we'd like to find in our stirrup socks, currently hung by the mantle with such care.
(And by the way, did you realize that the original Santa Claus was Greek, just like our beloved GM? Nikolaos of Myra. You can look it up.)
As we are avoiding a discussion of some of the larger free agents - quite literally larger! - we'll confess that some of the names here come off more as though we were spitballing over late round picks in our forthcoming rotisserie draft. Still, with so many of the starting slots on the roster mostly occupied, the name of the game remains finding under-appreciated assets and getting maximum return for them.
This list is in no way intended to be predictive of what will happen, but merely a few of our humble requests.
Trade for Gordon Beckham - This is probably a reiteration of last year's "trade for Alex Gordon" request, but the rationale remains the same: Beckham is reaching the bottom of his value, with declining returns over the past few seasons. It's hard to parse through his stats and find the upside, but on the other hand, he's still just 25, and his worst output an OBP of .298. He'd be a 10-15 homer guy who could play the field well and as a number 8 or 9 hitter in the Jays' lineup, there would be little pressure on him to live up to any "top prospect" reputation. We'd give up two sacks of magic beans for him.
Trade for Howard Kendrick - We've always had a soft spot for Kendrick, and as he enters his final season in his current contract with the Angelenos, we wonder if the Jays may be able to pry him loose for something in the range of two and a half sacks of magic beans. He emerged last year as a bit more of a power threat (18 dingers), and UZR loved him as a second baseman this year (19.7, after a -7.3 the year before). Second base is pretty thin, and his output would rank him in the top third for the next few years. Can also play first and left field in a pinch.
Trade for Andrew Bailey - There's something that we don't trust about pitchers in Oakland, given the number of times they are saved by foul balls that don't make it to the stands. (Argue of you must, but we're absolutely convinced that this shaves a full run off their ERAs.) Nevertheless, Bailey still strikes out close to a batter per inning, keeps his walks down and slings it in the mid-90's. If the Jays need to rebuild their bullpen, going with a 27 year-old option might make more sense than an aged "proven" closer.
Trade for Huston Street - For some reason, we were convinced that Street was an old geezer, perhaps because he's been around so long. But when the season starts, he'll only be 28 - if you can believe his Texas birth certificate - though his price will likely be higher than Bailey (four satchels of pixie dust?) Street's numbers stand up pretty well 8.49 K/9, 1.39 BB/9 last year, throwing a fastball with an average velocity of 90.1 MPH, which is about on par with the rest of his career. And he's managed to do well for himself in Coors Field, for whatever that's worth.
Sign Joel Zumaya - Zumaya's 2010 was vaguely disastrous, when he lost all control of his pitches and began walking 6.39 batters per nine. But the 27 year-old came back to respectability last year with a line of 7.98 strikeouts, 2.58 walks and 0.23 homers per nine. As a power arm (his fastball still averages 99.3 MPH), Zumaya would be a decent pick up, provided the market doesn't push him into the three-year contract territory.
Sign Relievers to One-Year Deals - David Aardsma (29) can still hit the mid 90's, and might not merit a two-year deal. Mike Gonzalez (34) held lefties to a .574 OPS last year, though he is repped by Scott Boras and the Yankees are apparently interested. LaTroy Hawkins (37) isn't the worst idea we could think of. Chad Qualls might be worth a cheap and short deal as well. Really, they could just walk the streets of Dallas and look for someone who wears their pants better than Shawn Camp.
Sign a Backup Catcher- Chris Snyder seems to be the preferred option from what we've seen around the other Jays blogs, and his career .333 OBP is probably worth a year-plus-option offer, supposing the Jays want to go that far. Otherwise, Kelly Shoppach looked like one of the cast of extras from The Walking Dead last year, though without all the walking. Ivan Rodriguez hasn't really had a good season at the plate since 2004, but as a one-year option to step in be a catch-and-throw guy, we wouldn't mind him as the short-term solution.
So you see: We're not asking for much. No big blowout signings and no trades to empty the system of our lottery tickets for the next three years. Just a few parts here and there, just to fill the team out for the first few months of the year.
Now feel free to launch your litany of tirades over our lack of interest in the shiniest of the holiday toys. We understand their appeal, but we're simple folk around here.