Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gambling on José Bautista

We're not sure that we qualify as charter members of the Bautista Appreciation Society, but we've looked pretty kindly on him since he was acquired for Robinson Diaz almost two years ago.

Our thought on him at the time was that he was a good player with positional flexibility who could, in a pinch, play every day and provide you with enough offense to get by. He was John McDonald with more pop, or some variation on Marco Scutaro. Certainly, something better than Hector Luna.

At this point, it's hard to even attempt to rationalize what that the Jays have in JoBau, especially after a night of making Orioles pitchers' heads snap back. But considering what the Jays gave up to get him (a guy who is now the backup catcher in Toledo rocking a .592 OPS), the Jays are pretty much playing with the house's money at this point with JoBau.

If they let him stick around and go through the arbitration process and he suddenly turns into a pumpkin (as Keith Law insinuated he would on last night's Prime Time Sports), then the Jays are out some salary, but not much more.

If the Jays were to take Law's advice and move Bautista before the deadline and before what KLaw considers his inevitable downturn, it's possible that the Jays could get a couple of prospects who might be in the Top 10 of someone's system, and who might be amongst the five-of-ten to make it to the bigs, and might be one of the two who stick, and who might be the one who is a productive, everyday player.

Either way, there are an awful lot of "mights" in those equations, aren't there?

Our thought remains that the Jays should let this season and the first half of the next play out, and see what they have in JoBau at that point. He might not need to be this type of monster for the rest of his career with the Jays to have value. If he is a late bloomer who could offer 25 homers, an OPS over .850 and a great outfield arm, then maybe you see this through. If he regresses much further back, then so be it. Maybe the team didn't sell the asset at the top of its value, but really, how many do?

We've been bothered lately with the notion that Bautista fits into a category with past Jays 30+ homer flashes, like Ed Sprague, Tony Batista and Brad Fullmer. But if you keep yourself from overestimating the value of the prospects that you're going to get back for him, maybe you can be comfortable walking away from the table no better or worse then when you sat down.

José Bautista Fact - He's better than Matt Wieters
Going back to Keith Law (because I seem to love to pick apart his arguments these days): He said last year that "Sliced bread is actually the best thing since Matt Wieters."

Well, here's a gentleman's wager for KLaw: We'd be willing to bet that - in spite of the precipitous downturn that is anticipated any moment now because of his age - José Bautista finishes up his career with more home runs than Matt Wieters.

(And what are the chances that we're still blogging when either of those guys finish their career? Cripes...We'll be damn near retired by then!)


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Love the analogies. You're right: the Jays are totally playing with house money right now. J.P. Ricciardi doesn't get enough props for this trade. At the same time, I feel sad for Pittsburgh. Poor bastards.

Usually when I sit down to play blackjack, I'm quickly down a couple of hundred bucks. I then spend the rest of the night trying to get back to zero. It becomes the goal. I'm all about leaving the table no better or worse than when I sat down. Which means: BAS for life.

Drew GROF said...

Blackjack makes for an interesting analogy.

When I play, I bet progressively. I bet the minimum to start (say $10). If I win, I up my bet to 15. If I win again, I go to 20. I keep building until I lose. Then I go right back to the minimum. That way, you maximize gains (and hot streaks!) while minimizing loses and rough patches.

I feel the Jays need to build their team in a similar fashion. They don't have the roll to just shove $500 into the middle and shrug and smile if they lose. Gotta build.


sarah said...

Whoa. I totally forgot about Hector Luna.

I am a terrible gambler (seriously, easiest money you'll ever win right here), but I suspect that were I not I would still agree with your analogy. Even if what it really boils down to for me right now is "Bautista is fun! I like watching him!"

Ian Hunter said...

I have never played blackjack in my life as I'm afraid I'll get sucked into the perils of gambling. So I opt for the 25 cent slots.

Seriously though, hang onto Jose Bautista and see what happens in the offseason. Maybe another team approaches AA at the winter meetings and they strike a deal. Anything can happen.

Tao of Stieb said...

Shit. After reading Drew's comment, I realize that I'm not nearly a good enough gambler to make these sorts of gambling analogies.

My nights of gambling are usually along the line of:

"I'm in Gatineau, I dropped 20 bucks into a machine, it went bleep-bloop-ding for a while, and I walked away with empty pockets and a smile on my face. Also, more than 70% of people here need a cane, walker or crutches to move their old bones around."

(BTW: Is that really you Drew? Or has an impostor stolen your Ghostrunner name?)

Peter DeMarco said...

For some reason I almost prefer to lose money at the black jack table than break even. I feel like if I walk away even I didn't take any risks, and it was a bit of a wasted night.

Maybe that is why I am so pro a Bautista trade because if the trade deadline comes and goes without one, we are left with exactly what we had, which was not good enough, however if we take a risk there is a chance that we will be in a better position.

Darren Priest said...

Can't move him; we need him for the stretch run.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I've seen Drew's method in action. I've done it, but never consistently. I'm too big of a tool. You have to follow the rules. He's right, though. It's the best way to capitalize on the hot streaks, which is the only way to make money in BlackJack. Unless you're counting, but that's a whole other ball game.

Ian, let's go to the casino, bro!!!1

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Priesty just won. A tip of the cap, mate.


Ty said...

because if the trade deadline comes and goes without one, we are left with exactly what we had, which was not good enough,

I definitely don't agree with that assessment. The Jays won't make the playoffs this year but it sure as shootin' won't be because Bautista wasn't good enough.

Peter DeMarco said...

I wasn't trying to suggest that Bautista was the reason the Jays didn't make the playoffs, just that this team status quo is not good enough, therefore with change brings optimism.

Drew GROF said...

It is Drew, using another email address. I'm dumb enough to use two gmail address for my blogging biznass.

That said, I can't play blackjack anymore. Ever since I started playing poker for real, I feel like a dope sitting there playing against the house. Spoiler alert: they always win.

That said, playing a sound, by-the-book strategy in blackjack gives you the best odds at any casino game. Still a losing proposition, but you've got a fighting chance.


Drew GROF said...

Also: last time I played blackjack I was blind drunk at the Trop in Vegas. I got thrown out for calling a guy in a Red Sox hat a cunt over and over.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

We know change is on the way, though. Travis Snider's got to play RF next season. Overbay's gone. Nobody wants Edwin back. JoBau can play 3B, and can even fill in at 1B, if Wallace isn't ready, or if Lind can't make the move. Not only can Bautista mash, but he's also versatile as fuck. As much as I love that gun he's toting, he's my 3B in 2011.

Peter DeMarco said...

Drew, I went through the exact same transformation as you when it came to Poker vs. Black Jack.

Also, the only problem with the black jack capping theory is that it is only effective if you go on streaks, otherwise you will lose money even if you win the same number of hands that you lose.

The Ack said...

"Also: last time I played blackjack I was blind drunk at the Trop in Vegas. I got thrown out for calling a guy in a Red Sox hat a cunt over and over."

Can we be friends?

Dan said...

Roulette is where it's at! Came out with $400 on the $2.50 min. bet table after about 2 hours at the casino in Gatineau.

As far as trading JoBau, I think the Jays should keep him and see what he does next season. He can play third and Snider would get ample playing time in the outfield. Even if he gets $5-7 million in arbitration, I don't think that would be that bad.

You have to wonder, is anyone really going to give up a two or three top prospects for a guy who's having a breakout year at his age?

Peter DeMarco said...

I think we probably all agree that if the Jays can't get a decent return in a trade for Bautista the best option is to keep him. The question is if there is a good deal on the table, do you make it?

I personally would take it knowing that there is no guarantee that Bautista sticks around after next season and 2012 might be the year this team starts to put it all together.

Tao of Stieb said...

I guess part of the question is this: If the Jays hold onto to him for 2011, and then move him before the deadline next July, how far does the return drop? From two mid-range prospects to one?

Somehow, I feel like I take that chance.

Then again, I'm the guy who says that the Jays should look to be competitive every year, because you never know when 91 wins is going to be good enough to win the AL East.

Peter DeMarco said...

That would totally depend on what Bautista does between now and then. If he regresses to pre-Jays production, I would say his value drops off the map.

I think the goal is maintain a competitive level once a high level is achieved, however if you try to do that to early, you get what the Jays have been doing every year over the past decade.

Ty said...

Found this, can't believe it's not discussed more re: Bautista's legitimacy:

He was a Rule 5 pick who jumped to the MLB directly from HIGH A BALL. That's insane, and could be a huge reason why he's not finding his stroke until later in his career.

Darren Priest said...

Ugh, all this talk of 2012. Are you even watching the games, Peter?

It's not even August and we're not that far out of meaningful games. In 2012, we could be extinct. I don't give a fuck about 2012 or 1994 - 2009. Let's talk about now.

Ah, I realize I've come to the wrong place for that.

Ty said...

Darren, I don't think it's fair to completely write off the future but I think you're right on in some respects -- heck, remember back in 2008 when we were talking about building for 2010? This was supposed to be the year when all the pieces came together, and then they didn't, and nobody talks about it anymore.

Honestly, if they hold onto Bautista for next year, I don't think it's a HUGE stretch to say that this team could actually be a serious contender as soon as 2011. And in the meantime, they're still ridiculously fun to watch in 2010.

Peter DeMarco said...

I'm just trying to be realistic, the Jays could have Arencibia, Wallace and Drabek as regulars next year, and with this still really young pitching staff there will continue to be growing pains next year. To expect a team with this many inexperienced players to compete with Tampa, NY and Boston next season is a bit premature in my opinion.

With or without Bautista.

Leaker19 said...

I'm with Priest, a little too much focus on the future. All we have is right now. I understand about having a plan and maybe some focus on a glorious, not too distant horizon, but after a while that becomes nothing but a shell game. I was forced to watch the Baltimore feed last night and that wanker Gary Thorne. He said (paraphrase), all of MLB is glad the Jays are eliminated from the playoffs because of how many home runs the team hits. OK, maybe I'm a cockeyed optimist but, 10 games out of the WC in July doesn't necessarily scream elimination. It's not great, but it ain't the Orioles. Boston is five games out, are they half eliminated? Get it to single digits by August 1 and maybe anything can happen. This is quixotic, I know, but almost two decades of futility can eat at a man and I ain't getting any younger. I wish AA the best. These can't be easy decisions.

Darren Priest said...

I understand, Peter, I'm just a little less willing to keep moving the timetable. Rogers is, to my knowledge, easily the wealthiest MLB owner and they have synergy that would make most teams green with envy. Yet, somehow they have managed to convince the faithful that they need a few more years before they can contend. I've been drinking the kool-aid for a long time now and, at the risk of horribly mixing my metaphors, those shadows on the cave wall are not doing it for me anymore.

10 games out of the WC in July is, to me, not when the Blue Jays should be dumping guys for prospects. I want them to load up. They can afford it and we deserve it. I realize it won't happen, but that's where I stand at the moment.

Still think your kid is super cute.

Leaker19 said...

All this trade him/keep him stuff is all over everywhere. I have some questions.

Of all the teams 5 games or less out of a playoff spot, who most needs a corner OF/3B with some pop? What do they have the Jays would want back? Dance or don't dance, but what do the dance partners look like? Anybody have any rational thoughts on this?

plain_g said...

load up! tomorrow the banks collapse, load up now!

Jays81 said...

good piece...

I just read another great piece of keeping Bautista:

Tough call?

Darren Priest said...

The banks in the US already collapsed, plain_g. We woke up to a brand new day of the Yankees dominating.

Oh well. Better luck next time.

Steve G. said...

I don't really think it's fair to rip KLaw for a comment he made a year ago about Wieters, when pretty much EVERY scout and general manager and columnist asked about the kid said he was going to run apeshit over the league. It would be like killing a guy for saying Oden over Durant, when the only guy advocating the opposite was Bill Simmons.

As far as the Jays go and contention this year, they'd have to vault past two teams in their own division to do so, and their record against the non-Orioles of the division is pretty poor. I don't see why fans should be optimistic about this year. Next year though, they could be a darkhorse playoff contender, assuming that Jose doesn't turn back into a pumpkin.

As far as trading him this year, I think it would matter entirely on the prospect you'd get back. If it's a genuine blue chip guy, like Domenic Brown or some other "I can't believe they're doing this" prospect, then sure, deal him. However, he's surpassed his past performance to such a degree that I don't think the Jays should deal him for a couple of B-prospects.

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