Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fluffy kitties and other pleasant thoughts

Our image consultant told us that we'll need to back off some of the sexism and nerdity, and offer ourselves out to new audiences as a softer, more inclusive and comforting blog.

And thus: Kitties! Look at how fluffy they are!

And now: The pleasantries.

Adam Dunn: Why Not Us?
Fox's Jean-Paul Morossy (I just Frenchified him! Ah! C'est tellement cute!) makes the case that the Jays might make sense as a landing place for Adam Dunn. In spite of whatever defenses we may have made for J.P. Ricciardi's anti-Dunn screed a few years back, we've loved the giant lug of a slugger ever since the first time we saw him step to the on-deck circle as a Louisville Bat back in the day. (Seriously, we were wondering where the fuck his blue ox was, he was so big.)

We'd love to see Dunn in a Jays uni, so long as he's at least willing to consider some at bats as a DH. (Which is no small caveat, we're led to believe.)

Jesse Crain is the Most Canadian Canadian in All of Canadian History of Canada's Canadians
Actually, he was born here by happenstance, and spent the majority of his life in the U.S.. (He's probably never tasted poutine! Or doesn't own a Tragically Hip CD! He has never seen the Air Farce, and he totally doesn't get any of their jokes!) Still, it's seemingly impossible for folks to talk about him and his potential as a potential acquisition without trotting out the fact that he was born in Toronto. Even the aforementioned Morosi can't help himself.

(To be fair, we could hardly hold ourself back from the "pseudo-Canadian" angle when we mentioned Crain as a potential closer for 2011 back in a mid-September Tweet Bag.)

Beyond any passport implications, Crain would make an intriguing acquisition. He pumped up his strikeout rate last year (to 8.21) and dropped his walks (3.57 per nine.) He might have been a touch lucky (his BABIP dropped 35 points to .270, which might have something to do with the new park...?), and there is a bit of concern that some of the success might be attributed to his fly ball rate increasing in the allegedly cavernous Target Field. One would imagine that a 44% fly ball rate might be a bit more of a problem in the Rogers Centre.

One last thought on Crain: You put his numbers up against Jason Frasor's, and the Sausage King pretty much comes out on top across the board. Which only helps to feed into our notion of a "Return of the Sausage King" campaign. (T-shirts, undoubtedly, to be sold at an online retailer near you soon.)

Get Out the Jumpsuit - It's Fat Elvis Time
So Lance Berkman kinda fell off a cliff last year, and will be 35 this season. (If you'd asked us before we looked it up, we would have sworn he was 31. Time flies.)

And we're certainly not interested in adding a fat man to the roster so that we can admire him for his former glories. Still, his .368 OBP is attractive, and his 2.1 WAR last year was better than all other returning Jays except for Bautista and Wells.

We wouldn't give him anything over $3 million on a one-year contract with options, but we wouldn't mind seeing what a healthy and possibly chastened Berkman could do for a year with his career hanging in the balance.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another sleepless night over Adam Lind

We tossed and turned last night.

Maybe it was the 1-2-3 combo of Boardwalk Empire/Dexter/The Walking Dead that left us feeling uneasy and frightened. Or maybe it was the rampant snacking throughout our TV marathon (Sour jubes! Pretzels! Giant sugary Rockets treats!) that left us in a state. In all likelihood, it had a lot to do with the missus rolling and poking me to try to get my snoring to a somewhat more tolerable level.

But in the middle of the darkness, we rolled over, opened our eyes and thought: "What if Adam Lind sucks this year?"

It's a question that you could ask of any player, really, but we spent a good part of the season figuring that Lind was on the cusp of breaking out of his funk. And occasionally, he'd fool us with a great at bat in a key situation, and we'd think "Hey! It's all gonna be all right. Pass the sour jubes!"

Maybe we should be more concerned about Aaron Hill, who turned into an old man about 47 seconds into last season. But we figure that the best case with Hill is that he was injured and comes back healthy, and the worst case is that he's ground down and this is now what he is, and you cut ties with him and go find yourself another middle infielder. (For some reason, this seems easy to us right now.)

But taking a quiet moment to think on the absolute lunacy of Adam Lind's splits versus lefties kinda crushes our spirits. It's hard to surmount. And it's hard to imagine it suddenly turning around to anything respectable.

Send in a lefty against Lind, and his walk rate drops in half (3.4% versus 7.1%), his strikeout rate nearly doubles (38% versus 21%). Suddenly he turns into a rookie ball scrub in way over his head. A .159 OBP, and a .182 SLG, which adds up to a .341 OPS, which leads us to only somewhat facetiously wonder why the Jays didn't just let Johnny Mac get the DH reps versus lefties.

(Versus lefties, McDonald posted a .743 OPS, and hit two homers. Which is the same number as Lind managed against lefties. His ISO number was .225, versus Lind's .066. So yeah, the PMoD is pretty much twice the offensive player that Lind is in those situations.)

The easy answer here, we suppose, is to just accept that Lind is a platoon guy who shouldn't see at bats against southpaws. But that sort of usage pattern is not why you extend the contract of a player like Lind, nor do look to make him a part of your long term plan. And you probably don't set forth on a project to integrate Lind and his happy feet into a regular role in your infield defense if the return on that investment is offensive numbers versus lefties that would make Yuniesky Betancourt blanche.

(Betancourt put up a .778 OPS versus LHPs last year. In case you weren't wondering.)

We're generally a pretty optimistic dude, and we don't like to be the harbinger of doom when talking about Toronto athletes, because that territory is very well-covered already. We don't feel the need to add to the cacophony of naysaying. But sometimes, when you really start to look at the negative evidence that you're sloughing off, it can yank the lollypops right out of your mouth and cloud over your sunny skies.

And it can make you wonder if this team can really put themselves over the top over the next few years with that sort of a hole in their roster.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A modest proposal - The Blue Jays in Montreal

The Jays have been positioned by some as "Canada's Team", if only by process of elimination. But watching this weekend's CFL tilt (well, 45 seconds of it) from a packed and loud Olympic Stadium got us thinking: Could the Blue Jays play one series per year Montreal? Could they bring back MLB baseball to La Belle Province? Could they make an event that would resonate, and expand the fan base beyond Toronto?

As the Expos exit from the market slips further back into memory, and the bitterness over the team's demise dissolves into something that is less angry and more wistful, it strikes us that there sits a passionate base of baseball fans in the Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City corridor who would (in our mind) show up for one three-game weekend series per year at the Big O. Maybe it sounds unlikely for all sorts of pragmatic reasons. But before you dismiss the notion out of hand, with the memories of empty seats in the cavernous and antiquated dome dominating your thought process, give us a second here to articulate what we'd envision.

We've heard the gnashing of teeth over the small crowds early on in the season, and it would seem to us that moving one weekend's worth of games to Montreal would create an event around an April series that might otherwise go mostly unnoticed outside the core set of baseball nerds. You'll create lots of anticipation beforehand: A full week of stories around the preparations; bumping an early season series from the dregs of the nightly sportscast into the top because of the novelty. You get to pull in players who had their time as both an Expo and Blue Jay (Al Oliver! Darren Fletcher! Err...David Segui?!), and take a sentimental journey back through the history of both franchises.

Moreover, it gives all Canadian baseball fans the opportunity to celebrate the lore and history of Nos amours. (Youppi!) And let's face it: There really wasn't any sort of rivalry between the Expos and Jays per se. Sure, there were some Pearson Cup games played and a few interleague series (Jeff Juden!), but for the most part, Jays fans would find themselves cheering for the Expos over in that other league without a hint of hesitation.

Most of all, it would bring baseball back to a city that deserves at least a few games to show that they were never as bad as some made them out to be, and that they can fill the park and make some noise. Even in those years where there seemed to be scant interest in the sport, the fans who showed up at the Big O were loud and proud, and we'd love to have that moment again.

And besides: Are you going to tell us that a weekend of baseball, smoked meat and general tomfoolery in Montreal doesn't sound incredibly awesome?

Monday, November 22, 2010

You have to get over John Buck

It's been a bit of a surprise to us how many people we've heard complaining about the Jays' decision to let John Buck take his talents to South Beach. (Of course, we don't generally listen to call in sports talk radio, and this weekend we caught up on a bunch of podcasts of the Jeff Blair Show. Which was a pretty fair immersion into this now foreign territory.)

If there are any of you who are somehow harbouring your crush on John Buck, and having a hard time letting go, let us make three simple points to you.

1. The contract that John Buck got is stupid.
Three years at $6 Million per annum for a catcher who had a pretty good year? There's no way the Jays should have gone anywhere near numbers like that. (We'd have offered two at $3M/year at the most.) If your argument for keeping Buck in any way hinges around the notion of the Jays getting him for less money or fewer years, you have to stop yourself right there and give yourself and "F" in Economics. Also, if the Jays went into next season with John Buck making more money than Hill ($5 M) or Lind ($5.15 M), we'd assume that this was the beginning of a series of sadly-comic self-destructive moves leading to a decade-long demise of the team's fortunes (i.e., The Gord Ash Plan).

2. John Buck is getting old and breaking down.
Buck equaled his career high in games played last year, after a couple of partial seasons due to injuries. But don't forget that the man squats behind the plate, and has spent more than 5600 innings taking foul tips into his body, and getting run over at the plate, and progressively wearing away at his knees. He's a 30 year-old catcher, and while we wish him well, we can't imagine that he gets through three years unscathed, nor does he equal the numbers that he put up last year.

3. John Buck was only kind of an All-Star.
"How do you just let an All-Star just walk?" You let him walk if he was the best of a shallow pool of AL catchers who were available after Victor Martinez became unavailable due to injury. Let's not make it out like he was Mike Piazza in his prime.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It won't be easy

Backed into a corner, I would tell you that I don't foresee Justin Upton, or Colby Rasmus, or Zack Greinke in a Blue Jays uniform next season. Deals involving premium young talent locked up with (mostly) reasonable contracts are the rarest of rare trades. And I say "backed into a corner", because with Anthopoulos & his recent comments concerning being unafraid of taking gambles, you just never know.

But here's the thing - in the unlikely event the Jays do pull off such a deal, I don't foresee myself immediately turning cartwheels in my (yes, my) basement at the acquisition of such game-changing talent. One, because I don't think I've ever actually turned a cartwheel, but two.... there will be game-changing talent going back.

It's fun to salivate over the prospect of Upton or a Rasmus patrolling the outfield for the Jays, but consider that DBacks and Cards fans are dreaming of Snider in the same scenario. Greinke would immediately (arguably?) become the Ace that contending clubs look to acquire, but Royals fans would, in turn, be pinning hopes of better days ahead on the right arm of Kyle Drabek. Because that's what it would take - talent doesn't come cheap. Forget about the prospect of packaging numerous middle of the road prospects for the potential superstar - quantity won't get it done. A potential superstar in return is the only way.

And we get attached to these players, don't we? We all think (hope?) Snider will, sooner rather than later, become the all-fields masher he's shown glimpses of & has always been projected to become. When Drabek became the centrepiece in return for Halladay, we all exclaimed he could never replace Doc, all the while dreaming that one day he would.

By no means am I implying that I hope the Jays stand pat. Anthopoulos undoubtedly has a targeted skill set for his offseason game plan, and will follow his mantra of rolling the dice as the only way to catch the division's big boys.

It just might be a little tough to swallow if he can actually pull it off.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Speedy thoughts on Rajai

The Jays acquisition of Rajai Davis is one of the more confounding moves in Alex Anthopoulos' time as GM.

It's confounding not so much because we don't understand the "why" of the move, because the acquisition of Major League calibre outfield depth was likely to occur with the departures of DeWayne Wise and possibly Fred Lewis. Adding a guy who could be a very serviceable starter if the need arose makes sense.

But what we don't quite understand is what we now have in Davis. We know that he can pile up stolen bases. (And, as Drew pointed out to us last night over a tasty beverage at our Jays Tweeters Algonquin Round Table, he can use that speed to go first-to-third or score from second). But is he really a leadoff hitter? With a .320 OBP? And a walk rate of 4.6%?

Is he a very good fielder, as his 2009 UZR/150 of +10 would attest? Or is he as lousy as the -10.2 that he posted in that same metric just one year later?

If everything plays out right, we could definitely see Rajai as an everyday guy who slides into each of the outfield slots, and posting an OPS near .800 and getting driven in often by the heart of the order.

Mind you, much of this could be moot within the next few weeks if Anthopoulos continues to find serviceable stray ballplayers here or there, or one big deal. So ask us what we think of the move after a couple of weeks. We'll have it all figured out by then.

Going the other way
The Jays let Trystan Magnuson (Canadian!) and Danny Farquhar go in exchange, which doesn't seem like that much to give up. Both showed some promise at Double-A, but they are getting long in the tooth (25 and 23) to be considered prospects, and their progression doesn't suggest guys who are ascending to be valuable bullpen arms in the near term. Not that they are a couple of bums, but we don't see this really impacting on any team other than the Fisher Cats next year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

His name is Dan Uggla...Do we want him?

Not to be THAT GUY (or to sound like him for a few moments), but Dan Uggla is a much better fantasy baseball player than a real baseball player.

(And now, we duck.)

There is little disputing that Uggla is a productive, middle of the order bat who puts up big numbers in a huge ballpark. The thought of him getting 81 games at the Rogers SkyDomey Centre makes our butt cheeks twitch. Would 40 homers be out of the question? Would he and José Bautista become modern day Bash Brothers? Would they push Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind further down the order where they probably belong in the first place? The sunshiney happy daydreams that we're having right now say: "INDUBITABLY!"

But what concerns us about Uggla is that we're not sure that there's a place on the diamond where you can hide him, and given the number of DHs that the Jays are carrying, that's a bit of a problem.

(There's also that minor case of Aubrey Huff Syndrome that Uggla has, where every second season is a bit of a down year...His is not a full-on breakout of the disease, but his OPS has see-sawed a bit over his short career: .818, .805, .874, .813, .877. Are we ready to give up a quality prospect for one season of .820 OPS?)

The notion floated out there already has him moving to third, as though it is a simple shift to move a mediocre second baseman (-22 career UZR, -4.5 career UZR/150) over to the hot corner. (And Uggla, from our remembrances, has problems with hands and feet as opposed to his arm, which would not look any better at third).

It's probably too early to be voting yay or nay on a deal that has yet to get beyond Buster Onley's BlackBerry. Still, we're hopeful that AA won't give up too much of the future for one potentially good season and two picks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Offseason update (already?)

Rather than ramble on with a long-winded introductory paragraph, pontificating deeply about this and that, all meant to fool you into thinking I have it all figured out.....I'm just not going to bother. Not that I'm better than that (I'm not), but I'm short on time and energy, friends. So let's just muse, shall we?.....

Our favorite hipster reliever - gone
We won't have Brian Tallet to kick around anymore, as the 5-year Blue Jay (really?!) refused his assignment to AAA Vegas and becomes a free agent. As sorry as one can feel for a guy paid a million bucks to toss a few innings of baseball every other night, I do feel a twinge for a player kicked around by the fanbase for posting a fairly brutal 2010 campaign.

It's been stated a few times but bears repeating - used properly, Tallet was once and still could have been a quality asset for a major league pitching staff, as his '06-'08 campaigns can attest. But somewhere along the line, certain of the Blue Jays braintrust determined that Tallet's best role was in the rotation as an "innings-eater" (barf), or at the very least, as a multi-inning longman out of the bullpen.

Evidently, it took 2 full seasons of misusing the dude before anyone could figure out that formula does not compute. And now Tallet faces an uphill battle to land a major league job. Didn't have to end this way, but here we are.

E5 - gone
Slightly less surprising (but still surprising nonetheless), Edwin Encarnacion finds himself among the ranks of former Blue Jays, gone to Oakland on a waiver claim.

In reality, being sent to Vegas mid-season was all the evidence he & we really needed as proof that he was never viewed as a long-term fit at 3rd base for the Jays, but his occasional hot streaks and five homer weekends provided a flicker of hope that he might be. In the end, Encarancion - he of the criminally underused marketing ploy - finds himself swinging for the fences in Oakland (good luck), for now.

Oh yeah - DeWayne Wise - also gone
Kind of figured Wise had a shot at sticking around as a 4th/5th outfielder-type, but like Tallet, he was uninterested in a AAA assignment and has elected free agency. Maybe he comes back on a minor league deal. Either way.

Jays are reportedly interested in Greinke, Rasmus, Dunn, Berkman, Huff......
Again, not proclaiming original thought here, but again, bears repeating..... the Jays will likely be tied to most every player on the market - trade or free agent - to varying degrees, as intrepid GM Alex Anthopoulos kicks every tire on the lot on the off chance there could be a "fit". And why wouldn't he?

If Dayton Moore proclaims that he's trading Zack Greinke, why wouldn't Anthopoulos pick up the phone? Maybe Moore has a Brett Cecil and JP Arencibia obsession? Not that such an offer would even result in a callback, but if there's one thing we've learned, it's that AA leaves no stone unturned. And I love that about the guy.

Richard Griffin brings you John Farrell
Let me tell you something about Rich Griffin - when he's not intent on crucifying JP Ricciardi for all sins real and imagined, he's a hell of a baseball writer. This Q&A with the new skip reveals a little more about Farrell and the way he thinks about baseball. The more I see (er, read), the more I like.

I mean....it's mid-November and I already cannot fucking wait for next season. The Winter Meetings just might be the death of me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Bits and Bytes

A handful of zeroes and ones before we call it a weekend.

José Bautista's trophy case is fuller
It shouldn't be a surprise that José Bautista added a Silver Slugger to his Hank Aaron Award for his unbelievable 2010 rakefest. What is a little unbelievable is the way that the announcement was pushed well past afternoon deadlines yesterday. It's as though someone has a grudge against awesome hitting.

Because of the way that Bautista has gleaned these awards here and there over a period of weeks, it would be nice for the organization to bring him back to Toronto to have a little dog and pony show for the fans and media to remind them of how JoBau is being celebrated across the baseball world. (You do this as season-ticket renewals are arriving in people's mailboxes, and bingo bango - you gots yourself some communications and outreach strategery right there. Or at least some tactics. We trust that Jay Stenhouse has the strategy down pat.)

Luis Rivera is moving on up
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that the Jays have essentially created a new spot on the coaching staff for former Fisher Cats manager Luis Rivera. And considering that our choices for the managerial job a few months back were Rivera and Butterfield, we can certainly sign off on the highly-touted Rivera as the Latin King amongst the coaches.

Greinke stuff
Of course the Jays have asked about Zack Greinke (and dreamy dreamboat Alex Gordon). As will most everyone else. But whenever you hear that a player has a list of teams to whom he cannot be traded, we pretty much assume that the Jays and Expos are on that list. (Yes, the Expos. Even now.)

Greinke's HR rate went up this year (0.43 to 0.74), which spooks us out a little bit when considering him as your ace. Besides, we just assume that Brandon Morrow is going to be better than Greinke this year anyhow.

Sure, you kids are all focused on the potential draft picks. But with the news that the Red Sox are sniffing around John Buck (who'll pull the shit out of shit in that little ballpark), we would be completely amenable to the Jays hanging onto Miguel Olivo for next season. (And yeah, we're kinda obsessed with him, we'll confess. Still, we like to combo of offense and defense that he brings, and at the right price, he could be an excellent complement to JPA.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pushing back on nostalgia, and rounding out the coaching staff

A couple of years ago, the news that one of the Jays' old-timey heroes was coming back into the fold as a coach might have had us dancing on one leg and singing choruses of "goody-goody-gumdrops". But yesterday's announcement of former Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen's return to the fold full time as the Jays' new bullpen coach has elicited much less from us.

Not that we're not happy to see him back, because there are few former Jays on whom we look more kindly than Hentgen. (You wanna think Shaun Marcum is a bulldog? We once saw Pat Hentgen dive headfirst to beat a runner on a play at first. That's nails.) Plus, we've appreciated that Hentgen has shown a willingness in the past to serve in whatever role the Jays' brass asked of him, rather than just allowing himself to be paraded before the press at Spring Training.

Still, we're showing a bit of restraint on the announcement because:

a) We've seen a long list of other celebrated former Jays make their way onto the coaching roster (Lloyd Moseby, Ernie Whitt, Garth Iorg, Buck Martinez), and none of them blew our minds in terms of their contributions; and,

b) We really don't much have much of a sense of what the bullpen coach does, and before Pappy Walton's ascension to the title of pitching coach, we might not have given more than a moment's thought to the role.

Neverthless, we're eager to at least pay a little more mind to Hentgen, and watch his evolution in the coming years. Might he become a future pitching coach? Or will he be the Chief of Tomfoolery in the bullpen, teaching the youngsters how to administer hotfoots and get phone numbers from the ladies in section 136?

The rest of the staff
If you're looking for a theme to just about everything we're writing lately, it's something like "I don't know what I don't know, but I know that I don't know...so...I dunno." So don't expect much in the way of declarations one way or another on the rest of the Jays staff.

But we can say that we're optimistic about the Jays bringing in Don Wakamatsu, given that some folks have told us that he's tactically strong and gets a bum rap because of how lousy his team was last year. Also, we're happy to see Dwayne Murphy return as the Professor of Power/Hitting Coach, given that it is difficult to quibble with last year's results. Add him to Pappy and Butter, and you've got a good core that will provide some continuity for the players.

The new first base coach, Torey Lovullo, is apparently an old pal of Farrell's, and was rumoured to be coming in as the new bench coach. We're actually relieved that Lovullo, a long time minor league manager, and the skip in Pawtucket this past season, didn't get the nod as Farrell's 2-I-C just yet. It's nice to have a familiar face on the staff for Farrell, and someone who he can trust implicitly...but we're not sure how that sort of (sorry) cronyism would have played with the players and a staff full of guys who were somewhat on the outside of The Manager's crew of old chums.

The sad note here is that Omar Malave, the Jays' first base coach this year, is not on the staff at this point. A lifer in the Jays' organization in a way that few others can claim, we're hoping that the Jays find a role for the long-time minor league manager, especially given the strong Latin contingent coming to the fore, and the lack of a Hispanic voice on the coaching staff for next year.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lessons learned from Los Gigantes

It's been a week now, but we're just starting to shake out the cobwebs from our otherwise addled brain and make heads and/or tails of San Francisco's World Series win. Without wanting to suggest that the Giants have blazed the only path to success, we thought that there are a few lessons that can be drawn from how they made their allegedly unlikely run that might be worth remembering as we kvetch and moan about the Jays in the coming years. (All standard caveats about the distinction of playing in the AL East apply.)

It's all about pitching, stupid.
People love to fictitiously trade an arm for a bat. Multiple arms, even, for one big middle of the lineup guy. But if there is one thing that we can learn from the Giants' rather tidy disposal of two of baseball's most potent offenses, it's that good pitching will win out in the end. (So don't go trading Tim Lincecum for Alex Rios, or anything silly like that.1)

Whatever happens to the mish-mosh of other players around them, Lincecum/Cain/Bumgarner/Sanchez look like they can keep this team in contention for years to come. And if we're trying to apply this lesson to our own team, let's just say that we're going to pull back on the Marcum or Drabek deals for some .840 OPSing first baseman. For now, anyways.

Slaughter your sacred cows
The Giants left their highest paid player off the playoff roster; they kept a big late season acquisition of the roster for understandable reasons; they left a guy making $13.6 Million on the bench, as though he were some scrappy super sub; their big offseason acquistion bare sniffed the sea air in the Bay; and they benched a player in the middle of the playoffs who is supposed to be a cornerstone of the franchise's future success.

Maybe a couple of years with The Manager has us subconciously buying into the orthodoxy, but we found the way the Bruce Bochy managed his roster to be pretty ballsy throughout the playoffs. And it reminds us that the notion that the Jays "have to" play Lind or Hill or Wells everyday because they've already commited financially to do so is a bit of a false argument that we trick ourselves into.

You can find a lot of help out there for not much
The Giants got Cody Ross (maybe their best offensive player through the postseason) for nothing. They also pulled Pat Burrell off the reclamation heap, and signed Aubrey Huff for a below market contract. If you need to find pieces to supplement the team's core, you can find guys who are low-risk to come in and fill in.

Deeper depth with take you deep
All those extra bodies that the Giants brought in this year resulted in a bench packed with guys who many would consider everyday players, and a lot of additional arms in the bullpen. We give credit to Bochy for using his resources well, but he also had a lot to work with.

Depth has generally been a strength in recent years for the Jays, but we're just reminding ourselves not to think that we can empty the bench of any remaining talent in order to package up for some dreamboat acquisition, or to make room for the prospect of the week.

Closers are funny, so don't take them so seriously
Take Kevin Gregg: Add one or two miles per hour on the fastball, and trade the goggles for a silly mohawk and a sillier beard, and you've pretty much got postseason hero Brian Wilson. Wilson's modus operandi was pretty much the same as Gregg's throughout the season: Throw down and off the plate, and hope that you gets calls or swings. For Gregg, it resulted in a few walk-a-thons in tight spots, and more than his share of blown saves.

But given that Mariano Rivera isn't walking through that door, the Jays could do much worse than going back to Gregg for another year, right?


So that's what we've taken away from this...and you? And feel free to tell us how wrong we are.

1. That was never going to happen. We probably shouldn't even bring it up. It only encourages a completely false line of argument. But if you feel compelled, please, go ahead and tell us why J.P. Ricciardi was deficient for not making this trade happen, even though Brian Sabean was never THAT dumb.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Here we go...

(...and before we begin, can we just agree once and for all that the team should revert back to the old logo above? Who would be against this? Look at that thing! It's freaking majestic!)

If the hiring of John Farrell to be The Manager charged with taking this Blue Jays club to the next level (ahem...playoffs!) signified the start of the offseason, Thursday's "option deadline" provided Hotstove fans with the first transaction of the winter...fall...whatever. And while the trade for & subsequent declining of Miguel Olivo's 2011 option hasn't exactly flown under the radar with praise for the move abundant, it's significance cannot be overstated:

These aren't your father's Blue Jays...er, your older brother's Blue Jays....er, you know what I mean.

In a move stunningly brilliant in it's simplicity, Alex Anthopoulos essentially guaranteed his club another supplemental draft pick in the 2011 amateur draft and created more legitimate options at the catching position. The ramifications of the transaction are wide, considering:

* under the supposition that the Jays really are interested (to whatever degree) in re-signing John Buck, when (not if) he declines arbitration - the team is in a win-win position: he signs elsewhere netting a supp pick, or he remains with the team - presumably on their terms given the added leverage.

* if Buck re-signs, Olivo, who we will logically presume will also decline arb in favour of searching out a multi-year deal (at 32, taking a one-year arb offer presents too much risk for The Player) is sure to sign elsewhere, preserving the supplemental pick "forfeited" in bringing back the incumbent, Buck.

* if Buck walks - which I believe he will - the Jays happily scoop the pick and have his potential (one year) replacement in waiting with Olivo, who might not find a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere as he sets up his free agency year with an offer constructed similar to the one Buck agreed to last winter.

Of course, this is all under the assumption that the Jays aren't comfortable going to spring training with JP Arencibia all but handed the starting job. And to be honest, it just doesn't feel like that's the direction the club wants to go. Perhaps it's the memory of JPA collecting dust on Cito's bench that's influencing my opinion here, but I can't shake the feeling that the club isn't sold. Having said that.... Anthopoulos has very openly stated there's nothing left for Arencibia to prove in the minor leagues, meaning....

* he will get consistent at-bats with the Blue Jays in 2011, or

* he will be traded.

Friends, all of the above pontification comes from one minor move. But that's the beauty of the current Jays regime, isn't it? Everything that's done is transacted with an eye towards the next move, or maybe the one after that. Proactive vs Reactive. It's absolutely the way the club needs to be run and is finally being run.

Moving past the ramifications for the 2011 season, the Olivo transaction is hugely symbolic of the Jays' new value system - investing & building through the draft. And once again - pardon me for repeating - it's absolutely the way the club needs to be run. It's no longer about setting up for a season where the Yankees and Red Sox look poised to fall back - though that will always be a consideration - the organization's new & current philosophy is to build a club that is consistently strong and deep enough to challenge on any given year.

It's being Tampa Bay with enough payroll dollars promised by ownership to maintain. While that component remains to be seen, I choose not to be a complete fucking pessimist about it. Toronto will never compete with the Yanks and Sox on payroll dollars, but every voice that matters - from Nadir Mohamed to Handsome Tony Viner to Paul Beeston to Alex Anthopoulos to John Farrell - has relayed the same message: when it's time, the dollars will be there.

No more waiting for a break. Given the strength of the division (and depth of pocket), the Jays will instead look to make their own breaks. Is there a lot of work to be done? Of course. But there's real hope and optimism for the future of the franchise that extends well beyond a few Blue Jay blogs, and that's more than could have been said in many a November past.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rosterbatory ramblings: Bring on the hot stove!

(Recently, we've been apologizing left and right for our prolonged absences, so we won't even bother to bore you with the apologia for our neglect of you, our valued blog readers. Let's just get on with it, and pretend like daddy still lives at home, and doesn't have to drop you off at mom's at 7 PM on Sunday.)

When we last were around to jibber-jabber about the news of the day, it was all about our joy over seeing Los Gigantes tear up the postseason. And now that they have run the table, walked away with the big prize, it's time to start the rosterbation and start digging into the offseason.


(Truth be told, we probably glom onto the hot stove detritus and ramblings every year as a manner of maintaining some semblance of sanity whilst waiting for the next season to approach. It's a long cold winter, and given that our capacity to make it out to Fall and Winter League games isn't all that great, we'll have to make due with making up make-believe opening day rosters on spare scraps of paper to keep our baseball loving hearts warm and toasty.)

What will the Jays Offseason Look Like?
There's some conventional wisdom that the Jays won't do much this offseason, and that with most of their lineup and rotation in place, the personnel moves will be minimal.

Of course, this all depends on your definition of "much" when it comes to the offseason. In previous years, the Jays were said to have done little (and criticized for it). And yet, they were bringing in the likes of Scott Downs (Lefty ganesh! Compensatory picks!), Marco Scutaro (Big year! Compensatory picks!) and John Buck (holy friggin' compensatory picks!).

Sure, in the short term, that's not going to stop a dumbass like James Deacon from complaining about the lack of major league signings (what...Kevin Millar's not enough for you?), but often times, it's the little moves that are most impactful in the end.

So what do we expect? A couple of smaller moves to fill out the bullpen and replace the departing late inning guys. (We're anticipating that Gregg, Frasor and Downs will all be gone, so your bullpen "ace" is now Shawn Camp. Enjoy.)

Also, we wouldn't be surprised to see one "big-ish" move, where Alex Anthopoulos brings in at bat or a mid-to-top-rotation guy at the expense of a prospect or two. (He's said as much. Sorta. We're probably reading in to that.)

Who's our off-season mancrush?
Aubrey Huff. We can't remember the last time we were that excited to see a bunt. We're not even sure if we agreed with the strategy (we were exceedingly drunk and schmoozingly distracted in the moment that it occurred), but if Aubrey Huff can make us excited by small ball, then we want to see him mash it up as a Blue Jay.

And you cannot talk us out of this.