Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Roundup

Regardless on where you stand on the 2008 Jays, concede this: there is nothing cooler than a commando raid deep into enemy territory. Not to ruin the story for you, but the Colombian army just pulled off what was probably the most brazen, ambitious special forces operation since Israeli forces freed 100 hostages held by pro-Palestinian terrorists at Entebbe airport in Uganda back in 1976. Truly breathtaking stuff.

Oh, baseball?

That giant sucking sound you hear is the aftermath of another Jays loss, this time 4-2. That's a series victory for the Mariners, who are allegedly the worst team in baseball. I stuck with this one until the 8th but chose to turn away for the inevitable.

Lemons out of lemonade: Adam Lind socks another dinger with his folks in attendance.

Is there anyone out there who thinks that everything that isn't bolted to the floor shouldn't be traded at some point this month?

Moveable parts:

AJ Burnett: (Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Rays, Tigers, Braves, and Cubs?)

You all know why, it's inevitable that he's opting out at the end of the year. Does it make more sense to move him now for a more known commodity or HOPE that he stays healthy the rest of the way and winds up the year as a class A free agent? No, no it doesn't. Now, that latter scenario, both elements of it, are no sure thing. Even if he does finish up strong enough to get A status, the 2009 draft class is expected to be a weak one, so the pair of late first round/supplemental round picks you'd get by letting him walk aren't as appealing as one might otherwise think.

He could go anywhere really. There are about a half dozen clubs that should have interest once the first domino (CC Sabathia?) falls. Bob Elliot says Burnett's being actively shopped and the club is looking for a shortstop in return. Stay tuned.

Rod Barajas or Gregg Zaun: (probably depends on injuries, but interest from the Red Sox, Brewers, Yankees, Marlins)

The catcher "platoon" (not really a platoon because there's no particular lefty-righty logic to it) is working out exceptionally well this year, but Zaunner is clearly unhappy with his reduced playing time under the Cito regime. Now, this happened before when Bengie Molina was in the fold and Zaun still re-signed for 2007, but Zaunner's biological clock is ticking and he might well come to the conclusion that he's better off plying his trade elsewhere (read: a team with a real chance of going to the playoffs) before retirement. With studly prospect JP Arencibia ripping shit at AA and Brian Jerolman and Robby Diaz providing added minor league depth, we're proabably not going to need both Barajas AND Zaunner to mentor one of these youngsters for next year.

With Jason Varitek in a late career nose dive and Kevin Cash being Kevin Cash, I think Theo Epstein would definitely be interested in Zaun at the deadline. Cla Merideth and Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli, anyone? And no, I don't have any issue with trading a True Blue Jay like Zaunner to a hated rival like the Bosox.

Matt Stairs: (Dodgers)

MLBTR reports that the Dodgers have interest in Uncle Matt, though much of the fan base would be absolutely gutted to see him go. Ken Rosenthal says the Jays and Dodgers have been talking... At this point in his career Stairs is better suited for a NL pinch-hitting/emergency 1B/OF style of role than DH-ing and he is a diminishing asset under contract for next year as well. Could be packaged with AJ Burnett in a larger deal.

Don't expect them to give up young Taiwainese shortstop Chin-lung Hu, a favourite of the Batter's Box set, because extension talks with Raphael Furcal have not been going well and it's looking unlikely he'll be back in Dodger Blue '09.

Brian Tallet/Jason Frasor: (pretty much every contender)

Who doesn't want a better bullpen? Tallett is arb elligible at the end of this year and will require a raise and Frasor is everyone's favourite whipping boy. There's no great impetus to move either, but if someone came calling for a relief arm and was willing to overpay, well, yeah...

That pretty much sums it up. Generally speaking I'm all for the philosophy that no one on your roster should be untouchable, but there is an exception for Roy Halladay. Never, ever trade Doc. Your rooster, well, it's up to you whether that's untouchable or not.

Some good news? The Fisher Cats are sending a pretty sizeable contingent to the Eastern League all-star game and optimists are going to see that as evidence that there's some near ML-ready talent in the pipeline. Honoured are Brett Cecil, Zach Dials, Brian Jeroloman, Scott Campbell, and Travis Snider. Well done, lads.

Brandon League really should be stretched out and the formidable Jon Hale at The Mockingbird was similarly impressed with what he saw from the Flyin' Hawaiian last night. After nearly a fortnight riding the pines, League was chucking BBs in the high-90s at what looked half-effort. He did throw a bunch of 3-inning relief outings down in Syracuse and probably does have the stamina to go 5-6. I'd like to have him in the mix for the 5th starter spot next spring (barring some major FA signing, but seriously don't kid yourselves) with Dave Purcey, Brett Cecil and perhaps Casey Janssen. Player development doesn't need to follow a linear path and League just might prove himself to be a pleasant surprise in the rotation. You gotta believe.

Sean McAdam of asks whether Cito can save JP's job. The answer is probably not, but this is still a pretty good read.

So, is A-Rod plowing Madonna? Back 10 years ago you might've wanted a go at that, but now? She's almost 50, dude. And is Mrs. A-Rod plowing Lenny Kravitz? That's a little bit less gross, but still. There seems to be a whole lot of cuckolding going on in that relationship...

The tight-fisted A's just plunked down just over $4 million for 16-year-old pitching wunderkind Michael Inoa of the Dominican Republic. You know they've done their homework, so it should be interesting to see how he develops.

I humbly admit to being extremely entertained by the once-lowly Rays, who've been taking the bully Bosox apart over the past few days. Earlier in the year I said that .500 would be a more reasonable goal than contention for this young lot (and used some epithets against those who were predicting big things from them this year), but I'm pretty close to being sold on them. Now, that doesn't mean I'm saying they're a playoff lock, but I expect to see them Hangin' Tough in September at least.

Are the Angels finally waking up to the fact that Juan Rivera was the power bat they needed all along? The guy they had stashed on the bench even though he was as good of a hitter as Alex Rios in 2006? Slow clap...

-- Johnny Was


Jonathan said...

Didn't the Jays toy with putting League in the rotation at some point in the past and then ditch the idea? I wish I knew why. Seems really, REALLY tempting and right now would be the time to set it in motion. I know League only throws what, two pitches? But sinkerballers pretty much get by on that anyway, and he throws 2-3 innings as it is. With A.J. walking and the bullpen already overflowing, if it was at all possible...

The Southpaw said...

Yeah, I just checked League's stats and he was a starter between 01-04 in the minors. The numbers were pretty good, but he rarely went more than 5 innings in any game. It's probably because he lacks a third quality pitch to get guys out. If he got a good change up going, then I'd agree to move him to start. Not just a show-me type pitch though, I mean he's gotta be able to use that in a 3-2 count with the bases loaded...

For now, I'd just like to see League get some work done every 2-3 games. If he works out well, the Jays can have a RH SU, which is something they've been lacking since Accardo/Janssen/Wolfe got sent down or injured.


Jonathan said...

Small Ball to the Long Ball has him throwing a change last year. But it looks like it cuts or something instead of tailing like a normal one. Last night he threw 1 slider and one change until his last 2 pitches which were both sliders.

Thing is, I'm not so sure he needs such a great third pitch when he's got such gross GB numbers. Wang doesn't throw as hard gets it done with 2 pitches. Everyone knows what's coming, but good luck doing anything impressive with it...if it was actually a good pitch (yeah and the control thing), he'd be an ace.

The Southpaw said...

The other reason could be that they're worried he can't sustain that velocity/movement over 7 innings. I mean yeah, he could probably do it over one game. But maybe he has problems or diminished velocity if he tries to push 200 innings. I'm just guessing at this point though.

I was checking fangraphs and Wang throws a FB about 77% of the time - League throws his about 82-83%, while he throws his slider around 10-12%. I guess you're right that he could get by on two pitches.

I'm all in favour of having him pitch 200 innings instead of 60 though.