The story is easily found everywhere, of course, that the Jays waived Randy Ruiz who then hooked up with a Japanese team. but there's more to it than a simple pair of unrelated transactions. According to the lovely and talented Erika Gilbert, writing in the National Post, there's much more.
It seems that Alex Anthopoulos (and/or his staff) not only allowed Ruiz to peruse a more profitable option (and while figures aren't released, you can bet Ruiz probably quadrupled his MLB salary if not more) but, in point of fact, facilitated the deal. Gilbert writes that the Jays were approached about selling Ruiz over the off-season and while, at the time, the roster was too uncertain for the team to part with the slugger, they kept the possibility alive. This spring, as the roster was shaping up in a way unfavorable to Ruiz getting a lot of at-bats, the Jays picked up that thread. The two teams have been working out the details since the end of Spring Training (and it's a reasonable speculation that Ruiz's "personal days" a little while back are connected to the deal, perhaps for a physical and other procedural matters) and today Ruiz gets a chance to cash in with not only the blessing but the assist of the Toronto Blue Jays.
In my opinion, this reflects pretty darned well on the team. And yes, it is a no-brainer for Ruiz. He's 32 and three years away from arbitration. He'd almost certainly never break out of the minimum salary bracket in the major leagues. Ruiz told Richard Griffin he was "set for life" and I don't doubt it. It's as good a feel-good ending to the Ruiz story as we could have hoped for.
One other brief note here, don't turn your lonely eyes to Dopirak. First, he's still struggling in AAA which has been his career pattern (long slow adjustment to new level) and second, even if the Jays shockingly promoted him before September, he'd get even less chance than Ruiz got this year. Presuming health, the combination of Bautista, Snider, and EE will easily fill the few at bats Ruiz might have gotten.
The Beest has spoken again, this time with 590's Mike Hogan this morning. He had some interesting things to say (albeit elaborating on previous points rather than giving really new information) about the Jays and money. For instance:
Hogan: Paul, is there an opportunity to expand the budget, if this team remains close into August?
Beeston: Absolutely. . . . I think it's fair to say we had to talk them into reducing the salaries . . . if we go to them and say 'things are going a bit differently'...that wouldn't be a problem.
Now, one can argue that they might should have spent some of that money this last off-season but honestly, IMO, there were not any "obvious targets" this last winter that fit the potential openings on this team, with the lone exception of Johnny Damon. but when Hogan asked a similar question this was Beeston's reply:
Look I don't mean to categorize free agents as "A" free agents and "B" free agents but we're looking to go after "A" free agents. What we're looking to go after using two from the past couple of years is Sabathia and Texeria. You know, those type of free agents. the ones that are going to put you over the top. but those aren't going to come here right now . . . they tend to go where they think they have a (immediate) chance to win.
I find that idea very enticing, albeit I sometimes think that the Jays have a guy i want to see succeed at every position on the way except perhaps 3B. I'm not sure who they would sign, but then prospects often fail so we'll see in a year or two.
Anyway, if he's to be believed it's hard not to be giddy about the upcoming years. also towards the end, he commented on the "game experience" but he seldom seems to show a connection to the oft-voiced complaints about that. Still, not being an area resident I'll leave discussion of that to those who actually get to go to SkyDome (yes, I know, I said SkyDome - deal with it)
All yall Overbay haters, just a bit of a heads up here - over his last seven he's hitting .346/.393/.731/1.124 so might be a chance to step back and see if he's really turning the corner this time (he had another run like this, eight games long, in April but just because that one cooled quickly doesn't mean this one will). In any case, kinda stupid to be booing a guy who's actually hitting well at the moment (and yes I know, eight games on the road no home fans are booing him but the drumbeat goes on on-line). In a similar vein, I actually saw some comments which implied that Brett Cecil might be on thin ice after ONE bad start. Some of you folks need to simmer the fuck down. Cecil informed you of this tonight, in case you didn't get the message. Anyone who can so quickly forget May 3 needs a slap upside their head anyway.
Notes from the Farm-
Travis d'Arnaud is finally back from the DL;
Adeiny has seven games under his belt. All his hits so far are singles;
Don't look now but Adam Loewen is sneaking up on you. It's now too close to call between he and Eric Thames on who's making the better case for promotion;
Kyle Drabek's last five starts make up an impressive run, particularly in terms of improved control;
David Purcey has shown good control over his last 10 appearances, and may well have moved to the top of the "who's next?" list for bullpen help;
According to Baseball Prospectus' Adjusted Standings, the Jays came into tonight's play with the second best record according to Third ROrder wins in all of baseball (behind only the Rays). I'm under no illusions that the Jays are not still a pretty long shot to contend for the post-season but I don't expect a collapse like last season. After the next 10 relatively soft games (which i expect them to win as many as seven of) 33 of the remaining 37 games before the break are going to be against teams who are quite good (or at least have good records) and I wouldn't be surprised to see a relatively sharp drop off in winning percentage over that stretch but it's not that difficult to imagine them reaching the break with a +.500 record. They them come out of the break with 16 winnable games. This makes for some interesting decisions come late July.
As NuKirk says, "Buckle up!"