Monday, December 27, 2010

Forget What I Said

Or not, whatever.

One bit of housecleaining in line with the title - the rumor persists the Jays are about to sign Octavio Dotel. I was vocal in saying a few weeks ago that if the rumors said we were interested, we weren't. I dismissed the report out of hand. I'm still suspiscious but they seem very insistant so maybe I had that wrong. My take on it, if true, is "meh." Dude is too old to impress me, but I will refrain from negativity given that I was underwhelmed by Gregg, Buck, and Gonzalez a year ago as well. Also, I note in passing that the Brewers got my guy Saito (yes I know he's older than Dotel, shaddup) for less money - but maybe Saito didn't want any more of the AL East?

Now, the title actually refers to another thought, and that was my call for trading for Mike Gonzalez. Mind you, I stand by everything I said there - but there might be another option more than $5 million cheaper to close for the Jays in 2011 and surely it's worth going with that kind of savings.

One of the things I love about blogging is when you get in an exchange on a forum and in the course of discussing some particular thought, you discover fodder for a post, well, like this one. I had had an emotional interest in this happening since the middle of last year but I've not tried to make a case for it because I thought it was basically just me rooting for one of my "pet" players. However, a poster on a forum mentioned him in a mildly negative light tonight and I looked into the claim and found a lot more goodness than I expected.

What if I told you that the Jays already had a pitcher that:

1. Had a 2.67 ERA on the season if you take away 1/3 of an inning from his 2010 record?
2. Inherited 19 runners and allowed only 3 to score - and only 1 of the last 16?
3. Pitched in the 8th inning 16 times, accumulating 12.2 IP, and wasn't charged with a single run?
4. in 10 at bats n save situations, he allowed ONE BASERUNNER?
5. In his last 25 appearances, he gave up 11 earned runs - but 4 of them came in that one fateful 1/3 of an inning.
6. Take away his two worst appearances, and his ERA for the rest of the season was 1.93?

Furthermore, this is not some out-of-left-field flunky without a pedigree or clippings, this is a first round draft pick - this is David Purcey and absent an acquisition better than Dotel, deserves a clean shot at being the jays closer in 2011 and beyond.

If you look closely at Purcey's season, that 1/3 of an inning in which he put on 4 base-runners and gave up 4 earned runs throws off almost all of the bulk stat lines like "second half" stats and "in the ninth inning" stats. he had another 1 IP outing on September 8 in which he gave up 3 runs, again in the ninth. Outside those two appearances he pitched 9 innings in the ninth and gave up 2 earned runs. What was otherwise a wildly successful season (actually, more like 2/3 of a season since he wasn't called up until very late May) was disguised by two bad days.

It's true that for comparison you can do that to many good pitchers and get great results - take away Kevin Gregg's two worst outings and his 2010 ERA is 2.48, but then Gregg is considered a pretty good pitcher.

I've been criticized before for picking and choosing my number sets, and I fully agree this sort of thing can be over applied or mis-applied. But I also contend that there's a HUGE difference between a guy with a 4.00 ERA who gives up a run or two in more than half of his appearances, and a guy who holds the opposition scoreless night after night and once or twice or three teams a season get's totally waxed. Give me the latter pitcher every time.

In short, while I wouldn't cry about the acquisition of a "proven" closer, in the absence of such a player (and Dotel ain't it) my battle cry is "Free David Purcey!!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making the Case for Adrian Beltre


Early in the off-season, I wrote off any potential signing which involved surrendering a first round pick so I hadn't given any real thought to any of them, Adrian Beltre included. As the off-season unfolded, and suitors for the third baseman developed, and rumors spread about his demands, I was content to know that the Jays really didn't even have to face the temptation to consider that price - a price at which I had bought into the popular opinion was too high.

But the moving pieces have shuffled around to the point where Beltre is sitting out there with only the Angels among the monied teams which have an obvious place for him. Earlier reports about wanting 5 years at 16 or 17 million a year are now in the rear view mirror without the Red Sox to bid against. It's time to take another look. Or a first look, in my case.

Now, let me clear up a couple of points on the front end:

1. If you are one of those folks for whom a first round pick is sacred and must never be surrendered, I don't think anything I'm going to say here will change your mind. I DO take the pick seriously, but I'm confident enough in AA's ability to find quality throughout the draft that I'm willing to consider it - particularly in a deep class.
2. I'm not interested in a bidding war, or in paying Beltre's (seemingly) ridiculous asking price (if the reports were true). The following case is a case for slipping in the back door and scooping the Angels on a deal which might seem expensive but is just enough to get the heist done.

With that said, let's dig in.

The common refrain against Beltre is that he only hit well in contract years. It is true that he had his two best year in contract years, but he also had one of his two worst years in a contract year. In fact, in his last 7 seasons he's had two monster years, and two abysmal years. These virtually balance each other out. Given that the two monster seasons were the year before and the year after his time in Seattle, and it's that period I want to take a closer look at first.

During the five years he spent in the Pacific Northwest, Beltre posted a collective OPS of .759 but he had dramatic home/road splits. I'd like to call this "little known" but I think everyone knows that Beltre didn't hit well in the huge home park the Mariners play in. But I don't think everybody - at least among those who downplay Beltre - really appreciate how much better he hit on the road.

Over those five years, Beltre's OPS at home was .717, and his OPS on the road was .799! For reference, in 2010 the road average would have ranked 8th in the majors among qualifying third basemen, the home average would have ranked 16th. And all that includes the two disaster years.

Here's a list of those five years, with the overall OPS, then the road OPS, then the road OPS+

'05 - .716 - .736 - 98
'06 - .792 - .805 - 113
'07 - .802 - .858 - 127
'08 - .784 - .862 - 134
'09 - .683 - .717 - 96

So. If we're speaking of the road Beltre as a true representation of the hitter you are buying now, then his road OPS would have ranked 15th, 8th, 5th, 6th, and 20th among qualifying major league 3B in the majors. One league average year, three excellent years (in relation to the league) and one abominable year.

Furthermore, if you take the road numbers in Seattle, and combine those with the two years which bookeneded that period, his slash lines look like this:

.300/.348/.526/.874

His overall line over the last seven years without alteration looks like this:

.284/.335/.486/.821

Seems to me, that's your reasonable range of expectations. True, he's older now than he was when he hit 48 homers, but his work in Boston last year exceeded the high end of this range. And we've already killed the contract-year myth. If Beltre is an .820 hitter, then he'd be a top 10 3rd baseman (in the majors) in any of the last 10 years. I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that for most of the next five years, Beltre can be easily in the top 10-12 hitters at his position, albeit no one can rule out an injury plagued season like 2009, or an inexplicable fluke year). In fact, I'd find it marginally unrealistic to suggest he won't be.

Combine that with what some argue is the best defense in the game (I've an irrational commitment to Scott Rolen in that regard) and you have a top shelf guy. But what's such a guy worth? Fangraphs valued him at $68 million over the five years n Seattle (admittedly, few are the occasions when a players actual pay matches well with Fangraphs calculations) over a period when he was paid about $13 million a year. If you were getting that player, without the monster years, then you'd be getting some marginal value if you paid him, say, $12 mil a year according to their system.

Comparing him to other third basemen really doesn't work. some of them are clearly overpaid (A-Rod, Michael Young, Aramis Ramirez) and others are young players on team friendly extensions (Longoria, Zimmerman). If you look at the most expensive long-term deals, in terms of AAV, you can eliminate several hitters either because they were signed at a much younger age, or because they do not profile as similar players.

One obvious comparison is Torii Hunter, who was going into his age 32 season when he was signed for 5yr/$18 per. He had a very similar offensive total over his previous 7 seasons (albeit without the extremes) and a sterling defensive reputation. In this sense, you can see why his agent set the goal he did. If you have a competitive market, that's the sort of thing you shoot for. and while I wouldn't bitch if AA spent Rogers' money so extravagantly (until and unless it was demonstrated to be a burden) I'm not really arguing that the Jays ought offer him a $16-18 million AAV.

Rather, I think this is a situation in which the concept of when our window to compete is works for us a bit. It would be pointless for the Jays to sign Beltre for three years. and it might be years that has the Angels hesitant. If the Jays were to sign Beltre, it ought to be five years. This would carry them deep into the years in which they expect to be a force. One thing you'd be sure to get over that time is impeccable defense. The very best defenders age well with the glove in most cases. This helps the pitching, and it helps all the other infielders including a potentially shaky 1B. As a hitter, you probably get a guy who declines over the life of the deal from an .850ish OPS to a .750ish OPS, but on a team in which - if things go well, young hitters take on more and more of the burden of offense.

Now, it's true Brett Lawrie needs a place to play if he pans out - but the answer to that is right in front of us. Jose Batista has one more season before free agency. If he repeats his previous success, he'll get a bigger annual pay than Beltre from someone else and leave us with a couple of picks (one to make up for what we lose on Beltre, in a sense). If he doesn't return anywhere close to that level, then whether he stays or goes, he's not an affront to Brett Lawrie playing RF if he is deemed ready. There's also the 2B option but that's more complex.

Bottom line: In studying the matter, I've convinced myself that if we can get Beltre for five years on a deal worth no more than $60-70 million, it will be good value and a quality move.


UPDATE: MLBTR had this, today, from a column by Buster Olney -

The Athletics would talk to free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre again if the player is willing. Beltre reportedly ignored Oakland's five-year, $64MM offer, which isn't much lower than the offer the Angels pulled yesterday. Beltre appears to crave $85-90MM over five years, or a sixth year.


The Angels pulling their offer leaves him floating, on the other hand the A's offer would seem to constitute a floor if it's correct. Since this is Scott Boras we are speaking of, it's not like he's going to cave. The report suggests the Angels offer might have been for $70 million, and goes on to suggest that the $18 per that Werth got is the target (which is consistent with what I discussed above). If it's true that 5/70 is the current standing offer ("withdrawn" being just a negotiating ploy) then logically you are either going to have to add a sixth year, or more money per-year.

I think my reaction might be to put in a sixth year option with some reasonably attainable incentive clause which would guarantee it. Something that would end up being 6/85 if it vested or some such.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tip 'o the hat

As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to add a new link to the sidebar - one that should no doubt have been there long before now but sometimes sites just escape my notice. But thanks to an item in a link dump post at Bluebird Banter, I'm reading and enjoying a great jays blog that is new to me but not new to the net: Jays Journal.

Writers Matt Germain and Jared MacDonald are currently in the midst of pumping out player profiles on their Top 50 Jays prospects which are so well done I want to go back and take my list down in shame. Opinions are opinions, of course, but each of these profiles features bullet points on pertinent facts right down to the uniform numbers. I won't say I'm going to agree with every slot in terms of relative ranking (and after all, every list is different) but you can only admire the amount of work that goes into each post. I'll no doubt be factoring in this new information when i write my spring Prospect list update. In the mean time, for sheer bulk of information, JJ is right up there with Bluebird Banter for the best Jays blog I've seen.

Other items:

Item 1: While I'm touching base let me just say that I congratulate the Brewers on dealing for Grienke and in relation to that, can we PLEASE stop dignifying Bob Elliot's SPECULATION about a Drabek/Snider combo as if it were an actual proposal between the Jays and Royals? Thank you.

Speaking of the Royals and Grienke, and the stupidity of the afre-mentioned speculation/non-rumor - here's an interesting bit of news about that whole drama from Jeff Blair:

Alex Anthopoulos will not be among the general managers recalibrating this week after Zack Greinke’s shocking trade to the Milwaukee Brewers, which is expected to be finalized Monday. Anthopoulos, the Toronto Blue Jays GM, asked the Kansas City Royals about Greinke’s availability early in the off-season, but was told the pitcher would not waive his no-trade clause to Toronto. End of story. Greinke agreed to go to Milwaukee, and sources suggest he believes he can do better statistically in the National League heading into free agency in two years.

So, again I plead - even though I know that Bob Elliot is as one of the gods to the Toronto sports media (I'm looking at you in particular Grif) - let's move on, eh?


Item 2: On the Jays' re-signing of Eddie Encarnacion, and their professed intent to play him mostly as a DH and reserve 1B - I'm down with it. Low cost, solid potential for lightning-in-a-bottle.

Item 3: Brett Lawrie insists he's gonna break camp with the Jays. I'm very sure that AA isn't done yet but in the mean time, I'm not convinced that he can't force their hand and make the drop him into RF (or at 3B, where I'd love to see him work out) on opening day.

Item 4: If the Royals are resigned to a couple of years of losing, I'm still more than a little interested in the idea of scooping up Alex Gordon on the (relative) cheap.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My New Obsession


Here's what we know.

The Baltimore Orioles have committed over a million next year to Jeremy Accardo. Earlier in the year they re-upped the impressive Koji Uehara who finished 2010 as their closer (and has a 5:55 BB:K ratio) for a $3 mil deal with a 2012 option that should vest pretty easily. In addition, there are strong rumors they have a 2 year, $8-10 million offer out to Kevin Gregg.

NO ONE is talking about the relief pitcher the O's committed $12 million over 2010 and 2011 to LAST winter.

I want to talk about him. His name is Mike Gonzalez.

(See what I did there?)

Mike Gonzalez, you might recall, blew 2 of his first 3 save opportunities and was yanked from the closers job by the manager Dave Trombley and within a week found himself on the DL with a strained shoulder (which some had whispered he'd been trying to pitch through for much of spring training). While Gonzalez and his 18.00 ERA rotted on the DL until Mid-July, Alfredo Simon closed fairly well for three months (he had a 3.03 ERA on July 23) before falling apart over three weeks before finally losing the job.

But instead of giving the closing job back to the guy they were paying $6 million to do it, new manager Buck Showalter handed the ball to former starter Uehara, who, in fairness, did a fine job (after the All-Star break Uehara had a 2.57 ERA and 45 K's in 35 innings - to go with TWO WALKS!) and Gonzalez was regulated to a set up role.

The MLBTR blurb on Gregg says that the O's didn't promise the closer job to Uehara and that they could still give it to Gregg if he accepts there offer (that right there, if true, shows you the level of thinking we are dealing with here)

So - are the O's really going to pay Gonzalez $6 million to be a middle reliever? I sense opportunity here!

Let's consider Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez is a 32 year old (33 in late May) LHP who arrived in Baltimore with a 2.57 career ERA pitching for Pittsburgh and Atlanta. He'd won the closer job in Pittsburgh before being dealt for Adam LaRoache and for the Braves he settled in as a set-up man to equally impressive Rafael Soriano. For those two teams he compiled a 168 ERA+ and posted a 1.22 whip over almost 300 IP. He was in many ways an 8th inning closer.

In Baltimore, after that injury impaired beginning, he managed to become a bit of a pariah with O's fans, who got a terrible first impression and those are often hard to overcome (witness the number of jays fans who are sure despite the stats that Jason Frasor can't handle pressure). Even after he was healthy and back in the majors, Showalter didn't seem to be interested in putting him back into the closer role (and with Uehara pitching like that, who can blame him really?).

The mythology, then, has been built up that Gonzolez sucked in 2010. that he can't handle the AL East. that turns out to be bullshit. Remember Gonzalez's career stats I mentioned above?

Here's what he did after he came off the DL last year for comparison:

pre-2010:
2.57 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 10.58 K/9
July 22-end of season, 2010:
2.78 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 11.12 K/9 (oh, and .165 BAA, .512 OPSA)

In short, he had a perfectly excellent second half. He is EXACTLY what the Jays need. So much so that not only would I try to take advantage of the O's and deal for him but I'd see if i could get him to add some time to that contract. Six million might be at the upper edge of what a closer ought to be paid, but the Jays can afford it and he would be the lockdown guy that AA wants.

With Frasor and presumably Purcey setting him up, and Shawn Camp back, the back of the Jays 'pen would be one less thing for the team to worry about.

And don't think the Orioles don't have several ideas of where they could spend the money they would save in such a deal - if you think they wouldn't deal Gonzalez, ask yourself this question - why would a team with this guy, AND Uehara . . . still want to spend $10 million over the next two years on Kevin Gregg??!!?

Gonzalez is a better pitcher than any closer still on the free agent market except Soriano - and e won't cost us our first round pick (in fact, he might very well GET us one in 2012).


DOOOOO EEEEEEEIIITTTT!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Random Thoughts

Not necessarily on the Jays. All items are IMO of course.

Item: whoever signs Brandon Webb will get much greater value over the life of the contract than whoever signs Carl Pavano.

Item: Is there any other team that can even be considered a reasonable player for Adrian Beltre but the Angels? if they give him an insane amount it will be bidding against themselves. (Yes the Jays need him but not at the price point he's lusting after).

Item: Someone tell me what's wrong with Jeremy Bonderman? There's another guy I'd commit to before I did Pavano. Don't get me wrong, he probably won't pitch as well, but in terms of the chance that he'll produce noticeably more value than his contract, he seems a decent project. He and San Diego needs to be talking.

Item: The Mariners ought to see if they can get Eric Chavez on a non-guaranteed deal of some sort and see if he has anything to offer (pending physical of course).

Item: It's said that Alex Anthopoulos gages the FA relief pitcher market to be full of similar guys, so he's waiting to get a bargain after the higher profile guys sign - don't be surprised if one of the late signings who turn out well (for the Jays or someone else) is Juan Cruz.

Item: a year from now articles will be written about what a great bargain the Brad Hawpe signing was. Can he play 1B? Might be just the guy the Jays need (albeit, he splits the wrong way).

Item: I'm not sure Derrek Lee will sign with the Jays without a full time defensive job but he's another guy some team will get excellent value on (provided they don't throw goofy money at him as was done with Carlos Pena).

Item: How sweet wold it be if Russel Martin would hit and run like 2007 and play 3B for the Jays? how do I already know he's gonna sign with Boston?

Why is no one talking about Brad Penny? it was a strained lat for cryin' out loud. Hey Milwaukee - that's three names I've mentioned you are not rumored to be in on, wake up already!

I'm tempted her to repeat some of the things i've said before about potential trade targets - Alex Gordon, Gordon Beckham, Pablo Sandoval, Killa Ka'aihue, et al - but I won't. except to mention that now there's a rumor the White sox will listen on Dayan Viciedo but I find it pretty hard to believe. the Qunentin rumor makes more sense.

Anyway, mostly not Jays stuff but I'm bored so . . . there ya go.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Maybe it's just the nature of the event but Alex has given us JUST a bit more insight into his thinking at Winter Meting scrums than he normally does and it seems to me these are the takeaway facts so far . . .

1. He's focused on adding established bullpen help. Hopefully that's not old marginal sorts like Dotel and Rauch, but clearly he'd like to bring in a couple of veteran relief arms;

2. He is more than a little interested in Adam Lind being the long term 1B, and said today that the ideal addition would be someone who's primary job was to DH but who could step in at 1B if the experiment with Lind goes south on the defensive side;

3. He's open to adding "the right player" at catcher, but he's committed to developing Arencibia which means whoever it is has to be amicable to a time-sharing arrangement, either by willingness to sit or willingness to move around the diamond;

4. Not a lot has been said about adding an established 3B, which leads to all sorts of speculation. There is a general feeling that the team would prefer to leave Hill and Bautista where they are, and that reinforced by AA allowing as to how he thought import Brett Lawrie's skill set played better at 3B (i.e. if you are going to pencil in Lawrie as the long term 3B you don't need to be moving other players there and then back out to their old position). Lawrie, for his part, is making no secret that he wants to break camp in the majors but I'd be stunned if the jays felt comfortable enough with his D at third by April 1 to do that. if so, Butter will have earned his pay for the year.

As I've noted before, speculation about what AA WILL do is a fool's errand. He'll do something you never saw coming. As to what seems logicale to do . . .

RE #1 - Some names that make some sense, given recent production and the Jays situation - Saito, Fuentes, Wood, Crain, Okajima, Feleciano, and Uehara. Kerry Wood has possibilities but, like Gregg, would be sort of an adventure. You might see if Kelvim Escobar would take a minor league deal and see if he can get any of his former stuff back. Frankly, there are so many variations here that speculations is all but useless.

RE#2 - The obvious veteran solution is Derrek Lee, assuming a man known for his glove is willing to take a back seat on playing in the field to Lind. He migh5t be enough of a bargain, though, that you postpone that experiment. Similar in potential production to Lee is Adam LaRoche. Past that it's nothing but question marks and intuition. Can Nick Johnson stay healthy, for instance? Try to patch in a journeyman type? See if Carlos Delgado wants to make a comeback?
(As an aside, I see no reason why the Jays wouldn't put their army of scouts to work on Delgado and see how he is physically. It wouldn't cost anything significant to see if there's anything there - though it's worth noting he's apparently not playing winter ball which you'd think you'd want to do if you wanted to prove your health)

RE#3 - Russel Martin. Really, there's not another freely available catcher who profiles as the sort of guy he means. It would be better if the word wasn't out that Martin still had strong feelings about catching. if he could be the primary 3B and the emergency option behind the plate it would be excellent. Don't see another player that this is relevant to. In the same vein, relating more to #2 perhaps, you might take a flyer on Eric Chavez as a rimary DH (for his health) and emergency corner IF but who knows if he has anything left?

RE #4 - Basically, a lot depends on whether they buy the idea of giving Lawrie a shot to make the team or not, and they aren't saying. there's Emaus, but if they didn't even put him on the 40, what are the odds that he will win their favor now? Externally, Beltre is too high, chavez is too fragile, Glaus ain't coming back to turf, and after that you are looking at the likes of Joe Crede or Pedro Feliz. Ugh. There's the martin option, of course, if he were willing. Otherwise you hope you can trade for someone. Alex Gordon remains intriguing. The White Sox discussed Beckham a couple of times but his price would be exorbinent. Otherwise, the pickings are slim.

Of course, there's the option of moving Bautista back to 3b, or Hill - but the team seems reluctant to do so unless a solid option presents itself that makes it worth while.

Speaking of -

Might be useless speculation, but Rosenthal suggesting the White Sox were running out of money and might dangle Carlos Quintin for bullpen help. if I could build something around Frasor I'd be all over that.

One other wild hair thought - everyone considers oakland's 1B prospect Chris Carter to be all-that, one wonders what it would take to get Daric Barton (you have to assume the Jays would be content for Lind to DH if Barton could be had - heck, there might be some logic in a trade of the two for each other if the jays are willing to swap the power for the defense and OBP.

Nothing but random speculation of course, but hey, it is the winter meetings so when better?

Rule 5 draft in the AM.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pitch Like A Man - Wherever You Are


According to a multitude of published reports like this one, Shaun Marcum is on his way to Milwaukee. the most prevalent reporting is that Toronto will receive in return the Brewer's consensus #1 prospect, 2B Brett Lawrie.

The 20-year-old Lawrie was a target of the Blue Jays in the 2008 draft when the Brewers took him one pick ahead of the Jays' turn to select. He was a catcher then, he was playing 2B (poorly according to reports) for the Brewers AA club in 2010 (and reaching AA at 20 is no small feat) and is reportedly experienced at 3b, though many scouts suggest his future is in LF.

The good/bad about Lawrie, apart from his obviously prolific bat, is his attitude. Apparently he's the sort of guy you hate on the opposing team but love when he's your guy. Imagine Cano's bat, Uggla's D, and Pedroia's attitude.

Lawrie dd an interview with Marc Hulet of Baseball Analysts (and Batter's Box) and he compared himself directly to Pedroia as a "spark plug" type of high energy guy. As much as Jays fans don't care for Pedroia's personality, they will probably love having such a player on their own team.

On an instinctive level, my preference would be to see the Blue Jays try to polish him into a competent 3B since that's the immediate position in need of a long-term fix. alternately, the idea of shifting Hill to 3B and Lawrie playing 2B would be a dead issue but he's going to have to really bring up his defensive game.

There's also unsubstantiated speculation that this deal is a precursor to making a big run at KC's Zach Grienke. In theory Lowrie could be flipped (which seems unlikely given the strengths in the KC system) or Hechevarria could be dealt (since Lowrie in the infield would create perhaps room to deal there) along with probably Drabek and presumably others. the reports, however, suggest that Grienke is wildly overpriced and I, for one, am not at all sure that i think he's worth the price in players it takes to get him, or the contract extension he'll command in a couple of years.

More likely, AA is again focused on the long view more than 2011. I think the Blue Jays will be fine in 2011, but Alex isn't trying to "go for it" specifically next year, if that happens it's gravy. wherever he plays (though it really needs to be the infield unless the Jays are confident in Snider playing right) Lawrie just became another cog in the core of the next great Jays team. of course he could fail, just as any player could - but all you can do with a prospect is assume he will succeed until he doesn't.

Finally, Brewers fans seem to be bent out of shape about getting so "little" for Lowrie. Trust me guys, by mid-season you'll be calling Marcum your ace and one of the better pitchers in the NL (which he will be). Gallardo has better stuff, but Marcum - while pitching in the toughest division in baseball (by far) had a better ERA than Gallardo did. Consider this, in 2010 in all games against opponents other than the Big 3 in the AL East, his ERA was 2.76; that's not to disrespect Gallardo, he's talented - but Marcum is being seriously underestimated in some quarters.

Good luck, Shaun. Pitch like a man, wherever you go.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

As the winter games begin...

...it seems to me that one bit of information that it's handy to have, going forward, is an idea of what the payroll currently looks like. Sure, Beeston and Anthopoulos are on record that no move that makes sese will be prevented by money, but since we don't know, looking in from the outside, how to define "makes sense" from Rogers' point of view, we can still kind of ballpark an idea of what might happen if we know where we are at now.

All the contract figures are per Cott's (and if you are using any other source for payroll info - what the hell is wrong with you?) the pre-arb players are all rounded to half a million dollars since the amount they would vary from that is so small as to be irrelevant (precise figures can't be guessed at because the previous minimum of $400k will be subject to a COLA adjustment - I know, right? - and we don't know yet what that will be), and easily swallowed up by the variation in the amount of my estimates for arb-eligible contracts and what the actual contracts turn out to be.

The arbitration players are my estimates, but i have been fairly accurate in predicting the total amount we spend on such players the last few years so I speak there with some confidence.

The signed contracts are bolded. Arb eligible in italics. There are more than 25 players here because there are players who will likely have a big league contract who won't be on the active roster (McGowan, for instance). All figures in million of dollars.

Starting Pitchers:

Romero - $0.75
Marcum - $2.0
Morrow - $1.1
Cecil - $0.5
Litsch - $0.9
Rzpczyinski - $0.5
McGowan* - $0.45

Relief Pitchers

Frasor - $3.75
Camp - $2.0
Janssen - $1.2
Villanueva - $1.25
Purcey - $0.5
Carlson - $0.5
Roenicke - $0.5
(or Richmond)

Hitters
(current starting nine, which is actually eight)

Arencibia - $0.5
Lind - $5
Hill - $5
Escobar - $1.3
Bautista - $8
Wells - $23
Snider - $0.5
Davis - $1.8

Bench

Molina - $1
McDonald - $1.5

3 other hitters needed to finish the roster, and at least one of those pitchers won't be on the roster, although you might need all of ST to see how that plays out)

Also off roster:

Hechevarria - $2 mil

Total committed already: $38.7 mil
Total pre-arb players: $3.5 mil
Total arb estimates: $23.3 mil
Three more spots, minimum: $1.5 mil

Grand total: $67 mil

This wold obviously fluctuate if the Jays signed, for instance, Morrow or Marcum to a long term deal this winter, to say nothing of inevitable acquisitions. please don't nit-pick about - for instance - whether or not Carlson makes the team. Some low-pay guy will be there if not him unless we acquire someone from outside the organization and obviously no one can predict what, shall we way, Ryan Roland-Smith wold make because we don't know who that player will be yet.

This is more an idea of who would be at the head of the line if they broke camp today.

Certainly there's a potential for some fluctuation, but i'd stand by this prediction within about 5% variation in either direction.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Manuver-ability!

Well, that was interesting.

I took a couple of weeks to catch my breath and wait for some roster manipulation deadlines to pass because, ya know, I hate to post short "news" posts telling you things you already learned elsewhere.

So, to review . . .

Zep finished up his domination of the AFL and put himself firmly back in the conversation for who breaks camp as the fifth starter next spring. also, he might well have moved to the front of the line (behind David Purcey) for consideration as a left-handed reliever;

Shawn Hill was removed from the roster and chose free agency. Regrettable to lose him, and fouls up one of my predictions, but understandable given the depth. I wouldn't be surprised to learn the Jays offerend him a minor-leage contract and a ST invite, but I'd be surprised if he didn't get a better opportunity (i.e. a less crowded depth chart) elsewhere.

The Jays dealt two minor league relievers for Raji Davis, upon which I've already commented.

They left Brad Emaus and Adam Loewen off the 40 man roster, the reaction abroad is that no one will risk Loewen (who's out of options anyway) but that Emaus might be taken - i'd have kept him over some of the fringy pitchers (hiya Rommie Lewis!) but that's just me. Henderson Alvarez, thanks to some obtuse machinations of the rules, didn't need to be protected, the other guys on the list in my last post were added to the 40.

The Jays offered arbitration to all the Type A and B free agents in their "possession" and all rejected (as expected) save Jason Frasor who returns as the nominal (for now) closer for 2011 until his better comes along. bit of trivia - if Frasor isn't traded or hurt, he's very likely going to take over the franchise lead in games pitched next year - amazin', ain't it? I Like Frasor better than most. You might be unaware that from Mid-June until the end of the season in 2010, he had an ERA of just 2.52 and opponents hit a measly .205 off him. Having him back is a plus (even if getting the picks would have been nice). on the other hand, given the options available in free agency, and the fact that 34 teams were sniffing round Frasor, don't be stunned if he is traded before spring.

Because of the foregoing, the Jays stand to gain one compensation pick (Scott Downs) and four supplemental round picks in next year's draft;

The team announced their minor league coaching roster and there were several notable items: Sal Fasano to coach at AA; Tom Signore who was the AA pitching coach last year moves up to AAA, and that Vegas team will be managed by Marty Brown who has a history with John Farrell in the Cleveland organization and got a strong recommendation from the big league boss; Mike Redmond steps off he diamond (playing for the Indians in 2010) and into the Lansing manager's office. John Schnider was promoted from the GCL job to Vancouver and Omar malve will become the GCL manager. Rick Langford remains with the organization in a newly created position. is it odd that i find myself real pleased with these hires? why should I care?

Tonight the Jays re-signed Dustin McGowan for 2011 for $450,000. I believe he, too, is out of options, but given his injury there's no real chance he's claimed on waivers;

Also tonight, the Blue Jays non-tendered Jeremy Accardo (no surprise there) and Fred Lewis (not as much a given but hardly a shocker). Neither are a significant loss, one reporter tweets that Lewis didn't fit into the clubhouse well. By the way, the A's non-tendered Edwin Encarnacion as well so there's that. The Jays roster now stands at 37.

Speaking of the non-tenders, here are some names dropped tonight that caught my eye:

Russel Martin - C
given his pedigree, most Jays fans are well aware of Martin. He seems to have suffered greatly from the oppressive work load the Dodgers piled on him a few years ago, but that might make him just the sort of player you want to split time with a promising rookie so that he can be treated a bit more gently. also, there was once a line of thinking about moving him to 3B. Have to hope his offense rebounds though - he's still young. And there's always the homecoming twist if they need a selling point.

Lastings Milladge - CF
What can I say, I'm a sucker for a big name reclamation project - and the last OF we got through
Pirate negligence worked out well, eh?

Bobby Jenks - Closer
not that I necessarily like him better - or worse - than some of the others I've proposed in this offseason, but he was solid from the first week of June until injuries ended his season, with a 40:7 K:BB ration in 35.2 IP (and a 3.53 ERA) - kind of Gregg without the adventuresome walks.

Taylor Buchholz - RHP
We obviously thought enough of him to claim him last summer, perhaps if we can swing a minor league contract we might yet get to be the beneficiaries if he can get his former skills back.

Jack Cust - 1B/DH
Has some good points (notably a great OBP record) but would continue the imbalance against LHP.

Josh Fields - 3B
Broke out for the White Sox in 2007 posting a solid average hitting performance at age (though he didn't bring his excellent AAA OBP with him) then lost a couple of years to injury and ineffectivness. Was hurt most of 2010 as well but did solid work in a brief stretch in K.C. If healthy, there are worse ways to gamble a ST invite and a minor league contract.

Ryan Roland-Smith - LHP
A younger, possibly better Brian Tallet - no, I mean Tallet when he was good. RR-S posted very solid numbers as a LH reliever until the mariners pressed him into service - and possibly overextended him - as a starter. Might not be anything there, he's not a world-beater of course, but I'd give the scouts a survey about him.

Gotta admit, even though I'm a long way from Canadian, I'm pretty smitten with the idea of getting Martin because I'm so infatuated with what he produced when he was hitting. I'd also look VERY hard at Milladge and try to bring back Buchholz if a minor league contract gets it done (and surely it will).