Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Wisdom of the Ages

By now you know, of course (when do I ever actually break news?) , about the two items of news (and a couple of odd rumors to boot) originating out of Jays-land on Monday. on the two items of news, I don't think I could express my view any better than Richard Griffin(!) did here.

Omar Vizquel will be 45 this year, and last year he saw his hitting drop to the levels occupied for years by his defensive protege, John McDonald. contrary to the popular assumption, it's not completely inconceivable he could rebound a little from that to the mid-to-high .600's (OPS) range he lived at for the previous two years. In 2010 he played in 2/3 of the White Sox games and was a reasonably respectable hitter for an aging SS (.673) but it's too bad for the Sox he was actually playing 3B most of the time. in fact, he's not been used exclusively at SS since 2008.

Still, all he has to do is be better than Mike McCoy and Luis Valbuena and that seems likely. I'd be mildly surprised if he didn't make the team. To repeat Grif's opinion, in part, and elaborate a bit, the value goes like this:

*Vizquel will surely be an on-field personal instructor for Adeiny Hechevarria. Hech needs no schooling in terms of ability to field the position, but Vizquel can provide valuable expertise in the intricacies of playing the position with refinement at the major league level, as well as general conduct and expectations, and do so in Hech's own language and comfort zone.

*Vizquel can also serve as (though it's less required) a solid mentor (alongside Jose Bautista) for Yunel Escobar. one of the thinks Esco is sometimes accused of is being a tiny bit lackadaisical in certain spots such as base-running. if Vizquel can add some refinement to Esco's already impressive game, that pays off down the line.

* unless he's degraded significantly, Vizquel can be at least as competent as the other guys as a reserve/emergency SS and also provide depth at 2B and 3B. I've said all along I didn't se the jays entrusting that critical spot to either of the in-house options.

*unmentioned elsewhere, to my knowledge - don't underestimate the influence Vizquel can and will have on Brett Lawrie. Lawrie has shown himself to be highly respectful of the history of the game and veteran wisdom, Vizquel has played enough 3B and enough on that side of the infield to provide invaluable insight that Lawrie can't get from any other player on the team (even Bautista). This will serve to refine both his defense (where Butter, is, of course, always at work) and his growth as a major league player in general.

*if he, for some reason, doesn't make the cut, he will have the opportunity to seek employment elsewhere, but if the jays somehow manage to convince him to accept assignment to Vegas then he will be in essence an extra coach and continue to school Adeiny.

*finally, the Jays are establishing a professional relationship which may well lead to an offer of a coaching position in the organization if Vizquel concludes there's no major league opportunity out there.
the other bit of news is the pending announcement of a 3+! deal for Brandon Morrow. Shi Davidi tweets that the expectation is that the deal will be worth ~$20mi over 3 years, with a $10 mil option (which has a $1 mil buyout). This has been the expectation here and elswhere since this time last year, and it gives the Jays control over Morrow beyond the two seasons he had left before free agency.
The expectation here is that the deal is likely structured along the lines of 4-6-10 and, in my opinion, this will be money incredibly well spent. i wrote on these pages last year that i feel Morrow is a Cy Young contender in waiting, with all due respect to Romero he's the most gifted starter on the staff, and has the potential to explode into a true ace-type #1. if i'm right, this will be yet another deal which makes Alex look very very good. I'f I'm wrong, it's still true that worse pitchers are making more money.
The rumors suggest the Jays are in talks with the Rangers regarding Koji Uehara. Now I'm of the opinion that the current bullpen is flush with solid options and there's little need for an addition, but Uehara is very very good (the tiny tiny playoff sample notwithstanding) and would be an obvious exception to that stand, assuming the price is not ridiculous. One would have to assume that such a deal would result in the exit of some player currently ticket to the bullpen since there's no real flexibility to send anyone down. My guess would be someone who still has work for Jesse Litsch as a starter, likely in the NL.

Another rumor, much less believable, connects the Jays to erstwhile closer Francisco Cordero. I simply don't see this being possibly true. Cordero has value, but it muddies the established closer meme that seems important to the Jays, and seems unlikely to be accomplished for a reasonable price given there are other suitors.
No word yet on a deal for Casey Janssen, but it says here (see what I did there?) that we'll soon be noting a deal that's either 1 or 2 years plus an option before the end of the month. Per Griffin, the Jays want the longer-terms deals to buy up at least one year of free agency, and of course Alex is on record as not negotiating for one year after the arb offers are announced. But the offered figures have such a clean and easy middle ground that it's easy to see how such a deal would work. Something like 2/3.5/4.5 option with a .5 buyout would be reasonable.

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