Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is Milledge a Fit in Toronto?

Alex Anthopoulos is known to acquire players who were once highly touted prospects even if their stock has dropped significantly.

He added players like Brandon Morrow, Yunel Escobar, Fred Lewis, John Buck etc. when they were already being viewed as players who were unable to live up to the hype that was laid upon them. These players were able to provide different levels of success for the Jays major league club in the 2009 season.

In fantasy baseball you might call these guys the "post-hype" sleepers, due to their widely perceived lack of value. Often times these players either haven't been given proper time, been mishandled, or have simply underperformed the lofty expectations that were heaped upon them while they were coming through their respective systems.

Fans and front offices alike are often unable to look past what these players can do well and gradually grow tired of expectations unmet that were maybe unrealistic in the first place.

Morrow is obviously the poster boy of what I am talking about, and if A.A. is able to search out a few more success stories he will be able to get useful players with the potential to be a lot better.

With all of that said, I was looking for a few of these types myself and I came across Lastings Milledge, who was once drafted 12th overall by the New York Mets out of a Florida high school. Milledge is still just 25 years old and has already played in three different organizations. In 2006, he was rated the 9th best prospect in the minors by Baseball America.

While he hasn't lived up to his billing as a perennial all-star outfielder, he has been able to consistently get playing time in both right and left (as well as center while he was in Washington), albeit on some awful teams. Those teams were likely playing him in the hopes of rekindling some of the talent that evaluators saw in him previously.

I am not sure if this move would work out as well as some others, especially with the arrival of Rajai Davis, but Milledge has shown the ability to hit lefties which the Blue Jays sorely lacked last year. With tough left-handers in the AL East such as David Price and Jon Lester (and maybe Cliff Lee) the Jays could use someone like him if for nothing other than a fourth outfielder.

Last year he hit lefties very well (.320/.414/.512, all of his four homers, and a 19/16 strikeout to walk ratio) and has throughout his major league career. He is a flawed player in many areas (baserunning, defensive fundamentals), but if you can look at what he does well then you can see the player that he is and not the player many thought he could be.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Drabek Debut?

Kyle Drabek is one of the more hyped pitching prospects to come from the Toronto system for quite some time and he may be in line for his major league debut. Double-A New Hampshire was eliminated in game three of the best of five series on Friday night after Drabek, as well as teammate Zach Stewart, pitched great, but received no run support.

In 2010, Drabek threw 162.0 innings as well as six innings in game one of the playoffs for a total of 168 innings. This came after he threw 158 in 2009 while spanning two levels of the Philadelphia phillies system. According to Alex Anthopoulos' plan with Brandon Morrow of 20% increases per season, Drabek still has some pitches in that gifted right arm.

Stewart is just past an added 20 per cent from his previous season and is being adjusted to a full-time starter so I wouldn't expect a call-up for him, but Drabek has around 28 innings remaining to reach 190 innings. The remaining innings could fit nicely into the remaining schedule for the Jays.

With 21 games remaining for the Jays he could get three or more starts if he were to be called to the bigs. On regular rest he could start the first game in the upcoming series opener at Baltimore on Monday (and that game is actually on all Sportsnet channels!).

I am not really sure if the audition would have any impact on Drabek's chances of breaking camp with the team next year, but it would be a nice reward for a pitcher who has pitched great at Double-A.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Romero is Squeezed

Come on, Dan Bellino

Ricky Romero was sent out for the start of the eighth inning with a high pitch count where he faced Johnny Damon to begin the inning. There were times throughout the day where Romero was visibly frustrated by the strike zone and Gameday backed up his point.

He tried his best and eventually did a good job to control his emotions towards the umpire, but the inconsistent strike zone may have cost him and his team the game because he eventually was forced out of the game after a 5-pitch walk.

Shawn Camp came in and could not strand the runner. Romero has had a frustrating year when it comes to great pitching performances in losses and no decisions.

Ususally it is his teammates that let him down, but his defence beind him played very well even though they could not score him many runs. Today it was the man behind the plate that didn't do his job. Robot umpires anyone?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sleeper Prospect: Catcher Brian Jeroloman

One of the often forgotten prospects in the Jays' minor league system of late has been catcher Brian Jeroloman who has seemingly fallen behind the depth chart at the position. With J.P. Arencibia a level ahead of him in AAA and arrival of Travis d'Arnaud in the Halladay deal, it may be easy to forget about the guy who was always seen as the best defensive catcher in the system.

Jeroloman, 25, was drafted in the sixth round (180th overall) in the 2006 amateur draft. As a left-handed hitter he was known to work counts and draw his fair share of walks, but his calling card was his defence. These trends continued until last year when he seemed to struggle:

This year, however, he is leading the eastern league in OPS (1.005). This is heavily supported by an amazing .468 OBP, but he also finds himself seventh in the league with a .537 SLG.

Jeroloman has routinely found himself batting ninth in the Fisher Cats lineup where he gets on base for the top of the lineup and doesn't get a lot of opportunities to drive in runs.

While working deep into counts Jeroloman has been prone to the strikeout, but that is acceptable as long as he is laying off pitchers pitches and driving the one he is capable of hitting. 

He has continued throwing out runners well at a 32% rate which could very well rise (he threw out 43% last year). 

If there is another concern it has to be his righty/lefty splits:

I am not sure how to check if left-handers have given him this much trouble in the past (+50% K rate in 2010), but he will have to improve against them if he wants to become an everyday catcher at the big league level.

Jeroloman is a catcher to keep an eye on in the minor leagues. I believe that he is a player that could reach the bigs quicker than Arencibia. John Buck is tearing up left-handed pitchers to this point and they could form a nice one-two punch in the future.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sleeper Prospect: Reliever Alan Farina

The Jays drafted reliever Alan Farina from the University of Clemson with the 115th overall pick in the 2007 draft along with what was supposed to be one of the teams strongest drafts in years.

Farina was recently seen as a bit of a disappointment along with 3B Kevin Ahrens, SS Justin Jackson, 2B John Tolisano, and OF Eric Eiland. He was the lone top college pick to struggle in the minors while he saw Brett Cecil and J.P. Arencibia climb the ranks of the Toronto system. He and P Trystan Magnuson both underperformed, but Magnuson found his stride in the bullpen while Farina struggled to stay on the field for an extended period of time. 

Farina started the year in his home state with the Jays Class-A Advanced Dunedin team after pitching in 29 games for the Florida State League team in 2009. He struggled last year with injuries and pitching inconsistencies. 

This year Farina has shown the promise that encouraged Jays management when they drafted him. He appeared in his 15th game today while picking up his first save in an 8-5 Dunedin win. His number to date are spectacular:   

Those numbers though are a bit deceiving because he has been lights-out recently:

Farina is just another name to look forward to especially in the bullpen in the years to come.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jays Sign Lind Long-Term

After recent articles came out talking about the organizations commitment to winning and spending money to do so, the Jays made a step in backing up their claims by signing a core member of the team to a big contract.

Winning baseball teams require support from the top and Alex Anthopoulos got the approval to sign LF/DH Adam Lind to a contract (4 years/ $18 million, plus options from 2014-2016) that works out like this:

This contract, along with the similar deal for 2B Aaron Hill, will go a long way in ensuring the club continues to retain its top talent. With the recent acquisition of Cuban Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (which hasn't yet been named official) and a ton of strong pitching the team looks to have the makings of a solid core to build their team around.

Lind, who is just 26, could potentially earn $38.5 million over seven years at which point he would still have the opportunity to get another decent contract. The great thing about this deal, and the Hill pact for that matter, is that the Jays have complete control after the initial part of the contract.

While looking for some popular opinions of the deal amongst the baseball community it was easy to see that the Jays have, seemingly, done well. Keith Law and Rob Neyer in particular have expressed their approval  of the deal which looks even better when you look at some of the contracts that have been given out in free agency.

For example as MLB Trade Rumors says in their post, "The 26-year-old Lind broke out in a big way last season, hitting .305/.370/.562 with 46 doubles and 35 homeruns. Even though he's mostly a leftfielder and designated hitter, Toronto appears to get a tremendous bargain here. For comparison's sake, Nick Markakis will earn $62.455MM for the same seven year chunk of his career."

Another good comparison in terms of outfield ability and recent contract (but not age) is Canadian Jason Bay who hit .267/.384/.537 with 29 doubles and 36 homers in 2009. The Mets gave Bay a 4 year/$66 million deal with an incentive based option at the tail end.

It was nice to hear that a few of his teammates were there to be with him at his press conference where he said, “It will mean a lot for my parents, for my future kids, just so they can do what they want, they can go to the schools that they want.” And, “They can breathe for the rest of their life.”

I would hope so.

Lind went on to thank his parents, "for making me," and on befalf of all Jays fans we would like to thank them as well.

2010 MLB Predictions

Before the first pitch is thrown on Sunday night in Boston I thought I would throw out some predictions.

AL East
1) Yankees
2) Red Sox (Wildcard)
3) Rays
4) Orioles
5) Blue Jays

AL Central
1) Twins
2) White Sox
3) Tigers
4) Indians
5) Royals

AL West
1) Angels
2) Mariners
3) Rangers
4) Athletics

NL East
1) Phillies
2) Braves (Wildcard)
3) Marlins
4) Mets
5) Nationals

NL Central
1) Cardinals
2) Brewers
3) Reds
4) Cubs
5) Astros
6) Pirates

NL West
1) Rockies
2) Dodgers
3) Diamondbacks
4) Giants
5) Padres

AL Champions - New York Yankees

NL Champions - St. Louis Cardinals

World Series Champions - St. Louis Cardinals

Mark Teixeira (with Miguel Cabrera as my darkhorse)

Albert Pujols (with Ryan Braun as my darkhorse)

AL Cy Young
C.C. Sabathia (with Jon Lester as my darkhorse)

NL Cy Young
Roy Halladay (with Tommy Hanson and Ubaldo Jimenez as my darkhorses)

AL Rookie of the Year
Brian Matusz (with Wade Davis as my sleeper)

NL Rookie of the Year
Jason Heyward (with Alcides Escobar as my sleeper)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We're Rooting For You Vernon

There is no denying that Vernon Wells was given an absurd amount of money (7 years/$126 million) from former Blue Jays G.M. JP Ricciardi, but no one can blame him for accepting the deal. Hopefully he is not the type of player to take the money and relax like so many players have done before.

If Vernon is unable to show his old-form, the contract could become (and probably already is) an albatross which will stick with the club for years to come. When the deal was done the feeling was that it was a large investment, but one that showed the organizations committment to winning. There were suitors for his services in trade (Texas Rangers) because he was one year away from free agency and had proved to be a top centerfielder in the game. For a recap of reactions to the mega-deal you can check out this old post by MLB Trade Rumors.  

Here is a video that gives the thoughts of ESPN's Peter Gammons shortly after it was completed:

I only bring up the reaction to remind some forgetful fans of what this guy was and hopefully still could be. His offence has dropped off and his defence, according to UZR/150 (-18.7), has declined as well. 

The title of the post really does say it all. Last year the fans really got on Wells for his struggles and they were well founded a lot of the time. If the Jays have any hope at getting some bang for their buck, though, then they better hope he can bounceback this season. I want Vernon to succeed because he seems like a genuine guy that can really help the organization when he is playing to his capabilities.

His head seems to be in the right place this spring, for whatever that is worth and his body would presumably be at 100% after two straight years of nagging injuries. 

Cito Gaston, rightly or wrongly, has penciled Vernon into the clean-up spot where he will have every opportunity to hit 20 homers and drive in 85 runs.   

Will Vernon Leave the Jays After this Year?
I found this from an article and I got a little laugh from it:
Wells, 28, said the contract doesn't necessarily mean he'll retire a Blue Jay. The contract is expected to include an opt-out clause.
"It all depends on where my career is," Wells said.
I have a feeling that Vernon will be sticking arnd throught the rest of his deal.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Interesting Spring Training Questions

There are a number of questions which remain unanswered at the Jays spring camp:

  • Will Jason Frasor (or maybe Scott Downs?) be moved to another club?
Tough to even hazard a guess, but if the right offer comes along (maybe the Twins or Cubs) then a move will be made. With his new hybrid changeup, it may be smart to allow Frasor to close ball game and have a career year to further boost his value. Scott Downs, if he is available, could be harder to move because he has been rather injury-prone, but he is currently not at his peak value.

  • Who is going to close ball games?
It seems like Kevin Gregg still holds the upper hand despite his struggles in his short time in spring training. It would be nice to see Jason Frasor be given the opportunity because he was awesome last year and seems to have turned the corner as a relief pitcher.

  • Who is the fifth starter to begin the year?
I believe it will be Brian Tallet because Cito has hinted as much and knows what he is getting from him when he sends him out there. Gaston seems to love players who played for the team before (much like Shawn Camp) and he will likely be given the spot to start the year while the team awaits the arrival of another guy to take a spot in the rotation. Brett Cecil seems to be out of favour with the organization recently and the team does not want to rush prospects or injured players. It would be nice to see someone like Dana Eveland who is younger and has more potential to help the team long-term.  

  • Who is your top bench player (Mike McCoy, Jeremy Reed, or Joey Gathwright)?
I would think the Jays will use Mike McCoy as an extreme utility player and pinch runner. His ability to play both the infield and outfield while supplying decent on-base skills and plus speed he is a better option than the other players. Reed and Gathwright have proven what they are as major-league players: mediocre.

  • Is Travis Snider going to make the team to begin the season?

No, he won't. It sucks to say it because he is definitely fun to watch, but he will probably spend a chunk of time in the Pacific Coast League to begin the year. He does struggle against major-league lefties and is too young to platoon in the MLB. It is unknown how much the minors can help him at this point because he raked there last year, but his teammate Adam Lind went through a lot of the same struggles before and he has fluorished with an advanced hitting aproach. Randy Ruiz deserves a chance to prove himself as a major league hitter and Jose Bautista is in the managers good books. Bautista will more than likely lead-off and start in right field.

EDIT: I think Cito has seen the light (or possibly been told my someone above him) that Snider is the future and will start him in the outfield come opening day. His recent comments on his recent play and importance to the teams future success bode well for Snider and his chances of making the team. This would leave out Reed and Gathwright.

  • Who will make up the rest of the bullpen?
Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, Jesse Carlson, Jeremy Accardo, Shawn Camp, and Zech Zinicola are the group that I think they will start out with. This is obviously just a guess, but I think Casey Janssen and Josh Roenicke will be close. The club will want to watch Zinicola much like they did with Randy Wells years back. I believe Merkin Valdez needs to make the Jays out of sprimg to remain with the club so it really is a loaded bullpen picture.

  • Can Edwin Encarnacion fully recover from his wrist problems to take on a full load at third?
All signs are pointing towards EE getting into spring games soon which would put him on line to start at third on opening day. Everyone always says that hitters could be ready for the season with a two week spring training so maybe the club is being extra cautious. Better safe than sorry and the less wear and tear on that recovering wrist the better. He is a guy who has good power and on-base skills which could really help out a club. I am really high on him and I don't understand why he got so much hate after he struggled to start out with Toronto last season. His defence is not good, but we were spoiled with Scott Rolen and EE really just struggles with an inconsistent throwing arm.

  • Who is the backup catcher to begin the year?
I think it is safe to assume that Jose Molina is going to take that spot in behind John Buck. He is getting a lot of time behind the plate while he attempts to learn all of the new pitchers he will have to catch. If Raul Chavez had any chance he would be catching 'A' games and not the 'B' games he has been working in.

  • Will Brian Dopirak or Randy Ruiz get the backup first baseman/DH spot?
Ruiz is not making it easy for Dopirak to make his major-league debut, but Dopirak is hitting well also. Ruiz is the darling of all the people surrounding the team and it is deserved. This is a guy who has hit at every spot and done whatever the Jays have asked of him. With a new body and the same bat Ruiz is the favourite to make the team.

  • Is Shaun Marcum your opening day starter?
Yes, as pointed out by reporters, he is right on line to start the first game of the year in Texas and is the more experienced than Ricky Romero which is a prerequisite far Gaston. Marcum is only helping his case by blanking the Yankees and Rays in his only spring training starts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Man with a Plan

Jays probable leadoff man Jose Bautista is killing the Grapefruit League right now and he is crediting it to the plan that he implemented late last season. According to this article from Morgan Campbell, Bautista, who was struggling for much of last year, changed his approach to hitting around September first. He also thrived when given a full time playing spot.

We have all heard about the transformation of slugger Adam Lind when he was convinced by manager Cito Gaston to attack "his pitch" when at the plate and it seems to have worked out fine for Bautista as well.

At the age of 29, Bautista looks to have a great chance to establish himself the same way Marco Scutaro did last year. As you can see from the chart below, Bautista was outstanding in Spetember when this "plan" was being used. Click to enlarge.
Spetember numbers can sometimes be deceiving due to the sub-par pitching, though. It may not be the best idea to expect those type of numbers because you are likely to be disappointed, but if he is able to get more comfortable in the box (especially against righties) then he could become a viable right fielder for the 2010 Jays.

If Bautista can become consistent while Randy Ruiz continues to rake at every place he hits, the Blue Jays may be forced to send Travis Snider to AAA to begin the year.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring Training Stats

With the Jays first Grapefruit League game of 2010 coming up tomorrow I thought I would have a look at last years stats from the spring. We always hear that the stats do not matter and they should be taken with a large grain of salt and that is the case more often than not. Dave Cameron, of Fangraphs, recently wrote an article all about last years top performers and their success, or lack thereof, in the regular season. As fans, we can watch boxscores, but must try our hardest to remember the relative importance of the games being played.

As you can see below, the Jays most valuable player could have been Jason Lane who went on to spend the entire season in AAA Las Vegas where he struggled to the tune of a .253/.347/.462 line with 13 homers and 47 RBI's.

David Purcey had a great spring and was seen as the Jays number two starter when the club broke camp, but his season quickly went down hill. With every Purcey, though, there is a Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Aaron Hill, or Adam Lind who carries it over to the season.

I, like many fans, will probably have trouble tempering by excitement if a couple young pitchers like Kyle Drabek or Zach Stewart or hitters like Travis Snider or Brett Wallace have great springs, but we all know that it really may not mean a whole lot.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Few Trade Chips

There is no doubt that if (and 'when' in many peoples opinions) that Jays are without a shot at the playoffs that Alex Anthopoulos would be looking to move certain players in the right deal. Contenders are looking to boost their chances to go deeper into the playoffs while taking advantage of their trading partner. The Jays would surely look at any deal that would give them a piece moving forward.

One thing that many people always wanted from former G.M. J.P. Ricciardi was an admission that the team was not in contention. Often, it seemed, he was in denial and refused to move pieces before the trade deadline. For example, when A.J. Burnett was pitching well in what would be his final season for the club, Ricciardi was unable to make a move that may have helped the club. He may not have had a viable offer (and he could not have foreseen the Yankees signing two higher rated free agents), but there was little doubt that he was going to opt-out of his deal and leave for another long-term contract. If there was a deal that could have brought back prospects worth more than the picks that they would have received, then a deal should have been made. That all sounds familiar to the Roy Halladay situation that was just endured.

This year, the Jays will be a team which will be called early and often. As a rookie general manager, Anthopoulos will probably receive some low-ball offers, but he is smart enough to know the value of his assets.

A few Jays that contending teams could be looking at:

1B Lyle Overbay
With an expiring contract at $7 million and hot shot prospect Brett Wallace hot on his heels, Overbay will be moved if there is any deal that would bring back proper compensation. Not only would the acquiring club receive a good defensive first baseman (and righty masher), but they would pick up draft pick compensation at seasons end. If the player package heading the Jays way cannot exceed the compensatory picks then the deal may as well not be completed. However, if Wallace is able to surprise in spring and get off to a good start in Las Vegas, he may force the Jays hand in making a deal.

RP Scott Downs & Jason Frasor
Both releivers would, assumably, slide right into a contending teams 7th or 8th inning role perfectly. Both pitchers may be forced into a closing role here in Toronto, but the team getting them would probably have someone already in place as the closer. Teams would probably be hesitant in giving up any top prospects, but many are prone to give up more than normal when they are in a playoff push. Another guy who may fall into this group, but has the ability to start too is Brian Tallet.

SS Alex Gonzalez
As I have said before, many clubs are in search of stop-gap shortstops who are reliable with the glove and won't kill you with their bats. Gonzalez was a victim of the trade deadline last year when he was shipped from the Reds to the Red Sox. He may be in a similar situation this year if he has a strong enough year to gather some interest.

Something that always bothers me is when contending teams are looking to acquire players, but are reluctant to give up unproven prospects for legitimate major-league players. All teams should keep an eye towards the future, but if you are building up your minor-league system for the major-league playoffs, then why wouldn't you be willing to ship them out for someone who is going to help you in the present time. A perfect example from this offseason is the Philadelphia Phillies and their refusal to keep Cliff Lee. To pair him up with Halladay and Cole Hamels would have created a formidable playoff rotation. They were willing to give up a proven pitcher for prospects who are highly-regarded, but not sure things.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Fantasy Squad

I had my fantasy draft last night at ESPN and I wound up with the 10th and 11th picks. With those picks I chose Miguel Cabrera and David Wright. The rest of the way I tried to get stud starting pitchers, but I forgot about the oufield spot somewhere along the way. If you are interested in my team you can see the pictures below of my roster. It is a standard 10 team, head-to-head, 25-man roster, league that counts batting average, home runs, RBI's, runs scored, and stolen bases for hitters and ERA, WHIP, saves, strikeouts, and wins for pitchers.

Tell me your opinion of my team or talk about yours in the comments section below. Remember you can follow my twitter @anotherjaysblog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Key Position Players

With the expected season the Jays are about to go through it is easy to say that a good portion of the lineup would need to have career years for the club to compete. In years past, when the club thought it was in position to contend for a playoff spot, the Jays suffered from certain players either not performing to their expectations or not being able to play at their career norms due to injuries.

Last year, for example, Adam Lind and Aaron Hill played at levels that no one could have foreseen. On the other hand, players like Alex Rios and Vernon Wells were not able to continue their play of years past.

This year the Jays and their fans will look for breakout seasons from players like Brandon Morrow and Travis Snider while searching for continued dominance from Hill and Lind. With the relative inexperience that is on the roster, the chances of breakout seasons from some of the younger guys are unlikely to happen.

At this point in the re-building of the organization, general manager Alex Anthopoulos is looking to see who can handle the majors and who needs more development time.

As I mentioned, though, since it is unlikely for every player to have career years which would push the Jays into contention, there will be key players which could really progress the building of a competitor in the tough AL East. 

Adam Lind
At 26-years-old, Lind will look to build on his sensational 2009 season where he found himself as a LF/DH for 151 games. After posting a .305/.370/.562 with 35 homers and 114 RBI, Lind will be put in a similar position in the lineup where he is going to be expected to be amongst the top sluggers in the American League. With the track record of being a top-notch hitter at every level of baseball, there is no reason to expect he cannot continue what he started last season.

Aaron Hill
While missing nearly two-thirds of 2008 with a severe concussion, Hill rebounded with a sublime 2009 season where he hit .286/.330/.499 (36 HR and 108 RBI) and won the Silver Slugger award for his position. It has been said that he may not be able to smash home runs at the same pace, but if he is able to get on-base a bit betterwhile still seeking his pitch to hit he will continue to be amongst the best young second basemen in the majors. For an interesting read on Hill's spray chart for homers last year, check out this article from Fangraphs. 

Vernon Wells
Wells will hope to bounce back after a 2009 season where he hit .260/.311/.400 with 15 homers and 66 RBI. After the season he had surgery on his wrist which will hopefully give him some of his power back. Cito has mentioned he wants to place Wells in the cleanup spot behind Hill and Lind so he will be given every opportunity to show he can be the hitter he was in 2003 or 2006. I am sure the Jays would settle for something around his career averages of .280/.329/.470. If Wells were able to find his previous form he, at the age of just 31, could give some justification to his massive pricetag.

Travis Snider
At just 22-years-old, Snider will look to fulfill on the promise which everyone has heralded him with since being drafted. It looked like last year was going to be that season, but after slugging .484 in April (and smashing two mammoth homers while in Minnesota) last year it was all downhill. Snider has admitted to going through some rough times last season (recounted here) and is looking forward to having a strong spring. He has not been guaranteed an outfield spot on the major-league club, but it would benefit the club for him to make a statement at the highest level. Snider is the type of player who contending teams place in the middle of their orders and expect top-10 MVP type seasons. His vast potential has allowed him to cruise through the minors and it should allow him to flourish in time.

These are some position players that I feel could help the club grow into the contender they hope to become. Obviously every player would benefit the club with a good season, but they are obviously the core of the current major league club (in terms of position players). If players like Edwin Encarnacion and Lyle Overbay could have solid seasona they may be in line for an extension or a quality trade, respectively. The club will look to boost the minor league system to fill positions of need while promoting those who are currently in the system. Some of the key position players who may see playing time in the majors as soon as 2010 are: Brett Wallace (1B/3B) and J.P. Arencibia (C).

You can now follow me on Twitter @anotherjaysblog

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Barajas Signs

Barajas Inks a Deal with the Mets
Good news for the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans because now former-Jay Rod Barajas has signed a major-league deal worth $1 million (with $1 million in incentives) for the 2010 season with the New York Mets. The deal, as explained in an older post, will allow the Jays to receive a supplemental pick in the 2010 amateur draft.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, this signing will allow the Jays to pick up the 41st pick in the upcoming draft. After thoughts that Barajas may have to settle for a minor-league deal, it is a good thing that he will sign a guaranteed major-league deal. With a minor-league deal, the Jays would not have received draft pick compensation.  

McGowan Throws Successful Bullpen
Another fact-filled blog post by Jays reporter Jordan Bastian that you should check out. The best news is that Dustin McGowan, one of the spring's biggest storylines, has thrown his sixth pain-free bullpen session after coming off an injury-plagued 2009 season which saw him go down with right shoulder and left knee injuries.

McGowan is quoted as saying that he hopes to makes the Jays rotation as soon as opening day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jays Welcome (Jose) Molina

According to the twitter of Jordan Bastian, the Jays have signed catcher Jose Molina to a one-year minor-league contract with a club option. He is guaranteed $400K and another $400K if he makes the opening day roster, which is not necessarily certain to happen. He will battle it out with Raul Chavez in spring training for the right to back-up newly signed John Buck.

Last year the 34 year old was a backup to Jorge Posada for the Yankees where he hit .217/.292/.268 in 138 AB's. Chavez did have a better year at the plate (.258/.285/.346) in 159 AB's, but they may want Chazez do go to the minors to backup J.P. Arencibia because he is on a minor-league deal.

The brother of Bengie and Yadier has a career caught stealing percentage of 40%, but threw them out at a rate of 28% last season in 52 games (Chavez had a 38 CS% last year).

The club option is worth $1.2 million for 2011, but that is not likely to be picked up. The Jays would like Arencibia to have a good start to the year and hopefully take over Molina's spot on the roster at some point in 2010.

It's really hard to find anything to say about this move and I don't think anything needs to be said because I would have been fine with Chavez (or even Kyle Phillips) starting the year as the major league backup with Arencibia taking over at mid-season, but this move just puts another mediocre catcher on the depth chart.

UPDATE: Bastian is reporting that Molina is the "clear favourite" to win the primary backup spot on the roster. That is a not surprising because Molina has name value, but Chavez definitely deserves a shot considering his 2009 season. He is also saying that the club has placed Jesse Litsch on the 60-day disabled list to clear room for Molina on the 40-man roster.

Lind Leads Jays Fantasy Players

ESPN has come out with their 2010 player projections and there are a few Jays who I am interested in for the upcoming season. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I, when drafting, will more than likely avoid any of the three potential closers (Downs, Gregg, and Frasor) and it looks like they are saying they are feeling the same way. There are a few intriguing players who could help someone's roster either from the draft or later on in the season. Roy Halladay has long been the Jays top fantasy player amongst Jays, but his loss leaves others to step up.

As expected Adam Lind and Aaron Hill lead the bunch of Blue Jays (click to expand):

Now I will give you some players who I feel could be significant fantasy contributors for Toronto (no particular order):

Obviously these are just estimates of the stats these players will put up, but they are always fun to look at. Some players will fail to meet expectations, while others will rise above any prognostications. I am sure no one expected Adam Lind or Aaron Hill to do what they did last year.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mets Interested in Barajas

Recently, MLB Trade Rumors linked to an article stating the New York Mets interest in former Blue Jay catcher Rod Barajas. Initially it seemed as though they were making a "hard push," but those statements have since been re-stated. They are now looking on bringing in the hard-luck catcher on a minor league deal.

Barajas, as any Jays fan over the last two years will tell you, is a good receiver behind the plate that is capable of handling inexperienced staffs, while throwing out runners at a good clip. With the bat though, he struggles to get on base, but is capable of hitting the ball over the fence.

His string of bad luck in free agency (as the Drunk Jays Fans will tell you) may continue as he was probably expecting a multi-year deal heading into the offseason. At the very least he should receive a guaranteed major-league deal. The Jays felt the same way and offered him arbitration knowing he would decline in order to receive a more lucrative offer elsewhere. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, if Barajas does not receive a major-league deal, theywill not receive the draft-pick compensation they were looking for.

As a "B" level free agent the Jays would expect to garner a "sandwich," or supplemental, pick while the other club would not have to give up a pick. You would think that the only starting catcher left on the market would be in line to get a major-league deal, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Barajas at the age of 34 could help a lot of teams solidify their catching position and the Mets are the leading candidate at this point with Omir Santos, Josh Thole, Chris Coste, and Henry Blanco. Teams such as the Mariners and Rangers would seemingly get in on Barajas and possibly drive up the price on him. He had a solid season last year hitting .226/.258/.403 (with 19 homers) in 460 plate appearances while throwing out 29.3 per cent of his attempted base-stealers and earning $2.5 million.

If the Jays are able to get a pick for Barajas they are going to have nine picks in the top three rounds of the 2010 amateur draft which could really help the Jays minor league system if they draft well. Anthopoulos told Batter's Box that he plans on drafting the best players available despite age or position. Hopefully with a heightened scouting system they will feel more comfortable with the available players and spend above the slot level in order to sign them unlike last year.
UPDATE: Jon Heyman is saying that Barajas is likely to accept a minor-league deal with the New York Mets worth about $1 million where he would be the favourite to start at catcher. This would not allow the Jays to collect a draft-pick.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ace in Hand?

When the Blue Jays acquired righty Brandon Morrow in the offseason, I immediately approved of the trade. It was not long after the trade of Halladay and they needed someone to provide effective innings for what looked to be an extremely inexperienced rotation. While he played with the Mariners I was able to catch a few of his starts after Jays games and he certainly impressed me. I watched him almost no-hit the New York Yankees and watched him dismantle the A's last year in his final start of the year. Obviously those starts were/are not the norm, but it did show his vast potential.
When the M's drafted him 5th overall in the 2006 amateur draft he was thought of as a future ace who could potentially help in the bullpen as soon as that upcoming season. He was an enigma of sorts and the organization admittedly gave him the "yo-yo" treatment by sending him between the rotation and bullpen, both in the majors and minors. They obviously regretted the decision because his potential was never met in the Northwest.

Furthermore, the fans saw the success of local hero Tim Lincecum who was taking the National League by storm just as he had done at the University of Washington. With every Lincecum quality start the Mariners fans would shake their collective heads at the fact that he could have been on their team. I think Jays fans know the feeling after the proposed Alex Rios for Tim Lincecum deal fell through.

Brandon League, along with highly touted outfield prospect Johermyn Chavez, were sent to Seattle in a deal that could work out well for both teams. The Mariners are hoping to contend this year with League moving into their bullpen and the Jays will likely move Morrow into the three-spot in their rotation (they can send him to the minors by using his remaining option, though).
I, unlike some fans, enjoyed watching League even though he did struggle at times (especially in multi-inning situations), but it is a swap where all players involve may prosper with a change of scenery. Morrow, more so than League, had worn out his welcome and tried the patience of the new front-office of the Mariners and they sent him packing. With the dearth of bullpen arms available to the Blue Jays they could afford to move one piece for a big-armed starting pitcher.

Immediately we heard Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos compare Morrow to former Jay A.J. Burnett. Morrow is a guy who struggles with command, but can reach 98 on the radar gun with relative ease. It is that type of "stuff" that fans love to watch and opposing batters hate to face. On any given night he can strike out twelve or walk six. He can tantalize or frustrate fans or opponents alike and that is what the Jays will attempt to harness.
The Jays, who have a history of turning mediocre pitchers in to serviceable ones, will get the opportunity to turn a talented (albeit wild) pitcher into a future front-end starter.

Something that I will enjoy this season is going to be turning on the television every game and having the possibility to watch something special. Whether it be Morrow, Romero, Marcum, Cecil, or Rzepczynski. In addition to those guys, there are pitchers such as Drabek and McGowan who are just as young, talented, and fun to watch. In a year where there are no expectations, these are the guys I want to see pitch. With all due respect to guys such a Brian Tallet the Jays know what they have in him.

Here are some of Morrow's statistics from years past along with Bill James' projected 2010 statistics:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Keith Law Kills Gregg Move

While reading Keith Law's recent ESPN chat, I came across this zinger from former Jays front office employee Keith Law:

Josh: Which of Alex Anthopoulos' moves do you hate most so far?

Keith Law: I'd love to know who said, "You know, we should sign Kevin Gregg to a major-league deal." And why he's still working there.

Pretty good stuff which perfectly sums up both my and the Jays blogging communities thoughts on the move.