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The Blue Jays announced that they'll have $210 million to spend on player salaries from 2005-2007. Here's a look at the projected team for each of those years.

Projected 2005 Roster

Starters	Salary	Relievers	Salary
Halladay	10.5	Ligtenberg	2.5
Batista	         4.8	Chulk	        0.3
Lilly	         3.1	Frasor	        0.3
Towers	         0.4	Koch	        0.9
Bush	         0.4	League	        0.3
		        Schoeneweis	2.5
		        Speier	        1.9

Catchers / OF	Salary	Infield / DH	Salary
Myers	         0.7	Koskie	        5.5
Zaun	         1.0	Hillenbrand	3.9
Wells	         2.9    Hudson	        0.4
Rios	         0.3    Menechino	0.5
Cat	         2.7    Adams	        0.3
Johnson	         0.3    Hinske	        3.0
		        McDonald	0.4

Total Salary: $49.7 million


Projected 2006 roster

Assumptions:

- Among position players Gross, Quiroz, and Hill spend their first full year in Toronto. Among pitchers you have Chacin, Banks, Rosario, and Vermilyea.

- For the pitchers coming up from the minors I'm going to assume there's a 50% success rate of transitioning to be a successful major league pitcher. So for 2006 I paired Banks & Rosario as one starter and Chacin & Vermilyea as one reliever with Gaudin pairing up with Chulk.

- Lilly gets $7 million in arbitration after the season

- Hudson gets $2 million in his first year of arbitration

- Hillenbrand is non-tendered

- Backups signed as free agents each get $1 million

- Players with * next to their names have guaranteed contracts

2006

Starters	Salary	Relievers	Salary
Halladay*	12.8	Schoeneweis*	2.8
Batista*	 4.8	Speier*	        2.3
Lilly	         7.0	Frasor	        0.4
Bush	         0.4	Chulk/Gaudin    0.4
Banks/Rosario	 0.3	League	        0.4
		        Vrmlyea/Chacin	0.3
		        Towers          1.0

Catchers / OF	Salary	Infield / DH	Salary
Quiroz	         0.3	Koskie*	        5.3
Zaun*	         1.0	Hill	        0.3
Wells*	         4.3	Hudson	        2.0
Rios	         0.4	Adams	        0.4
Cat*	         2.7	Hinske	        4.3
Gross 	         0.4	Backup IF	1.0
		        Utility 	1.0

Total Salary: $55.9 million

Projected 2007 Lineup:

Assumptions:

- McGowan, Marcum, Purcey and Jackson spend their first full year in Toronto. Again we'll assume a 50% success rate on the pitchers and pair them up.

- Lilly signs a contract worth $9 million for 2007

- Hudson gets $4 million in his second year of arbitration

- Rios is a Super 2 and gets $2 million in arbitration

- Backups signed as free agents each get $1 million

- Free agent relievers signed get $2 million

- Players with * next to their names have guaranteed contracts

2007

Starters	Salary	Relievers	Salary
Halladay*	12.8	League	        0.4
Lilly	         9.0	McGowan/Marcum	0.3
Bush	         2.0	Frasor	        1.0
Banks/Rosario	 0.3	Chulk/Gaudin    1.0
Purcey/Jackson	 0.3	Vrmlyea/Chacin	0.4
		        FA reliever	2.0
		        FA reliever	2.0

Catchers / OF	Salary	Infield / DH	Salary
Quiroz	        0.4	Koskie*	        5.8
Backup C 	1.0	Hill	        0.4
Wells*	        5.6	Hudson	        4.0
Rios	        2.0	Adams	        0.4
Gross	        0.4	Hinske*	        5.6
Backup OF	1.0	Backup IF	1.0
		        Utility 	1.0

Total Salary: $59.9 million



The above projected lineup gets you to a total payroll of $165.5 million from 2005-2007. The Jays have publicly stated that they will spend $210 million on major league salaries over that period.

Pistol: Where should the Jays try to improve with the extra money?

To me the Koskie signing indicated that the Jays are committed to keeping Aaron Hill in the middle infield. There has been speculation that Hill would move to 3b, causing Koskie to shift over to 1B, but the problem with that to me is that youíre weakening two positions. Koskie at 3B is more valuable than Koskie at 1B. At 3B Koskie is above average. If you shift him over to 1B he becomes an average to below average 1B. If Koskie is able to play 3B he needs to play 3B. The same thing applies to Aaron Hill. If Hill can play SS or 2B heís more valuable there than if heís playing 3B.

So if you keep Koskie at 3B, and Hill & Adams both are going to be productive major league players (which certainly isnít a lock, but probable at this point) you have a logjam in the middle infield with Hill, Adams, and Hudson.

In 2004 Hudson hit .270/.341/.438 for a VORP of 27.4 which placed him 5th among 2B. Hudson will be 27 this season, and will be eligible for his first year of arbitration following the 2005 season. If Hudson has another year similar to 2004 one would think his trade value would be at its highest point; heíd have a track record, heíd have a strong defensive reputation, and his salary would still be modest for 2 more years.

While Adams and Hill likely wonít be as strong defensively as Hudson I donít think itís unreasonable to expect them to be as productive at the plate.

Given all of that I think Hudson is the most likely candidate to be traded among the middle infield trio of Hudson, Adams, and Hill. Of course if a trade is made with a team at the bottom tier of payrolls itís possible that theyíd be more interested in Adams or Hill as theyíd be cheaper than Hudson.

Mike Green: Corey Koskie's approach to fielding third base has been effective, but it's hard on the 30+ body. When he's healthy, he's an above-average hitter even for a first baseman.

I am not saying that he should be moved to first base. It is not, however, simply a matter of asking him to perform the most physically demanding defensive position that he can manage. Balancing his offensive contributions (which might be better and more consistent as a first baseman within the next year or two) and defense is a tricky thing.

Hill at third, Koskie at first is just one of a series of reasonable mid-term options, depending on the performance of the other infielders.

Rob: By the end of this season, Toronto has to sign Hudson or trade him, depending on how Hill and Adams pan out.

If they sign him, it should be 2006 through 2008, not four years. That takes care of his arbitration years nicely, as I bet his price will rise when he wins a Gold Glove either in '05 or '06. Then you're left with Hill/Adams/Koskie/Hinske for three spots in the infield; DH is open if Cat is traded.

If Hudsonís traded, it better be a great deal. He's enthusiastic, a hometown favourite, and plays tremendous defence.

I'm not saying one way is better than the other, but they need to decide what to do with Orlando Hudson before the 2006 season starts.

Gerry: I seem to recall that the careers of second basemen peak and decline faster than other positions. It that is so, then O-Dog will be traded sooner rather than later.

Anyone else familiar with my recollection?

Mike Green: Second basemen are more susceptible to injury than other position players, save for catchers. I'd assess Hudson's risk as much less than usual for second basemen because he is so adept at avoid contact on the double play. The Jays do have a surfeit at 2b/ss/3b, but the first step is, in my view, to see how Adams and Hill pan out and how healthy Koskie is when July rolls around.

Pistol: Looking at the OF, Vernon Wells is nearly a lock to remain in CF for the next 3 season. To start the year it looks like Alex Rios will be in RF and Cat will be in LF. Reed Johnson will likely get starts from Cat against LHPs and serve as the 4th OF.

Gabe Gross had a good year in Syracuse, hitting .294/.381/.454, and struggled in his time with the Jays at the end of the season. It appears that heíll spend at least half a season in Syracuse. Gross has typically struggled each time that he has moved up a level, so thereís a good chance heíll rebound in his next stint in Toronto if you believe minor league statistics translate to the majors. The Jays need to figure out what they have in Gross this season, and Iím not sure that Syracuse is that best place for that. Regardless, barring a trade, Gross should be in LF at the start of the 2006 season.

However, if an upgrade to one of the corner outfield positions is made itís possible that either Rios or Gross could be traded. Or alternatively, if Gross or Rios is traded for help at another position the Jays could sign a middle of the road free agent OF or continue with a Johnson/Cat platoon. If I had to guess who the Jays would trade Iíd guess Gross over Rios just based on his higher ceiling (although you could argue that Gross is the safer player to keep).

Rob: Thereís four players that the Jays should be willing to give up in trades: Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske, Frank Catalanotto, and Reed Johnson.

If any one of Hillenbrand/Catalanotto/Hinske/Johnson is shipped out, it opens up a spot in the lineup for Gabe Gross, who doesn't need to prove anything more in Syracuse. It makes too much sense not to trade one of them.

One of these players should be traded, perhaps for a slugging prospect. Not in Ryan Howard's league, more like a younger version of Eric Crozier who, if all goes according to plan, plays every day in 2006.

Mick Doherty: Oh, I know. Let's start up the ridiculous Vernon Wells for Mark Teixeira rumors again.

Actually, if Wells is at .330/24/85 around July 30, assuming the Blue Jays are effectively out of WC contention, I'd say deal him NOW. This year. Sell high. The problem is, who would deal for him? The only teams that genuinely have a need in CF AND have the payroll flexibility to sign him long term are the Yankees and Dodgers, and neither is exactly brimming with tradeable prospects, though I suppose Dionar Navarro or Edwin Jackson could centerpiece a deal.

So maybe it is Texas, after all, but only Teixeira if sometime this year either Adrian Gonzalez or Jason Botts proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can hit MLB pitching. AND if Tom Hicks opens up his wallet to bring VW back to DFW. AND if the Rangers are in contention. AND if Hidalgo works out, I guess.

What contender needs a CF and has an appropriate package of prospects to offer? Oakland, but I don't imagine they'd take on a big contract. Anaheim, if Erstad moves back to 1B. Hey, how about VW to the Reds for Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena? AK plays 1B in TO, Pena takes Wells' spot, VW plays CF in Cinci, bumping Junior to LF ... but Cinci might not pay quite so much for Wells. I dunno.

Pistol: I think there'd have to be a pretty overwhelming offer to trade Wells. He's going to be (hopefully) a highly productive CF and cheap for the next 3 years. $5.6 million in 2007 looks like a severe bargain at this point.

Teixeira had an OPS+ of 128 last year in his year 24 season.

Wells had an OPS+ of 131 in his year 24 season in 2002.

They're similar hitters, and Wells plays a good defensive CF. A trade of a premier CF wouldn't make sense to me, especially now that the Jays don't have to pinch pennies.

For what it's worth the Dodgers have one of the best farm systems going. Or at least that's what BA and Sickels say. Navarro didn't even crack the Dodger's top 10 list at BA.

Mike Green: Vernon Wells is a fine centerfielder, and a good hitter but his career OBP in the majors in 2000 ABs is .333. His OBP in 1000 ABs in triple A was .326. Teixeira's long-term record suggests that last year's performance was a floor for him, not a ceiling.

What the Jays currently have is a centerfielder playing right-field (well), and a potential right-fielder (Gross), who if all goes well, will get a trial in left-field. There is a trading opportunity here if Wells gets hot, but the fact is that the Jays need to have a leftfielder come the other way. Sparky makes a fine 4th outfielder.

Dave Till: I would only trade a player if he is blocking a better player coming up behind him, or if the trade allows the Jays to reshuffle their roster to be a better team overall.

Wells has his weak points, true enough. His OBP is low, mostly because he has such good plate coverage (he can hit anything in or near the strike zone when he's on form). But that's really his only weakness: he runs well, he has power, he is excellent defensively, and he doesn't cost a lot. If I were the GM, you'd have to offer me a heck of a lot to get me to trade V-Dub.

Pistol: Zaun appears to be a stopgap solution at catcher until Quiroz is ready to take over. At that point Zaun would slide into the backup role. The Jays seem set at this position in the near future.

At 1B & DH you have Hillenbrand and Hinske, with Cat occasionally DHing. I see both Hillenbrand and Hinske as stop gaps this season. At best both will be average players. At worst it could get ugly. In my mind these are the two biggest areas for improvement in the lineup. If Hillenbrand can be flipped for players that will help the next playoff contender and/or if Hinske can have part of his contract moved I think the team should make an effort to do it.

So for the lineup I think the priority for upgrading the Jays is:
1. 1B

2. DH

3. Corner OF

Rob: What makes me worry about this team is those first two positions were the two spots the Jays needed to fill this year. Replacing 2004 Carlos Delgado with Corey Koskie and Replacement Level Designated Hitters with Shea Hillenbrand seems to be an improvement. However, hardly anyone on this roundtable was calling for Hillenbrand to be a Jay and the new first baseman Eric Hinske is just about done in Toronto, I think -- he now has 100+ strikeouts three years in a row. Next year, the Jays better get someone better than Hillenbrand to play every day.

I agree that the Jays have to figure out what their farmhands can do -- which is why the Hillenbrand trade made no sense at all to me.

Pistol: The pitching side of things is more complicated in my mind. After Halladay Iím not sure what to expect. Iíd just send them out there and seeing what develops and go from there. Thereís certainly a number of potential pitchers coming up through the minors right now. If enough work out you can focus more on hitting, if not more money might be allocated to acquiring, or re-signing, pitchers. In the event that thereís a surplus of young pitchers you can always find a market to trade them. Given the offseason pursuit of Clement it certainly looks like the Jays would like to add a top of the rotation starter.

The biggest priority in the bullpen is an ace reliever, and perhaps League will be that player. But even if he is it doesnít mean that another dominant pitcher in the pen isnít worth acquiring.

Among pitchers I suspect that the biggest upgrades would be a starting pitcher and an ace reliever.

The biggest issue coming around the corner is going to be with Lilly, assuming he pitches close to how he did last year. Heís going to be more expensive shortly, but the Jays will be able to afford him now. But will they want to pay him if thereís still a void in other areas?

Mike Green: In my view, the best thing is to find out what the young players can give you and then make decisions. The only thing that I would recommend between now and the All-Star break in 2005 is shedding salary if the circumstances allow.

To give an example, if 3 of Bush, Banks, McGowan, Rosario, Gaudin and Chacin take steps forward in 2005, it might be that the team would not want to spend big-time dollars on Lilly in 06-07. That may or may not happen.

Gerry: I agree with Mike that if the farm system produces some pitching you might not be able to keep Halladay and Lilly at those salaries. You might end up keeping Lilly and trading Halladay, its all about value for the dollar.

The difficulty in projecting forward is that we assume future value is related to current value. So we all will assume that Eric Hinske needs to be upgraded, that the kids will work out and that no trades are made. It could turn out that a Russ Adams or Alex Rios will not pan out, or that Hinske retains his old form.

From a salary perspective we should look at the Delgado example, how much money can you afford to use on any one player? Is $12 mil out of $70 mil, or 17%, too much for one player. I am not sure that it is too much but it is certainly at the upper limit.

Finally, if Vernon Wells continues to develop he could be worth $15 mil a season as a free agent. Do you trade him the year before he becomes a free agent (Hudson/Mulder) or do you keep him until the end (Delgado)? He probably needs to be traded unless depending on the supporting pieces. How many $10 mil/year contracts can you carry, Halladay, Wells and maybe Lilly could be too many. Three big contracts would be 50% of the payroll. I think you might only be able to cover two big salaries.

Pistol: When is the optimal time to use the extra money? The team is right around $50 million for 2005, with $160 million left for bumps to the payroll this year and 2006 & 2007.

Named For Hank: When do you use the money? Not today, not immediately, unless something really great comes up. I'm with Mike Green: despite the increased budget I still believe that the Jays need to play the kids and find out who's going to stick, then fill in holes. Otherwise, we'll end up with our potential saviors hanging out in the minors or on the bench while a twenty million dollars less mediocre team finishes in third place in the AL East. Again. And sure, third place would be better than what they did last year, but if it's not third place plus a major step towards the future, it's worthless.

If I had to, I could enjoy watching a perennially third place team, but I'd have a lot more fun watching a team that finished fourth or fifth while showing tremendous promise for the future. There was some of that last year, but not enough for my liking, at least not until late in the season when we met Mr. Bush and Mr. League.

How do you avoid being in a situation like the Tigers where you have money to spend, but have to severely overspend to get a player to sign? Show some real promise for the future. That's all I can think of.

Gerry's talk of trading Wells and Halladay makes me sad. And Pistol on the O-Dog, that makes me sad, too. I could never be the General Manager of a baseball team. And now Rob wants to trade the Cat. You're all trying to make me cry.

I wonder if the Jays' payroll increase had any impact on Paul Godfrey's helicopter-and-laser budget?

Pistol: To me showing promise = wins. After that if you're not winning I think free agents would rather see 'proven veterans' over players they've never heard of before, even if that 'untested rookie' is likely to outperform the veteran. I think that's part of the reason the Jays acquired Hillenbrand instead of taking a chance on a Ken Phelps All Star this year.

If the Jays go out and win 75 games this year there's little chance that a top free agent is going to sign with the Jays without them overpaying if there are other comparable offers out there.

Gitz: Isn't this the classic "We're looking for somebody with more experience" dilemma? But how can I get more experience if people keep rejecting my job applications? How do the Jays win 90 games until they start bringing in the likes of Matt Clement? (I use the idea of Matt Clement, not Clement himself.)

They can't be trading for Paul Konerko with the hope of re-signing him next year, but they do need to make some sort of splash. It's all well and good to get gems like ... well, jeez, so few of the undervalued players the Jays have picked up have done well in the J.P. era. Don't spend for the sake of spending, but, as best as you can, do what the Red Sox have done: pay top money to get top players. I don't know if that's reasonable given the $70 million average, but it's *more* reasonable now than it was at the start of last season.

Magpie: Still, the Jays should be able to make it most of the way to their destination first. You can build a 90 win team from within, with young players.

That's the main reason the Jays got good the first time. There was more to it, of course, and there always has to be. They found a useful pitcher on the scrap heap (Doyle Alexander). They made remarkable use of the Rule 5 Draft, of course (Bell, Gruber, Acker, Gott); and they made a classic Billy Beane style trade - flip a relief pitcher with a few saves (Dale Murray) for a minor league prospect (Fred McGriff).

But it was mostly a bunch of young players all arriving and getting good at the same time.

Mike Green: Green's reverie. The scene: it's May 15, 2005. The Sox lead the AL East by 6 games over the Yanks, who are playing .500 ball. The problem for the Yanks is the yawning chasm in right-centerfield between Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams. It comes to a head when David DeJesus hits 4 triples to right-center in a game off Carl Pavano, at least 2 of which should have be caught. Tino Martinez gets off to a slow start, but the offence is still well, Yankeerific. Meanwhile, in Flushing, the gap in right-center between Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron seems to be microscopic, and the Mets lead their division thanks to some superb pitching from Pedro Martinez and Beltran's power. The NY press is all over Curious George for failing to sign Beltran, and Pavano and Mussina (both of whom have ERAs over 5.5) are whispering to Torre that they just can't win with Bernie Williams in centerfield.

At Rogers Centre, Vernon Wells is off to a typical .280/.340/.500 start. Alex Rios has hit 5 homers by May 15 and is hitting .290/.350/.470. But, the team is bouncing around just below .500 due to slow starts from Koskie, Adams and Zaun. Down in Syracuse, Gabe Gross is setting the world on fire in his 3rd shot there.

Meanwhile, out on the left coast, San Francisco finds itself in first place, but needing bullpen help to try to sustain a pennant run.

The trade: the Jays send Vernon Wells, Eric Hinske and Scott Schoeneweis to the Yanks; the Yanks send Hideki Matsui to the Jays, and Flash Gordon and 2004 1st round pick Phil Hughes and $2 million to the Giants; the Giants send Eddy Martinez-Esteve to the Jays.

The Jays sign Matsui (who is under contract for $8 million in 2005) to a 2 year extension worth $24 million, and play out 2005 with an outfield of Gross, Rios and Matsui, and an infield of Hillenbrand, Hudson, Adams and Koskie with Cat DHing. Meanwhile, EME continues his hot hitting in the minors, but struggles some in the outfield, and is moved to first base, reaching Syracuse before the end of the year.

With the arrival of Matsui and the emergence of Chi Cheng as a bona fide hot prospect, the Jays' long-term goal of drawing the East Asian community to Toronto baseball is well on its way.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled hard-headed analysis.

Named For Hank: While there's a certain amount of ridiculousness to it, Matsui sure would be a draw at the RC. I mean, last year the Yankee games were packed because Yankee fans came up from NY for Toronto's cheap and available tickets, but there was also a nice bump in attendance whenever the Mariners came to town. Now, the Jays marketed those Mariner games with theme nights like Japanese Night, so who knows if the attendance would be stronger all season, but I think it could be, if the marketing was targeted properly.

But talk of trading Vernon Wells makes me feel all hollow inside.

And would Matsui play here? He went from being the best player in his league to being a star player on the most storied team in MLB -- would he accept a "demotion" to Toronto at this point in his career?

Jordan: When I look at the payroll charts at the top of this page, the three figures that make me sad are attached to Hillenbrand, Koskie and Schoeneweis. I look forward to seeing Shea off the roster no later than October. The Jays are almost certainly stuck with Schoeneweisfor two years, unless he has a tremendous half-season and a contender needs a lefty-killer (hello, George) -- but otherwise, he's one of the Jays' worst investments under Ricciardi.

Koskie I'm not as unhappy about -- as Mike G. says, when he's healthy, he delivers power and average along with sterling defence. He probably is more valuable at the hot corner, but the question is: are the Jays going to find themselves a legitimate first-base pounder? As mentioned, the free-agent market is thin next winter, and a quick glance at the MLB 1B charts shows few solid hitters with dumpable contracts (unless the Jays think Todd Helton is a good idea, which they'd better not). I'm a big Vito Chiaravalotti fan, but he is not the answer at 1B, not for a while. I really think Eric Hinske is done, and that his future involves a salary swap with another team (hopefully packaged with a prospect for a higher-priced and more productive player). So it could very well be that Koskie is the Jays' best first-base prospect over the next few years.

That's being realistic. Now let's play pretend-GM. In an ideal world, the Jays would deal Hinske + minor prospect for a big contract in mid-season 2005 -- for argument's sake, Hinske and Miguel Negron to the Cubs for Aramis Ramirez, who plays out his $9M one-year contract at first base, or something along those lines, and leaves. That's probably the extent to which the team is likely to be able to use its extra money during the upcoming season (mind you, if the Cubs want to get rid of Derrek Lee instead, I'll line up at that window).

Then, between 2005 and 2006, I'd shell out a four-year, $60M contract for Lance Berkman and install him in left field. Gabe Gross, who's just had a solid half-season in the majors, I'd package with Justin Speier (who just saved 32 games in '05) and, say, Shaun Marcum to Washington for Brad Wilkerson, whom I'd sign to a three-year, $15M deal (buying out his arbitration years) and stick at first base. Now I've spent my $20M and upgraded at two key offensive positions, and I still can deal one of the Adams/Hill/Hudson middle-infield combo if I so choose. Brandon League or Francisco Rosario becomes the closer.


SS Adams

1B Wilkerson

CF Wells

LF Berkman

3B Koskie

DH Catalanotto

RF Rios

2B Hudson

C Quiroz

2007's too far away to predict, but at least we've made a good start. :-)

Dave Till: I think that this is the year that the Jays find out what hand they've been dealt. At the end of 2005, we should know the answers to some questions:


* Is Alex Rios a quality player or not?

* Will Gabe Gross be useful?

* Can Aaron Hill be a major-league middle infielder?

* Is Russ Adams a major-league shortstop?

* How good are Bush, Chacin and League really? (I just noticed: if League moves to the bullpen and comes on in relief of Dave Bush, the Jays will have a Bush-League game. :rimshot:)

* Are any of the secondary pitching prospects going to be of any use at all?

* And, last but not least: are any or all the players who was injured last year going to return to their 2003 level of form? In particular, can Wells and Halladay bounce back?

There are still some questions to be answered after 2005 - such as whether McGowan will recover from his surgery - but at that point the Jays will have an idea of how much talent they actually have on hand.

If the talent base looks good, I'd venture that the Jays will target 2007 as The Year. The Yanks will likely have melted down by then, so the Jays can make a push for the wild-card spot (I am assuming that the Sox, who are better-funded and just as smart, will claim the top spot for some time to come). The 2006 free-agent market is apparently poor, from what I'm reading, so the Jays could save up their cash until 2007 and then really go nuts. That's basically the route they took in the early 1990's; they didn't spend big on the free-agent market until 1992 and 1993.

Of course, if everything goes wrong again as it did in 2004, the Jays may wind up with not enough talent to contend in the next couple of years. I don't want to think about what would happen then - I guess that they'd have to go the Detroit route, and overpay to land ballplayers that would attract some fan interest. But the Jays can't continue to be as unlucky as they were last year, can they?

Magpie: In many ways, the Ricciardi era starts now, in Year Four. He is finally out from under the last big Gord Ash contract, and his own young players are starting to arrive. There is a real chance for large and sudden improvement - when a group of young players all take a step forward together... it's one of the components of Miracle Seasons.

But you can't count on miracles. I think this needs to be another year of working young players into the major leagues. Then you take another look around. It will probably difficult for the Jays to attract free agents until they're at least a 90 win team - but you can always trade for players until then, especially if you have a deep pool of good looking prospects.

The Jays need to decide their trading strategy, and first they're going to have to see how the young players progress this year. But we do know a few things already. For one, the most glaring weak spots in the organization all come from the right side of the defensive spectrum - corner outfielders, first base, designated hitter. Whereas there is some talent and depth, if mostly unproven, at middle infield. This seems quite a bit unusual; but it's a much better situation than if the reverse were true. And it should provide a good basis for a trading strategy: working from the depth at middle infield to fill the holes at the offensive positions.

There's obviously no point in making a deadline deal this year for someone like Konerko - the Jays don't expect to be contending this year, and Konerko's a free agent after the season. That's the type of trade you make only if you think you win can right now, and it fills an immediate hole.

Jays Roundtable - Getting Bang for the Bucks | 22 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
kpataky - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 08:20 AM EST (#103244) #
Hey, I go to Dunedin (Jays Spring Training) every year. I will down there from 3/16 through 3/24 this year. I will be taking in the Indians vs. Jays game on 3/17, and visiting the Minor League camp on 3/18. I be meeting up with many of the guys and hopefully going to dinner. I will have pictures to share!
kpataky - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 08:26 AM EST (#103246) #
Sorry about my previous comment being placed in this thread - must be a bug in the website - I can swear I submitted it from the Spring Training Thread. Anyway, question for Skydome (Rogers Center) aficionados. Section 126 and 125 are behind the Jays dugout. Can anyone confirm whether the seats in these sections are numbered (right to left or left to right)?

...54321 or 12345...

Sorry for again posting in this thread, but I don't see anywhere where I can make a generic question post. Thanks in advance.
PeterG - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 09:14 AM EST (#103247) #
I believe that the Jays will focus all of their attention on acquiring players via the trade route and will ignore free agency for the most part. With, Fa's, you have to overpay, even if you are not Toronto, and more importantly length of contract is not ideal as most Fa's demand 3 or 4 year deals.

As the Jays are in a unique position this year, being a team with available budget during the season, while almost all competitors are maxed out, this represents an oppotunity to acquire some talent no matter where they(jays) are in the standings. Said acquisitions will need to be here for at least 2 years to make it worthwhile and as they are players that will be be moved to reduce their clubs salary commitments, chances are they will come cheaper (in terms of players)than might otherwise be the case.

That said, the Jays WILL HAVE to give up prospects and good ones. Perhaps JP will identify 4-6 prospects he will not move and everyone else will be on the table. He will be able to move one of Hill, Adams, or Hudson, possibly Gross and any of his pitching prospects not named League or McGowan. A strong spring by Rosario could add him to the untouchable list along with Quiroz.

I would guess that Jay scouts will spend considerable time watching major league players this year. Guys who could be available and whom Jays might like include: Vazquez, Zito, Kearns, Casey, Huff and any other about to become expensive arb eligible on a team who disappoints. Will be an interesting season to be sure.
Named For Hank - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 11:20 AM EST (#103250) #
Can anyone confirm whether the seats in these sections are numbered (right to left or left to right)?

I'm pretty sure that the numbers go up from the aisles, meeting in the middle -- one side is 1, 2, 3, 4 and the other is 101, 102, 103, 104, with the highest numbers in the centre of the section. I don't know which side is which, though. If you call the ticket office they should be able to help you.

Those are some great seats.

VBF - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 12:04 PM EST (#103252) #
If your walking down the aisle towards the field, then 101 is on your left and 1 is on your right.
MatO - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 12:34 PM EST (#103254) #
I predict that Hudson will be signed to a long-term deal this spring.

There aren't enough Japanese in Toronto to make much of an attendance difference. Korean or Chinese now that's different.
googlemay - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 12:45 PM EST (#103255) #
Well, with all this new money, or re-allocated funds, I hope the Jays will now shell out the big bucks for quality draft picks. With having the 6th pick and not another until the 89th I believe,Koskie signing, I would expect the Jays to do something they wouldnt normally do. That is draft a player represented by Scott Boras, this includes Luke Hochevar or Mike Pelfrey.

The draft will be a good indicater how they are going to use this money, ie draft, trade or FA.
Matt - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 01:15 PM EST (#103259) #
a little break in the action here... can someone please explicitly describe what constitutes TB or Total Bases... can't find that explanation myself...
Mylegacy - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 01:31 PM EST (#103260) #
What the 05-07 breakdown really shows is the unprecidented flexability JP is going to have come the June draft, the July selloff, the FA and Trade markets for the next couple of years.

At this point Hudson is the only terrific trading chip we have BECAUSE he has Hill behind him.

Hudson + beaucoup d'argent = JP's first BLOCKBUSTER trade

John Northey - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 01:33 PM EST (#103261) #
Not to be a damper on stuff, but one big fear of mine is how everything seems planned for 2007. If the MLB owners pay attention to the NHL lockout and the owners win (as they already have) _and_ the league recovers quickly then I could easily see the hawks in MLB doing the same in 2007. A full season or two lockout. I know, lets be hopeful, but it could happen. The potential profits are so large that it is a hard thing for the owners to resist.
Mylegacy - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 01:46 PM EST (#103264) #
Was just on ESPN.com

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=1989392

JP says (among other things):

"What if we added two more bats and two good arms to what we already have? I don't think we're that far off. We're closer to being an 85-win team than a 65-win team. From there, it's what you bring in after that that can make you a real contender."
Ryan C - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 02:42 PM EST (#103267) #
That's a nice article Legacy. I knew that the Jays started to get things under control financially once JP arrived but I never knew the extent. This part, to me, seems incredibly significant:

"When Ricciardi took over for former GM Gord Ash after the 2001 season, the Blue Jays' payroll was set at $88 million, with losses expected to top $75 million. Three years later, the franchise lost just $3 million in 2004."

I dont know who gets the credit for that, JP must get a bunch but probably not all, but the fact Rogers has cut it's losses by $72 million/yr has to be considered as a big reason why the payroll is able to be raised again now.
Ken - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 02:58 PM EST (#103269) #
I was not aware that the financial loss last year was only 3 million. If so, then I would agree with Ryan C and say that perhaps the current administration should give themselves more credit for the new financial flexibility. Has anyone else seen 3 million quoted anywhere else before? I was under the impression that the team was experiencing greater financial loss.
Jim - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 03:04 PM EST (#103270) #
I'm pretty sure it's just

(1*1b)+(2*2b)+(3*3b)+(4*HR)=TB
Flex - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 03:18 PM EST (#103272) #
Formerly known as Prisoner of Hamilton, which was too big for the 16 character limit, I will now use an embarrassing nickname bestowed on my by a girl back in high school, who caught me flexing my biceps in history class, after I'd started to work out at the local gym.

Just wanted to let you all know that according to the Jays site, Tom Cheek has been named a Frick Award finalist, and battersbox.ca gets a lot of the credit.

Congratulations to all.
fozzy - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 04:11 PM EST (#103275) #
Don't know if it's been posted, but there's a great story on Ligtenberg, which I've been waiting for all winter. It sounds like his condition was the result of not resting it, as it seems to be flaring up a lot less frequently after a winter of rest. Anyways, the story is on the Jays site here. I miss COMN.
Lefty - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 08:25 PM EST (#103285) #
Great roundtable fella's. Loads of good analyses.

I was thinking along the same line of discusion points while the Box was being reorganized.

To me, Magpie kind of reaches the same conclusions as I. This team needs its core talent to be reaching peak performance levels all at or about the same time.

Ricciardi also nailed it on the head in the link provided by Legacy. This team really isn't to far off competitive now. If the budget would have been available before free agent signings season I have no doubt Riciadri could have fielded a very competitive team. One that could have challanged for a wildcard berth if it all fell right. But it didn't.

As Mike points out, its a weak free agent market in 2006. Therefore the team would certainly have to overpay.

With the above in mind, I guess I'm hoping Kieth Law and JPR are exploring the opportunity to trade excess depth and minor league talent -- some of which is blocked, ie Hill -- or young semi proven big league talent that is blocking the kids.

Magpie points out that its a bit of a luxury to have quality young depth in middle infield. The Jays need developing talent at corner. Maybe the Jays could trade someone like Hill or a pitching prospect for someone like Casey Kotchman, Adrian Gonzalez who are blocked right now. Ofcourse it would take a proper scouting analyses to determine if these two youngsters have enough upside to play on a playoff contending team. But there are many other players who are in organizations that are blocked.

In short this team needs to keep bringing in young / cheap talent so that there is enough budget left to keep Wells, O-Dog and Halladay. After all it would be very disturbing to have to watch NFH cry.
VBF - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 10:41 PM EST (#103289) #
Felling cold and frozen here in Canada? Maybe this'll help.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/teams/tor/photos

*Weird seeing Billy in the new Jays uni.
VBF - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 10:44 PM EST (#103290) #
Also, anybody know when they'll start airing the Jay Zone on Sportsnet. Last year they did a whole Spring Training series. But it just won't be the same without Hazel.
Ryan C - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 11:10 PM EST (#103292) #
I think I have the same problem as NFH. If it were up to me I would like to keep all 4 of Hudson, Adams, Hill, and Koskie even if they all pan out. You never know when a major injury might hit in the middle of a run towards the playoffs. If you dont have a capable backup or cant trade for a replacement you might have just set your organiztion back a year, or worse if you've got expiring contracts and the like to worry about. Howbout Hudson plays 2nd, Koskie 3rd, Adams and Hill split time at SS. That gives you a great injury replacement for 5 of the 9 hitting positions (1B/2B/SS/3B/DH). I mean you would hope we would never have to endure another season like last year, but it does happen. Woodward 200AB, Menechino 235AB, Berg 150AB, Clark 115AB, Pond 50AB plus Zaun and Estalella being signed off the scrap heap, plus Gross, Cat, and Hermanson all going down at the same time, and Reed Johnson ending up with the 2nd most ABs on the entire team.

I know, I know, bang for your buck. But if no one is willing to part with a great hitting prospect for one of Hill/Adams/Hudson, or if Rios and Gross both excel (yeah I know it's unlikely but I did say "if"), then I wouldnt consider it such a bad "Plan B".

Anyway maybe it's just me but it's one of the reasons why I dont really mind at all that Gross is currently being "blocked". If last season taught me anything it's to expect that someone is going to get hurt this season and probably miss signficant time, we just dont know who it will be yet But when they do Gross will be able step in and get his ABs.
TamRa - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 11:55 PM EST (#103293) #
I aims to take me a stab at that there predicting business....

Ahem. None of this should be taken too seriously, it's just speculation and a healthy dose of wishful thinking is possible.

I make the salary for this year, as above, at about $50 mil, for 2006 at ~$55, and for 2007 at ~$45 (I chose to let Lily walk and to not figure in FA relief pitchers for now to make up the bulk of the difference. Assuming we take on no significant salary in '05, that gives us, if salary is balanced, $25 to spend in '06 and $35 in '07.

That's before any significant salary moves.
--------------------------
Now, here's what I propose:
--------------------------
Mid-2005-
Hinske playing respectably (but still not good enough for 1B...so strike while the iron is hot and send him to K.C. along with $2 million against future salary for Calvin Pickering and a low A prospect. Plug Pickering in at 1B or DH and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. Net savings, $4 mil in each of the two years in question.

Batista doing about what his career norm before 2004 was...strike quickly and move him to a contender. I won't speculate on possible return since there are 3-4 possible destinations. But it doesn't matter, they won't be here long. Net savings, 4.75 in 2006.

Flip those acquisitions, along with Russ Adams and Raul Tablado and Chad Gaudin for Javiar Vazquez (assuming he's demonstrated himself healthy and effective and all the prospects preform in a manner that makes the desirable)
Total cost: $34 mil over 3 years

Now, we have affected the payroll thusly:

We've added about $300K to 2005 (difference in Hinske + Batista + Adams and Vazquez). Knock that off the 2007 available funds.

We've saved 8.75 and added 11.5 for 2006. Remaining available funds: $22.25

We've added $12.5 in 2007 which, along with the aforementioned $300k leaves $22.2 in available funds.
----------------------
Winter, 2005-2006

Sign Lance Berkman for $16 mil per for 4 seasons. (unrealistically optimistic I suppose)

Attempt to trade Vernon Wells, with the addition of a quality prospect if necessary, for Mark Texeria.

Non-tender Hillenbrand.
Sign Lily for one year for $7 mil.

There remains over $9 mil (assuming the Vernon deal) to address the DH role if it's felt that Cat and Pickering aren't the answer. (Alternately, one might wipe out the Hinske deal and he would be the DH and come in under this amount)
Also, I've assumed that League becomes a quality closer, but if not, money remains available to address that need.

IF this was accomplished, a lineup of Cat, Hudson, Berkman, Texeria, Koskie, Rios, Gross, Quiroz, Hill would be impressive through the first 5 and potentially quite good if the youngsters develop as expected. (This assumes that the need of Cat's skills at the top of the order dictates a scenario which has him being the DH)

That lineup would remain much the same in 2007 except that Cat would be departing and Hill would move up to one of the top two slots, and some portion of the available $9 mil or so would bring in an appropriate DH (Huff, for instance?).

On the mound, you would have a rotation of Doc, Vaz, Lily, Bush locked in with Rosario, McGowan, Chacin and possibly Banks sniffing around that fifth spot. In 2007 the top three spots are still locked in (Doc/Vaz/Bush) and that group of candidates, plus possibly Purcey and/or Jackson stand to deliver yet another member for the back of the rotation. You will note I only need success from 2 of our top 6 starter candidates for this to work well.

As I've said, I've assumed League works out at closer (my biggest internal assumption) and with Speier still around - and likely Schoeinweis - along with at least one of the failed starter candidates (Chacin is my bet) you are already 4 arms into the bullpen with the luxury of spending or going with youth for the other two spots. In '07 the possibility exists that guys like Marcum and Vermilyea turn up, but again a little spending can be done if necessary since we are sitting on $9 mil (minus the cost of a DH if one be signed at FA).

Now, obviously one can pick this apart:
Texas may no longer be interested in moving Tex for any price - even a player they had coveted. (one alternative would be to spend some cash on Durazo).

Houston will have lots of money to try and retain Berkman (who, IMO, is the ultimate JP System hitter)

My price for Vaz may be too low.

(I won't mention the Hinske deal since we could survive with him sucking up all that money on the bench - it just don't seem right to me so i ditched him)

League may never be a quality closer...and so forth.

But it is ONE scenario in which the team could EASILY be DRAMATIC LY better and not even have to blow the cap out of the budget to do it.
Jordan - Tuesday, February 22 2005 @ 02:43 PM EST (#103339) #
<i>If last season taught me anything it's to expect that someone is going to get hurt this season and probably miss signficant time.</i>

If the Jays insist on playing Frank Catalanotto in left field on a semi-regular basis, then I think an injury can be virtually assured. Frank's a fine hitter, but he's going to be overextended playing the field and he's going to pull something. If he gets off to a good start in Syracuse (and he should), Gross should be in the majors no later than Victoria Day weekend.
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