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To get you started on making your own roundup of what's happening out there in Jays-land, here's a Geoff Baker piece that contains one hell of a promise from Shea Hillenbrand:
"I'm very confident that it's now going to allow me to become a player who can hit 30 home runs and drive in 100,'' Hillenbrand, the subject of widespread trade rumours, said yesterday in a telephone interview from his home in Arizona. "I've been in this game a certain number of years and I felt it was time to take things to the next level. You can quote me on that: I think I'm going to hit 30."


Let this also serve as the prediction thread:

1) Can he do it?

2) Will it be as a Jay?

3) Will he make the All-Star team again?

My Shea Hillenbrand All-Star jersey pretty much dictates that my answer must be "yes" to all three. It's like that thing controls my mind sometimes.

And speaking of the Shea Hillenbrand All-Star jersey -- a few days ago I was wearing it while killing time at a Starbucks/Chapters in Brampton with baby Theo, both of us waiting for Mrs. Hank to finish work. I was drinking coffee, and Theo was eating raisins. A guy walked past, slowed down to have a good look at my jersey. Then he walked back the other way, looking at the jersey again. Then he came past a third time, and this time he stopped and said, "Did you win that jersey off of Robert Dudek?"
Make Your Own Roundup, and Can Hillenbrand Repeat As An All-Star? | 140 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
HippyGilmore - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:16 AM EST (#136555) #
I think you hear this every season from some players, who've completely overhauled their offseason rituals and think it's going to make a drastic difference. Didn't Hinske come to camp completely different last year? Well, I guess it made a bit of a difference, he certainly wasn't as awful as he was the year before. The note about a computer program that emulates the game's best hitters was interesting, though. Has anyone else ever heard of this before? Sounds like a good idea for a training tool.
Pistol - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:27 AM EST (#136557) #
Apparently the Dodgers have made an offer to Reggie Sanders, although no specifics were given.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dodgers15dec15,1,2481101.story?coll=la-headlines-sports&ctrack=1&cset=true
Craig B - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:32 AM EST (#136558) #
Hearing that Hillenbrand has lost weight is great news (he was looking awfully chunky last season), hearing that he's feeling fit and confident is even better news.

Now, peering into my peanut-butter-smeared crystal ball...

1) Can he hit 30 homers? YES. It is not unusual for a hitter to have his best power production at the age of 30, and Hillenbrand isn't that far off, considering he consistently hits 18-20 homers and 35-40 doubles. He's not _likely_ to do it, but he's very capable. It may take a small retooling of his approach at the plate, since he's more of a line-drive hitter than a home run hitter at present. He'd also need a full season... 150 starts.

2) Will it be as a Jay? I think Hillenbrand will be a Jay when the dust settles, but that's not good news for his quest to hit 30 homers. I think Hinske will likely be gone before the season, or at least quickly within the season, but Hillenbrand still has to face the fact that Koskie and Overbay will be the starters at the infield corners, and Hillenbrand will be sharing the DH slot with Adams or Hill, plus whoever else isn't in the outfield mix.

3) Will he make the All-Star Team again? NO. Halladay will represent Toronto, Burnett has a shot, and one of Hudson, Koskie, or Overbay will probably go as well depending on who's hitting well in May and June.
Named For Hank - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:36 AM EST (#136559) #
I didn't even think about the possibility of Orlando Hudson: All-Star.

I'd need that jersey for sure.
einsof - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:00 AM EST (#136561) #
I hope Shea has more success with his prediction of 30 HRs this year then Wells did with his last year prediction of 30 SBs for himself---I believe that Shea is certainly capable of achieving his goal & I wouldn't bet against it...I think its great when players set specific goals for themselves & let their fans know about it....I sure hope he stays a Blue Jay for at least one more year..Hopefully Toronto's logjam in the infield & their problem in RF will be resolved by the time Spring Training is over--But I still feel that the Jays MUST get at least one more "Big" bat in the lineup to make the playoffs---Toronto has a slew of players that are capable of seriously improving their power numbers eg.--Overbay--Koskie--Hinske--Shea--Wells--Rio--Cat--Hill-- With abit of luck the Jays could seriously improve their HRs & rbi production in situations that matter..Go Jays & Go Shea !!!
Pistol - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:17 AM EST (#136562) #
Hillenbrand made it to the All Star game this year more because of the way the system was set up than anything else. (Ortiz was the top DH of the fans and players, so the player that was 2nd on the players ballot made it as well - which was Hillenbrand.)

If he's on the ballot as a DH this year the same situation could very well happen again, although not as likely if Thome and/or Thomas are healthy.
Sheldon - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:29 AM EST (#136563) #
That bit about the computer simulations and training made me envision Shea training like Ivan Drago in Rocky 4, except without the steriods of course...
Jordan - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:50 AM EST (#136564) #
Then he came past a third time, and this time he stopped and said, "Did you win that jersey off of Robert Dudek?"

That is way cool.

robertdudek - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:51 AM EST (#136565) #
I think Craig forgot Vernon Wells, who is capable of having a dynamite first half and getting selected.

Mike Green - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:55 AM EST (#136566) #
I agree with Craig. It wouldn't be astonishing if Hillenbrand hit 30 homers in a full-time role, although it would be against the odds. He's not likely to have a full-time role in Toronto in 2006 unless Koskie or Overbay sustain a serious injury.

It will be interesting whether he is willing to accept a reduced role, coming off his All-Star berth.
Pistol - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:02 AM EST (#136567) #
I imagine that one of Hinske or Hillenbrand won't be on the team when the season starts. If it's Hinske that leaves that makes Hillenbrand the primary DH who fills in for Koskie and Overbay periodically. Which would essentially be the role that Hillenbrand had last year, at least in terms of ABs.
SK in NJ - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:10 AM EST (#136568) #
Why would Hillenbrand have a reduced role?

Overbay plays 1B, Koskie plays 3B, Hillenbrand is at DH. Shea will fill-in for Koskie when Corey has his annual trip to the DL, and Shea will spell Overbay at 1B some games.

In other words, how is it different than last season when Shea almost recorded 600 AB? Unless you think Hinske will stay, which I doubt. I think JP would release Hinske before trading Hillenbrand, especially with how bad the hitting market is and JP's need to get a RH bat.
Kingsley Zissou - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:11 AM EST (#136569) #
Here's a radical idea to solve the IF logjam...of course presuming we can trade Hinske to the O's for a plate of crab cakes.
If Shea has dropped this much weight, I'd have to assume he's got some increased mobility, and maybe a slight upgrade in speed. Correct?
I'd have to rate him as a fairly naturally athletic player to begin with. Correct?
Now, that being said, does anyone else agree that he may be able to take one of the corner OF positions? I'd rather have his bat in LF than Sparky or Cat, and his defense can't be much worse than Frankie's. I'd be pretty happy having Cat and Reeder as my bench OF's, an OF of Shea/Vernon/Alex, and a bat like Thomas or Durazo as the everyday DH.
VBF - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:15 AM EST (#136572) #
Was BJ Ryan on the team last year because it was one of those "let's try to get a rep for every team" things? I think he has a pretty good shot.

Mike Green - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:20 AM EST (#136573) #
If Hillenbrand has a full-time DH role, with the current personnel, that would mean that either Adams or Hill will not get 400 ABs. Do you want to bet on a 29 year old to improve, or a 25 year old, or a 23 year old? My generation bet on the 23 year old first, the 25 year old second and the 29 year old last.
Craig B - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:26 AM EST (#136574) #
Thanks Robert, I did forget b/c I've been spending so much time thinking about the Jays' potentially dynamite infield. Vernon is definitely more than capable of being an All-Star.

I pretty much like this batting order...

Adams/Hill
Catalanotto/Johnson
Overbay
Wells
Koskie
Hillenbrand
Zaun
Hudson
Rios

I wouldn't feel too awful starting out the year with this team. I have to admit, a better bat in RF would make it look a lot better, but this isn't bad when you put it behind the best pitching staff outside Anaheim.
Craig B - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:28 AM EST (#136575) #
KZ, I've been wondering the same thing, but given the importance of outfield defense I'd rather keep Rios in right and Hillenbrand at DH rather than Hill at DH and Hillenbrand in right. I think the defensive gain outweighs the offensive shortfall, but who knows.

I know one thing... if they asked Hillenbrand to play the outfield, he'd probably do it.
Chuck - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:46 AM EST (#136576) #
Does no one get nervous when a player decides to set a personal goal for homeruns? Wasn't it painful watching Alex Gonzalez (a contact-challenged hitter, I admit) attempt to play the role of slugger? I wouldn't want to see Hillenbrand hit .220 in his pursuit of 30 potentially unachievable homeruns.

If he can play at his ceiling, 300/350/450, that would serve this team just fine. A bunch of singles, some doubles, some HBP's. Just like last year.

I suspect that if he were dropped into an outfield corner, that would be pretty scary.
Mike Green - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:53 AM EST (#136577) #
Personally, I would feel better about the club with Adams and Hill in the 1-2 slots, with Adams and Catalanotto splitting left-field/DH duties against righties. Catalanotto bats sixth. Johnson plays left and leads off against lefties; Hillenbrand DHs against lefties and bats fifth.

It's a tough thing. Catalanotto and Hillenbrand were arguably the team's best hitters in 2005, but they are likely to decline modestly in light of past performance and age. Hill and Adams were first round draft picks (by JP) who both performed passably well in their first full season and can be expected to improve somewhat in light of their overall record and age.

How one handles this kind of situation is an example of risk management. The Braves showed the way last year with their willingness to give good young players an opportunity to develop. I am hoping the home club follows their example.
Kingsley Zissou - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:57 AM EST (#136578) #
I suspect that if he were dropped into an outfield corner, that would be pretty scary.

I'm not so sure...as I mentioned, I think he's athletic enough to handle the position, especially if he's dropped weight and gotten quicker. Not that I have anything to back it up, but I can't imagine his arm is any worse than Cat's wet noodle or Reed's average-at-best gun.

As for OF defense, Cat is far from stellar, and Reed, although he has great wheels, doesn't ever seem to play with much instinct out there. From what I see, he doesn't ghet great breaks on balls, but makes up for it by throwing his body at the ball. Admirable, yes, but technically sound, no.

All I'm saying is that I can't imagine Shea's defense would be SUBSTANTIALLY worse than those two - in fact I think with a little work, he could be on par. What sets him apart is the stick...I'd rather have it in there every day over Sparky or Frank. I think the disparity between thier offensive numbers makes up for any slight defensive shortcomings.

robertdudek - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:01 AM EST (#136579) #
I think the White Sox, in light of the imminent acquisition of Javier Vazquez, have the edge on the Jays pitching staff. They may end up trading Garland, thus allowing McCarthy a rotation spot without losing too much. They may have been lucky last year, but they might also be the most IMPROVED AL team this off-season.

I consider the Angels rotation a risky proposition - I'm not convinced Lackey is really a long term quality starter and Colon, already having lost a lot on his fastball, might never be the same after his injury.
Jordan - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:05 AM EST (#136580) #
This from Bob Nightengale's latest roundup at USA Toay:

The Rangers were offering outfielder Kevin Mench to the Blue Jays for starting pitcher/reliever Miguel Batista and second baseman Orlando Hudson.

If true, that may help explain why there's no deal for Brad Wilkerson forthcoming. Personally, I wouldn't have dealt either of those guys for Mench, let alone both.

Adams/Hill
Catalanotto/Johnson
Overbay
Wells
Koskie
Hillenbrand
Zaun
Hudson
Rios

Adding Reggie Sanders to that lineup would definitely give it a substantial boost. And I keep coming back to Mike Green's suggestion of putting Russ Adams in left field, with Johnson spelling him against the toughest lefties. Adams' skill set isn't that much different from Catalanotto's (who himself started his career as a middle infielder).

That would set Hill/Hudson as the DP combo, free up Cat for a potential spring training trade, and put the best possible defence in the middle infield. Bat Adams and Hill 1-2, and Bob's your uncle. Unlikely, but it could happen.

Adams/Johnson
Hill
Overbay
Wells
Sanders
Koskie
Hillenbrand
Zaun
Hudson

Chuck - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:08 AM EST (#136582) #
Mike, do you not think that the organization's "go for it now" attitude, rather than a "go for it eventually" attitude, will result in decisions like Catalanotto and Hillenbrand getting playing time in lieu of younger, developing players like Adams and Hill? The assumption, of course, being that the former would be more productive hitters now, even if the latter might eventually surpass the former.

I'm not saying I disagree with your position. I just think it runs contrary to the organization's current stance.

As for the Braves, how much credit can be given to their organizational philosophy of trusting young players versus (a) their newfound cheapness and (b) the stinkiness of the veterans being bypassed (Mondesi and Jordan)? I'm not trying to be a smartass and say I know, I'm just saying that there may have been mitigating factors.

Kieran - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:12 AM EST (#136584) #
Going into last year, I was not a fan of Hillenbrand's. His poor OBP and *alleged* homophobic comments made towards Epstein had soured me. However, I became a big fan of his as the year progressed, based on his grit and intensity.

I actually think he is a serviceable defensive 3B or 1B, and the weight loss should help. However, I don't really see the purpose in shifting him to a corner OF position. Shea is unlikely to repeat his HBP totals, and as such, a .290 .335 .450 season is what I predict. Compared against the strict platoon of Reed/Cat, there is not much difference; certainly not enough upgrade of offense to offset the defensive risk. (I also think Reed has a slightly above average arm - what he lacks in strength he seems to compensate for with pinpoint accuracy)

To me, there is only one solution - trade Hinske and carry both Hill and Adams, hoping one of the two gets hot and makes the decision of which of the extra bodies (Koskie, Hill, Adams, Overbay, Hillenbrand, Hudson) is expendable.
Mike D - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:19 AM EST (#136586) #
A.J. Pierzynski got a chance to manage a wrestling tag team this weekend. I offer this quote, from the White Sox official site, without commentary other than to say that each and every sentence is amazing.

"Being on the Oprah [Winfrey] Show probably has to be No. 1 because it's Oprah, but this isn't far behind, I'll tell you that," said Pierzynski of his pro wrestling appearance. "It's pretty cool because I was a wrestling fan growing up. How could I say no to getting a chance to get in the ring?"
subculture - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:24 AM EST (#136587) #
"To me, there is only one solution - trade Hinske and carry both Hill and Adams, hoping one of the two gets hot and makes the decision of which of the extra bodies (Koskie, Hill, Adams, Overbay, Hillenbrand, Hudson) is expendable."

I repeat again, and hope this comment doesn't kill this thread like the last one.

If you trade Hinske, there are no extra bodies. Unless you consider John A a full-time player. It's not like we have 2 guys who can only play the same position. We have 6 guys with flexibility to play 5 positions, with injury replacements at each spot. 6 for 5 does not mean we need to trade someone...
Chuck - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:26 AM EST (#136588) #
I think I'd rather have Johnson batting against LHP than Hillenbrand and Catalanotto batting against RHP than Hillenbrand. So, even ignoring outfield defense, I'd prefer to have the platoon in LF than Hillenbrand.

And I think Johnson's outfield defense is being underestimated.

As for Catalanotto, I concede that he's a liability out there. But at least he's a liability with experience. Hillenbrand, with even less speed than Catalanotto and no outfield experience at all, would surely be a weaker defender.
Mike Green - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:30 AM EST (#136592) #
I share Robert's enthusiasm for the White Sox' off-season moves. A rotation of Buehrle, Garcia, Vazquez, Contreras and McCarthy could be very, very good.

As for giving Catalanotto and Hillenbrand full-time work on the theory that will give the team the greatest chance of success in 2006, I don't think that it does. With the current personnel, the team reasonably stands to win 86-89 games (I think). That is not likely to be enough, and the team's realistic chance to succeed is through growth of its young players. A different approach might be called for if the team reasonably stood to win 92-95.
Chuck - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:31 AM EST (#136593) #
If you trade Hinske, there are no extra bodies.

Not presuming to speak for anyone, I believe the statement that precipitated your response reflects the unspoken assumption that a new DH bat is yet to be added to the team.

If not, then I agree with you.

If the new bat is meant to replace Rios in RF, then removing Hinske eliminates the body surplus, unless the intention is to make both Hill and Adams starters, which I don't think is the case.

Flex - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:50 AM EST (#136596) #
Re Hillenbrand, I think he'll hit 23 for us and see a modest drop in average, and grumble about not getting enough playing time in the field.

But what I'd really like to know is how many people think Adams will still be the everyday shortstop by the All-Star break. There's general dismay here about his defensive play, but I'm not talking about that so much as the willingness of the organization to bump him out of the spot in favour of Hill. I would have thought that unlikely until I read the quote from Gibbons (which I reported earlier and won't repeat).

The question is, will Ricciardi lose patience with his own pick as fast as he has with Ash's?
Wildrose - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:51 AM EST (#136597) #
While were talking about moving guys positionally, I'll throw this into the mix...Koskie to Right-field.

I'm not a big fan of Rios. Good defender, questionable hitter (poor strike zone control with a greater than 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio and a ground ball hitter prone to few homeruns) . Basically I don't have much faith in him evolving into more than an opposite field spray hitter.

Toronto needs to upgrade its team offence, starting with rightfield. (A.L. avg R.F. OPS .783/ Rios .703)I'd like to see the upgrade happen through a trade or free agency, but the options seem to be drying up. ( Sanders to L.A. etc...)

What's plan B? Maybe you could move Koskie to right( bat him primarily against righties), move Hillenbrand (or open a spot for Hill?)to third and find a D.H.( Durazo/Thomas?)which tend to be in more frequent supply.

I guess these questions need to be asked;

Is it worth moving Koskie off third given he's a good defender? Would the defence lost be of greater value than the potential hitting gained? Perhaps.

Does he have the arm strength? I'd say easily based on casual observation.

Does he have the foot speed? Maybe, the move to field turf has negated the importance of raw speed somewhat in Rogers centre. Koskie has a career 70-34 SB ratio( albeit with lots of those stolen bases when he was younger.) In a foot race I'd wager he'd stay with these A.L. Right Fielders, Jay Gibbons, Casey Blake, Aubrey Huff, Trot Nixon, Ordonez(post knee surgery), and Gary Sheffield. I don't think speeds a problem.

Could he learn to track fly balls during spring training? This is the big if. Not sure what precedents are out there. Koskie is a good athlete, former Junior National Team Volleyball player, former D-1 Goaltender, so that would help.

I like the Adam's to left idea, Hillenbrand to the outfield, maybe depending on his footspeed, Hill to the outfield? I just think the Jays need to perhaps look at some internal options if trades/free agents don't solve all their hitting desires.







Exit - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:01 PM EST (#136599) #
Even if there was another bat added to the lineup, Hillenbrand to me still plays an important role to this team chances of increasing there win column.
Assuming they bring in a Right Fielder, Hillenbrand be used as a DH, while backing up Koskie at 3rd which will be needed considering his injury risks. Also taking some games at 1b for Overbay. And if needed taking on the odd game in the outfield. There was never any doubt that Nomar could do it so why is it so far fetched that Hillenbrand could.

Splitting time between DH, 3rd, and 1st with possibly the odd game in the OF would easily get Hillenbrand the AB. Lets not forget that Hillenbrand was arguably the Jays best hitter that year. A guy that can play this kind of role for the Jays, atleast to me is vital to keep around considering the long season ahead.
Mike Forbes - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:03 PM EST (#136600) #
I'm very sure that I am in the minority for this idea but... I'd rather keep Alex Rios in RF than Cat in LF.. I don't like the thought of giving up on Rios this early in his career and trading him away only to become (Exaggerated Example) Roberto Clemente V2.0.. Rio's defense is well above average in right and his arm is one of the better ones in the majors. At the plate if Rios can shorten his swing he'll return his average to the .280 level with 15-20 homers. The shorter stroke would also lead to more contact and fewer K's.

Meanwhile Cat is already a proven contact hitter without much pop and an average defender at best with a girl's arm in left. I would be sad to see Cat go but I think upgraded LF with someone like Austin Kearns not only increases our offensive production, it'll make Toronto the best defensive in the Majors.

*Ducks for cover.*
Mike Green - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:22 PM EST (#136604) #
The funny thing about Rios is that if you look for comparable players through age 24 throughout history, you keep running into good ones and very few real blowouts. Willie McGee, Kirby Puckett. Sammy West. Guys who didn't have much power or much strike zone control over a couple of seasons, but then developed more of both. It does seem more likely that if Rios does develop into a good offensive player, it is more likely to be as a .300-.320 hitter with medium range power and average plate discipline than as a big power bat in the middle of the lineup. They've tried to get him to pull, and that doesn't look like it will work.
Wildrose - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:34 PM EST (#136608) #
In fairness to Rios, the Brantley approach, which seems to be based on turning him into a pull, flyball hitting outfielder has not gone well. Perhaps better to just leave him alone.

The red flag for me is the atrocious 28/101, BB/Strikeout ratio he put up last year. It's pretty hard to improve without basic control of the strike zone.

On a team (with more offence at other key positions) and on a squad that isn't preparing to make a push, you could live perhaps with a struggling youngster, Toronto is not that team.
einsof - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:36 PM EST (#136609) #
Mike Forbes -- I just can't see how Austin Kearns is an improvement in the Jays OF--He's put up awful numbers for the last couple of years--No thank you Cincy....
Wildrose - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:37 PM EST (#136610) #
Here's Alexis latest baseball reference comps. A real mixed bunch.
TamRa - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:49 PM EST (#136612) #
Could someone direct me to the Gibbons coment on SS mentioned above?

I would take great solice in knowing Adams did not have an unlimited leash to keep the job....
slitheringslider - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:51 PM EST (#136615) #
I don't think we should talk of our RF situation as a gaping black hole. Rios is 24 yrs old for god's sake, and it is much more likely he will improve than regress. Personally, I doubt he would have another .262/.306/.397 season next year. I have faith in him.
Flex - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:54 PM EST (#136616) #
WillRain, it's part one of a three-part interview with Gibbons on Inside the Dome. The Adams comment is at the bottom. It's subtle, but you can't mistake the underlying message. Here's the link:

http://bluejays.scout.com/2/478034.html

I haven't read the other two parts yet to see if there's further clarification. But I will now that they're up.
Jordan - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:01 PM EST (#136618) #
We're also banking on a young guy like an Adams. We still don't know what's going to happen with where he fits. If he's one of our everyday guys, you got to figure they're going to be better.

"If" he's an everyday player? No guarantees... It seems as if Russ is going to have to have a good spring training.

Mylegacy - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:28 PM EST (#136623) #
Jordan, I read it slightly different. I think he means Adams IS the regular and they THINK/HOPE he will grow more. If he doesn't, THEN they may have to do a rethink.
Jordan - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:34 PM EST (#136624) #
Ah, okay ... I can see that. That's a problem with trying to parse interview transcripts -- it's far from an exact science. Gibbons' delivery and inflection probably gave it its proper meaning in context.
Named For Hank - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:37 PM EST (#136625) #
Just think of Hillenbrand as this year's Dave Berg and you'll feel much better.
Newton - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:49 PM EST (#136627) #
Hopefully Shea's comments boost his trade value, possibly to a team that may now see him as a viable corner infield defender.

Personally I hope he isn't on the roster come Spring and that if he is its to keep Durazo's spot warm.

Think Big Gentleman, now is not the time for complacency.





MatO - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:58 PM EST (#136628) #
The only way Hillenbrand hits 30 is if he stops swinging at everything and goes deeper into counts while looking for pitches to drive. He's got great bat control so he shouldn't be afraid of getting 2 strikes on himself. But I can't see it happening since a leopard rarely changes its spots.

Rios came up hitting mostly to the opposite field. Last year they tried to get him to hit the outside pitches the other way and to pull the inside pitches. Instead he tried to pull everything. The K's are a product of his confusion. He never had K issues in the minors and I suspect if he ever figures it out in the majors the K's won't be a problem either.
Hodgie - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 02:00 PM EST (#136629) #
Here is why I am somewhat loathe to give up on a young player with obvious talent - taking a relatively unscientific approach. Here is a microscopic comparison (first seasons totalling 900+ AB) of 3 young players. Player A is Rios, can you guess what current RFs players B and C are? A small hint, their original teams quickly gave up on them....

Player /AB /xH /AVG /OBP /SLG /OPS
A /907 /71 /0.273 /0.321 /0.390 /0.711
B /1031 /84 /0.228 /0.272 /0.376 /0.649
C /935 /69 /0.271 /0.327 /0.386 /0.713

xH = Extra Base Hits

Player B is Sammy Sosa, Player C Gary Sheffield. I am not saying that Rios will become either, but it should give a person pause to think.....
Ryan C - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 02:02 PM EST (#136630) #
Player B is Sammy Sosa, Player C Gary Sheffield

So what you're saying is Rios should be having a talk with his pharmacist?

Mike Green - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 02:24 PM EST (#136639) #
Sheffield and Sosa came up at age 19-20. It's much more common to make the big leap in those circumstances than when a player comes up at 23 as Rios did. Willie McGee is a more reasonable target; if Rios can hit .350 one year and win a MVP award, I imagine that the club would be happy with that.
Smaj - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 02:53 PM EST (#136642) #
It is Dec 15th, thus JP has ample time to finish off his lineup. The discussion of Shea in LF, Koskie in RF is humerous, but extremely unrealistic.

Let the dust settle on free agency with Millwood, Washburn and Clemens'situation & then we will see the trade market activity increase. Every MLB roster is still incomplete, hence tonnes of discussions & GM's looking to improve their rosters.

JP has trading chips that come 2006 will be in greater demand with Spring Training drawing closer. Patience & surplus pitching is always a lovely bargaining chip!

I fully anticipate the acquisition of a corner OF'er before opening day.
Jacko - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 02:53 PM EST (#136643) #
Rios came up hitting mostly to the opposite field. Last year they tried to get him to hit the outside pitches the other way and to pull the inside pitches. Instead he tried to pull everything. The K's are a product of his confusion. He never had K issues in the minors and I suspect if he ever figures it out in the majors the K's won't be a problem either.

Geez, that sounds an awful lot like what happened to John Olerud before he left town. Jays coaching staff wanted him to pull the ball more and it messed him up.

Rios has a fair amount of power when he gets his arms extended, so perhaps they should just let him relax and hit the ball wherever he wants?

Hodgie - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 03:06 PM EST (#136645) #
Don't get me wrong, as I stated at the end of my post I am not projecting Rios to be either Sheffield or Sosa. What I was trying to illustrate was that giving up on a player with very obvious skills before he has even played two full years in the majors is fraught with what-ifs, just ask The WhiteSox and Brewers. And I agree, I would be very happy with Alexis McGee in RF, which seems to me is what Rios was in AA...
Mylegacy - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 03:09 PM EST (#136646) #
Can Hilly be an all-star? That was the question. It got me thinking about Hilly and the rest of our bats.

Hilly had a poor 2nd half. I see room for improvement.
Hinske was OK in a platoon. I see that as a positive possibility.
O'Dog is intense and driven. Entering his prime. Could be a big(ish) improvement.
Wells was only OK most of last year. If he smells the post season and focuses I think he could be 300+/350+/500+.
Cat/Johnson, what you see is what you get. And it ain't bad.
Rios...I wish I knew which God to pray to get this guy to where we all hope/wish/pray he can be. IF we are going to challenge for the postseason Rios goes 280/330/480. AND HE WILL!
Zaun is an absolute JOY to watch. I LOVE the way he fearlessly blocks the plate! I love this guy! Last year he was quite good with the bat, this year I'll gladly take a small fall off.
Koskie was in pain and was painful to watch. When he came back if was embarrassing. He can be better. He will be better. Look for 280/350/500, not just look, bank on it!
Overbay will be OK, more or less what I hope a healthy Koskie will do. BUT, this guy is gonna break our hearts hitting into double plays. My grandmother is faster with her walker.

Remember how good the hitting was in 04 and how disappointing in 05? Well look for 06 to be an up year. We have a chance at the wildcard.

Sorry this is so long.

Oh, did I mention we got some new pitchers?
binnister - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 03:51 PM EST (#136648) #
BUT, this guy is gonna break our hearts hitting into double plays

Psst!

Overbay - 17 GIDP

Hillenbrand - 22 GIDP

Wells - 13 GIDP

Koskie - 10 GIDP (2/3 season)

I'd say were quite used to our hearts being broken.

Mylegacy - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 03:58 PM EST (#136649) #
Binnister, me thinks Gibby will be starting a lot of runners. Can you say, strike em out throw em out.
subculture - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 04:53 PM EST (#136651) #
Does anyone remember how many doubles Rios lined hard off the top of the CF and RF walls? I remember seeing at least 5 that were a few feet from being solid homers. He easily hit more balls hard off the wall than any other Jay. He also had more bullet accurate throws to home than anyone else, and you could see the league starting to respect that.

His power is tremendous, his speed, arm, and baserunning is superior. If this guy was a Yankee, everybody would be trying to trade for him. There's no way I'd trade him unless it brought in a star-caliber bat (which is unlikely at this point).

If anything, he has to keep maturing, find his swing, and the team prevents him from relaxing (sometimes, I felt that Vernon looking like it's so easy and relaxed out there, affected Rios negatively).
Smaj - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 05:11 PM EST (#136655) #
Does Rios have minor league options left?

Glevin - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 06:02 PM EST (#136658) #
I don't think Hillenbrand will be an All-Star again. He shouldn't have been there last year. (I mean, ahead of Travis Hafner? Come on!). Halladay seems like by far the best bet. I am not for trading Rios either. It is possible he may never develop, but he does have high upside, something the Jays in general lack. Really, I think it's reasonable to expect only a few guys to improve signifcantly this year over last. Adams, Hill, Rios, and maybe Wells. (His career adjusted OPS aside have been 100, 131, 103, 104 so this might just be who he is although it feels like he could do better.)
binnister - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 06:18 PM EST (#136659) #
Prediction Time!

Who is the most likely to get the 'Grinch' Award this year? (i.e. which GM's will trade players just before Christmas)

Am I alone in hoping that its J.P.?
dp - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 06:51 PM EST (#136662) #
I don't think we should talk of our RF situation as a gaping black hole. Rios is 24 yrs old for god's sake, and it is much more likely he will improve than regress. Personally, I doubt he would have another .262/.306/.397 season next year. I have faith in him. I asked this repeatedly last offseason: beyond the way he looks, what about Rios gives you hope that he'll ever be a good ballplayer? Is it the one good season at AA? Or what he did in winterball that year? Because that's all I see, and even that was largely driven by BA. Rios never did anything special in the minors outside of that one year. He'd make an adequate CF, but in RF he's got to hit more, nad there's nothing in his performance to indicate he will. I'm ready to be proven wrong, but still I can't understand why the Jays were so high on him and so willing to give up on Gross...
Mylegacy - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 07:09 PM EST (#136663) #
dp I'd like a shot at that...

Power is the last tool to develop. F'instance Fred McGriff came up when he was 25. Look at what JFG did last year at 25. Usually, 25 is when natural (ie no roids) power starts to show. Rios is getting near that twitching hour.

Rios is a potential + in all five tools. Gross really doesn't have that kind of projection.
dp - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 07:19 PM EST (#136664) #
Rios is a potential + in all five tools. Gross really doesn't have that kind of projection. He's never shown any plate discipline, he hasn't really hit for a great average. Gross from what I heard played good D, had nice range but a weak arm. He didn't have prodigious power, but he did draw a lot of walks. Rios isn't Vernon Wells, and even if he was, Wells in RF loses a lot of value. I'd rather play a true RF, maybe without the range that Rios has, but who is a better hitter. The Jays don't have enough offense in their lineup to absorb a RF who hits like a SS. If they had superior hitters at SS and 2B, or any one elite calbur hitter, maybe. But I don't think if they're trying to contend in '06 they can/should count on Rios.
sweat - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:00 PM EST (#136666) #
Gross didnt have a weak arm. It might not be at the Rios level, but at worst he had an above average arm.
timpinder - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:01 PM EST (#136667) #
dp,
Gross has a good arm, he was a QB.

Anyway, males typically "fill in" until age 28. Rios has 4 years to go until he grows into his frame, the power will be there EVENTUALLY. The question is do you wait and hope it's sooner rather than later. You could hold onto Rios until he's 29, done nothing for you, then trade him to the Dodgers where he hits 35 HR's in his 30th year.

I agree that Rios hasn't done much, and to me, it doesn't look like he's going to do much. But I have faith that the professional scouts who believe Rios will develop into a star know a lot more than me. Maybe 2006 will be his breakout year.
dp - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:26 PM EST (#136672) #
Gross has a good arm, he was a QB.

I thought he had a shoulder injury that hurt his throwing a bit? I'm saying that based on performance, Gross has shown more potential. With Rios, I just keep thinking about the Beane line from Moneyball about selling jeans- everyone here talks about how good Rios looks, but what people seem to ignore is that he never hit in the minors. Rios, in over 1200 ABs of single A ball, had a line of .277/.315/.369(his BA and SLG actually get worse if you include rookie ball)...he had horrid SB/CS numbers in the low minors (43/30)...

You're right he could break out in 5 years. But you can say that about a lot of guys. I'm just mystified as to why people like this guy so much when he's never hit...for average, for power, nothing...he's had 3000 at-bats at various levels and the only time he showed any kind of power was at New Haven in '03. other than that, he hasn't hit enough to be considered a prospect at SS let alone RF.
Newton - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:48 PM EST (#136673) #
On Waiting for Young Players to Develop:

The benefit of a POTENTIAL breakout must be balanced against the REAL losses associated with keeping unproven players on the active MLB roster.







timpinder - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:55 PM EST (#136674) #
dp,
Regarding Gross' arm, are you thinking of Shannon Stewart? Maybe I'm wrong, I didn't know Gross had an arm injury.

Anyway, I agree with you, and I posted it long before the Gross trade, that I would be more comfortable with Gross than Rios in the OF next year. Guess that's not going to happen now. Gross always struggled in his first year after a promotion, then hit very well in his second year. He just never got the second chance in Toronto and it's a shame. I think he'll end up being a very solid producer in Milwaukee.

As for Rios, I'd like to see an upgrade in RF next year, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if he was starting there. I wouldn't be surprised if he hit .285 with 15 - 20 Hr's, and he's only going to get stronger as he gets older.

I may be out to lunch, but I think one of the reasons the Jays want to hold to Rios is Wells. Halladay and Wells are free agents in 2007. Wells is going to be getting a HUGE raise, and signing Halladay should/will be the Jays top priority. They may not be able to afford Wells because Halladay, Burnett and Ryan alone are likely going to take up $40 million. Other than Negron, who is another guy who's never realized his potential, the Jays don't have any in-house CF options should Wells depart. Rios could easily slide over in 2008.

It's just a thought.
HollywoodHartman - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:06 PM EST (#136677) #
NFH,

I believe you posted a very fine photo of the RC on opening day last year. I recently got a new computer and would like to make it my wallpaper. If you could post that picture again it would be much appreciated.
timpinder - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:08 PM EST (#136679) #
FYI, their Minor League totals:

Gross:
1703 AB
247 BB
356 SO
.282 AVG
.439 SLG
40 HR
solid OBP

Rios:
2149 AB
130 BB
296 SO
.293 AVG
.401 SLG
20 HR
poor OBP


dp - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:09 PM EST (#136680) #
I may be out to lunch, but I think one of the reasons the Jays want to hold to Rios is Wells. Halladay and Wells are free agents in 2007. Wells is going to be getting a HUGE raise, and signing Halladay should/will be the Jays top priority. They may not be able to afford Wells because Halladay, Burnett and Ryan alone are likely going to take up $40 million. Other than Negron, who is another guy who's never realized his potential, the Jays don't have any in-house CF options should Wells depart. Rios could easily slide over in 2008.

I could see that- not sure what it'd take to keep Vern, but if the Ryan/Burnett signings keep it from happening, it's a mistake. Maybe they've gotten indications Vern wants to test the FA market. But still 2 years of middle infielder-like production out of Rios on the chance that VW leaves is a lot to put up with as an insurance policy.

I can see Rios matching those numbers because it's possible, but I don't think it's likely. He didn't really improve at all last season; it isn't like he slumped and then adjusted. He was actually worse in '05 than in '04, and a lot of people were making your same projection after '04.

Your gut tells you a young player will improve the longer they're on the job, but man, Alex Gonzalez taught me to fight that intuition, and unlike Rios he actually hit in the minors. So I'm hesistant to say Rios has to get better just because he's young.
HollywoodHartman - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:11 PM EST (#136681) #
First off, sorry for the double post before.

Secondly, Braden Looper has signed a 3 year/ $13.5 Million contract with the Cardinals.
6-4-3 - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:21 PM EST (#136682) #
Hartman: I'm not sure, but I think this is the photo that you're talking about: http://aaronreynolds.ca/gallery/PotW/dugout_PotW

If that's not it, you can click on the "Photo of the week" link on that page, you can browse through all the prior photos, and if you click on baseball, you can get some nice Skydome / Fenway shots.

That Looper deal sounds crazy.
Matthew E - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:28 PM EST (#136683) #
The thing about Rios is not that he could break out in five years. It's that he could break out in five minutes.

(Or not.)
HollywoodHartman - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:34 PM EST (#136684) #
6-4-3,

Thanks but that's not the one I was looking for. It was during the game taken from the 500 level showing the packed stadium. I looked through a few pages of POTW. Maybe it wasn't NFH who took that picture...

But I did take a look at his website, and for the time being I have a very nice photo of O-Dog at bat as my background.
Wildrose - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:20 PM EST (#136685) #
I think the concept that Rios will somehow blossom into a power hitter is somewhat idealistic.

Power hitters generally need to pull and loft the ball in the air to hit a lot of homeruns.

In 2004 Rios had the second highest ratio of groundballs in the A.L., behind Ichiro. He improved slightly in 2005 as he was 19th. in the A.L. in this measurement. In 2004 , 80% of his hits were to rightfield,( I don't have the 2005 data).

I think the team is trying to change his hitting approach, unfortunately that's very hard to do in the majors, I believe he cannot be sent to the minors in 2006 as his option years have expired.

Given the Jays were 11th. in the A.L. in park adjusted scoring, can you afford to carry a young, struggling hitter, who may or may not develop?
HippyGilmore - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:23 PM EST (#136686) #
Okay, so you've got Braden Looper for 3 years, 13.5 million. From what I heard, the Cards offered A.J. Burnett at least 4 years, 40 million. Why not tack that 13.5 million onto Burnett and add a 5th year? It's not even like this is a premier reliever here, its Braden freaking Looper, complete and utter mediocrity except for a fluky 2004. I would not be happy if I was a Cards fan. And B.J. Ryan really doesn't feel so overpaid when Looper gets 4.5 mill.
Andrew - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:20 PM EST (#136688) #
Apparently the Twins brought Tony Batista back from Japan! I don't know how to put the hyperlink into the text so I'll just paste it in ugly at the end. Is this the same Tony Batista that we all know and love? And did the article really say that the Twins now have a proven glove at first base?

Wacky.

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20051215&content_id=1282520&vkey=hotstove2005&fext=.jsp
VBF - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:40 PM EST (#136689) #
Thanks but that's not the one I was looking for. It was during the game taken from the 500 level showing the packed stadium. I looked through a few pages of POTW. Maybe it wasn't NFH who took that picture...

That's funny HH. I thought NFH took that same picture you're talking about too and I searched *forever* in the archives to try and find it. The thing that really threw me off was that Aaron was sitting in the section next to where the picture was taken.

I'm not entirely sure who took that picture; it seems like you can find it on a Google Image Search--the only problem is that it doesn't come big enough and makes any desktop look blurry.

Get that camera ready for April 4th, 2006, NFH. There has yet to be a person to capture the atmosphere and electricity of a full Bluejays crowd. I think you should be the first :)

Named For Hank - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:49 PM EST (#136690) #
Heh, I'll see what I can do. But I'll probably be in the stands with Theo, which makes photography difficult.

By the way, I won't be around too much until the second week of the new year. Nothing bad has happened, I'm just going to be busy as all get-out, and so photo of the week is temporarily on hiatus.

See you next year, everybody.
jamesq - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:49 PM EST (#136691) #
Player B is Sammy Sosa, Player C Gary Sheffield

So what you're saying is Rios should be having a talk with his pharmacist?


good one!
Twilight - Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:59 PM EST (#136692) #
Yeah, that's good ol' Tony with the coolest plate stance I have ever seen. The bat waving owns.

While in Japan, he batted .263 with 27 home runs, 90 RBIs and 78 runs scored in 135 games.

27 HR in 135 games? That's 32 per 162. Not bad at all. But I don't really know how tough the Japanese league is.
Jobu - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 01:18 AM EST (#136693) #
But I don't really know how tough the Japanese league is.

I wouldn't say they're all THAT tough really...

Michael - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 03:26 AM EST (#136695) #
Well baseball reference has useful similarity scores, so if you want to do players similar to Alex Rios take a look at the 10 most similar players through age 24 and do their career totals you get Rios projecting to a line of: .286/.343/.402 over another 8 years (and that works out to a projected OPS+ career total of 99). And here are some more comparisons for you (OPS+ included as some of these players are from the 70s when offense wasn't as high), all similar players through their 24 year old season:
Player AB   xH  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS  OPS+
A      907  71  273  321  390  711  84
B      983  65  276  323  379  702  102
C      900  70  277  325  411  736  100
D      739  65  275  369  409  778  103
E      865  55  275  342  363  705  95
F     1032  77  280  324  401  725  92 
Note Rios is player A and has the worst line of the five (when you look at OPS+). Who were the players? A = Rios B = Rich Coggins C = Ken Landreaux D = Shannon Stewart E = Jerry Mumphrey F = Coco Crisp What did they do post 24?
Player Years AB   xH  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS  OPS+
B      2     244  8   205  248  250  408  43
C      9    3765  293 271  320  405  725  100
D*     8    4426  400 301  365  444  809  109
E      12   4591  319 291  351  402  753  110
F*     2    1085  103 299  345  456  801  113
The stared players are still playing. Given that Rios's comped players were all slightly better than his stats so far, and given Rios doesn't have a huge minor league history of success, I don't think the upside on Rios is huge. We are looking at a RF who might have good defense and league average hitting (across all positions, not league average RF-hitting) as his good upside.
robertdudek - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 07:32 AM EST (#136696) #
Anaheim released outfielder Jeff DaVanon after designating him for assingment awhile back. If he can rebound from his poor season in 2005, he would be a great asset as a 4th/5th outfielder.

He's a switch hitter with speed and good defensive ability, who maintained an excellent K/W ratio despite a total power outage (in a limited sample).
Pistol - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 08:43 AM EST (#136698) #
This mentions that the Jays might be interested in Burell (which would fit JP's RH OF that he's looking for), and the Phillies have been interested in Batista.

http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/sports/13419876.htm
dp - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:07 AM EST (#136699) #
I like Burrell, but does this mean he replaces Cat/Johnson and not Rios? I'm not sure I want him in RF...though with Burrell in the lineup, we might be able to absorb Rios not hitting...

I agree w/Robert about Davanon, he's a good guy to have around. Walks a lot and can steal bases, back up CF. though with Sparky he might be redundant (though sparky would have to hit .320 to get on base like Davanon does).
Mike Green - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:21 AM EST (#136705) #
When I saw Davanon's name in the newspaper this morning, I had the same reaction as Robert. Nice useful ballplayer who just turned 32. With a 12 man pitching staff, there'd probably be no place for him on the 25 man here, but with a smaller staff, he would be worth serious consideration. In any event, I suppose that he could be signed to a minor league contract if the market for his services is weak. The Jay farm system is weak in outfielders.
Ryan C - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:36 AM EST (#136708) #
Quick question that sort of relates to Davanon. If something bad were to happen, who is the Jay's theoretical 5th outfielder now that Gross is gone? JF Griffin and Miguel Negron are on the 40 man I think. Are they anywhere close to ready?
Mike Green - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:41 AM EST (#136710) #
Negron is a capable defensive outfielder, but he needs to hit at AA or AAA to be considered. Griffin is a passable leftfielder, who would hit well enough in a platoon role to be useful.
Mike Green - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:58 AM EST (#136713) #
Team Canada will be playing the Jays in an exhibition game on March 3 in Dunedin. Everyone can use a few days off in early March.
Jacko - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:59 AM EST (#136714) #
This mentions that the Jays might be interested in Burell (which would fit JP's RH OF that he's looking for), and the Phillies have been interested in Batista.

2006: $9.750
2007: $13.250
2008: $14.250

Yikes. 12.4 MM per season for the next three years. That's Abreu expensive. The 6 year, 50 million dollar contract he signed after the 2002 season bought out his arbitration years, so it is heavily backloaded.

The Jays can't take on this contract unless they get some serious salary relief. Batista and Hinske alone only combine for 14 MM over the next two years. The Phillies have an inexperienced guy at 1B and an expensive free agent bust at 3B (David Bell), so they really could use an experienced corner guy on their roster. Hinske, Koskie, and Hillenbrand all fit the bill.

This contract reminds me quite a bit of the Hinske deal, but on a much larger scale. Burrell signed the deal after his 37 HR, 116 RBI sophomore season. Since then, he's been a bit of a disappointment in the eyes of the Phillies.

He would certainly be a useful addition for the Jays, but considering they are already over budget, he might be a little too expensive.

Mike Green - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 10:17 AM EST (#136715) #
Reasonable expectations for Burrell in 2006 are a .260 average with 30 homers and 90 walks, with below average defence in left. He's always had "old-player skills", and is a good bet to suffer significant decline before the contract is up. Ouch. Burrell for Hinske, Batista and some cash? Perhaps. He's ideally suited to being a DH perhaps as early as this year.
edtjeerd - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 10:34 AM EST (#136716) #
Don't know if its been mentioned yet, but USAtoday has an article up regarding the plan of JP over this offseason. Nothing too exciting, but its always good to see the jays making some news south of the border.

Anyways, the link is
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/bbw/columnist/white/2005-12-14-leading-off_x.htm

timpinder - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 10:39 AM EST (#136717) #
Burrell has a no trade clause, and I doubt Philly would take Hinske. The only way the Jays could afford him is if they sent Hinske and Batista to Philly and non-tendered or traded Hillenbrand. The outfield would remain the same and Burrell would DH. I can't see this trade happening.
Pistol - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 10:46 AM EST (#136718) #
"he might be a little too expensive"

Teams can trade money as well as players so it's not as simple as saying he's too expensive. He's only too expensive if the Phillies wouldn't be willing to include cash in the deal. But the Phils already tossed in $20+ million to trade Thome so it's not an impossibility.

BA	OBP	SLG	OPS
0.260	0.359	0.463	0.822
0.258	0.346	0.469	0.815
0.282	0.376	0.544	0.920
0.209	0.309	0.404	0.713
0.257	0.365	0.455	0.820
0.281	0.389	0.504	0.893
Wow, that's all over the place. But the only real difference year to year is whether the balls are dropping in or not. I'd mark him down for a .265/.370/.475 line, but with the potential for a lot of variability (both high and low).
Chuck - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:10 AM EST (#136722) #
A few random thoughts...

1. What is Terry Ryan doing? What in the hell is he doing? The Twins haven't had a 30-homerun guy since, what, Harmon Killebrew? Okay, not quite that long. And Tony Batista is supposed to fix that? Yeesh. Great if you don't mind a 270 OBP. At what point are the Twins not even serious contenders in the Central any more?

2. Add me to the list that sees a use for Davanon. Hopefully the Jays will go with an 11-man staff, freeing up a bench spot for a 5th outfielder. If they don't do anything about upgrading RF, then it would be nice to have a caddy for Rios, both to deal with really tough RHP and to remind Rios that it's still his job to earn and not the work of providence.

3. Burrell seems awfully expensive for what he offers. True, he'd be a definite upgrade at DH and would likely be the team's best hitter, but as was pointed out above, his performances seem especially volatile from year to year and he will likely not age particularly well. If we're trading Strat-O-Matic cards, sure, go ahead and make the deal. But we're talking about lots of moolah, and that changes things. It would be nice to see that spent on someone with a broader skill set.
Jordan - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:13 AM EST (#136723) #
Burrell's contract:

2006: $9.750
2007: $13.250
2008: $14.250

Hinske and Batista together will make $9 million in 2006 and $10.3 million in 2007. A straight two-for-one swap, without money changing hands, would give the Jays three years of Burrell at about $18M more than their current budget, most of it in '08. That's probably twice what the Jays can realistically afford.

So the Phillies would have to pick up half that amount to make financial sense for Toronto, and with Ryan Howard at 1B, they would have to use Hinske as a 3B. I don't see that deal making Philadelphia a better team, so they'd want extra talent, probably of the Hill or Hudson variety, to make it worth their while. And as noted above, Burrell is far from a sure thing. I doubt there's a fit.

Mike Green - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:20 AM EST (#136724) #
The Royals signed Grudzielanek and Mientkiewicz. This will shore up their infield defence, and should do wonders for the confidence of Greinke and Howell if not for copy editors in KC newsrooms. Will Davanon be next for the Royals? He'd make a nice everyday leftfielder for them.

Here's a parlour game for a Friday in mid-December. Are you feeling lucky, dudes and dudettes? Would you offer Greinke a long-term contract now? If not now, how about after next year if he does well? My thinking would be that having promoted him and Howell early, the team has already committed to them for a number of years. Greinke for 5 years and $25 million is something I would do, maybe 1, 2.5, 4.5, 7.5, 9.5. There's lots of risk there, but also potential benefit. Showing confidence in him after last year's abdication by the defence behind him might help his performance going forward.

Chuck - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:28 AM EST (#136725) #
The Royals signed Grudzielanek and Mientkiewicz.

A crappy team has become slightly less crappy. A tree falls in a forest. Does it make a sound? Can Rob Neyer hear it?

Jacko - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:31 AM EST (#136726) #
Hinske and Batista together will make $9 million in 2006 and $10.3 million in 2007. A straight two-for-one swap, without money changing hands, would give the Jays three years of Burrell at about $18M more than their current budget, most of it in '08. That's probably twice what the Jays can realistically afford.

So the Phillies would have to pick up half that amount to make financial sense for Toronto, and with Ryan Howard at 1B, they would have to use Hinske as a 3B. I don't see that deal making Philadelphia a better team, so they'd want extra talent, probably of the Hill or Hudson variety, to make it worth their while. And as noted above, Burrell is far from a sure thing. I doubt there's a fit.

Batista's contract is up after 2006, so adding Burrell and subtracting Hinske/Batista is an extra 23 MM, not 18MM. This is a realistic statement because I imagine that Batista will end up getting replaced by one of the Jays arms from the farm in 2007.

We're also forgetting that Burrell and Abreu both had tremendous home numbers playing in Citizen's Bank Park last year, which had a park factor of 108. Their road numbers were pretty ordinary.

So yeah, Burrell is too expensive, both in a money sense and in the sense that Philly would demand too much in return for him (i.e. his perceived value is a lot higher than his actual value).

TA - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:46 AM EST (#136727) #
With regards to the possibility of signing DaVanon...

I understand the merits of the 11 man pitching staff, yet I was wondering if any of the Jays pitching prospects would be out of options this year. If I'm not mistaken McGowan still has 1 more, Rosario and League should have 2. Is there anyone I'm not thinking of that has to "make it" in spring training or else be exposed?
Mike Green - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:47 AM EST (#136728) #
Actually, the Royals are in much better shape than the Tigers were at their nadir. With Greinke, Howell, Affeldt, Burgos and Sisco pitching, and David DeJesus in centrefield, Mark Teahen at third and Justin Huber, they have 8 interesting players who should be pretty good as a group in 3 years. Add in Alex Gordon and Billy Butler and Billy Buckner (what is it with the Royals and names?) and this is not an organization that looks hopeless to me. For 2006, their goal should be for Greinke and Howell to make strides forward and to win 65-70 games. Being a Royals fan now might be something like being a Jays fan in 1981 when the team was losing, but Bell, Barfield, Moseby, Clancy and Stieb were all young.
Wildrose - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:56 AM EST (#136729) #
Blair's latest.
Pistol - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:56 AM EST (#136730) #
Grienke's a flyball pitcher (GB/FB of 1.05:1 this year) so he won't benefit from an improved infield defense quite as much (although J Jones might help him out if that were to happen).

I'm not so sure about 5 for $25 deal. I think he'd have to be really good to make it worthwhile. Even if Grienke turns into an above average pitcher the team likely wouldn't be saving that much by paying him $9.5 million in 2010. At this point I'd probably wait another year.

Of course if you asked the same thing a year ago I would think the Royals would be crazy not to do that.
Geoff - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 12:55 PM EST (#136734) #
Excellent article there, edtjeerd.

I realize such articles on the Jays are a rarity but I'd like if this site had a feed of Jays in the news — local and/or global news. And if there's any need for help in coding this or any other features for the site, let me know.

robertdudek - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 01:05 PM EST (#136735) #
Apropos of nothing ...

An idea popped into my head. In building a championship ballclub, one should be on the lookout for creating virtuous circles, and avoid breaking them.

What is a virtuous circle as it applies to baseball? I'll give you an example. Suppose you have a batter who is proficient in getting extra base hits. If you find a batter who is good at getting on base to bat in front, both players' value will be increased. The OBP guy will score more runs, and the slugger will drive in more, and of course more runs for the team. Remove one of these two players and the value of the other to the team decreases even though "intrinsically" his value is the same.

The above is the most basic virtuous circle to be found on offense and it is the fundamental reason that the best way to assemble an offense is to find two or more high OBP guys to put at the top of the order, and as many sluggers as possible in the middle of the order.

But we can have virtuous circles on defence too.
If you have a centrefielder with exceptional range, a flyball pitcher and a park with a large outfield area, you've created a virtuous circle. Nook Logan-Ted Lilly-Comerica would be a hypothetical example of this.

Or take a middle infielder who has excellent range and is adept at turning a DP; take also a pitcher who induces many many ground balls. The value of each is increased by the presence of the other. The pitcher has more of the ground balls turned into outs and the fielder has more opportunties to use his defensive skill. I think you see where I am going with this.

The Jays have a very nice virtuous circle in the form of Halladay-Burnett-Hudson-Overbay (I include Burnett because he is a groundball/strikeout pitcher as Halladay is). Therefore, Hudson should be worth more to the Blue Jays than to almost any other team, unless he can be replaced by a 2B of approximately equal defensive skill.

A win-win trade is one in which both teams acquire players that are worth more to them than to their former team. I think we saw that in the Overbay trade. Because of Hudson's particular value to the Jays, it is exceptionally unlikely that he can be part of a win-win trade.

Craig B - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 01:26 PM EST (#136737) #
As usual, Robert's reasoning is impeccable. This is a brilliant defense of Hudson's unique value to the club on the field.
greenfrog - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 02:37 PM EST (#136750) #
Robert makes a good (and well-written) point, although I think in some cases you have to be careful in deducing the existence of certain virtuous circles. For example, some commentators automatically assume that hitters with "doubles power" will thrive in a turf stadium like Rogers Centre, but we statistically we don't know if this is true. Of course, deducing that a ground-ball pitcher will be helped by a 2B like Hudson is pretty uncontentious.

For an interesting contrast (ie, how certain players may create an unvirtuous circle), check out Aaron Gleeman's latest on the Twins' recent signing of Tony Batista:

http://www.aarongleeman.com/
Pistol - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 03:13 PM EST (#136752) #
The RC is a 110 park factor for doubles the past three years. However, I'm not sure if that's impacted by the change from the old turf to the new turf since there's just one year of the new turf.

What I find odd is that people talk about the new artificial surfaces as if they're the same as the old artificial turf. From what I've read and seen the new fake grass (like Toronto, Tampa, Minnesota) plays the same way as natural grass does.
TJ Caino - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 03:53 PM EST (#136755) #
Wow AG really ripped that signing. And sadly that's another team that is now out of the market for a 3B.
Ron - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 04:04 PM EST (#136757) #
As long as Hillenbrand stays with the Jays there's virtually no chance will be on the all-star team (assuming he's the DH).

Papi will get voted in by the fans and the 2nd DH that will make it will be Hafner (who got screwed over last year if you're going purely be performance).
Named For Hank - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 04:26 PM EST (#136759) #
Finally got to read Blair's blog. Is anyone else excited by his apparently-blue-sky idea --
The Cuban team is scheduled to play its first-round games in Puerto Rico. Is there a chance that any of their games might be transferred to Toronto's Rogers Centre as a way around any political objections from the U.S. right?
I completely agree that the tournament will not be the same without Cuba. And hell yes I'd buy tickets if some of the games were up here.
Pistol - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 04:29 PM EST (#136760) #
The Tony Batista signing is only worth getting worked up about if he's actually going to start. His contract is just over a million, and it's not guaranteed so they can cut him in spring training for a minimal amount. This isn't preventing them from doing something else.

I'll be surprised if he's with the Twins in April.
Geoff - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 05:20 PM EST (#136764) #
The Cuban team is scheduled to play its first-round games in Puerto Rico. Is there a chance that any of their games might be transferred to Toronto's Rogers Centre as a way around any political objections from the U.S. right?
What are the dates for the first round? I think it would be a hard sell to have players come here to play baseball over Puerto Rico. There would be likely at least a few players to freak out at the first sight of a snowflake.
sweat - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 05:22 PM EST (#136765) #
It would probably keep any cubans from defecting. :)
Jonathan - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 05:32 PM EST (#136768) #
The market for tier one hitter available is very very thin. JP's going to have to be very creative to turn a mediocre hitter (Hinske/Hillen) and mediocre pitcher (batista) into a good hitter. Futher, there are a lot of teams looking for the same thing (cubs, for one).

I wonder if there are gems at the AAA+ level we may want to take a chance on? Look at a guy like Petagaine - still not getting enough ABs to show his true potential despite his minor league and Japan numbers. Are there other AAA+ guys, or minor league free agents that may be worth inviting to spring training?
VBF - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 05:34 PM EST (#136769) #
Paul Godfrey is on the board of directors for the WBC. However any games wouldn't be any against Canada as we're in Pool B. And, since all regular matchups in Cuba's pool are in Hiram Bithorn, the only shot that a Cuban team would even set foot in the US is if it made its way to the finals.

So no, there won't be any games in Canada.

Ron - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 06:29 PM EST (#136772) #
Looks like the M's are about to sign Washburn to a 4 yr 36-38 mil contract.

http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/story/9100644

I just wonder who will get the opening day start, Moyer or Washburn.
R Billie - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 07:03 PM EST (#136773) #
I knew Washburn would get at least $8 million in this market and probably more given his agent. I'm very glad the Jays were not in on him as a Plan B to Burnett.

Burnett was too much for too long, signed to a contract which should have landed a near #1 pitcher the last few years. But he at least with him I feel there is an opportunity to have a solid #2 given good health and some modest development.

Washburn is the definition of mid-rotation inning eater. Look at 2005 then look at the three years before that and compare the ratios. They're not that far off. $9 million+ for this guy? No thanks. Though being in Seattle's home park should benefit him if the M's have a good centerfielder.
Glevin - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 07:09 PM EST (#136774) #
Washburn really isn't that good, but the market for pitchers is insane. It makes the Paul Byrd signing look great in comparison. (Shapiro is the most underrated GM IMO) The market was insane last year too, and for the most part the signings turned out horribly. (Pavano, Wright, Milton, Ortiz, etc...) The Rangers just picked up D'angelo Jimenez which I think is a good low-risk pickup for them and probably means that they won't go after Hudson.
Named For Hank - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 07:20 PM EST (#136775) #
And, since all regular matchups in Cuba's pool are in Hiram Bithorn, the only shot that a Cuban team would even set foot in the US is if it made its way to the finals.

But where's Hiram Bithorn? In a United States territory?
david wang - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 07:28 PM EST (#136776) #
Washburn, Byrd etc just makes teh Burnett signing better and better.
Cristian - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 07:38 PM EST (#136777) #
The latest Prospectus free article points to how the Bucs have a hole at 3B, money to spend, and just lost out on Bill Mueller.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4660

At the Winter Meetings the Jays and Bucs discussed a deal which supposedly fell apart because the Jays insisted on getting Paul Maholm. Perhaps in light of the Mueller to LA signing, it might be wise to call Pittsburgh again. Who doesn't want to see Craig Wilson in Toronto? RF, 1B, emergency catcher, and mullet.

P.S. Hiram Bithorn is where the Puerto Rico Expos played.
VBF - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 08:13 PM EST (#136779) #
NFH is right though, the US is very close with Puerto Rico. Maybe it is possible to have a game in Canada. I'd love that.
Glevin - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 08:55 PM EST (#136780) #
I found this interesting on Hardball Times. "Baseball Canada is likely waiting to see if Chris Woodward’s citizenship application is processed before the tournament." Did anyone else know about this?
Dave Till - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 10:55 PM EST (#136787) #
The Royals signed Grudzielanek and Mientkiewicz.

That loud screaming sound you're hearing is coming from the guy in charge of stitching names onto Kansas City's uniforms. :-)

Just took a look at Paul White's article on the Blue Jays on the USA Today web site. Apparently, the Jays had at least one scout at every single one of A.J. Burnett's starts last year. Whoa.

Dave Till - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 10:56 PM EST (#136788) #
P.S.: Welcome to Canada, Woody!
Geoff - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:09 PM EST (#136790) #
If the M's are picking up Washburn, does that mean they're not going to do the 4-year $44-million deal I read they were close to with Millwood?

Looking at Burnett's and Washburn's numbers, I can understand that Burnett is worth another year and $17 million. But one common trait between the two guys irks me: the contract year performance. The only time either pitcher had a full season with an ERA under 3.5? Their contract years, 2002 and 2005. Thankfully (as a Jay fan), Burnett's difference is less pronounced than Washburn's and, provided his injury woes should allow his 2003 & 2004 performance to be glossed over (much like Roy's 2004), is still poised to progress to an elite level.

You hope a pitcher is a guy like Roy who works hard, with a purpose, and makes the most of every opportunity and not just the ones that mean more dollars. But how many cases look like this? More often than not it seems to me. Any in-depth studies about it on the net?

Jonny German - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:34 PM EST (#136792) #
2002 was not a contract year for either Washburn or Burnett. For each it was the season leading up to their first time being arbitration eligible, but if you want to argue that they were working harder in order to get a bigger arbitration award you'll have to explain why they didn't do the same in 2003 and 2004.
John Northey - Friday, December 16 2005 @ 11:47 PM EST (#136793) #
Washburn vs Burnett...

ERA+
Washburn = 131 in 2005, 114 career, over 100 5 out of 8 years
Burnett = 117 in 2005, 110 career, over 100 5 out of 7 years

Baseball Age in 2006
Washburn = 31
Burnett = 29

Being younger, Burnett should get the longer contract but as to who is the better pitcher for 2006 I think it is very debatable. I would not call Washburn a mid-rotation inning eater. A guy who has had a 120+ ERA+ 3 times in the last 5 years is a lot more than an inning eater. Note: Burnett has cracked 120 just once (121) with 100+ IP.

I like that we got Burnett, and I think he'll be better long term but imo Washburn has been the better pitcher to this point of their careers.
Wildrose - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 12:32 AM EST (#136794) #
Here's a link to Craig's detailed story at the Hardball Times about the Classic.

Woodward is married to a Canadian girl( and may even have an off-season residence here), thus the potential Canadian moniker.

Frankly I'm a bit surprised at the lack of Bauxite interest in this tournament. I think once it gets rolling people will be pleasantly surprised.

TJ Caino - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 01:30 AM EST (#136795) #
Speaking of The Hardball Times, Gleeman weighs in on the Overbay trade. He says it’s a win win, but likes it form the Jays perspective a bit better.

However, he focuses on Hinske and Hillenbrand’s production while batting at first base, as opposed to their production over all. I disagree that this is the correct focus of analysis the comparison should be between Overbay and the total production of whomever is loosing at bats. This is presumably Hinske. Therefore Overbay is taking over for a hitter who went .262.333.430 last year. Not hitter who went .267/.314/.449.

That said Overbay’s bat will defiantly be a solid addition to the lineup. Just not as drastic as an improvement as AG makes it seem. Plus we control him for three years.

Link: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/catching-up-on-trades-part-2/

Jeeze, I could really use some trade rumors. It’s getting harder and harder to procrastinate for these last two exams. O well, off to Tim Horton’s (best coffee in the city).
Rob - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 01:35 AM EST (#136796) #
Here's a link to Craig's detailed story at the Hardball Times

Huh. The byline in the story is Craig's, but on the THT site, it says "Craig Burley and Thomas Ayers give an update on the latest World Baseball Classic developments."

Mick Doherty - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 02:24 AM EST (#136797) #
The Royals signed Grudzielanek and Mientkiewicz. This will shore up their infield defence, and should do wonders for the confidence of Greinke and Howell if not for copy editors in KC newsrooms. Will Davanon be next for the Royals? He'd make a nice everyday leftfielder for them.

Well, we've had comments about copy editors and uniform name stitchers, so let me just add that Jeff Davanon would be a *terrible* addition to the KCR roster from the obvious "win the player name All-Scrabble tournament" perspective they've obviously adopted. All those one-point tiles, next to Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz and Zack Greinke (put THAT on a truple word score, buster!) ...

andrewkw - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 08:27 AM EST (#136799) #
Is anyone really that excited about this tournament? I think its more so for countries that don't have mlb. Personally I am not at all excited about it. That being said I will still watch it since it is afterall baseball at a time when I can't wait for the season to start, but I would rather cheer for the Toronto Blue Jays any day even if they only play here then team Canada just because the team is made up of Canadians. I would also hate to see a Blue Jay or any player for that matter get hurt in these games before the season even starts. I don't think this is the worst idea ever, just not a great one.

Also OT, but do any BJ Ryan flex pack owners whom have 2 or more tickets want to trade one of their BJ Ryan bobbleheads for a Koskie? I was hopeing i'd still get a Ryan with my flex pack which I ordered before the Ryan signing but it came with vouchers for a Koskie Bobblehead. I don't need 2 Koskie and would really like a Ryan.
Donkit R.K. - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 09:41 AM EST (#136800) #
This feels like it is going to come across as short-sighted but I have to ask - does everyone feel baseball is a more injury prone sport than hockey? Or is this sentiment that players should not play in the WBC founded on something else (the contracts are bigger investments than in hockey - I guess that makes some sense). I ask because the absolute upper echelon in hockey generally plays in the World Cup (similar timing to the baseball classic) and in the Olympics (that take place in the middle of the season) unless they are hurt. If Canada plays in the gold medal game in men's hockey in Turino, they will play 7 games in ten days (11 days perhaps? It is along those lines). That is some intense competition against the world's best for guys used to playing about 4 times every ten days.
GeoffAtMac - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 09:42 AM EST (#136801) #
I like Cristian's idea of getting Craig Wilson. Hinske-for-Wilson I tell you -- both teams lose players no longer in long term plans.
Donkit R.K. - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 09:46 AM EST (#136802) #
Is Hinske and a mid-level prospect enough for Wilson? What is Wilson making; could we afford to throw in about a third of Hinske's contract? What are Wilson and Hillenbrand's splits? Does it work for the lineup, to have Wilson in DH/1B/LF, Hillenbrand at DH/3B/1B, Overbay at 1B/DH, and Koskie at 3B/DH/maybe 1B. I'm on the run to head home from school so I don't have a chance to look up the numbers...
Thomas - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 12:45 PM EST (#136809) #
Huh. The byline in the story is Craig's, but on the THT site, it says "Craig Burley and Thomas Ayers give an update on the latest World Baseball Classic developments."

Craig and I both wrote the piece, but since I don't write for the site ever they just gave Craig the byline but mentioned the fact that I was involved with it. I've just been giving Craig a hand with some of the WBC stuff.

As for Woodward, he married a Canadian and, when he played for the Jays at least, had a residence up here (he split time between Toronto and California in the offseason). He applied for Canadian citizenship in the fall. I presume it was partially motivated by the chance to play in the tournament and partially because of his wife's background. I don't know what the status of his request is or if it is likely to be processed in time for the tournament.

Geoff - Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 02:05 PM EST (#136813) #
May the Bring Back Craig Wilson campaign begin. Stats: Hinske & Wilson

Hinske: .258 .335 .430

Wilson: .268 .363 .488

Wilson was plagued by injuries: tore tissue off the middle knuckle of his left hand while hitting a double in early May, returned two months later, played for a week before being hit by a pitch that broke a bone in his left hand, returned late August and battle a sore knee the rest of the way.

For those who don't recall, the Jays traded Wilson and 5 other unnoteworthy players to the Pirates for their salary dump of Orlando Merced, Carlos Garcia, and the great Dan Plesac.

The Pirates seem to be less thrifty than in the past and look to be getting ready to push for the present. But for some reason they traded Mackowiak for Damaso Marte and gave up on Bobby Hill (who was the only thing they had to show for trading away Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to the Cubs two years ago -- worst trade in the last five years?), so it looks like the Pirates could use some infield depth, and likely wouldn't want to part with their promising young arms to do it if possible.

Since Wilson swipes a couple bags every year (and plays some outfield), I presume he's at least as speedy as Flash Hinske, plus he can catch in a pinch.

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