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Time to get a new all-everything, what-is-there-to-talk-about? thread started up. There is apparently no huge breaking news in the world of the 90-foot baselines right now ... What, are you psyched about Trot Nixon heading to Cleveland? Cliff Floyd possibly landing in Wrigley? Chase Utley getting a gazillion dollars from the Phillies? Have a comment on the loss of one of the sport's good guys, Vern Ruhle?

What's going on out there?

TDIB: Anything? Anyone? Bueller? | 82 comments | Create New Account
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Pistol - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 01:48 PM EST (#162349) #
A couple Jay tidbits in TSN, although I'm not sure why the Jays would trade either Rios or Johnson because of salary.

AWeb - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 02:12 PM EST (#162351) #
I saw the TSN article above, and thought it was odd that not only did the author think the Jays would trade Rios due to cash concerns (if Clayton can get 1.5 million, and Rios is traded to save money, JP should be fired on the spot), but that they might trade Reed Johnson, regardless of what happens with Rios. Huh?  I can't imagine either has trade value high enough to get pitching (the usual rumoured goal of all Jays trade rumours) and a useful OF thrown in. So the Jays might trade 2/3 of the outfield, leaving them with a rookie (Lind, unknown defensively) and an old guy (Stairs) who hasn't played there in years. Yeah, that makes sense.

On the plus side, at least the Jays haven't blown 3 million on Ramon Ortiz lately.

Mike Green - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 02:12 PM EST (#162352) #
You're way too kind, Pistol.  The suggestion that Johnson or Rios would be traded because of salary considerations is completely silly.  Their salaries will be, one way or the other, very reasonable.

Either might be traded (for value) on the understanding that Lind can handle left-field well enough, but a salary dump would not be the idea. I am not advocating a trade of an outfielder.; having 4 good outfielders around is not a problem.
A - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 02:16 PM EST (#162353) #

According to Dayn Perry, JP Riccardi is the 20th best GM in baseball. Full Dayn Perry-approved rankings here.

I'm not sure if JP ran over Perry's dog last season but the last part of his comment seems awfully personal in nature:

"Last season, the Jays finished higher than third place for the first time 1993. He's made the organization more efficient, but the farm system has foundered badly under him, mostly because of his college-heavy drafts. Ricciardi's social skills and media savvy also leave much to be desired."

The top three GMs are apparently:

  1. John Schuerholz, Braves
  2. Walt Jocketty, Cardinals
  3. Terry Ryan, Twins
Mick Doherty - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 02:31 PM EST (#162354) #

Just one memory of  Vern "Golden" Ruhle ...

In 1975, the Tigers were terrible-- 57-102 and they weren't really even THAT good (althlugh to be fair, they exactly matched their Pythagoreean W-L) ... for that motley crew, the young (24) Ruhle was 11-12 and to my then-nine-year-old brain, that made him a future Hall of Famer who would obviously have many 20-win seasons for the soon-to-be-rejuvenated (or so I thought) Tigers. The Tigers released him a few weeks into '77 and he went on to record 42 more of the 67 career W's he accumulated. Okay, and 59 losses. So I was WAY wrong, But hey, I was nine!

Jevant - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 02:54 PM EST (#162356) #

As far as I can tell, Perry hates the Blue Jays and Riccardi (not necessarily in that order).  He's a die hard Red Sox fan who tries to act like he's an impartial baseball analyst.  One of the worst writers out there - he should be writing for the Boston Herald or something like that...not FoxSports.  He's just not very smart, period.

And believe it or not, Perry didn't run over my dog.  He's (by far) my least favourite sports journalist.

Jim - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 03:02 PM EST (#162357) #

"Last season, the Jays finished higher than third place for the first time 1993. He's made the organization more efficient, but the farm system has foundered badly under him, mostly because of his college-heavy drafts. Ricciardi's social skills and media savvy also leave much to be desired."


Which part of that isn't accurate?

Brent S - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 03:08 PM EST (#162358) #

Some mid-day Jays tidbits to chew on:

1. The Bucs will not sign Ohka. The competition for the Jays is now narrowed down to the Nats and the Mets. There is indication that Ohka might sign a one-year deal in hopes of a FA money pile at the end of the season. There also seems to be a bit of journalistic sour-grapes at the end of the article.

2. I haven't seen this on Da Box yet, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer brought up the fact that the Indians "would love to work a trade for McDonald, drafted, signed and developed by them, to be their backup shortstop". With Olmedo and Smith in the fold now, would JP be interested in unloading our Minister of Defense?

Mike Forbes - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 03:16 PM EST (#162360) #
Starting shortstop in '07: Clayton, McDonald, Smith or Olmedo?.... Does anyone see a bright side to this question? Or am I missing a big name we might of signed while I was sleeping?
Mike Green - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 03:31 PM EST (#162361) #
Ohka's K rate is in the serious danger zone, bearing in mind he's in the weaker league and his age (which makes it unlikely that he'll increase it).  He'd probably strike out under 4 batters per game in the AL, and there aren't too many right-handers who can survive doing that.

The acquisition of Clayton to fulfil the starting shortstop role was described by Steve Treder in BTF as a symptom of "proven veteran-itis".  Ohka would be another symptom. 

Paul D - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 03:58 PM EST (#162365) #
Or am I missing a big name we might of signed while I was sleeping?

Well, apparently TB is looking to trade BJ Upton...

Mike Green - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 04:20 PM EST (#162366) #
I wonder if the Indians might be interested in a rare reverse trade-  Nasty Mastny for McDonald.  Mastny is probably not ideally suited to the closer role, but I still think he can pitch.
A - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 04:32 PM EST (#162367) #

Which part of that isn't accurate?

Riccardi's drafts, in hindsight, leave something to be desired but it isn't a direct result of going for college players of high school players (if Russ Adams worked out as a half decent infielder JP's drafts would have been reasonably defensible.)

Then the last sentence of Perry's analysis is impossible for anyone to quantify and smacks of petty personal politics. That is unless you know that there are a bunch of GMs out there who just won't deal with JP because of his "social skills" and/or "media savvy." That's sour grapes. Plus, because the Toronto media (who have ragged on JP quite a bit) haven't resorted to insulting Riccardi's character like that I'm given even more reason to believe that Perry is pushing his own very personal agenda.

One of the worst writers out there - he should be writing for the Boston Herald or something like that...not FoxSports

Give Perry a break, he's just trying to get a job writing for Fox News ;-)

Chuck - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 04:59 PM EST (#162371) #

He's just not very smart, period.

Give Perry a break, he's just trying to get a job writing for Fox News ;-)

Sportswriters are a matter of taste, to be sure. And while one might well disagree with Dayn Perry's opinions, or take offense to his cocksure positions on various issues, suggesting he's not very smart is, well, silly. If you're going to make such a claim, then you should be prepared to defend it with more than just an assertion.

As for the joking Fox News remark, clearly you haven't read enough of Perry to know that his politics lie at the other end of the political spectrum.

Rob - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 05:23 PM EST (#162373) #
On the plus side, at least the Jays haven't blown 3 million on Ramon Ortiz lately.

Gleeman ain't happy one bit. I can't blame him -- who the hell would risk losing Alex Romero for Ortiz?
Ron - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 05:32 PM EST (#162374) #
I was looking up Future Hall of Famer Grady Sizemore's stats and ran across his contract information. The Indians have a heck of a bargain. Sizemore signed a 6 years/23.45 million extension. His first FA year will only cost the Indians 7.5 million and the club has an option at 8.5 (10.5 million if he reaches incentives) for his his 2nd FA year. If he hit the marketplace, those 2 FA years might be worth at least 20 million each.

Mark Shapiro is one of the most under-rated GM's out there.

Pistol - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 05:35 PM EST (#162375) #
Which part of that isn't accurate?

The farm system isn't great and they have relied on college players but one doesn't necessarily cause the other.  If the right players were chosen it wouldn't be an issue.  And 'floundered badly' is an overstatement. 

I agree that JP isn't great with the media, but for the most part that's irrelevant.  Players seem to buy into what he's selling.

I don't think a 20th rating is too far off base, but then again the Jays were 4th in all of baseball last year in 3rd order wins, and within 1 game of 2nd, so they're doing something right.  It's just not the easiest division to see it in.

Chuck - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 06:05 PM EST (#162377) #

How would one defend the assertion that someone isn't very smart.  IQ test?  Random examples of ill-conceived quotes?  I don't think that can be done.  Surely some opinion is allowed in this forum. 

I can't imagine that my remarks could be interpreted to suggest that I feel that opinion not be allowed. Opinion should be more than allowed in this forum, it should be encouraged. Without opinion, this forum doesn't exist.

But opinion only carries weight if it is defended. To claim that someone's "just not very smart, period" isn't an especially compelling argument. Now, should I care one way or another that someone holds this view about Dayn Perry? No, not really. But to hear why someone holds this view would be far more interesting.

VBF - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 06:56 PM EST (#162378) #

Nasty Mastny for McDonald.

Even with the Tribe stocking up on bullpen veterans, I still think they expect Mastny to be a meaningful contribution to the bullpen. Not that they wouldn't listen, but I think they view him worth more than a veteran no-hit shortstop who is arguably losing step or two on the defensive side of his game.

But if you could get Mastny for McDonald, that'd be one heck of a deal.

Jim - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 08:49 PM EST (#162379) #
floundered badly' is an overstatement

Maybe.  Time will tell, but I would call it somewhere between 'absolute trainwreck' and 'unmitigated disaster'. 

Mike Green - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 09:00 PM EST (#162381) #
I agree with Pistol.  "Floundered badly" to describe the farm system of the Ricciardi era is an overstatement.  As a whole, the system has won about 1/2 of the time, and produced perhaps slightly below what might have been expected in prospects in light of draft order.  If one looks at the success rate of players chosen in the first 3 rounds, the record is about average.  Aaron Hll, David Bush and Adam Lind all look to be very good players in the making.  There have been few late round successes, although Kyle Yates or Jesse Litsch may change that.  And there have been probable misses. 

It would be fair comment to point out that the single A franchises and  double A franchises in New Haven and New Hampshire have done well, while the triple A franchise in Syracuse has had to endure a losing team every year.  "Floundered badly" doesn't exactly capture the nuances of the situation.

Mike Green - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 09:08 PM EST (#162382) #
Incidentally, I certainly do not agree that Walt Jocketty is the 2nd best GM in baseball.  He's made some excellent decisions- first and foremost signing Pujols to that long-term contract when the market was off, but still he's had more than his share of misses.  Succeeding in the NL Central is not persuasive evidence of greatness.

I do agree with Perry's choices for the cellar-dwellers among GMs.  Littlefield, Bavasi, Krivsky and O'Dowd.  Personally, I'd put Littlefield and Bavasi together at the absolute bottom.  Somebody's got to have the honour, and I think that they have earned it. 

Jim - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 09:25 PM EST (#162383) #
Those ahead of Riccardi that I wouldn't trade him for:

12. Bill Stoneman
15. Pat Gillick
17. Brian Sabean
18. Tim Purpura
19. Dayton Moore (what the heck has Dayton Moore done?  Sign Gil Meche?)

Those ahead of him that I wouldn't jump on given the opportunity

5. Theo Epstein (i'm not quite sure how he's ranked better then Cashman)
7. Kevin Towers
9. Omar Minaya ('solid work' with the Expos?  Funny)

So I think he's done a bad job with the minor league system, but I'd still take him over at least half of the GM's in baseball.  Man there are some bad GMs.  Wayne Krivsky?  How did he keep the job this long?

kinguy - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 09:42 PM EST (#162384) #
So the low minor teams have done well and Syracuse has not during the JP regime:  is that not a reflection of JP's penchant for drafting college players?  If you're drafting college players and sending them to Rookie and Short-Season A ball to play against high-schoolers, I'd expect them to do well at the lower levels.

Since the majority of draftees seem to be flaming out between AA and AAA , it seems they are not making the adjustments necessary to succeed at the higher levels of professional baseball as much as other teams' younger draftees.  Is it a result of poor coaching, poor drafting or a disinclination on the JP's part to take a chance on high risk, high upside players and instead draft older players who can hopefully be fast-tracked to the majors as quickly as possible?  
CaramonLS - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 09:52 PM EST (#162385) #
Why the dislike for Stoneman Jim?

He has assembled one of the best pitching staffs in the majors and has a prospect pool which is a mile wide and 1,000 feet deep.

Some of their prospects have floundered and he didn't have adaquate back up plans in recent years, but in his defense, they were considered great prospects (Kotchman and McPherson)  Both hampered by Injury.

And... He has a ring too.
Magpie - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 09:58 PM EST (#162386) #
Ricciardi's social skills and media savvy also leave much to be desired.

I've also heard that he has sloppy handwriting, which is almost as important. I guess we're being told that he will not be able to save his job through his ability to work the media, in the event that things don't work out on the field.

the farm system has foundered badly under him

I think it would be helpful if we could come up with some way to actually analyze this issue, rather than tossing around random characterizations in some kind of vacuum. We know Ricciardi's been on the job for five years, we know he's had five drafts, we know he's acquired such and such amateur talent, we know some of those guys are now major leaguers. (Of course he's also cashed in some of that amateur talent for major league players, like Overbay and Accardo.) But what constitutes a good farm system anyway? Winning minor league teams? High-quality prospects? Quantity of trading chits? I have no idea myself. What would be a good way to measure such a thing?

And once we have the method... we will have to compare what's happened here to what's happened in twenty-nine other places - because otherwise we're just shooting our mouths off, with no context and no basis for judgement. (In other words, there will be some heavy lifting required.)
greenfrog - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 10:44 PM EST (#162387) #
It would be interesting to see JP's ranking had he decided to keep Carpenter. That move alone probably bumps him up 5-10 spots.

However you rank Ricciardi right now, he has a chance to remake his legacy this year. The abundance of early picks in a strong draft class could rejuvenate the organization.

huckamaniac - Monday, January 22 2007 @ 10:49 PM EST (#162388) #
ESPN ranks Terry Ryan first followed by a 3-way tie for second with Shuerholz, Gillick and Billy Beane. Brian Cashman is ranked 5th.

I found the Pittsburgh- Tomo Ohka issue to be pretty strange.  They signed Shawn Chacon to a $3.8 million deal on Friday to avoid arbitration. One would think that this money would have been better spent on Ohka. I think that the Pirates have some decent young starters in place with Zach Duke, Ian Snell, Paul Malholm, and Tom Gorzelanny. I don't really see how Chacon fits into this mix.

Magpie - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 12:56 AM EST (#162392) #
Well, if anyone else would like to step up... that would be really, really, excellent. I'm getting old, and lazy, and I have many other excuses.

But if this cup will not pass from me - at least suggest some standards I can work with!

Jacko - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:15 AM EST (#162394) #
I think JP is being judged by the lack of superstar grade talent he's managed to draft since taking over in 2002.

There's not much star potential in this group.

02 - David  Bush (traded for Overbay)
02 - Russ Adams (blown pick)
03 - Aaron Hill (solid, but unspectacular)
03 - Josh Banks (hit a wall at AAA)
03 - Shawn Marcum (slightly better than Banks)
04 - Purcey (great arm, no control, would prefer if JP went for more high ceiling guys like this)
04 - Jackson (not great, traded for Overbay)
04 - Thigpen (looks similar to Aaron Hill and Gregg Zaun)
04 - Lind (could be special, limited defensively)
04 - Casey Janssen (pretty good, but suffered from being rushed to majors, doesn't throw that hard)
04 - Cannon (great power, but bad athlete, strikes out too much)
05 - Romero (struggled in first exposure to AA)
05 - Pettway (similar to Cannon)
05 - Patterson (hit a wall at AA)
06 - Snider (great hitter, but a 5'11, 245 is a little chunky for an 18 year old)

Not many of the "reliable" college picks appear to be panning out.  Which begs the question, would the Jays have been better off taking more speculative "athletic" HS picks and hoping one of them turns into a 5-tool player?  The Jays system is currently packed with pitchers with good control who don't throw hard, and defensively challenged hitting prospects. 

For additional perspective, the following guys were drafted after the Jays picked in 2002-2005:

Russ Adams (14)
Scott Kazmir (15)
Nick Swisher (16)
Cole Hamels (17)
James Loney (19)
Jeff Francouer (23)
Joe Blanton (24)
Matt Cain (25)
Mark Teahen (39)
Joey Votto (44)
Brian McCann (64)

Aaron Hill (13)
Conor Jackson (19)
Chad Cordero (20)
Chad Billingsley (24)
Carlos Quentin (29)
Matt Murton (32)
Adam Jones (37)

David Purcey (16)
Josh Fields (18)
Glen Perkins (22)
Phil Hughes (23)
Taylor Tankersley (27)
Eric Hurley (30)
Huston Street (40)

Romero (6)
Tulowitzki (7)
Pelfrey (9)
Maybin (10)
Garza (25)

Having hindsight is nice and all, but would it not have been nice to get someone like Maybin (instead of Romero) or Phil Hughes (instead of Purcey) or Hamels (instead of Russ Adams)?  The insistence on taking college players over HS players certainly seems to have hurt the Jays in those cases.  Though there were plenty of other guys (both from HS and college) in those 1st rounds who also didn't pan out, so the Jays are hardly alone.

I guess the final piece of evidence you can trot out is the lack of Jays names in the annual Top 100 lists this year.  Lind and Snider are the only guys who have cracked any of those lists.  One would expect to see 4-5 players on there if their farm system was considered "strong".

The Jays farm system isn't awful by any stretch of the imagination.  It has plenty of depth, but it lacks true superstars.  The guys you can build a World Series champion around.   If I was to assign a letter grade, I'd give JP a C+.  The Jays system is slightly below average, but not bottom of the barrel either.

actionjackson - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 02:10 AM EST (#162395) #
Oh, I don't know but I'd limit it to the last 5 years to capture the JP years for starters. Trades, big ticket free agents, bargain bin shopping (which he excels at by the way), drafting, managing the farm system (i.e. not giving guys whiplash by promoting them too quickly). It looks like a monumental project to me, maybe a five parter, one part for each of the above categories. It does get tiring to hear people rip him a new one or praise him for everything he does, or say he's "somewhere in the middle", or reminisce about the Glorious Gillick Years and slam him for the fact that the core of his current roster is Gord Ash picks. At least he had the sense to keep them!

It looks like a lot of work though, but there are countless resources out there... still a bit daunting. You just sounded like you were cranking up the "Magpie Missive Machine" and once that gets going, there is little that mortal humans can do to stop it.  :)
Magpie - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 06:27 AM EST (#162396) #
Romero (struggled in first exposure to AA)

Quite literally - in his first six AA starts, Ricky Romero went 0-4, 7.76. In 31.1 IP, he struck out 14 and walked 15.

But in his next six starts, he went 2-3, 2.75 (he lost twice despite allowing a single run), striking out 27 and walking 11 in 36 IP. I wouldn't write him off just yet.
Pistol - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 08:50 AM EST (#162398) #
Specultation is that Ohka is out in Pittsburgh and Washington and the Jays are the front runners.  No word in the Toronto papers.

I was playing around with Ohka's game log from this year at B-F and just discovered that you can literally pick out a group of games to total.  This is really cool.  So you can quickly see Ohka had a 3.18 ERA before he got hurt and then a 5.71 ERA after he returned.

Flex - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 09:34 AM EST (#162400) #
You gotta love Wikipedia. Here's the final tidbit in its writeup on Ohka:

"Ohka is the first and only member of the Montreal Expos to be named on The Simpsons. In the March 16, 2003 episode entitled C.E.D'oh!, Bart Simpson exclaims "Look at me! I'm Tomokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos!" while playing baseball with Milhouse"
Ryan Day - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 09:54 AM EST (#162401) #

Having hindsight is nice and all, but would it not have been nice to get someone like Maybin (instead of Romero) or Phil Hughes (instead of Purcey) or Hamels (instead of Russ Adams)? 

 And it would have been nice to draft Albert Pujols while everyone was passing on him for 12 rounds. There's no question Hamels turned out better than Adams, but do you really want to spend your first-round pick on a high school pitcher who already has an injury history? There's taking risks, and then there's being insane. You seem to be writing off Romero after one bad month at AA, but Hamels hardly even threw a pitch for nearly two years - just 16 innings in 2004 and 35 in 2005; it wouldn't have been terribly pessimistic to consider him a bust a year and a half ago.  And while Adams has fallen apart, pretty much everyone - even BA  - projected him as a good defensive second baseman and leadoff hitter.

 As far as Romero goes, he just turned 22 and had one good month and one bad month at AA - that's way too early to write him off. Purcey, admittedly, is on his make it or break it season now, but he's exactly the sort of high-risk, high-ceiling player people think Ricciardi should draft more often; if you're going to take risks, you're going to lose some of the time.

Mike Green - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 10:14 AM EST (#162402) #
That's a helpful summary, Jacko, but like Ryan Day, I take a different view of some of the players you mention.  In addition to Ryan's comments, I also do not agree that Aaron Hill is "solid but unspectacular".  I'd much rather have Aaron Hill's future than Chad Cordero's or James Loney's or Joe Blanton's, for instance.  He is a championship quality player, right now entering his age 25 season sitting somewhere between Willie Randolph and Jeff Kent.  He is very unlikely to steal 50 bases or hit 40 homers or hit .350 for that matter, but a second baseman who plays excellent D and hits .280 with some pop and very good plate discipline is an exceptionally valuable and consistently undervalued (see Whitaker, L and Grich, B) commodity.
zeppelinkm - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 10:33 AM EST (#162403) #
And .280 might be a pretty conservative estimate of what Hill could consistently put up. I think .350 or even .330 to be too high, but I could see him stringing together three or four .300-.320/.360-.380 /.420-.430 seasons during his prime with transition numbers to that level and then a relatively slow decline after.

I really like his swing; very compact, quick, and level through the zone. Coupled with his patience and good eye, I see this aiding him tremendously as he matures to help smooth out his "bottoms" - no more stretches of sub .200 batting for 6 weeks at a time.

Jim - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 10:34 AM EST (#162404) #

Why the dislike for Stoneman Jim?

He was in a position the past few seasons where he really could have made the Angels the prohibitive favorite in the West for seasons to come and he seems to me to have fumbled that opportunity very badly. 


ayjackson - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 10:44 AM EST (#162406) #

I think that the Angels are, and have been the prohibitive favourite in the West.  I do agree though, that Stoneman has dropped the ball in improving the offense.  He seems to be too deep in certain postitions (1B, SS, SP) and hasn't transferred this depth into improved quality at other positions.  And then there's Gary Matthews Jr. 

If Stoneman went hard after Crawford, Baldelli, Jones or Wells for CF, parting with some of his depth (Kotchman, Mathis, Santana, Adenhart, Aybar), the Angels would be in a much stronger position right now.  And if he had the 20/20 hindsight some bauxites demand of JP Ricciardi, he could have dealt MacPherson and Rivera for a handsome return.

China fan - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 11:22 AM EST (#162411) #

  Everybody keeps posting the same article from the Washington Post, but let's be a little cautious here.  It doesn't say that Ohka "will" sign with the Jays, and it doesn't contain any sources or any supportive evidence -- it's nothing more than a brief throwaway sentence in a long article on other subjects.  The exact quote is that Ohka is "most likely headed to Toronto" which is far from a definitive statement.   Of course it might still happen, but the silence from the Toronto press corps is another cautionary note.  Let's wait until it happens.

   And if it does happen, I'd support it.   There's no guarantee he'd be a success in Toronto -- it's definitely a risky move -- but the team desperately needs all the pitching depth it can muster.   I'd put this down as a move for depth, similar to the Thomson move.  The team needs as many of these as it can grab -- along with all the internal candidates -- in the hopes that 5 of the 10 candidates will make the grade.

AWeb - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 11:56 AM EST (#162417) #
but the team desperately needs all the pitching depth it can muster

The Jays don't need depth as much as they need to know who to use. They have tons of depth, with many many starter possibilities. This acquisition just makes it easier on the coaching staff. If everyone is healthy and able to perform reasonably in spring training, it would seem to set the starting pitching (Halladay, Burnett, Chacin, Thomson, Ohka) without any of the young guys getting an immediate shot. Of course, with this starting staff, several will get a shot during the year. Injury becomes almost a sure thing (I'd say it's very unlikely all 5 above make it through spring training without a health issue).

I hope they prove me wrong, but JP and Gibbons both seem almost allergic to letting young starters pitch, and overly sensitive to short-term failure (both within games and bad stretches of starts). Since they seem to be trying to win this year, that's defendable. But eventually you end up like another Toronto sports team (Leafs) who kept trying to patch together a team of "proven vets" and make a run for the title, which never quite seemed to work. Bad luck or not, it hasn't even worked for the Yankees recently (although their "proven vets" tend to be of a higher level).

Mike Green - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 12:18 PM EST (#162418) #
Ohka is not a better pitcher than Josh Towers.  His ZIPS projection in Milwaukee translates to a lesser projection than Towers' in Toronto.  He shares Towers' strengths and weaknesses.  His major advantage is that he does not have the psychological weight of Towers' miserable statistical 2006 on his shoulders.  That, of course, can cut both ways.  Towers' bulldog personality makes him, I think, less likely to be permit the 2006 failure weigh on him than it might for someone else; if anything, it might give Towers' additional motivation.
China fan - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 12:33 PM EST (#162422) #

   I have a different analysis of the psychology of Josh Towers (which is inherently a very speculative exercise anyway).  Last year, he seemed to allow each failure to put greater pressure on himself, so that he ended up trying too hard to be too perfect.  He was painfully aware of how his poor performances were hurting the team, and this kept weighing on him, adding a psychological stres that kept nagging at him and preventing him from relaxing and concentrating on each pitch.  (I think he even admitted this in some of his interviews last year.)  Ideally he shrugs all of this aside in 2007 and starts fresh, without any worries about the past.  But there is a definite danger that his disastrous 2006 will continue to nag at him, continuing to put greater pressure on him to be perfect in 2007.  In other words, it doesn't necessarily give him extra motivation this year, it could instead give him additional pressure and mental burdens.  He needs to relax and throw strikes and let the hitters hit the pitches, as they did in 2005, but I fear that again he will be struggling to be perfect.   It's a real conundrum.  The Josh Towers of 2005 would be the 3rd man that the starting rotation so desperately needs in 2007, but he has to clear his head and start fresh, without agonizing over the catastrophes of last year.

ayjackson - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 12:40 PM EST (#162423) #

Changing tacks a bit here, but I took the liberty of weighting John Sickels prospect grades (as posted on his freely available and highly entertaining blog)

The results were somewhat predictable.  The Jays ranked 23rd.  The Rays, Sox, Yankees and Orioles ranked 1,4,11 and 20, respectively.

The Rockies, D'backs and Twins rounded out the top 5.

The Nationals and White Sox tied for 29th.

I applied a linear weighting with an A receiving 6 points down to zero for a C.  I'm not sure how Mr. Sickels weights the grades, but his book is almost ready for shipping it appears, if you want to find out for yourselves.


Ryan Day - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 12:41 PM EST (#162424) #
 I think Towers is due to bounce back, but it's hard to say - there seems to be a very fine line between "good pitcher" and "batting practice." Ohka, on the other hand, seems a better bet to be a better bet to be consistently mediocre - he's never been shelled like Towers was in 2006 and 2002. If (big if) he's healthy, anyway.
ayjackson - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 12:44 PM EST (#162425) #
I agree more with the Far East's analysis of Josh Towers than with MG.  I don't think his bulldog attitude translates well to trying to save his career.  I believe he will pitch well in ST and then succumb to the pressure again.
John Northey - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 12:59 PM EST (#162427) #

I'd go for Ohka over Towers if I was in charge of the Jays, especially if he is cheap.
2006 - Towers = 8.42 ERA in majors, 4.00 in AAA
2006 - Ohka = 4.82 ERA in majors, worst for him since 2001

I'd love for Towers to succeed as he is the type that is fun to cheer but he is a high HR, low K pitcher and guys like that can collapse easily.

Towers K/9=4.52  HR/9=1.51  BB/9=1.45  WHIP=1.38
Ohka K/9=5.13   HR/9=1.07  BB/9=2.49   WHIP=1.38

Yup, according to Baseball Cube they have the same WHIP.

Now, Ohka is in the NL so that could cover some of the K/9 and HR/9 but he is still ahead and Towers last year looked like he hit the limit.  Control pitchers can collapse very quickly and do have shorter careers as a rule (I forget the exact study, perhaps a Bill James one, but do remember the results).

If I'm JP and I have a few million left over, plus other teams have shown no interest in doing a reasonable trade then Ohka makes a lot of sense for more depth and to allow Towers to spend at least part of the season in AAA to show he can pitch better than the other options (both Vermilyea and McGowan were close in AAA IP and ERA while Taubenheim had that nice looking 2.85 AAA ERA and a 4.89 ML ERA).

To me Taubenheim would be a prime candidate for #6, along with Marcum and Janssen before Towers, McGowan and the rest get a shot.  Ohka allows AAA to have a solid roation of Taubenheim/Marcum/Janssen/Towers/McGowan and Rosario, Banks, Vermilyea, Purcey among others there as well.  Heck, Ohka might make the Jays feel safer doing a Chacin trade in an effort to up the #3 slot (Chacin with a few prospects for a guy who is really a #1 or #2 elsewhere, a team with a weak rotation beyond #1 or no backups should injury occur and no real shot at the playoffs in '07).  Hmm... Florida had 4 very solid starters in '06 followed by starters with ERA+ of 89/66/76/59/45 so some depth would be good for them.  Perhaps a mixture of Chacin and 2 or 3 of the AAA crew for Willis?  Doubt it would happen, but fun to speculate.

VBF - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:00 PM EST (#162428) #

Bart Simpson exclaims "Look at me! I'm Tomokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos!" while playing baseball with Milhouse"

To which Millhouse responds, "And I'm Esteban Yan of the Tampa Bay Devilrays!".


Jacko - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:00 PM EST (#162429) #
There's no question Hamels turned out better than Adams, but do you really want to spend your first-round pick on a high school pitcher who already has an injury history?

Given the spotty performance of our first round college draft picks from the 2002-2005, yes.  I would prefer that they get someone with a high ceiling rather than someone who is merely "solid".  The first round is realistically your best chance to get a superstar, so why would you waste that chance on someone who's long term ceiling is limited?  It's really hard to win a championship without superstars.  And many of those guys start their professional baseball careers as HS first round picks.

John Northey - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:06 PM EST (#162430) #

Always fun to see the prospect rankings, but never forget that the Brewers in the late 80's early 90's were the darlings of most and still have just the 1981 and 1982 playoffs to show for it.  Heck, they have been 500 or worse since 1993, when most of those propsects should've been hitting their stride in the majors. 

Another good example is the Expos - tons of great prospects but after a good '96 they never won more than 83 (when the GM was trading everything in an attempt to give Montreal one last playoff run before running off to Washington).

It is better to be near the top of these lists than the bottom, but the top does not lock in any wins.

Jacko - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:07 PM EST (#162431) #
Last year, he seemed to allow each failure to put greater pressure on himself, so that he ended up trying too hard to be too perfect.  He was painfully aware of how his poor performances were hurting the team, and this kept weighing on him, adding a psychological stres that kept nagging at him and preventing him from relaxing and concentrating on each pitch.  (I think he even admitted this in some of his interviews last year.)  Ideally he shrugs all of this aside in 2007 and starts fresh, without any worries about the past.

I think there's something to this.  Last year was Towers' first season making more than the MLB minimum, and he could have felt a lot of pressure to perform and justify his status as a newly minted millionaire.  

He's basically hit rock bottom at this stage, and playing with house money, so I figure he'll enter 2007 feeling very little pressure to perform.  His two main problems in 2006 were control and his HR rate.  As long as the problem last year was between his ears and his arm is ok, I don't see any reason why he can't get back to his 2003-2005 levels.  Which means he may end up winning a spot at the back of the Jays rotation.
VBF - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:22 PM EST (#162432) #

Cano Switches Number "Just in Case"

Excuse me, I think I'm going to throw up.

MatO - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:37 PM EST (#162434) #
As I've written many times, these prospect rankings are neat and provoke a lot of debate but in fact aren't particularly accurate in the long run.  Two years ago the Tigers' system was regarded as the weakest in all of baseball and Wang and Cano were not considered top prospects in a Yankee system that was thought of as abysmal.  BA really liked the Jays' 2002 and 2003 drafts, ranking them in the top 3 each year.  I could go on and on and on about how rankings have been wrong in the past.  Just remember, if you draft a HS player you're going to have tobe very patient.  If the Jays draft more HS players this year you might not expect them to have a significant positive impact on the team until 2014 because it took 7 years for Rios to do just that after being drafted in 1999.  If you want instant gratification then I suggest you don't follow the minor leagues.
actionjackson - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 01:43 PM EST (#162435) #
Jacko, what I dislike about the player procurement strategy of the JP years is that it has been one dimensional: college, college, college. However, until the offseason of 2005-06, the Jays were in a "downsizing", losses-cutting mode and therefore college (read: cheap) players made sense. Last year, their first round pick was a high schooler and JP, Bart Given etc when discussing the upcoming draft rave about how rich it is in high school players. I think you'll see more high schoolers being drafted by the Jays this year and I certainly hope as a fan that the loosening of the purse strings extends down to the drafting and signing of amateur players because let's face it, that's how you build a budget-conscious contending team, which this market demands.

I don't think the Jays will ever be in the top 5-10 teams in payroll but with more balanced drafting (read: higher commitment to signing bonuses if you're going to draft more high schoolers), I think they can become competitive long term through the farm system. I would also like to see more foreign signings i.e. countries not covered by the draft but again that takes money, which was not in evidence until about 14 months ago.

JP did a great job slashing the budget quickly to get to the point where Uncle Ted would trust him with the money, now let's see what he can do with it. If the spending philosophy does not extend down to amateur player procurement, I will be extremely unimpressed. One only needs to look east from the Rogers Centre to see a fine example of where that spending philosophy gets you (about to become 40 years and counting with no championship in sight).
Jevant - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 02:02 PM EST (#162438) #
Ohka has signed for one year, pending a physical, according to Rosenthal.
Pistol - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 02:05 PM EST (#162439) #
I applied a linear weighting with an A receiving 6 points down to zero for a C.  I'm not sure how Mr. Sickels weights the grades, but his book is almost ready for shipping it appears, if you want to find out for yourselves.

I'm not sure you'd end up with drastically different resullts, but you should give a lot more weight to the players at the top.  I think of it in terms of trades.  For instance you'd need to trade at least 2 B+ players to get an A.  Two B- for one B+, etc..  Obviously no team would trade an A for 4 B- players but you also have to look at it in terms of probable return. 

I don't think Sickels does a tangible rankings of the teams based on his grades.  I'm not even sure he ranks teams at all.
Mike Green - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 02:09 PM EST (#162440) #
John Northey, the translations for NL to AL are more significant than you think.  The league K rates in the NL are 0.4/9 innings than in the AL, leaving aside the fact that AL hitters are better.  Towers' K rate is actually as good or better than Ohka's in context.  Towers would give up somewhat more homers, and walk many fewer in a similar environment. 

Ohka was a good pitcher in 2002-03, but that was so long ago.  As I said earlier, "proven veteran-itis" is the best description of a wish to acquire a pitcher like Ohka, not as a long man in the pen but to fill a rotation slot.

Noah - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 02:10 PM EST (#162441) #
yah apparently he took a one year deal over a other offers of two years from different clubs.  Wants to play in front of a good offence and reestablish himself as a pitcher for next seasons free agent market.

If Rosenthal is right and the contract is between 750,000 and 1 mil then you can't go wrong here, you get a cheap option who has something to prove and will be fighting all season long.  Great pick up JP!

Pistol - Tuesday, January 23 2007 @ 02:44 PM EST (#162444) #
A new Ohka post is up.
Mike Green - Wednesday, January 24 2007 @ 08:43 PM EST (#162562) #
Sizemore is a long way from  Cooperstown, but the 3 most comparable Baseball Reference "similars" are Duke Snider, Tommy Davis and Barry Bonds.  It is safe to say that he's on the right track, at least.
Chuck - Wednesday, January 24 2007 @ 10:01 PM EST (#162567) #

Wow, a lot of love for Dayton Moore. In the land o' Rob and Rany, the glass half-empty and half-full boys debate the latest goings on in KC.

Sheldon, I don't agree with your comps of Pierre and Crawford for Gathright. Pierre was a regular at age 23 and Crawford at 21. He's miles away from Crawford and even while closer in talent to Pierre, he'll be 26 this season and has only one season's worth of cumulative AB behind him. He doesn't figure to be a starter this season, or any season soon I'd imagine. I think he'll continue to tease GM's with his speed, but he's a cipher with the stick. I'd imagine by 30 he'll be flipping burgers.

Chuck - Thursday, January 25 2007 @ 11:34 AM EST (#162589) #

if you compare his '06 season to Ted Lilly's, there's not much of a difference

While the raw numbers may look similar, context is required. Toronto is a hitter's park. Seattle is a pitcher's park. Ted Lilly's ERA+ was 109.  Gil Meche's was 97.

Not to quibble over semantics, or come across as pedantic (as I've been accused of by another poster), but you use the term stellar pretty liberally, describing both Ted Lilly's and Mark Gruzielanek's seasons as such. While it's entirely your prerogative to engage in hyperbole, I'm just not in agreement with that particularly adjective being used in these instances.

actionjackson - Thursday, January 25 2007 @ 01:05 PM EST (#162599) #
Puts on trademark Bob McCown cement-head hard hat. But Chuck, Meche is 55-44 in his career, while Lilly and Burnett are both 59-58. It's obvious who the best pitcher in this trio is, after all the other two are barely .500 pitchers. I actually heard him argue the other day that McGwire doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame (which is for some a debatable point) because his batting average was too low. Considering his dad was allegedly a pretty accomplished windmill pitcher in the Toronto league that featured the 1949 North American champions- Tip Top Tailors, and that Bob was the opening day PA announcer at the Ex, he's fallen disappointingly far from the tree.
Chuck - Thursday, January 25 2007 @ 01:14 PM EST (#162601) #
I was never sure if McCown was just playing the role of sour-pussed iconoclast or if he really is that person. At this point, it probably doesn't matter since he's locked into that persona. It must be said, though, that he is not alone in finding non-steroid reasons to question McGwire's obvious HoF credentials. That doesn't serve as a defense for his position, but does suggest that he's at least got company at the grumpus picnics.
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