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Meet the newest Blue Jay. His name is Chi-Hung Cheng, he's an 18-year-old pitcher from Taiwan who signed yesterday for a $400,000 bonus. He's good enough to have pitched against men - not boys - in the recent World Cup tournament for the fourth-place Taiwanese national team.

Cheng has what J.P. describes as a "plus breaking pitch", throws a change with "nice feel", and can bring it at 85-88, not bad velocity for an 18-year-old. J.P. expects him to start at Charleston.
In mid-season, Batter's Box held a poll regarding the top prospects in the organisation. Those with 20 innings or 70 PA in the major leagues are not eligible (no Kevin Cash or Jayson Werth). Points will be awarded based on an MVP-type system. You can use any criteria you like, but an expected major league value approach is suggested.
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Congratulations to Scott Lucas who emerged the victor in the 2003 Batter's Box Predictions Contest.

There were 39 entries in the challenge issued in the March 25 post Throwing Down the Gauntlet.

You can see the full results in this Excel spreadsheet -- there are three pages to it, one called "Results" in which we learn, well, the results of the challenge; one called "Standings" in which we see everyone's predictions for the division winners, playoffs and World Series; and one called "Awards" which, hard as it may be to believe, outlines everyone's predictions for the major post-season award winners. Note: except for the "Results" document, the entries are listed in order of when posted.

Just a few observations ...
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A Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers in the United States.


Manny years ago, Bill James looked at various indicators of speed in a typical stat line and decided to combine them to derive a number which would roughly indicate the speed of the player on a scale of 1 to 10.

I've done something similar with minor league stats, but I've left out the position component that James used (centerfielders and middle infielders were given high ratings in the category). I've tweaked some of the criteria and weighted them a bit differently than James did. Here are the 4 categories I used:

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With the still-active HC2 now at 116 comments, here's another open thread for gossip, discussion and breaking news.

Best wishes to our friends and relatives in the U.S. for a happy and safe holiday weekend.
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Calling Kelvim Escobar's departure "all but a foregone conclusion for months," Spencer Fordin looks at the decision to let him go in a fine column on the Official Site.

From the beginning of the season, the Blue Jays braced against losing the talented right-hander. They tried to move him before the trade deadline, but they weren't able to find an acceptable offer. Now, the return is twofold -- the Jays net two draft picks from Anaheim and can also use the money earmarked for Escobar to apply to other areas of need.

With no axe to grind, and without inventing some silly concept like "returning wins," Fordin, who is pretty hard to brainwash, sees all J.P.'s offseason moves in context.

Escobar's 180 innings are more than offset by the twin acquisitions of Lilly and Hentgen, provided that they stay healthy. In fact, Hentgen had the best ERA of that trio, and Lilly's was comparable to Escobar's. Neither of the additions have Escobar's upside, but that's not really the point: Collectively, they'll cost a great deal less than the brand-new Angel on his own.

I agree 100% with his conclusion. Like them or not, the budget restrictions are reality, so it's a good thing to have saved the money. If it's used to land another decent starter, a bullpen upgrade and some shortstop help, the team will be significantly improved.

A very interesting article that had never been brought to my attention before. This superb article is a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (one of the "regional Feds" which, taken together, serve the same function as the Bank of Canada) and is written by an economist in the bank's Research Division.
They have a winner! Paul Harmon took home the widely coveted HACKING MASS trophy from the good folks at Baseball Prospectus, by drafting the worst possible team of duds and detritus in the major leagues. By choosing such hacksters as Doug Glanville, Roger Cedeno and Rey Sanchez, Harmon guaranteed he'd have the smelliest team in cyberspace.

The HACKING MASS All-Star Squad included one name that will be painfully familiar to Jays fans: Cory Lidle. Under BP's rating system, Lidle did the second-most damage of any major-league pitcher in 2003, though if it's any comfort, no one else saw it coming either (Lidle went undrafted in the HACKING MASS entries). My own entry, The Unreleasables, was chosen for the size of its unswallowable contracts as much as anything else, but I was let down by shockingly productive seasons from Travis Lee, Vinny Castilla and Rey Ordonez. Do any Bauxites have results of their own to report?
Expos fans among us might have been there that night in Olympic Stadium when Dave Dravecky's career ended just by throwing a pitch to Tim Raines. His left arm, weakened by cancer and chemotherapy, was broken, and shortly after was amputated. I write for a living, and I suppose that if I lost both of my hands, that would be comparable to what a major-league pitcher would feel if his arm were taken away from him. Dravercky, who's intensely religious, spoke with a reporter from the Toronto Star recently, a session that resulted in this interview. Dravecky handled this awful turn of events better than anyone could have asked, and he must be an actual hero to fellow amputees who wonder if life is worth living in their post-operation condition. Kudos to him for his courage and attitude.
The Marlins have traded Derek Lee to the Cubs for last year's sweetheart hot rookie, Hee Seop Choi. Is Lee the first of several Marlins to migrate to Wrigley?

Bizarre trade. Discuss.
Aaron Gleeman and Tangotiger, and several others, had a think. They came up with a great number, the GPA (Gleeman Production Average). Go read all about it. The gist : the GPA tastes just like Batting Average, but has 259% more vitamins and minerals.
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Batter's Box pays tribute to one of the game's great lefthanded pitchers, Warren Spahn. The amazingly durable ace passed away in his home in Broken Arrow, OK.
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The good folks over at Baseball Primer have got themselves an interesting discussion on the go, which I thought I'd shamelessly pilfer. In the context of Roger Clemens' retirement, they're wondering which five pitchers would be in the all-time starting rotation. Here's my entry:

1. Walter Johnson
2. Lefty Grove
3. Christy Mathewson
4. Roger Clemens
5. Randy Johnson

Which makes me think: who would be in the Blue Jays' all-time rotation? I'm only counting homegrown starters here, so no Clemens.

1. Dave Stieb
2. Roy Halladay
3. Jimmy Key
4. David Wells
5. Juan Guzman
Lee Sinins is reporting that Arizona has traded Curt Schilling to Boston for Casey Fossum and prospects. The deal is conditional on Schilling waiving his no-trade clause. By "officially" making the trade, the Red Sox now have 72 hours to try to coax Schilling with a contract extension.
Thanks to Gerry McDonald for this timely pinch-hit about the plethora of pitching prospects in the Blue Jays' minor-league system. All those talented arms need a place to go, but there are only so many rotation spots in the full-season leagues. Gerry gives an intelligent, well-reasoned explanation of which pitchers should start where and why. Thanks, Gerry!




While General Managers are putting together their rosters in the winter and early spring, their minor-league farm directors are doing the same. Team rosters at the upper levels of the minor leagues have a mix of prospects and veterans. At the lower levels, teams include prospects and fillers. Syracuse's 2003 roster had veterans like Doug Linton, Bruce Aven and Gary Burnham filling out the lineups, with Jason Arnold, Jason Werth and Gabe Gross representing the prospects.
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