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As Mick alluded to in his article, Reds OF Dernell Stenson was shot and killed in a bizarre, mysterious, terrifying and tragic murder in Chandler, AZ yesterday.
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You like Win Shares? We got Win Shares. We got a whole lotta stats and rankings based on them too, all courtesy of the good folks at Baseball Graphs.
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Aaron Gleeman has been examining the free agent crop all week. His first two installments dealt with outfielders, then infielders and catchers. Even though the Jays aren't shopping in those aisles, except for a clearance sale on a shortstop, I've been enjoying the series. Today, in The Meat Market (Part Three: Pitchers), Aaron takes a look at Toronto's #1 need. He calls Kelvim Escobar the potential sleeper among available starters, and is bullish on another soon-to-be-ex-Jay, Cory Lidle.

I think the thing that really hurt Lidle last year was his defense. In Oakland, he had one of the best defenses in the league at converting balls in play into outs playing behind him. In 2003, the Blue Jays finished 11th in the AL in "defensive efficiency" and Lidle allowed a hit on 30% of the balls put in play against him. I think he's a good bet to bounce back in 2004 and at least be a league-average pitcher.
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This isn't an Onion-like satirical headline; it's the truth!
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As Spencer Fordin points out on the Jays' MLB Website, the organization's six representatives in the Arizona Fall League aren't having a great time. Pitchers Pete Bauer, Cam Reimers and Jordan DeJong, along with position players Russ Adams, Dominic Rich and Tyrell Godwin, have had their ups and mostly downs so far. Keep in mind, though, that we're talking about a very small end-of-season sample size (Adams, for example, was brutal his first ten games but has been sizziling his last seven), and that AFL stats don't necessarily project the future very well. Gabe Gross, meanwhile, is having a terrific stint with Team USA, continuing his strong play at New Haven and Syracuse; playing with other elite US prospects can only help Gross going forward. Spencer promises updates on Gullermo Quiroz and the Venezuelan Winter Leagues later this week, which I'm looking forward to: VWL news is often hard to come by.
As RBillie noted in another thread, the Blue Jays have made some coaching changes in their farm system. There's already some controversy over the choice of new Syracuse pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, who was fired by the Marlins along with Jeff Torborg earlier this year, a parting that did not go well: GM Larry Beinfest accused Arnsberg of being "abusive ... clearly unprofessional ... bordering on violent" when he received the news (Arnsberg denies the last part at least). He was associated, some say wrongly, with the overwork of the Marlins' young staff under Torborg, but most of his young pitchers have nothing bad to say about him. Arnsberg is apparently a fiery guy who builds close personal bonds with his pitchers and demands the utmost from them. He'll now be in charge of developing and protecting three of the organization's most important assets: Dustin McGowan, David Bush and Jason Arnold.

Also of interest, but generating less attention, is the promotion of New Haven manager Marty Pevey to manage Syracuse. This is no mere organizational shuffle: he did an excellent job developing the tremendous talent at Double-A in 2003, delivering a division championship. Pevey's regarded as one of the top coaching talents in the minors and as a future big-league manager. He's a name to add to the list of potential future Jays managers and someone to keep an eye on.
The AL Gold Gloves were announced today, congratulations to all the winners.

Vernon Wells - or possibly Carlos Beltran - was robbed absolutely blind. I don't know what kind of magic pixie dust Ichiro sprinkles over people, but if you think Ichiro (who is a good outfielder) is as good an outfielder as either of those guys then we should do business.
Two very important baseball games are being played tonight and tomorrow night in the Estadio Nacional in far-off Panama City, Panama.
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Some love for one of my favourite websites. Click on the title or here to take you there.
Roy Halladay is discussing a multi-year deal with the Blue Jays that should net him at least $30 million guaranteed. Kelvim Escobar is poised to be one of the most attractive free-agent starters entering a pitching-starved market and can reasonably expect a deal worth between $15 and $20 million. And the third member of the Blue Jays' much-discussed young pitching triumvirate, Chris Carpenter, has been released by the St. Louis Cardinals with a $200,000 contract buyout. This won't be the end of the line for Carp -- some team, not the Jays, will take a chance on him -- but you know he'll always think about what might have been but for a lot of things, principally an injured Opening Day start in Fenway Park in 2002.
The off-season has officially begun with the news (courtesy of Pistol) that Houston has dealt closer Billy Wagner to the Phillies in exchange for Brandon Duckworth and player(s) to be named later. Wagner is in the final year of a $9M contract that was too rich for the Astros; Duckworth is a young right-hander who has struggled but has loads of potential; Jays fans have coveted him for some time. Will this trigger corresponding moves from the Braves? And will it affect the already tumultuous off-seasons of the Marlins and Expos?

It's nice to get a prediction mostly correct, even if it was right church, wrong pew, although the two teams have yet to name the P(s)TNBLs (Entry #43, Point #1).
A thread on Baseball Primer led me to think up this little puzzler.
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If you're not an armchair GM and manager, just ignore this thread. If you're in the BBFL, if you're an owner looking for a new league, or a Commissioner looking for new owners, read on.
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Sadly, fellow baseball blogger Christian Ruzich (he's "The Cub Reporter") has lost his home in the California wildfires. Our thoughts are with him.
We'll know by later today whether Cito Gaston, six years after being fired as Blue Jays' manager with just three days left in the 1997 season, is returning to the managerial ranks. The Chicago White Sox are reportedly set to hire either Gaston or Ozzie Guillen as their field boss, but it seems that Cito is the favourite. The White Sox apparently would like to bring in Guillen to be a bench coach and manager-in-training, but the Oz likes it in Miami and isn't leaving for anything but the top job. We'll update you when the announcement is made.

The Jays have had a number of managers over the years, and the remarkable thing to me is how many are still active. Bobby Cox continues to build a Hall of Fame career in Atlanta, while Jimy Williams is still improbably employed in Houston; Gaston may be about to join them. Add in the fact that Jim Fregosi's name is being tossed around as a possibility in Boston and that even Tim Johnson is managing in the independent leagues, and we may see a situation where five of the six Jays managers who preceded Carlos Tosca are all gainfully re-employed. The exception? Some analyst for ESPN.