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I notice with some amusement that our "own" Gideon Clarke sent his comments on the latest Peter Gammons column to Clutch Hits. I'm guessing that's because Jordan's point, about P.G. being one of the few "mainstream" journalists who even acknowledges sabrmetrics, will stimulate more discussion there than here. (And my feelings aren't hurt; it's true.)

I agree with Gideon's aside that the Gammons list of free-agents-to-be is "wildly premature," and it's no doubt less than 100% accurate, but since it's the first concise list I've seen of the impending talent glut, I include it here for BB readers. Some of us regularly indulge in premature speculation, even if our wives don't appreciate it.

Odd Couple: Gammons & Gideon | 3 comments | Create New Account
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Coach - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 12:31 PM EST (#101946) #
This affects the Blue Jays and their fans in two ways: if the team does nothing, they will "lose" Shannon Stewart, Jose Cruz Jr. and Kelvim Escobar after the upcoming season, and Carlos Delgado the following year. The compensation would be so-called sandwich draft picks, between the first and second round, hardly guaranteed or immediate big-leaguers. It's why the trade for Mondesi seemed like a better idea than letting Green walk away.

These talented players aren't "worth" the high salaries they will command, so I advocate trading all of them, before they are allowed to leave. In Delgado's case, that won't be easy, because his permission is required, but as I've mentioned elsewhere, it may be to Carlos' advantage to accept a trade now, rather than compete with Konerko and Sexson for limited available dollars in two years.

The more positive effect in Toronto is a corollary to the law of supply and demand. With Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling on the market, the likes of Freddy Garcia and Eric Milton will be more reasonably priced. If SS is the final piece of the Jays' championship puzzle for 2005, they don't need to win a bidding war for Nomar Garciaparra, but can target Christian Guzman or Orlando Cabrera. Given the "new" fiscal restraints MLB owners have imposed on themselves, it will be a buyer's market for quite a while.

Gammons' words, Billy Beane's thoughts: Teams which have flexibility... at the end of the next two seasons can get a couple of players who should have dramatic impacts on their franchises.

With the combination of the improved, exciting Blue Jays generating additional revenue, freedom from commitments to the four players mentioned above, and the astute cost-cutting moves J.P. has already made, guess who's going to be the King of Flexibility?
_Jordan - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 01:04 PM EST (#101947) #
Kent, excellent Blue Jays angle on this article (I actually hadn't seen one, which is why I sent the clipping to Primer rather than posting it here). I think your reasoning on trades vs. sandwich pick is very sound; however, my impression is that JP would be perfectly willing to go either route. I think he has sufficient confidence in his ability to spot talent, even at the sandwich pick level, that he'd take his chances on letting someone walk away. So if he gets what he considers equal value for an Escobar or a Stewart, he'll pull the trigger on a trade. But if he doesn't, he'll use his talent evaluation acumen to find himself a good prospect with the resulting draft pick, rather than accept inferior quality from a trading partner. With signing bonuses probably on the way down, it's also a cheaper option.

That might explain the occasional complaints that seep into the gossip columns from other GMs sore about Ricciardi "demanding too much" in trade talks. Now that he's cleared away all but one of his salary headaches, JP belives he's in the driver's seat: he'll get good value in a trade for his free agents or he'll get good value from the draft pick. Either way, he's in control. The only outside factor affecting that plan is the organization's dire need for big-league-ready pitching. I could see him overpaying in a trade to get that asset; but not otherwise.
_Kent - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 02:11 PM EST (#101948) #
There's even a Cory Lidle angle. Like several other useful players, he's not on the Gammons list. But if Lidle is "too good" and prices himself out of the Jays' budget, or if he disappoints, Toronto can let him walk and turn their attention to a Colon or Millwood or one of the other interesting FA alternatives.

Agreed that the draft is in excellent hands (Baseball America thinks so too.) I'm confident that the Jays have a very good idea of the kind of young players that will be available, and the decision to trade soon or accept draft picks later will take that into account. (That's the difference between us "armchair" GMs and the really good ones, like Richard Griffin.)

I admire J.P. for refusing to compromise in negotiations just to complete a deal. It may mean a few regrets -- trades that apparently "almost" happened, like the Escobar-for-Lackey deadline swap I speculated about in my ESPN column. (That one supposedly fell through because Ricciardi and Stoneman couldn't agree on the other Angel prospect to be included.) But it also minimizes foolish commitments to the wrong guys, because Toronto's "talent evaluation acumen" goes in both directions. None of J.P.'s "mistakes," which I prefer to call logical moves that didn't work out, have long-term consequences.
Odd Couple: Gammons & Gideon | 3 comments | Create New Account
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