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Just in time for the Winter Meetings (well, okay, two weeks in advance of them), here's the first instalment of a series of analyses of the Blue Jays' more interesting minor leaguers. Over the course of this off-season, leading up to the start of spring training, I'll provide capsule summaries of Jays prospects who posted noteworthy 2002 stat lines, as well as a few who were expected to but didn't. The series starts here with the Syracuse Skychiefs and will drill downwards through the system in the weeks to come.

First of all, the usual caveats. Your humble correspondent is no John Sickels, and I claim little first-hand knowledge of any of the players listed here. These observations are drawn largely from the numbers they posted, supplemented by delving through various accounts of their accomplishments, and are entirely my own long-distance assessments. Mainly, they're intended to update you on the players' performance and stimulate discussion on where their careers are headed within (or without) the organization. Feel free to agree emphatically or disagree profoundly as the mood strikes you.

Brian Bowles, RHP, 6'5", 220, 26 yrs old (as of Opening Day 2003)
2002 Toronto
2-1, 4.05, 17 G, 0 GS, 20 IP, 13 H, 14 BB, 19 K
2002 Syracuse
4-7, 3.36, 59 G, 0 GS, 59 IP, 46 H, 32 BB, 53 K
2001 Syracuse
3-5, 2.91, 66 G, 0 GS, 77 IP, 56 H, 44 BB, 81 K

I would think that when you're selected in the 50th round of the draft by a major-league club, there are two ways you can approach it. You can take it as a message (or maybe even a slap in the face) and go do something else with your life. Or you can dedicate yourself to making the majors and bucking pretty much every odd that could face you. Brian Bowles evidently adopted the second course, and here he is, sipping Skydome coffee seven years after turning pro. If he never does anything else with his career, Brian Bowles should be commended and remembered for that.

Happily, it's quite possible that Bowles' career will amount to more than just a trivia answer. He throws heavy, low-90s two-seam and four-seam fastballs, along with a mid-80s forkball and a slider, though the first two pitches are, respectively, his bread and butter. You can see from these numbers why the Blue Jays like this guy; he's about a walk per inning away from dominance - not that that's a short distance, necessarily. Batters are not making much contact with his pitches; nor, unfortunately, is he making much contact with the strike zone. This kind of arm demands a patient approach: if he can fine-tune his command, Bowles could be a lights-out setup man, or even a closer, as he was (14 saves) for a while at Syracuse. Spring training may decide whether he repeats AAA or heads north.

Gary Burnham, 1B, 5'11", 210, 28 yrs old
2002 Syracuse
537 AB, .281/.363/.443, 53BB, 69K, .287EqA, .250MLEqa
2001 Reading (AA)
371 AB, .318/.385/.518

So here's the story: this spring, JP and friends were casting about for a first baseman for Syracuse, having given Skychiefs stalwart Luis Lopez his walking papers. They noticed that the Phillies had a left-handed first baseman who'd been stuck in AA Reading for three straight seasons, putting up unspectacular but steadily improving numbers with pretty good bat control. It was obvious that the guy didn't fit into the Phils' long-term plans, so the Jays worked out one of those "future considerations" deals, signed him and gave him the promotion to AAA he'd been waiting for. He responded by posting the solid year you see above you at Syracuse, with a .287 EqA and pretty good defence. And this is how Gary Burnham came to be the property of your Toronto Blue Jays.

Burnham shows all the markings of a AAAA player: a reliable Triple-A guy who would probably post crummy numbers if given 500 major-league ABs. He cracked 34 doubles and 17 HRs for Syracuse - solid but not spectacular, which seems to be his trademark. His upside would be Tino Martinez, while his downside would be, well, Luis Lopez. Of course, at his age, "upside" is just being polite. The onetime Clemson Tiger is too old to be a genuine prospect, but he might be a fine backup for Toronto next year, someone who could spell Delgado at first and bring some minimum-salary power and a good batting eye off the bench. The main obstacle to that plan might be the organization's relative lack of depth at first base: neither Shawn Fagan nor Matt Logan really tore up the Southern League at Knoxville last year, so Burnham may have to be fitted for the regalia of the organizational soldier until they find another serviceable AAA first baseman.

Burnham gets a lot of press wherever he goes: he's evidently a pretty gregarious guy, "a good interview" as they say. He and Deion Sanders are probably the only two Skychiefs ever to receive nicknames from Chris Berman, too. In college one time, Burnham fielded a grounder and, thinking it was foul, tossed it into the stands. That made it onto Sportscenter and earned him the moniker "Gary 'Second Degree' Burnham." He's also quite the artist: he painted portraits of his teammates with the Reading Phillies, including Scott Rolen and Pat Burrell, that sell quite well (he puts a lot of them up for charity, too). Maybe he and Bob Tewksbury could open a gallery somewhere. If Burnham does make it to Toronto, expect to see him in the papers fairly regularly: sportswriters love guys like this.

Kevin Cash, C, 6'0", 185, 26 yrs old
2002 Tennessee
213 AB, .277/.381/.469, 36 BB, 44 K, .302 EqA, .239 MLEqA
2002 Syracuse
236 AB, .220/.299/.424, 25 BB, 72 K, .255 EqA, .221 MLEqA

There are limits to what most publicly available stats can tell you, especially when it comes to defence. The poster boy for this is Kevin Cash, a former Florida State corner infielder who joined the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent in 1999. One of the organization's sharper eyes looked at Cash and saw a catcher out of position, so they handed him the tools of ignorance and told him to get cracking. That he promptly did, building a standout defensive reputation and whacking a bunch of pitches over the fence in the process. Then there's the howitzer attached to his shoulder: Cash gunned down over half the would-be base thieves in Dunedin, and threw out 40% at both Tennessee and Syracuse. His bat, as you can see, does not thunder, but he does have some power and a pretty firm grasp of the strike zone. A full year at Syracuse would probably help him with his hitting, but the organization wants him catching at Skydome post-haste, so he may need to continue his batting lessons in the big leagues sometime next year. I'm sure he won't mind.

So what are the caveats? Well, other than his arm, it's hard to say what his whole defensive package is like. Anecdotal evidence indicates he's terrific on bunts and choppers in front of the plate, and that he's not quite so good at blocking pitches (though if he's worse than Ken "Passed Ball" Huckaby, I'd very much like to see it. On second thought, no I wouldn't). The remaining question is: does he call a good game? Huckaby has spoiled the current Toronto staff, building their confidence and stealing strikes like a bandit. Calling a game is an art, not a science, and it usually takes a while to perfect. Kevin has not been a catcher terribly long, so it's reasonable to have some prima facie concern about his pitch-calling skills for a young staff like this. But the Jays can afford to be patient with Cash in this regard. They don't need to contend this coming year, so they can use the 2003 season to fast-track Cash on the finer points of the position. I hope Kevin is a quick learner, because this team expects him to be its everyday major-league catcher in eight months' time.

Vinny Chulk, RHP, 6'2", 185, 25 yrs old
2002 Tennessee
13-5, 2.96, 25 G, 24 GS, 152 IP, 133 H, 53 BB, 108 K, 12 HRs
2002 Syracuse
0-1, 5.79, 2 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 6 H, 6 BB, 2 K

I'm cheating a little here, because Vinny Chulk made only a couple of appearances with the Skychiefs, but he's interesting enough to discuss now. He had probably the best season of any starter in the organization not nicknamed Doc. It was fairly surprising, though, given his peripheral numbers: a 2/1 K/BB ratio and a 0.71 K/IP rate are not numbers you normally associate with dominance, especially from a 24-year-old at AA. It was even more surprising because it was the first time he's had any real success: he entered the season with a lifetime 6-11 mark.

So was this a flash in the pan, or was he simply putting it all together and learning how to pitch? Chulk brings three solid pitches to the mound: a low-90s fastball, a change-up and a nice slider, which appears to be his out pitch. That will work wonders at AA and can maybe get you through AAA, but if you bring that repertoire to the majors, you'd better be razor-sharp with it, and Chulk still needs to show he can do that: three walks per nine innings at AA isn't convincing enough. I'd like to see him do this again, at Syracuse, before getting too excited. At his age and with that arsenal, I imagine Chulk will have to keep making his case consistently.

Just a note here to Vinny's parents: what were you thinking? You named your boy Charles Vincent Chulk. Were you trying to make the kid's life miserable? If I had to go through my childhood as Chuck Chulk, I would've switched to Vinny too. Poor kid.

Pasqual Coco, RHP, 6'1", 185, 25 yrs old
2002 Syracuse
4-9, 4.98, 30 G, 23 GS, 141 IP, 145 H, 57 BB, 98 K
2001 Syracuse
8-6, 4.66, 22 G, 22 GS, 121 IP, 128 H, 50 BB, 82 K
2000 Tennessee
12-7, 3.76, 27 G, 26 GS, 168 IP, 154 H, 68 BB, 142 K

I took the unusual step of going back three full years with Coco to show you the last good season he posted, at AA Knoxville. Even at that, it wasn't exactly overwhelming, and the cracks started to show the next season at Syracuse, when the BB/K ratio went through the floor. One could understand struggling at a new level, so 2002 would reasonably be considered the time for Pasqual to take a step forward. In fact, he virtually repeated his '01 campaign in everything but IP, H and ERA, which all rose. Do you hear that sound, like a car ignition turning painfully over and over on a frosty morning? That's Pasqual Coco's career. He has a live arm and a fastball that can touch 94, but at this point, he's not fooling anyone. I would imagine a trip to the bullpen might be in his future. A trip off the team may be likely as well, but those aren't highly tradeable numbers. Pasqual has a great name, a decent prospect reputation and, apparently, a good makeup. Those might be enough to garner good return from somewhere, but I'm not sure why he's on the 40-man. I'll be returning to this theme later on.

Bob File, RHP, 6'4", 215, 26 yrs old
2002 Syracuse
0-0, 5.94, 33 G, 0 GS, 36 IP, 39 H, 15 BB, 23 K
2002 Dunedin
0-2, 11.12, 4 G, 3 GS, 6 IP, 13 H, 3 BB, 1 K
2001 Toronto
5-3, 3.27, 60 G, 0 GS, 75 IP, 57 H, 29 BB, 38 K

I pinched a muscle in my rib cage once. It hurt like all get-out: I would get sharp pains whenever I breathed deeply. So I can only guess what a full-fledged rib-cage injury must be like, especially when your job requires you to exert those muscles 100 times a day. Bob File suffered that injury in the spring and never fully recovered, getting knocked around at both Dunedin on rehab and at Syracuse and losing some confidence along the way. His fine 2001 season is now largely a memory, but it's worth remembering that he gave the Jays 75 solid setup innings. It's also worth noting, though, that File's success came largely from a low hit total: he had almost as many walks as strikeouts, and he didn't have very many of either. Even if Bob fully recovers, it may not be realistic to expect that kind of season again. Does the name Darren Hall ring a bell? Let's see how he does this spring.

Reed Johnson, OF, 5'10, 180, 26 yrs old
2002 Dunedin
33 AB, .273/.368/.364, 3 BB, 3 K, .272 EqA, .203 MLEqA
2002 Syracuse
159 AB, .233/.317/.358, 12 BB, 23 K, .241EqA, .209MLEqA, 1 SB/4 CS
2001 Tennessee
554 AB, .314/.383/.451, 45 BB, 79 K, 42 SB/14 CS

It was a lost season for the Blue Jays' organizational underdog. He's slight of stature, doesn't come equipped with many tools and was just a 19th-round draft pick in 1999, but Reed Johnson kept on succeeding at every level. His 2001 AA season was solid - he had 13 HRs in addition to 42 steals - and he picked up one those Best Hustler Awards for his style of play (I can never think of the term "hustler" without thinking of Jackie Gleason. "Fast Eddie ... let's play some pool!")

The smart money had him pegged as the team's fourth outfielder by spring 2003, but the smart money couldn't foresee a nasty wrist injury he'd suffer in spring 2002. Johnson never really got it back together, either during a brief stint at Dunedin or in a longer stint at Syracuse. The wrist injury would explain the loss of power, but unless he runs on his hands, I'm not sure where the speed went. Chalk it up as an injury season and we'll try again in 2003, presumably starting in Syracuse - if he's still with us, that is. Johnson's not on the 40-man and might well be snagged by someone who remembers 2001. It took a lot of lobbying by Johnson's AA manager to get Johnson protected last year; it looks as though the second time might not be lucky. I don't know if he likes Jackie Gleason or not, but I'm pretty sure JP is not particularly impressed by hustlers.

Guillermo Quiroz, C, 21 yrs old
2002 Dunedin
411 AB .260/.330/.421, 35 BB, 91 K, .279 EqA, .208 MLEqA
2002 Syracuse
45 AB, .222/.271/.378, 3 BB, 14 K, .230 EqA, .200 MLEqA

You remember Guillermo Quiroz, don't you? He was signed as a 16-year-old free agent in 1998 for $1.2 million worth of Stella Artois. Then he all but disappeared into the low minors, not hitting a lick, while the organization developed better catching prospects who passed him by. 2002 found him opening his fifth professional season at High-A Dunedin, and for the first time his bat showed signs of life, with a 751 OPS and 12 HRs. No, it's not much - it's a .208 MLEqA, in fact - but at least it was something. Alas, all indications are that he started off hot in April, then cooled off during the course of the year. His brief cup of cocoa at Syracuse (you don't get the coffee till you reach the majors) wasn't very tasty either.

Quiroz's calling card has always been his rifle arm, third-best in all the minors according to Baseball America. But he made 11 errors in 93 games behind the plate in Dunedin, and anyway, Kevin Cash has a mortal lock on the good-field-no-hit catching role. Few organizations present more obstacles to catching prospects than Toronto does right now. Quiroz is a young veteran at 21, and the club might not be patient much longer. I suppose the lesson to take from this is if you're going to give a 16-year-old a million dollars before he plays a single game for you, don't.

Mike Smith, RHP, 5'11 (in heels), 185, 25 yrs old
2002 Toronto
0-3, 6.62, 14 G, 6 GS, 35 IP, 43 H, 20 BB, 16 K, 3 HR, 7 HBP!
2002 Syracuse
8-4, 3.48, 20 G, 20 GS, 121 IP, 106 H, 43 BB, 76 K, 10 HR
2001 Tennessee
6-2, 2.42, 14 G, 14 GS, 93 IP, 80 H, 26 BB, 77 K, 7 HR
2001 Charleston
5-5, 2.10, 14 G, 14 GS, 94 IP, 78 H, 21 BB, 85 K, 2 HR

Welcome to the big leagues, Mike Smith. Toronto's stealth pitching prospect was quietly moving up through the system, posting solid numbers at each stop. He was slated to spend 2002 consolidating at Syracuse before arriving in Toronto, maybe as early as mid-season if all went well. But the Jays' major-league rotation collapsed in April, and Smith was called up into action before he was ready, as these numbers make painfully clear. He was ripped in three starts in April and May (though in his defence, they came against Anaheim, Texas and Seattle, during the lowest point of the Jays' season), then sent back down. Recalled for one start in July, he was hammered at Fenway and sent out again. Brought back for a third time in mid-August, he worked mostly in relief until the end of the season. He also managed to plunk 7 batters in just 35 innings, indicating either that he was so shaken he couldn't find the strike zone, or that he likes to live dangerously. It could well be the latter; scouting reports in the minors described him as "aggressive" on the inner half of the plate. Good for him - I like a little attitude even when you're getting shelled.

With all that yo-yoing, you might have forgiven Mike for losing his focus and getting banged around in Syracuse. But he posted a pretty solid AAA season in between major-league beatings. His BB/K ratio was pretty good, a little less than 2/1, but not quite the impressive lines he posted at lower levels. In fact, that IP/K ratio (121/76) doesn't make the heart leap at all. Moreover, he wasn't exactly Mr. Durability at Syracuse, averaging just 6 innings a start. In all, it was a pretty respectable season on its own, and a very good season when taken in context with everything else that was going on.

So what does 2003 hold? Well, check out this interesting split from Smith's triple-sojourn with the big club last year:

Starter: 0-3, 8.49, 23 IP, 31 H, 17 BB, 8 K
Reliever: 0-0, 3.00, 12 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 8 K

Now, that may be simply a function of his terrible debut as a starter early in the season, and of his pitching better later in the year when the shellshock had worn off in the bullpen. But the fact remains he was a lot sharper in the pen than as a starter, and since he was only giving the club 6 innings a start in Syracuse, maybe shorter stints are his specialty for now. Depending on what happens in the spring, I could see Smith heading north with the team as a long man out of the bullpen, and then if he's sharp and anyone in the rotation struggles (which would not be a forehead-slapping surprise), he could shift into the rotation. He's on the 40-man roster, so he clearly fits into the team's plans. I don't think he has much else to prove in the minors - and if he can survive last year, he should be able to survive anything.

Scott Wiggins LHP, 26 yrs old
2002 Tennessee
0-1, 0.93, 16 G, 0 GS, 16 IP, 18 H, 5 BB, 19 K
2002 Syracuse
2-0, 2.57, 12 G, 0 GS, 14 IP, 11 H, 7 BB, 14 K

Raul Mondesi: the gift that keeps on giving. After Fed-Exing the Buffalo and all but $6 million of that albatross of a contract of his to New York, you'd think JP's work would be done. Nuh-uh: he also managed to poach a pretty fine lefty reliever from the Yankees in the process. Wiggins was sharp at both stops on his way up the organizational ladder, and added to his CV with an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League. His combined 2002 numbers as Jays property: 51 IP, 52 H, 18 BB and 50 Ks. You'd think that he'd be given a few months in Syracuse to consolidate his gains, then join the Blue Jays at the break if needed. Or at worst, that he'd be an attractive throw-in to a deal with someone.

It appears, instead, that Wiggins may have thrown his last pitch in the Blue Jays organization. The club left him off the 40-man roster, which means he's eligible to be picked up by anyone during the Rule 5 Draft; the deadline for adding players passed November 20. I think there's a better chance of seeing the name Prime Minister Sheila Copps than there is of seeing Wiggins still in the organization after Rule 5 Day. Those minor-league numbers, combined with an AFL season that looked better than it was (and it was pretty good) virtually guarantee that Wiggins will be nabbed by the first bright GM in the Rule 5 line.

Huge fan of JP & Co. that I am, still I'm having trouble with this move. There are four available spots on the 40-man roster; what was the harm in plunking Wiggins there and seeing if he (a) continues to shine at AAA, (b) can help the big-league ballclub, or (c) can attract good value as part of a trade? Or if JP wanted to keep all four spots available for anticipated future moves, why not leave Pasqual Coco off instead? The odds that anyone would take a chance of having Coco on their ML roster all year, after his last couple of seasons, seem pretty low, and query whether it would be a huge loss if they did. Anyway, I know this is only a minor thing, but I've never liked losing something for nothing. Whether Wiggins has real value or not, I do think he has perceived value, which can amount to the same thing in the right circumstances.

That's all for this round. The next instalment, which probably won't be till after Christmas, will look at the last season of the AA Tennessee Smokies as a Blue Jays affiliate. Again, comments, compliments, criticisms and (circumspectly relayed) corrections will be welcomed. Thanks for reading.

Sources: All excellent, all highly recommended:

Baseball America

Baseball Prospectus 2002

ESPN Major League Baseball

Stats Inc. Minor League Scouting Notebook 2002

The Prospect Report

Top Prospect Alert

The Sports Network
Farm Report, Part 1: Syracuse | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Geoff North - Tuesday, December 03 2002 @ 10:43 PM EST (#101760) #
Imagine the heading if Chulk had an excellent outing after eating roast beef: Success of Chuck Chulk Chalked up to Chuck.
Craig B - Wednesday, December 04 2002 @ 09:34 AM EST (#101761) #
I'll be posting several thoughts here separately.

Quiroz demonstrates the questionable wisdom of signing players to professional contracts at sixteen. All of 21 years old, Quiroz now faces his make-or-break season in the minors... while many of his U.S. contemporaries play their junior or senior seasons in the NCAA. $1.2 million has managed to buy Toronto the precise six seasons which are of the least value... the low-A development time.

At the end of the year, Quiroz can walk away from Toronto, onto another ballclub as a minor-league free agent, and begin the upward development curve which will may well end in a big-league backup job.

Pasqual Coco... he may have a good makeup, but his upside now looks to be as bullpen filler and emergency starter. Guys who have been professional ballplayers for eight years and haven't learned the basics of pitching yet... I don't hold out much hope for the future. Too bad you couldn't graft the head of Gustavo Chacin or some other limited-upside guy like that onto Coco's body... you'd have a #3 starter.
Craig B - Wednesday, December 04 2002 @ 09:36 AM EST (#101762) #
I think there's a better chance of seeing the name Prime Minister Sheila Copps than there is of seeing Wiggins still in the organization after Rule 5 Day.

Hey, she could still surprise ya! :)

(Gotta defend a fellow Hamiltonian)
Craig B - Wednesday, December 04 2002 @ 09:42 AM EST (#101763) #
it's reasonable to have some prima facie concern about [Cash's] pitch-calling skills for a young staff like this

True. If it's a problem, there are two things you can do to help. First, have Tosca (or preferably his bench coach) call the pitches in the dugout. Or second, put the pitchers in chage of what they throw (which is what they should be doing anyway) and have them shake off Cash until they get what they want.

On Chulk I have only one question : how much chalk could Chuck Chulk chuck if Chuck Chulk could chuck chalk?
Craig B - Wednesday, December 04 2002 @ 09:43 AM EST (#101764) #
By the way, I think that's the toughest tongue twister I've ever seen. I've been trying it for five minutes and I haven't gotten it right yet.
_Ryan Adams - Wednesday, December 04 2002 @ 11:14 AM EST (#101765) #
Since Quiroz was added to the 40-man roster, does that mean he can still become a six-year minor league free agent at the end of the year? I thought that only players who are not on the 40-man roster were eligible for that.

As for Ms. Copps, this former Hamiltonian won't be defending her. :-)
Craig B - Wednesday, December 04 2002 @ 11:59 AM EST (#101766) #
I forgot Quiroz went on the 40-man. My bad! He won't be a six-year minor league free agent if he remains there, as he will be contractually tied to Toronto.
_Jordan - Thursday, December 05 2002 @ 03:02 PM EST (#101767) #
First, have Tosca (or preferably his bench coach) call the pitches in the dugout. Or second, put the pitchers in chage of what they throw (which is what they should be doing anyway) and have them shake off Cash until they get what they want.

This is true. They could also use Huckaby as a kind of playing coach, someone to train Cash on the niceties of receiving. That's the kind of approach a smart veteran minor-leaguer takes if he realizes he's auditioning for a job in the organization. This is very much a teaching staff in Toronto, anyway, so I shouldn't really have many concerns about Cash. I'd be interested to learn more about him personally, whether he has leadership skills, that kind of thing.
_Richard - Thursday, December 05 2002 @ 04:36 PM EST (#101768) #
It's obvious that Riccardi absolutely loves Cash as a prospect.I think this is due to a certain degree because of the "leadership" aura that apparently this kid has.

Now defining leadership can be a very slippery slope [i.e. some talking heads honestly thought Mondesi was a leader because he "hustled" on the base paths.]At any rate one leadership quality Cash apparently posseses is the willingness to get into a teamates face.I've heard when Felipe Lopez,hung over and pouting when sent down this past mid-season,was taken aside by Cash and told in no uncertain terms to get his head out of his "posterior".
_Jordan - Friday, December 06 2002 @ 09:33 AM EST (#101769) #
That's a great story about Cash, Richard. I hope it's true, and that it's a forebearer of things to come. It reminds me an anecdote in Bill Lee's book The Wrong Stuff, which was mostly a lot of horsecrap stories and over-the-top loopiness. But ... he did have a great story, which I think is true, about Carlton Fisk when he first came up with Boston full-time in 1972.

Apparently Fisk was one tightly-wound hard-ass, always intense and constantly crossing that line between outspoken and loudmouthed. A lot of the vets in the clubhouse resented him because he constantly complained about the country-club atmosphere, how no one was stepping up to be a leader. Eventually he started talking to the press about it, which made him even more unpopular. All this time, he kept ripping the cover off the ball and taking control of the pitching staff. At some point in the season, Lee recalled, it all became moot. "We had found our leader," he said. "It was him."

I agree that "leadership," like "chemistry," is so hard to define and so difficult to quantify that it's almost pointless to discuss it anywhere outside the clubhouse. But a ballclub, like any office or organization, is a mix of personalities that need to jell right in order to succeed. You need the worker bees who just do what they're told, the dreamy types who think of the smart innovations, the rules-oriented anal retentives who keep things running and on time, and the aggressive, assertive, ambitious types who provide inspiration and direction, widely respected even if they're not widely liked. Of course, in business as in baseball, the "leader" types tend to get too much credit for success -- important as they are, they still need complementary personalities with which to interact. A clubhouse full of Carlton Fisks and Pete Roses would be brutal.

I've always said that Delgado is Delgado: he does his job, he parties afterwards, he enjoys life. He's not Mr. Serious, he's not going to call team meetings, he's not going to "rally the troops" (as if that means anything anymore). Put a Paul Molitor or a Gary Matthews in the clubhouse to play that role, take the "C" off Delgado's uniform and let him smack the ball. Good organizations are those that figure out what people are good at and let them do it repeatedly. I think the Jays have learned this with Carlos.
Coach - Friday, December 06 2002 @ 02:00 PM EST (#101770) #
The younger Blue Jays have plenty of character. Hinske is the kind of player who leads by example, and I can imagine Vernon Wells asserting himself as he gets more comfortable. If Cash brings positive energy, hustle and accountability along with the great arm and quick feet, we'll tolerate the holes in his swing, namely "up" and "in".

Game-calling is the hardest to appreciate of a catcher's skills. Yes, the pitcher can shake off signs, but with a few exceptions like Greg Maddux, most get in a better groove the less they think. When Huck caught Halladay, my impression was that Doc worked faster and with more confidence than when he pitched to Wilson. So anticipating what your boy wants to throw is part of the art -- the more often the pitcher simply nods and rocks, the better the results. Just one of many Bull Durham scenes both hilarious and true -- when Nuke trusts Crash to do all the thinking, he's unhittable. I like it -- Kelvim "Nuke" Escobar.
_Kent - Friday, December 06 2002 @ 02:51 PM EST (#101771) #
Jordan, thanks for providing the data and your opinions. I knew nothing about Burnham and especially appreciated that background.

I'm just glad that Bowles, File, Smith and Coco are no longer essential to Toronto; the improved organizational depth means these guys (plus Justin Miller, Scott Cassidy, Corey Thurman and others baptized by fire in 2002) can develop at their own pace.

I share your assessment of Mike Smith's season as not bad, under difficult circumstances, but I would rather see him start in AAA than be a mopup man in the bigs.

And I'm also puzzled about Wiggins, but Occam's Razor says the Jays simply like Creek and Kershner better, and believe they can shake someone else from the LOOGY tree if necessary.

Craig, the tongue-twister still has me chulkling.
Farm Report, Part 1: Syracuse | 12 comments | Create New Account
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