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For those interested in learning more about the guy acquired for Felipe Lopez, here's an interesting little article from MLB's Website. Arnold comes across as intelligent, collected and focused, three of my favourite traits in a major-league pitcher. Seems like a pretty good guy, too.

He's also clearly happy to be in Toronto, and why not? A year ago this time, he was looking at Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and David Wells blocking his path to the majors. Four months ago, it was Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Today it's Mark Hendrickson and Justin Miller, and you can understand Arnold's enthusiasm. There's also a certain degree of buzz that Arnold is closer to the majors than you might expect of a guy with 13 AA starts under his belt -- a lot closer.

Ricciardi apparently plans to start him at AAA this year -- assuming he doesn't try to overdo it at spring training and flame out -- and then, if all goes well, to bring him to the majors before year's end. That's entirely speculative, so don't go drafting this guy in roto leagues next March on my say-so. But he's clearly a polished prospect, and he's mature enough that the bigs shouldn't freak him out. Of course, there's no need to rush him, since it's not like the Jays will be contending next year, and he should develop at his own pace. But I'm starting to think his pace may be quicker than many of us thought.

There are really only three must-watch players in Toronto's system next year: Russ Adams, Gabe Gross and Jason Arnold. If JP's plan unfolds as hoped, these guys will be the keys to the Blue Jays' first seriously contending team, no later than 2005.
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Coach - Tuesday, December 17 2002 @ 11:42 AM EST (#100971) #
Until Gideon takes on, and defeats, the old Coach in a Roto league, you should get your Jays fantasy advice from the ESPN guy, who my kids just love. (Happy 18th, Erin!)

I found this story about Arnold's no-hitter, and a good pic, on the Web site of his college team, the University of Central Florida Golden Knights. Over on, in David Cameron's prospect report and organizational review, he says "few teams boast as many major-league talents as the A's" and rates Arnold as their "most likely" MLB player.

Finding anyone who's ever said a bad word about the young man is more difficult.

it's not like the Jays will be contending next year

If the season began tomorrow, I would expect 89-90 wins. Any such prediction is plus-or-minus the unexpected (key injuries, luck) so I give them a remote chance at a wild card, and would not be surprised if they edge Boston for second in the division. By 2004, the core of young talent (Wells, Hinske, Phelps) should be in their prime, and the pitching should be that much better. They will make the playoffs, but lose to a more experienced team.

The biggest reason I agree with Jordan's 2005 projection? That will be the first year of the post-Delgado era, and the money saved can be allocated to a prize free agent starter, to complete the rotation upgrade from horrible ('02) to adequate ('03) to competitive ('04) to championship calibre.
_R Billie - Tuesday, December 17 2002 @ 03:44 PM EST (#100972) #
Interesting note about Arnold is that he like Justin Miller came up through the Oakland system with a "soft body". Unlike the trim and athletic big three of Hudson, Mulder, and Zito, Jason Arnold gained a lot of weight and wasn't in as good a shape as he was in college when he was regularly hitting the mid-to-high 90's as a closer.

He said he gained the weight gain on a lot of midnight runs to Taco Bell...but the past few months has cut them out and is drinking only water now. The result was a drop in weight from 228 to a much more acceptable 210 lbs for his 6' 3" frame. Now if he hits the weights and get's his lean muscle mass back up then who knows? The mid-90's fastball he had in college may not be out of reach.

Similarly, Justin Miller has also been working out hard since he got a taste of the big leagues. If these guys got to this point in their careers in less than optimal shape, one can only assume that improved conditioning can only make them better. The fact that an Oakland coach compared Arnold's intelligent analytical approach to game to both Hudson and Zito bodes very well for a guy who already has the tools to be successful.

I agree with Gideon that he will get a really good look in spring training and I would be surprised if he wasn't called up some time this year. I honestly don't think AAA will have much to teach him.
_dp - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 11:56 AM EST (#100973) #
"The biggest reason I agree with Jordan's 2005 projection? That will be the first year of the post-Delgado era, and the money saved can be allocated to a prize free agent starter, to complete the rotation upgrade from horrible ('02) to adequate ('03) to competitive ('04) to championship calibre."

Hopefully, that money will go Halliday's way. Delgado doesn't have to go; I think if the Jays have started to win by then he'd take less money to be a part of that.

Does anyone else think the Jays pitching isn't in that bad shape? The rotation now:


That's not horrible, and with some fodder and prospects in AAA is even deep enough to withstand a few injuries. Thurman should be ready to move Walker back to the pen mid-season, and he looks like he could be a #3 starter. I really hope the Jays don't go after another starter this offseason- what they have now looks adequate for their purposes this season. Put Armas in there, and then maybe they become reluctant to give one of the young guys a look mid-season or keep one of the Rule V's. Maybe I'm placing too much hope in Hendrickson, but he really looked good last year.

It's gonna be a long off-season.
Coach - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 01:25 PM EST (#100974) #
dp, in my mind, Hendrickson's #3 -- I'm that sure he's for real, and still on the upward slope of his career. I am cautiously optimistic about Miller, but glad they added Linton and Towers to the AAA depth, and I think they start the spring on even terms with Walker. Armas, or another more seasoned arm, might make that competition moot, or even threaten Miller's shaky hold on a regular job until he gets more consistent and shakes the first-inning jitters.

I notice you spell Halladay "Halliday" the way almost everyone mispronounces it, and wonder why the TV and radio announcers don't call Doc "Holiday," which is how he says it.
Dave Till - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 01:38 PM EST (#100975) #
I'll be more convinced that Hendrickson is for real when he gets to pitch against tougher teams. His K/IP ratio is low - 36 2/3 innings, 21 strikeouts - which suggests that he doesn't have overwhelming stuff. He gets more strikeouts per nine innings than Lyon, Michalak or File did, so he might have enough ability to get by.

I suspect that his NBA experience will also help him, as he's used to competing at the highest level. Being huge and left-handed also don't hurt, either. But, right now, I'd rank Arnold ahead of him.
_dp - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 02:34 PM EST (#100976) #
Hendrickson has made the bigs and pitched well there- Arnold hasn't. Brandon Lyon Syndrome notwithstanding, that has to count for something. Having skipped pitching for a while, Hendrickson would also seem to be less of an injury risk.

Coach- Yeah, HallAday, Halladay- i always mess this up, probably always will.
Dave Till - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 03:43 PM EST (#100977) #
I was curious, so I checked the pitching lines for Hendrickson's four starts. (Perhaps this will be the start of a "research first, post later" trend, as opposed to the methodology I'm currently using. :-)) He pitched five shutout innings at home against the Red Sox on September 7, then beat Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Baltimore again.

Since Hendrickson did well against the Sox, perhaps I was being too harsh on him when I rated him below Arnold. I still think that any marginally competent AAA pitcher would have looked good against the late-season Orioles, but it's not Hendrickson's fault that his opponents were bad.

And your point about his being a low injury risk also is a valid one.
Coach - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 04:22 PM EST (#100978) #
Posting new thoughts as they occur, then researching as a last resort works for me, Dave. And while I've learned a great deal from statheads in the last couple of years, my evaluations still rely on eyesight and experience; Yogi said, "you can observe a lot by watching."

Hendrickson didn't make many bad pitches in September. (There was that grooved mistake to Bordick, and... ??) He hit both inside and outside corners whenever he wanted, with straight and breaking stuff, and almost everything was at, or just below, the knees. I'd like to see 2-3 MPH more on his fastball, plus something really slow, maybe a roundhouse curve, just to keep hitters off balance. His September BB/K (6/17) in four starts and a long relief stint was encouraging, but I don't think he tries to be a strikeout pitcher, because he's effective at inducing ground-ball outs and one-handed fly balls -- opponent OPS was just .549, and he can handle righty batters. On command, and poise, he's already a big-leaguer, and it's hard to imagine he's peaked.
_R Billie - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 04:28 PM EST (#100979) #
When 3 of your starts are against Baltimore (who were non-existent down the stretch) and 1 against Tampa Bay (who are Tampa Bay) then the question of level of competition comes into play. Hendrickson also tossed 5 shutout innings against Boston which counts for something though he only struck out one that start.

Stats-wise it's just too small a sample to say. He is definately stronger against lefties than righties which is to be expected. He's also said to be working on an offspeed pitch (a curve?) which could make a big difference for him. If he further develops his mechanics to add another MPH or two to his heater (not out of the question for a guy his size) and the offspeed pitch is successful...then he appears to have the control and poise to do some interesting things.

Hendrickson and Miller could surprise this year. I like what I saw out of both of them at different times...Miller in particular looks like he can be good when he's on.
_dp - Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 04:59 PM EST (#100980) #
I'll admit a bias toward Hendrickson b/c win the game in Baltimore with my girlfriend on The Most Perfect Night for a Game. He looked like he knew how to "pitch"- seemed to set up hitters well and be in control of the game. Every Jays game I've been to they've been out of it by the 3rd, so Hendrickson's performance may have earned him a sentimental free pass in my mind.
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