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Breaking news from Primer is that the Jays have signed the little Cat to a $2.25M contract.

My quick read is that this is a very good deal which should provide efficient and affordable offense in RF and 2B, as the Cat can play several positions on the field as needed.
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_Shrike - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 01:38 PM EST (#77123) #
A brief note: it's a 1-year term. Catalanatto should be an excellent stopgap while the Jays' OF prospects make their way to the high minors. I would predict that Cat & Aven would be an excellent RF platoon for all of 2.5M next year. JP again has done a good job preserving budget flexibility as the team progresses towards contending for a championship.
Coach - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 02:04 PM EST (#77124) #
Thanks to Sean for the timely link and to the Oracle for breaking the news. Although Catalanotto was hurt much of last year and his arm strength is questionable, it would seem he'll get a good chunk of the RF duties, and his offence (assuming he stays healthy) will be much more significant than his predecessors.

J.P. takes some heat for picking up friends, neighbours and anyone he knew from the Oakland organization, but why not? He knows their baseball talent and "character." So where's the connection on this deal? Down the hall in Keith Law's office -- he went to high school with Frank.

What does this mean for Jayson Werth? Just what the Jays have been saying all along; he's not necessarily a starter at any position, but they love his versatility. He'll be the fourth OF, the third C, occasional pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. The guy who just had his future (AAA) defined more clearly is Dewayne Wise.

Is there anyone who thinks Cruz for Catalanotto, Bordick, Myers and Sturtze is a bad deal? It's a wash financially, with no commitment beyond 2003 to anyone -- some of the front office's best work.
Mick Doherty - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 02:09 PM EST (#77125) #
I've been watching Cat down here in DFW since he came up ... this is a steal for Toronto, and as Rangers minor league/transactions guru Jamey Newberg wrote a few minutes ago, it's extremely deflating for the Rangers.

I'll take issue with the idea of Catalanotto as a "stopgap." He nearly won a batting title two years ago, and given a more progressive manager than Jerry Narron or Johnny "Station2Station" Oates, could easily swipe 35 bags.

Catalanotto is one of the few traditional leadoff hitters in the majors today, though as a RF, well, he's a hell of a leadoff hitter. Defensively, he can't really handle 2B regularly, and though his speed is appropriate to LF, he has a weak arm for RF. His best defensive position is 1B, but I've always thought he could handle 3B regularly on a team with an excellent defensive SS. Delgado and Hinske probably not giving way to Little Cat, though.

That said, I think Catalanotto can be a younger version of Tony Phillips late in his career with the Tigers and A's, only Cat has more speed than the older Tony and definitely more power. If the Jays go that route, and move him around the IF everywhere but SS and play him on both corner OF spots and DH, he could play 140 games and match or better his '01 numbers: .330/11/54, 15 SB, .807 OPS. Of more interest to Ricciardi, I'm sure, is the improvement from '01 to '02 in BB/K ratio (.71 to .93) and BB/PA (.078 to .11).
_Shrike - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 02:26 PM EST (#77126) #
A quick reply to Mick: I didn't use stopgap with any negative connotations implied, I was referencing the length of the contract. There can be no doubt, IMO, that JP has plans to have Werth and Gross make The Show in the outfield. I do think, barring injuries, that Little Cat will play very well as a Blue Jay.

Query: I'd be interested in Jamey's take on this transaction, can someone provide a link to it.
Dave Till - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 02:52 PM EST (#77127) #
The Catalanotto signing (I'm going to have to learn to spell that) covers the extra outfield position, and sends a message to the O-Dog that his job isn't guaranteed. Which is probably a good thing, after what happened to Lopez. Anyway, Cat for $2.25M is better than Cruz Junior for more than twice that.

The top of the Jays' order is looking good:


It's going to be hard to get past all of those guys without somebody inflicting some damage.

Now, all the Jays need is another starting pitcher. Too bad the Yankees are busy signing all of them. :-)
Coach - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 02:57 PM EST (#77128) #
Keep us posted on the response from Texas, Mick, and any info you can share with us about his soundness would be appreciated; I know he's had some back and shoulder woes. If he sits against lefty starters (I know he can make contact off anyone, but all his HR over the last three years came off righties) that gives Tosca a great stick on the bench, and should help Frank stay healthy.

Regarding SB, Little Cat joins Stewart, Hinske, Wells and other Jays as potential threats who will (unfortunately for their fantasy owners) only rarely get the green light. Late in a close game, he's a leadoff single and a steal, instead of another Cruz whiff.

Interesting batting order considerations -- will they drop Stewart to #2 and Hinske to #3? If Shannon leads off, then you go with three lefties in a row, followed by three righties; Phelps, Wells and Woodward. That leaves the C of the day in the 8-hole, and the O-Dog ninth. Hey, this team is gonna put up a lot of crooked numbers! Against lefties, they won't be as formidable; they could swap spots for Hinske and Woodward, plus Werth and the Huckaby/Wilson survivor are a notch below Cat and Myers. That's another great thing about this signing; the pressure's off Vernon Wells, who might have hit third by default, but can now get comfortable in an RBI spot.
_Ryan Adams - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 03:11 PM EST (#77129) #
Tosca seemed to like Vernon Wells in the #3 spot (I wasn't crazy about it, but it doesn't matter much in the overall scheme of things). My guess on Tosca's lineup would be this:

Myers vs. R, Hudson vs. L
Hudson vs. R, Huckaby/Wilson vs. L

If Tosca does this, it's a pretty balanced attack. I'll be interested to hear from Ricciardi on how he expects Catalanotto to be used.
_Arnie - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 04:55 PM EST (#77130) #
Great site, guys. Berg has to get some AB, you would think against LH pitching. They can go Stewart-Woodward-Wells-Delgado-Phelps-Berg-Werth-Hudson-Wilson and give Cat and Hinske a rest vs. Zito and the other nasty southpaws. And I'm not as worried as Coach about back-to-back lefty or righty hitters, the bench is better than before.
Dave Till - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 05:01 PM EST (#77131) #
I didn't realize that Stewart/Cat/Hinske/Delgado/Phelps would put three lefties together in the lineup. That would add 15 minutes to the total time of each Jays game, since every manager would bring in his lefty to face Cat/Hinske/Delgado in the late innings and then flip to a righty to face Phelps. And, gosh darn it, pitching changes just aren't that interesting.

I don't see Tosca moving Hinske down and keeping Wells in the 3 slot. Hinske is better at reaching base than Wells is. But I agree that lineup order doesn't have that much of an effect.
Pistol - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 05:02 PM EST (#77132) #
Personally, I'd rather see Wells down a bit in the order and Hinske closer to the top. I'd go with Dave's order, except that there's 3 lefties in a row which could present a problem.

Maybe to alieviate that problem you'd go with:

_Richard - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 07:19 PM EST (#77133) #
Another solid J.P. move;

-I'm still however a little concerned about his arm and right-field but, upon reflection Shannon Stewart's weak arm hasn't really cost the team a great deal of runs.I remember a discussion on another forum last year about the negative effect of Stewarts arm and the general conclusion[thanks Matthew] was that given his offence it was generally insignificant.

-If I was Orlando Hudson I wouln't be buying a Toronto condo anytime soon.The "cat" is stretched playing second but, with Berg,Clark etc.. all in the mix I just get this feeling the O-Dog will be getting a new master.
Coach - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 08:44 PM EST (#77134) #
Good point, Richard. If another team offers J.P. a genuine prospect who happens to be a starting pitcher, Hudson's expendable. Don't forget that Catalanotto is at least as good as Stewart in LF (faint praise, I know) so trading Shannon remains a possibility.

One thing about all the batting orders being suggested -- they don't have Mondesi third and Cruz fifth, or vice versa, so the big fella who was stuck between them much of last year is going to see more fastballs, with more people on base, which adds up to a great season. I still say Delgado should hit third, Phelps fourth and Hinske fifth, which would get your best hitter up in the first inning of every game and take care of the L-R-L issue, but it's one of those things that makes so much sense, it's unlikely to happen.
_Ryan Adams - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 09:04 PM EST (#77135) #
A couple of quotes from the Dallas Morning News (registration required):

"They said they want me to play every day and get at least 500 at-bats," he said. "They want me to mostly play right field and fill in some in the infield."

"I think I'll mostly hit second, but J.P. said he will probably hit me second or third, or fifth or sixth."

He's always been a platoon player in the majors (just 129 of his 1482 at-bats are against lefties). He'll get a little under 500 at-bats if the Jays continue to make him a platoon player.
_Kent - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 09:33 PM EST (#77136) #
Thanks for the link, Ryan. By some miraculous coincidence, -- password bselig -- will let you bypass registration. I found this interesting:

(Catalanotto) could find himself in the very same position next year if the Blue Jays opt not to offer him arbitration. That would be the only way he could become a free agent since he will be one day short of the necessary 5 years, 171 days required to file for free agency on his own.

A bit of leverage, or at least flexibility, for the Jays if they want to keep him for 2004.
Pistol - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 11:45 PM EST (#77137) #
Well here's why the Jays signed FC:

OPS while playing RF the past 3 years: 1.044

Who cares that it's only 50 ABs.........

Looking at the splits the home and away stats are pretty similar. His OBP is similar against RH and LH pitchers, but the slugging is considerably higher against RHPs (480 vs 374).
Pistol - Monday, December 30 2002 @ 11:53 PM EST (#77138) #
Coach - I like Delgado hitting 4th. If one of the top 3 get on base in the first inning he comes up with a runner on. If the top 3 go in order you have a high OBP hitter leading off the second inning.

If Delgado hits 3rd he can come up in the first inning with the bases empty, and there's less of a chance to come up to bat with 2 runners on. Of course he would also come up earlier in the order later in the game.
_Chuck Van Den C - Tuesday, December 31 2002 @ 10:00 AM EST (#77139) #
On the topic of batting order, the following staggers the LHB's and RHB's though does introduce an underqualified Wells into the thick of the order, which troubles me.


I find the following alternative preferable for a number of reasons: Delgado gets to bat in the 1st inning, Wells' sub-800 OPS is dropped to a more appropriate spot in the order and the LHB and RHB are still fairly well staggered.


Now, we're dealing with people and not Strat-O-Matic cards, so the cliche mongers (of which Tosca may be one) will have a field day. "Stewart is more productive in his more familiar role as leadoff hitter". "Batting cleanup is too much pressure for a young player like Phelps". "Delgado is the soul of the lineup and deserves the respect of batting cleanup". Etc.
Coach - Tuesday, December 31 2002 @ 11:25 AM EST (#77140) #
Pistol, sometimes I over-simplify, and sometimes I apply my 40-some years of experience at much lower levels to MLB, so this may be one of those times I'm full of it. But the point of Delgado in the three-hole is, who better to score a first-inning run -- by himself -- if the top two don't get on? Yes, Carlos "loses" the possible first-inning grand slam (actually it's just deferred, to the capable Mr. Phelps or the Menasha Masha) but you increase your scoring potential in a very important inning. And as you mention, your best hitter comes up "earlier" in critical late-game situations -- anyone who wants Wells at bat with the game on the line, and Carlos on-deck, is invited to coach a high school team in my division.

I love Chuck's preferred lineup; it will produce the most runs and cause L-R matchup nightmares in the middle innings. (Sorry Dave, the opponents will have to make even more pitching changes.) Against lefty starters, Tosca can deploy his bench guys; Stewart leads off, Cat's a perfect pinch-hitter and/or Hinske gets a rare day off. And Carlos (.685 OPS v. lefties and just 4 HR in 172 AB last year; .810 OPS, 18 HR/531 AB over last three combined) shouldn't hit third. Who should, I don't know. You might think Phelps is the most dangerous Toronto hitter against lefties, but so far, they fool him with off-speed stuff. The Jays are truly vulnerable to lefty pitching -- their OPS was almost 100 points lower last year (.689) than against righties (.780) -- but that may improve with experience, as Woodward and Wells, who also "should" hit the crafty SOBs, struggled worse than Phelps.

Geez, I just convinced myself the Jays need lefty-killer Wilson's bat more than strike-stealing Huckaby's glove, overruling my instincts about defence at the position. I forgot this team is built to win 6-4, not 3-2, except when Doc pitches. As usual, Casey said it best, when asked why he selected an obscure C in the first round of the Mets expansion draft -- "if you don't have a catcher, you'll get all passed balls."
Coach - Tuesday, December 31 2002 @ 12:32 PM EST (#77141) #
In today's Sun, Bob Elliott finds the J.P. connection to Catalanotto -- he was an Oakland Rule 5 pick in '97, but didn't stick.

On the 2002 injuries: "His season came to an end in August after he was hit with a pitch by Jays lefty Mark Hendrickson. Earlier he missed time with a stress fracture in his lower back." (Frank says the hand was 100% soon after the season ended; let's hope the back problem is also resolved.)

Fun fact: With Catalanotto in the leadoff spot, the Rangers were 14-11. Without him leading off they were 58-79.
_Chuck Van Den C - Tuesday, December 31 2002 @ 01:19 PM EST (#77142) #
Coach: Geez, I just convinced myself the Jays need lefty-killer Wilson's bat more than strike-stealing Huckaby's glove, overruling my instincts about defence at the position.

My inclination at catcher is the opposite (bat over glove) but ignoring that, your point is well taken. The team does not have a RHB that mashes LHP, at least not yet. For some strange reason, perhaps just chance, each of Woodward, Wells and Phelps were reverse skewed in 2002, meaning that they posted higher OPS's vs RHP than LHP.

If Tosca pays attention to the numbers, this will place added pressure on him to get Wilson's bat into the lineup. Oddly, both Aven and Berg have been reverse skewed for the past 3 seasons (according to ESPN's site) meaning that Tosca should not necessarily be in a huge rush to get them into the lineup at Catalanotto's and Hinske's expense.

And perhaps Woodward's rest days come against LHP. Bordick's OPS splits over the past 3 seasons: 816/701. (When you're talking about getting Bordick's bat into the lineup, you know you've got problems.)
_R Billie - Tuesday, December 31 2002 @ 05:22 PM EST (#77143) #
I've actually noticed how bad the Jays have been against lefthanded pitchers the past couple of years. And the stats do back that up. Last year it was almost to the point where I was almost willing to put down money in games where the Jays faced lefties.

Outside of Wilson, I'm not sure who else they could squeeze into the lineup. One can only hope that Woodward, Wells, Phelps, and Hudson can get much better.
Coach - Tuesday, December 31 2002 @ 06:43 PM EST (#77144) #
They Blue Jays were 15-23 last year in games started by lefties. In other words, they were two games over .500 (even counting the horrible start) when facing righty starters.

They lost twice to the woeful D-Rays behind what's left of Wilson Alvarez, and three times to the Rangers with Kenny Rogers on the hill. They did beat Mark Mulder twice, but that was in May when his sore forearm reduced his fastball to about 87 and compromised his control. And they got a "gimme" against broken-down Jim Parque, or the numbers could have been even worse.

Remember the late-July day after they lost to Eric Milton, when Johan Santana struck out 13 in 8 IP? It wasn't pretty. In August, Jarrod Washburn beat Roy Halladay in a 1-0 heartbreaker, and on closing day, Doc had to be nearly perfect to defeat Mike Maroth (who's never been confused with Sandy Koufax) by the same score.

The 2003 Jays, with Catalanotto, will be better than ever at hitting RH pitching, but you can't call them legitimate contenders with this glaring weakness. So R Billie's right -- we can only hope some of the young RH batters improve at hitting lefties.
_Jordan - Wednesday, January 01 2003 @ 02:01 PM EST (#77145) #
Happy New Year, one and all! I'm back from my whirlwind Family Christmas Tour of Toronto and St. John's, and eager to return to blogging.

Certainly, I couldn't have asked for a better holiday gift than Frank Catalanotto, a player I've coveted since his days with Detroit. JP replaced Cruz with a better hitter (.825 vs .797 career OPS) for half the price, a move that will eventually rank up there with his steal of Eric Hinske among the great Ricciardi deals. Defensively, of course, it's a substantial step down, and I do think that Frank's range and arm are better suited to left field than to right, but for the moment this is okay: Vernon Wells in centrefield will allow you to cut outfield corners. Jayson Werth will now almost certainly start the year at AAA, which is also a very good thing. Superb acquisition all around.

Concerns about the Jays' vulnerability to southpaws are valid, not only now but also for the future: the Jays' two best hitting prospects, Gabe Gross and Russ Adams (not to mention the phantomlike John-Ford Griffin), also bat from the left side. If they manage to hold on to Jason Dubois, that could give them a RH masher in the system, but otherwise, it's asking a lot of Vernon Wells and Josh Phelps, two very unfinished products, to carry the team against lefties. JP is surely aware of this, but I imagine his options are limited for the moment. I can foresee a major lefty-mashing bat coming to this team no later than April 2004, by which time Delgado's contract (if not Delgado himself) will have departed. In the long term, it's still a very treatable problem.
_pete_the_donkey - Wednesday, January 01 2003 @ 03:42 PM EST (#77146) #
I find it curious that no one has mentioned the possibility of Werth spending some time behind the plate. His bat is stronger than any of Myers/Wilson/Huck.
Coach - Wednesday, January 01 2003 @ 04:17 PM EST (#77147) #
pete, I said earlier in this thread that Werth could be the 4th OF and 3rd C, but I don't believe he's polished enough to be a semi-regular catcher. He's a better hitter than Huckaby -- who isn't? -- but a platoon of Wilson (.412 OBP and .506 SLG last year vs. lefties) and Myers (.357 and .412 vs. righties) will put up much better numbers than Werth, especially if he's concentrating on his receiving.

Jordan (welcome back!) and others have suggested Jayson is AAA-bound, which wouldn't be a bad thing for his overall development, but Tosca and Ricciardi have both mentioned his suitability for the super-sub role, so if he hits enough in Dunedin, he may get 250 AB with the Jays and might start behind the plate against a lefty on occasion.
_Bob Oster - Wednesday, March 03 2004 @ 10:45 PM EST (#77148) #
Selig (MLB)does not want to address the current steriod problem in baseball. He dosen't want to address the financial problems. If baseball is (was) our national past time, he'd better step and find out how to keep it there. Or, he'll end up with 5 major league teams and 25 minor league teams.
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