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ESPN's Hot Stove Heater turns its sights on the Blue Jays today, and I have to tell you, it's a bit of a dud. There's little here in the way of incisive commentary, just a summary of the year gone by and a restatement of the obvious about the team. The "in-depth" section is on Ricciardi, and provides nothing that we haven't heard or seen before.

Whereas the two previous Hot Stove subjects garnered top-flight analysts (John Sickels for the Twins, Gary Huckabay for the Diamondbacks), the Blue Jays evidently drew the short straw and got Kieran Darcy, a writer for ESPN Magazine. I don't read that particular publication, and based on this turgid sample of the quality of writing, I'm not likely to start soon. It's neither exaggeration nor hubris to say that better Jays analysis can be found on this site any day of the week. Thumbs down.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Coach - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:22 PM EST (#99897) #
I agree that there wasn't much to get excited about, and even Sickels' analysis of Toronto's farm system is disappointing. Matt Ford? Shoddy work by someone who is usually on top of things.
_Justin - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:24 PM EST (#99898) #
The accompanying minor-league analysis by Sickels was much more informative. The infusion of pitching is fantastic, it's just too bad that it didn't occur a year or two prior. I'm really curious as to where the Jays' core position players will be in their development when the young pitchers begin to debut. How many years does the team control the player's rights before abritration starts? Does this depend on time spent in the minors?
_Scott Lucas - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:25 PM EST (#99899) #
Tell me, Jays experts: would you really want Wells hitting third and Catalanotto sixth, as projected in the article? Seems they'd be better off putting Cat second, Hinske third, and Wells at #6, given Wells all-or-nothing approach.

By the way, Kent, have fun typing "Catalanotto" all year. For a while, the Rangers had Cat and Todd Hollandsworth. Very annoying.
Pistol - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:28 PM EST (#99900) #
I think expectations were too high for this article. Most of the stuff is real general overview (although Sickels would have been nice). Was anyone going to write anything that hasn't been analyzed here in more depth? I doubt it (which is more a testament to the folks here than anything else).
_Matthew Elmslie - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:30 PM EST (#99901) #
In defence of the article:

1. These things are more useful for reading about teams you don't follow closely. Of course we know more about the Jays than was in the article; look at how much time we spend on it. But what about some guy who's - I don't know - an Astros fan living in Chicago. This article is all the Jays info he needs, conveniently assembled.

2. Sickels should have known and/or mentioned that Ford had been claimed in Rule 5, but are we expecting the Brewers to keep him? Guy's an A-ball pitcher; is Milwaukee that desperate? Maybe Sickels was just assuming he'd be back.
_Kent - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:31 PM EST (#99902) #
Scott, I'm already hearing the refrain, to the tune of "shave and a haircut" -- "Frank Catalanotto, base hit!" No way Wells hits second but if Tosca is conscious of alternating L-R batters, Vernon might be moved up from his best spot, sixth. They want some form of Cat-Stew-Hinske on base for Delgado and Phelps.

Justin, I'm being harsh on Sickels for not knowing "sleeper" Ford was lost in the Rule 5 draft, but his evaluation of the other prospects is reasonable. ESPN should have contracted this one out to Batter's Box.
_Felipe Lopez - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:42 PM EST (#99903) #
This isn't what the Reds told me was gonna happen!
_Jordan - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 01:52 PM EST (#99904) #
I had prepared some comments for an additional post on Sickels' sidebar on the minor leagues, but as usual, you guys are too fast for me. :-) So here's what I had written.

Accompanying the disappointing ESPN Hot Stove Heater was this assessment of the Blue Jays' minor-league system, by prospect guru John Sickels. The sidebar is superior to the main story: in fact, my only complaint is that it's too short. This isn't surprising, of course, since Sickels uses these featurettes to promote his upcoming 2003 Baseball Prospect Book, his successor to the long-running Stats Inc. Minor-League Notebook. I'll be picking up his new book, and I'll let you know what I think when it arrives.

- Though perhaps not quite as high on the Blue Jays' 2002 draft as was Baseball America (which ranked it tops in the majors), Sickels still quite likes the freshman class of Jays. He's high on Russ Adams and likes David Bush quite a bit too.

- He thinks Jason Arnold is closer to the big leagues than Kevin Cash, though conventional wisdom has it that Cash will be in the majors by the All-Star Break and Arnold, who has had but one season at AA, will need a year of seasoning in the International League. But Cash's recent struggles with the bat and Ricciardi's stockpiling of catcher options suggests that Kevin may indeed require a little more time. And Arnold's poise and polish is making some people think he could well be in the Toronto rotation before September. Worth thinking about.

- Sickels shares my doubts about Alexis Rios, who's done a fine job thus far of hiding any power and on-base skills he might have. He also still thinks highly of Gabe Gross, which is a good sign. But Sickels loses points for missing Matt Ford's departure to Milwaukee in the Rule 5 Draft, a pretty glaring error. A replacement sleeper candidate could be lefty starter Dave Gassner, who went 11-6, 3.44 at Dunedin (147-143-26-104) and 1-2, 2.49 at Knoxville (25-22-7-14) before making a one-start appearance at Syracuse.

Overall, a nice read and something to whet our appetites for his prospect book and, especially, the 2003 Baseball Prospectus.
_Kent - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 02:01 PM EST (#99905) #
Dave Bush might be on the fast-track; as a short reliever, he throws it hard and accurate, and doesn't have as much to learn as the starters. So far, pros haven't hit him any better than the ACC did. Sickels joins the chorus of praise for J.P.'s first draft, and should get credit for resisting the urge to include J-F Griffin, whose arrival as a top Jays prospect is eagerly anticipated by almost everyone else.
_Sean - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 02:25 PM EST (#99906) #
I agree about the relative shallowness of the article; however, the point about the target audience being ironically *not* composed of Jays fans per se is valid.

Brief hijack: Murray and Carter were just announced as having been elected to the Hall of Fame. No other candidate garnered more than 50% of the vote.
_Kent - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 07:19 PM EST (#99907) #
Sickels' piece now reads:

Dominic Rich, 2B: Hit .345 in the Florida State League. Auburn product of the 2000 draft, has a line-drive stroke and good patience. Blocked by Orlando Hudson, but worth tracking. Kudos to reader M. Green for pointing him out.

The Matt Ford reference is gone. With Rich, Russ Adams and the Little Cat, it still might be tempting to trade Hudson if another team makes an irresistible offer. Would O-Dog and Kelvim Escobar fetch a starter? Or is J.P. finished tinkering?
_Sean - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 07:58 PM EST (#99908) #
As you imply, Kent, the biggest organizational need is the development of another frontline starter to bolster Roy Halladay in the rotation. Cory Lidle is only signed for this coming season, and the bottom of the rotation is a mass of question marks. I know that I always come back to the Giants' 3 top pitching prospects (Williams/Ainsworth/Foppert), but I do think that JP should be in the market offering Escobar/Hudson/etc. for young pitching of similar potential.
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