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At long last, it's official: the Blue Jays welcomed the prodigal John-Ford Griffin today. The outfield prospect was dealt to Toronto from Oakland in exchange for long-time Blue Jays farmhand Playertoo B. Namedlater.

Opinions vary on Griffin -- mine is probably the least positive, since I see his top upside as Paul O'Neill (hopefully without the personality), and his downside as the guy Paulie was infamously traded for, Hal Morris. That's not a range that gets me excited, but he still should be a useful player for the Jays, at least. And if he outstrips this projection, so much the very better.

Who will head west in return? No indication yet, but no doubt that will be released soon. One more detail out of the way, and the reconstruction continues apace.
A Griffin You Can Support | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Coach - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 03:45 PM EST (#99819) #
Unless the PTBNL is someone like Rosario, this is a fine addition, though hardly a surprise. I'm in the opposite camp from Jordan; I don't expect JFG to be a great OF, but he's pure hitter who didn't just excel in a tough college conference, he dominated, hitting over .400 with decent power three straight years. There were a couple of physical excuses for his first pro season, and I think he'll be able to replace Shannon Stewart quite nicely before too long. For now, let's see how he does at AA New Haven.
_Ryan Adams - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 03:46 PM EST (#99820) #
I'm still wondering what was taking so long for this to happen. Hopefully we'll find out most of the story when the player to be named gets christened.

Speaking of PTBNLs, did the Jays ever receive anyone for Pedro Borbon? The six months to name the player have been over for a while now.
Coach - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 03:52 PM EST (#99821) #
Ryan, I asked the same question a while back, and learned that the Jays didn't see anyone they really wanted among the Astros farmhands they could have chosen from, and accepted a cash settlement instead. Apparently it's a common clause in that type of deal, and it is also not unusual for the choice to depend on how the traded player performs. In this case, had Borbon been useful and the 'Stros made the post-season, perhaps the return would have been more substantial. Chalk it up as yet another positive move in the addition-by-subtraction department, but no tangible return.
_Ryan Adams - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 03:57 PM EST (#99822) #
Thanks. I figured that was the case. It's too bad the Jays weren't able to get anything significant -- the Astros draft a lot of college players and look to have a lot of good arms at their lower levels.
Craig B - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 04:13 PM EST (#99823) #
Fascinating tidbit... Griffin, in his Florida State bio, named John Olerud as his favourite athlete. His statistical shape as a hitter looks pretty similar; if he can appreciate the qualities of John Olerud, I don't think we'll be worried about his professionalism either.

I don't expect JFG to be a great OF, but he's pure hitter who didn't just excel in a tough college conference, he dominated, hitting over .400 with decent power three straight years

Gap power, but not a lot of home run power. However, we should remember that Central and South Florida is known for being a good place for pitchers and a bad one for hitters; maybe that carries over into the Tallahassee area, I don't know.

But saying Griffin hit .400 in a "tough college conference"... we should take that with 1000 grains of salt. Here is Florida State's 2003 schedule, which I think we can take as an example of a typical one. The games against ACC opponents are lost amid games against VMI, The Citadel, St. Joe's, Siena, and Charleston Southern... and when you are winning games 26-2 as they memorably did against Maryland three years ago, it doesn't say much for the level of competition faced. All that said, he was a very good college player, if not Ruthian... First-Team All-America is nothing to sneeze at.

I really hope Griffin does well... but he hit just OK in the FSL against what should have been overmatched pitching. He's 23 now, and if he is going to be more than a footnote he will be expected to hit well at a much higher level this year... like he did in his cup of coffee in AA.
_R Billie - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 04:35 PM EST (#99824) #
Speculation is that with Griffen a year or two away and with the future Toronto outfield already crowded, Griffin will switch to first base.

I'm not sure what kind of upside he has...I've heard Paul O'Neil and JD Drew. But if he turns into something in the neighbourhood of John Olerud, that wouldn't be terrible either.
_Mick - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 04:39 PM EST (#99825) #
O'Neill and Morris were teammates, and so never traded for each other. (Would have been a neat trick though.) The Yankees traded Morris to the Reds for Tim Leary. The Reds traded O'Neill to the Yankees two years later for the immortal Roberto Kelly, the Jose Cruz, Jr. of his time.
_Jordan - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 04:41 PM EST (#99826) #
Mea culpa, and thanks for the correction. I don't know why I thought they were dealt for each other.
_Kent - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 06:59 PM EST (#99827) #
Craig, I realize he's yet to duplicate this with a wood bat, but here's Griffin's FSU career, with the gap power steadily improving:

Year     G   AB   R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  AVE
1999 55 133 42 58 15 0 3 35 18 22 0 .436
2000 70 300 72 121 33 3 9 58 40 38 2 .403
2001 65 251 79 113 30 0 19 75 50 23 11 .450
Totals 190 684 193 292 78 3 31 168 108 83 13 .427

JFG made the '99 ACC tournament all-star team, and was MVP of the NCAA regional in 2000, so not all his success came against soft opposition. Coincidentally, his freshman year overlapped with the final college season of former Seminole 3B Kevin Cash:

Year     G   AB   R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  AVE
1997 39 67 17 16 4 0 6 18 11 28 0 .239
1998 71 233 54 69 15 4 7 48 33 61 1 .296
1999 68 252 50 80 13 0 14 58 47 72 7 .317
Totals 178 552 121 165 32 4 27 124 91 161 8 .299

Cash hasn't hit enough (yet) to be a major-league regular, but at C, doesn't have to improve much. Griffin, the superior college player, struggled in his first year as a pro, and as a mediocre OF/1B after a shoulder problem, will only make the Show with his bat. He's still like having another Gabe Gross in the system, which doubles the chances that one of them will be a solid big-leaguer in a couple of years. If they both become stars, that's a bonus. As long as the cost was reasonable, what's not to like?

Since this deal was rumoured for so long as part of the Lopez trade, JFG will always be connected with Jason Arnold in my mind, for Felipe and the PTBNL. Hard to declare it a success before 2005, and anything can happen to a player's health, but I really like both our new guys.
_Geoff North - Tuesday, January 07 2003 @ 10:09 PM EST (#99828) #
If he turns into a hitter like John Olerud, that would be just fantastic.
Craig B - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 09:41 AM EST (#99829) #
Kent, I couldn't agree more. I like both guys, and think they can become solid pros. Whether they ever rise to prominence (or whether Felipe Lopez can) only time will tell, but unless the PTBNL is a real good prospect, you've essentially turned one good pro (Lopez) into two top prospects, and I can certainly live with that kind of math.
Dave Till - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 09:46 AM EST (#99830) #
So, John-Ford Griffin has finally made it here...

For weeks, rumours had spread throughout the land. Merchants had gossiped of his coming while haggling over the prices of furs. Scullery maids had dreamed of him as they scoured their grimy pots and pans. Small children had whispered his name in hushed tones while playing in the germ-infested mud.

Then, one cool clear morning in January, the town crier's joyous announcement was heard throughout the length and breadth of the land. "He is here! John-Ford is here at last!"

Loud were the cries of joy throughout the parched and troubled kingdom as the multitude hastily assembled at the dock to commemorate the great one's arrival. Carpet salesman trampled over each other in their eagerness to lay down their finest, plushest red carpets at his feet. Comely maidens gathered rose petals to toss in the air. Small boys gathered pieces of parchment in the hopes of securing his autograph. "At last," the scribes wrote, "We have the final piece of the puzzle in place! Our beloved Birds now have the werewithal to take on the hated Yankees of New York!"

All in the land were happy, save one. Sir Richard of Griffin was sitting in a corner of a now-abandoned tavern, stomach still digesting a poorly-cooked meal washed down with generous flagons of partly-fermented mead. He could have been heard to mumble to himself, had there been anyone there to listen: "The man bears my name. How could he possibly be any good?"

[Apologies for going medieval on you all. :-)]
_Jordan - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 10:55 AM EST (#99831) #
"Upon the number five having been reached, lobbest the Holy Hand Grenade of Sabrmetrics toward thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

Great stuff, Dave. :-)
_Kent - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 11:17 AM EST (#99832) #
Gadzooks! Squire Dave is Alan-a-Dale! Excellent.

Comely maidens gathered rose petals to toss in the air.

The fair maids need a new hero; my impression, based on the SkyDome squeal-o-meter and assorted giggles, was that Alex Gonzalez and Jose Cruz Jr. were the previous shining knights.

turned one good pro (Lopez) into two top prospects

My pal Felipe commented in the Hot Stove Heater thread on the latest news out of Cinci -- the manager's son moves to 2B, to get Brandon Larson's bat in at 3B, and Larkin owns SS as long as he wants it. Keeping the undisciplined Lopez on the Reds bench won't help his development, so he might be ticketed to AAA, and they don't even know yet about his "work" ethic. For this trade to ever haunt the Jays, both their fine prospects will have to disappoint, and Lopez will need a major attitude adjustment.
Dave Till - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 11:58 AM EST (#99833) #
I can't see Larkin playing a full schedule at SS, given his age. Lopez will step in when Larkin twangs a hamstring or something.

Before Gonzo, Alomar and Gruber were the designated Blue Jay teenage heartthrobs. I don't remember there being a teen idol in the Bobby Cox era - all I know for sure is that Cliff Johnson and Doyle Alexander (Ugly 1 and Ugly 1A) definitely didn't qualify.
_Jordan - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 12:48 PM EST (#99834) #
Hard to say who the next heartthrob will be; the current crop of Jays is more like a collection of lumberjacks and BMOCs (Hinske, Halladay, Phelps, Arnold) than cute-boys like Gonzo and Gruber. Jayson Werth is reminiscent of Shawn Green, so he might someday grow into the role. Orlando Hudson will probably be a kids' favourite more than anything, a latter-day Lloyd Moseby. Maybe the strong, silent Vernon Wells will appeal to a new generation.

Ugliest Blue Jay ever, to my mind, is a toss-up between Cliff Johnson and Luis Sojo.
_DS - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 02:15 PM EST (#99835) #
No contest.

Ugliest Blue Jay ever: Dave Weathers

A face only a mother could love.
_Otis Nixon - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 02:23 PM EST (#99836) #
What about me?
_Dr. Halladay - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 02:35 PM EST (#99837) #
I will call Cliff Politte "Mini-Me".
Dave Till - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 02:47 PM EST (#99838) #
Doesn't Gabe Gross look rather photogenic? I forget.

I remember Weathers. He was so ugly that I wondered whether he was born with a facial deformity. I couldn't watch him.

Derek Bell looked like a younger version of Cliff Johnson. Otis had an ugly chin.

Of the contemporary Jays, I'd venture that Justin Miller is the ugliest. Chris Woodward isn't ugly, but he's got a very angular face - he looks like he went on a hunger strike for a month.

As for Orlando Hudson: I wonder why nobody has compared him to Mookie yet. They're both switch-hitters, they both wear #3, and they both have upbeat, bubbly personalities. I hope the Jays keep the O-Dog - he looks like he'll be fun to watch.
_DS - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 03:12 PM EST (#99839) #
Dave Weathers looked like he had a fused neck. I never saw him turn his head without turning his whole body. That just added more to his freakish nature.

Chris Woodward reminds me of Billy Bob Thorton. The resemblance is actually a little eerie.

As for Orlando Hudson, he reminds me more of Pokey Reese than Mookie Wilson. Hell, they even wear their hats the same: crooked, off to one side.
Coach - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 03:14 PM EST (#99840) #
Dave, in a July 2002 ESPN column -- one of a series of pro-O, anti-Joe rants -- I said, "try to imagine parts of Rickey Henderson, Allan Iverson and Mookie Wilson," in describing Hudson's unique personality. One post-game, while the TV cameras were rolling and O-Dog was yammering, you could hear someone in the background -- Delgado, I think -- asking loudly, "what language does he speak?" Hudson's exciting, his enthusiasm makes him a great teammate, and the fans love him -- as an anonymous Jays official said last spring, "everywhere he's played, he could run for mayor." Now that would be a step up for Toronto.
_Jordan - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 03:48 PM EST (#99841) #
Here are a couple of photos of Gabe Gross, and I agree that he could be the poster boy for the Jays' 2005 media guide. Among the things you can't teach a player, like speed and power, there's also blue eyes and a square jaw. Gross used to be a quarterback, so he's used to being the center of attention and is probably not short on charisma. If he hits like he's capable of, he could be a star in the true sense of the word. I also came across this old article from the 2001 Arizona Fall League singing his praises -- it's nice to read something glowingly positive in the wake of his tough year, to remind us that Gross's ceiling is still very high.

What is it with that surname, anyway? Paul Gross is ridiculously handsome. Maybe it's part of that last-name-means-the-opposite phenomenon popular in the '80s, with Frank White, Bud Black, Cecil Fielder and so forth. Then again, there's always Kevin Gross, who fits the name more, well, comfortably.
Coach - Wednesday, January 08 2003 @ 04:27 PM EST (#99842) #
This refers back to Craig's strength of schedule remarks, and mentions both Griffin and Gross, but I apologize -- it dwells on their hitting, not their attractiveness. No flattering close-ups, but here's an interesting JFG sequence of swing photos. Nice, wide base, good extension. He's not sure if it's another double, or gone, so he leaves the box well.

A college baseball nut named Boyd Nation wrote a column on Adjusted OPS for Division One NCAA players in 2001. Nation tries to apply stathead principles to college ball, but it's not easy. Unlike the readily available MLB data for park factors, small samples make it difficult to determine the relative hitter-friendliness of college fields. As an alternative, Boyd applied his schedule-strength rankings to OPS, and surprise -- both Griffin (3rd at 1.473) and Gross (1.239) were in the top 25 in the country, according to the adjusted stat. So was ex-Jay prospect Mike Rouse (1.252) who was sent to the A's in the Cory Lidle trade. On raw OPS, Griffin's 1.356 was fifth, while Gross (1.113) and Rouse (1.072) were much farther down the list.

We return you now to the cuteness thread...
A Griffin You Can Support | 24 comments | Create New Account
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