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Roy Halladay and Cliff Politte have both signed one-year deals.

Once again, the Jays have done the right thing by avoiding arbitration and letting players get on with more baseball-oriented concerns. Halladay will earn $3.825 million and Politte $845,000. Kent's prediction for Politte was almost right on the head - $55,000 off.

This leaves Stewart and Escobar as the outstanding arb-eligibles. These might not settle as easily, but there's hope yet.
Jays avoid arbitration with Halladay, Politte | 17 comments | Create New Account
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_R Billie - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 03:45 PM EST (#98895) #
The good thing about the Halladay amount is that it might make it possible to negotiate a more reasonable settlement with Escobar (and maybe even Stewart) if the concept of a team salary structure were pitched as opposed to an every man for himself situation. If it went to arbitration, Escobar could earn close to $4 million while Stewart could approach $6 million. Perhaps Escobar can be negotiated in the neighbourhood of $3 million while Stewart could be talked down to $5 least that's what I think the Jays' starting point will become.

Halladay's deal is right in line with young staff aces who have about his amount of service time; guys like Freddy Garcia and Jarod Washburn. If he proves he can pitch another 220+ innings this year with no ill effects then I believe we'll see a three or four year package plus an option year put together for him at season's end. Ricciardi has had plenty of experience watching Oakland handle long term contracts for talented young hurlers.
Coach - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 04:12 PM EST (#98896) #
So far, so good. I would have been willing to pay Doc $4.5 MM, so this is a super deal. It compares to what Jarrod Washburn just got, and they're comparable, especially if you saw their 1-0 duel last August. Politte, if a midseason Escobar trade occurs, will be a solid closer at a bargain price, and he is well worth this money as a dominant setup man.

You know, I've never really thanked the Astros for their help in making the Plesac/Politte deal possible. Cliff, who wasn't a favourite of Larry Bowa's anyway, was brought into a May 17 game in the fourth inning; Brandon Duckworth left trailing 5-1. Cliff gave up consecutive singles to Bagwell, Berkman, Ward and Hidalgo, then got the hook. Jose Santiago (of the 6.70 ERA) surrendered a bases-clearing double, so Politte's ERA, which had been 1.88 through his first 10 appearances, skyrocketed to 4.40 and sealed his ticket out of Philly.

When he first came to Toronto, he was erratic. Part of that was due to misuse -- Bowa would forget about him for an entire week, then bring him into a lost cause. When I remarked on how ferocious his fastball was, for such a little fellow, one of my buddies said, "yeah, but he has no idea where it's going."

In the second half, with a clearly defined role, regular use and presumably some mechanical adjustments under Gil Patterson's tutelage, the (generously) 5'11", 185 pound Politte was huge. The AL batted .186 against him; he struck out more than one per inning and three times as many as he walked. His WHIP was a shade under 1.000! That's the pitcher the Jays just signed, and why J.P. doesn't get more credit for that deal, which made the Jays younger, cheaper and better, I don't know.

Craig's right, Stewart and Escobar (or more accurately, their advisors) might play hardball and use delaying tactics, but I don't expect either case to go to an arbitrator. I hope R Billie's numbers are close; if they can be signed for less than $9 MM (my guesses were $5.25 for Shannon and $3.75 MM for Kelvim) there's still plenty of cash for another FA signing.
_R Billie - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 04:39 PM EST (#98897) #
Coach, I agree the Politte trade was huge. The bullpen went from an unreliable mess behind a sometimes shaky Escobar to having some semblence of order as Politte settled in and harnessed his 96 mph heat. In retrospect, it was probably a good decision not to give in to the temptation to try and stretch him into a starter as he had been at times in the past. It looks like he found his niche.

For whatever reason, some players fall into disfavour with a manager and find their ticket out of town punched because of it. We could thank the Astros but Ed Wade should have known better and set Bowa straight on wasting Politte's obvious potential in an irregular role. This is why I prefer the Oakland and current Toronto model of player management...what the GM says generally goes as they have a better idea of a player's long term potential and it's more in their interest to see a team succeed in the long term.

Baltimore signed Keri Ligtenberg yesterday to a highly reasonable $1.2 million deal. I've always seen him as an underappreciated reliever working in a secondary role with Atlanta and he was actually their closer for about year or so before blowing out his arm. He came back as a setup and middle relief guy and seemed to only have been moderately affected by the injury. Had the Jays signed him they would have had some truly fine depth in the pen and a lot of trade options come mid-season. He's held righties to a .220 average in recent years and lefties fair only slightly better...I think this was an opportunity JP missed out on but then again so did a lot of other teams, including many rich ones in contention.
_Shane - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 06:16 PM EST (#98898) #
Without quibbling over Lightenberg's effectiveness, if you look at the Blue Jays bullpen as it sits right now, because of guaranteed contracts you already have RH Escobar, RH Politte, RH Tam, LH Creek --that's four spots taken.

They're already committed to taking serious looks at two Rule V Guys (RH Aquilino Lopez and RH Gary Majewski), RH Pete Walker's going in there somewhere, then depending on who goes to the starting roation you've got players on your 40 man roster that need evaluating in '03: RH Justin Miller, RH Mike Smith, RH Vinny Chulk, RH Brian Bowles, and definitely mystery man RH Bob File. You throw in any of the minorleague signing's that might stick as starters/swingmen(RH Evan Thomas, RH Doug Linton, LH Trevor Miller, LH Tim Young or RH Josh Towers) plus you've got LH Scott Wiggins, LH Jason Kershner, and RH Scott Cassidy still kicking around.

So again, if you look at Ricciardi and the A's models you're paying significant monies to your closer (Escobar/Faulk), Lefty Guy (Creek/Rincon), Righty Guy(s) Mecir/Politte/Tam, and they rest of the bullpen is comprised of rookies, Rule V guys, or pitchers who earn at or near the MLB minimum (Chad Bradford, Jeremy Fikac, Joe Vallentine, Roy Smith, Chad Harville, Buddy Hernadez, Michael Neu).

Regardless if they carry the traditional eleven man staff, or the dreaded twelve man, they've already got a lot of bodies to look at.
Coach - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 06:19 PM EST (#98899) #
R Billie, one excellent option the Jays have for a lefty reliever is Mark Hendrickson, if he doesn't earn a rotation spot in Dunedin. The big man can pitch several innings at a time, as he's also respectable vs. righties. With Kershner and Wiggins still in the mix, I'm not sure it's a pressing need, though I agree with you about Ligtenberg's value.

What I really wanted to address was your observation that the GM has, or at least should have, a better long-term view than the manager about who should play, and how often. I'm as familiar with the difference as anyone -- in high school practices, I'm a patient developmental guy, who has a long-range plan for each player, and a sincere concern for their futures, on and off the fireld. Once I step into the dugout with a jersey on, I want to win -- NOW. Freshmen, keep score. Sophomores, far end of the bench. Even in Little League, coaches will ride a tired ace for one more inning, one more batter. They won't play the younger kids in a close game. When you're keeping score, the big picture is forgotten and immediate results seem much more important.

In "real" baseball, how many teams are on the same page? The Jays, for sure; Oakland more than ever, as Howe didn't always defer to the front office philosophy. If you eliminate the teams whose GMs don't have a plan, and the ones where the skipper thinks he knows better, and the ones where it's really the owner pulling everyone's strings, who's left? Maybe the Padres, perhaps the Angels, probably the Twins, though their owner is hateful for a different reason. It's a much bigger crowd competing for the "most dysfunctional" label.
_Chuck Van Den C - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 06:25 PM EST (#98900) #
This is just wild ass speculation, but I wonder if players like Stewart and Escobar -- probably overrated due to their mainstream-friendly stats like batting average and saves -- are more likely to push matters towards arbitration, hoping that they'll be over-rated by the arbitrator as well.
Dave Till - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 06:34 PM EST (#98901) #
Today's signings should keep Escobar's salary down: it'll be hard for Kelvim's agent to keep a straight face when asking for more money than Halladay and over four times as much as Politte. Which is probably why J.P. signed them first, smart cookie that he is.

Stewart will be trickier, because he doesn't have an obvious comp on the roster, has lots of service time, and lots of marketable skills. He likes it here, though, which may be a factor.
_Steve Z - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 06:40 PM EST (#98902) #
...if they can be signed for less than $9 MM (my guesses were $5.25 for Shannon and $3.75 MM for Kelvim) there's still plenty of cash for another FA signing.

For the record, Stewart "asked for the second-highest salary ($7.5 million) among those who filed, and the Blue Jays offered $5.5 million."
_jason - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 06:47 PM EST (#98903) #
I wonder when the Jays will look at locking up Roy to a more long-term contract as Oakland has done with its talent ala Hudson/Mulder/Zito?
_jason - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 06:50 PM EST (#98904) #
Also, Roy lead the AL in IP last year, is anybody worried about him suffering ill-effects from that this year? Does anybody have the stats on young players coming back after pitching so many innings the previous year?

I guess the same will apply to the other Roy in Houston, Oswalt, who pitched about the same number of innings as Halladay. Although Im not sure if the fact that he is signifigantly smaller than Roy H. will also be a factor.
Coach - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 07:31 PM EST (#98905) #
Nice grab, Steve. Chuck's point about mainstream stats possibly swaying an arbitrator is a good one, but Stewart's agent made a big mistake with that number. Had they asked for $6.5 MM, it could have gone either way, so the team might have split the difference and settled. Now, if I were the Jays, I'd be extremely confident of a win in a hearing, and there's no need to budge from five-and-a-half. Remember, only FIVE of these things went to the wall last year; it's all about negotiation leverage.

No word yet on the Escobar numbers, but the comparably combustible Proven Closer he replaced, Billy Koch, submitted a $5.9 MM request, and the White Sox offered $4.25 MM -- further evidence, if you needed any, of Mr. Beane's foresight.

Greg Maddux asking for "only" $16 MM was a surprise, and he might be in the driver's seat; the Braves offered $13.5 MM, which is a very modest $400,000 raise. The ones I don't understand are when the two sides aren't even far apart -- like the ludicrous $125,000 gap between B.J. Ryan and the Orioles.

Jason, we've talked elsewhere about Doc's contract; the Jays still have him for two more years after this one, but will start discussing an extension long before he nears free agency. On the subject of innings pitched, there's no reason to be concerned. Halladay is just so efficient, compared to Bartolo Colon, for example. Colon goes deeper into counts, throws more 3-2 fastballs that get fouled off, and has a delivery that makes you wonder how he holds together. Doc likes those 10-pitch innings, 6-3, 4-3, 1-3. Not only was he not overworked, a very reasonable observer -- me -- complained frequently about quick hooks, by both managers. (I know, they were protecting their most valuable asset, but two more W's among the ND's, and I would have got a cheque in my fantasy league!)
_Steve Z - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 08:03 PM EST (#98906) #
According to ESPN, Escobar asked for $4.6 million and the team offered $3.5 million.
And for those of you, like myself, who thought of Roy's #1 status as a given, JP points out: "We'll see how this year goes. We know he has a chance to be our No. 1 starter. [emphasis added]
_JMG - Friday, January 17 2003 @ 08:08 PM EST (#98907) #
Has there been any discussion of moving Escobar back to the rotation? He's had injury problems, of course, but, at least during this "market correction" (not corrected enough when J.D. Drew hauls in nearly $4 mil), I can't imagine a team taking on Kelvim's salary in a trade, either before the show gets going or at mid-season. About three months ago, I could have seen the Red Sox doing it, since they were in the market for a Proven Closer. Now they have apparently learned some wisdom. Apparently.

It's not like the Jays don't have a replacement ready. Politte is exactly the kind of pitcher who finishes his career with 300+ saves: throws gas, is with his third or fourth organisation, is a failed starter, was never a Closer of the Future, etc. And, it seems to me, he is with the right team -- i.e. one that is willing to take a chance on an Unproven Closer. And if you're going to pay Escobar over $3 million per, it would be better if he was a starter.

And, by the way, this has nothing to do with the fact I have Politte for $5 in my keeper AL-only fantasy league.
_rodent - Sunday, January 19 2003 @ 08:22 PM EST (#98909) #
Jeez: Guy goes out-of-town for a couple days, and comes back to a semester's worth of reading. I can see triage will be necessary when spring training starts.

Kelvim the starter... This man has TSE, Transmissible Guzmanform Encephalitis. He can get away with those little cognitive vacations as a closer...sort of...but starting? Remember those confused conversations Juan would have with himself after his little naps on the hill?

By the way...what culd we get for Ebsocar?
Coach - Monday, January 20 2003 @ 11:29 AM EST (#98910) #
what culd we get for Ebsocar?

Obviously rodent enjoyed Jordan's "Delagdo" joke about the quality of discussion on some other forums as much as I did. I agree that "Kelvin's" unsuitability to starting is mostly from the neck up, in fact, many observers have suggested the hand numbness was all in his head.

I'm hoping Escobar has a fast start, keeps his focus and becomes an attractive deadline addition for a team gearing up for a playoff drive. With Politte standing by and a great deal of experience and depth available in the 'pen, Kelvim is the most expendable Blue Jay. What we "culd" get depends on what other Proven Closers are available and how many teams are in the bidding, but a nearly-ready starter (promising AA or AAA type) plus a second prospect who projects as a short reliever would be a good deal for Toronto. That's what nearly got done in 2002, but J.P. stood firm on what he wanted in return, and the other side wouldn't compromise. According to rumours I've heard (Lackey and K-Rod) it may have been the best trade Bill Stoneman never made.
_R Billie - Monday, January 20 2003 @ 11:37 AM EST (#98911) #
I would agree except Guzman was pretty decent as a starter for at least a few years. And Escobar was pretty decent as a starter in the second half of '01. It took Bartolo Colon until his late 20's to really shake the stigma that he didn't have a head for the game. The same with Matt Clement. These were guys who couldn't get deep into games because of their inability to find the strikezone consistently.

But they turned it around with proper coaching and being given a chance to gain experience in the role. Kelvim's a headcase...but he's also 26. He's going to be a dominant pitcher for some team for at least a couple of seasons, whether it's as a starter or a reliever. Whatever you think about the guy, striking out 206 major league hitters in 204 innings over the past two years is indicative of special talent. I would like to see him be given a chance to amass those 200 innings as a starter but that's probably not going to happen. When JP made Kelvim a closer, he pretty much guaranteed he'd get a lot of saves and therefore be overrated by arbitrators because of it...Escobar's going to be too expensive for the Jays despite not having accomplished very much special yet.

The Jays tried to get Lackey for Escobar down the stretch last year, this was before Lackey came up to star for Anaheim late in the season. Anaheim was interested in Escobar but there wasn't a match. Had Kelvim had the statistical season he's capable of (say something resembling his second half '01 performance) then a trade of that magnitude may have been possible. As it is, I'd say it's probably best for the Jays to give Kelvim another go around in the closer role and hope he puts up better numbers with an eye towards trading him to a team looking for a Proven Closer.

Kelvim is entering the period of his career where he is likely poised for a breakthrough. And unless the Jays get a young talent comparable to John Lackey in return some time this year, I don't think it's in their interest to trade him. Giving him the closer role again though will insure he leaves town one way or another at by season's end because whatever he accomplishes statistically will be dwarved by the saves which will make him expensive.
Jays avoid arbitration with Halladay, Politte | 17 comments | Create New Account
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