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From today's Washington Times comes this report that Jose Cruz Jr. is close to accepting reality and signing with the Orioles. His value in the new, frugal baseball economy was evident to the Blue Jays last year, when they tried to swap him for Jason Arnold and John-Ford Griffin, both still in the Yankees system at the time. Another source (MLB.com, if you must know) speculates that Cruz will settle for one year, at $1.5 to $2 MM, with incentives, a far cry from the $5 MM or so he would have cost the Jays after arbitration. The decision to non-tender him is another of Toronto management's practical, ahead-of-the-competition moves, and they spent the money saved wisely, on an offensive upgrade in RF, a starter, and useful veterans at C and SS.

It also seems that Baltimore is haggling on the details of a one year pact with Ivan Rodriguez. The team wants an option for a second year; Pudge understandably feels that if he settles for just $7 MM, he should be free to get a better offer in 2004 if he proves he's still great. Considering the complete lack of interest from any other teams, which side do you think has the leverage? Beatagan will get their man, on their terms. Both signings are part of a short-sighted attempt to patch together an organization that needs an overhaul from the owner's box to Rookie league, but the 2003 O's should be slightly more competitive than expected.
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Pistol - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 10:37 AM EST (#98548) #
What teams made bad decisions by offering arbitration when they shouldn't have? There were an unusally high number of non-tenders this season.

What I find interesting is that I haven't seen anyone here mentioning that the Jays made a bad move by offering arbitration to Escobar. The Jays are, at worst, going to pay him $3.5 MM this year. Say they settle for $4.0 MM. That's the same amount that the Rangers gave Urbina, who is certainly much better than Escobar (although certainly not a lights-out closer Ė and I believe he also got 2 years).

The point being, I think the Jays could have utilized their money better they did by offering arbitration to Escobar. If they did non-tender him Iíd imagine people would laude JP like they did for Cruz, but when the Jays offer Escobar arbitration thereís little mention that itís not the best move out there. Relievers with a 1.45 career WHIP arenít tough to find, no need to pay them $3.5 MM to do that.
_R Billie - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 10:50 AM EST (#98549) #
Cruz, Ligtenberg, and Rodriguez signed on good terms (from a club perspective) is a significant improvement for the Orioles over last year. Cruz in particular can probably be expected to return to his 30+ homer form with his share of stolen bases in the hitter friendly Camden Yards and Rodriguez gives them a legitmate .300 bat with moderate power.

It's still not likely going to be enough to overtake the Jays, though the O's pen projects to be better with Julio, Ligtenberg, Roberts, Groom, and Ryan. Toronto should still have a decided advantage in run scoring and I'll go with a Halladay and Lidle as my front two over Lopez and Daal anytime. If the Jays can get respectable performance out of the back of their rotation, they'll be fine.

None of these free agents require draft pick compensation either, so as long as their ownership doesn't mind the outlay in cash to make the team more respectable in the short term, it doesn't hurt the O's long term. I agree it doesn't really solve the dearth of talent in the O's system overall but it will add a few wins to the O's and knock a few off from the competing teams. They might even get close to .500.
_Chuck Van Den C - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 11:33 AM EST (#98550) #
I am a long suffering Jose Cruz supporter (aren't we all?) so I wish him well in Baltimore. If he can stay healthy, post an 800 OPS while playing a decent CF, there's no reason he couldn't get the hell out of Baltimore in 2004 and land a gig on a real team.

His would-be suitors, the Giants and A's, figure to each be in the CF market again this time next year. Actually, if Sabean is counting on Grissom to slug .500 again, he may be seriously looking come June.
_R Billie - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 11:50 AM EST (#98551) #
Well, if hindsight was 20-20 then the Braves wouldn't have offered arbitration to Maddux. I don't think many people anticipated Urbina settling on a $4 million contract. Though I admit I have no idea what the timing of Urbina's signing and Escobar's arbitration offer deadline was.

I also think Escobar is in a different situation than Urbina since he's capable of starting for a team (barring those mysterious forearm pricklies). Given that, I think there are plenty of teams who would outbid the Jays at $3.5 million for Escobar. He's just leaving his mid-20's and over the past two major league seasons has struck out 206 in 204 innings. I frankly think he's being wasted in the closer role, and with that kind of K-rate should easily be able to provide the Jays with a league average or better ERA and 12-14 wins as a starter. The Jays are spending $4.8 million on Lidle this year and maybe be able to get a performance in the same neighbourhood out of Escobar.

In fact in those 204 innings, Escobar has the following stats:

3.79 era, 1.29 whip, 7.4 hits/9ip, 0.8 hr/9ip, 4.2 bb/9ip, 9.1 k/9ip

We're talking about an overall performance comparable to Russ Ortiz. Since this is his free agent year anyway, I don't think the Jays have anything to lose by putting him in the rotation. Of course, if they plan to trade him anyway it doesn't much matter...but his money could likely have signed Valdez and Ligtenberg.
_dp - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 11:51 AM EST (#98552) #
What a waste of good talent. The O's should just make it easier on the top 3 in the East like the Devils Rays are and just run the worst team possible out there. These moves actually make a little sense, except for the part where no contender can come up with cash for one of these guys. Cruz would look great standing in Shea's CF- if I was Steve Phillips, I'd have done whatever it took to get Burnitz or Cedeno off the team and get Cruz on it. For $1.4 million more than they paid Shinjo's worthless ass.

Back to the O's- it seems like they might've learned something. If Cruz is playing CF and hitting again- he's got potential to put up big "traditional" stats like HR and SB- there'd be a lot of teams ready to give up prospects at the break for him. Philly is going with a rookie in CF, the Mets are barren there, Oakland's situation is potentially dire, and the White Sox might need help. Pudge gives them a similar option if he stays healthy. The O's have the chance to actually flip for some good young talent this year. These moves aren't as pointless as they seem on the surface. I hope Bal'mer stays dumb, tho...
_Jurgen Maas - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 12:39 PM EST (#98553) #
While I'm glad the Jays and Cruz have finally parted, I'm surprised with the apparent lack of interest in him--especially in the $2 million range. Over the past three years, Cruz has averaged .800 OPS, including his 2001 season of .856. That's better than anyone not named Barry playing the OF for the Giants (assuming the Giants do the right thing and not force Durham away from 2B).

Shinjo's a career .678 OPS, and Lofton contributed a mere .759 to the Giants. Even Sanders was only .779 OPS. It's even better than the current "protection" behind Bonds, Santiago (.765) and Snow--gasp--(.704).

I suppose Pac Bell might negatively affect Cruz's numbers and push him down to the Sanders level, but he seems a safer bet to stay around .800 than anyone else on the team other than Durham, Alfonzo, and Bonds.

Grissom in a platoon role last year managed .831, but full time in years prior since coming to the NL was closer to .678!

With Durham leading off, Alfonzo batting 2nd, and Barry 3rd, Cruz would be a good #5 hitter for the Giants, with good speed and good defence.

Now if only they could get someone for that #4 spot. (Floyd would have been a perfect, albeit expensive, fit.)
_jason - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 03:43 PM EST (#98554) #
Watch out coach, Mick nearly tore my head off when I suggested that the O's might not be as bad as previously expected.
_Park factor guy - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 03:50 PM EST (#98555) #
Cruz in particular can probably be expected to return to his 30+ homer form with his share of stolen bases in the hitter friendly Camden Yards

Did they build a new one? The Camden Yards I know isn't a hitters' park at all.
_jason - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 03:52 PM EST (#98556) #
Jurgen, I too wonder why the Giants haven't shown more interest in Cruz. In addition to everything else you mentioned he also offers them the versatility of being able to play a strong RF and CF. In an outfield full of question marks, minus Barry, that would seem to be a valuable asset.

I also thought out loud that maybe the Braves might have been better served signing Cruz and then moving Chipper back to the infield at either 1st or 3rd. In fact, I guess they could still do that and get rid of Castilla's horrible OBP in the process. Maybe it depends on how well Maddux's arbitration goes for them.
_Jason Arnold - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 04:04 PM EST (#98557) #
Check out my diary!
Dave Till - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 04:34 PM EST (#98558) #
If Cruz Jr. goes to Baltimore, I think I can write Richard Griffin's next column for him. (Important disclaimer: I think non-tendering Cruz was a good idea. If I start thinking like Griffo, please shoot me.)

Cruz: Jays management ruthless

by El Grande Griffo

As Jose Cruz Jr. has learned to his sorrow, these Blue Jays aren't the Jays your father knew. For these Jays, words such as loyalty and respect have been tossed out the window of General Manager J.P. Ricciardi's plush executive suite. One false misstep, and you're shown the door.

Cruz, for those of you whose memories don't reach back further than this millennium, was the Jays' Player of the Year as recently as 2001. During that year, which seems to have been completely obliterated from axe-wielding J.P.'s memory, Junior hit 34 home runs, stole 32 bases, drove in 88 runs, and provided quality defense in centre field. In 2002, he struggled with injuries, but still managed to connect for nearly 50 extra-base hits.

When reached at his Houston home, Cruz was philosophical about the latest turn of events. Despite his shabby treatment at the hands of the Jays' new statistically and financially obsessed management, he surprisingly had nothing but kind words for his former employers. "I learned growing up that being traded and released is part of baseball, and that management has to be ruthless in order to succeed," Cruz explained. "The fans in Toronto have been great to me, and I have nothing but fond memories of my time with the Blue Jays. Now, I'm looking forward to a fresh start in Baltimore."

If Cruz needs support during this difficult transition, he won't have to look far to find it, as his new teammates include five other players who have been cast aside by the loyalty-challenged Blue Jays. Tony Batista, Pat Hentgen, David Segui, Marty Cordova and John Bale all once patrolled the cavernously empty pastures of SkyDome, and each has now found employment with a team that appreciates him. This scribe can't help but think that certain members of the Baltimore Orioles squad will have extra incentive to triumph in the battles of the Birds this year.

And who can blame them, given that the current Jays' management are about as loyal as piranhas? If J.P. and his stat-drunk cronies don't learn some people skills soon, he may find that future employees will show about as much loyalty to him as he does to them.


I think I need to take a shower now. (Me, I think that people have figured out that Cruz can't hit slow breaking stuff, so they're reluctant to pay much for him, despite his gaudy counting stats. And I'm very pro-J.P. - it's great to have a GM on the cutting edge.)
Mike D - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 05:23 PM EST (#98559) #
Wow, Dave, you may have predicted the column verbatim. That was so realistic as to be downright eerie.

To me, Cruz Junior will always be a classic two-and-a-half tool player, with at least two-and-a-half tools not functioning in any given game. He struck out far too much for someone with his offensive value and was not an impact player defensively.

As a Blue Jay, he was a hard worker and model citizen, but his desire to perform well forced him to press at the plate at times, leading to extended slumps. Funny, wasn't it, how he never seemed to be a hot hitter but often seemed to be ice-cold?

And let's just say a lot of his home runs were solo jacks; I'm not going to say the words "not a clutch hitter," lest the sabermetric-spring-mounted-boxing-glove I've installed on my bulletin board at work bop me one right between the eyes.
Craig B - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 06:14 PM EST (#98560) #
It's sad for me to see Cruz go, because it would have been nice if he had developed the way we hoped he would. But he's been stuck in neutral for a long time now, and his defense has slipped to the point where he is no longer able to play well at the only position in which his hitting has enough value for him to start.

If Jose Cruz were a .280-.290 hitter with his peripherals, I'd have offered him arbitration in a heartbeat. He isn't... he's a .250 hitter and that's just not enough for a $5 million corner outfielder (realistically) who doesn't walk a lot and doesn't have overwhelming power.

As for him not being a clutch hitter, we all know how hard it is to hit home runs with men on base if you never come up with men on base. Take 2000's memorable 31 HR, 76 RBI season. If he wasn't hitting leadoff "behind" Homer Bush, he was hitting behind Tony Batista, or if not behind Batista then behind Todd Greene. That's rough. In 2001, he kept hitting leadoff (with Bush in the 9 slot again), or behind Darrin Fletcher.

Needless to say, these are not good OBP guys.
_Jurgen Maas - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 06:45 PM EST (#98561) #
Jason,

I agree with your point that many, many clubs should have interest in Cruz. (Moving Chipper back to the infield would be a great idea for the Braves.) Given the current economic conditions, I guess it isn't surprising that J.P. wasn't able to parlay a $5 million Cruz for Russ Ortiz. But for a million and a half?... it seems strange that the O's are the only interested party.

Speaking of CF, I wonder what people think about the Torii Hunter re-signing. Hunter seems like the kind of player everyone was hoping Cruz would become. Yet I'm surprised the Twins, with a glut of good young (and cheap) talent in the OF, would be so keen on resigning Hunter. It's great to see the Twins spending money, but I can't help thinking that it would have been better spent elsewhere. (Maybe Hunter, a legit .850+ OPS, would have gotten the Twins Ortiz or Kevin Millwood, and maybe the Chisox's acquisition of Colon now wouldn't seem quite as menacing.)

Rob Neyer wrote a great article back in October on the subject, suggesting they should trade Hunter and move Jones to CF, and I emailed him asking for a follow-up.
_Chuck Van Den C - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 07:32 PM EST (#98562) #
Jurgen Maas: Hunter seems like the kind of player everyone was hoping Cruz would become.

It is certainly true that their best seasons are very similar:

Cruz 2000, age 27, 274/326/530, 34 HR
Hunter 2002, age 26, 271/317/524, 29 HR

However, I don't believe Cruz's development took the path many anticipated. He was supposed to eventually post solid OBP's on the strength of his ability to draw walks whereas Hunter was never expected to be any kind of OBP threat.

Paradoxically, Cruz's walk rate was its lowest ever in his very best season. Well, maybe not paradoxically. Some have argued that Cruz can either hit for average or walk, but not both.

Maybe Hunter, a legit .850+ OPS...

Let's not get too hasty here. He's done this exactly once. I get nervous about hitters with poor plate discipline repeating their success. It's not impossible -- Hunter's predecessor in CF, Kirby Puckett, was just such an animal -- but to me, the 3:1 K:BB rate is at least a red flag.

Rob Neyer wrote a great article back in October on the subject, suggesting they should trade Hunter and move Jones to CF

Aside from the PR flak the Twins would suffer, I agree with this. The organization is brimming with corner OF's and are playing a CF in LF. Why not better leverage Jones' glove and parlay the quite possibly overrated Hunter into something the team really needs. Both Gotham teams have deep enough pockets to carry Hunter's contract and each has a serious need for a CF (Bernie Williams' ETA on LF has got to be 2004 at the latest).
Gitz - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 09:14 PM EST (#98563) #
I don't agree that the Twins should trade Hunter. If Dan Duquette taught us anything -- and he didn't -- it's that you can't build a team using Rotisserie methods. At some point you must reward the players who helped get you there, even if that means over-paying Hunter and even if you have a capable player to take his place.

One of the reasons the A's gave Terrence Long that four-year contract is because they were signing all their young guys to such deals. This was done despite indications Long would, in fact, not be much of a ML hitter, based on both his minor league statistics and on simple observations of Long as a hiiter. Nonetheless, it was the right move for the A's to make; now, granted, they are saddled with a useless regular, but in some ways that is preferable to guys walking around the clubhouse mumbling, "Why does HE get a long-term contract?"

There is still something to be said for loyalty, both from a player's perspective and from an ownership perpsective. Like anything else, it should be viewed on a case-by-case analysis, but baseball would not be much fun to follow if teams always traded their players away simply because they became too expensive or because they had an option available who was nearly as good. It's one thing to occasionally punt on someone like Long or to non-tender a guy like Jose Cruz, Jr. and hand the job to a rookie or minor-league veteran. But if that becomes a regular way to handle business, you'll have guys looking over their shoulders and pointing fingers -- which is exactly what has happened to the Red Sox, Mets and Rangers, among others.
_Jurgen Maas - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 11:05 PM EST (#98564) #
Chuck:

I was maybe hasty about calling Hunter a legit .850 OPS hitter, but he's two years younger than Cruz, and I'd wager (whoops) that he's a better bet (sorry again) than Cruz to hover around that number for a couple of years to come. But thanks for the insightful criticism.

Gitz:

I agree that rotisserie rules don't work in the MLB universe, but the Twins are arguably operating under severe payroll restrictions. They aren't the Yankees who seemingly have no qualms about having 7 SP (minus Hernandez but including Leiber) and 6 or so OF. (Chuck: If it were up to me, Matsui would be the CF and Williams would be in LF.)

Given the amount of OF talent the Twins already have in their system, I don't think it was a smart move. That's money that could be spent to address other real needs (2B, 1B, SS, SP). It's one thing to say they signed Hunter to show that they're "committed to winning", but if they finish behind Colon and the Chisox in the division because of other weaknesses it won't end up proving very much.

P.S. Jason Arnold, I enjoyed reading your diary. I look forward to reading more from a player's perspective.
_Mick - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 12:45 AM EST (#98565) #
Torii Hunter a Yankee? Can't see it.

First, though Bernie's defensive skills are diminishing slightly -- and he was never as good as his Bronx-inflated rep -- the team is committed to Matsui and still saddled with Mondesi and Ron-DL White. And their best defensive outfielder, Juan Rivera, is probably better-suited to CF than Williams, so if Bernie ever does move, the Yanks already have the replacement in place.

And what would the Twinkies want for an overhyped (good, but not the "he goes over the wall to prevent nine home runs a GAME idea you'd get from Baseball Tonight's Web Gems) All-Star like Hunter? My guess would be they'd want Rivera (Juan, not Mariano) and, say, Jeff Weaver. Or maybe they would "settle" for LHP prospect Brandon Claussen, presuming he bounces back from injury. And we would have Chuck Knoblauch for Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman and Brian Buchanan all over again.

I do think the Leiber signing goes to a point Gitz has made previously; the Yankees truly take advantage of their wealth in subtle ways. Forget the Matsui signing; inking Leiber, a former 20-game winner, under the radar is brilliant for a team that can afford it. Reports are that he could be back, at the earliest, in July. But why rush it? Rehab him, work him up through Fort Lauderdale, Staten Island and Columbus, give him a couple of meaningless September starts, and next year ...

... next year, in 2004, when Roger Clemens has retired and David Wells has been released and Sterling Hitchcock has been traded to the Nippon Ham Fighters, the Yankee rotation is Mussina, Pettitte, Weaver, Contreras (presuming he works out OK) and Leiber. If something falls through, presumably Claussen is ready for a shot.

No other team has the luxury of signing and paying a second-tier ace like Leiber for a season in which he is unlikely to contribute ...except a team with the deep pockets of the Yankees.

Now, what were we talking about? Jose Cruz?
_Jurgen Maas - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 01:49 AM EST (#98566) #
Looking for info on the Torii Hunter deal, I read something really interesting today on TwinsGeek.com about the Yanks' supposed genuis:

"This year Jason Giambi signed a deal with the Yankees for $115M over 7 years. Mike Sweeney signed a deal with the Royals for $55M over 5 years. Looking at [their OPS], if you were a GM, who would you rather have?

"This is the kind of thing you might want to point out the next time someone tells you that the Yankees are the best run organization in baseball and that Brian Cashman is a genius. In 2007, when Giambi is 36(!), the Yankees will be paying him $21M/year. Ditto in 2008. (Though he really looks like a guy that takes care of himself and will age gracefully. Would you like another Scooby snack? Uuuuh, arright Raggy.) But Yankees fans and Milton Friedman disciples want to criticize the Pirates for signing Pokey Reese for $6.5M for two years because THAT'S wasteful. "

In regards to Hunter as a Yankee, the difference between George Steinbrenner and Carl Pohlad isn't that one's rich and the other's poor, but one is absolutely paranoid about winning each and every year. George wants his calzone, and what George wants, George is willing to horribly overpay for.
_jason - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 02:36 AM EST (#98567) #
Trading Torri would have been a good idea but I understand why it would be hard to trade your marquee name when you are worried about attendance. Sometimes I think its hard to trade a marquee name even when you aren't worried about attendance. (ex. Jeter or Nomar. Can you imagine the riots in the respective cities?) Jacque Jones would only have been a slight downgrade in CF and the money could have been used better.
_jason - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 02:39 AM EST (#98568) #
Just out of curiosity how much is Hunter signed for? If the Twins had waited until spring training or so they could have taken advantage of this down market a little more.
Craig B - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 08:44 AM EST (#98569) #
4 years, $32 million is Hunter's contract.
Coach - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 09:00 AM EST (#98570) #
Jurgen, you can't judge Cashman by the same standards as other GMs; he has to operate in unique circumstances. Very few people could survive Steinbrenner's interference, build consensus among a slew of advisors, and still win championships. Cash is one of the best.
_Chuck Van Den C - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 09:10 AM EST (#98571) #
Gitz: There is still something to be said for loyalty, both from a player's perspective and from an ownership perpsective.

Mick: Torii Hunter a Yankee? Can't see it.

In the case of the Twins, I believe that even if they had any inclination to move Hunter, the PR hit would have been awfully huge. "We're finally good enough to win the division and then that rich old bastard dumps our best player to save money." While Pohlad may well be a rich old bastard (I'm correct on at least two counts here), this would have been a move that makes sense on paper, if not necessarily to the fans and the other Twins. Gaining support in a non-sabermetric universe would have been difficult, I agree, and perhaps so much so as to make the trade idea unfathomable.

That said, when the Twins finish in 2nd place in 2003 and Hunter posts a 310/470 season, he will become much more tradable, not from a value perspective necessarily, but from a PR perspective.

And while Mick doesn't believe NY to be a possible destination, I say, why not? The White/Mondesi responsibilities will have expired. The Hunter contract would be entirely affordable. Steinbrenner will have spent the prior 6 months bemoaning Williams' defensive deficiences to Cashman.

And will there be a hesitation in light of the Knoblauch trade? I doubt it. The Yanks have all them rings to flash to show that they care little that Eric Milton is a major league caliber SP.

Of course, they'll likely pursue a much bigger fish next off-season, Vladimir Guerrero, rendering the above conjecture a waste of bandwith.
_Jurgen Maas - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 12:22 PM EST (#98572) #
Coach:

I don't think Cashman is an idiot, but he's got considerably more wiggle room than every other GM in baseball. Working under Steinbrenner might not be a walk in the park (we've all seen "Seinfeld"), but that same Steinbrenner insanity means Cashman has the resources to buy his way out of a lot of problems. Steinbrenner's not the richest owner in baseball. Pohlad, for instance, could certainly afford to spend as much on his Twins. But George his apperently happier with those World Series rings than some extra cash in his pocket, and in the world of professional sports these days that makes him something of a rarity. Cashman does seem good at tempering George's impetuousness, I'll give him that. But honestly, could any over team take it in stride if they were paying a footballer almost $3 MM a year over 6 years to learn to play 3B without any discernable progress?

When Jason Giambi didn't resign with the A's, Beane didn't worry because he had Carlos Pena. But he got Hatteberg as insurance, and when can't miss Pena flopped early on, he traded him in for another good arm for his rotation in Lilly.

In comparison, the Yanks forked out for Giambi, who granted is the best hitter in the AL. But then, with Lilly doing a good job for the Yanks amidst a flurry of injuries, they decide to trade him in for the more expensive Weaver. At $5 MM a year, is Weaver really that much of an upgrade over Lilly? (I'd be curious to hear the argument.) Would any other club make this move? (Recall that even Boston turned down Fossum for Colon.)

Speaking of contracts, Hunter's deal is 4 years for $32 MM with a club option in year 5 for $12 MM more. To compare, Jim Edmonds is making $57 MM over 6 years, Andruw Jones is making $75 MM over 6 years.

In an off-season when Cruz is looking at $2 MM if he's lucky, that's insane.

Besides, he had THREE years until he was free agent, and the Twins have other options in the OF. Unless Pohlad has decided payroll be damned, let's win this thing, this limits the Twins for the next four years.

I guess this whole J.P. Ricciardi thing ("we can turn one OF and his $5 MM contract into an OF, SP, SS, and C!") is rubbing off on me. Sorry if it's making me obnoxious.
_Jurgen Maas - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 12:25 PM EST (#98573) #
P.S. Chuck, about Bernie Williams' defensive deficiencies, I imagine Matsui will end up as the team's CF before long. He reportedly played the position very well in Japan.

With Bernie in LF, that still gives them room for Guerrero in RF.
_Mick - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 02:07 PM EST (#98574) #
At $5 MM a year, is Weaver really that much of an upgrade over Lilly? (I'd be curious to hear the argument.) Would any other club make this move?

The answer to your second question, for financial reasons only, is clearly "no." But we've established from the outset that the Yankees don't play by the same financial rules as everyone else. The "Pohald has more money than Steinbrenner" argument, for instance, focuses on holdings and ignores the reality of cash flow. The Yankee seven thousand billion dollar local cable contract beats hell out of whatever the Twins have in place.

Back to Weaver/Lilly:
- Lilly has one plus: he's left-handed. Okay, two: Weaver is kind of a bizarre Bill O'Reilly-wannabe without the (alleged) smarts, and could pull a Rocker someday. However, from a baseball standpoint ...
- Weaver is younger, albeit only by eight months.
- Lilly has demonstrated a propensity for injury.
- Every scout in the world points to Lilly's unorthodox delivery as "rotator cuff tear waiting to happen."
- For those who insist on the "knows how to win" argument, Lilly has a career winning percentage of .417 playing mostly for the monster Yankees and then the A's, while Weaver, stuck on the horrid Tigers, is at .445 (at the very least a wash there).
- While the two have similar career ERA (Lilly slightly better) and WHIP (Weaver slightly better), Weaver has averaged 209 IP over the past three years; Lilly has totaled 229, so the sample size is clearly a better predictor for Weaver.
- Even though Lilly's K/IP of around 8.1 is better than Weaver's 6.0, Weaver's 2.38 K/BB ratio is statistically identical to Lilly's 2.38 (rounding errors both ways).
- Weaver's career ERA+ of 106 outpaces Lilly's 92.
- Weaver's career HR/IP is just under 1.00 while Lilly's tops 1.50.

Now, the wild card in this, of course, is that the Yankees didn't deal Lilly for Weaver straight up; they also included a couple of young prospects you might be familiar with ... Jason Arnold and John Ford-Griffin.

[Whew.] Okay, I'm done now.
Coach - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 03:51 PM EST (#98575) #
I forgot to congratulate Dave Till on his Griffin parody, which is so good, it's a bit scary.

Also, because I'm the techie here, I'm able to look at IP addresses on comments, and I'm starting to wonder about "Jason Arnold's" post. If it was a pseudonym, as we all assumed, someone went to a lot of trouble to register the linked Hotmail account, and guess what? Nobody else has posted from that PC. Hmmm...

The diary was pretty tame, but promises to become more interesting as spring training progresses. Meanwhile, poor Jason's probably wondering why none of these rabid Jays fans on Batter's Box are sending him e-mail.
Craig B - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 09:34 PM EST (#98576) #
Re Jason Arnold:

That's his e-mail address. At least, it's the address posted at the bottom of the "diary" article on MLB.com, and it says "you can reach him there".

Whether he posted it or not, that's his e-mail.
Coach - Friday, January 24 2003 @ 10:47 AM EST (#98577) #
Did you guys see Gitz' cheap attempt to inflate his unprecedented comments-to-posts ratio on another thread? This one is pretty cheap too, mostly in "retaliation" but at least there's a tiny bit of content.

I sent an e-mail to Jason Arnold at the Hotmail address. I welcomed him to the Jays organization and wished him well. On behalf of all BB readers, I sent him links to the threads in which he's prominently mentioned, and invited him to drop by the site.

If "his" mini-hijack of this thread was posted by someone else, it hardly matters. We know that BB has been noticed in the front office; Arnold may not be the first and won't be the the last player with a computer and enough Internet savvy to find us.
_Jurgen Maas - Friday, January 24 2003 @ 08:26 PM EST (#98578) #
ESPN.com is now reporting Baltimore isn't interested. Cruz is hoping Tampa Bay will pay $6-7 MM over two years.

Good luck, buddy.
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