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Though neither Vernon Wells not Eric Hinske is of Irish descent, both appear to be in luck this afternoon. TSN reports that both young stars have been locked up with new contracts.

As of yet, there appears to be no word on terms or contract length, and the Jays' official site has yet to report the story.

It says here that when you have a young third baseman with a great approach at the plate and improving defense, and a young outfielder with great defense and an improving approach at the plate, and both of them are considered by all to be really good guys to boot...only good things can come from keeping them happy. Congratulations from Batter's Box!
A Happy St. Paddy's Day for Vernon and Eric | 33 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Gwyn - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 04:43 PM EST (#93081) #
The Fan 590 reports both are five years and $14.75 million.
Coach - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 05:25 PM EST (#93082) #
Great move by the Jays, both in terms of cost certainty -- I'll leave it to the more economically adept to guess what these deals save the team vs. arbitration -- and public relations.

Hinske is a leader by example, and Wells is a growing presence in the clubhouse. Both are admired and respected by their teammates. It might not translate to an immediate boost at the turnstiles, but it sends a message to ticket buyers that the Jays plan to compete, and to all the other players, like Roy Halladay and Carlos Delgado, it's a commitment to winning.
Gitz - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 06:56 PM EST (#93083) #
When is Halladay going to get a deal? If they fall into the arbitration morass, the Jays are going to lose some money, to say nothing of the acrimonious process. To wit: I took Kent to arbitration recently for my salary, and I still haven't forgiven him for saying that, compared to Byron and Shelley and Keats, I hadn't published one single poem, while those guys were dead and gone by my age. Harsh.

Let's hope Vernon Wells doesn't go T-Long on the Jays; while you can't blame the A's for signing Long to a long-term deal -- because most of his teammates were getting similar contracts -- it's going to kill them if he keeps playing like he does. And that's likely.
_Spicol - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 07:00 PM EST (#93084) #
Pistol - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:23 PM EST (#93085) #
"Hinske, the American League's Rookie of the Year last season, is guaranteed $14.75 million. Wells is guaranteed $14.7 million."

That's a little bit interesting to me. If they were that close why not make them the same?

Don't know if anyone caught it, but in Gammons' article he said Wells was one of 6 or 7 players ever to put up 100+ RBI in his first full season.
_Mike H. - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:28 PM EST (#93086) #
So this is what JP had in mind when I asked him during the Jays vs. Red Sox earlier this spring if he had any big deals coming up and he said "I'm working on one right now" Sure, he was probably kidding around, but it all makes sense now.

Roy Halladay needs to be the next to be locked up. Another Chris Carpenter situation doesn't need to happen, especially since Roy looks even better than Chris ever did. Kudos to JP for taking the initiative and signing these guys to (relatively) low risk contracts.
_Steve Z - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:33 PM EST (#93087) #
According to Spencer Fordin's report, a multiyear deal for Halladay is next up on JP's wish list.
Pistol - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:40 PM EST (#93088) #
Using Shannon Stewart's similar 5 years of contracts:

$13,750,000 - Total

If Wells and Hinske both play at the levels they did last year I don't think the Jays are saving any money.

If either (or both) really break out there could be a fair amount of savings.
_Spicol - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:51 PM EST (#93089) #
Don't know if anyone caught it, but in Gammons' article he said Wells was one of 6 or 7 players ever to put up 100+ RBI in his first full season.

One of 8 center fielders is what Gammons said. But big deal...RBI are a product of opportunity.

From Gammons: "Just in case you don't appreciate how good Vernon Wells is and can be -- and remember, he's not far from the Hunter/A.Jones/Edmonds level defensively, here is the list of center fielders who had 100 RBI in their first full major league season:"

Vernon Wells (Toronto in 2002)
Carlos Beltran (Kansas City in 1999)
Fred Lynn (Boston in 1975)
Joe DiMaggio (New York Yankees in 1936)
Hank Leiber (New York Giants in 1935)
Wally Berger (Boston in 1930)
Al Simmons (Philadelphia in 1924)
Charlie Abbey (Washington in 1894)
_Jordan - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 09:45 PM EST (#93090) #
Terrific news, without a doubt. There's no doubt in my mind the team will save money with these deals -- both Hinske and Wells are going to put up better numbers at more important defensive positions over the next few years than Stewart did in his first half-dozen seasons. Hinske needs only to increase his average and continue to improve his defence in order to reach Scott Rolen territory, while Wells is already a 25-HR Gold-Glove-calibre centerfielder with some upside still to explore. The Blue Jays are going to get these players' age 26-27-28-29 seasons for an average of less than $3 million a year; that's just outstanding.

Even more importantly, however, these signings demonstrate clearly that the Dismantling is over and the Reconstruction is well underway. Wells and Hinske have shown the ability to be on- and off-field leaders for this club; they're certainly the focus of their teammates and their opponents. Ricciardi has shown he understands this, and agrees that these guys (along with Halladay, who should get a similar deal this time next year) are going to set the tone for and form the nucleus of this major-league club throughout the next several years. The contracts should also give both of these young men the boost of confidence necessary to take the next steps towards becoming full-fledged team leaders. This is a very exciting and rewarding day for Blue Jays fans.

Hinske is not Homer Bush and Wells is not Raul Mondesi: the club will regret neither of these deals. A better comparison is Cleveland in the early '90s, and two guys named Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome.
_DS - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 09:56 PM EST (#93091) #
Heck, even if its Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez (personality-wise) I don't think people would complain at this deal. Hopefully these guys can build off this.
_Cristian - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 10:04 PM EST (#93092) #
Now with this cost certainty the Jays can start budgeting in order to bring in Vlad next year.
_Jordan - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 10:19 PM EST (#93093) #
Just following up on my passing reference to Scott Rolen: I checked out their respective first-year numbers and was astounded at the similarity. Here's what I posted to the Primer thread on this topic:

Eric Hinske (25 years old)
566 AB, 99 R, 158 H, 38 2B, 2 3B, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 13/14 SB, 77 BB, 138 K, .279/.365/.481
Scott Rolen (22 years old)
561 AB, 93 R, 159 H, 35 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, 92 RBI, 16/22 SB, 76 BB, 138 K, .283/.377/.469

The age, and the fact that Rolen was a defensive whiz from day one, is all that separates them at this stage. Hinske started the year as Ironglove, but with a lot of work and instruction from Brian Butterfield, he improved immensely in the second half. The few yearsí difference will likely preclude Hinske from equalling Rolenís heights, but you can understand the Jaysí excitement about him.
_Chuck Van Den C - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 07:22 AM EST (#93094) #
Pistol: Using Shannon Stewart's similar 5 years of contracts... $13,750,000 - Total

Good point Pistol. And Stewart's year 4-6 salaries were in more inflated times.

Signing Hinske and Wells is good for a number of reasons. But saving money likely wasn't one of them.

I have heard comments about the 5-year deals each being worth less than a year of Delgado. Sure, but that's just conveniently ignoring a whole bunch of context. The deals don't buy into either of Hinske's or Wells' FA years, just their non-negotiable years, 2-3, and their arb years, 4-6.
robertdudek - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 08:07 AM EST (#93095) #
"Good point Pistol. And Stewart's year 4-6 salaries were in more inflated times."

I don't believe that salaries are going to be lower in 4 years than they are now. There's still plenty of room for revenue growth in the sport, although the rate of increase won't be as great as we saw in the 90s.
_Chuck Van Den C - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 08:44 AM EST (#93096) #
Robert, while I agree that salaries will continue to grow (though, as you say, nothing like as in the 90's), I'm wondering if both the middle-class and arb-eligible players won't continue to get squeezed, as they were this year.

We saw a lot of non-tenders this year and I'm wondering if this pattern continues over the next couple of years, whether that'll push down the salaries of players in their arb years. Four years from now, would an arb-eligible Hinske find other 5-year comps to warrant a $6M salary as Stewart did this year? I'd suggest that this compression of salaries for year 4-6 players might offset any salary inflation that will occur between now and then.

I'm certainly not suggesting that I know where salaries are headed, but if this year is any indication, it appears that the disparity between the elite and the rank and file will grow. Teams will fork over top dollar for top notch talent, but will no longer be doling out middling dollars to middling talent. Lumped in with that middling talent, with respect to compensation, will be the pool of arg-eligibles. Teams will non-tender their own and sign those from other teams at discounted rates, unless owners no longer fear excessively high arb resolutions.

But I do concede that I'll trust Ricciardi's crystal ball over my own. I'm certainly no economist (nor have I ever played one on TV).
Craig B - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 09:43 AM EST (#93097) #
There is a strong probability, though, that at least one of Hinske or Wells is going to be a major star, and big stars can demand serious dollars even in the arbitration process. Wells and Hinske would be "middle-class" type players now, but both are likely to get better.

Gitz's concern about Wells "going T-Long" on the Jays was exactly the concern that I had when I first got wind that these deals were a possibility. Then I realized that Wells last year had a better year (if you combine offense and defense) than Long had ever had, and on top of that it was his age-23 season. It's still a concern, but Wells has a higher ceiling than Long had, so you can see the motivation to do the long-term deal.

The best thing about the signings, to me, is that it is a clear indication that the Jays are committed to not ending up like the Expos, on a never-ending "youth movement" treadmill.
_Mick - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 09:58 AM EST (#93098) #
Hinske/Rolen ... the glaring difference, of course, is their ages. Comparing the 22-year-old Rolen to the 25-year-old Hinske seems a bit specious, though you can at least make the argument that since it was the first go-round for both, they're more similar than they otherwise might be.

Sticking with that "first full year" theme, though ...

Eric Hinske (25 years old)
566 AB, 99 R, 158 H, 38 2B, 2 3B, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 13/14 SB, 77 BB, 138 K, .279/.365/.481
Dave Hollins (26 yeard old)
586 AB, 104 R, 158 H, 30 2B, 4 3B, 27 HR, 93 RBI, 9/15 SB 76 BB, 110 K, .270/.369/.469

Talk about astoundingly similar ...

Again, Hollins: All-Star. Jay fans should be thrilled if Eric Hinske becomes Dave Hollins, especially if he can stay healthier in the long term. But let's not start the Cooperstown bandwagon just yet.
_R Billie - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 10:46 AM EST (#93099) #
I think Hinske is pretty close to his ceiling already. Other than turning some of his 38 doubles into homeruns and scoring and driving in more runs when he's moved to a "power" slot in the lineup, I don't think Hinske will ever be a vastly different hitter from what we saw last year. And that's just fine and the contract will be well worth it, especially if he's able to stay at third throughout it's duration.

It'll be interesting to see if Eric can keep his big body trim enough to still be playing third base at the end of his deal...if his power grows then it's quite possible he'll be at first eventually. This deal will take him through age 29 which should put some productive years in for the Jays and still gives them the flexibility to extend him or trade him for something valuable in the last year.

Wells though is someone who could go any number of ways and it's a lot harder for me to decide what he's going to do. Today he's Joe Carter with very nice centerfield defence. For the future, Torii Hunter seems to be the most appropriate comparison to me but he's about two years ahead of Hunter's development schedule offensively.

Baseball Reference turns up the following similarities by age: Shawn Green, Mell Hall, Carlos Beltran, Richard Hidalgo.

He certainly has the potential to do more than Hinske but the Hidalgo comparison seems to ring true for me...a guy capable of one or two big seasons but inconsistent in the other years. He'll have to consistently hit over .300 to be a real star. If nothing else he gives them a legit centerfielder who isn't lost with the bat and that's worth something.

I'm not convinced that either player is a can't miss star but contracts aren't outrageous enough to be disastrous for the Jays. If one or both do become stars then the Jays have a very nice bargain.
Dave Till - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 11:05 AM EST (#93100) #
Another factor that the Jays considered when deciding to lock up both Wells and Hinske was durability. They both are solidly built, which means they're not likely to miss much time over the next few years. Wells has roughly the same body as Joe Carter, who was very durable while he was here.

I agree that Hinske has likely reached his ceiling - his numbers stayed at roughly the same level all year. Wells is still improving; strike zone knowledge is all he needs to become a star. Right now, as R Billie stated, he's Joe Carter with Devon White's defence.

I assume that J.P. and Carlos Tosca also figured that Hinske and Wells aren't likely to slack off now that they have guaranteed money.
_Spicol - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 11:16 AM EST (#93101) #
I agree that Hinske has likely reached his ceiling

As Hinske becomes more familiar with pitchers and pitch recognition, his walk totals will go up a bit and as R Billie says, it's likely his line drives that are doubles today will start to creep over the fence a little more often. He probably won't ever hit 40 HR but I see him being consistently in the 30s. Other than that, I agree...Hinske isn't going to improve much beyond the great things he's already doing today.
_Chuck Van Den C - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 11:21 AM EST (#93102) #
Craig B: There is a strong probability, though, that at least one of Hinske or Wells is going to be a major star, and big stars can demand serious dollars even in the arbitration process. Wells and Hinske would be "middle-class" type players now, but both are likely to get better.

I certainly hope that both will become major stars. Just based on probabilities, however, I'd say that it's likelier that just one will become a star, and perhaps neither. Does either have a higher ceiling now than Shannon Stewart appeared to have after his age 24 rookie season?

I lumped them into the middle-class group, not to reflect their skills, but to reflect that their compensation up until free agency would be commensurate with middle-class players. Certainly big stars have been able to historically demand big bucks via arbitration, but that has been due to finding well-paid comps with similar service records. If this year's rash of non-tenders means anything, salaries for players in years 1-6 will become compressed over time. Five years from now, would a Kevin Millwood be able to command $9M in arbitration if no other 5-year players are making that much?

Craig B: The best thing about the signings, to me, is that it is a clear indication that the Jays are committed to not ending up like the Expos, on a never-ending "youth movement" treadmill.

I concur, sort of. I like the signings, I really do. They suggest organizational stability. They remove the need for potentially psyche-damaging, annual negotations. And both players are good, and potentially great.

Still, there is a "youth movement" flavour to it, albeit a smart one, a la Cleveland Indians, circa 1994 and Oakland A's, circa now. The Jays are paying relatively little -- compared to equally skilled veterans -- for what figures to be the best years of these players' careers. Unless the Blue Jay business model changes dramatically in the next 5 years, however, I wouldn't expect either to be re-signed once becoming FA's (and perhaps, nor should they).

What I'd really like to see is Halladay given a long-term deal, one that includes FA years. That will be a sign from Rogers about being serious.

Mick: Jay fans should be thrilled if Eric Hinske becomes Dave Hollins, especially if he can stay healthier in the long term.

Not to pick nits, but you mean only if he can stay healthier in the long term. Due to injuries and a quick demise (perhaps due to his late MLB start), Hollins had exactly two worthwhile seasons in his career, at ages 26 and 27.
Coach - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 11:30 AM EST (#93103) #
As Jordan mentioned, Halladay should be offered a similar deal next year. To me, that's a significant fringe benefit of the Wells/Hinske extensions; it's a clear message to Doc and his advisors that this club intends to compete at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

I have voiced my concern before (posting as "Dan O'Dowd" with a ridiculous "offer") about Roy being the one guy who actually deserves Hampton dough to pitch in Denver. Since it's so difficult to hit the ball in the air against him, he'd negate much of the Coors effect. Halladay loves the outdoors, and it's home -- he'd be the biggest icon in Colorado sports since John Elway. Why would he stay in a foreign country to finish third every year? J.P. simply can't make as attractive an offer as O'Dowd, unless it's obvious that Toronto is in contention for a championship, while the Rockies continue to spin their wheels. Locking up his CF and 3B helps persuade Doc to remain a Blue Jay through the '05-'07 pennant races.
_R Billie - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 12:57 PM EST (#93104) #
JP already said he sat down with Roy and expressed the desire to get a deal done with him as well. That is their next focus which suggests that something could get done either before the season starts or early in the season.

If the Jays lock in Halladay, Hinske, and Wells through 2007 and know exactly what they have to pay them, that makes putting the rest of the team together around them a heck of a lot easier.

Just a hypothetical scenario for the Hinske, Wells, Halladay, Delgado core, assuming Halladay signs a four year $32 million extension from 2004 through 2007:

Hinske Wells Halladay Delgado TOTAL
Bonus$500,000$850,000 - - $1,350,000
2003$500,000$350,000 $3,800,000 $19,000,000 $23,650,000
2004$800,000$700,000$6,500,000 $19,000,000 $27,000,000
2005$3,000,000$2,900,000 $8,000,000 - $13,900,000
2006$4,325,000$4,300,000 $8,500,000 - $17,125,000
2007$5,625,000$5,600,000 $9,500,000 - $20,725,000

If we assume the Jays payroll will go from $50 million in 2004 and move up to $63 million or so by 2007, then the Jays will have $35 to $42 million to spend on the lineup outside of those core players. Replacing Delgado will be the key in addition to getting the pitching in order of course. I think between Hinske, Wells, Gross, Griffin, Werth, Phelps, plus free agents, they may have the Delgado/Stewart production covered.

If they can get Roy under contract for less than what I suggested then I think they're laughing.
Pistol - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 02:14 PM EST (#93105) #
Found this at Primer:

Eric Hinske (25 year-old rookie)
566 AB, 99 R, 158 H, 38 2B, 2 3B, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 13/14 SB, 77 BB, 138 K, .279/.365/.481
Jason Giambi (25 years old, 1st full season)
536 AB, 84 R, 156 H, 40 2B,1 3B, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 0/1 SB, 51 BB, 95 K, .291/.355/.481
Jason Giambi (26 years old, 2nd full season)
519 AB, 66 R, 152 H, 41 2B, 2 3B, 20 HR, 81 RBI, 0/1 SB, 55 BB, 89 K, .293/.362/.495
_Mick - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 02:29 PM EST (#93106) #
Which calls to mind the fact that Giambi came up as a 3B, primarily. (Or, given your source, I guess "primer-ily.")

Which in turn brings us back to R Billie's comment about "especially if he's able to stay at third ..."

For some reason, I keep thinking about Hinske in terms of Tony Perez (again, not a bad career arc to follow), who primarily played a decent if unspectacular 3B for Cincinnati until they traded Lee May to Houston (that's the big Morgan/Billingham/Menke deal). So that worked out pretty well.

Of course, in turn, the Reds eventually traded Perez to Montreal (if I recall correctly, with Will McEnaney for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray) so they could make room for Dan Driessen, who had played 3B for them before Pete Rose moved there. That didn't work out so well on any count. Fryman and Murray were soon gone, and

The Reds have made a habit of this. They later acquired Buddy Bell to play 3B in order to move Nick Esasky over to 1B.

I'm just sayin', that 3B-to-1B move is very common. It works great in some cases (McGwire, Perez, Giambi). In others, well ...
_Sean - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 03:13 PM EST (#93107) #
At the risk of stating the obvious, I will chime in to say that these two contracts are a very good move for JP to have pulled off. I will try to dredge up some more sophisticated economic analysis later when I have the time to spare.
_Jordan - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 05:28 PM EST (#93108) #
Speaking of third-to-first conversions, Jim Thome started off his major-league career at the hot corner too.
Dave Till - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 06:03 PM EST (#93109) #
Many players that ended up as lumbering slugs started off at the major league level at more demanding defensive positions. Here's the ones I remember:

- Gary Sheffield started as a shortstop with Milwaukee.
- Ron Gant started out as a second baseman.
- Tim Raines started out as a second baseman.
- Kevin Mitchell started out at third.
- Danny Tartabull started out as a middle infielder (second, I think).
- Bobby Bonilla impersonated a third baseman for years.
- George Bell was the Jays' emergency infielder for a couple of years:
if they ran out of infielders, they'd move Iorg to second and put Bell
on third. Bell even played second once (in 1987 - made a nice play
at the bag, I seem to recall).

The Jays once tried Cecil Fielder at third base in spring training - it was fun to watch him wave cheerfully at ground balls as they went by him.
_Mick - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 07:47 PM EST (#93110) #
I think there are plenty of those to come, too. 10 years from now, young fans everywhere will be saying "Alfonso Soriano was a second baseman??? You're joking."

I think there's a difference between the kind of switch Perez made -- he was a credible 3B, just like Ernie Banks was a credible SS before moving to 1B. Thome and Mitchell and the like moved because they were relatively inept but needed to keep their bats in the lineup. If I recall, Dale Murphy's famous move from C to CF was because he couldn't throw?

There's a third kind of switch that's made just because it's possible, not necessary, and the club will be better off becaus of it. Craig Biggio's C-2B-CF. Robin Yount's SS-CF. I don't remember the reasons behind B.J. Surhoff's move from C to 2B to OF.

Didn't Mitchell actually start out as shortstop, incidentally?

Has anyone notabl moved to a definitely more demanding position?
Pepper Moffatt - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 08:23 PM EST (#93111) #
Do changes in the minors count? If so, I'd count all the OF --> P conversions like Dave Stieb.
Gitz - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 08:46 PM EST (#93112) #
Mitchell was a SS, yes, with the Mets, I believe. He was also a lot of fun to watch. Incidentally, he managed an independent minor league team in Rohnert Park, CA, a few minutes from where I used to live. Another manager of the same team? Jeffrey Leonard.

And here endeth the update on former SF Giants ...
_Chuck Van Den C - Wednesday, March 19 2003 @ 12:43 PM EST (#93113) #
Joe Sheehan at BP weighs in on the Hinske/Wells signings.
A Happy St. Paddy's Day for Vernon and Eric | 33 comments | Create New Account
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