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I called them the New Haven Juggernauts earlier this year, when they were tearing up the Eastern League with standout batting performances. They cooled off slightly in the second half (see, Simon Pond really was the glue that held that team together) and exited the playoffs early, but the 2003 Ravens are a team that Jays fans may be talking about years from now because of the talent it contained. No fewer than five first-round draft picks were on the squad at one time or another, as were all five of the Jays’ consensus top prospects (Rios, Quiroz, McGowan, Gross, Bush). The Ravens were so stacked that this review, which runs more than 4,500 words and features 13 players, still doesn’t cover everyone of interest on the roster. I say again, if there are players about whom I haven’t written in these reports, please let me know and I’ll include them in a minor-league wrap-up article next week.

Two other thoughts. First, I’ve read the heated discussion in the Dunedin thread about Russ Adams, and although it made for compelling reading, it didn’t change my opinion of the player; my review of Adams was largely written beforehand and wasn’t swayed by the strong arguments against it. I will observe that Adams is a focal point of some dissension among the ranks of Bauxites, and perhaps the Blue Jays in general, about the Ricciardi regime. Most of the authors and posters at this site approve of JP’s plan and methods and think that they’ll result in playoff-calibre teams within a couple of years; but even within that collective, there are degrees of skepticism about the wisdom of certain moves and the potential of some players. This is great, of course, because it makes for terrific baseball debates on these pages and increases everyone’s understanding of and insight into the Jays’ evolution (and of course, the last word any site like this wants to hear is "groupthink"). Some of us will be right and others of us will be wrong, and I trust that we’ll all be in one camp or the other over time.

Second, this is my last installment of the 2003 Farm Reports; tomorrow, John Neary takes over and guides us through a review of the Syracuse Skychiefs, which I’m very much looking forward to reading. Thanks for all your feedback and for the many compliments; this is just a hobby for me, in between real life, but I get a kick out of it and I’m glad it provides some entertainment and a little insight into the Blue Jays’ minor-league system. Thanks for reading!

Russ Adams, SS, 23
New Haven 2003
271 AB, .277/.349/.387, 42 R, 19 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 30 BB, 37 K, 8 SB, 1 CS
Dunedin 2003
258 AB, .279/.380/.388, 50 R, 9 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 38 BB, 27 K, 9 SB, 2 CS

I think there's a misperception in some quarters that Russ Adams had a disappointing year. To the contrary, I think he fulfilled most of the expectations placed on him in what was (let’s not forget) his first full pro season, and exceeded others. He knocked out 44 extra-base hits over two levels, coming on particularly strong once he escaped the power-deflating effects of the Florida State League. He scored 92 runs (50 of them with offensively challenged Dunedin), again walked more times than he struck out (68/64), and stole bases at an 85% success clip (17/20). His defensive play settled down after a rough start (his lapses tend to occur more on throws than on fielding, perhaps reflecting his limited arm strength, and his range is very good), and he continued to hold his own at shortstop despite the general belief he’s destined for second base. He’s only been swinging a wooden bat for a year and a half, and already is doing well at Double-A Ball. Simply put, he’s continued to perform well in all the categories the Blue Jays need him to.

The thing about Adams, more than for almost any other Toronto prospect, is that the Dreaded Intangibles really do matter. All the smarts and instincts that brought unsolicited praise from Mike Bordick and others in spring training should only have been improving all this time. From all accounts, he understands baseball in ways that don’t yet show up in a stat column, but eventually will, because he displays a great capacity to absorb the nuances of the game. Most young players suffer a certain “stat devaluation” as they rise through the minors: 25 homers at AA often become 20 at AAA and maybe 15 in the majors; a 2.57 ERA in AA rises to 3.22 in AAA and into the low 4.00s, often, in the majors. But Adams looks like a guy who’s going to post pretty much the same basic numbers – .280/.360/(and soon enough).430 – at every level. He’ll never be a home run guy, but he’ll start hitting more doubles, get on base 35% of the time, score 100 runs, walk 70 times, steal 30 bases and play second base more solidly every season. Perhaps most importantly, from the Jays’ perspective, he’ll be doing it for the league minimum for years.

It says here that Orlando Hudson, as terrific as he is, has one more season to figure out lefties and continue to dazzle fans with his glove, in order to increase his eventual trade value – because after spending most of 2004 at Syracuse, Russ Adams is going to be the Opening Day second baseman for the Blue Jays in 2005. He’ll take time to adjust to the majors – it might not be till 2006 before he really comes into his own – but he’s going to be an important player for this ballclub in the latter half of the decade.

David Bush, RHP, 23
New Haven 2003
7-3, 2.78, 14 GS, 81 IP, 73 H, 19 BB, 73 K, 4 HR, 21.9% KBF
Dunedin 2003
7-3, 2.81, 14 GS, 77 IP, 64 H, 9 BB, 75 K, 6 HR, 24.1% KBF

Which stat do we like the best here? How about the combined 28/148 BB/K rate in 158 innings? Or the virtually identical W-L, ERA and K/IP numbers at Dunedin and New Haven? Or the fact that David Bush did all this after having thrown exactly 35 2/3 professional innings, all of them in relief, before 2003? No, let’s put this in perspective: in his entire college career, David Bush never threw more than 74 innings in a season: he doubled that this year and thrived in the process. He’s got a great pitcher’s body (6’2”, 210 lbs), his arm has always been healthy, and he pitches for a smart organization that takes care of its valuable young hurlers, so I’m not at all worried about overwork. Bush’s repertoire is solid: low 90s fastball, high-80s slider, solid changeup – but his pinpoint control is his real advantage. His walk rate returned to something approaching normal when he arrived in New Haven – to 1 every 4 innings rather than 1 every 8 – but it’s still plenty good.

The conversion to the rotation has propelled David forward faster than anyone could have predicted, and there don’t appear to be any roadblocks in his immediate future. Assuming he doesn’t have a lights-out spring training, he’ll start the year in Syracuse and will go from there. Jason Arnold has demonstrated that the jump from AA to AAA can be treacherous, but with all respect to Jason, who will be a good pitcher in the majors soon enough, Bush has the better raw stuff to help him make that transition sooner. David should be in Toronto by September 2004, and pitching as a middle reliever or even a starter by early 2005.

Jordan DeJong, RHP, 24
New Haven 2003
4-5, 1 Sv, 3.58, 27 G, 0 GS, 27 IP, 27 H, 17 BB, 29 K, 0 HR, 23.3% KBF
Dunedin 2003
2-3, 17 Sv, 2.79, 28 G, 0 GS, 29 IP, 23 H, 18 BB, 30 K, 2 HR, 23.3% KBF

Those 18 saves and pretty KBF rates in ’03 masked a growing problem: DeJong couldn’t keep runners off base. You could overlook the nearly 1/1 IP/H ratios if he showed dominance in the BB/K and BB/IP rates; instead, DeJong walked a batter every 1.6 innings over the course of a difficult 2003. Now the good news: August was a revelation. In his last month of the season, DeJong posted these numbers: 12 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 15 K, 30.6% KBF; his ERA dropped from 6.00 to 3.58. I don’t know what happened there – whether some coaching advice finally sunk in, or the snap came back on his breaking stuff, or what – but this was the first sign of dominance he’s showed since his great debut in Rookie Ball last season. Hopefully, it’s a harbinger of things to come, and soon: at 24, DeJong needs to move forward in a hurry. I still think his wide-ranging repertoire seems better suited to the rotation, and maybe he’ll get the chance in 2004 with some of the big rotation guns gone to Syracuse. Here’s hoping August was a trend, not a blip.

Dave Gassner, LHP, 24
10-4, 2.79, 35 G, 19 GS, 145 IP, 139 H, 28 BB, 92 K, 10 HR, 15.6% KBF

Now on the one hand, there should be no reason to be particularly positive about Dave Gassner, chosen from Purdue in the 24th round of the 2001 draft. His lack of overpowering stuff and general inability to fool hitters resulted in a measly 15.6% KBF, and these factors almost always spell disaster at any level with three letters (AAA, MLB). To illustrate, consider:

Pitcher A, 24, Tennessee (AA), 2001,
15-6, 3.37, 28 G, 26 GS, 179 IP, 162 H, 42 BB, 121 K

I’ll save you the calculations and tell you that the H/IP (0.95, 0.91), BB/IP (0.19, 0.23) and K/IP (0.63, 0.67) rates for Gassner and Pitcher A were almost identical. This doesn’t really bode well for Dave, because Pitcher A is current Gassner teammate Chris Baker, spinning his wheels at 26. So is there any reason to hope that Gassner will succeed where Baker, Vinny Chulk and countless other AA stars have failed?

Well, yes. There’s the fact that Dave’s left-handed, which is always a positive. There’s his pinpoint control, barely more than 1½ walks every 9 career innings. There’s his ability to keep the ball in the park, far better than Baker could (Baker allowed 22 HRs in 2001, while Dave allowed just 10 this season). There are the excellent reviews from coaches and scouts on his pitching smarts, his deceptive change-up and his work ethic. And there’s this record in his final 5 appearances of 2003, all starts: 4-0, 34 IP, 32 H, 0 BB, 24 K. And I have to add, there’s the fact that he was the first Jays prospect I ever picked out of a crowd and thought could make it big. If Dave has a major-league future, it’s probably in the bullpen. But I imagine the Jays will keep him in the rotation and keep promoting him until the day he can’t do the job any longer. For my money, I still think he’ll make it all the way to The Show.

Tyrell Godwin, OF, 24
New Haven 2003
123 AB, .309/.328/.431, 38 R, 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 3 BB, 27 K, 6 SB, 1 CS
Dunedin 2003
322 AB, .273/.348/.332, 52 R, 16 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 33 RBI, 29 BB, 39 K, 20 SB, 7 CS

Not everyone blows off a New York Yankees’ first-round draft selection and lives to tell the tale. Tyrell Godwin did just that back in 1997, and before it was all over he’d been drafted twice more – once by the Rangers in 2000, and again, this time successfully, by the Blue Jays in 2001. Entering this season, both Godwin and the Jays might have been reconsidering the wisdom of their choices: after a successful campaign at Auburn in 2001, Tyrell had an injury-plagued and disappointing 2002 in Charleston.

The organization promoted him to Dunedin anyway, and challenged him to stay healthy and produce runs in ’03 – and he did, posting his best all-around pro campaign. Even better, his late-season promotion to New Haven to replace the injured John-Ford Griffin improved his average and helped unleash the power that had been dampened by the Florida State League. But it also did away with much of the plate discipline he’d displayed before – just 3 walks in 123 AB, against 27 K. Then again, his base-stealing improved markedly, in terms of his success rate. The thing of it is, Godwin has done a number of things very well in his career; he just hasn’t done them all at the same time.

Tyrell got a late start on his professional baseball life and is catching up as best he can, but the clock is working against him: if he isn’t in Syracuse by next summer, you have to think that he simply doesn’t figure into the club’s plans. No one doubts his physical tools, his intelligence or his determination; it’s just that sometimes those three great attributes simply don’t click till later on. Godwin will probably start the year at Double-A Manchester and will be expected to hit the ground running. His skill set and overall potential suggest he might be a good fit for another organization, one that doesn’t have such amazing outfield depth (Wells, Gross, Rios, Werth) ahead of him.

John-Ford Griffin, LF, 23
373 AB, .279/.361/.461, 48 R, 23 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 75 RBI, 49 BB, 85 K

A breakout season for Griffin ended July 29 with a stress facture in his foot, an injury that guaranteed he’d be the last member of the Ravens’ potent outfield (Alexis Rios, Gabe Gross) to move up a level. But even without the foot injury, John-Ford was a step behind his mates: his 822 OPS, though just fine, lagged well behind Rios’ 923 and Gross’s 904. An early-season batting slump had caused concern in some quarters, but his power and plate discipline were doing just fine, leading one to believe the best was yet to come. Indeed, his .230 average in May had climbed to .260 in June and almost to .280 by the end of July. True, he was whiffing a lot, but you know, he’s struck out a lot his whole career; at least now he’s adding the power to justify it. John-Ford’s 13 homers equalled his two-season career total to that point in the lower minors: his strength and physical maturity are catching up with his amazing bat speed (though it should be noted that New Haven’s home park had a short right-field porch that favoured lefty hitters).

Griffin’s foot surgery was a success, and he should be 100% in spring training. So what can we expect? Few people think he has a future as a major-league outfielder: he’s not particularly fast and his throwing arm never fully recovered from surgery a number of years ago. His future likely is at first base or even as a DH. But what John-Ford can do is hit, and after he battled slumps and injuries in 2003, I think he’s going to start hammering the ball, hitting for average and power both, at Double-A next spring; if so, I think it will be only a matter of time before he makes it to Syracuse, maybe by mid-season. His upside is Ryan Klesko; his downside is a permanent AAA slugger. I think he’ll end up closer to the former than the latter.

Diego Markwell, LHP, 23
5-7, 7.04, 28 G, 19 GS, 110 IP, 146 H, 54 BB, 69 K, 20 HR, 13.1% KBF

It says a great deal about Markwell’s year that the highlight was getting robbed by Pasqual Coco. His season was exactly as ugly as those numbers indicate. Starting or relieving, April or August, it was just one stinker of a time for Markwell, whose tenure with the organization may be over. Although he only turned 23 in August and he’s a lefty, this was Diegomar’s sixth season with the club, and JP Ricciardi has better uses for a 40-man roster spot than this. Another team will pick him up and try to coax some effectiveness out of a guy who has a good curveball and isn’t afraid to pitch inside, but it won’t be the Jays. Some teenage Latin American free-agent signings work out (Guillermo Quiroz); more often, they don’t, and that’s the kind of lottery the Blue Jays can’t afford and don’t want to participate in anymore.

Dustin McGowan, RHP, 21
New Haven 2003
7-0, 3.17, 14 GS, 76 IP, 78 H, 19 BB, 72 K, 1 HR, 22.2% KBF
Dunedin 2003
5-6, 2.85, 14 GS, 75 IP, 62 H, 25 BB, 66 K, 1 HR, 21.0% KBF

High-school pitchers, I suspect, are a whole lot like teenagers (granted, speaking as someone who has fed and clothed neither). When they first arrive, they’re often immature, cocky and pretty darn stupid. They have so many false starts and failures that you sometimes find yourself doubting whether they’ll make it at all. Then one day, usually when you’re not even looking, they turn a corner and it all comes together, and you’re filled with the kind of pride and delight that can only come from having watched someone who’s been struggling suddenly grow up and do good.

Dustin McGowan’s future was never in any real doubt – even when he fought command early on, his stuff was so overpowering he could still strike guys out – and so far as I know, there was never any question about his character. But all the same, it’s been a huge kick watching him evolve from a thrower into a pitcher. His consistently mid-90s fastball and his power curve have been supplemented with a fine changeup, and he can throw them all for strikes. Interestingly, his control actually improved slightly upon the difficult promotion to AA. Of all the pitchers currently in the Blue Jays’ farm system, McGowan is the one most likely to someday earn a comparison to Roy Halladay.

McGowan and David Bush both hit their stride together this year, and they appear to be advancing in rapid lockstep through the organization; I don’t know whether they’re good pals or just friendly rivals, but they’re apparently good for each other’s development (the same thing appeared to happen when Gabe Gross became John-Ford Griffin’s roommate). Like Bush, McGowan could conceivably break camp next spring with the big club; but even if not, he should be in Syracuse for no more than a year. Starting in 2005, Blue Jay pitching starts to get really, really interesting.

Adam Peterson, RHP, 24
New Haven 2003
2-2, 9 Sv, 4.88, 24 G, 0 GS, 24 IP, 24 H, 7 BB, 24 K, 1 HR, 22.8% KBF
Dunedin 2003
1-0, 1 Sv, 0.71, 9 G, 0 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 13 K, 1 HR, 29.5% KBF
Charleston 2003
2-4, 1 Sv, 2.19, 10 G, 0 GS, 24 IP, 15 H, 13 BB, 19 K, 1 HR, 19.1% KBF

It’s safe to say that Adam Peterson’s arrival in the minor leagues did not come as a shock to the baseball cognoscenti: he was drafted four times before finally signing on with the last team to choose him, the Blue Jays. Check this out: he was taken by the Phillies in ’98 (13th round), the Royals in 2000 (14th round), the Yankees in 2001 (8th round), and finally, Toronto last June (4th round). It’s pretty clear that a lot of teams liked this guy a whole lot, and liked him more as time went on. His last season as the ace of the Wichita State staff (9-3, 3.58, 83 IP, 82 H, 23 BB, 91 K) shows why: great control, tremendous strikeout numbers. But there was also some concern that the Shockers worked him too hard in college, so the Jays started him off in the pen at Auburn, where things worked out really well.

What to make of his 2003 numbers, though? Peterson, a strapping 6’3”, 220 lbs, really had three different seasons: his sojourn in the Sally was fairly unremarkable, but he was lights-out upon his promotion to Dunedin. Then he climbed to New Haven and, though he got knocked around pretty good, both his command and his K’s were better than at Charleston. It’s difficult to analyze his effectiveness from these numbers: the sample sizes here (never more than 24 innings at any level) are just too small, and the results too varied. What we know is this: he has a moving fastball that’s consistently in the mid-90s, to go with a curveball and changeup. And we know this: when JP talked about his untradeable pitchers in the minors, he named off Jason Arnold, David Bush, Dustin McGowan and Adam Peterson. And finally, we know that the Jays don’t have a legitimate closer candidate anywhere else in their organization, and that includes Aquilino Lopez, who was okay this year but could serve the club better as a setup guy. “I personally think there’s a closer in every organization,” JP told the National Post last month. “You just have to find him.” I think that maybe he has. For my money, look for Adam Peterson in the Skydome bullpen by September.

Guillermo Quiroz, C, 21
369 AB, .282/.372/.518, 63 R, 27 2B, 0 3B, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 45 BB, 83 K

You think Don Cherry would be a huge fan of this guy? They don’t appear to come much tougher than Quiroz, who played with a collapsed lung late in the season until his breathing became so laboured he couldn’t run the bases. But Quiroz’s real victory wasn’t over his health (he recovered in time to catch one game of the Ravens’ abortive playoff series) so much as over his detractors, who said he was a waste of a $1.2M signing bonus (and I will readily admit that you can count me among them).

There was certainly reason to be skeptical: coming into 2003, GQ’s lifetime minor-league numbers were .224/.308/.360, with a 128/319 BB/K rate in 1,257 at-bats. But he was also only 20 years old, and like his teammate Alexis Rios, Quiroz took to heart his coaches’ instructions to command the strike zone and attack the good pitches. After a blistering April, Guillermo stayed steady: his OBP never dipped below .350 or his SLG below .500 throughout the course of his breakout season. His newfound batting skills simply complement an already fearsome defensive arsenal: he threw out more than 40% of baserunners this season. Despite his solid frame (6’0”, 205 lbs), he’s agile behind the plate and he reportedly handles pitchers very well. In short, Kevin Cash has about one full season to find his batting stroke. Quiroz will start 2004 at Syracuse; if he thrives there, it’s a very short trip to being Toronto’s Catcher of the Future.

Cameron Reimers, RHP, 25
10-5, 3.08, 28 G, 26 GS, 163 IP, 170 H, 38 BB, 96 K, 10 HR, 14.0% KBF

Sorry, but I’m unimpressed. This is Reimers’ third season at Double-A, and he’s still not dominating anyone, as the K/IP and BB/K will attest. Only 56 of his 68 total runs were earned; throw those extra 12 runs onto his ERA and you’d have a figure more representative of those unexciting peripherals. We pulled out Chris Baker earlier to draw a comparison with Dave Gassner, but Cameron Reimers is Chris Baker. He’ll eat innings for Manchester and maybe Syracuse for the next couple of seasons, but beyond that, I can’t see him filling any useful role for the organization.

Dominic Rich, 2B, 24
390 AB, .259/.326/.349, 49 R, 22 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 46 RBI, 30 BB, 48 K, 1 SB, 4 CS

He made a game of it, I’ll give him that. Mired in a miserable early slump (probably brought on by a springtime groin injury), Rich kept hacking away and slowly pushed his season average to just below .260. But while he deserves credit for battling, the fact remains that overall this was a pretty uninspiring season. Rich, as you probably know, won the Florida State League batting title last year with a .345 average and has a lifetime 160/159 BB/K rate, so many people will consider this just a blip on his radar. And maybe so; but maybe it’s also time we took a closer look at Rich’s career numbers:

236 AB, .263/.364/.343 (2000, NY-Penn, 21)
327 AB, .278/.368/.370 (2001, Sally, 22)
377 AB, .345/.437/.472 (2002, FSL, 23)
132 AB, .273/.364/.341 (2002, AA, 23)
390 AB, .259/.326/.349 (2003, AA, 24)

Does one of those seasons look like an outlier to you? The sad fact is, Rich will be 25 next summer and offers no speed, not much power and (reportedly) no defensive skills to speak of, which means he’d need to hit about .320/.390 at the major-league level to justify his presence on the roster. As exciting as Dunedin 2002 was, Dominic has not displayed much else in his pro career to make a believer out of me. It’s very possible that his 2003 was ruined by that groin injury – I can think of few ailments more aggravating and distracting – and that 2004 will see him back on track to being a middle-infield on-base machine. But right now, I have to say that this looks more like the CV of an International League veteran-in-training.

Alexis Rios, CF, 22
514 AB, .352/.401/.521, 86 R, 32 2B, 11 2B, 11 HR, 82 RBI, 39 BB, 85 K, 11 SB, 3 CS

Finally, we come to The Man. There was surprise in some quarters when JP elected to keep Alexis Rios on the 40-man roster last off-season, despite the wholly unfulfilling career he’d had up to that point. Once again, the Ricciardi eye proved to be sharper than most, though I doubt even the GM saw this monster season coming. After slumping briefly in mid-summer, raising questions about whether he was a first-half flash, Lexi went on a tear in the second half, batting over .400 in August with power to wrap up the Eastern League’s MVP Award.

Rios looks like the complete package: he’s athletic, tall (6’6”) and getting stronger all the time, yet his short, quick stroke helps him to control his huge strike zone. He finished with a BB/AB rate well below 1/10 and will probably never draw a lot of bases on balls; frankly, that doesn’t appear to be his game. But critics of sabrmetism often overlook the fact that people like Ricciardi and Beane don’t necessarily want batters to draw a ton of walks; they want batters who command the strike zone, swinging at and driving the pitches they feel confident about and letting the rest go by. Who wouldn't prefer a .350/.400 BA/OBP line over a .300/.400 line? Rios gets on base the old-fashioned way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s becoming a very good baserunner, stealing less frequently but with a much-improved success rate. Defensively, he roams centrefield like a big-leaguer, showing excellent range, a pretty decent arm and the ability to make acrobatic catches. He’d make a fine major-league centrefielder, but with that job already taken in Toronto, he should end up as an exceptional defensive left fielder.

Alexis will start next year at Syracuse, but how long he remains there will depend upon his performance at AAA, as well as the outfield situation in Toronto: Reed Johnson, Vernon Wells and Bobby Kielty will be filling those positions quite nicely through the first half of next season, with Gabe Gross poised to join them at any time and Jayson Werth one hot streak away from making it five potential starting outfielders. Be prepared for the fact that Rios might well be the bait that’s needed to land a solid #2 starter, which this team seriously needs. JP does not strike me as someone afraid to pull the trigger on a major deal; he has the confidence in his front office’s ability to find more hitting talent as needed. But right now, Alexis has to be considered the top positional prospect in the Blue Jays system, a guy with the potential to someday become a reasonable facsimile of Juan Gonzalez or even Vladimir Guerrero. Watch his first month or two at Syracuse closely; if his average is down and his strikeouts are greatly outnumbering his walks, then he’s taken a step backwards and is going to need more time. But if he’s taking his walks, whacking the ball and posting strong numbers, then the outfield situation in Toronto gets very pleasantly interesting.

Farm Report 2003: New Haven | 61 comments | Create New Account
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Mike Green - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 12:13 PM EDT (#19720) #
Excellent summary, Jordan. I agree with all your assessments, although I am not as sanguine about Peterson and (ahem) Adams. Peterson may turn out to be a fine closer, but I think he's got the same kind of asterisk that Jordan DeJong had last year.
_Mike B - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#19721) #
I agree that Rios could make a fine trading chip but I would expect that, given Toronto's needs, he'd only be traded for a AA-level future ace, a can't-miss middle infield prospect or a combination of both (i.e. I'd hope they could get more for Rios than just a #2 starter who we all hope can deliver -- nobody needs to be reminded of what happens when you gamble on picking up a '#2' starter like Lidle by trading a promising prospect like Rouse, currently playing for Team USA). Alternatively, he could be included in a package that might net that needed dependable #2 starter along with a can't miss minor league prospect but, either way, I'd like to get back more than just that #2 starter for a prospect of Rios' calibre.
Pistol - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 01:29 PM EDT (#19722) #
exited the playoffs early

There's only 2 rounds and they won one of the rounds, so I don't think exiting early is an accurate description.

Excellent summary as usual.

What I think will be interesting is how the Jays handle McGowan and Bush. When they are called up will they be thrown right into the rotation, or will they get some middle relief work under their belts first?

When LF was brought up for Rios I was a little surprised. I was thinking RF. Does anyone know how Rios' arm stacks up with the other Jays OFs (current OFs and Gross & Werth)?
Mike Green - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#19723) #
Pistol, Rios' arm is good, but Gross' is, I understand, better. Gross was Auburn's starting quarterback. Werth also has a fine arm.

Incidentally, it is not clear at all to me that Wells will remain as a CF after Rios arrives. Given Wells' weight and the fact that he will be 26 or 27, it is possible that Wells will move to left and Rios will take over in CF. Seniority often rules in these matters however.
Craig B - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:18 PM EDT (#19724) #
High-school pitchers, I suspect, are a whole lot like teenagers

This made me laugh. Jordan, high-school pitchers *are* teenagers. :)

Great summary. Another triumph for The Chosen One!
_SteveZ - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:21 PM EDT (#19725) #
BTW, the World Almanac(R) came out with their inaugural All-World Team for baseball, and guess who made the list?
_Mike B - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#19726) #
After the fine defensive season Wells just put in, I would think it's a little premature to speculate on who his future defensive replacement might be (even if he will be the ripe, old age of 26 or 27 by the time Rios is ready).
_Jordan - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:34 PM EDT (#19727) #
Jordan, high-school pitchers *are* teenagers. :)

It's poetic licence, man! And I'm speaking of teenagers strictly in the For Better or For Worse sense. :-) Actually, I knew someone would call me on that....
_Jays fan - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:35 PM EDT (#19728) #
If rios is traded, I don't think it will be for a major league 2nd starter. In fact there is no way we should trade him for a major leaguer since all we will get back is proven mediocrity, a third starter at best, or an injury risk (lookup ben sheets).

Perhaps, a good lefty prospect, which brings me to andy cisco. I read about him on a couple of prospect reports and he has the stuff to explain his amazing numbers.

Maybe jp can get a deal done for this guy -- besides rios who do you think we have to add to get him ?
Pistol - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#19729) #
andy cisco

What organization is he in, age, stats, etc..?
Pistol - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#19730) #
It's only 10 games or so, but the AFL stats of the Jays are pretty ugly:
Mike Green - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 02:45 PM EDT (#19731) #
Mike B, Wells' range was modestly above average this year. Bearing in mind his weight, it is likely to be average in two years. Rios' range would be significantly above average. I'm not suggesting that Wells will or should be moved (there are continuity advantages to letting him remain), but just that it is something the organization should put their mind to.

Of course, the Yankees continue to play Bernie Williams in center and Derek Jeter at short despite their obvious defensive shortcomings, and Wells is, and will be, much better defensively than they are. But, The Yankees are in a position to not use their talent optimally whereas the Jays have no such luxury.
Coach - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#19732) #
Some of us will be right and others of us will be wrong, and I trust that we’ll all be in one camp or the other over time.

I look forward to visiting the "wrong" camp briefly at some point. I'm sure it's very nice there. :)

Which stat do we like the best here?

The way Bush made the huge jump from A to AA in stride. By all accounts, Dave is another young man whose intangibles are as encouraging as his stats. The "bulldog" mentality that made him a great closer will also be an asset if he stays in the rotation, but I'm looking forward to him becoming a more durable Duane Ward.

McGowan, who also made the big step up and actually got better, is even more exciting. If they give him a few more confidence-building starts in AA and an early promotion to Syracuse, he'll be on schedule to earn a September callup and be part of the 2005 rotation.

"I personally think there’s a closer in every organization..."

Sometimes, you have to trust the scouts, and let us not forget that Ricciardi built his reputation by being a terrific scout. If you're sitting at home studying numbers, it's easy to wonder what J.P. is so excited about, but I suspect that one look at Peterson's stuff might change some minds. The leap of faith is that Adam will keep improving, and again I defer to the GM over the doubters.

Especially if he arrives in the Show next season, I expect Peterson to take some lumps for a while against big-league hitters, but whether he is setting up Bush in 2005, or vice versa, that is vastly preferable to signing a Proven Closer and Veteran Setup Man for a combined $9-10 MM a year. Also, having Peterson and Bush (don't forget Vermilyea and Marcum, who are right behind them) is insurance against either getting hurt. I can't say it often enough: the organizational pitching depth has become as impressive as the talent.

Among the hitters, I'll spare you my detailed JFG arguments. He remains a top-notch prospect, and all he needs is to stay healthy this year to prove it. I concur that Rios is a prize, but if he rips up AAA, other clubs may become convinced that he's the next Vlad, and be willing to pay enough, making it a position of strength for the Jays to trade from. In fact, here's an optimistic (surprise!) scenario: the 2004 Jays, lurking on the edges of the playoff hunt in July, deal Rios for a rent-a-stud (Schilling or Vazquez) and make a second-half run at a championship. After the ace-for-hire moves on, the two extra 2005 draft picks turn into useful talent.

I'm sure there's as much (or more) interest in Quiroz from other clubs as in Rios, but I wouldn't consider trading GQ for anyone. It's entirely the positional-scarcity thing -- if Rios is moved, and none of the other youngsters make it, you can always find a useful, affordable OF contributor like Reggie Sanders or Frank Catalanotto on someone's discard pile. Quiroz is looking like a young Pudge Rodriguez right now, and if he stays healthy, could be a cornerstone for a long time. That's not an invitation to give up on Kevin Cash; having a #2 backstop with fantastic defensive skills and occasional pop is another luxury and of course, a solid insurance policy.

Jordan, thanks for your tireless efforts, outstanding analysis and entertaining opinions. You are Da Man.
_sweat - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 03:45 PM EDT (#19733) #
If Rios rips up AAA, and people think of him as the next Vlad, I hope that the Jays hang on to him. I would hate to pull that trade for a top notch starter and not win the WS. I think if the jays had a young Vlad, that isnt a UFA for 5+ years, we would hang on to him good. Someone is gonna need to step up and be the new wells-delgado combo.
_Nigel - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 04:07 PM EDT (#19734) #
Another excellent article. As you say Jordan, the differences of perspective are what lead to excellent baseball discussions. What I think is interesting is the breadth of the difference in views on Adams. While I think his best comp. to date is Brent Abernathy (and hence potentially headed for a utility role in the majors) you can foresee near All Star level performance for him (a near 800 OPS and outstanding defence would make him one of the 3 or 4 best 2nd basemen in the AL I suspect). I honestly cannot remember a position player prospect for the Jays generating such a broad spectrum of differing views (at least not in the last 6 or 7 years).

What this report has highlighted for me, and I suspect the next one on Syracuse will confirm this, is that while their top prospects are moving well through the system the Jays really do not have any prospects projected to make a real impact on the '04 team (although one of them may surprise). If you asked me which current Jay prospect and next year Jay rookie would make the biggest impact next year it likely might be the utility infielder (either Alvarez or Sequea). Of course JP may trade for someone before the spring. What I wonder is what this means (along with Delgado's impending free agency) JP's roster composition strategy will be for '04. Does he try and load up for a possible run in '04 and sacrifice several prospects or does he stick to the long term plan and shoot for '05 or more likely '06? All public statements suggest the later approach but '04 does present an interesting dilemma, the Jays will not be able to sell the public on another year of "getting the youngsters feet wet" because there is not likely to be any significant amount of that until '05.
_Wildrose - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 04:08 PM EDT (#19735) #
I looked forward to this segement all week. Glad to see Peterson get some publicity, Riccardi has consistently plugged this guy all along(on radio and even on his interview on this blog) despite some rather pedestrian numbers. The guy sounds like he has a great fastball.

As for Adam's he reminds me of Gabe Gross, who also struggled in his second pro year at double A, before getting back on the rails. I once read that many baseball men consider the jump from high A to AA the most difficult transition in the game.

The 2003 New-Haven squad will hopefully go down in history as being special.With 3 very projectable stars in Quiroz, McGowan and Rios,and a bevy of good solid everyday players like Gross,JFG, and Adam's, this group will have quite the legacy.
_Jacko - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 04:10 PM EDT (#19736) #
I am in the don't-trade-rios-for-pitching camp.

The middle class for pitching is dead. If you want quality on the free agent market, you need to pay at least 10MM/season, which the Jays cannot afford.

And because quality young pitching is so valuable, few teams are willing to deal premium pitching prospects. And when they do, they can charge a kings ransom. And since pitching prospects are notoriously unpredictable, it's a dumb idea to trade a blue chip prospect like Rios to acquire them.

I'm not averse to trading Rios for other position players, if the right deal comes along. However, I think the Jays will have more luck developing their own starting pitching than trying to trade for it.

FWIW, I also think Rios is miles from reaching his maximum trade value...
robertdudek - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#19737) #
I agree with Jacko. Trading for a pitching prospect, unless you are getting rid of stuff you don't need (e.g. Felipe Lopez), is a sucker's bet. If you want good young pitchers do what J.P. has done: draft a boatload of good arms and see which ones stick.
Pistol - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#19738) #
What I wonder is what this means (along with Delgado's impending free agency) JP's roster composition strategy will be for '04. Does he try and load up for a possible run in '04 and sacrifice several prospects or does he stick to the long term plan and shoot for '05 or more likely '06?

I can almost guarantee that there won't be any sacrificing of prospects in a push for next year.

Which doesn't mean they can't improve on this year. It's just a matter of spending the money wisely this offseason.
_Ken - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#19739) #
I am with Jacko regarding Rios.

The Jays are very unlikely to get something of equal value for Rios. He should not be traded for a top pitching prospect. If the Royals asked for Rios and offered Greinke I don't think JP should trade. Rios has so much potential and I think his power numbers will shoot up next season. I don't have the stats but I got the impresssion that Rios was racking up the homers in the last weeks of the season. His trade value isn't close to what it 'will' ('should')be in a few years. A top position player that has the potential to influence games day-in day-out is more valuable than a pitcher that has the potential to win every 5 days, specificaly because pitchers are so hard to predict.
Obviously I am painting a rosy picture of Rios but I think he will be a major league star, come 2008 someone will be over the moon they have Alexis Rios on their team.
Coach - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#19740) #
Whoa, I'm not rushing off to trade Rios either. I just spun a fantasy where I would. It involves the last piece in a World Series puzzle, admittedly a pipe dream. I'm just pointing out that there are options as soon as next summer, but I really don't think they will (or should) sacrifice 2006 for 2004.

Rios is miles from reaching his maximum trade value

Just for argument's sake, what/when is his MTV? How would you know? If he fails at AAA or gets hurt, it's now. For me, any asset is for sale the day someone agrees to pay your price. The price for Rios should be exorbitant, and continue to rise the longer he succeeds. If nobody ever wants to pay it, I'm thrilled to have the kid in left field next September and for years to come.

The idea of Rios "bumping" Vernon Wells to left was a joke, right? Maybe in a few years, Wells will volunteer to become the game's best right fielder, then years later, think about left. I don't care what his range factor is -- when the left fielder doesn't get in his way, V-Dub's glove is where doubles (and quite a few triples) go to die.

4-0, 34 IP, 32 H, 0 BB, 24 K

Wow, that's a fine month. Gassner's already relying on "pitching smarts," so we don't know where his ceiling is. Either he continues to adjust to the better hitters, or he doesn't. Sometimes "crafty" lefties take a long time to learn that overthowing doesn't work; we'll see if he's figured that out. When Dave masters AAA, I'll start getting excited, but he does look like a possibility for the 2005 bullpen, and anything beyond that would be a bonus.
Gerry - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 05:49 PM EDT (#19741) #
Starting for your Florida Marlins in the World Series....

Miguel Cabrera who spent 2002 in the FSL
Dontrelle Willis who spent 2002 in the Midwest league and the FSL.

Resting now is Rich Harden who spent 2002 in A and AA ball.

Just a reminder that some players can fly through the minor leagues. Here's hoping for some similar flights for the Jays in 2004.
Mike Green - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#19742) #
Coach, Vernon Wells is not a Gold-Glove quality centerfielder. That belongs to Mike Cameron. Vernon Wells right now is a fine defensive centerfielder, but nothing more. He's also 6'1" and about 240. This is not the physique of a centerfielder who will maintain his range for too long as he ages (but with those legs he might improve his power numbers even further).

Rios was described by one opposing manager in the EL as the best defensive centerfielder that they've ever seen. I don't know if this is hyperbole, but I do know that it would make me at least think about having him play there when he arrives. So no, it's not a joke.
robertdudek - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 06:23 PM EDT (#19743) #

The line about Wardo is a little unfair - he was the hardest worked reliever of his time. I'm amazed he didn't break down earlier.
_whizland2000 - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 06:41 PM EDT (#19744) #
By the way what is the status on Francisco Rosario and what kind of impact do you think he will have next year. Before he was injured this guy was even more highly regarded than Dustin McGowan and was at one time one of the best (if not the best) pitching prospects in the jays farm system.
_Darin Erstad - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 06:42 PM EDT (#19745) #
Coach, Vernon Wells is not a Gold-Glove quality centerfielder. That belongs to Mike Cameron.

Didn't realize there could only be one "Gold-Glove quality" fielder at any given position. Just because there's only one award doesn't mean there can't be multiple players deserving of consideration.
Mike Green - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 06:48 PM EDT (#19746) #
Sorry, Darin, you were injured so much I forgot about you. But, yeah when you're healthy, you're a Gold-Glove quality centerfielder too.

Vernon is not in that class.
_Ryan01 - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 08:28 PM EDT (#19747) #
Last I heard, Rosario was a little ahead of schedule in his recovery and was going to start throwing in instructional league this winter and hoping to be ready to go by spring. He'll probably return to Dunedin to get his feet wet. Also joining Rosario in the instructional league is 2002 draftee Chris Leonard (LHP) who was a Cape Cod League standout projected to go at the end of the first or early second round but had Tommy John surgery just before the draft and we snagged him in the eighth round. He's yet to throw his first pitch as a professional but should start the season at Charleston or Dunedin.
_Jabonoso - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 08:40 PM EDT (#19748) #
Would the excelent last month performances by some pitchers had anything to do with a better infield ?( atrocious Pond was in Syracuse ).
I'm still unispired by JP's trifecta of Arnold-Griffin-Adams ( actually quadrifecta with Peterson ) I need more numbers backed performances than a boatload of adjectives thrown around them.
Our future stars are Rios, Quiroz, Mcgowan, Bush and Gross. I am really all the way about having them in BJ's uniform for the next five or more years...
_John Neary - Friday, October 17 2003 @ 09:55 PM EDT (#19749) #
Jordan: Wow. I haven't been able to do more than skim your reviews so far, but you've raised the bar once again.


Markwell's only problem this year was that he lost his silver hammer. If he finds it again, everyone had better look out. Especially Joan.

(Sorry, but I've been saving that one all year, and I'm not optimistic that Diegomar will be back next year to give me a chance to use it.)
_Ryan01 - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 12:06 AM EDT (#19750) #
Jabonoso, I don't think the defense had much do with the strong second half from the pitchers. It was more the pitchers they had at the end compared to the start. McGowan, Bush were only moved up about the same time Pond, Sequea were moved up. Gassner started the season in the bullpen and pitched rather well all year, not just the last month. Markwell and Bauer were taken out of the rotation and Baker and Reimers actually regressed throughout the year if anything.

Re: our future stars and quadrifecta of failures. OH WHERE TO BEGIN?

Bush's career minor league stats:
15-8, 2.75 ERA 193.0 IP, 160 H, 37BB, 196K, 7HR
Arnold's (including this year's struggles at Syracuse)
34-17 2.67 ERA 442.0 IP, 332 H, 138BB,417K, 25 HR (16 at Syracuse)

Considering Bush is only 6 months younger, a full level lower and some of his stats come from the bullpen, he's hardly outperformed Arnold yet.

Rios and Quiroz showed improvements year last year but nothing special. Both had absolutely BRUTAL numbers before last year. They were the epitome of no numbers, all adjectives.

Gross hit .238/.333/.380 his first time around AA, Griffin hit .279/.361/.461. Yes Griffin did so at nearly a year older, but the difference is pretty astonishing.

Even McGowan had some serious struggles the first half of last year. Give these guys some time, one season just isn't enough to be placing any bets on who is the future. I can almost guarantee that a couple of McGowan, Bush, Gross, Rios, Quiroz will dissappoint in the future, and a couple of Adams, Griffin, Arnold, Peterson will step up.
Coach - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 10:34 AM EDT (#19751) #
he was the hardest worked reliever of his time

Robert, I didn't mean to imply that Ward's breakdown was somehow his fault. It's just that I'm hoping Bush becomes that kind of pitcher and (despite all the pitfalls that can derail a promising career) lasts longer.

Vernon is not in that class.

Mike Green, you and I disagree on a lot of things. I notice that instead of defending your ludicrous assertion that a rookie who has still never played above AA would bump Wells to left, you chose to put words in my mouth and argue that Vernon isn't "Gold Glove quality" in center. What I did say is, Wells will be the best right fielder in the game, if and when he chooses to move there. Until then, he's merely superb in CF.

V-Dub consistently gets as good a read, and as good as jump, as anyone. On the rare occasions that his first step is in the wrong direction, he adjusts extremely well, and has more than enough speed to compensate. He covers plenty of ground from gap to gap, and is exceptional on the ball hit over his head straight away -- he has actually "caught up" to some of those, which, as you will understand if you've ever played, is a rare and beautiful accomplishment. He has a strong and accurate arm, and I can't recall him ever throwing to the wrong base.

Unlike some guys (Edmonds and Hunter come to mind) who from time to time make a routine catch look spectacular, V-Dub (a la Andruw Jones) makes many difficult plays look easy. He does not climb walls or dive very often, which limits his highlight-reel exposure, but he still draws Willie Mays comparisons from people who were lucky enough to see both men.

Mike, I'm fascinated by your obsession with Vernon's body type and your expectation that he will "age" prematurely; I hope it doesn't prevent you from appreciating his play in the meantime, and that you're not disappointed when he starts winning those Gold Gloves.
_SteveZ - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 11:17 AM EDT (#19752) #
Quiroz, endeavoring to erase the memory of his 1-27 performance last year, opened the Venezualan Winter League season by belting a mammoth homerun off -- none other than New Haven teammate Gustavo Chacin. Unfortunately, BA doesn't seem to keep daily boxscores, so you might have to beef up on your Spanish to read the game story from the official league website:

Or, if you're a Spanish novice like me, try Alta Vista's "Babel Fish" translation service! Here's an abridged version of the game story (Enjoy!)

Manuel Rodriguez and other five serpentineros was combined to limit toletería of the Cardinals of seven Lara to hits and Guillermo Quiroz connected magnificent a quadrangular one to assure the triumph by whitened the Eagles of Zulia 2-0 before the Cardinals of Lara...

The left-handed person Gustavo Chacín (0-1) opened to the encounter by the red birds whereas the zulianos straight sent to the young Manuel Rodriguez to the hill, fulfilling both performances more than outstanding, although not very extensive. The body of relevistas of both novenas had an impeccable participation, leaving few liberties to the rival bats. Madrugadora eagle The Eagles in deciphering the pitcheo of Gustavo Chacín did not take much that, in spite of to have had a good exit, could not contain the marabino attack in innings 2 and 3.

Monumental Estacazo
Zulia added another rayita in the opening of the third section after which Guillermo Quiroz received to Chacín with enormous home run solitary that left the park by the launching slips of left field. Nevertheless, maracucho of Lara guapeó and left the problem dominating to the rest of toletería of inning, in spite of to have received a simple one of Humberto Quintero. Concert of relief After the exit of Chacín and Rodriguez, both strategists appealed to the arms of the intermediate relief, obtaining the highest qualification...
Coach - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#19753) #
both strategists appealed to the arms of the intermediate relief

Best summary I've seen yet of Carlos Tosca's bullpen management. Thanks, Steve.
_Scott - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#19754) #
I think any talk of Vernon Wells"s range being modestly above average was laid to rest when he made that catch in Boston on Manny Ramirez. I do think Mike has a point when he talks about Vernon"s body type and how it might slow him down sooner than most other center fielders, particularly since he plays all or close to 162 games, 81 on of those on astroturf. However, that won't be for a few years yet at which time Rios will be in either left or right field. The heir apparent to Wells is probably not even in the organization yet.

Finally, a not-so-quick hijack: Rogers reported their Q3 numbers yesterday which showed the Jays losing $39.6M year-to-date, down from $69.7M last year at this time. Despite the reduced loss, Rogers still advanced the team nearly $54M for the year, the same as last year--this looks a bit fishy to me but I am not an accountant. As well, as part of the financial arrangement between Rogers/Jays, the ball team is required to pay Rogers a dividend of 9.167% per year but instead of cash the team transfers income tax loss carryforwards. This suggests the team will probably always lose a certain amount of money to reduce the tax burden for the parent company. Nothing earth shattering here but info nonetheless.
_Brent - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#19755) #
Guillermo Quiroz connected magnificent a quadrangular one to assure the triumph by whitened the Eagles of Zulia 2-0

That translated sentence is funny on so many levels.
_John Neary - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#19756) #
Steve, that's priceless.

The entire translated recap can be found here.
Gerry - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#19757) #
Finally, a not-so-quick hijack: Rogers reported their Q3 numbers yesterday which showed the Jays losing $39.6M year-to-date, down from $69.7M last year at this time.

Unfortunately this does not mean much unless we know how much Sportsnet and the Fan paid for their Jays TV and radio rights. Baseball owners have been known to manipulate results among companies they own.
_susdajaysfan - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 02:22 PM EDT (#19758) #
i dont know bout u lot but i have one problem with j.p. on any other team that had as poor pitching as the jays both mcgowan, bush and arnold would have been in the big leagues and if not there definetely in triple a. i still dont understand why j.p does not challenge them more. i mean edwin jackson made the jump form double a for the dodgers and they have a good pitching staff. people can say all they want about not rushing pitchers but the fact is no matter how good or ready u are in the minor leagues the majors is definetely a different story. people will use the example of doc being rushed but to that i say roy was never as dominating in terms of pure stats as mcgowan and bush. throughout his minor league his k/bb ratio was abysmal, and his k's were low and his ERA never as good as the two. i think letting them two spend an entire season in triple a is stupid and the notion that bush would be a useful bullpen is not a smart idea. this kid can pitch with three pitches that he throws for strikes. bullpen guys are a dime a dozen but good starting pitching prospects are not. the jays simply dont have enuff pitching to be using bush as a bullpen guy. its as simple as that. i really hope the jays starting rotation has bush,mcgowan and arnold in it.
robertdudek - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#19759) #
The main reason J.P. is taking his time is because the later they make it to the majors, the later their arbitration and free agency clocks start. Arnold hasn't pitched sufficiently well over enough innings to suggest that he has nothing more to prove at AAA (Bush and McGowan haven't pitched any innings there).

That said, this is probably a make or break year for Jason Arnold. He needs to pitch well in AAA. If he does that in 10-15 starts I think it's very likely he'll get called up.
Coach - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 03:34 PM EDT (#19760) #
i really hope the jays starting rotation has bush,mcgowan and arnold in it.

susdajaysfan, you're obviously not as patient or as wise as J.P., to which I can only say thank God he's the GM and not you. Robert's astute point about not starting prospects' arbitration and free agency clocks too soon is certainly a factor in the decision of a real executive, but your suggested approach will ruin far more careers than it will enhance. Why don't you Google the names David Clyde and Rick Ankiel, just for fun? Look into the playing career of Gil Patterson, while you're at it. By the way, my prediction of Bush as a closer is merely a guess; he'd fit the role well, but I'd also love to see him make 35 starts in 2005.

The sad truth is, out of the three fine prospects you want to rush irresponsibly to the Show, one will probably become a star, you can expect one to get hurt, and one might simply disappoint. There is, of course, no way of knowing which one will be which, but unfortunately, those are the odds. That's exactly what John Sickels predicted last spring for the Giants' phenoms Williams, Foppert and Ainsworth, and we all know what happened, or we should. It's also why Ricciardi continues to stockpile talented young arms and take the best possible care of them.
Pistol - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 03:49 PM EDT (#19761) #
The main reason J.P. is taking his time is because the later they make it to the majors, the later their arbitration and free agency clocks start.

I disagree. I think it's a secondary reason. I believe the Jays believe that keeping them in the minors is enhancing their careers over the long term.

Say the Jays had a $100 million payroll and don't have to worry about service time. I still don't think any of the trifecta would have seen Toronto yet.

Also, on the flip side of things, if you read the Kevin Towers interview at BP he said that minor leaguers are rushed sometimes because they're cheaper in the short term than a veteran would be(even at the expense of higher costs down the road from starting the clock early).

to which I can only say thank God he's the GM and not you

Well, I think we can safely say that about anyone in these parts. I know I like Kielty better than a box of baseballs.
Coach - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#19762) #
Baseball owners have been known to manipulate results among companies they own.

Wayne Huizenga, when he dismantled the world champion Marlins, conveniently forgot his stadium revenue when crying poor. Pro Player Inc. was hugely profitable in 1997, more than compensating for the "losses" incurred by its primary tenant. The greedy garbageman put all his cash in one pocket, displayed the empty one to the world, and wondered why he got no sympathy.

Even assuming Sportsnet and The FAN got ridiculously great deals on the broadcast rights, and there's creative accounting involved to the maximum benefit of the parent company, I'm impressed that the J.P. Jays were $30 million less wasteful in 2003. Wherever they cut corners, it wasn't apparent on the field, where we enjoyed a very entertaining product.
_Jabonoso - Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 05:23 PM EDT (#19763) #
Thank you for taking your time to answer my post. I agree more with you than with myself.
Just a clarification, I'm not saying that the quadrifecta are failures, I wanted to imply that there is no evidence that they are that great as implied by JP and his echo in this blog. Time will tell, of course, I just want to be in the cautious side...
Some words to keep in mind when reading a Spanish baseball text:
Serpentineros= Hurlers
Toleteria= Hitters
Rayita= One run
It is very funny when the translation goes to the literal equivalency like Blanqueada= Whitened
_susdajaysfan - Sunday, October 19 2003 @ 12:26 PM EDT (#19764) #
I am well aware of Rick Ankiel and maybe I might have rushed the three pitchers, but Coach u also pointed out another fact that will always be the problem with pitchers. Starting pitching is always the luck of the draw. Some work out and some dont. There were a lot of pitchers that were rushed to the majors and their careers worked out. Kerry Wood, Kevin Brown, Greg Maddux. More recently Josh Beckett, Carlos Zambrano, Barry Zito Mark Mulder. The point is if you have talent it will shine through. Rick Ankiel is an example of a kid losing it but when he came up his first season was tremendous. That was not cause he was rushed it was cause he lost his confidence. That might have happened even if he was not rushed. I am not as wise as J.P. is and nor do i claim to be but i study medicine so i am smart enough, but i am willing to say that if these pitchers were under different i am sure they would be a lot closer to the majors then they are now. With pitchers u just never know.
_Jordan - Sunday, October 19 2003 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#19765) #
connected magnificent a quadrangular one

In the unlikely event I ever become a baseball play-by-play announcer, this is going to be my home run call.

Regarding Vernon Wells' defence, here's a quick look at his performance among ML centrefielders in some key categories (keeping in mind that defensive statistics are a loose measure of effectiveness):

Fielding Percentage: 11/20
Range Factor: 17/20
Zone Rating: 4/20

Quite a range. FP, as we all know, isn't much of a measure: half the time, outfield errors are actually the fault of the infielder or catcher who failed to field a throw cleanly. Moreover, half of all ML centrefielders had 4 or fewer errors in 2003, and only three (Grissom, Finley and Sanchez) had more than 5. Range factor is calculated as (PO + A) divided by innings, which has always seemed to me a strange formula: why would you add assists and putouts, two stats that measure completely different things? Anyway, Vernon was second in the majors in innings, sixth in putouts and tied for last in assists (wth Mike Cameron, among others), so his overall base numbers are pretty good. Note also that Toronto by and large had a groundball pitching staff, and you can see that RF isn't the most useful measure of Wells' abilities. Finally, while VW scored awfully well in zone rating, still it's an artifical measure determined by three STATS Inc. employees who decide what a particular fielder's "zone" should be and then count how many balls he gets to in that zone each game. I'll reserve my doubts about ZR to this observation: Andruw Jones was third from the bottom among all major-league centrefielders in zone rating in 2003.

The most interesting and, I think, useful defensive stat out there right now is Win Shares, which I readily admit I don't understand the first thing about calculating. But it's got a lot of smart people subscribing to it, and what's more, its results seem to accord with observed reality pretty closely. The ML centerfielders who rank above Vernon in defensive win shares are:

Mike Cameron
Carlos Beltran
Torii Hunter
Rocco Baldelli
Steve Finley
Johnny Damon

That's it. And that actually seems pretty reflective of reality to me. Vernon is a very good defensive centerfielder, just outside the best in the major leagues, and he will continue to get better. There's no need to move him anywhere, and there probably won't be for a few years yet. Outfield defence isn't always a matter of pure speed: it's also anticipating the pitch, reading the bat off the ball, getting a good jump, positioning yourself to throw to the right base and nailing your throw on the money. Even if Wells does lose half a step at some point, that's not going to really hurt his overall defence as much as it might some other guys'. And in my experience, I can't remember too many balls falling to the left or right of Vernon and thinking, "He should've had that."

To this I would add: Lexi Rios is only in Double-A and has exactly one good season on his CV. He won't be in Toronto before April 2005, and maybe not even then: Triple-A is not a stroll in the park. When he does arrive, Vernon will be an All-Star centrefielder and multiple MVP candidate, and those guys simply do not get bumped out of the way for hotshot rookies. Rios will learn the game in one of the corners, hone his craft, and when the day comes when everyone agrees a change is mandated (or when Vernon's contract expires and he signs with the Rangers), the shift will take place. There's no need to jump any guns.
Mike Green - Sunday, October 19 2003 @ 07:00 PM EDT (#19766) #

I agree with your assessment of Vernon's defensive abilities. He is about the 6th best defensive centerfielder in the American League.

I didn't say that Rios should be the starting centerfielder in 2005, just that an intelligent management would consider the question then. How about we agree to check back on this question, as well as Adams and Griffin's prospects after 2004? My guess is that Vernon will be 7th or 8th in the American League in defensive win shares next year.
_Jacko - Sunday, October 19 2003 @ 11:45 PM EDT (#19767) #

Mike Green, you and I disagree on a lot of things. I notice that instead of defending your ludicrous assertion that a rookie who has still never played above AA would bump Wells to left, you chose to put words in my mouth and argue that Vernon isn't "Gold Glove quality" in center. What I did say is, Wells will be the best right fielder in the game, if and when he chooses to move there. Until then, he's merely superb in CF.

Remember when Nomar came to the big leagues in 1997 and John Valentin was the incumbent at SS? Nomar, because of his defensive rep, got the glamour job at SS, and Valentin was shifted to 3B. And I might add that Valentin was regarded as an above average defensive SS at the time, and had similar numbers to the 1996 gold glove winner, Omar Vizquel.

I'm just trying to illustrate that there is precedent for a hot rookie pushing a veteran to a new position. If Rios is a phenomenal defender, Wells is going to get moved.

Mike, I'm fascinated by your obsession with Vernon's body type and your expectation that he will "age" prematurely; I hope it doesn't prevent you from appreciating his play in the meantime, and that you're not disappointed when he starts winning those Gold Gloves

Coach, it's a siginificant point.

Athletes tend to get stronger and slower as they age, and Wells is already "husky" to begin with. He is going to lose his speed as he gets heavier, and at some point he will be bumped from CF to RF by someone who is younger and faster.

Nobody (including Mike Green or myself) is disputing that he's a fine defensive centrefielder, and a joy to watch right _now_. Let me also add that none of us have any idea what Rios is like out there, or how his instincts compare to Wells. Rios could very well be a better athlete that Wells, but an inferior defender.

As for gold gloves, I'm afraid that as long as Mike Cameron, Carlos Beltran, and Torii Hunter play in the AL, Wells is going be overlooked.
_coliver - Monday, October 20 2003 @ 08:13 AM EDT (#19768) #
Markwell must have set a record for spending the most years in the New-York Penn League. Guess it did not do him any good.

If not for Reed Johnson. the legacy of the St. Catherines Stompers would be completely over. Bernhardt, Coco, Estavez, et all are all gone. Big Gord Ash Bonuses, lack of work-ethic, lots of attitude, and perceived talent down the drain.

Does anyone who followed the Stompers remember Franklyn Gracesqui? He had a pretty good year for Carolina (Marlins-AA).
Mike Green - Monday, October 20 2003 @ 09:29 AM EDT (#19769) #

There's a typo in the Russ Adams' stats. He had 10 doubles in New Haven, and hence 35 extra-base hits on the year. Lack of sock is an issue for him.
_Jordan - Monday, October 20 2003 @ 10:41 AM EDT (#19770) #
How about we agree to check back on this question, as well as Adams and Griffin's prospects after 2004?

Sure thing. I'm not much of a predictor by nature (as my NFL pool results will attest), and in fact I don't like making specific predicitions about specific players, because I then find myself rooting for or against them to fulfill my prophecy, regardless of whether it's good for the team or not. But I'll stand by my general sense that Adams and Griffin will be productive major-leaguers.

There's a typo in the Russ Adams' stats. He had 10 doubles in New Haven, and hence 35 extra-base hits on the year.

Right you are -- my apologies for the error. 9s and 0s looks pretty similar onscreen in 8-point font. So Adams displayed less power than I had thought -- at the same time, though, a reader wrote me over the weekend that Adams was actually one of the youngest players in the Eastern League during his tenure there, so the power may be expected to come on in greater amounts next year. We shall see.
Pistol - Monday, October 20 2003 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#19771) #
To this I would add: Lexi Rios is only in Double-A and has exactly one good season on his CV. He won't be in Toronto before April 2005, and maybe not even then: Triple-A is not a stroll in the park. When he does arrive, Vernon will be an All-Star centrefielder and multiple MVP candidate, and those guys simply do not get bumped out of the way for hotshot rookies. Rios will learn the game in one of the corners, hone his craft, and when the day comes when everyone agrees a change is mandated (or when Vernon's contract expires and he signs with the Rangers), the shift will take place. There's no need to jump any guns.

Just for kicks, let's say that Rios is a superior defender in CF to Wells when he gets called up.

Is there that much of a difference having one at a corner OF and one in CF if both are above average defenders, but the superior player is in LF/RF and the other is in CF? I can't imagine there's much difference.

Remember when Nomar came to the big leagues in 1997 and John Valentin was the incumbent at SS? Nomar, because of his defensive rep, got the glamour job at SS, and Valentin was shifted to 3B.

John Valentin was never the player Wells is.
Mike Green - Monday, October 20 2003 @ 12:39 PM EDT (#19772) #

Good question about the difference between a very good and a good centerfielder. Bill James estimated it at maybe 5-7 runs per season, in a discussion of the relative abilities of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. That might be on the high side.

Actually, John Valentin at his prime (95-97) was a heckuva player: see Right now, Vernon Wells is actually not a better hitter because of his slowly improving impatience. You are right in a larger sense, though, because Vernon has not yet reached his prime, and there is every reason to believe that at his prime Vernon will be a devastating offensive player.
robertdudek - Monday, October 20 2003 @ 12:57 PM EDT (#19773) #
Athletes tend to get stronger and slower as they age, and Wells is already "husky" to begin with. He is going to lose his speed as he gets heavier, and at some point he will be bumped from CF to RF by someone who is younger and faster.

Well, you know, there are exceptions. A certain Kirby Puckett comes to mind. Age 30-32 is usually when centrefielders are shifted to the corners. That's a long way down the road for Vernon. A good body type comp for Vernon is Andruw Jones.
Mike Green - Monday, October 20 2003 @ 01:57 PM EDT (#19774) #
Robert, I'll grant you Kirby, but Vernon's significantly heavier than Andruw. Actually, Andruw might be a good example to make my point. When he was 21 or 22, it was widely accepted that he was the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. Now, at 26, his defensive stats suggest that he is at best modestly above average. Vernon started out behind Andruw as a defensive player, and there is good reason to believe that he will follow this path albeit at a somewhat lower level.

It is also true that teams have been extremely reluctant to move offensively valuable centerfielders even after they have lost significant range. From Mickey Mantle through Bernie Williams, the centerfielder with the big bat usually remains in centerfield at least 3 years past when it was advisable to move him.

Just because teams traditionally do things this way does not make it a wise course of action.

It surprises me how much attachment people have to Vernon's defence. I didn't say he was a bad defender, or that he will be a bad defender in 2 years. All I said was that Rios might be a significantly better one, and that it would be wise, if that is the case, to consider moving Vernon.
_Lee fagan - Saturday, December 06 2003 @ 09:23 AM EST (#19775) #
I have had the pleasure of seeing in person the Jays prospects at short A 2000 in NYP-Queens and AA-2003 New Haven.
Rios and Quiroz are for real. Alexis is in my opinion a verified 5 tool player who matured greatly since 2000. Once he fills his 6'5" frame, ne will be a 25-30 HR hitter and for average. Alexis made a catch in the AA EL playoffs that was comparable to the 1969WS Ron Swoboda (Mets) catch which is on every highlight reel. This catch was caught on tape by wtnh-ct and sould be posted somewhere. In full extension he gracefully grabbed a bloop and turned it into a dp as he fired the ball to first base and doubling up that runner.
Quiroz has grown terrifficly since 2000. He is an awesome defensive catcher who is now batting for power and average. Still he must cut down on k's. I saw no mention of Gustavo Chacin a lhrp who is on his way to the show. Mark my words about Chacin. Check his stats, he rarely gives up the long ball and wioll be a great set-up man or closer in near future.
Toronto is packed with prospects and I have had two seasons with them. Rios, Quiroz and Chacin are for real and will make their marks on MLB shortly. I also believe that all three could wind up in Toronto at some point in 2004.
_Jabonoso - Sunday, December 07 2003 @ 03:22 PM EST (#19776) #
Lee F, Thank you for posting here. it is interesting to hear they projected to be special from the low A years. Chacin is having also an excellent winter season in Venezuela. really hope that he is added to the 40 men roster and that we keep him for his better years. His control has really improved...
_Steve Z - Monday, December 08 2003 @ 10:37 AM EST (#19777) #
After starting off strong in the Venezuelan League, Chacin's been on a downslide of late. The other day, he got hit pretty hard in 3.1 innings.
_Jabonoso - Monday, December 08 2003 @ 11:27 AM EST (#19778) #
Well, Chacin has 49 SO and 7 BBs in 47 innings. That makes an improvement in his SO ratio, control and looks excellent to me...
_Jabonoso - Monday, December 08 2003 @ 11:37 AM EST (#19779) #
Steve Z: This outing is horrible ( 3 hrs 3 doubles in 3 innings ) but last outing was a complete game with only 1 ER. Something that could have factored in is that there was more than 10 days in between outings ( there was an all star game and several rain outs )...
_Jordan - Wednesday, December 10 2003 @ 09:36 PM EST (#19780) #
Some good news for our New Haven area fans: the city is getting a new baseball team, this time in the Northeast League. Best wishes to the new franchise!
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