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Part III of the roundtable takes a look at several Jays:

Mike D: I've gotta say...

After looking forward all season to the reassigning of Carlos' $18.5MM to fill holes in the Jays' roster, I'm truly surprised to find myself now convinced that the Jays need to re-sign him. The reasons are many:

1. The Jays need OPS, and he's far and away the most reliable source of OPS on the free agent market that would ever consider signing with the Jays. (Never mind consider...he'd love to continue his peaceful existence in Toronto.)

2. The Jays have no adequate replacement at first base. And there's none coming in the system. Trading Wells for Teixeira, if that's even a remote possibility, merely removes one long-term void and replaces it with another.

3. Not one other significant free agent signing makes any sense for the Jays. There are trades out there that would make sense for the Jays and might lead to taking on payroll, but as far as the free agent budget goes, who else is even a defensible risk for the Jays' precious free agent money?

4. I don't think the Jays' competition for his services will be incredibly stiff. I really don't believe that Baltimore will be very active in the free agent market, what with their market size cut in half. He's not really a good fit in Seattle, who have to get young. Atlanta and San Francisco won't offer more than reasonable money.

Mike Green: I'd prefer to see Delgado back (at market price) as well. The success of the team is going to depend on the development of Rios, Wells, Hill, Adams, Quiroz, Gross, Bush, Banks, Rosario, McGowan, League...It doesn't hurt to have one veteran who can be counted on to supply consistent offence.

The offence doesn't look to me to be either power or speed based. There looks to be a little of everything, with the modest strength being in OBP. I imagine a batting order of Adams, Hill, Wells, Delgado, Rios, Cat/Menenchino, Hudson, Quiroz, Gross/Johnson, and see hitters who can get on base at the top, an acceptable power core, and some offence at the bottom of the lineup. You certainly will be able to hit and run with Adams/Hill and Rios/Cat, although straight steals are unlikely to be common.

There really is no reason that this lineup cannot approach the performance of 03. If the team is going to win however, it will require development of the pitchers. It is possible to win in the Skydome with an acceptable offence and great pitching; that was the m.o. of the 92 club.

Dave Till: Delgado's last two months sealed it for me: I think that the Jays should make every effort to try to bring him back. Teams win by finding and developing star players, not by getting rid of them, and Delgado is a star. Fiscally sound teams that pick and choose carefully from the list of freely available talent go 86-76 at best (and 67-94 at worst).

There are two reasons why Delgado might not return:
1. He can get more money elsewhere.
2. Another team might have more of a chance to contend next year, or the year after that.

If the Jays lose Delgado because of 1, they'll have a tough time selling their 2005 product to the fans. Toronto fans, like fans elsewhere, want to root for a team trying to win. If Rogers isn't going to try to win, they should get out of the baseball business. I don't want to spend my summer months rooting for a soundly constructed balance sheet.

2 is easy to resolve: if the Jays loosen their purse strings enough to fill a couple of holes (which won't require that much if Delgado returns), they'll be back at their 2003 level. And if that doesn't pan out, the Jays can always make a promise to Carlos to trade him to a contending team in his walk year (or even sooner). This would be better for Carlos than his trying to pick a contending team to sign with right now (unless he can get a contract from the Yankees).

Of course, it's easy for me to spend someone else's money. :-)

Jordan: Mike D, that's a really interesting exploration of the Delgado situation; read in that light, that brief flurry of reportage concerning the Sloane-Godfrey discussions could indicate that the Jays have reached the same conclusion themselves. I'm still not expecting a Delgado return: the Giants may only offer reasonable money, but the chance to hit behind Bonds (an RBI bonanza) might be enough to set them apart for Carlos (who would probably find San Fran a more politically receptive place than most to his stance on the war). We'll have to wait to see how that plays out.

Pistol: I actually think that the more important issue with Delgado is not his salary, but the length of his contract.

Checking his similar players at Delgado has moved from McGriff to Willie McCovey as his most similar player through age 32.

McCovey's OPS+ by age:
33 - 150
34 - 103
35 - 162
36 - 162
37 - 129

and what the heck, here's Crime Dog:
33 - 106
34 - 108
35 - 142
36 - 109
37 - 142

(Delgado was an OPS+ of 128 this year, and 160 the year before)

Ok, maybe the length of the contract isn't as important as I thought. I wouldn't want to go over 3 years, but I don't think it'd be the breaking issue that I initially thought it might be.

Mike Green: There are really two elements to performance while aging, one is performance level which on average declines modestly in the early thirties for a first baseman. The second is playing time, with McGriff and Bagwell (another Delgado comp) at one pole and McCovey at another. McCovey's playing time was markedly reduced in his early 30s.

Delgado is in great shape, and I see him as closer to the McGriff/Bagwell pole. Incidentally, BR says that McGriff is 6'3", 215 and McCovey was 6'4", 210; in other words that McGriff is slightly shorter and squatter than McCovey. If that's right, my memory is completely unreliable. BR has Cecil Fielder at 6'3", 240 and McCovey was much closer in body type to Fielder than to McGriff in my memories of him.
Three years is about right, in any event. Two would be better if Carlos agrees, and it'd be worth paying a modest premium for the shorter term.

Jordan: What about Vernon Wells? Here are his last three seasons:

2002: .275/.305/.457, 34 2B, 4 3B, 23 HR, 27 BB, 85 K
2003: .317/.359/.550, 49 2B, 5 3B, 33 HR, 42 BB, 80 K
2004: .272/.337/.472, 34 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 51 BB, 83 K

On the surface, 2003 looks like an outlier, since '02 and '04 were so similar. But in fact, Wells reproduced his '02 power numbers in 70 fewer ABs this year; moreover, his walk totals climbed higher than ever. His 2004 season was streaky: after a horrible April (581 OPS), he caught fire in May (1022) and was still hot in June (939) when he got injured. When he returned, he was ice-cold in July and August (734 and 626) before rebounding in September (927). I don't want to read too much into a junk stat like month-by-month OPS, but only want to point out that prolonged slumps ruined what could have been another MVP-calibre season (especially since his defence appears to be still improving). The question, then, is: what's Vernon's true level? What should he produce next year?

Coach: I wish I knew what happened in April, to Wells and to the team. There's been some talk about a lack of intensity or preparation, but it looked to me like some players were trying too hard. As Joe Torre said about pressure, "if you try to do more than you're capable of, this game will get the better of you every time."

So whether Vernon was pressing, or whether there was a physical reason that was never made public, his prolonged early slump was a nightmare. Obviously, he returned too soon from his injury and his midseason funk can be explained by issues of timing and confidence. His "true level" is one of the best CF in the game and a dangerous 30+ HR hitter, much closer to the 2003 model than we saw this year.

Moffatt: Rios did pretty well. This is of course coming from the guy who told the world he'd hit .220 if he were called up.

Check out Alex's splits by month:

May:  17 AB .176/.300/.176
June: 96 AB .281/.317/.375
July: 99 AB .343/.381/.495
Aug: 115 AB .287/.328/.400
Sep: 89 AB .258/.327/.303

There's some doubles power there, but unless he's hitting over .300 his OBP is going to be pretty poor. Those numbers are looking Catalanotto-esque with the caveat that they came while hitting as a righty against quite a bit of right-handed pitching.

Becuase of that I'm not sure what the Catalanotto signing got us, other than a surplus of low walks but high batting average outfielders.

Mike Green: The two organizational mistakes this year were the failure to set bullpen roles, and the failure to ensure that there was an adequate, balanced bench (and in particular, a 4th outfielder). I am confident that John Gibbons will address the first mistake next year. The second mistake is another matter. JP's comments about using Catalanotto in the outfield give me some concern that Cat is seen as a 3rd or 4th OF, and that, in light of his injury history, is asking for trouble.

Craig B: I wish I could have the same appreciation for Rios's season as Mike has. I wouldn't call it a disappointment, certainly not after a horrible spring in Syracuse, but he has been very blah.

Moffatt: It's probably because my expectations were far lower, so I've been pleasantly surprised. I'm confident that his power will develop quickly, though we shouldn't expect more than 10-15 home runs for next season.

Jonny German: I think Mike's comparison of Rios to Catalanotto sells both players short. .290/.350/.450 is baseline production for Cat. Personally, I'd like to see him as the DH against righthanders next year, and I would expect that would lead to something more like .320/.370/.490 in 400 ABs. To compare, your average DH this year batted .265/.346/.443.

If healthy, and I think that is possible if he hangs up his glove, Cat is a league-average DH at the very least. Throw in the intangibles he brings to the table and his apparent love of Toronto, and his new deal looks reasonable.

Rios meanwhile did not measure up to Frankie's standards with the bat, but did flash his impressive tools with the glove (11 assists) and on the basepaths (15 for 18 stealing). Lack of power? Be reminded that the kid is 23 years old, and that he led the Puerto Rican Winter League in homers last year.

To sum up: Rios is not yet Cat, but Cat is a good player, and Rios will grow to be even better.

Moffatt: With Cat, though, base stats are misleading, as he sits quite a few games against lefties and misses months at a time due to injury. If he were consistently putting those numbers up over 600 AB, you'd have something.

Jordan: I'm of course on the record as decrying the Cat signing almost the moment it was announced. I haven't changed my mind -- and if JP was serious that Cat and Sparky will platoon in left field next season, I'm even more disappointed. DH is the only position at which I can see Cat surviving for 400 AB.

Dave Till: I've mentioned this before, but one factor in the Cat signing was that he loves to play here. Many players won't even consider playing in Toronto, which limits J.P.'s available options.

The problem with the signing, it seems to me, is not that he's a bad player, but that he's too much of a risk for a team with a limited payroll. A team like the Red Sox, say, could sign Cat without a second thought; if he gets hurt again, well, they can go out and get somebody else. I guess the bottom line is that a team with a low payroll has to get every decision right in order to contend, and nobody's perfect.

Moffatt: That's true, but I still don't see the need to overpay those who will come here. It's that sort of thinking that got Gord Ash into trouble (among many other things).

Frank Catalanotto will be 31 at the start of next season and will have had all of 2 seasons where he's collected more than 300 at-bats.

I really enjoy watching Cat, but wouldn't it have made more sense for the Jays to find a Ken Phelps All-Star or two for left, or play some combination of Gross and Crozier out there? They could take the 2+ million they saved and with other cost savings use it to sign a marquee player or retain the marquee player that they're about to lose?

Jordan: What's the general opinion on the rookies? No fewer than 11 players debuted with the Blue Jays this year, with varying degrees of success. Most everyone seems to agree that Dave Bush is a keeper, though some scouts still think his long-term role is in the bullpen. Russ Adams had a great debut with the bat, but a .270-.280 average appears to be a more likely 2005 upside. And what about his defence: Brian Butterfield has made great strides already; can he do more? Alex Rios has been discussed above, and the general sense appears to be that if he starts hitting the ball in the air and with more authority, he'll be a star.

Less encouraging were the debuts of Gabe Gross and Guillermo Quiroz, neither of whom seems ready to be a big-league regular. JP's decision to re-sign Frank Catalanotto seems at least in part motivated by a lack of confidence that Gross can split left-field duties with Reed Johnson next year. Quiroz has the tools, but he's still really raw and seems to need at least another three months in Syracuse.

Jason Frasor and Vinny Chulk: are either one of them keepers? Eric Crozier: is he a fifth outfielder and pinch hitter for a big-league team, or more, or less?

What's the overall take on all these players and the other rooks? Which of them will matter to the franchise down the road and which are just passing through?

Mike Green: Gross and Quiroz.

First, Gross. He's hit .290 plus at both AA and AAA. He hit for some pop and drew some walks here. His BABIP in 150 ABs here was terrible, unlike in AA and AAA. I'm attributing that to bad luck, and I still have him pegged as a .260-.280, 15-20 homer, 60-70 walk rightfielder (or leftfielder if the current alignment continues). I'd much rather have him out there in the outfield than Cat.

Second, Quiroz. Injuries and catchers, they go together like wine and roses, like Wayne and Shuster, like Jagger and Richards. If he stays healthy, I think he'll hit .250-.270 with 20-25 homers and 40-50 walks. His defence looks a little rough around the edges, but he's got a fine arm and he has a catcher's approach to the game. I'm hoping that Gross gets a starting outfielder's job next year. As for Quiroz, his spring performance in 05 will probably determine his placement.

Of Gross, Quiroz, Rios, Adams and Hill, I'm betting that 4 will be playing key roles in 2007.

Moffatt: Alexis Rios: Unless he changes his approach at the plate, he'll never reach double digits in homeruns. Unless he hits .330 each year with a pile of walks, that makes him a liability at a corner outfield spot. I absolutely love his arm, though.

Kevin Cash: If this was 1974, he'd probably be at the beginning of a ten year major league career. There's just no room for catchers who hit .200 anymore, no matter how great their defense is.

Gabe Gross: Since he's always struggled as he moves up a level, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Probably still needs more time in AAA.

Russ Adams: Can't possibly be as good as he looked this September. The media is going to treat him as a litmus test for the Jays new drafting philosophy; the Jays front office are going to pass with flying colours.

Guillermo Quiroz: Needs more seasoning, but should be good. Ask me again in 2005.
Eric Crozier: Probably doesn't project to more than an extra bat on the bench. Those players still have uses, particularly if the Jays can use Crozier as an outfielder as well as at first.

Brandon League: If Curt Schilling pitched for the Jays, he'd say League had nuts the size of Saturn for his work against the Yankees. Probably best to have in AAA next year so he can work on a third pitch.

Gustavo Chacin: We probably shouldn't get too excited about a 2.57 ERA seeing as it was only in 2 starts. Still, though, they were two very impressive starts. Should start next year in AAA but could move up quickly.

David Bush: This kid is going to have his ups and downs, but I absolutely believe he's going to be a keeper. Looks like he'll be the Jays answer to Brad Radke. Hopefully he can keep his homers allowed below Radkian proportions.

Jason Frasor: The calls to have this guy be the closer are a little nuts, but he should be a decent middle reliever for the next few years. His K/BB ratio worries me, though.

Adam Peterson: Will bounce back. I have no idea what I'm basing that on, however.


Part IV tomorrow will look at several of the most talked about players in 2004.
Year in Review Roundtable - Part III | 10 comments | Create New Account
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_Rich - Tuesday, November 09 2004 @ 11:54 PM EST (#18786) #
I agree with Mike Green's assessment of Gross, and unfortunately, that won't likely be enough for him to be much of an asset. Maybe the Jays can get away with having one corner outfielder without much power, but not two.
_R Billie - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 01:25 AM EST (#18787) #
I think Gross could safely be used as trade bait to land a Durazo, Kearns, or Nick Johnson type player. DePodesta might also assign more value to Gross but LA doesn't mesh well with the Jays' needs besides their premium prospects (Loney, Jackson, Miller, Billingsley, etc).

Crozier looks like he can be a useful support player but I think he's a definate downgrade in assets from Phelps whom I figured should have netted more with the history he had going into 2004. I would find more fault with Phelps' '04 hitting if most of the rest of the team didn't suck as well.

Frasor and Chulk should both be keepers in middle relief, bridging the 5th through 8th innings for around two innings each appearance depending on the situation. I don't think either one is a star but both have value as long as they're earning the minimum. If Frasor proves himself in a late inning role, he could be attractive trade bait.

Adams needs more work on his defensive mechanics though his bat looks fine. All things considered, the mechanics should be easier to correct but one has to wonder why a guy with college experience and two full years in the minors is still so shaky throwing the ball.

Alexis Rios should be fine but he really has to stop hitting so many groundballs. A lot of people on the team hit way too many groundballs in 2004. Phelps especially saw his groundball rate increase sharply. I don't know if this is something the Jays instituted in their overall hitting approach which opposing teams were exploiting. Or whether it was the result of inexperience.

Kevin Cash appears to have the ceiling of a quality reserve catcher. With the Jays having zero major league catchers locked up for 2004 at the moment, it's probably a good idea to keep Cash around.

Guillermo Quiroz showed flashes of ability while hitting and was a bit unlucky not to be more productive in his handful of at bats. I think his hitting will be more than acceptable for a catcher. At the tender age of 22 though, there's no reason to rush this guy to the majors as he needs a lot more innings behind the plate to smooth out his defence. He could also use the full season at AAA against veteran minor league pitchers without worrying about a broken hand. Barring his ripping apart AAA before the All-Star break, I expect another callup in September with more impressive results and regular playing time in 2006.

Brandon League's stuff is impressive as hell. He needs low pressure innings in volume to work on his changeup and overall control though. That means spending much of 2005 in AAA, preferably as a starter. If there's a chance he can be a major league starter in 2006 then the Jays need to find that out.

Gustavo Chacin another AAA starter for 2005 but he'd be the first to be called on when a pitcher was needed, barring the resurgence of Jason Arnold.

David Bush is a keeper. His control and approach are mature and there isn't much more for him to learn in the minors. I think the comparison to Radke or Lawrence are pretty good though I like that he seems to keep his homeruns under better control than Radke. Had a handful of dominant games in '04 as well showing he could be more than a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Adam Peterson needs work and innings. A move to long relief and maybe even starter could give him the repitition he needs to really make gains in command and make him feel more ready to tackle the majors.
_MatO - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 09:49 AM EST (#18788) #
My prescription. Re-sign Delgado for $30M over 3 max. I don't think he'll get a much bigger offer. Platoon Gross and Johnson in left. Move Cat to DH and platoon him with Menechino or another RH bat lefty masher. Gross and Hinske can't be any worse. Hope that Rios improves and Adams should be better than what we had at SS. With better health the offense should be much improved. With about $7M left over see if you can get a solid starter or reliever, with the emphasis on quality rather than quantity. Consider Chacin and League out of the bullpen if necessary.
_alsiem - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 02:06 PM EST (#18789) #
Thanks to all the guys at Battersbox that continue to post. I love mulling over the problems the Jays face.

Am I alone in thinking that Hinske isn't completly washed up? I still think .260, 20 odd HR and 70 or RBI's is very doable. I know that being paid $5 million for that is a lot.
_DeMarco - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 02:45 PM EST (#18790) #
It's mostly the money that Hinske will be paid that bothers me. Because the Jays have such a small margin of error for mistakes with there budget, overpaying for Hinske could be the difference.

I honestly do think he will rebound a degree or two, but I don't expect him to repeat the success of his rookie season.
_Daryn - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 05:50 PM EST (#18791) #
I like signing Carlos too... with a few conditions.
1) market rate is ok.. hopefully that is more like 10 Mil than 20
2) it has to be a LONG signing, 2 years isn't useful, 3 minimum, 5 is ok..
3) whatever we THOUGHT the salary structure was, needs to be expanded by anything Carlos gets over 6 or 8 Mil....

there is no way we can win with a 50 Mil contract 20 of which goes to Carlos... we'd be better NOT to sign him... but a 56 Mil, with 10 going to Carlos, maybe....

but not next year.. and not the year after... 2006 and 2007...

Charge the differential to Marketing...
_Daryn - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 05:52 PM EST (#18792) #
Am I alone in thinking that Hinske isn't completly washed up? I still think .260, 20 odd HR and 70 or RBI's is very doable. I know that being paid $5 million for that is a lot.

No.. I agree...

since we won't win till 2006, I say we have a few options..
if someone will take him AND the full salary we can give him away for a draft pick....

BUT if not, and we have to pay him anyway...
then let him play for up to two more years... if he doesn't develop sign a free agent, (Koskie like) to replace him and win without him then...

it doesn't matter WHO is at third for the next two years.. unless HILL is a reasonable prospect that needs experience...
_Daryn - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 05:56 PM EST (#18793) #
Jordan: What's the general opinion on the rookies? No fewer than 11 players debuted with the Blue Jays this year, with varying degrees of success.

I think the Rookie program has been a success... 4 championships out of 5 minor league teams.. not bad at all...

the question will be, does it translate into Major League Victories...
and if it does, will it matter against the Bank of New York!
_Daryn - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 05:59 PM EST (#18794) #
Checking his similar players at Delgado has moved from McGriff to Willie McCovey as his most similar player through age 32.

gee, now I don't know.. Carlos is 32.. and makes a living with inside bat speed... what is he going to be worth in 2006?
_Daryn - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 06:00 PM EST (#18795) #
David Bush: This kid is going to have his ups and downs, but I absolutely believe he's going to be a keeper. Looks like he'll be the Jays answer to Brad Radke

As long as he's not the next Brett Tomko
Year in Review Roundtable - Part III | 10 comments | Create New Account
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