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Shortly before the All-Star Break, numerous Rosterites assembled electronically for a week-long online Roundtable on the state of the Blue Jays franchise, short-term and long-term. The mood was upbeat and positive, right up until Kevin Mench's line drive fractured Roy Halladay's tibia. Things got a little more sombre after that.

Accordingly, we've broken down this extensive Roundtable into two sections -- pre-HLH-injury and post-HLH-injury. Read what the Roster had to say about the Jays, and add your own two cents' worth at the end.


Here are some interesting statistics to frame the discussion. RS+ and RA+ are just like ERA+, except they index total team runs scored and allowed.

Team	Runs/G	RS+	 AVG	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS	OPS+
BAL	4.95 	120 	.278	.334	.469	.803 	123 
BOS	5.44 	114 	.282	.357	.451	.808 	116 
NYY	5.56 	106 	.277	.358	.445	.803 	103 
TAM	4.48 	98 	.269	.327	.409	.736 	100 
TOR	4.86 	97 	.268	.334	.416	.750 	92

Team	Runs/G	RA+     Opp OPS	ERA	ERA+
BAL	4.70 	85 	.735	4.41 	85 		
BOS	4.93 	94 	.772	4.84 	89 		
NYY	5.01 	102 	.772	4.55 	104 		
TAM	6.21 	71 	.829	5.87 	70 		
TOR	4.33 	112 	.742	4.11 	110

Team	Rotation       Rotation	       Rotation	       Bullpen	       Bullpen
----	IP/G	       ERA	       ERA+	       ERA	       ERA+
BAL	5.86 	       4.66 	       80 	       4.00 	       93 		
BOS	6.09 	       4.51 	       96 	       5.64 	       76 		
NYY	6.02 	       4.83 	       98 	       3.95 	       120 
TAM	5.55 	       5.92 	       70 	       5.65 	       73 		
TOR	5.77 	       4.13 	       110 	       4.00 	       114

Team	Park Factor - OPS	Park Factor – Runs
BAL	    0.89 	              0.86 
BOS	    0.98 	              0.99 
NYY	    1.09 	              1.09 
TAM	    0.95 	              0.95 
TOR	    1.07 	              1.04 

Here are three questions to get us started.

1. Why are the Jays more interesting than anticipated?

First and foremost, the return of Doc Halladay. As someone pointed out the other day, he's actually ahead of all his markers from his Cy Young season. Whenever he starts, fans and players alike come to expect, not hope for, a win.

Secondly, the unexpected success of Miguel Batista as closer. I'll eat some serious crow on this, because when the Jays moved Batista there in the pre-season, I said it wouldn't work, and I was wrong. Batista hasn't been dominant, in the sense of recording lots of K's, but the short stints appear to have done wonders for both his pitch selection and his ability to mystify hitters with the movement on his pitches. Although I'd still deal him for the right value, his success as closer has allowed the rest of the pen to fall into place.

Thirdly, Aaron Hill. The last rookie hitter I remember coming up and making this kind of impact was Jeff Kent. His average will obviously fall back from the .350 area, but I think he's going to hang around the .290-.300 level with growing power for the foreseeable future. Corey Koskie: best injury ever.

2. What should the Jays do in the second half?

They should do whatever they reasonably can to import a serious bat into the lineup, either at DH, first base or left field. That kind of player may not be available in mid-season, or if he is, may cost too much of the minor-league treasury. But if the Jays can move comfortably above .500 and stay within striking distance of the division lead, I think the Jays will pull the trigger on a major deal. JP seems to be tired of rebuilding and is eager to start competing as soon as possible. I'd be prepared to part with three top prospects to get Adam Dunn, for instance.

They should also maximize the playing time for younger players, where feasible (for instance, I don't suggest bringing Francisco Rosario up for a little look-see if the team is really charging for the AL East title, which I don't think they'll be doing anyway). Fish or cut bait on Gabe Gross. Give the ball to Dave Bush every fifth day without fail and let him tell you if he's a reliable major-league starter or not.

Finally, they need to decide what to do with their incumbent corner infielders. I've argued elsewhere that Eric Hinske still has some value if you overlook his desperately ugly outlier-June. But that June did happen, and when Koskie comes back, and if Hillenbrand stays, then something's gotta give. I doubt JP would simply eat the $9M of Hinske's remaining contract, but I also doubt that the Blue Jays will end the season with both of the 'Ski brothers on the roster.

3. What's the state of the franchise right now?

Better than could have been envisioned when the Year From Hell drew to a close. Halladay is back to 100%, and Vernon Wells, after a very rough patch, appears to be back to form. Along with Hill, these are the three most important players for the club for the next 2 1/2 years. Russ Adams and Alex Rios are coming along more slowly than anticipated, but they're coming, and I think they'll have better numbers by season's end than is widely expected.

The most important addition to the team, of course, has been the additional $20M per season furnished by Ted Rogers. So it stands to reason that the Jays' chances of seriously competing in the next few post-seasons (aka, in the JP Ricciardi era) hinge on two factors: (1) how well that money is spent (and as Koskie has proven, there's no way to guarantee that it will be spent well), and (2) how well the pitching prospects develop -- this time next year, the Jays need at least three of Bush, Rosario, League, Gaudin, Marcum or Vermilyea to be contributing good value at the major-league level (assuming they haven't been dealt in a big trade before then).

As stated, I don't think the 2005 Jays, as currently constituted, sufficiently resemble a legitimate contender to cause or justify a buying spree. But I think they're getting closer every day, and that in 2006, this club will start making some serious noise.

Mike Green:
The team at the All-Star break is more interesting than expected, for two reasons. The Yankees especially and the Red Sox have not been playing as well as expected, with the result that the Jays can honestly feel that they are in the race. The other is the unusual state of health, particularly of the pitching staff. This has meant a shortage of openings for deserving young talent.

Many of us expected at the beginning of the season that the Jays would finish right around .500. We knew that there would be some tension between the desire to win now and play "proven veterans," and the long-term best interests of the organization. That tension is at a higher pitch than expected because of the Jays' position in the standings, and the relative absence of injury-related opportunity (with the sole exception of Koskie's injury that paved the way for Aaron Hill's successful debut).

"What should be done next?" I agree with Jordan. Gross and Bush should play. A backup catcher who can hit .220 with the occasional home run should be obtained. If a deal can be arranged for a big bat, it won't hurt. An upgrade in the bullpen would be good, although not a necessity by any means.

I said at the start of the season that I wanted to see a lineup of Rios, Wells, Gross in the outfield, Hill, Adams, Hudson and Koskie in the infield and Zaun and Quiroz catching, with Catalanotto and Menenchino sharing the DH job. A rotation of Halladay, Bush, Lilly, Chacin and Towers would be fine. All of that may happen in spite of the insistence that Hillenbrand would not be traded.

JP's in a nice trading position. He doesn't absolutely need anything (except a backup catcher), and has flexibility in what to ask for.

“1. Why are the Jays more interesting than anticipated?"

Absolutely, the return of Roy Halladay. Nothing else matters. The team is 14-4 when he starts. Suppose he's not available and you plug in anybody else in the system. You get something like replacement level — say 8-10 in those games — well, then, they're sitting with a 36-46 record and we're doing a lot of grumbling.

2. ”What should they do in the second half?”

Well, that's easy! Unload Hinske's contract and pick up a big bopper, a bona fide number-2 starter and some depth at catcher.

How they do these things... well, that I don't know. Is Burnett a bona fide number-2? Is he that much better than, say, Chacin? Because Florida surely needs a rotation starter in exchange, and I don't think they'd settle for Towers.

Dave Till:
I'm beginning to think that there might be a narrow window of opportunity right now.

The Red Sox are the class of the division, but they have some significant weaknesses, as anyone who saw the first game of the Jays-Sox series can tell you. The Yankees are floundering, and the Orioles are returning to their level. This means that a wild-card spot is well within reach, at the very least.

But this window may not stay open too long. The Yanks, Sox and O's all have huge budgets; in particular, the Yankees are likely more than willing to dump expensive contracts in the offseason and then spend more money on more expensive contracts. Once you've passed $200 million, how ludicrous is $250 million, or $300 million? What's money to George, anyway?

And I believe that the Jays don't have as much coming up from the farm system as some people think. There are no useful hitting prospects in AA or AAA (except perhaps Hattig), so there will be no new bats coming for the next couple of years. And while there is pitching coming, a lot of it is bulk pitching, and it'll be hard to find room for all of them on the 40-man roster.

For this reason, I think the Jays should be buyers in this season's stretch drive. Why not liberate a couple of bats from teams that are sinking fast, in return for a bunch of young arms and maybe Gross? (Hey, if the Yankees keep sinking, maybe they'll be selling. Look! A pig is flying!)

I also want to see Hill at shortstop more in the next month, and maybe Adams at second now and again. At some point, the Jays need to sort out the Hill/Koskie/Adams/Hudson logjam, and they don't have enough information to know whether Hill can play short, or whether Adams can play second well enough to move there. (I am assuming that Koskie won't be moved — it's bad form to trade a player in the first year of his free agent contract.)

I'd also like to see Bush back up. And, if the Jays can find a bat, it might be time to punt Hinske.

What should they do in the second half? I'd recommend finding somebody willing to trade a big bat for Gross and a fling of pitching prospects. If the Jays don't trade some of their pitching prospects, they'll just be donating them to other teams courtesy of the Rule 5 draft. And I still don't think Gross is going to make it (though I'd prefer him to Hinske right now).

As for the state of the franchise? Everything's better than it was three years ago: the team is better, the in-game atmosphere is better, and the outlook is better. J.P. and his brain trust have made some good decisions, and Ted Rogers has invested in the team and the ballpark. But recall that the Gillick-era Jays stalled at 85 to 90 wins for a number of years. J.P. will have to get some tough decisions right to put this team over the top.

Named For Hank:
Dave said: I'm beginning to think that there might be a narrow window of opportunity right now. I agree. The whole AL East, save Tampa Bay, are one good winning streak away from the title. With Baltimore, Boston and the charred remains of New York pounding on each other, it's going to be hard for anyone to run away with the division. As long as the Jays keep winning series after series, they're in the race.

Things that needed to fall into place for the team to contend:

- Halladay had to be healthy.
- Someone had to come up from the minors and make a splash.
- Hillenbrand had to have an OBP of greater than .350.
- The bullpen had to come together.

These things are happening. And what I keep noticing is that when one of the Jays who's been cold gets hot, the team wins in convincing fashion. The most recent example has been Orlando Hudson. It would be great if they could simply stay hot, but it also illustrates just how an impact batter would push this team over the edge.

So I'm just an idiot fan, but I'm standing by my pre-season 90 wins/wild card hunt prediction, even without an additional bat.

“1. Why are the Jays more interesting than anticipated?”

Well, in addition to what everyone else has said (Halladay, Batista, Hill, lack of injuries), I think the team wouldn't be in the position they're in without Chacin and Towers. Of course, that's been offset by Bush and Lilly. The bullpen is also much improved. Collectively they've been above-average, ranking 10th in baseball in ERA.

”2. What should the Jays do in the second half?”

There's room for improvement in both hitting and pitching.

After Halladay, the Jays don't have that “#2 starter” to rely on. If the Jays were to make the playoffs, I wouldn't be all that confident with Chacin, Towers or Lilly on the mound (unless Lilly was facing the Sox...). Lilly could be that #2 guy, but there's a reason he's called “Ted the Tease.”

A.J. Burnett is apparently available. I'd go after him really hard. The worst case is that you trade for Burnett, you don't win, and he signs somewhere else — but in that case, you'd end up with two draft picks. The best case is that you trade for him, he likes it in Toronto, likes Arnsberger, and re-signs with the Jays.

The easiest place to upgrade is probably 1B/DH, where Hinske is getting outslugged by Russ Adams. At some point, that has to be addressed — and the sooner the better, especially if the team feels they're a playoff contender. Of course, Corey Koskie coming off the DL could be that move.

The Jays are almost in a position like the A's, where when the question is “Are you buyers or sellers?” the answer is “both.” Both Cat and Hudson could be moved, and it's possible that Gross and Hill could make trading those two an upgrade not even counting the players obtained in return.

Ideally, I'd like to see Hill in the middle infield and then a veteran bat like a Raul Ibanez that would be an upgrade over Hinske. So you'd have Hudson and Hinske out and Koskie and the player traded for in the lineup, which I think would be a pretty significant upgrade from the current lineup (granted, the defense would slip from Hudson's level).

Of lesser concern are the corner outfielders. Freed Johnonaotto is a good enough platoon in LF and Rios should improve, but if something big came along, it'd be worth a look.

"3. What's the state of the franchise right now?"

The team's on the upswing, pitching prospects are working their way up the ladder, and they'll have more money to work with — so it seems everything is pointing up. Of course, a similar argument could have been made two years ago, and we all know how The Season From Hell went. It's a whole lot easier going from 75 to 85 wins than it is going from 85 to 95. There are reasons for optimism, but it should be cautious optimism.

“1. Why are the Jays more interesting than anticipated?”

Orlando Hudson. The guy plays everywhere: second base, right field, first base, shortstop, in-game host, colour commentator, drummer outside the Rogers Centre, GO Train conductor.

Jordan said, of Batista: I'll eat some serious crow on this, because when the Jays moved Batista there in the pre-season, I said it wouldn't work, and I was wrong. No kidding. I said the same thing, noting his inability to throw strikes in spring training, and he's turned out great.

This bullpen is new to me; I'm used to Jeff Tam and Luis Andujar. Now the Jays have four relievers who don't give me heart attacks, plus Pistol Pete for Lilly's non-Boston starts. Sure, Scott Schoeneweis isn't reliable against righthanded hitters (and I don't trust him in any situation), but 5 out of 6 isn't bad.

Aaron Hill: I was going to go with Hillhouse as his nickname, but Aaron "2 for 4" Hill is more accurate. As a fan, it's terrific to see him play — you just know he's going to get a double if the bases are empty or a single with a man on second. As an objective observer, he's still great. Yes, he won't hit .354 or whatever he's hitting now for the rest of the season, but Mike Wilner said it best: Aaron Hill will not play another game in the minor leagues. If he can handle shortstop, the Jays have a keeper. Whoever said he looks like a third baseman could not be more right. It's like he was born to play there.

There's not much to say about Roy Halladay — we all thought he was at the top of his game in 2003. He's officially reached Spinal Tap levels now — his pitching is "11". It's one better than 10, and much better than 2004.

Contention in the weak AL East? It's weird — I'm not even thinking playoff contention at this point. Yeah, the Jays are only a handful of games out of the division and the wild card, but they aren't going to win either one of them. I naturally assume one of New York or Boston will win the division, though the Yankees are running out of time and the Red Sox don't look anywhere close to the team they were last year.

Baltimore is fading fast — one can only rely on Bruce Chen for so long — and frankly, I don't see what's so great about their rotation, anyway. Even with all of this, I don't think Toronto will factor into any divisional race after early August. Not with this offense, and not with Halladay-Chacin-Towers-Lilly-Walker.

“2. What should the Jays do in the second half?”

Get David T. Bush back up with the big club. As soon as possible. Pete Walker is a nice story and all, and yes, he's the fifth-best starting option on this team right now, but he wouldn't be if Bush was in Toronto, where he belongs.

Gabe Gross and Eric Hinske: one of them isn't needed, perhaps even both could be traded or otherwise jettisoned once Koskie returns. If the ever-discussed Big Bat Trade goes through, then you have a bunch of extra players. I'm not happy with Eric Hinske now, nor have I been in a while. You could almost bench him now and put Gross in left, Cat at DH. When Koskie returns, then you have a solid bat off the bench no matter who sits that day.

Clearly, I'm higher on Gross than Hinske, as I suspect is the case with most people.

Mick Doherty:
I think there's a very interesting phenomenon going on, and y'all who are daily Jays fans might be too close to the situation to notice it. But working in a media-centric job in the U.S. — in GWB's Texas, no less — I can tell you, nobody is noticing the Blue Jays. I mean, nobody realizes that this is a pretty good team; even here in the Metroplex, as plans for Rusty Greer Day (which will have passed by the time this is published) are being finalized, the "come see the Rangers pound the Blue Jays" portion of the pre-sell is a foregone conclusion, supposedly.

I think it's safe to say that Joe USA Baseball Fan has heard of Halladay and maybe Wells, and thanks to his time in Boston, maybe Hillenbrand. But Adams? Hill? Batista? Forget it.

So two interesting things here:

1. This may be good for a young Jays team in the short run, racking up wins and confidence while nobody notices; and

2. If the Jays are still hanging around in early September, they could easily become the baseball world's media darlings, the plucky little Team That Believed It Could, and even if they fall short and finish third — as is likely, frankly — maybe that kind of attention sways the opinion of next year's big bat free agent.

“1. Why are the Jays more interesting than anticipated?”

I think the number-one reason, as Magpie said, is Roy Halladay. I expected the Doc to rebound from last year, but I didn't think he'd be the best pitcher in the American League at the break. The reason the Jays are more interesting than we thought is because they're contending, and without Halladay, they're not contending.

Hill is reason #2 and is a fantastic story. It should be very fun to watch this kid play in Toronto, at whatever position, for the next five years. Nobody thought Hill could come this far, this fast, and without him, Koskie's injury is a lot more detrimental.

From the revival of Gregg Zaun's career to the hustle of Reed Johnson to Orlando Hudson's defence to the arrival of Chacin and Adams, there are many players to cheer for on the Jays. When the excitement of competing combines with the excitement of watching these players develop, it results in a very enjoyable team to watch.

When the Jays were "contending" in the early ‘00s, watching Steve Traschel take the mound every fifth day left nothing to the imagination, and was a minor improvement over the previous options. They were simply ways to try to win. But the Jays now are players to watch (for no other reason than to get a gauge on the future), regardless of whether the team is winning.

Even if the Jays, as is most likely, miss the playoffs, we'll still have gotten to see Adams, Chacin, Hill and possibly Gross turn into big-league players. We'll see if Rios can ever meet the enormous expectations he earned following 2003, and so on. Even some of the most veteran players, like Walker and Zaun, have interesting backstories.

However, with an average Halladay and without Hill, the Blue Jays are sitting comfortably in fourth place and everyone would know they wouldn't move from that spot in the standings for the rest of the year. Last year, I didn't care when the Jays lost. This year, losses like [July 5th] against Oakland really hurt. And as much as they do, I enjoy this feeling much more than not caring.

"3. What's the state of the franchise right now?"

I'm going to answer this first, because it explains my answer to queestion 2, below. I'm solidly in the contending boat. Perhaps it's the fan part of my personality that's sometimes very hard to turn off, but ever since the middle or end of May, I've come to believe that they definitely have a chance to make the playoffs this year. Without changes, it's not a large chance, but it's positively there and no one can deny it. And this is something I wasn't thinking about in April.

The Orioles were never as good as they were playing and have slowly returned to their level of play. Sosa is not the player he used to be, Bedard and Lopez are hurt, and the holes in the roster are slowly being exposed. The Yankees were never as good as people thought they'd be, but I didn't expect them to be this bad. However, it's becoming increasingly evident that (a) they are this bad and (b) they are going to struggle to improve this year.

Beane asked for Cano, Hughes and Cabrera for Kotsay, and why shouldn't he? New York is completely stuck, and Beane would like to keep Kotsay to begin with. Not many names are available, and the Yankees are going to be unable to outbid the multitude of other teams in contention to acquire whatever players are shopped before the deadline.

As for Boston, they are the best team in the East, but they are also struggling at this point. Theo should be able to add a bullpen arm or two at the deadline, but I'm not convinced he'll be able to add a big piece. The East does not have a dominant team this year, and I'm not sure for how long that is likely to continue.

I think Dave makes a good point, although I'm not convinced it's as dire as he made it seem. The Jays payroll boost is going to help them keep pace with the O's in terms of spending, even if that's far behind Boston and New York. However, he's right in that all three teams will have large budgets. The Jays do have a lot of pitching coming up, but as has been pointed out, there are no real hitters until you get to A-Ball, and you certainly can't start counting Cannon or anyone similar as an impact MLB hitter. None of the other three teams have strong systems and New York's is particularly weak — but the Jays aren't sitting in a position where they know that in two years they’ll have enough talent up from the minors to compete.

I don't think it will be as easy for the Yankees to fix things as they'd like, but Steinbrenner is aging and I doubt he wants to spend his last few years watching this Yankee ship sink like a heavy stone. I certainly wouldn't put it past him to radically increase the payroll, as Dave said. Plus, there's a good portion of money coming off their books at the year's end (Brown, Williams, Quantrill, Stanton, Karsay).

Theo's a strong GM and I don't think he's going sit idly by as the Red Sox are overtaken by the Jays and the O's. Finally, the Devil Rays are afterthoughts and I think they will be next year, too. However, the arrival of Upton, Young and several other players from their minors will start them moving in the right direction. They won't be the whipping boys forever. Things are looking up in the Blue Jays future, but nobody in the AL East is headed for disaster.

2. ”What should they do in the second half?”

As Dave and Aaron have said, the Jays need to act like buyers in this year's trade market. That doesn't mean they can't be buyers and sellers (a la the 1999 or 2000 A's, when they traded Billy Taylor and then acquired Isringhausen), and it doesn't mean they should do anything that mortgages their future. However, this isn't the year to act like sellers, and I don't think they should stand pat, either. Don't make trades for the sake of making trades, but the Jays are in a position, even in a competitive year, where they should be able to make a move or two that improves the team.

Trade a reasonable package for A.J. Burnett and then sign him to a contract extension, if possible. This year's crop of free agents is weak, and Burnett is the best pitcher on the market. The Jays have a payroll increase and could find themselves hard-pressed to find places to spend it. If the Jays could trade for Burnett and then sign him in that 72-hour window to a multi-year contract extension, they'd get to take the best pitcher off the market without being forced into a bidding war against multiple other teams. Burnett won't come cheaply, and I'm sure his agent has told him of the Matt Clement-type money he could get in the offseason, but I'd still rather negotiate with him in a window rather than against 29 other teams.

Burnett loves working with Brad Arnsberg, and that is apparently why Toronto is on his short list of preffered teams. This is an opportunity that might not duplicate itself again in the near future. I don't know what a reasonable package is, and I'm not going to speculate, only to say it'd likely include Chacin, a prospect and more. Pistol's right — worst-case scenario is that the Jays get some picks for him, which isn't a huge loss as long as they haven't paid through the roof for him.

Get a backup catcher. Huck, you're a great prankster, but your hitting skills leave something to be desired. Maybe we'll see you again in September.

Trade for an impact bat. Actually, I doubt they’d be able to do this and trade for Burnett, and although I think hitting is their biggest problem, signs point to Burnett. I'd love to have Dunn, Huff or some other masher to slot into the heart of the lineup, and if things with Burnett fall through, I think J.P. should aggresively, but not recklessly, pursue batters of that calibre. If he’s able to get Burnett, there still might be space to add a mid-tier bat (nobody special, but a modest improvement at some position). However, the lineup may not be in terrible shape in the second half anyway, as they do get Koskie in place of Hinske.

I agree that Bush needs to come back into the rotation. That'd leave a rotation for the second half of Doc, Lilly, Chacin (AJ?), Bush, Towers. Walker's been very valuable, but I'd rather have him in the bullpen in the second half.

I don't know if Gross will be here past July 31, but if he is, I agree with the sentiment that he has to start receiving more playing time, whether or not his team is in a playoff race.

Finally, just to add to Mick's comment - on Ryne Sandberg's preview of the best series of the week (a weekly feature he does for Yahoo Sports), last weekend he highlighted the Red Sox-Jays match as one to watch. Ryno said: "I can't believe the Jays are still in it," and went onto predict a Red Sox sweep, even though he acknowledged Halladay would be tough to beat.

Assuming both are available, why couldn't the Jays trade for both Dunn and Burnett? They have the payroll room — about $20 million on top of everyone on currently on the team right now — and they have reasonable chips to trade. For instance, I would think Gross, Chacin, and Frasor would be good enough to get Burnett. Then you try to sign him to a Clement-like contract — 4 years for $34M.

Dunn might be tougher to get, but if you offer Rios, Hudson and a minor-league pitcher of their choice, are the Reds turning that down? Dunn has two arbitration years left, so you'd have him for at least that period, and perhaps he would be willing to sign a longer-term deal in the 4 years for $40M neighborhood. That might make a splash, eh?

Then, in the offseason, you move Adams or Hill to 2B and try to find a reasonable FA to replace Hinske in the lineup. And if you have Dunn, you have a little flexibility in who you can sign, since Dunn can play OF or 1B.

So you might have something like this:

Adams – SS
Hill - 2B
Dunn - RF/1B
Wells - CF
Koskie - 3B
Hillenbrand - DH
FA - 1B/OF
Zaun - C
Freed Johnolotto - LF


SS Loogy

Then you'd likely have two of three of Rosario, Marcum, and Gaudin working their way up (since I had the Reds taking one in trade), all of who could be fine relievers, if not starters. That'd be a pretty exciting team for me.

Maybe that's not entirely realistic, but I do think the Jays need to consolidate their roster a bit. Is there anyone who wouldn't do this?


Named For Hank:
Halladay's injury makes things harder, but not impossible. Dave Bush needs to return in a big, big way: ride into town and save the team. Be the big dog for two months while the Doctor recovers. Barring a trade, this is the scenario that I see most easily keeping the Jays in the race.

And who knows, Dave Bush could be just the kind of guy who rises to that challenge.

Losing Doc for a month, of course, makes it extremely doubtful that the team can keep pace with the Big Boys. Which was probably premature anyway — this team doesn't look to me like it's on the verge of becoming one of the best teams in the game.

And even if Doc stayed healthy, the planets aligned perfectly, and they snuck into the post-season, I'd still be inclined to think that. Yes, there might have been an opportunity this year. But there will be other opportunities in other years.

Coming on the heels of the Rangers sweep....

Yes, that was an ugly series in Texas. But before breaking out the sackcloth and Gord Ashes, keep in mind that those three losses dropped the Blue Jays to a nice symmetrical 44-44 at the Break. This is a .500 club, folks, and that should not be considered a disappointment; frankly, it's a testament to their grit that they've won as many games as they have. The Jays are playing just about as well as could reasonably have been expected coming into the season.


- This team has one bona fide superstar (Halladay), an above-average centerfielder (Wells), a defensive whiz at second base (Hudson), and a catcher having a late-career reanissance (Zaun). Everyone else on this club is average at best, well below average otherwise. Players like Adams and Rios will improve, but today, they're just plain mediocre.

- The highest-rated Blue Jay in Runs Created/Game is Shea Hillenbrand at 43rd. Wells follows him at 49th. No other Jay is in the Top 60. Hillenbrand and Wells are also the only Jays with an OPS above 800 (and Shea is still riding the wave of his mammoth April).

- Here are the total Win Shares rankings (which includes defence) for every Jays position player in the 14-team AL.

C: Zaun (3rd)
1B: Hinske (15th)
2B: Hudson (9th)
SS: Adams (14th)
3B: Hillenbrand (8th), Hill (10th), Koskie (17th)
OF: Wells (16th), Rios (32nd), Catalanotto (38th)

And it's not like any of these guys (except the injured Koskie) are drastically underperforming their recent production levels.

- Finally, as is well-established, the pitching staff isn't so hot either. Halladay ranked #2 in major-league VORP before his injury. The next-highest Jays pitcher is Gustavo Chacin at #40 (right ahead of Jason Johnson). Next is Pete Walker at #46 (right ahead of Aaron Harang). When your long reliever is your third-best pitcher, you do not have a contending staff. When your 2nd- and 3rd-best pitchers could be exchanged performance-wise for Jason Johnson and Aaron Harang, you do not have a contending staff. Next on Toronto's VORP list? Josh Towers at #140.

All of this to say, it's been a fun club to watch, and the mediocrity of the AL East has made thoughts of a pennant run enticing. But don't mistake this for anything but an average club with one great starter (and, I predict, a substantially below-average club without him).

Which is why I'll say, again: play the youngsters as often as possible. Get Alex Rios and Gabe Gross into the lineup every single day. Give Dave Bush a spot in the rotation. Continue giving Russ Adams playing time. Find out everything you can about what these players can offer you for 2006, either in a Jays unform or as part of a deal elsewhere. The Halladay injury, unfortunate as it is, gives the club the perfect excuse to jettison the likes of Catalanotto to clear room for the young guys.

This does not preclude the Blue Jays, by the way, from making a run at a major mid-season pickup like a Burnett or a Dunn — I suspect the plan was always to use the extra payroll room to go shopping at mid-season and see what's available. If they can improve the club long-term with a July or August acquisition, they should do it — those chances don't come along very often. This club is on the upswing overall; they're just not going to be a contender this season.

Mike Green:
I agree that this team is unlikely to contend. And if they do, it is not going to be because Frank Catalanotto or Shea Hillenbrand obliterate their previous established performance marks. It will be because several of Adams, Hill, Gross, Rios and Bush develop. These are good players, and they all need the chance to play every day.

The short-term and long-term needs of the club are in concert. The veteran players here are fit for a supporting role only; it is the young who will determine how far this team goes this year and next.

Revisiting Lucas’ chart at the top of the page — the Yankee park factor is a big surprise. I hadn't noticed.

A good portion (I don't know, 30-35%) of the Jay success so far this season at run prevention has been due to superior defence. You'd think that a team with a good bullpen (as the Jays have had) would have an actual record at least close to their Pythagorean record. Perhaps the absence of a bat or two on the bench for most of the season has affected the team's performance in close games.

Mike D:
The only urgent short-term personnel need is to pick up a backup catcher. Gregg Zaun deserves a breather more often than he's gotten one lately, but the Jays can't afford to put Huckaby — a de facto pitcher, really — in the 9-hole every fifth day. Everyone else on the team can contribute to a club that is both competitive and harmonious.

Organizationally, it's not a news flash that the Jays need hitting at all levels. The "endowment effect" is particularly strong when talking about prospects, but I hope the Jays can find a daring trade partner willing to swap a B+ or A- hitter for a B+ or A- pitcher. There's no need to sell for the sake of selling, but if he can get the hitting equivalent of a Scott Kazmir for a veteran, JP should pull the trigger ten times out of ten.

I'm really happy with the organizational stable of young arms. I think it's highly likely that the pitching staff will be very good, 1 through 12, in 2007.

Count me as a fan of John Gibbons' usage patterns. Players with backup skill sets have played as often as backups ought to play — seldom, but not never, and at their appropriate positions.

As for the kids, Gibbons has played the hot hand, but I don't think it's as big of a problem as a lot of my colleagues seem to think. Basically, I think it's a positive that Gibbons holds players accountable and demands production. Why should Gibby send the message that the organization has no expectations, and that improvement will not be required to get all the playing time you please, so long as you still wear the "prospect" hat?

Look, I understand that if you have a 21-year-old phenom who's dominated at every level, you stay the course even if they have a rotten 30-40 at-bats to start their career. But Gabe Gross will be 26 in October, and he's neither getting on base nor hitting for any kind of power whatsoever (.289 SLG, 0 RBI, 38 AB). Sure, he's had his moments — The Throw won one game, and The Slide nearly won another. But I bet even Gabe would concede that he hasn't earned an everyday job. To give it to him anyway would raise eyebrows in the clubhouse.

The case for Rios playing more often is a bit stronger (since he could well be a player who will blossom as his instincts improve), but I don't mind holding him accountable as well. Limited plate discipline and limited power should not equal unlimited playing time.

I should clarify that the circumstances of this season make Gibbons' roster management appropriate. Were the .500 Jays 15 games back of the Yankees and Red Sox, then I would be more sympathetic to the "damn the torpedoes, play the kids" argument. But with the big guns faltering, there's still a good buzz about the Jays in Toronto. Playing to win and playing in meaningful games not only pleases the fans, but in my opinion, creates a healthier and more constructive learning environment for the young players.

Finally, I think Eric Hinske will be a very useful pinch-hitter — and I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically — when Koskie returns. It's not fair and not a good on-field decision to play Hinske for "well, we're paying him" reasons when Koskie, Hill and Hillenbrand deserve to play.

By the way, I'm more than a little tired of Shea Hillenbrand being called "average" or "mediocre." An 816 OPS is not "average," and it's dishonest to say that it is. A VORP into the 20s at the All-Star break is not "average." If he tails off in the second half — as he is concededly wont to do — then let's discuss then.

It seems like everyone has to prove their sabremetric street cred by disapproving of Shea. Count me impressed by both his OBP and his attitude; what JP likes the best about him, I suspect, is Shea's belief that it's no longer OK to placidly accept defeat in Toronto. And that counts for something.

Mike Green:
Hillenbrand has been precisely average. Among first basemen, the median GPA is .269, which is exactly where Hillenbrand is at. For context, he's right between Scott Hatteberg and Justin Morneau, in the middle of the first base pack.

His performance so far this year is significantly better than it has been in previous years, thanks particularly to his willingness to take a pitch for the team, but I do not expect him to be able to sustain the improvement. We'll see.

Catalanotto is in the bottom three of regular AL leftfielders offensively, ahead of Womack and Podsednik only, and way behind players such as Coco Crisp and Rondell White. Gabe Gross is, right now, a better player. He played the equivalent of a full season in Syracuse in 2003 and 2004. Any reasonable translation of his performance there has him as at least as good as Catalanotto offensively, and much better on the basepaths and in the field. Plus, he's five years younger.

Gross's handling this year has been an exhibit in how not to do things. He's been up and down, often getting ten plate trips or less in a week in the majors. How can you expect to get optimal hitting performance from a rookie under these conditions? It's bizarre, really. Wanting to ensure that John McDonald gets enough work, but not really caring whether Gabe Gross does. Usually, first-round draft picks who have done pretty well in the minors get a better shot than he has.

"1. Why are the Jays more interesting than anticipated?"

Besides, Doc. there's Aaron Hill and Shea Hillenbrand. What more needs to be said about Aaron Hill? No one saw this coming, not this soon.

As is well known, I've never been a Hillenbrand fan - I didn't make any bets on him, but I seriously compared his offensive skills to those of Dave Berg. (Well, hey - Dave Berg wasn't all that bad while he was here.) Anyway, Hillenbrand, even this year, is not enough of an offensive force to properly fill the role they have him playing here - he's not really a middle-of-the-order type hitter. But that's not his fault. He's an offensive plus, he moves back and forth between three positions in the lineup, and he doesn't like losing.

“2. What should the Jays do between now and the end of the year?"

I believe the children are the future ... sorry about that. Keep working the young fellas into the lineup. But with both (a) expectations, which does seem to be the way Gibbons likes to do it anyway, and (b) in whatever manner gives them the best possible chance to succeed, and get a toehold on establishing themselves as major leaguers.

It's interesting, for example, how Adams has been slowly eased into playing more and more. Gibbons found himself with a lefthanded-hitting rookie and a righthanded-hitting glove whiz. He basically platooned them for the first half. As the rookie began to settle in and play better, he began to play more.

Note also that Gibbons almost never pulls the rookie for late-inning defense. He pulls Catalanotto all the time to get a defensive upgrade, but not Adams. Generally, he wants the kid out there learning to cope. Bringing in Johnny McD in the 8th every time you have a one-run lead might often be the best thing for that particular ballgame, but Gibbons clearly doesn't think it's the best thing for Russ Adams. McDonald was born to be a late-inning defensive replacement, and Gibbons doesn't really have an available spot for him the way he's managing the infield. But as he doesn't want to absolutely bury McDonald, he's still going to get the occasional start against LH.

“3. Where is the franchise heading in 2006 and beyond?”

Pistol is exactly right: "The team's on the upswing, pitching prospects are working their way up the ladder, and they'll have more money to work with so it seems everything is pointing up." And this actually couldn't have been said after 2003 — there was no prospect of additional money to spend.

The All-Star Break Roundtable | 126 comments | Create New Account
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Mick Doherty - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 02:04 PM EDT (#122478) #
Guys! This is all so sensible, so level-headed! Where's the moaning and gnashing of teeth, the irrational demands to trade the entire farm for AJ Burnett, the weeping and wailing of an irrational ZLC?
Mike Green - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#122480) #
Mick, did you check out the NY park factor? Yankee Stadium has been an excellent hitter's park so far this season. Your assertion that Rivera/Gordon are the Mantle/Maris of the world of relief (Pop, pop, fizz, fizz) finds support there.
Thomas - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#122481) #
Although the question of how much is too much in an AJ Burnett trade is a very real one.
Gitz - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#122483) #
Could it be that Yankee Stadium has been a good hitter's park because the Yankees pitching has been somewhat, well, craptastic?
Mike D - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 02:46 PM EDT (#122488) #
Hillenbrand has been precisely average. Among first basemen, the median GPA is .269, which is exactly where Hillenbrand is at.

With respect, Mike G, using the criteria of (a) "first baseman," (b) "median" and (c) "GPA" requires some pretty creative gerrymandering to label Shea as average. That ain't exactly considering all the data and seeing where it leads you. That's more of a legal-style argument where you've taken a position and hunted for authority in support.

You've basically changed his position, disregarded his versatility, ignored his defence and rendered his durability irrelevant -- not to mention carefully selected the one offensive metric (GPA) that does the most to punish low-walk hitters. Plus you've used "median," and I bet you factored "first basemen" Travis Hafner and David Ortiz into your analysis.

Not average! He may be average by the end of the year. He is not average now.
Lucas - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 02:54 PM EDT (#122492) #
Quality of performance doesn't affect park factors because they measure how well the team AND its opponents do in a particular park. For example, Tampa Bay plays in a pitcher's park, and their pitchers are still atrocious.

Right now, New York and their daily opposition are averaging 11.3 runs per game in Yankee Stadium and only 9.6 in other parks.

The factors I compiled are strictly for this season, so it's reasonable that some parks have skewed numbers.
Magic 9 - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#122493) #
Here is a South Florida article concerning the Jays trading for Burnett.,0,4803707.story?coll=sfla-sports-headlines

BCMike - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#122494) #
Just wanted to say nice job guys!
Jordan - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#122495) #
From the Sun-Sentinel article (take it for what it's worth):

"The Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays are the latest trio of contending clubs to express serious interest in the hard-throwing right-hander. ... Of the three, it's the Blue Jays, reeling from the recent loss of ace Roy Halladay to a leg injury, who could wind up providing the best match.

"Marlins are known to covet Toronto's rookie left-hander Gustavo Chacin, and a major league source said Tuesday the Blue Jays would be willing to part with him in a deal for Burnett. The key would be getting Burnett signed to a contract extension during a 72-hour negotiating window. "If [Toronto] could sign Burnett, the deal would get done now," the source said.

"Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg is one of Burnett's closest friends, dating to their partnership with the Marlins in 2002-03. What's more, Blue Jays ownership has authorized General Manager J.P. Ricciardi to increase the club's payroll from $50 million to an average of $80 million the next two seasons.

"Ricciardi recently called Marlins GM Larry Beinfest and told him to check back with him before dealing Burnett. Those in Burnett's camp are intrigued and watching closely to see if a deal can be struck.

"The Jays, searching for another right-handed hitter, would have some interest in third baseman Mike Lowell should the Marlins insist on linking him to Burnett. Toronto also might be willing to take outfielder Juan Encarnacion in exchange for Frank Catalanotto, a left-handed hitter who could platoon with Jeff Conine.

"The Marlins have liked Catalanotto for years and tried to acquire him in August 2003 after Lowell suffered a broken hand. Several clubs have expressed trade interest in Catalanotto, who was batting .286 with four home runs in a part-time role.

"But it's Chacin, 24, who would be the key to any deal with the Jays. The stockily built Venezuelan is 7-5 with a 3.57 ERA that ranks 10th in the American League. He is making the major league minimum and wouldn't be eligible for salary arbitration for several more seasons.

"Lefty Ted Lilly and young right-hander David Bush are other starters the Jays would discuss, but the Marlins don't like either as much as Chacin."
Pistol - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#122501) #
one offensive metric (GPA) that does the most to punish low-walk hitters

I agreed with most of your post Mike D, but that statement confused me. Isn't GPA one of the most accurate rate stats?

Mike Green - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#122502) #
Mike D, I agree about Hillenbrand's defence. He is very good at first base and adequate at third.

As for his offence, I'm holding firm. GPA weights OBP more than SLUG. This year, Hillenbrand has been a little above average in OBP and below average in SLUG, so actually GPA does him a favour as compared with OPS besides being a more accurate representation of performance. Actually, it's a little charitable because it does not account for the above average number of double plays that Hillenbrand grounds into.

As for the use of median, rather than average, that actually benefits him as well. The average GPA of regular first basemen is .278, rather than a median of .269.

Among the 13 regular first basemen this year, he's clearly behind Hafner, Ortiz, Sexson, Teixeira and Palmeiro offensively and clearly ahead of Hinske, Millar and Broussard. If you use third basemen, he's again right in the middle of the pack.

There's nothing wrong with "average". Teams need average players, and if Hillenbrand continues to perform as he has, he will have earned his salary as an average versatile player. He shouldn't, on the other hand, be taking playing time away from Aaron Hill at third base, save for a day or two off per month rest. First base is an entirely different matter.
Gitz - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:27 PM EDT (#122504) #
Quality of performance doesn't affect park factors because they measure how well the team AND its opponents do in a particular park. For example, Tampa Bay plays in a pitcher's park, and their pitchers are still atrocious.

Is this the dreaded cause/effect thing again? Are the Yankess giving up more runs because of their park or because they're bad? Which is it?

Gitz - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#122506) #
Corey Koskie: best injury ever.

Well, that's glib. Hill would have had a spot if the Jays hadn't signed Hillenbrand, and just because Shea has had moderate success does not mean the decision to sign him was any smarter.

Now, when Koskie comes back, if the Jays accept that Hinske is a sunk cost, as the A's failed to do with Terrence Long, for example, then I'm willing to admit that the injury had its uses.

Leigh - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:35 PM EDT (#122507) #
Here are Baseball Prospectus' Equivalent Average (my favourite offensive super-stat):

Major League Firstbasemen, as a whole: .281
Shea Hillenbrand: .274

If Hillenbrand kept it up, this would be his career year, surpassing last season's .270.

Hillenbrand's career EQA is .259. So is Frank Menechino's.

Gitz - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:38 PM EDT (#122509) #
I'm no Menechino fan, and I'm willing to bet that "high" EqA comes from his ability to hit left-handed pitching.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:38 PM EDT (#122510) #
Not true Gitz, I'd say Gross or Crozier would have had 100x more of a chance at making the team and sticking than Hill would have.

Thomas - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#122512) #
Also his ability to take walks.

Very quietly, Menechino's OBP is nearing .400.
R Billie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:49 PM EDT (#122513) #
We'll see where the Jays end up with Koskie and Halladay each out probably for the next four months. Koskie hasn't been a huge issue other than the Jays could have used him over Hinske in the lineup on a regular basis.

Halladay of course is irreplaceable. Especially if you're going from Chacin to Burnett where you're replacing an already productive member of the rotation.

Long term though, the Burnett deal might make sense. Chacin so far is only a standout in terms of preventing homeruns. And although he doesn't walk many guys he doesn't strike out many and he gives up a lot of hits and goes deep in a lot of counts. Burnett will occasionally complete a game. For Chacin a complete game will be rare.

I think it's hard to say whether Chacin for Burnett would net out to be a win. $9 to $10 million on a long term deal is a significant investment. But the Jays have the money and guys who can pitch a lot of innings with a 99 MPH fastball and a hammer curve don't grow on trees. The Jays would have to hope they are getting an ace potential pitcher rather than an enigma like Kerry Wood.
Gitz - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#122514) #
The OBP is nice, but it's 89 at-bats. It's hard to read too much into that.

The last three years, Frank M. has an OPS of .832 against south-paws (198 at-bats) and .677 against right-handers (286 at-bats). That partially explains the EqA.
David Goodwin - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#122515) #
I can only assume that was a typo R Billie, but I must inquire: where have you read/heard that Doc and/or Koskie will be out for the next four months? (ie. gone for the season) I remember hearing that Doc's injury may be worse than the initial 4 to 6 weeks estimate, but never that it might be season ending. Rotoworld reported on July 5th that Koskie batted off a tee, which is encouraging.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:03 PM EDT (#122516) #
The one positive I see in this is that Burnett is probably a safer bet than Chacin is in the long run.

If Chacin were to move to the NL, he would thrive. I beleive that - it just seems that over in the AL, he plays with fire more often than not.

And with Chacin... the jury is still out on him over the long term. Burnett is the safer, more expensive bet, and I would hate to lose Chacin, but this gives us a legit #2.

Thomas - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:03 PM EDT (#122517) #
I think the Jays should go after AJ. The Jays have this money to spend and the FA crop is weak. Plus, with the influx of minor league pitching in the coming years, Toronto will have several cheap arms in their rotation/bullpen in the coming years. It's not a "Big Three" situation where all three are coming into their prime at once and money needs to be set aside for all of them. While you shouldn't spend money for the sake of spending money, Burnett, assuming he stays healthy, is a good investment, even if you are giving up Chacin.

As good as Chacin's been the past half-year, I'm still sceptical he will maintain this level of success for years to come. As for Burnett, his ERAs the past 3 years (this year included, discounting his 4 starts in 2002) are 3.30, 3.68 and 3.33. He strikes out about a batter an inning and while his walk total is a bit high, I'm more confident of his success going forward than I am of Chacin's. Plus, he's expressed an interest in coming to Toronto to work with Arnsberg and he can be a proper #2 workhorse, which Chacin isn't.

I don't want Lowell back, but I'd have no problem making Chacin a central part of a package for Burnett.
Mike D - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#122518) #
Hillenbrand ranks seventh, post-ballpark-adjustment, among third basemen. This is an important point, since it's often argued that Shea is a bad hitter who looks average only because he plays in hitter's parks. But he only approaches "average" AFTER you adjust him downward for park effects.

What's the mean GPA among third basemen? I'll bet the median is considerably better than the mean at third, considering how much better #7 Shea is than Nos. 8-11.

Plain and simple, it's cooking the books to compare Shea to Hafner and Ortiz and to call them all "first basemen." You might as well say Gregg Zaun's no good compared to first basemen.

3B - 42 G
1B - 23 G
DH - 23 G

DH - 76 G
1B - 9 G

DH - 72 G
1B - 1 G

There's just no way this is a fair comparison set to Shea.
Pistol - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:17 PM EDT (#122519) #
"Chacin so far is only a standout in terms of preventing homeruns"

And Chacin's groundball to flyball ratio is 1:1 so I would guess that a low HR allowed total wouldn't hold up over time.
Mike Green - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:21 PM EDT (#122520) #
The best starting pitching performances after TJ surgery belong to Tommy John, David Wells, Matt Morris and Kerry Wood. John Smoltz has a leg up on it this year, but we'll see how he holds up. The best post-TJ pitchers have been relievers including Mariano Rivera.

Expecting a post-TJ starter to give you 220 quality innings year in and year out does not seem to me to be a good betting proposition. This does not mean that Burnett would be necessarily a poor acquisition target. Moving him from Florida to Toronto means that his ERA's likely to be around 4, and you might be able to get 180-190 innings out of him consistently. Whether that is worth the cost will depend on the players going the other way and Burnett's salary expectations.
R Billie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:33 PM EDT (#122522) #
Ratios aside though, Chacin has done the job. He's pitching as well as just about any $4 to $6 million free agent starter on this year's market could expect to pitch. Whether he continues to post a 3.50 era is a question mark but there's no reason he can post a respectable record with an ERA under 4.50 in the long run. And as someone suggested, move him into the Marlins' stadium and he might break out like Redman originally did for them. The Fish seem to be pretty good judges of pitching so if they like Chacin it's for a reason.

I said the exact same things about David Bush after last year. I think he and Chacin are very similar pitchers. If you're counting on McGowan, Rosario, and Bush to be able to contribute in some capacity next year then you might afford trading Chacin for a second pitcher with Doc stuff.

I would be concerned about Burnett's health and his salary. If he's going to cost you both Batista and Chacin then you have to be sure he'll be solid. Although between Batista and Chacin that's $5 million more to work with in 2006.
R Billie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#122523) #
In my last post I meant to say there's no reason he CAN'T post a respectable record (regarding Chacin). That said, I would trade for Burnett because the potential reward is worth the risk.

And yeah, in my other post above I meant to say Koskie and Doc would be out for about another 4 weeks, not 4 months. Regardless, I doubt this will impact what the Jays want to do too much which is to set their pitching and hitting for 2006 and 2007.
uglyone - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#122524) #
Forget HR/9 ratio.

Chacin is posting a .395 SLG, good for 16th in the AL.

More importantly, he's posting a .119 ISO, which is at least top-10, and perhaps top-5.

Which tells us that he's not getting hit hard at all.

When you take the fact that he's not getting hit HARD, and you add in the fact that his high hit totals result from an unusually high BABIP (.310), then there's a good argument to be made that he's been very unlucky so far to have given up the number of hits he has.

If he was getting hit hard, then that BABIP would be more understandable, but when he's not getting hit hard, it's a bit harder to account for.
Leigh - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#122525) #
I know, Gitz. I've thought about that. Here we go:

Menechino career GPA .260; .285 vs. lefties, .244 vs. righties.

Hillenbrand career GPA .260; .258 vs. lefties, .260 vs. righties.

Menechino has had 38.5% of his career plate appearances vs. lefties; 61.5% vs. righties.

Hillenbrand has had 26.4% of his career plate appearances vs. lefties; 73.6% vs. righties.

So: we adjust Menechino's GPA by weighing his lefty/righty GPA's based on Hillenbrand's career plate appearances splits. That is, determine Menechino's GPA using Hillenbrands 26.4/73.6 plate appearance split... put them on the same scale.

When we do that, Menechino's career GPA lowers from .260 to .255.

Menechino's career composite park factor (based on % of career plate appearances at each park, in each year) is 98.3. Hillenbrand's is 102.3.

So, when you adjust half of each player's "handedness split-adjusted" numbers (.260 for Hillenbrand, .255 for Menechino), you get .257 for Menechino, and .257 for Hillenbrand.

I stand by my assessment. Menechino is as valuable a hitter as Hillenbrand, despite the handedness argument.
binnister - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:40 PM EDT (#122526) #
Burnett is not a 'slamdunk' #2 guy, IMO. However, is he better than Lilly & Chacin? I'd have to say yes. So, he'd definately be the #2 guy with the Jay's.

As to who to give up for him? Looking at the names in that article:

Cat, Chacin, Hinskie


Encarcion, Burkett, Lowell

The Jay's get the 'best' player in the trade but get older, The Marlin's get cheap, above average pitching for 6 years & the chance to catch lightning in a bottle (Hinskie).

Add to this to a deal for Adam Dunn (hopefully just for Rios & a prospect, though I don't know what they'd do with another outfielder), and a catcher that can hit better than Huck, and you've got not only a legitimate shot at the 'shaky' AL East this year, but the makings of a competitive team for the next 2-4 years.

Mike Green - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#122527) #
The mean GPA for third basemen is .271; Hillenbrand's is .269. I promise that I'm not trying to cook the books; the only cooking I do is in the kitchen.

Sometimes, the park adjustments are really shocking. Who knew that Bill Mueller and Shea Hillenbrand were having a better offensive first half than Hank Blalock (from a rate perspective)?

It's true that Hillenbrand has played more games than Hill or Koskie at third. This makes no sense in light of their defensive superiority. Leaving that aside, no matter how you look at it, he's either a below average offensive/above average defensive first baseman or an average offensive and defensive third baseman. I'm being generous with respect to his defence at third.

uglyone - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#122530) #

That .119 ISO ranks him 7th in the AL, to be exact.
uglyone - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#122531) #
I think it's way off base to compare a partime player, with selective at bats in favourable matchups through his career, to a full time starting hitter.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#122533) #
Well I do not want Lowell anywhere near this team. Talk about a Salary Sucker.

Isn't he making like 12 per over the next 3 seasons or something insane like that?
Mike D - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#122535) #
Mike Lowell will make $8.5 in 2006 and $9.5 in 2007. He's making $7.5 this season.
Leigh - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 05:23 PM EDT (#122536) #
I think it's way off base to compare a partime player, with selective at bats in favourable matchups through his career, to a full time starting hitter.

I know it's nothing as cogent as your "forget HR/9 ratio", but I stand by it.

The point, I guess, is that Hillenbrand and Menechino are equally valuable hitters (though Menechino is much more valuable when salary is considered). The fact that one is a part-time player and the other a full-time player is precisely the problem.

uglyone - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#122539) #
Forgetting HR/9 in favour of SLG/ISO is only logical, and positing it is definitely cogent.

Why care about HR/9, when we have better stats at our disposal?

Bench players don't face the best pitchers, and they don't face unfavourable matchups. They don't get AB when they're slumping, and they get ridden when they're hot. It's a misleading comparison.

GeoffAtMac - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 05:49 PM EDT (#122540) #
I think it is time to build for next year's contention. And to do that, we need another potentially top-flight pitcher -- i.e. A.J. Burnett. Although I *love* Chacin (I love underdog breakout guys like him), I think it would be worth trading him for Burnett, even if it turned out to be like the Cory Stewart / Oliver Perez / Jason Bay for Brian Giles deal in terms of exiting talent. Having A.J. Burnett would plug a serious hole in terms of T.O. talent and rotation strength. I say: Go for it JP! And do it now while we can! Before the bidding gets outrageous!
R Billie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 05:55 PM EDT (#122541) #
Lowell is owed $25.5 million between 2005 and 2007. So that averages about $8.5 million a year.

If you remove Hinske's $10 million due him in 2006 and 2007 then you're only paying Lowell $3.5 million extra for those years and he probably takes over first base since a healthy Koskie is a better defender at third.

So what you're looking at is paying about a 40% of Encarnacion's $4.5 million deal the remainder of this year, 40% of Lowell's $8.5 million this year, 40% of Burnett's $3.65 million this year. Remove 40% of Cat's $2.7 million, and Hinske's $3.1 million.

So on net, the Jays would add about $4.3 million to this year's payroll. Assuming they don't keep Encarnacion after this year (maybe they get draft picks for him).

For 2006 you add salary for Burnett and Lowell (let's say $18.5 million between them) and subtract for Hinske and Cat ($7 million or so). So you're spending $11.5 million more in 2006 to replace Chacin, Hinske, and Cat with Lowell and Burnett. If Lowell comes around I think that's a significant talent add for the Jays. It would become another $1.4 million in 2007.

So all told the trade is costing you $4.3 + $11.5 + $12.9 = $28.7 million. Or an average about about half of the extra $30 million a year the Jays will have to spend in 2006/2007. Not a terrible toll. Whether you think adding Burnett and Lowell is worth that much is a matter of debate. But you have to start improving somehow and I think this trade would accomplish that.
Dave Till - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 06:09 PM EDT (#122542) #
Just looked up Lowell's stats. Man, is he having an awful year. Hinske's numbers are better than Lowell's. And Lowell plays third base; the Jays already have three qualified third basemen. Unless the plan is to populate the entire infield with third basemen, I don't see the point.

I don't blame the Marlins for trying to get out from under Lowell's contract, but I can't believe they expect to be able to actually trade him for something worthwhile.

Chacin + parts for Burnett is interesting, though. Burnett's K/IP ratio is yummy, and top starting pitching is hard to find. Perhaps the Marlins can be talked into taking some of the Jays' pitching prospects plus Chacin for Burnett.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 06:13 PM EDT (#122543) #
If Lowell Comes around again, then yes, we will have won this deal outright if that is the case. Of course that is a big if.

Now for Encarnacion? Great if we can pick him up because of the picks... with his numbers this season no doubt someone is going to pick him up, especially with his power/knack for driving in runs.

Although Lowell has been absolutely dismal this season. Which is really really concerning.

.226/.282/.351 His OPS is down 238 points this season.

Maybe a new club will turn him around, but geez, I'm really torn because the Jays just cannot afford to add someones salary like this.

I mean players like Lowell who have been so consistant over their careers just don't drop from 20 Homers before the ASB in 2004 to just 4 Homers in 2005.

Magpie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 06:46 PM EDT (#122546) #
As to who to give up for him? Looking at the names in that article:

Catalanotto, Chacin, Hinske
Encarnacion, Burnett, Lowell

The above is a neat and tidy package, except the Sun-Sentinel article does not mention Hinske, alas. And there's really no way the Jays can add Lowell without dumping Hinske, in a mutual exchange of contracts-we've-come-to-regret.

For this to happen, Beinfest would need to hear a glowing review of Eric Hinske's ability to play third base from the guy who's playing first base in Florida right now. Anyone wondering what Delgado thinks of Hinske, the third baseman?

I'd be willing to take a chance on Lowell in exchange for Hinske, though. Although Lowell was absolutely brutal this April and May, I don't think guys suddenly forget to how to hit at age 31, and he has shown some signs of revival. I also think he'd be a much better hitter in the RC than he is in Miami.

I don't like Encarnacion all that much, but he's a better hitter than Sparky. His arrival would be very bad news for Gabe Gross. I think I'd be happer just dealing Chacin and Catalanotto for Burnett, assuming we can work out a deal with Burnett.

R Billie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 06:46 PM EDT (#122547) #
Well let's throw out what Lowell did in the first half. Unless he's injured he's hit for the 4 or 5 years prior to this one. Unless you're going to say he was on juice and going off it has removed all ability to hit the ball from his body.

He doesn't have a problem striking out. He's striking out less than his career rate (every 7.5 ab this year). He's walking a little bit less than his career rate of 1 per 10 ab. What's gone way down is his balls in play average and his he's just not hitting the ball hard or squarely.

Remember that Wells played two full months of the season with an OPS in the low .600s but there wasn't a lot of outcry to trade him. Now Wells is 26 and not 31 and he's making a lot less money. But you're also moving out significant money in Hinske which you may not consider part of the plans anymore. If your scouts are sure Lowell can still hit then it probably makes your team better though with significant extra money spent.

Lowell traditionally has a history of strong first halfs (.900 ops) following by weak second halfs (low 700s, high 600s).
Flex - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#122548) #
Don't Lowell's stats this year scream "Something Is Seriously Wrong"? Is it a health issue? Is it a juice issue? I don't know, but I'd want to do a lot of due dilligence before I agreed to take on that contract. It just seems to me we'd be stuck with Eric Hinske without the Years-of-loyalty-and-frustration factor. In other words, he'd just be an expensive player that we'd boo a lot. Who needs him.
Gitz - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#122549) #
Menechino is one of those players who would crumble from increased playing time. Used as he is now -- a lefty-masher, pinch-hitter, and defensive sub -- he's got value. If he gets more than 300 at-bats, it's a sign the ship is off course.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:10 PM EDT (#122550) #
Flex brings up a really valid point, there is a legitimate possiblity this is a Juice issue.
R Billie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#122551) #
Let's see how long Lowell stays on his current hot streak. The reasons could be anything including "bad first half".
Magpie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:26 PM EDT (#122552) #
Add to this to a deal for Adam Dunn (hopefully just for Rios & a prospect, though I don't know what they'd do with another outfielder),

Hi guys! My name is Dan O'Brien, and I'm the GM of the Cincinnati Reds. And you're right - we really don't need another outfielder. But if you're really, really interested in Adam Dunn, maybe we can work something out. We need pitching, of course, and we need some help in the infield. And you've got this young infielder, a guy we like, and he's DHing half the time already because you don't have a spot for him. (Plus you've got Koskie coming back off the DL in a few weeks, as well.)

So, if you're interested in Adam Dunn, I think Aaron Hill ought to come our way.

Leigh - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:33 PM EDT (#122553) #
If he gets more than 300 at-bats, it's a sign the ship is off course. Exactly. Just like Hillenbrand.
Cristian - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:35 PM EDT (#122554) #
Mr. O'Brien,

You are already trying to create room for Edwin Encarnacion at third, wouldn't Aaron Hill compound this problem? I know Aaron can play short, but you have a young all-star at that position already. Seriously, what would you do with Hill. I understand the sarcasm of your post--that we are seriously underestimating what it would take to get Dunn. However, I'm sure we can come up with a package to your liking. Heck, I'd even be willing to include a guy like Dustin McGowan in a package for Dunn.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:43 PM EDT (#122555) #
Encarnacion (3B), Freel (2B), Lopez (SS). Make up their infield for the future, they've also got a guy down in AAA who I think is another decent INF prospect for them. They have a hole at 1B however (in the future assuming Sean Casey is gone)... I bet Chip Cannon might tempt them..
Magpie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 07:52 PM EDT (#122556) #
Dan O'Brien speaks - "Well, we think we Hill can play second base. Freel will be 30 in March, and we think he's a fabulous utility guy, who can play all over the diamond."

Obviously, for a 25 year old slugger who hit 46 homers last year, we'd need more than Aaron Hill, anyway. Hill and McGowan is a tempting package, though.

Leigh - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 08:01 PM EDT (#122557) #
Bench players don't face the best pitchers, and they don't face unfavourable matchups. They don't get AB when they're slumping, and they get ridden when they're hot. It's a misleading comparison.

Whether or not hot streaks and slumps exist is an interesting question, but I think it would take us off topic.

What really did interest me, though, was your contention about quality of pitchers faced. So: I took the Batter's Quality of Pitchers Faced for each of the past five seasons for each of Hillenbrand and Menechino. BP gives us obp/slg allowed, so I used that to make GPA. I weighted each season's opposing pitcher quality (to give appropriate weight to the varying amounts of plate appearances from season to season), expressed as GPA.

The results? Hillenbrand's opposing pitcher GPA allowed, 2001-2005: .2505. Menechino's was .2498.

So, in fact, Menechino has faced slightly better pitching (and I've already accounted for handedness-based matchups above).

CeeBee - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 08:03 PM EDT (#122558) #
I think the jays need to use up some of their "extra" money to sign Doc to a contract extension!. After that they can worry about adding the needed parts. :)
R Romero Vaughan - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 08:07 PM EDT (#122559) #
While I think there is a general tendency to under-estimate what woud be required to acquire Dunn or a player of his ilk (partly due to the large number of competing clubs this year), I think you need to put more stock into salary figures when evaluating a players worth (especially in a deal with a team like CIN)

Aaron Hill, with two more years before he even gets to arbitration and Dustin Mcgowan, who will have no effect on payroll and is a high ceiling prospect have ALOT of value because of this (especially hill, obviously)

I think O'Brien would bite JP's hand off in a Hill-Dunn exchange.
Magpie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 08:13 PM EDT (#122560) #
If I'm O'Brien, I think to myself "for Dunn, I definitely want Hill and McGowan. Is that enough?"

And if I'm Ricciardi, I think "Hill and McGowan for Dunn? No way."

CaramonLS - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 08:31 PM EDT (#122561) #
IMO the Reds aren't really looking for hitters (cept maybe in the 1B department), we'd be moving pitching prospects.

If you look at any of the rumored Deals it is for pitching.

Magpie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 08:59 PM EDT (#122562) #
the Reds aren't really looking for hitters

I think you're absolutely right about that (or you ought to be, anyway!) - the Reds are second in the NL in runs scored, and need pitching desperately.

But I wonder if O'Brien can trade a 46 homer guy for pitching prospects? And keep his job. He needs people he can put in his rotation right now. Which doesn't make the Blue Jays a good dance partner for him. Alas...

Sherrystar - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:00 PM EDT (#122563) #
People get real... Dunn is not coming to the T-dot nor is Burnett. I wish they would... but when was the last time JP pulled off a blockbuster? Wishful thinking... there are other teams with more to offer (i.e. White Sox!)and history has shown that JP can only pull off the small deals and not the biggies!
Magpie - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:08 PM EDT (#122564) #
when was the last time JP pulled off a blockbuster?

There's something to that, although Mondesi for Wiggins certainly made my jaw drop. Most of the trades Ricciardi has made have had as much to do with shedding salary as acquiring talent. It's true that the future generally resembles the past, but Ricciardi has never before been in a position where he could take on salary, rather than dump it.

Flex - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:10 PM EDT (#122565) #
Sherrystar, when was the last time Ricciardi had any financial flexibility to use in pulling off a major deal? Or a bank of prospects? Or tradeable commodities that wouldn't leave him high and dry if he did trade them away?

I'm all for pointed criticism but come on.
Jordan - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:13 PM EDT (#122566) #
Magpie's point, that Dunn would cost a lot, is valid. The Jays wouldn't part with Hill, but they'd have to give up more than most of us could comfortably envision to get him.

Put it this way: the Jays have, I think, exactly five seriously saleable commodities at the moment (roughly in order):

Aaron Hill
Orlando Hudson
Alex Rios
Gustavo Chacin
Brandon League

Gabe Gross, Francisco Rosario and Shaun Marcum would be, I think, considered by other teams to be throw-ins at this stage of their careers; it's quite possible that Dave Bush is as well, and Russ Adams is probably borderline. Acquiring an affordable young talent like Dunn could very well cost you three of the five saleable players listed above. Which ones would you give up? And remember: whoever you deal is out of a potential Burnett trade.

If the Jays had put together a package to Cincinatti's liking, I imagine they'd have offered it by now and the deal would be long since completed. The Reds are in no hurry: they don't need to trade Dunn and they can sit back and wait -- for a year, if necessary -- until they get the players they want. I can see a Burnett deal happening before a Dunn trade, even though Dunn is a very exciting player.

Burnett is, of course, a risky proposition, what with his health troubles and poor track record of innings pitched. A reasonable comp for him, in terms of risks and rewards, might be a young Al Leiter. But taking risks is part of the process -- no player has ever come with a guarantee -- and you need to take intelligent, calculated risks to succeed. Burnett has a very high ceiling (as does Dunn), and you need high-ceiling players if you want to contend; it's that simple.

So there are really two questions: do the Jays want to acquire and sign A.J. Burnett? And if so, what price should they pay in terms of players and dollars to get him acquired and signed? Answering those questions correctly is J.P.'s job.

Smaj - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:27 PM EDT (#122567) #
The Reds are in dire need of pitching. Dunn should command a hefty ransome given his power & age. I am unsure if McGowan has regained his status as a top flight prospect...I would think its much too early after TJ to place him as an elite prospect, thus the Reds would probably back away from it. If you are Dan O'Brien do you listen to a Hudson, Bush, Rosario & Banks offering? Fills a void at 2nd base; an immediate starter; a power arm & a potential starter all at low price points.

If the Marlins would take Hinske, Cat & Chacin for Burnett, Lowell & Encarnacion why wouldn't the Jays do it? The net impact on the budget is manageable (as RBillie outlined). The Jays will be acquiring assets regardless of position. Burnett being the key. Power starters are not ample in MLB. Burnett's K/IP clearly shows he misses a lot of bats. He is worth the gamble. Encarnacion can play & is a free agent, thus JP can keep him or trade him during this season if desired and offer him salary arbitration at seasons end in the hope of draft picks coming back or attempt to re-sign him if desired. Lowell is a large salary to swallow, but the key question is 2005 an anomoly thus far? I simply do not foresee a 31 year old consistent hitter falling off the map. If he does than JP is equipped with enough cash in the war chest to swallow some of Lowell's salary in a future deal (someone would have interest in Mike Lowell for $5M per season coming off a bad year). I think Lowell would also allow for exploration into a Hillenbrand deal as well. At the end of the day this potential deal brings the Jays more assets in terms of talent/potential talent than they are trading away. The only apparent fly in the ointment is the influx of salary. However the net impact on salary is not daunting given the weak free agent crop this year & the added capital from Uncle Ted.
This potential trade allows the Jays to get their noses dirty now in the AL East & battle for a title. Shea at 1st Base, Koskie & Lowell at 3rd Base/DH & Encarnacion in LF is a nice boost to the offence. If they falter than JP has assets to peddle for the August 31st deadline (assuming they clear waivers) or into the off season. He will still be in a strong financial position to add salary if required. Lets not underestimate the appeal of young pitching prospects & the advantage of absorbing large contracts when examining potential trades.
VBF - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:34 PM EDT (#122568) #

If your opinion of a GM is based on the amount of blockbuster deals they have made in their relatively short tenure, you'll likely be disappointed with half the GMs and utterly puzzled at a quarter of the ones who do make the trades.

When has JP had the financial flexibility to pull a blockbuster that makes sense? Generally speaking, blockbusters involve big name players, and in alot of cases big contracts. Not to mention that blockbusters are generally pulled between teams playing for something in the future.

To be honest, in JP's earlier years there wasn't much on the farm that you would risk trading away, and the players that had good value, you wouldn't want to trade. If you look at some of our rotations the last few years, there really hasn't even been much to trade away to constitute a blockbuster.

Now he has a constant flow of young pitching that he is willing to trade to fill some holes where necessary. That was the plan all along.
VBF - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:36 PM EDT (#122569) #
When has JP had the financial flexibility to pull a blockbuster

Wow, Flex, I didn't even read your post. Great minds think alike!

Nigel - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 09:45 PM EDT (#122570) #
Jordan, I agree with your analysis of trading chits. The other name that I would throw onto that list is David Purcey. It's now been a year since his draft so he is tradeable. I'm not sure what the market's perception of him is right now, but I think with his stuff (as evidenced by his K rates) he's pretty marketable. He's clearly a project as his BB rates indicate and Romero and Jackson may make him available from a depth perspective. If your able to deal prospects for MLB talent, I'd definitely part with him if pushed.
nicton - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#122571) #
Question about this rolling $210 mil 3 year payroll: Are we assuming $50 - $80 - $80 - $50 - $80 - etc cycle??
VBF - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 10:17 PM EDT (#122572) #
Yes. This year's payroll is 50 million. Next year's will be 80 million - anything not spent, 2007's payroll will be 80 million + any excess from 2006.
Jonny German - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 10:26 PM EDT (#122573) #
I think Nicton's asking what happens to the payroll beyond 2007. I'm pretty sure when they announced the 3-year $210M they said they'll set a 3-year budget every year. I'd be shocked to see them go back to $50M at any point.
VBF - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 10:32 PM EDT (#122574) #
Ah, then I second Jonny's post.
Rob - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 10:39 PM EDT (#122575) #
Chacin and Cat for Burnett (who must be signed to 2 or 3 year deal or no trade) sounds nice to me. I don't think that Lowell should be part of the trade, since third basemen are Toronto's specialty.

That puts Gross in left field for the rest of the year, so we can see what he can do, but there's still a problem with the infielders -- a nice problem, anyway. If an infielder could go somewhere in a trade with some pitching prospects for, I don't know, whoever, then it might be a deal worth doing.

How's that for analysis? "An infielder and prospects for some guy might be a good trade."
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 10:47 PM EDT (#122576) #
Rob, I think it's clear that your track record is not one of analyzing potential blockbusters.
Named For Hank - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 11:18 PM EDT (#122578) #
I smell an NFH challenge here! Leigh wrote:
The point, I guess, is that Hillenbrand and Menechino are equally valuable hitters (though Menechino is much more valuable when salary is considered). The fact that one is a part-time player and the other a full-time player is precisely the problem.

And also this:

If he gets more than 300 at-bats, it's a sign the ship is off course.
Exactly. Just like Hillenbrand.

What kind of challenge can we make out of this? There must be something. Hillenbrand has been very good to me this year, and I will not tolerate those who attempt to besmirch his good name.

Lefty - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 11:24 PM EDT (#122581) #
What a great thread rosterites and posters. Must have taken me over an hour to read it all.

Anyway the focus has clearly been on Burnett and Dunn. Why not shift focus and analyse what it might take to get Austin Kearns (less I assume) or Aubrey Huff. Also less I assume. Huff's stock should still be marginally down, he is already on a fair size contract and will take more financial resources to maintain. I think Tampa would take far less of the Jays talent base than Cincy would demand for either Dunn or Kearns.

What does Tampa need? How about corner infielders and pitching prospects.

An already signed for next year Hillenbrand and pitching propects might be enough to pry the Huffster. Hillenbrand's flexibility at 3rd and 1st would go a long ways to Lou's sanity.

Tampa also has a dearth of outfielders. And the pressure to move at least two of them are going to be compounded next spring.

From an armchair perspective I could see a three way deal involving the two Florida teams.
Mike D - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 11:27 PM EDT (#122582) #
Billy Beane's started the wheeling and dealing, as three deals were consummated today:

Chad Bradford

Jay Payton
Cash (greenbacks, not Kevin)


Eric Byrnes
Omar Quintanilla

Joe Kennedy
Jay Witasick


Zach Day
J.J. Davis
PTNBL or cash

Preston Wilson
Lefty - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 11:39 PM EDT (#122583) #
The problem is Menichino will never see 300 plate appearances in a season again. So Leigh's theorizing is going to be tough to prove.

I did like his arguements though. I'd have never guessed. They punch a bit of a hole on rating players just on the numbers. Similar to the two Mike's discussion on league avg, median vs. mean avg.

A few days ago I put up a brief post in defense of Gibby's usage of McDonald and Menechino. They have both been very useful, but I wouldn't be inserting them in the starting nine any more than the Mgr. has.

At any rate Shea's first half numbers are in the book. It will be, what have you done for me lately that is more important now.
Cristian - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 11:48 PM EDT (#122584) #
I don't think Beane is pulling the wool over O'Dowd's eyes here. The A's are giving up a talented middle infield prospect and a guy who can cover a lot of outfield ground and will put up mighty good Coors-inflated numbers.

Good trade for Dan O'Dowd. That said, I just picked up Joe Kennedy in the BBFL.
Lefty - Wednesday, July 13 2005 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#122585) #
The A's might not have a rotation spot foe Kennedy right now. Everyone on the starting staff has been lights out for the past five weeks.
Gitz - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:01 AM EDT (#122587) #
Leigh, the funny thing is I don't like Hillenbrand, either. In fact, I was one of those opposed to the signing. In no way was I saying I prefer Shea to Menechino. You can have them both, cheap salary of Menechino notwithstanding.
Lefty - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:02 AM EDT (#122588) #
Tampa has cleared to roster spots, one forty man by outrighting Rob Bell. and sending Joe Beimel down to Durham.

The Biemel transction is probably to clear a spot for Borowski. But what ight they be up to with the forty man spot?

Lefty - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:10 AM EDT (#122589) #
Gitz, already Payton is rumoured to the Yankee's. Do you buy this?

Kennedy into the rotation? Pull Sarloos and stick him back in long relief? What about the Duke. Witasick and him as set-up guys?

My god, what a friggin pen.

I'm am not going to put it past the A's to climb right into the wildcard scene. They ought to hold the opposition to three runs or less the rest of the way.

I like this trade for the A's.
Gitz - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:13 AM EDT (#122590) #
Well, I suppose we now have to endure the usual platitudes about How Much Of A Genius Billy Beane Is. Joe Kennedy and Jay Witasick? Eh. Fortunately the price was low, but the A's may miss Byrnes more than they think. All this means is that their LF position is still a disaster against right-handed pitching, they shored up an area (the bullpen) that did need an extra arm but was certainly not the weakness LF is, and they picked up a left-handed starter who has little value (this season) outside of insurance for Joe Blanton/Dan Haren/Kirk Saarloos. Of course, it's debatable whether a guy who's allowing hitters to rake him at an .879 OPS clip is of any value, insurance or otherwise. And, yes, that .879 OPS is on the road, where his strikeout rate drops (25 in 52 road innings, 25 in 39 home innings), where his walk rate goes up slightly (25 in 52 road innings, 19 in 39 home innings), and where his ERA drops from a hefty 7.08 all the way to 7.01. And when you consider that he's allowed seven un-earned road runs, well, I'm confused. What use is this guy?

Interesting moves, but inconsequential to the A's success or failure this year.

Beane's not done yet.
Lefty - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:34 AM EDT (#122591) #
Completely agree with you on Kennedy. I think Witasick was the guy in that deal.

Payton / Byrnes. Just about an even swap in terms of offensive and defensive capabilites.

I'm not in the Beane's a genius camp. He is however pretty active - notwithstanding Terrance - and does get to look at lot of players. More exposure to the chance of success rather than standing pat. No guts, no glory.

All in all I'd say the A's are marginally upgraded. Witasick in place of a "just back" Bradford. Payton an even swap for Byrnes and as you illustrate an insurance policy for the rotation.

I'd say thats a pretty good day. Not a long bomb but incremental improvement.
Rob - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:37 AM EDT (#122592) #
Rob, I think it's clear that your track record is not one of analyzing potential blockbusters.

Paul Quantrill, New Pirate agrees with you. All I'm good for here is predicting Aaron Hill would switch batting spots with Vernon Wells when Whitt took over for Gibby one day.

Still waiting on news of the Scott Dragicevich callup, though. I just have this feeling.

CaramonLS - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 01:29 AM EDT (#122593) #
For the life of me I don't understand that trade by the Nationals. Preston Wilson has been an absolutely god awful hitter the last couple years... I mean last year he slugged .391 overall, and his home/road splits are insane.

But I guess they are hoping for another Vinny Castilla Miracle whose OPS is still .140 points down from his Colorado days..

Not to mention they give up a decent pitcher in Zach Day, JJ Davis who will slug the lights out in Colorado and Cash or another player? While taking on the 6 million + they owe Wilson? Yikes.
Thomas - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 08:11 AM EDT (#122594) #
I don't like the Payton deal from the A's POV. Unless there is something else coming, I have to question Beane on that one. I know the A's have a good pen, but Bradford's effective and he's cheap. Payton is a headcase, more expensive and not as effective.

I'm also surprised they gave up on Quintanilla, although trading Byrnes for Kennedy was no shock.
Jim - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 08:13 AM EDT (#122595) #
At this point I don't think any pitching stats coming out of Coors are useful in any way. Looking at home/road splits for Rockies pitchers doesn't usually shed much light.

Both the hitters and pitchers are both so bad away from Coors that I think it's a pretty safe assumption at this point that Coors effects the Rockies even when they are on the road.

I agree that they might miss Byrnes more then they seem to think they will, but I also think there is a chance that in time Kennedy will be a useful pitcher for them.
Thomas - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 08:17 AM EDT (#122596) #
Lowell's Post-ASB OPS from 2004 is .765, after .955 in the first half. For the last year he's been about a .700 OPS hitter.
Jacko - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 08:58 AM EDT (#122597) #
I think Oakland is going to make another deal. These trades did nothing to help balance out their lineup, which is extremely vulnerable to lefthanded pitching:

1B Hatteberg (LH)
2B Ellis (RH)
SS Crosby (RH)
3B Chavez (LH)
DH Johnson (LH)
RF Swisher (S, but effectively LH)
CF Kotsay (LH)
LF Kielty (S, effectively RH)
LF Payton (RH)
C Kendall (RH)
dp - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 09:21 AM EDT (#122598) #
I understand that Burnett is a good pitcher, but it seems there's a lot of pitching talent on the way. Not sure why the need to spend that much salary to get pitching (Lowell plus a Burnett extension). It does seem the fish are overvaluing Chacin based on a half-season, which is great.

There's just no impact hitters coming through the minors. Dunn would be nice, but they'll have to pay a lot for him, and it may not be worth it. The Jays have talent at SS, 2B and 3B. Where they can upgrade is 1B and DH, which should be easy. My half-baked idea is to go after Frank Thomas if he's healthy going into the winter. He can still hit, and the Jays with Koskie/Hill and one of Hinske Shea next year will have enough parts to cover the corners.
Mike D - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 09:30 AM EDT (#122600) #
I did like his arguments though. I'd have never guessed. They punch a bit of a hole on rating players just on the numbers.

As a good law student, Leigh has the ability to marshal facts and make them seem very persuasive.

Look closely, however, and you'll see that Leigh carefully includes 2001 through the present in every comparison. In 2001, Shea was awful, and was awful over a lot of plate appearances -- thus significantly moving his numbers downward. 2001 also, coincidentally, happened to be a pretty good year for Frankie. Hey, Leigh -- why don't you run the numbers from 2002 forward?

This is all in addition to the unmentioned fact that Menechino is 34 and hasn't played more than 100 games since 2001. Shea is still 29 for a few more weeks and is improving. If Leigh's theory is right -- we should (1) consider park-adjusted GPA, adjusted for quality of pitchers faced, (2) from 2001 to the present and (3) ignore age considerations -- he could make the case that the Orioles were idiots for playing Brian Roberts at second rather than acquiring Bret Boone. That doesn't make it so, obviously.

I wouldn't even bother posting, but it's gross hyperbole to say that Shea Hillenbrand shouldn't be an everyday player and I'm sick of the "he's not sabremetric, and I predicted he would suck, so he sucks" arguments. The Jays are #5 in the AL and #7 in all of baseball in scoring runs. Only the not-qualifying Aaron Hill has a better OPS than Shea on the Jays. So knock it off already!!!

This is the last comment I'll ever make on this debate: A-Rod and Melvin Mora are wonderful offensive players at third base. Shea ranks #7 in GPA, but Nos. 3-6 all pass him based (I think) on park factors. While park factors are very real, they don't affect the performance of each hitter the same way, e.g., it would help Mike Cameron more than it would Juan Pierre to play in Coors. As a great purveyor of singles that seldom goes deep into counts, I wonder how much of Shea's performance is owed to his park. He's been better on the road this year.
dp - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:04 AM EDT (#122602) #
Shea wasn't the only hitter available. He's been decent this year- I was in the camp that thought he had no chance at an OB% over .350, and I still think he'll wind up at .330. But his walk rate has been good- he's basically racked up a whole season's worth of walks by the ASB this year.

My suggestion over the winter was Cliff Floyd, which some people here mocked, claiming that Floyd wouldn't produce at his career levels. But Floyd has been excellent, .360/.543, and is more suited for the middle of the order than Shea. The Jays needed a potntial impact hitter at DH. Shea has been good, but I think we've seen his best.

Can we please please please give all of Hinske's ABs to Gross now that he's shown he sucks? .321/.391 is absurdly bad; we know Gross could do better. Shift Shea to 1B, put Cat as the DH and make Gross the LF against RHP. Simple- improves the offense. Playing Hinske every day was supposed to make other clubs want him more, not less. Have die-hard Hinske defenders on this site finally realized he's worthless? Anyone ready to admit it was a bad move to sign him after one good year?
Flex - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#122603) #
Who are the die-hard Hinske defenders on this site? Show them to me!
Pistol - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:11 AM EDT (#122604) #
I understand that Burnett is a good pitcher, but it seems there's a lot of pitching talent on the way. Not sure why the need to spend that much salary to get pitching (Lowell plus a Burnett extension).

The big unknown in any salary dump is how much would be dumped which I think is being overlooked in this discussion. It could be anywhere from 0-100% of that player's salary which makes a huge difference.

Frontline starters are among the toughest players to acquire. If you can get one you should make all reasonable attempts to do it. (Of course whether Burnett is a frontline starter is perhaps debatable as well). The Jays have some pitching depth working their way up through the minors, but I don't think any of them are sure things to be top of the rotation starters, and even if they end up that way it's not a problem to have 'too many' top pitchers. A couple years ago it looked like the Giants had 3 great pitchers in Jerome Williams, Jesse Foppert and Kurt Ainsworth and none of them worked out as expected.

dp - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:15 AM EDT (#122605) #
Who are the die-hard Hinske defenders on this site? Show them to me!

I don't remember, haven't been here in a while until recently. But in the winter/spring, some of the JP loyalists were saying the decision to play Hinske at 1B was a good one because he had to be showcased for other teams, and there was still some hope he could turn it around.

I think it's a case of JP showing loyalty to his guy, rather than doing what's in the team's best interests. And this is one of the things I think we just have to accept as a characteristic of JP- it isn't damning or anything, but it will lead him to make bad moves from time to time. JP never seemed to like Gross or Werth or Lopez much from the start, and as a result, those guys haven't gotten as much of a chance. Hinske's hurting the team in the lineup, just like he did last year, but he continues to play.
Named For Hank - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:23 AM EDT (#122606) #
and I'm sick of the "he's not sabremetric, and I predicted he would suck, so he sucks" arguments.

Wasn't it agreed upon that Hillenbrand having the impossible OBP of .350 at the All-Star break would settle this one, anyways?

Flex - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#122608) #
I think the continued playing of Hinske is a case of Ricciardi trying to eek out value from his investment, not loyalty. The team may very well be better with Gross in the lineup, but — to look at it from Ricciardi's perspective — it's not proven fact, and to sit a guy making over $3 mil, who you're committed to paying more than $10 to over the next two years, in hopes that a rookie can do better, is a tough pill to swallow. It also does nothing but a) confirm he made a terrible mistake in signing Hinske, which we know but he can't publicly admit, and b) ensure that Hinske is never going to get a chance to play himself out of his doldrums and into some state of attractiveness as a trade chip.
dp - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:38 AM EDT (#122609) #
The big unknown in any salary dump is how much would be dumped which I think is being overlooked in this discussion. It could be anywhere from 0-100% of that player's salary which makes a huge difference.

Let's assume $10 M/yr for Burnett, maybe $9M. If Lowell's done, and the Jays wind up on the hook for $3M/yr, eseentially Burnett cost them $13M. Of course, Lowell may not be done- he's coming off 2 straight years of .350+/.500+, which would make him the best hitter on the team. So yeah, ultimately, a huge risk. Chacin has never seemed like one of the Jays top prospects, so getting a pitcher of Burnett's calibur for him would be great, and allow JP to look good in the press at the deadline while clearing some scrap off the roster.

The Jays have some pitching depth working their way up through the minors, but I don't think any of them are sure things to be top of the rotation starters, and even if they end up that way it's not a problem to have 'too many' top pitchers.

None are, but I think the potential is there- Bush looked like a #3 last year, and one bad year doesn't take that away. Rosario and McGowan are huge question marks because of their injuries, but both were on the way to being front-line guys before they got hurt. Taking some pressure off the rookies with solid 1-2 pitchers would be a good strategy, it's what Lilly and Batista were supposed to do alongside Doc last year, and what Lilly has failed at this year.
uglyone - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:42 AM EDT (#122610) #
I think it's pretty clear that Hinske is going to be sitting 99% of the time once Koskie comes back.

I agree that playing him now is simply trying to keep some sort of value in him in case we can find a team that will take him along in a package deal.
dp - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#122611) #
It also does nothing but a) confirm he made a terrible mistake in signing Hinske, which we know but he can't publicly admit, and b) ensure that Hinske is never going to get a chance to play himself out of his doldrums and into some state of attractiveness as a trade chip.

But isn't this the BPro sabermateric mantra: never play a guy because you gave him a bad contract! This compounds the mistake by forcing you to field a suboptimal team. Sure, Hisnke could get better. But it looks a lot like he won't. He's actually getting worse, especially when you consider that he's posting the numbers as a 1B/DH. They might have a cheap, league-average corner OF who can play decent D in Gross, but they can't find out because of Hinske.
Flex - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#122612) #
I suspect that what will happen is this: Hinske will play up to the end of the trading deadlines, in situations that favour him and make it likelier for him to succeed, and then he will sit until the beginning of next year.

And if this happens exactly as I predict, I should receive a shrubbery. Something that looks nice, and not too expensive.
Mike Green - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 11:05 AM EDT (#122613) #
On a completely different note, I wonder what changes the Sox, Os and Yankees will be making in the second half.

The Sox are in first place despite abysmal performances from Millar and Bellhorn. They do have internal options in Petagine (who is posting Cannon-like numbers in triple A) and Pedroia. They also need to figure out who will back up Johnny Damon, now that Payton is gone.

Lucas' chart shows that the Yankees' offence has not been as good as we thought, but that the pitching has actually been quite good. The core of their offence has been remarkably healthy; they are quite vulnerable in the event of injury due to lack of depth. They've also installed Cano and Cabrera at key positions, and it remains to be seen how they will perform as rookies in a pennant race.
Magpie - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 11:20 AM EDT (#122615) #
Wasn't it agreed upon that Hillenbrand having the impossible OBP of .350 at the All-Star break would settle this one, anyways?

Well, it shut me up.

The Red Sox apparently already have Gabe Kapler in town - Japan didn't really work out for him - although I imagine there are some issues to settle before they sign him.

Mylegacy - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 11:27 AM EDT (#122616) #
Flex, the shrubbery...should it be evergreen? I was thinking about 18" something with red berries in the fall? Would that be OK?
Flex - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#122617) #
Oooo. That sounds just lovely!
Jacko - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 11:45 AM EDT (#122618) #
The Sox are in first place despite abysmal performances from Millar and Bellhorn. They do have internal options in Petagine (who is posting Cannon-like numbers in triple A) and Pedroia. They also need to figure out who will back up Johnny Damon, now that Payton is gone.

I think they are going to use that Canadian Rule 5 guy Adam Stern as the CF backup. His numbers last year at AA and this year at AAA during his "rehab assignment" were decent.

If Millar wasn't one of the ringleaders of the circus, I think he would have been DFA'ed long ago. Being righthanded helps as well. Petagine's biggest problem is that he bats lefthanded, and the Sox already have Ortiz and Olerud at 1B/DH. It's too bad -- I would like to see Petagine get a real shot at some major league playing time.

Magpie - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 11:47 AM EDT (#122619) #
Weren't you supposed to chop down the largest tree in the forest... with a herring?
Thomas - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:21 PM EDT (#122623) #
Apparently Millar is on his way to Houston for Chad Qualls. This was rumoured a few days ago, but hasn't happened yet. However, it was also reported with certainty resembling Payton-Bradford, and not just wishful thinking.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#122627) #
So the Red sox are attempting to corner the market on relievers named Chad? If they somehow get Cordero out of Washington, I'm going to be really honked off.
Named For Hank - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#122628) #
That's funnier than the time I traded a bunch of guys named Brad for a bunch of guys named Cliff in a fantasy league.
CaramonLS - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 01:05 PM EDT (#122633) #
Millar is still hitting the lights out like he always does at home... on the road is a different story however where his splits are more pronounced than usual.

fozzy - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 01:06 PM EDT (#122635) #

Your shrubbery is on its way....

Jordan - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 01:45 PM EDT (#122643) #
If signing Hinke to a long-term deal was a mistake, it's one that (as I've said before) nobody on this continent identified at the time. I believe very firmly that if Eric Hinske has underperformed his expectations, he need only look at the nearest mirror to find someone to blame for it. A player who doesn't do what he's paid to do does not turn the GM who signed him into an overnight idiot. Any substantial criticism of Ricciardi for the Hinske contract needs to be accompanied by more than 20/20 hindsight.
Flex - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 02:03 PM EDT (#122649) #
I absolutely agree that Ricciardi cannot be blamed for the badness of the Hinske deal, and should not be called an idiot. He should be called "overly optimistic" maybe. But he was working under certain fiscal constraints, he looked to have a winning player on his hands, and he did the best thing he could do under the circumstances. I don't think anyone is criticising his rationale for the deal, just lamenting its outcome, which is terrible.

Great shot of the Knights who say "Ni!"
dp - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 02:29 PM EDT (#122659) #
If signing Hinke to a long-term deal was a mistake, it's one that (as I've said before) nobody on this continent identified at the time.

The RoY list is littered with guys who had one good year and fell apart. Had JP waited one year to sign Hinske, would the cost have gone up much? That depends on if you're expecting his performance to get better, stay the same, or decline. This is not a matter of simply reading stats, it's a matter of evaluating talent. JP was responsible for making that call, and he made the wrong one. He gave Hinske a significant amount of money based on one good year. The deal seemed in part a PR move- again, JP standing behind one of "his guys" (a guy he took a lot of flak for bringing in IIRC). Again, it's just a characteristic, not a fatal or damning flaw- I'd trust him over half the GMs in the league.
BCMike - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#122666) #

He gave Hinske a significant amount of money based on one good year.

Add to that he gave Hinske a significant amount of money when he didn't have to. There was nothing forcing JP to buy out any arbitration years.

Four Seamer - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#122668) #
I won't dispute the validity of the arguments, BCMike and dp, but you're merely reinforcing Jordan's observation about hindsight informing Hinske-related criticisms of JP. You can't win them all, unless you're a poster on the internet.
Named For Hank - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#122669) #
Add to that he gave Hinske a significant amount of money when he didn't have to. There was nothing forcing JP to buy out any arbitration years.

Let's say Hinske's year after his RoY campaign is the same or better -- does he take the same deal he signed, or does he want more? Are his arb years included in a contract put together after a second strong year?

dp - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 04:01 PM EDT (#122682) #
Let's say Hinske's year after his RoY campaign is the same or better -- does he take the same deal he signed, or does he want more? Are his arb years included in a contract put together after a second strong year?

If he posts the same year, I'd guess he gets a similar deal. If he posts a better year, the Jays are looking at more money. JP made a judgement call- he thought that Hinske was for real, that the year wasn't a fluke, and that the performance was repeatable, and that Hinske would probably even improve on it. If it worked out, he would've looked like a genius, just like if Wells hit in '04 and '05 like he hit in '03 JP would like like a genius for that deal. It was a gamble, and one he didn't have to make. That gamble has hurt the club because it has cost them salary and meant that Hinkse plays no matter how bad he sucks. Some moves you have to make- getting rid of Mondesi because of his salary and negative impact on younger players was great, despite not getting anything useful in return. Getting rid of Lopez because he had a bad attitude and wasn't the type of player JP liked was bad.
R Romero Vaughan - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#122684) #
"I absolutely agree that Ricciardi cannot be blamed for the badness of the Hinske deal, and should not be called an idiot. He should be called "overly optimistic" maybe"

I would be interested to see a list of players who have been offered long-term contracts after ONE year in the Majors with the outcome in terms of performance.

The 'overly optimistic' quote could be used for any bad FA signing ever (Joey Hamilton springs to mind), save one with No rationale at all behind it.

As I see it, it's a simple risk assesment exercise:

Does the amount of money saved by having player X locked up for 5 years if he has a 'monster' year (In my view, a small amount) compensate for the potential (large) loss if player X's performance falls dramatically.

I don't think the risk in offering players with Hinske's career record (including the minors) the deal he was offered justified it. Chipper Jones, maybe. Eric Hinske?

It's no coincidence no other 'up and coming' player has been offered a similar deal by JP. Jp's risk assesment was erroneous and to to justify that through 'over-optimism' is to my mind, erroneous also.
Named For Hank - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#122685) #
It was a gamble, and one he didn't have to make.

But if you don't gamble, how can you win?

Flex - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#122688) #
"The 'overly optimistic' quote could be used for any bad FA signing ever"

That's what I was aiming for — complete universality. Ideally, anything I write should be applicable to anything, at any time. It's not something I always achieve, but I try.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#122692) #
save one with No rationale at all behind it.

Mr. Meares? You have a call on line one!

uglyone - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 05:18 PM EDT (#122703) #
He gambled on two guys, and one worked out very well, and one was a disaster.

I'd hate to see what Vernon would be getting paid right now if J.P. had waited until after 2003 to sign him.
BCMike - Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#122705) #

But if you don't gamble, how can you win?

The Jays would have had control of Hinske for 5 more years, 2 of which would have been at the minimum. There was no reason to gamble like that. That's why you don't see many teams buying out arbitration years, let alone "entry level" years. When teams do buy out arbitration years it's usually to get an extra year or two of service past the arbitration years, not for cost certainty.

JP gambled that the deal would save money in the arbitration years when the opposite has occured. Actually worse than the opposite has occured when you consider that the potential savings would have been far less than what the Jays are currently wasting on Hinske.

You can say hindsight is 20/20 and the deal can't be critized, but there's something to be said for foresight. The right gamble would have been to wait to see if Hinske repeats his success and then bite the bullet in his second and third years of arbitration. Risk vs Reward.

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