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Hudson, Hill and Adams. How do you fit them all in?

Backup catcher. What backup catcher?

Koskie: Bad year or albatross?

Rios: Will he ever get it together?

All this and more in Part II of the Roundtable discussion.


Mike Green: I like Hill quite a bit more than Adams, both at the plate and in the field. I'd like to see Hill and Hudson open up 2005 as the starting double play combination.

Named for Hank: Having not followed either of them in the minors, I don't think I can really make an evaluation in Hill vs. Adams yet, though I'll say that I was pleasantly surprised by Hill at second base at the end of the year and as a result I've softened in my "HUDSON CANNOT BE TRADED" position. Still, I'm a big O- Dog fan and I'd much rather see a solution where he sticks around and both Hill and Adams get to play full time.

Gerry: Like others I prefer Hill to Adams. If it were me I would see if there was a market for Adams and have Hill and Hudson up the middle. Koskie was a huge disappointment this year but a lot of first year free agents were (Beltran, Beltre, Pavano, Clement, Wright, etc.). I do think that these players put too much pressure on themselves to live up to the hype and I would look for a better year from Koskie in 2006. I am not thrilled with his defense however and depending on who JP signs I could see him at firstbase.

Magpie: Lots of folks either like Hill's upside better, or were simply blown away by his hot start. But Adams' rookie season was better than Hill's. They both hit the wall in September, they both had stretches where they played very well before that. Still, Adams in July and August looked like an honest-to-goodness quality leadoff hitter who could score 100 runs.

Mike Green: Hill had a better OBP than Adams this year, runs as well as him, and has shown more power when you look at his major and minor league career together. Then, you take into account that Hill is 1 and 1/2 years younger. .274/.342/.385 is a fine offensive line for a 23 year old rookie shortstop, who runs well and has shown some pop in the minors.

Gerry: Who believes JP when he says we can still have Adams, Hudson, Hill and Koskie next year? I find that hard to believe as someone will be short of at-bats, unless you assume Koskie misses his 40-60 games. So if one has to go, who will it be?

I decided I liked Hill better in part because of his arm. Adams arm is weak for a SS and costs you an out or two a week.

Magpie: Yeah, I'm probably just being weird and contrary on Adams-Hill.

One of the slightly odd things about this off-season is that there seems to be almost universal agreement, from the GM to the rest of the world, on what needs to happen. More offense needed. A Big Scary Bat would be good.

But there is no FA this winter who could solve this problem. Well, there's Konerko and Giles but I think the chances of either leaving his current team is pretty remote. Which means a trade is required, which will likely involve dealing from the club's areas of surplus - infielders and pitching prospects.

It's almost always futile to speculate about trades. Of course, this has pretty well never stopped anyone from doing it. But doesn't it seem like there's a real reluctance in the fan base to contemplate dealing Aaron Hill or Orlando Hudson or Dustin McGowan? It's kind of sweet...


Pistol: The Jays have had awful production from their backup catcher, and it likely caused Zaun to wear down during the season. Quiroz is the obvious internal solution, but since his big year in AA in 2003 he's been injured and has had mixed performance and seems that he could use more time in Syracuse next year. However, Quiroz is out of options and would have to pass through waivers to be sent down.

What do you do? Take a chance Quiroz can handle catching in Toronto or sign someone else? Or is there a better alternative?

Mike Green: You have at least one other right-handed catching option in camp, and I don't mean Ken Huckaby. If Quiroz is healthy in camp, he starts and #3 goes to Syracuse. Otherwise #3 becomes the right-handed part of your platoon, while Quiroz ends up on the DL.

Jonny German: I'm generally a J.P. Ricciardi supporter, but one aspect of his tenure that has frustrated me is his loyalty to certain players. Most glaring of all was the case of Mr. Ken Huckaby this season. The plan that was in place coming into 2005 was not bullet-proof, but reasonable: Gregg Zaun as the starter, Greg Myers the backup, Guillermo Quiroz seasoning in Syracuse and hopefully coming up in July, Huckaby mentoring Quiroz in AAA and available to fill in should there be a minor injury to Zaun or Myers early in the season. But with Quiroz hurt before the season even began and Myers declared "Toast" on April 26, the catching plan needed to be revisited. There was no reason to expect Zaun to be able to catch practically every day and not wear down, nor was there any reason to expect Huckaby to hit enough to be a reasonable option to give Zaun some rest. But instead of scouring high and low for a legitimate backup catcher from the moment it was decided that Myers' hitting abilities had left him, Ricciardi stuck by his man Huckaby and filled the gaps with Andy Dominique and Joe Depastino, two career minor leaguers even less likely than Huckaby to contribute at the Major League level. Backup catcher is hardly a difficult position to fill: Huckaby's meager .503 OPS in 2005 (87 at-bats) was bested by no fewer than 58 catchers with more at-bats. Meanwhile, Zaun topped his previous career high in at-bats by nearly 100 and contributed little with the stick after May.

The Jays are currently in a lose-lose-lose situation with Quiroz: he hasn't shown he can handle being a major league backup, but he's sure to be claimed on waivers if the Jays attempt to send him to Syracuse, and he has little trade value coming off two injury-ruined seasons. My inclination would be to go into 2006 with Zaun the starter and Quiroz the backup, but with at least one and preferably two minor league vets standing by in Syracuse should Quiroz show no signs of belonging in the bigs. Curtis Thigpen is the next prospect in line, but he'll be doing extremely well if he makes it to the Show as a September call-up.

Mike Green: Loyalty to players is a common trait in GMs, and one what produces both positive and negative effects. Pat Gillick was loyal to many of his players, from Willie Upshaw to Pat Borders, at times to the detriment of the club.

It's a positive quality when the confidence of the GM inspires the player to perform to the best of his capability. It's a negative quality when the loyalty prevents the GM from making changes that are necessary for the betterment of the club.

GMs can learn to balance their loyalty to particular players with the needs of the club, but it is a hard process.

Magpie: I'm perfectly willing to go into 2006 with Zaun and Quiroz, but as Mike says, there should be a Plan B in place. That doesn't involve Ken Huckaby making outs in the major leagues. It really shouldn't be that hard to find a serviceable major league back-up catcher - Zaun himself was rescued from the scrap heap. Look what the Orioles got from Sal Fasano this past year. It seems to me that there are always guys like that floating around.

Maybe Sal Butera can help out here - he used to be one of those guys himself.


Joe: Corey Koskie has become a lightning rod for criticism of J.P., some people going so far as to call the contract an "albatross." Well, if he doesn't ever produce like he has in the past, yes, it might indeed be an untradable contract. But it's not like the Blue Jays paid Carlos Delgado $18 million a year to play like Corey Koskie did in 2005, so I think everyone who thinks the contract will be a real millstone is being a bit premature.

I'm not convinced that Koskie is or isn't done — I tend towards "isn't," though — but I believe that a lot of his production problems probably stem from his intensity, trying to prove himself worth the money to the fans and himself, finally playing for his childhood team, and his later production, more than likely, from his injury, spending 2 months on the shelf. I would be utterly unsurprised, though, to see him bounce back — but I would be equally unsurprised to see him never able to recover his hitting stroke.

If he has lost his hitting stroke permanently, though, he's not a useless player. He's a good to excellent third baseman; further, he's a clubhouse force. Those things cannot be underestimated, especially the latter: as Minnesota learned, you definitely need to know how to win if you're going to win. Teaching the Aaron Hills and Russ Adamses of the 2006 Blue Jays how to win is worth the cash.

Mike Green: I don't tend to put much stock in the intangible component, but there is little doubt that he's an above average defensive third baseman. All he needs to do is find a mid-point between this year's off-season and his prior performance, and to get 450 PAs and he's a valuable contributor. That's a perfectly reasonable expectation for him. His salary would in that event be maybe a smidgen on the high side, but in my view hardly worth worrying about.

Jordan: I'm not ready to declare Koskie a washout, but I am pessimistic about his production in 2006-07. I don't know about whether he let his intensity get the better of him, though I do note that the Jays already had an incumbent third baseman who wears the "too-intense" label. Koskie is a veteran and he had a whole season to get used to playing for a new team in his home country. I can understand the yips in May, but not in August.

The bigger issue, for me, is my concern about the deterioration of his skills at the plate. I'm not sure I saw him connect with a real live fastball all season -- his swing just looked long and slow from start to finish. He can still murder a hanging breaking ball or take one the other way, but a steady diet of heat seemed to neutralize him. Defensively, we all saw him make some truly spectacular, give-it-all plays. But Defensive Win Shares places him 15th among third basemen in the AL; even accounting for missed time, that's not good (Aaron Hill was 10th).

At this point, Koskie looks like an average third baseman whose peripherals are heading in the wrong direction. Considering his GP has dropped every season since 2001 (153-140-131-118-97), it seems unlikely he can be counted on for a full or even three-quarters of a season in '06-'07. Over his last two seasons (776 AB), Koskie has batted about .250/.340/.450. By way of comparison, Hinske's career line now stands at .258/.335/.430.

Koskie might very well rebound, stay healthy and post another 2003 campaign (.292/.393/.452), giving the Jays a season like Frank Catalanotto gave them this year. But objectively, the tea leaves just don't read that way. For that reason alone, Aaron Hill (who probably will start the year in Syracuse) should fill the same role he did in 2005: fill-in third baseman. With luck, his bat will stay hot after taking the job this time around.

Pistol: I feel like I'm the only one that hasn't soured on Koskie. I think he'll be fine. You can't expect 600 ABs from him (of course we also said you can't expect Cat not to get hurt and he was healthy all year this season) but I expect him to get back to his established levels next year.

1st half (pre injury): .248/.313/.430
2nd half (post injury): .249/.353/.376

In the first half of the year he had decent pop, but his selectivity wasn't there. In the second half he had his batting eye back but his slugging was down 54 points. Having lower slugging after returning from a hand injury makes sense. So I expect him to come back next year and combine the two halves into something like .260/.360/.440. Nothing spectacular, but solid play and an upgrade over what the Jays got from the corner infielders and DH.

Dave Till: Koskie might well be toast with the bat: a lot of third basemen drop off sharply in their early thirties. (Let's call it the Cirillo Cliff.) But he still had a better season than Hill did, and is a better defensive third baseman. Besides, he's a proud Canadian. I say give him another shot.

Thomas: Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but I don't think Koskie is over the hill. I'm going to subscribe to the line of thinking, which I've heard Mike Wilner support, which is that Koskie spent nearly two months on the DL, had less than a week of rehab in the minors and injured his hand, which has to affect his swing. I think it's naive to believe that the injury didn't impact him and his swing even after he came off the DL. Koskie has always hit worse against lefties, but in the four previous seasons he posted an OPS over .700 against lefties three times. This year it was .581, which is a career low. It seems perfectly reasonable to conclude that lefties were pounding him inside and a not 100% Koskie couldn't catch up.

Granted Koskie struggled before his injury, but that could be two random months of sub-par baseball or a case of a Canadian pressing too hard to impress his new team and his home country. If he had hit like that for a year when healthy I might reacha different conclusion, but I'm not going to hold him responsible for 6 weeks of below-average baseball when healthy. I'm aware I may be trying to find an explanation to fit my preferred conclusion, but I have no problem going into 2006 with Koskie at 3rd.

Magpie: Koskie, Koskie - I don't know whether or not Koskie has lost all that much. He never looked quite settled in to me - he started out probably trying too hard to justify the contract, and then he got hurt, and then it was August and he was still trying to get settled in. That said, Koskie doesn't hit much against LH, and he doesn't hit much unless he's also playing the field. And he plays baseball like a hockey player. Even if he doesn't miss 30 or 40 games (or more) because he hurts himself, maybe he should miss 30 or 40 games anyway.

If the same bunch of infielders come back, what do you do with them? You've got six guys for four spots. One of them can also DH, of course, and probably will. Gibbons dealt with this last year by taking full advantage of the flexibility these players gave him, mainly the capability of Hill and Hillenbrand to play more than one position. But Hill will almost certainly be better off if he gets to concentrate on one defensive position.


What do you do with Rios- wait or trade?

Mike Green: Wait. He's a fine defender, and if he hits even a little more than he already does, he'd be a valuable asset. I'd put him in there every day next year.

Jordan: If Rios is the key to a deal that brings a major bat or arm to the team, I would deal him without hesitation. If this were 2002 and the Blue Jays were in full rebuilding mode, I'd give him 140 games in the outfield without hesitation to see what he can do. But the Jays are ready to contend, and they need more from their rightfielder than what Rios has so far provided.

Rios appears to be in little danger of a breakout season next year. Yes, his homer total rose from 1 in '04 to 10 in '05 -- but his slugging percentage barely budged and has yet to crack .400. That's because he hit one fewer double and triple than last season in 55 more at-bats. Add in the facts that his batting average fell 20 points, his walk total dropped in a greater number of plate appearances, and his stolen-base percentages fell off drastically, and 2005 looks like a substantial step backwards for a player who ought to be breaking through. He showed flashes of "getting it" at various points in the season before reverting back to his old ways, including a terrible season-ending slump. His brief benching for what reportedly were hustle-related issues does not improve the picture.

Rios will almost certainly put it together one of these years, but Toronto can't wait that long. There should be at least a few teams still impressed with Rios' tools collection and willing to give him an opportunity, and the Blue Jays should explore a match with such clubs. They've seen 900 big-league at-bats from Rios already, and they can be forgiven for concluding that they're not going to see anything substantially different in 2006.

Pistol: I agree. If Rios has value he can be traded without hesitation.

If the Jays can't find someone that will give them above average production in RF (ie Giles) I'd let Gross play. He's consistently put up .380/.450 in Syracuse which translates (by my eyeball adjustment) to an average RF.

Gerry: JP has stated that he wants to make his team more balanced, and the first problem in that regard is Alex Rios. Lee Sinin's RCAA (runs created above average) shows Rios to be the biggest hole in the Jays lineup with a -17 RCAA. Rios did not have a good swing for much of 2005. He came to the majors with a lot of opposite field power but then the pitchers pitched him inside. He adjusted his swing to handle the inside pitch and now has trouble with the outside pitch, Rios has been slow to adjust to major league pitchers. Having two hitting coaches this year probably did not help him. I do think Rios is a lot better than he showed this year, and I think his big frame causes his swing to get out of sync, and I would probably keep him as I think he is close to realizing his potential.

Dave Till: Rios can't control the strike zone. At this point, I'd say that he's not going to make it. Trade him to a team that needs hitters and likes toolsy players. (Everybody sing along with Wilbert Harrison! "I'm going to Kansas City... Kansas City, here I come...")


The final installment of the Roundtable on Friday will take a look at the much anticipated offseason where the Jays will have a considerable amount of spending money.

Jays Roundtable, Part II: Position Players | 121 comments | Create New Account
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5hoursahead - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 08:52 AM EST (#131018) #
I have no problem going into 2006 with Koskie at 3rd

Me neither - great article again gents.

Apparently Giles is interested and Washburn isn't.

If you believe what you read in the press anyway - never a good thing!

Kieran - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 09:04 AM EST (#131019) #
Interesting to read about Washburn. I know from a source within the club that JP and his scouts were quite interested in him, and I'm surprised it's taken until now for a story to break noting Washburn's reluctance to sign here.

That said, an offseason that saw Giles and Burnett come North would have me salivating.
SK in NJ - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 09:21 AM EST (#131021) #
I'm also a bit surprised about Washburn. Knowing about Toronto's increased payroll, he could have easily faked some interest to drive up his price. Very odd to cancel out a team that may be willing to offer the most money. I guess not every player is out for the biggest payday.

Interesting about Giles, though I'd be very surprised if the Jays are even in the top 3 of where Giles would want to end up. He doesn't seem like the type of player who would come to Toronto. Maybe I'm off base.

I have no issue with Koskie starting at 3B in 2006. However, I would hope that Aaron Hill is starting somewhere. Personally, I'd try to move Russ Adams if I were JP, but with a newly won Gold Glove, Hudson may be the one teams are after.
Flex - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 09:24 AM EST (#131022) #
A pox on all those timid farm boys from the midwest afraid of a little foreign tax system!
Jim - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 09:27 AM EST (#131023) #
Koskie is cooked. Late career debut, strikeouts in over 20% of his plate appearances for his career and the laundry list of injuries over the years have me convinced that the best is long gone.

The contract isn't for big enough dollars to be a true albatross, but the sooner he's out of the way the better.
Paul D - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:00 AM EST (#131027) #
Here's a link to a study on tweaked zone rating.

It has Rios as one of the top three rightfielders in the game. But Hudson isn't in the top 2 second basemen.
Pistol - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:11 AM EST (#131029) #
I'm encouraged that Giles is visiting Toronto, and that the Jays are considering him.

Giles 2005 VORP: 65.2
Rios 2005 VORP: 3.9

That'd be a real nice upgrade in RF (which would be the easiest position to get an upgrade from), even if Giles declined some next year.

I forget, what's considered tougher, going from the AL to NL or vice versa? Or is that just talk with no support to it?
Pistol - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:17 AM EST (#131030) #
BP has both Wells and Hudson being worthy Gold Glovers: (Premium)
Ducey - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 11:24 AM EST (#131040) #
JP has shown a propensity towards platoons in the past. If you look at Koskie as the LH part of a platoon with Hillenbrand as the RH you get a player that hit this last year:

Koskie vs RH: .265/.365/.437
Hillenbrand vs LH: .325/.361/.525

Mora (who was second in VORP among AL 3B)hit .283/.343/.474.
Chavez (who was 3rd in VORP) hit .269/.329/.466.

Koskie would get the more at bats and gives you good defence. A platoon provides depth on many levels and prodcution equivalent to any 3B not named A Rod.
OntarioMediator - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 11:54 AM EST (#131043) #
I'm encouraged to hear about Giles, but the amount of money he will command is way beyond our budget, especially if we want to add a bonafied 1-A or #2 starter behind Roy. As for Washburn, he would not have been a good fit in Toronto anyways - as a fly ball picther, Rogers Centre would have been a launching pad for the opposition when they're in town and he's on the mound. He probably wants to play closer to home (home being Wisconsin). I say go all out on AJ Burnett, and add a decent/reliable bat in Durazo.
OntarioMediator - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:03 PM EST (#131045) #
Hudson, Hill and Adams. Hudson defintely plays 2nd base. no question. I'm impressed with Russ Adams. He batted well when in the leadoff spot, provides a tiny bit of speed, a bit of pop, and very good defense - although the error need to be cut down. Odd man out is Aaron Hill. Should he be on the Major League roster next season? Definitely. His versatility and production is hard to ignore.

Backup catcher. What backup catcher? We need one. Definitely. Who will it be? If not Quiroz (who I still believe needs a bit more time at Syracuse), I would like to see JP go out and add a dependable backstopper. Who? How hard would it be to pry Mike Matheny away from the Giants?

Koskie: Bad year or albatross? Poor Corey. Last year was definitely tough. Expectations of playing in your home nation, injuries and a slow start added up to a poor season. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. He plays excellent defense, and his addition in the clubhouse cannot be underestimated.

Rios: Will he ever get it together? Tough to say on this one. He showed glimpses of busting out last season before falling off. I don't want to give up on him so easily, especially after what happened with Felipe Lopez. 5-tool players don't grow on trees. Although, if we can get a nice player who addresses a need on our team, and is relatively young themselves, I would not hesitate to pull the trigger. I have a feeling he will be a Jay opening day.

timpinder - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:05 PM EST (#131046) #
JP's said he wants to sign a bat and a pitcher before the winter meetings. If he can sign a FA bat, I think it'll be Hill and Hudson up the middle. If he can't, I think JP will trade Hudson for a big bat because he's worth a lot more than Adams. I'd much rather see Hill stay than Adams. Hill's total minor league AVG and OBP are significantly higher than Adams and Hill has a good arm, Adams' arm is more suited to 2B.

Quiroz was hitting over .300 in the AF league, he might surprise some people next year, and he has some power. I don't think getting a catcher should be JP's top priority this offseason.

Koskie had a bad year, he'll bounce back a little. Sure he only hit .251 in 2004, but he had 25 HR's in an injury shortened season. I think it's reasonable to excect a .270 AVG, 20HR year from him in 2006. His career batting average is .280, he won't repeat his 2005 year.

Rios may one day turn on and hit 30 HR's, but how long will JP wait? I'd be more comfortable with Gross than Rios right now. Will one of them be traded? Which one? Any thoughts?

Mike Forbes - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:09 PM EST (#131047) #
Interesting news about Giles, I didn't think he'd even consider Toronto.

Although if Giles signs, its not Rios who will be replaced, it'll be Cat. Giles' defensive skill set fits in far better in left then it does right. However if Cat is replaced I'd be all in favor of a 4 man competetion for the rightfield/4th outfielder spot between Rios, Gross, Sparky and a free agent brought in on a minor league contract.
Pistol - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:12 PM EST (#131048) #
but the amount of money he will command is way beyond our budget

The Jays can increase their payroll by at least $25 million from the team that they currently have (right around $55 million as is). That will easily allow them to sign two major FAs if that's the route they choose to go.

If a player signs a multi year contract the average annual salary typically increases over the life of the contract. If a player gets 4 for $50 it likely won't be $12.5 each of the four years. It'll be something like $11, $12, $13, $14 million for the four years. So for 2006 two $12.5 million players average salary players wouldn't be $25 million, they'd more likely be $22 million.

Paul D - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:23 PM EST (#131049) #
Ontario, what about Adams defence do you think is good?
He made lots of errors, and he's near last in just about every advanced defensive metric, and to me at least, he doesn't look that great out there. Some of it may come with more confidence (ie, less double pumping), but he'll never be a great defender, IMHO.
Four Seamer - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:25 PM EST (#131051) #
Expectations of playing in your home nation

This excuse is a little hard to swallow, given that the majority of Major Leaguers also play in their home nation!

I know, I know - with the Jays, it's a little more like playing for the hometown team. But it seems to me that the type of player who gets too nervous playing in front of a hometown crowd is the sort of player who would choose to sign somewhere else as a result.

Sister - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:25 PM EST (#131052) #
ESPN is reporting that Pat Gillick has signed on as GM of the Phillies.

Pistol - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:28 PM EST (#131053) #
I can't imagine the Jays signing Giles at the expense of Cat. Cat led the Jays in OPS this year and it makes too much sense to me to leave Freed Johnalonotto in LF as a productive platoon, with Johnson as the 4th OF when the Jays face RHPs.

Last year the Padres played Giles in RF in 143 games, and RF in PetCo is pretty huge. He also got 17 games in CF so I can't imagine his defense isn't at least close to average in RF.

You might sacrifice a bit of defense from Rios to Giles in RF, but the difference at the plate is just huge.
Flex - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:37 PM EST (#131054) #
Look at the list of players who hit 30 or more home runs in the American League last season. Does Rios look like any of them? Not even remotely. Does he look like he could become them? Maybe in five years. If he does hit 30 HR, he'll do it once, in a career year. Probably his free-agent year.

I say Rios gets packaged with a young arm, probably Bush, and probably a minor-league lefty, and shipped to a National League team that needs a centre fielder. I'd be very surprised to see Rios on the roster next year.

Another thing that would surprise me -- seeing Adams go anywhere. Ricciardi loves this guy. LOVES him. He's not trading him.
OntarioMediator - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 12:55 PM EST (#131058) #
I think he's got decent range and the plays he made last season, he made routine plays difficult, and difficult plays routine. If he works on his defense over the winter with a coach, or with BB, those error would be cut in half - easy. I expect a better year defensively for him next season - although withthe amount of errors he made last season, he's got nowhere to go but up.
OntarioMediator - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:00 PM EST (#131059) #
It is a bit hard to swallow, but it does play on you a bit. It shouldn't because he should be a professsional and learn to block it out. However, I think Corey came into the season trying too hard to impress the fans the the Jays brass, and as a result, it caused him to struggle early on. Once he started to get into somewhat of a rhythm, he went on the DL. He'll have a better season in 2006.
sweat - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:02 PM EST (#131060) #
How boat Rios and Bush and an average AA prospect to the brewers for Carlos Lee. Rios was drafted by Ash, and Ash might still be fairly high on him. The Brewers would get a RF with an arm and a load of potential and a guy who should improve his ERA moving to the NL. Both of these players would be with them for a number of years, whereas Carlos Lee is signed for only one more year. I would doubt he wants to stay in Miluakee after this year is up.
Flex - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:21 PM EST (#131061) #
I can see that trade working, sweat. Ricciardi says to Ash: "You like this guy so much? Prove it. Take him and show the world you're a better judge of talent than me."
Craig B - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:21 PM EST (#131062) #
sweat, if you were running the Brewers, would you make that deal? I wouldn't, but maybe you would. It's hard to take Lee's run production out of the lineup, even with Prince Fielder on the way.

One thing's for certain, the Brewers under Melvin really do understand the importance of OBP, so trading the OBP-challenged Lee might be a good solution for them, especially at his salary.

I don't think Rios has much trade value right now - he's a poor man's Juan Encarnacion on what he's shown so far - so the key to such a deal would be Bush. He's a nice little player, and you can never have too much pitching, but their need for a rotation starter isn't immediate, especially as Jarrod Washburn appears to be trying to leap into Melvin's arms like a crazed bride. I think the Brewers might be happier getting minor league arms rather than major leaguers.

From the Jays point of view, I wouldn't mind having Lee. He's a useful, durable player with a good power bat, but it needs to be remembered that he's getting older, slowing down, and isn't going to get on base and score runs. His averages are going to keep drifting south and he's not that likely to hit .300 ever again.

He's awfully expensive to be adding just to upgrade offensively and defensively by a small amount over Catalanotto.

But I am loath to give away Bush. He looks like an excellent starter to me if he can gain some consistency. Any team that isn't yet a World Series contender should be very careful about giving away players under 27 for players over 27. Over the medium term, let alone the long term, that is a losing strategy. For a team trying to maintain a very good club, it's defensible, but otherwise sitting on your youth and hoping it develops well is (in my opinion) a better strategy.
OntarioMediator - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:23 PM EST (#131063) #
The deal for the Brewers just might work - Ash knows Rios well because he drafted him, and the Brewers would benefit from some young pitching. I know we have a deficiency when it comes to power, but does anyone else feel we would benefit from a speedy lead-off hitter? Podsednik was a key cog in the White Sox WS run this year.
Craig B - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:44 PM EST (#131066) #
With the kind of lineup the Jays have, a true Kenny Lofton-type leadoff man who can get on base and scoot (like Figgins, Podsednik or even Lugo) would be a benefit. Problem is, those players are extremely rare these days. Guys who can run great but can't get on base well are much more common, but are a net harm rather than a net benefit. You're better off with a guy who has some on-base skills but can't run as well, like Hill or (as he showed in flashes) Adams. Even Reed is better than a Nook Logan or Joey Gathright type of leadoff hitter.

Then you have the issue of where to play him. With Wells and Hudson locked down, Koskie still on board, and Adams and Hill both needing to play, you have three choices - left field, right field, DH or first base. Those are the four spots in the lineup that have the most offensive talent, so it will have to be quite a leadoff man to replace the offense of players who you otherwise could get.

Because they have a bevy of just-below-average-to-just-above-average hitters clamoring to fill those four roles already (in order from best to worst : Cat, Hillenbrand, Hinske, Gross, Johnson, Rios and now Griffin) the Jays don't have the luxury of bringing in a luxury player like a Podsednik. They just don't have the firepower. The team's biggest problem is driving in runs, and I do think that needs to be addressed first before trying to manufacture more opportunities.

I could still be convinced. If you were able to get Juan Pierre from Florida relatively inexpensively, to play left field, and pay him with Catalanotto's or Hillenbrand's money then sure that would be worth thinking about.
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:53 PM EST (#131068) #

Aaron Hill would make a fine leadoff hitter for the next 5-6 years or so. #1 hitter in his 20s, #3 hitter in his 30s...

Here are Rios' age 24 BBRef comps, which take no account of minor league records. There are no Winfields or Parkers there, but a whole lot of valuable players from Terry Moore to Sammy West to Jerry Mumphrey. If his trade value is a poor man's Juan Encarnacion, he's best kept.

costanza - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 01:56 PM EST (#131069) #
I always found it a bit ironic that the first "big" Canadian free agent the Jays acquired ended up playing about three times as far from his hometown as he had been with his previous team...
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 02:04 PM EST (#131070) #
Actually, Willie McGee is a very nice comp for Alex Rios, as of age 24. He had about the same strike zone control, a little more speed but not much, and a little less power development. He took a small step forward at age 25 to become an average offensive player and then broke out and hit .350 at age 26, and won the MVP award.
OntarioMediator - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 02:09 PM EST (#131071) #
I totally agree with you Craig - When I was composing the post, I had Juan Pierre in my head. In my opinion, the leadoff hitter has the ability to set the tone for the whole game. However, a commodity like Pierre - a speedy player who makes contact no matter whom is on the mound and gets on base quite frequently will cost quite a bit. I'd prefer him than Carlos Lee (who would probably be as equally as difficult to pry away).
Flex - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 02:20 PM EST (#131073) #
Interesting that one of the comps for Rios is Shannon Stewart, who in fewer games to that stage of his career had hit one more home run than Rios, had a much better OBP and a higher slugging percentage.

Shannon did not go on to become a slugger in the Winfield tradition.
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 02:59 PM EST (#131076) #
I noticed Shannon's name. He's really not the greatest comp, because his strike zone control at age 23-24 was so much better (almost 1-1 W/K ratios).
Ron - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 03:04 PM EST (#131077) #
Quick Thoughts:

- Rios has flamed out in my books. His MVP AA seasons looks to be a fluke right now. I've never understood why so many people thought or still think he will be a power bat. He's never hit more than 11 HR's at any professional level. If the Jays are going to contend for a playoff spot next season, Rios can't have 481 AB's. Rios is nothing more than a 4th OF.

- Hey what are the plans for Mr. Gabe Gross? He's getting to the age where it's hard to consider him a prospect. Personally I would much rather have Gross than Rios on the roster. I thought last season Gross was going to be finally given the chance to get regular playing time but that didn't happen. He's already proved himself at AAA. His time is now!

- With the glut of INF's, I would prefer JP to trade away Adams. He defence was awful last season. Heck I might be willing to say he was the worst or 2nd worst starting defensive SS in the AL last season. If he's going to be the Jays lead off hitter he needs to greatly improve his BA. A .320 OBP isn't going to cut it. Can anybody explain why his pop completely disappeared after he was moved to the lead-off position?

- I feel like Koskie will bounce back next season if he can stay healthy. Of course that's a big if.

- GQ is close to flaming out in my books. Injuries have really hurt his development. He hasn't even demonstrated that he belongs in AAA yet. I have a tough time handing over a backup catching spot to GQ without having him earn it. Much like what the Jays did to Brandon League, which turned out to be a disaster. If I'm the GM, GQ starts the season at AAA and I go out and sign a backup catcher for the big league roster. At Zaun's age, his production is ready to fall off the cliff so you have to be careful.

- As for Giles, Giles will be 35 next year and I feel like his production is ready to fall off the cliff any minute. But even with that said, it's time for the Jays to roll the dice and take a gamble. Having payroll flexability is useless unless you're going to spend it on players. I would much rather offer Giles a 3yr/30 mil deal than give a younger player like Jacque Jones a 3yr/18 mil offer.

The Jays don't need any more solid players like Hillenbrand. We need star players that can push us over the top. Judging by what Giles did last season, he would fit the bill. Playing at Petco really hurt his overall numbers. His road numbers are amazing .333/.463/.545

Assuming he doesn't vastly decline, playing at RC he could put up 20 HR's with a .300/..410/.530 stat line.

JayFan0912 - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 03:20 PM EST (#131078) #
I think it makes no sense trading rios now, as his value is too low. Assuming we sign giles, rios should start at AAA and come up in midseason. I would go with a platoon of CAT/sparky in left, and if rios regains his form, you can trade sparky and start rios in LF.

BTW, I think giles is worth around 10 - 11 Million per year in a three year contract. Sheffield signed a much larger contract 2 years ago when the market was down, and their production is similar. Signing burnett and giles would be a great start to the offseason for the jays.

On a different topic, one guy who isn't mentioned is nomar garciaparra. There were some rumours the twins wanted koskie back, and would trade morneau for koskie and hudson/hill. In this case, signing nomar makes sense, he wouldn't get a long term deal, and the potential payoff is pretty large. The starting infield could be morneau, hudson, adams, and garciaparra.
Jordan - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST (#131080) #
If Pierre were priable from Florida -- and his name is popping up a lot in trade speculation lately -- the Jays would do very well to take a run at him. His "off-year" in 2005 consisted of nothing more than a drop in batting average -- all of his peripherals (BB/K) remained steady and he swiped 57 bases, so a return to .310/.365/.380 in 2006 seems very likely. He hasn't missed a game in three years, either.
Ron - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 03:32 PM EST (#131081) #
I have a question.

Giles and AJ are going to be graded A FA's.

From what I undestand if the Jays were to sign Giles, they would give up their 2nd round pick. What happens if the Jays were to also sign AJ? Do they just give up next years pick then?
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 03:49 PM EST (#131085) #
The odd thing is that if you look at comparables, Alex Rios' did much better at age 25 and 26 than Juan Pierre's did at 28 and 29. Pierre has no power and is an extreme groundball hitter. Such hitters will normally see a decline in batting average as they reach their late 20s, due to a loss of speed. If Pierre is to fully regain his previous effectiveness, he's going to have to improve his plate discipline. He's showing no signs of this (it actually did deteriorate at age 27). If Pierre hits .300/.340/.380 and plays leftfield for you, he is Scott Podsednik, and is of less value than Catalanotto/Johnson.
Pistol - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 03:50 PM EST (#131086) #
If the Jays sign two Type As then they'd give up a 2nd and 3rd rounder this year (and so on). But the teams that lost the Type As would also get a sandwich pick (compensation picks between round 1 and 2).

If you remember a couple years ago the Jays got the Angels 3rd round pick because they kept their 1st pick (top 15) and signed multiple players (I believe the other player signed was Colon).
Rich - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 03:51 PM EST (#131087) #
Ron, I agree with most of what you've written. In 2006, I see Gross as far more likely to contribute than Rios. He's a good defender, knows how to get on base, and is more likely to put up decent power numbers in my view.

I do think Adams will improve, and doubt JP will be in a hurry to trade his first-ever draft pick.
GeoffAtMac - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:04 PM EST (#131088) #
Question to all: A classmate mentioned to me that he had heard of a possible deal sending Bobby Abreu to the Jays.

Is this true? I hadn't read anything about this potential move.
Cristian - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:13 PM EST (#131089) #
I doubt the Phillies have been discussing deals with anyone considering they have been without a GM until today.
Gerry - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:14 PM EST (#131090) #
Seeing how Philly hasn't had a General manager until today, I doubt it. Also Philly are close to winning the division and getting rid of Abreu is the least likely way to get better.
Craig B - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:14 PM EST (#131091) #
Wow, I'd love that. Abreu's a favorite of mine and has been for years. But I've heard nothing about this, just some rampant speculation that Pat Gillick is going to try to move Burrell or Abreu to make room for Ryan Howard in the outfield.

Frankly, that is about as likely to happen as Gillick signing a sperm whale and a five-story building to platoon at third base. Gillick HATES slow, lumbering outfielders and prefers to have fast guys at all three positions - he'd rather have speedy guys than hitters out there. I think we all remember this. Ryan Howard in the OF would drive Gillick nuts.

Gillick might not like Abreu for other reasons, of course, but I have nothing to go on there. Still, getting rid of Abreu would be very popular in Philly, whose fans are so screwed up that their best players are their least most hated.

To give you an idea of the poisonous level at which the Philadelphia baseball community is working, on the day (today) that it was announced that Abreu had won a Gold Glove, the local paper stated that fans would likely scoff at the notion and that anyhow, it was well known that coaches voted on the Gold Glove based on a player's bat.

I'm serious - that's what it says.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:16 PM EST (#131092) #
Gotta say I am absolutely estatic with the Jays considering Giles.

As a lot of you know, I've been singing his praises all year long, I don't think his production is going to drop off (he should be good for 2-3 more seasons).

This guy has been one of the best hitters in baseball for a long time, he has been pretty underrated pretty much his whole career (not to mention playing in Petco doesn't help your numbers).

This is a step in the right direction if we can Sign Giles... A huge step.

Mike Green - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:20 PM EST (#131093) #
Well, I don't think Abreu's going anywhere, but if he is, you just know that there'll be a long lineup. Abreu's age 31 comparables include Bernie Williams, Reggie Smith and Larry Walker, so if you've been following the Hall Watch series, you know that he's my kind of ballplayer.
CaramonLS - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:23 PM EST (#131095) #
No Way Howard moves to the Outfield. Absolutely no way.

They tried that there last spring training, Howard said he hated it and there was no way he could adjust to the OF. He chose the minors over conversion to the OF last season.

Any conversation with Pat is going to be over 1 player, Thome. Not a good way to start a conversation.

Gardiner West - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:36 PM EST (#131097) #
What pieces would Pat Gillick like to take away from JP? Middle infielder? Doubtful, seeing as the Phils have a quality mid-infield of J Rollins and C Utley. Perhaps, and this is a stretch, the Phils lose B Wagner to FA and the Jays could send M Batista and a combo of prospects to Philly for B Abreu. I could live with that scenario.

So who then closes for the Jays? That answer I don't have, although I hope Dustin McGowan is in their long range closing plans. Perhaps when the Jays are finally ready to challenge McGowan will be the man. His heavy, moving fastball reminds me a lot of Duane Ward.

As for the middle infield, a comparison (stats per 162 games):

Hill .274 25 5 67 .342 .385 13
Adams .262 29 12 73 .329 .401 33
Hudson .270 31 12 70 .328 .418 12

Based on these numbers alone, Russ Adams appears to be the one to deal, providing they land a couple of sluggers to man 1B and RF. If that is accomplished, Adams offence can be sacrificed.
JayFan0912 - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:37 PM EST (#131098) #
The phillies need starting pitching, but I doubt they give up abreu. I also doubt that the phillies would consider using howard in LF - burell plays there.

The only way they would trade abreu (of course, not in a deal where we send VW or halladay) is if they wanted to free some money since they probably wont be interested in prospects. For instance, getting lilly, chacin, and bush (and maybe rios too) for abreu.
OntarioMediator - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:48 PM EST (#131099) #
I'd love to have Abreu on the Jays, but now that Gillick's in charge, there's a slim chance of it happening.

As much as I like Giles, I'm just wary of his age and giving him a 3-year contract. Had it been 3 years ago, no problem. Keeping sluggers in mind, what about attempting (and this has probably been beaten to death) to deal for Adam Dunn? (The price would no doubtedly be steep), but the kid can hit bombs - exactly what the Jays have been looking for.
Flex - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 04:59 PM EST (#131100) #
Not beaten to death, necessarily. But it's bloody and pleading for mercy.
Magpie - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 05:54 PM EST (#131105) #
Kevin Towers and Sandy Alderson are playing Extreme Lowball right now - apparently they offered Giles $21 million over 3 years, and Trevor Hoffman $10 million over two years. Neither offer even comes close. Hoffman feels "insulted." Curious.
The Bone - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 06:37 PM EST (#131108) #
A couple of things

1) I'm guessing the Abreu rumour came from a Baseball Prospectus chat last week where whoever was giving the chat said that the Jays should go after a Dunn/Abreu/Berkman type bat - I don't know why those three were mentioned

2) On the topic of Jays position players, Vernon Wells now has a .760 OPS in 1800 major league at bats against righties, including a sub-700 OPS against them last year. Obviously his defence keeps him in the lineup, but should we continue to bat him in a power spot against righties?

westcoast dude - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 06:56 PM EST (#131109) #
Quiroz caught Chacin's last win and made Gus look good doing it; that's what I liked. He's ready to start as #1 catcher next year and have a great season.
Koskie will bat .275 next year with good pop and everybody will feel good about it.
I like the sound of Giles although his age is an issue. It will be interesting to see what JP chrystalizes.
Lilly for Manny and millions in cash floating around?
No FA pitchers over age 30 would be my wish. Doc, Josh, Gus, Scott, David are our 5 starters right off the top.
HollywoodHartman - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 08:01 PM EST (#131113) #
Does Roy live in T.O? He's at the Rap's opener and they talkwed with him for a bit. I though he lived in Colorodo in the winter...
R Billie - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 08:14 PM EST (#131115) #
He probably has a place in Toronto. He might be in town to meet AJ Burnett when he arrives (today or tomorrow). Maybe he'd stick around for when Giles makes his trip which is still being arranged.
The Bone - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 08:15 PM EST (#131116) #
If I had to guess, I'd say they brought him in for the Burnett visit
CeeBee - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 08:23 PM EST (#131117) #
If Rios turns out anywhere near as good as some of his comps(Happy Felsch, Sam West, Shannon Stewart or Terry Moore he will most definitely be worth keeping at least for his non-Free agent years :)
HollywoodHartman - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 08:36 PM EST (#131118) #
Not sure if anyone has posted this yet but the playoff OF who tested positive for roids is... Matt Lawton;_ylt=AjcMYQY8ewI2S.i5C.NpyrIRvLYF?slug=ap-drugs-lawton&prov=ap&type=lgns
jgadfly - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 08:37 PM EST (#131120) #
since some of us are discussing trades ... some talk on Ranger "fanforum" site that Mench, AGonzales & Soriano are extra parts that could be traded ...would Texas accept Wells, Hudson, Lilly/Bush and Rosario for these three ??? would Toronto offer? ...I don't know if I would ( the Jays would really be young and inexperienced- team chemistry gutted) but both teams would be addressing some of their needs... for Texas better defense with little relative SLG falloff, a pitching upgrade and a potential closer...for Toronto hitting with some authority (on three levels - established, moderate breakthrough, and unknown but good ML record with good form)... obviously more risk on Toronto side but more potential upside as well...I don't know how the numbers crunch on these guys but it is intriquing(?) n'est-ce pas? ...a "good trade" for both sides??? something to consider?
sweat - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 09:13 PM EST (#131122) #
I've never really liked Soriano, but Mench and Agonz would be pretty decent acquisitions. I'm not so sure of the more potential aspect. I don't think Soriano has anywhere to go but down, and Hudson, Bush and Rosario are only gonna move up.
GeoffAtMac - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 09:16 PM EST (#131123) #
Just saw Monsieur Burnett throwing up a ball for the Raptors' mascot to hit into the stands. Doc is sitting with him tonight at the ACC.

Looks like they are trying to make a solid pitch for him.

Hook, line and sinker...I hope.
VBF - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:10 PM EST (#131125) #
Out of pure curiosity, did the PA person or someone actually mention to the crowd who he was and if so, did he receive any kind of noticeable reception?

IIRC, Roy Halladay lives in Toronto for a month or so after the season ends. I think he goes back just before December.
GeoffAtMac - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:21 PM EST (#131126) #
Burnett was definitely identified on the telecast, and since Roy was standing with him on the court, I assume the crowd was introduced to him as well.

Burnett threw an underhand lob pitch to the Raptors' mascot, and the mascot hit a ball into the stands for the fans to catch.

But, there was no "Wow-wo-wo-wow-wow" from the Swirsk to confirm how good of a hit it was. :)
VBF - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:23 PM EST (#131127) #
Should we be concerned that a mascot hit a home run off him?
VBF - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:28 PM EST (#131128) #
I just watched a SportsNet interview with AJ Burnett. To paraphrase:

The front office has been terrific. The city's great, everybody I've met has been great. It's like night and day compared to what I was used to. I'm really impressed.

If we sign him, would the splashy headline be A-JAY BURNETT?

GeoffAtMac - Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:39 PM EST (#131129) #
I think it would actually be inverted:

Burnett, A Jay?
Anders - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 01:11 AM EST (#131132) #
"Should we be concerned that a mascot hit a home run off him?"

This is very funny VBF.

I think that it'll be a while before we see any trades happening. Or at least, until the end of the month, when Ricciardi hopefully signs his pat and arm.
Pistol - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 08:44 AM EST (#131140) #
How about this one:

Next up to tour the city is believed to be Baltimore Orioles closer B.J. Ryan. J.P. Ricciardi, the man doing everything he can to get Burnett's signature on a contract, would neither confirm nor deny plans to have Ryan in Toronto over the next few days.

Looks like the Jays are at least going to attempt to make a big splash in free agency. First Burnett yesterday, then Giles, and perhaps Ryan now.

OntarioMediator - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 08:57 AM EST (#131143) #
I was at last night's game and AJ received a very, very warm welcome - some fans gave him a standing ovation.

Doc and AJ were invited to the pitch to the Raptor - Doc ended up beaning the Raptor which was most humourous.

Wildrose - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 08:57 AM EST (#131144) #
Blair's take on the Jay's infield situation. Interesting comment on Vasquez. Ryan's good, but is he really a pressing need?
bird droppings - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 09:13 AM EST (#131146) #
Chris Widger would be a big improvement over Huckaby.
Wildrose - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 09:23 AM EST (#131148) #
A thread on the Blair story is over at Primer, comment one is most worthy!
daryn - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 09:37 AM EST (#131151) #
I love the O-Dog...
Put him in the Bird Costume and let him entertain....

I don't know how many wins his glove is worth, probably some, but I'd like to see a better bat at 2B.

Nelson Liriano, Damaso Garcia, Homer Bush, Tomas Perez, Domingo Cedeno

Is O-Dog really head and shoulders better than any of those guys???

Mike Green - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 10:16 AM EST (#131154) #
Yes, daryn. O-Dog has been head and shoulders defensively better than any of these guys. He's the best defensive second baseman I have ever seen, although by all accounts Mazeroski was better in his prime (which I missed). Now, whether he will sustain that for the next few years is an open question. Much of his talent comes from instinct and guile, which tends to age well.
Flex - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 10:36 AM EST (#131156) #
Pretty snippy comment about Blair from one of those posters. What, they don't read much over at Primer?

I was glad to see someone come to his defense pretty fast.
Rob - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 10:40 AM EST (#131157) #
If Blair is in fact "usually terrible" (which he, of course, is not), then I don't want to know how bad some of the other Toronto writers are.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 11:14 AM EST (#131161) #
Blair is normally a fine writer, but I disagree strongly with the suggestion in his article that Hudson's contract demands (more than Vernon Wells' salary) are out of line. It is true that Hudson is not a better player than Wells, but it's close.

However, Wells' contract was signed after his 1st season. At that time, his future performance was unknown and hence the contract reflects expectations at that point. Sometimes these expectations are met, and sometimes as in the case of Hinske they are not. If Wells were negotiating a long-term contract with the Jays now, his salary demands for 2006 and 2007 would be substantially in excess of what he is scheduled to receive under his current contract.

None of this means that Hudson should be signed to a long-term contract or that he should not be traded, but the tone of the article suggests an inaccurate assessment of Hudson's value and of the current market. Superb defence and average offence at second base is not easily replaceable.
TimberLee - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 01:37 PM EST (#131166) #
All of this trade speculation is very interesting. I have seen in a couple of places that the Reds are desperate for pitching (They're seriously calling Dave Weathers their closer for 2006), and they expect to deal one of their catchers and an outfielder. I think the Jays will get Austin Kearns and Jason LaRue for David Bush and either Batista or Chulk. Wait and watch this one. I'm pretty sure that all these players will be somewhere else in the next couple of months one way or the other.
Jordan - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 01:54 PM EST (#131168) #
Gerry Hunsicker has joined the Devil Rays' front office, as the new ownership continues to add more good executive talent. Watch out for Tampa -- that organization has a ton of raw talent in the majors and minors, and if they actually put someone in charge who knows what to do with it, the AL East will just get a whole lot tougher.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 02:05 PM EST (#131170) #
As has been noted elsewhere, the Jays and Reds are natural trading partners. Jason LaRue made $3 million last year, and is due an increase, so I doubt that he is a fit here.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 02:14 PM EST (#131171) #
Oh, and Timberlee, thank you for mentioning Austin Kearns. One of his comps was Dick Kokos, who had come up at age 20 with the St. Louis Browns in 1948. He performed well through 1950, and then spent 2 years in Korea. What happened in the war I don't know, but he played one season at about the same level as before in 1953 at age 25, but received only 10 at-bats in 1954 and that was it for his career.
huckamaniac - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 04:00 PM EST (#131175) #
Does anyone know if hillenbrand will be back? If the jays could sign giles I wouldn't mind seeing hillenbrand at first, hill at dh/3rd, and giles in left. They could platoon Cat and Rios in right.
Jonny German - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 04:18 PM EST (#131178) #
Hillenbrand is arbitration-eligible and will most likely be back. He made $3.87M this year... I'd expect him to cost between $5M and $6M next year. Jacque Jones is a good comp for arbitration purposes.
andrewkw - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 04:36 PM EST (#131179) #
from rotoworld :

Tigers sent cash to the Blue Jays to complete the July 22 trade for infielder John McDonald.
We wonder if it was enough to pay for A.J. Burnett's dinner last night.

I thought that was pretty funny.
VBF - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 05:21 PM EST (#131181) #
From OrioleLand:

And though the Orioles are vocal about their desire to improve the rotation, their search may not include Florida Marlins right-hander A.J. Burnett, widely considered the most talented pitcher on the market...There are people within the organization who think that is too high of a price for a pitcher who has a sub-.500 record for his career, a history of injury problems and questions about his character. However, Burnett's agent, Darek Braunecker, said he expects to talk to Flanagan next week at the general managers' meetings in California...According to team sources, the Orioles likely will target the Cleveland Indians' Kevin Millwood and the Angels' Paul Byrd


According to sources, the Orioles also aren't likely to make long-term, lucrative offers to outfielders Johnny Damon (Boston Red Sox) and Brian Giles (San Diego Padres), because they feel that several of the organization's young outfielders, such as Nick Markakis and Val Majewski, aren't far away from making a major league impact.

Ducey - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 06:01 PM EST (#131183) #
Small potatoes compared to all this big free agent talk but Rotoworld says:

"Rangers signed RHP Chris Baker to a minor league contract.
Baker, 28, had been in the Toronto organization since being drafted in the 29th round in 1999 and went 8-7 with a 5.30 ERA in 21 starts and 10 relief appearances for Triple-A Syracuse last season. He'll just be competing for a spot in Triple-A Oklahoma's rotation. "
JB21 - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 06:25 PM EST (#131184) #
The demand seems to have fallen a bit for Burnett. The Jays are obviously hot after him, but after that I beleive only Seattle and Boston that are of interest. The Yankee's have said that they're looking at the pen and CF, Baltimore has said they're not interested. Am I missing anyone??

I'm getting giddy over this off season all ready. I hope JP can land us 2 or 3 good players in the FA market, and then some of our young talent can play in AAA with the top talent in the bigs.
R Billie - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 07:51 PM EST (#131191) #
The Nationals are also after Burnett. The have the advantage of a homepark that seems to shave two runs off of a typical pitcher's ERA.

Before it's all said and done, I expect Burnett will have four or five teams making offers. I'd still call that pretty high demand given what he's hinting at his price being (4 or 5 years, 8 figure salary).
JB21 - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 08:19 PM EST (#131193) #
Agreed, but if this was last year...the Yanks or BoSox WOULD sign him. This year the Jays have a good chance.
Jordan - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 08:36 PM EST (#131194) #
Here are some AJ Burnett numbers to ponder:
2005 Home
5-4, 2.95, 88 IP, 72 H, 34 BB, 102 K, 3 HR, .226/.308/.305
2005 Away
7-8, 3.80, 120 IP, 112 H, 45 BB, 96 K, 9 HR, .245/.314/.354

02-04 Home
11-5, 3.03, 175 IP, 130 H, 71 BB, 184 K, 10 HR, .209 Opp BA
02-04 Away
8-15, 4.17, 177 IP, 174 H, 64 BB, 148 K, 13 HR, .257 Opp BA
There are a few things worth noting here. Burnett has benefited tremendously from pitching half his games in Pro Player Stadium – his ERA jumps a full point on the road and his strikeout rate falls well below one per inning. When he leaves his home park, his H/IP ratio climbs to nearly 1. Notice also that in three seasons '02-'04, he threw just 350 innings and recorded only 39 decisions. Matt Clement, who had a similarly live arm and was similarly coveted by the Jays last winter, saw his ERA rise from 3.68 to 4.57 when he switched leagues, and, more significantly, watched his K/9 rate plummet from 9.45 in Florida to 6.88 in Boston.

It isn’t enough for the Jays to throw $40M at AJ Burnett and hope he can be the same pitcher he was in Florida – he needs to be better. A repeat of 2005 won’t be good enough – that’ll get you a 4.50 ERA with a lot of walks and a lot of strikeouts, and the Jays already have Ted Lilly around to give them that. The Blue Jays need Burnett to step up and become a substantially better pitcher, to graduate to ace status. That’s a hell of a gamble to take on a pitcher who's thrown 200 innings just twice in seven seasons and has a career ERA+ of 110, Brad Arnsberg notwithstanding. I would advise the team to think very hard before making the kind of commitment they’re talking about.

rtcaino - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 09:18 PM EST (#131196) #
Good assessment Jordan. I'm not sure where I stand with Burnett. But I certainly can't blame Jay fans for fantasizing about what our team would be like if Burnett unlocked his potential and became the ace he may be capable of being.
Rich - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 09:29 PM EST (#131197) #

You're a wise man, Jordan. I think a significant offer to Burnett would be have to be informed by a more traditional scout's view of projectability (did I spell that right?).

While I realize he's thrown more than enough big league innings to establish his level of ability, Burnett's physical tools still suggest he could improve to the status of an elite pitcher. I'm not saying that I think this will happen, just that only this viewpoint makes sense to me if you're going to offer him $40 million or so. If you compare his tools with Washburn, or David Bush for that matter, Burnett seems to have much higher upside, though how much he will actually improve is certainly debateable. I think Lilly and Clement are both good comps for Burnett - talented pitchers whose stuff doesn't always translate into corresponding results.

All that said, Burnett is an upgrade and could become a significant one. JP has the money and the next 2 years are critical to make a push for the playoffs, so if he has to overpay here I think it's the right move.

R Billie - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 09:43 PM EST (#131199) #
Well he only pitched 23 innings in 2003 and 120 innings in 2004 because of the Tommy John surgery. He had some minor aches and pains in 2005 but assuming the Jays are a lot more careful with him than Jeff Torborg was he seems relatively strong now.

$10 million is too much for sure. In reality he should probably get Escobar money based on performance and injury risk. (Incidentally, wouldn't it be nice if the Jays had simply signed Escobar for three guaranteed years after 2003 instead of low balling him with a two year offer?)

But the Jays find themselves with a lot of money to spend in a free agent pool which is very shallow in top level talent. Personally, I feel a lot more comfortable spending up to 8 figures on Giles than I do on Burnett. But clearly the front office is aware of his road numbers and feel with his tools and size, it's worth the risk to attempt to turn him into Jason Schmidt II.
GeoffAtMac - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 09:59 PM EST (#131200) #

Did anybody see this?

Vinny Castilla traded to SD for Brian Lawerence.

HollywoodHartman - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 10:00 PM EST (#131201) #
Looks like Mr. Ryan Zimmerman is going to be starting at 3rd for the Nats next year. Vinny Castilla was traded to the Padres for Brian Lawrence and cash
Dave Till - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 10:16 PM EST (#131202) #
Here's what should happen:

- Keep all of Adams, Hill, Koskie and Hudson. I don't think it will be difficult to find playing time for all of them. One of them will likely get hurt at some point. Depth is good.

- Rios can't control the strike zone. He's not going to make it. RF needs an upgrade. If the Jays can land Giles, Cat can move to right (with Sparky/Gross as a defensive replacement).

- I don't think the Jays really need pitching, but I wouldn't say no to Burnett. If A.J. is reluctant to sign, show a highlight reel of Orlando Hudson's best plays at second. That ought to do it.

- Here's an idea I haven't seen floated anywhere: Mike Piazza is looking for a team for which he can mostly DH but play catcher every now and again. Quick now: name a team that needs a DH and a second catcher. Piazza's about done, but Shea is a tougher place to hit than the Rogers Centre (or Ted's Shed, as I have decided to call it).

- If the Jays can't land Piazza, I suspect they might be able to land Durazo fairly cheaply.

- If the Jays are looking to trade for hitters, a swap with Texas might work out. The Rangers hit zillions of home runs but have nobody that can pitch. It could work.
Ron - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 10:19 PM EST (#131203) #
The Jays don't need AJ to be an ace, they already have Doc in that role. They need AJ to be a legit number 2 starter.

If the Jays can land AJ early, that shows other FA's that the Jays mean business.

Out of all the current FA pitchers in the market, if there was one pitcher I would be willing to pay 12 mil a season to, it would be AJ.
greenfrog - Thursday, November 03 2005 @ 10:44 PM EST (#131204) #
The Jays might want AJ to sign early, but I doubt this will happen until the bidding starts in earnest. Given that he still has to visit a few cities, and allow the fence-sitters to come out of the woodwork (remember Boston's last-minute bid on Clement last year), JP may have to wait a few weeks or more.

I think Jordan is right. AJ-mania is just starting and will escalate as the month goes on. But a clear assessment is in order. Is Burnett likely to stay healthy and excel for the next four years? Make no mistake, I'd love to have him on the team. But under a 4-year, possibly $40-50M contract? Wow--that is *huge*. If he fizzles out, or has elbow trouble (or starts acting like a petulant child), that contract will make Hinske's look like the league minimum. At least Halladay earned his contract by proving his elite status (through performance, not just stuff) over several years.

I'm honestly torn. The optimist in me wants us to sign AJ and create a powerhouse rotation. The pessimist says there are too many red flags for a contract of that size.
VBF - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 12:03 AM EST (#131206) #
Whoa. The Score's ticker is reporting Roberto Alomar has filed for free agency. Is this standard procedure so that for whatever reason the history books don't record him as retiring as a Ray? Or does he plan on a comeback?

This comes mere hours after I was feeling bored and read this thread. Freaky.

King Ryan - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 12:05 AM EST (#131207) #
I was one of few people around here that was opposed to signing Matt Clement last year. I felt he was being overvalued and wouldn't be a very good pitcher in the AL, and I begged the Blue Jays to not throw huge gobs of money at him.

It's hard not to feel the same way about Burnett. I'm going to be honest and say I don't know much about him, but regardless of his "stuff" his numbers are not overwhelming, he's had problems staying healthy, and he's not exactly young. I really don't think he's going to be "worth" whatever contract he winds up with.


Player            Age     ERA+      Salary (2005)
Halladay          28      127       10.5M
Kerry Wood        28      116        9.5M
Freddy Garcia     29      114        8.0M
Kevin Millwood    30      114        7.0M
Kelvim Escobar    29      108        6.3M
Mark Mulder       28      116        6.0M
Vincinte Padilla  28      106        3.2M
AJ Burnett        28      110       12.0M??
I know that's oversimplification, but it's still pretty scary, in my opinion. Like Jordan says, if you want to give him Halladay money, you're expecting him to be a lot better than he's been in his career, and at the age of 28 I'm not sure that's something I'd want to bet on.

That said, if you don't want to spend 10-12M on AJ Burnett, is there a better place to put that money? It's not like JP can take whatever money he saves, and send a cheque to Mr. Selig in exchange for some wins. If you're not willing to give Burnett a lot of money, what are you going to do with that money?

Is it better to overpay for Burnett than to pocket the money and get nothing? Are there other pitchers on the market that the money can go to? Instead of paying all that dough for Burnett, can JP find some bats to put the money towards? I don't think Konerko is "worth" that kind of money either.

So it's tough.

R Billie - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:47 AM EST (#131211) #
What was wrong with Matt Clement? Sure he had lousy months in July and September where a handful of disastrous outings greatly inflated his ERA and WHIP. But in the other four months of the year he was very much a plus member of the Red Sox rotation.

I think with starting pitchers especially people get way too concerned with overall numbers and don't bother to look at the potential of a pitcher to produce good efforts on a regular basis. In April, May, June, and August, Matt Clement was 11-1. Does anyone really think the Red Sox regretted signing him?

Clement is a solid starter and will continue to be so next year. I'm not sure exactly what Burnett will do in the AL but I'm betting he would give the Jays a chance to win in better than half of his starts.
King Ryan - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 03:48 AM EST (#131213) #
Uh, what makes you think you can just toss his poor months out the window? Good starts and bad starts combined, he netted out as basically an average starter. Sure, he might have a good month here or there, but who doesn't?

Matt Clement 2005 wasn't any better than Miguel Batista 2004.
Lefty - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:08 AM EST (#131214) #
As I recall Clement was as dominating a pitcher as there was in the AL when he took that liner off the head. Folks who saw that wondered if he'd even get up.

Once he came back he looked like he lost confidence and was terrible. I'm convinced this led to his sub-par season and I believe it needs to be recognized in any discussion of his season overall.
CeeBee - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:13 AM EST (#131215) #
I'm sure Rios would like to throw out his bad month(s) too ;)
JayFan0912 - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:38 AM EST (#131216) #
I think it would be great to have clement on the jays roster. Factor out his starts against the jays and yankees, and his ERA falls to 2.46 ... I bet he regrets not signing with the jays.

His problem throughout his career was control, and the jays and yanks waited him out, drawing walks, and hitting mistakes. I think that if he challenges hitters more often, against these two teams, this trend will change; and this is probably what the jays think will happen with burnett.

It also makes sense in a lot of ways. In the NL you don't want to necessarily challenge hitters because there is no DH, so you can weave your way out of trouble. In the AL, the DH, and more patient hitters, force you to throw strikes in order to be successful.
JayFan0912 - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:40 AM EST (#131217) #
Actually, his era falls to 3.7 or so
greenfrog - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:43 AM EST (#131218) #
Burnett has averaged 4 walks/game in his big-league career. That tendency could prove disastrous in the AL, particularly against teams like New York and Boston.
greenfrog - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:44 AM EST (#131219) #
4 walks/9 innings, to be precise.
Pistol - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:57 AM EST (#131220) #
"As I recall Clement was as dominating a pitcher as there was in the AL when he took that liner off the head."

Clement's ERA was 4.43 when he got hit and he ended up the season at 4.57.
Jonny German - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 09:49 AM EST (#131224) #
If I were looking at Burnett's stats with no idea of what type of injury had caused him to miss time in 2003 and 2004, I probably wouldn't want to pay him more than $7M / year. Knowing that it was Tommy John surgery, I'd bump that up to more like $8.5M per. Knowing that he's the best available starting pitcher (and better than any of next year's potential free agents too), and that the Jays don't exactly have a lot of drawing power, and that the Jays are in a position to make a multi-year playoff push starting next season, $10M per sounds reasonable. Ideally, that'd be a 3 year contract with an option that becomes guaranteed based on innings pitched. But I wouldn't be surprised to see him end up in excess of 4 years and $50M... the market is ripe for big contracts.
Mike Green - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 10:14 AM EST (#131226) #
Just to prove that the roster doesn't speak with a single voice, my view of Burnett is that his expected performance for 2006 is no better than David Bush's or Gustavo Chacin's, and only slightly better than Josh Towers' or Shaun Marcum's or Scott Downs'.

The success rate for post-TJ starters is poor (it is much better for relievers), and Burnett never had the talent of Kerry Wood or John Smoltz. I suspect that this is the reason why there is so much consideration being given to using McGowan ultimately as a closer.

Others might choose the "high-ceiling post TJ" starters. I'd go for the "low-ceiling healthy" ones instead. I might add that going after Burnett makes the strategy of choosing Bush, Banks, Marcum, Maureau and Zach Jackson in the early rounds of recent drafts a questionable one. I concurred with the draft approach that Ricciardi had, and urge patience in seeing it through.
Wildrose - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 10:21 AM EST (#131229) #
Knowing that he's willing to come here is also a factor, it's one thing to have money to spend, another to have players actually sign on the dotted line, in what portends to be a very competetive off season marketplace.

Still he's a huge gamble, J.P. is not satisfied with the status quo and would certainly be rolling the dice on Burnett.
BCMike - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:43 AM EST (#131248) #
At some point the Jays are going to have to take some risks. Burnett is certainly a gamble, but what else are you going to do with the money? Sit on it again and hope someone comes along in next year's FA class? It's not like the Jays have to move assets to get him, it's only money, and since money is no good if you can't spend it...

Burnett has the potential to be a great number 2 behind Halladay. Sure you'd like to pay for past performance rather than potential, but when there are limited options you're going to have to take a chance. If there are better oportunities to spend the money, pass on Burnett. But if there aren't, I don't have a problem with rolling the dice.
R Billie - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 03:07 PM EST (#131270) #
Uh, what makes you think you can just toss his poor months out the window? Good starts and bad starts combined, he netted out as basically an average starter. Sure, he might have a good month here or there, but who doesn't?

I'm not concerned with what he netted out. The game of baseball is played in discrete groups of innings (mostly 9 innings) called games. If I have a starter who throws four decent to excellent games followed by one disaster, guess what? I have a very good starting pitcher. If I have a starter who is very strong against nearly every team he faces except the Yankees and Blue Jays then I have a very valuable member of the staff.

If Miguel Batista was as good a pitcher as Matt Clement he would be in a starting rotation instead being viewed as an iffy reliever. The Boston Red Sox who we can assume aren't dumb would not have allowed Toronto to sign Batista in the $4 million range while bidding around twice that much to get Clement. You're talking about two completely different kinds of performers.

BCMike - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 03:27 PM EST (#131272) #
I'm not concerned with what he netted out. The game of baseball is played in discrete groups of innings (mostly 9 innings) called games. If I have a starter who throws four decent to excellent games followed by one disaster, guess what? I have a very good starting pitcher. If I have a starter who is very strong against nearly every team he faces except the Yankees and Blue Jays then I have a very valuable member of the staff.

Something to consider...

Pitcher 	QS/GS	QS%

Halladay 	14/19	73.6
Towers		21/33	63.6
Chacin		18/34	52.9
Bush		12/24	50.0
Lilly		9/25	36.0
Downs		5/13	38.4

Burnett 	23/32	71.8
Mike Green - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 03:51 PM EST (#131276) #
Burnett is 19-18 since his TJ surgery, playing on a team that has won just over 50% of its games. I am not suggesting that won-loss records are a good measure of effectiveness, but if a starter is producing 4 good games followed by one disaster, then you'd expect a better won-loss.

Anyways, that wasn't Burnett's runs allowed pattern last year. It was, in fact, typical. He threw 4 games without allowing a run, 2 games allowing one, 7 games allowing 2 runs, 10 games allowing 3 runs, 3 games allowing 4 runs, 6 games allowing 5 runs and 3 games allowing 6 runs. He usually pitched 6 innings, but in the low-run environment of Miami, it's easier to do that than in Toronto. 6 times last season, he threw 6 or 6.1 innings and allowed 3 runs; that's counted as a quality start, but it doesn't make my heart beat fast bearing in mind he was pitching in a non-DH league.

Espn. com is reporting that Burnett is asking for a 5 year contract. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, that would be when I would leave the table.
King Ryan - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 05:57 PM EST (#131292) #
The game of baseball is played in discrete groups of innings (mostly 9 innings) called games.

Hey, thanks for that tidbit. Maybe if you want to have a discussion you can start by not being a condescending asshole.

King Ryan - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 06:09 PM EST (#131294) #
You can't just look at things in terms of "good starts" and "bad starts." There's a big difference between allowing 3 runs in six innings versus allowing 0 runs in 8 innings, even though they are both "quality starts." That's why I would much rather have a guy's ERA than his QS%

Does anyone have some kind of data for win probability when a pitcher throws a certain kind of game? For example, teams win 80% of the time when their starter goes 7IP, allows 2 runs. Stuff like that. If we had that kind of information, we could really evaluate how much a pitcher "gave his team a chance to win" in his games over the course of the season.
6-4-3 - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 06:39 PM EST (#131296) #
There's a win expectancy finder here:

but you need to factor in runs scored by the pitcher's team, and whether or not the team is at home. It also is based on games from 1979 - 1990, so it's not perfect. It could, however, find out how much someone (like Burnett) was actually worth over the course of the season, if you wanted to take the time to figure that out.
R Billie - Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:47 PM EST (#131308) #
Ryan, I wasn't trying to be condescending. I was just trying to defend a point which is somewhat counterintuitive (e.g. concerning yourself with the highs and lows of a pitcher rather than the overall resulting ERA).

So I was trying to get across that there's a difference between consistently allowing runs in half the innings you pitch and having bad stretches where you give up 7 runs in less than 2 innings. As bad as that stretch is, it only affects the results of 1 game. I do believe this is more characteristic of some pitchers.

The majority of Clement's ugliness came in the span of 2 months while the majority of his good work came in the span of 4 months. Performing well 66% of the time is actually pretty good for a starting pitcher.

Another pitcher that also exhibited this trait as a starter was Shawn Chacon. And another still was Kelvim Escobar. I believe it was a mistake for the Rockies and Jays respectively to turn them into relievers. But as starters they have been very effective. The Yankees hit big with Chacon when they got him out of the Coor's Field environment and made him a full time starter.

I haven't looked at the results distribution for Burnett. His monthly results have been fairly consistent (ERAs in the low to high 3.00's) but I haven't looked closely game by game for number of runs and number of innings. I suspect he's not the type of pitcher Clement is as difficulties are more game to game rather than coming in disastrous streaks. My interest in him is more in what he could accomplish with even a modest improvement in control.
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 01:14 PM EST (#131321) #
So I was trying to get across that there's a difference between consistently allowing runs in half the innings you pitch and having bad stretches where you give up 7 runs in less than 2 innings. As bad as that stretch is, it only affects the results of 1 game. I do believe this is more characteristic of some pitchers.

There exists statistics that take into account that sort of thing, most notably Support Neutral Value Added.

By that metric Matt Clement was the 50th best baseball starter in baseball last year (about the value of a low end #2 starter) and A.J. Burnett was 39th.

As far as Jays starters go, Roy Halladay was 13th, Gus Chacin was 33rd, Josh Towers was 48th, Dave Bush was 95th, and Ted Lilly was 121st.

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