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It's too soon for another look at the current payroll projection ($78.7M, if you're dying to know), so let's instead turn our attention to how the current Toronto squad would line up against righties and lefties.

Versus Righthanders:
1	Adams	L	SS
2	Cat	L	LF
3	Overbay	L	1B
4	Wells	R	CF
5	Koskie	L	3B
6	Hillen	R	DH
7	Zaun	S	C
8	Rios	R	RF
9	Hudson	S	2B
Personally, I like the looks of this, but I'm an admitted optimist - Most importantly, I think Corey Koskie will bounce back to his something resembling his career line of .277 / .369 / .455. Another issue is that John Gibbons has demonstrated a great affinity for alternating left- and right-swinging batters, so he wouldn't necessarily be inclined to go with the top three I've got here. I'd be happy with it because Reed Johnson frequently replaces Catalanotto late in the game for defensive purposes anyway, so he could break up the string of lefties when the opposition calls in a LOOGY.

The big weakness of this lineup, of course, is the right fielder. If we could count on a major breakout from Rios, or replace him with someone who hits more like a traditional right fielder, and slot this new or improved guy in at #5... then we'd have a lineup very capable of scoring the requisite runs in support of the powerful pitching staff.

Versus Portsiders:

1	Adams	L	SS
2	Johnson	R	LF
3	Overbay	L	1B
4	Wells	R	CF
5	Hillen	R	DH
6	Koskie	L	3B
7	Rios	R	RF
8	Hudson	S	2B
9	Quiroz	R	C
This lineup is considerably weaker, and exposes why Eric Hinske is not long for Toronto. Here's not listed here, because he struggles against lefties. Koskie is here, but he shouldn't be as a guy who also struggles badly against lefties and who should be rested regularly. What you'd like to do is put Hillenbrand at third and have a righthanded hitter at DH. But as long as the bullpen is seven men deep and Hinske is on the team, there's no room for a suitable righthanded hitter on the bench - as it stands, the options would be Gregg Zaun and John McDonald (with Aaron Hill at triple-A).

There is of course the argument that Hinske could get his at-bats as the DH versus righthanders and would produce at a similar level to Hillenbrand. I buy that. But Hillenbrand's ability to play a respectable 3rd base makes him far more valuable to this team than Hinske.

Other possible resolutions:

a) Trade Koskie
b) Go with a 6-man pen to open up a spot for another hitter
c) Outright John McDonald to Syracuse and keep Aaron Hill in Toronto

If I were pulling the strings, I'd definitely go with b) and I'd strongly consider c). Given these, dealing Hillenbrand and keeping Hinske as the DH against righthanders becomes a good possibility.

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Mylegacy - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 12:30 PM EST (#135789) #
Overbay helps no question. I got a good feeling aboout him. A stand up guy.

If we get a RH bat (Garciaparra f'instance) then what to do with Hilly? I prefer Hilly to Koskie...mainly because Koskie is so brittle.

With two ground ball aces, the O'Dog sure looks good. BUT, he's the only real excellent position player we have who has at least a good backup (Hill).

Rios is going to drive us all to drink. If we keep him nothing will happen, if we trade him the sucker will become Manny. (OK I exaggerate a bit)

Get Wilkerson or Bradley for Hudson, Batista and Rios. Trade Hinske to the O's. (salary dump) Keep Hilly, take a pass on Nomar. Find a second catcher, Quiroz is playing poorly this winter.

THEN, buy some popcorn and crackerjacks and watch some brilliant pitching all summer.
Chuck - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 12:32 PM EST (#135791) #
I am in agreement with most everything Jonny has said (though I recognize that there are more moves afoot and that this kind of speculation is premature).

Hillenbrand, because he bats right, is more valuable than Hinske, so getting rid of Hinske would be preferable. Hillenbrand would be the fulltime DH and play the field only in the case of injury or to rest others.

Carry Hill and platoon him with Koskie. This would keep the fragile Koskie rested and make him available for late-game pinch-hitting once a LH SP has been chased. Hill would play 3B fulltime during Koskie's DL trips.

Carry 6 relievers. That should be more than adequate on a team whose starters figure to go at least 6 innings. If 7 are carried (ugh), then keep MacDonald in the minors. His glove is too much of a luxury on a 4-man bench.

I am expecting that Wells will bat 3rd against RHP, though his splits don't support this (or batting 4th, for that matter). I would expect 3-to-6 vs RHP to be Wells-Overbay-Hillenband-Koskie if only, as Jonny suggested, to avoid having LHB in spots 1 to 3.

Now, if we could get Frank Thomas to DH and bat 3rd or 4th, and maybe pencil in Wilkerson for RF, well, things would look a little different. :)
Jacko - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 12:50 PM EST (#135796) #
Aaron Hill is pretty good at mashing LHP. In 2005 against LHP, he hit:


I know it's a little early for him to be a platoon hitter, but it would be a cheap solution for a year until he breaks in as a regular. I imagine he'll eventually figure out what to do against RHP...
Jordan - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 01:50 PM EST (#135814) #
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Blue Jays won't be facing a ton of lefties in intra-divisional games this year. In the AL East, the portsider starters consist of:

Randy Johnson
Scott Kazmir
Casey Fossum
Mark Hendrickson
Bruce Chen
Erik Bedard

And of that group, only the first two really make you stop and think about how tough a matchup this is going to be. There was one terrific left-handed closer in the division last year, and he pitches for Toronto now, along with two other southpaws named Chacin and Lilly.

Things admittedly get tougher outside the division -- Johan Santana, Mark Buehrle, CC Sabathia, Kenny Rogers, Jarrod Washburn and Barry Zito (if the latter two stay in the AL). If the Jays were in the AL Central, they'd have problems in that respect. But as it stands, they shouldn't be too worried about facing lefties within the AL East.
timpinder - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 02:08 PM EST (#135819) #
I don't like option a) - trading Koskie. Yes, Koskie had an off year in 2005, but his career .277 avg, .369 obp, and .455 slg, is pretty solid. He should bounce back, especially with less pressure on him to be a power hitter. He also plays pretty solid defense.

Signing RH hitting Garciaparra would be a big boost. If J.P. could convince the Rangers to take Batista, League and ADAMS (instead of Hudson) for Wilkerson and a catcher, RH hitting Hill could be the everyday shortstop.

That would be a very sturdy lineup vs. righties and lefties.

It's so hard to make predictions since there are still a couple of moves for J.P. to make.

I definately agree with trading Hinske to the O's, Hillenbrand is more useful if the Jays can't get Garciaparra.
Blue in SK - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 02:14 PM EST (#135820) #
I hope JP has someone other than Q in mind for the back up catcher. In his limited ABs (sample size warning), he was awful against lefties hitting .095. I mentioned before in a post that when Seattle signed the Japanese FA catcher (whose name escapes me at the moment), Bavasi said he would look to trade Yorvit Torrealba. YT is decent defensively and hits lefties at a clip of 302/351/509 (3 year splits). He made $715K last year and should be arbitration eligible.
Chuck - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 02:44 PM EST (#135823) #
For wont of a better place to post this, there is a Joe Sheehan chat in progress. Someone asked him about the comment he made a couple of days ago, suggesting it was simply a matter of time before TB surpassed the Jays (given their approach versus that of the Jays). That comment received no small amount of scorn in these parts. Here's the exchange.

Jim (TB): How could you allude that the rays will soon be better than the Jays when you know nothing about how a rookie GM is going to do. Plus the rookie GM is taking over from the worst GM in history and their 2nd starter is Mark Hendrickson.

Joe Sheehan: Actually, I do. See, the Rays are putting together a team of smart guys, from Gerry Hunsicker and Andrew Friedman down through the support staff. It's not about one guy making the calls, but using everyone's skill set to make the right decisions over time. Given that approach, plus the talent in the system already in place from years of drafting in the top five, and there's a whole lot of upside here. The money will be there as well, when it's needed, as Stuart Sternberg is capitalized well enough to make the investments, as he's going now with Tropicana Field. The Brewers and Devil Rays are bookworthy teams, the ones we'll be talking about in the latter half of this decade.

binnister - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 02:55 PM EST (#135825) #
Re: Yorvit Torrealba

I believe I saw a link yesterday (at the Batter's Box no less) that he went to Colorado in a trade.
Mike Green - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 02:58 PM EST (#135826) #
Blue in SK, Torrealba was traded to Colorado yesterday.

One of the interesting discussions I had with Bauxites recently concerned whether people in Tampa would support a good team sufficiently with ballpark improvements but no new park. My own poorly informed view was that they would. There is the population and an absence of significant summer recreational alternatives.

Tampa's current on-the-field situation reminds me a bit of the Indians of 86 (Joe Carter, Brett Butler, Cory Snyder, Brook Jacoby, Julio Franco, Mel Hall). All kinds of excellent young offensive players but no pitching behind Candiotti and Swindell. The Indians didn't manage the situation well at the time, and it not until the next round of youngsters (Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Baerga et al.) came around that they broke through. Better management surely helped.
Frank Markotich - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 03:49 PM EST (#135845) #
Relative to Chuck's post above, maybe Joe Sheehan's forecasting ability on the Devil Rays is comparable to his record on the White Sox. In a March 2005 article, he predicted a 71-91 record for the eventual champs, based mostly on a terrible projected defensive performance of 856 runs allowed. Just off a bit.

Some highlights...Iguchi at 2B is a bad signing because he's 30 and Ray Durham had his last good year at 29 (huh?)...Buehrle and Freddy Garcia are nothing more than mid-rotation innings guys....the only saving grace on their pitching staff is the 2 "studs" in the bullpen - Marte and Takatsu (well, Marte had a pretty good year).

I subscribe to BPro but may not renew next time around. Only Nate Silver to me is worth paying for. Kahrl and Carroll are okay, the rest are worthless. Sheehan exemplifies the problem I have with their site. Instead of furthering analysis, they've become a repository of their own brand of conventional wisdom, which is not to be questioned. They are the ones who "get it", unlike the dummies such as whipping boy Kenny Williams. They write a book about how the Red Sox "got smart" and won the World Series. Funny how some less smart teams like the Chisox, Marlins and Angels managed to win without having the second highest payroll in baseball. Whe are those books coming out?
Pistol - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 04:21 PM EST (#135855) #
Sheenhan probably said the exact same things about the Jays 4 years ago when JP was hired. If you replace the blanks with Jays names it still fits (except the top 5 picks comment).

"See, the ____ are putting together a team of smart guys, from ____ and ____ down through the support staff. It's not about one guy making the calls, but using everyone's skill set to make the right decisions over time. Given that approach, plus the talent in the system already in place from years of drafting, and there's a whole lot of upside here. The money will be there as well, when it's needed"

And when the money is needed he'll bash them for spending it.

the mick - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 04:33 PM EST (#135857) #
I think BP was great as recently as a few years ago. But as some of their original writers have left, they've lost lots of that greatness. Their insights were great as they rallied against ingrained orthodoxies, but they now are at times victimized by their own orthodoxies. I haven't subscribed for at least a year.
Ducey - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 04:38 PM EST (#135858) #
Hinske hit righties a little better last year than Hillenbrand:

Dude: .283/.358/.452
Shea: .279/.336/.442

30 points of OPS. Every bit helps.

I am probably Hinske's last fan but I would like to see him around. I like the idea of having an 11 man staff which would allow them to carry Hill and Hinske. Depth is a great thing to have especially with Koskie's propensity to break down. As mentioned, the week spot is RF. If they get a fix there (ideally with Rios at AAA for depth) - I am happy having Hinske around.
Mike Green - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 04:39 PM EST (#135859) #
Easy. BP provides very useful statistical information at no charge to the public. THT does the same thing.

Turning to Joe Sheehan's opinions, it's perfectly reasonable to note that looking at, say, 2009, Tampa figures right now to have as much or more talent at lower cost than the Jays, and that their not-particularly-sabermetric new management seem to be of good quality and will likely have money to spend. A lot can change between now and 2009.

There are many ballclubs that have been broadly speaking well-managed for at least a few years: the A's, the Cardinals, the Braves, the Angels, the Indians. Statistical analysis plays a role in good management (and it has from Branch Rickey to Billy Beane) but it's by far not the only thing.
Mark - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 05:55 PM EST (#135882) #
If the jays have to hold on to the Dude to DH, I would like to see them bring in lefty masher Matt LeCroy to platoon with him. Lecroy went
.404 .621 1.025
in 124 AB's against lefties last year and for his career is
.364 .531 .895
in 524 AB's
lexomatic - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 06:44 PM EST (#135891) #
i'm not sure how serious the trade rumours for Blalock to Min are, nor do i know what kind of 3rd base options they have internally. i don't see how if that doesn't go through the jays can't potentially unload Hinske or Hillenbrand with Batista / League for Wilkerson.
david wang - Friday, December 09 2005 @ 10:11 PM EST (#135899) #
Can LeCroy play catcher, I know he came up as one and if we unload Hillenbrand, a Hinske/Lecroy combo at DH would work well. But we already have a RH in Aaron Hill probably off the bench or AAA and Rios in the same situation. Hopefully.
cbugden - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 05:41 AM EST (#135926) #
I share your feelings on the BP site, which I followed religiously when it was first created, but which I view now as more of a fringe site. Is there anyone who thinks that Tejada would be a good fit (RH power bat, great shortstop and leader, signed for 3 or 4 more years). Should we consider giving them Adams, Hinkse, Batista?
Malcolm Little - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 07:37 AM EST (#135927) #
"Get Wilkerson or Bradley for Hudson, Batista and Rios."

Disgusting. Neither Wilkerson nor Bradley should cost that much. I would argue somewhat half heartedly that Hudson alone is roughly as valuable as Soriano, not to simply one part (however interesting) of the package (however unfair it was) it took to get Soriano. Wilkerson for more than Hudson or even Hudson! Even ripping off the computer in Nintendo, I'm fairer than that.


I would rather pay more for a Tejada. I don't want any Ranger. There, I said it. They reek of the type of guy I cut off in fantasy leagues for having offered me far too many ridiculous trades or for acting indignant and complaining when I offer a trade to him.
Malcolm Little - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 07:39 AM EST (#135928) #
"But Hillenbrand's ability to play a respectable 3rd base makes him far more valuable to this team than Hinske. "

I thought the opposite. Am I wrong? Hinske, I thought, had worked himself into being about average at 3B; I thought Hillenbrand couldn't even field 1B.
Malcolm Little - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 07:43 AM EST (#135929) #
Have I really heard rumours of Hinske for Javy Lopez? Should I be excited?

Wouldn't that; demoting Hill & Rios for the time being; signing one of Rondell, Reggie Sanders, or Nomar to play RF; and continuing to look for a taker for Koskie (so that we can bring back Hill) be a nice way to complete this off-season?

Of course, JP wouldn't be crazy to explore something for Tejada, but I can't realistically expect that. I feel greedy enough hoping we can get a servicable catcher for Hinske.
Chuck - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 09:01 AM EST (#135931) #
Is there anyone who thinks that Tejada would be a good fit (RH power bat, great shortstop and leader, signed for 3 or 4 more years). Should we consider giving them Adams, Hinkse, Batista?

Tejada would be a good fit on most any team, particularly those looking to win 90+ games now (hello Red Sox). If Tejada gets moved, it'll be for a front line player, not a collection of spare parts.

Flex - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 10:19 AM EST (#135938) #
My plea to JP: Vernon Wells and Russ Adams for Tejada. Just do it.
Pistol - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 11:01 AM EST (#135939) #
I think if there's that kind of offer for Tejada you should be pleading to the O's, not JP.
mathesond - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 11:07 AM EST (#135940) #
I rather suspect Baltimore's asking price for Tejada would start with Halladay, and go from there
Malcolm Little - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 11:38 AM EST (#135941) #
I wouldn't think that they could possibly think that the Jays would do that; I'm not commenting on its reasonableness, but I'm rather just saying that Roy's the face of the franchise, and he seems to really like that.
The Bone - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 11:41 AM EST (#135942) #
Here's my plea to J.P.:

1. Forget about Wilkerson - if it's true they want Hudson, Batista and League and the Dodgers want Batista for Bradley, I take the character chance every time...I mean if we are judging solely on character issues, doesn't Hudson's leadership and passion counteract Bradley's jerkishness...throw League in with Batista if Batista's not enough, get Milton Bradley for RF

2. Sign Nomar - But J.P. already knows this and is doing what he can

3. Sign Lecroy - with Cat, O-Dog, and Koskie on the team, a lefty masher on the bench is very useful and he could be a third catcher

4. If you want him that badly J.P., just trade Quiroz and Rios for Laird - I don't see how Daniels could say no to that and Laird is a more legitimate backup catcher

5. Finally trade Shea and Hinske, eating whatever of Hinske's contract you have to


1. Adams/Reed
2. Nomar
3. Overbay
4. V-Dub
5. Koskie/Lecroy (Nomar plays 3rd against lefties)
6. Bradley
7. Cat/Adams
8. Zaun/Laird (Laird, if he hits as well as he could, may be ahead of Russ in the order against lefties)
9. O-Dog

To me that works well

mathesond - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 12:03 PM EST (#135944) #
I could see some sort of Tejada for Abreu and Rollins swap worked out. With Sosa and Palmeiro off the books, Ballamore just might be able to take on those two contracts - although they might need a Gavin Floyd or Ryan Madson-type arm back, and perhaps throw in an OF to balance out the bodies
Willy - Saturday, December 10 2005 @ 12:50 PM EST (#135950) #
That'd be the Ballamore Oreos, right?
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