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Today Baseball America released the most up-to-date list of minor league free agents that I've found on the web. It's complete with some of our favourite names of the past few years, including Frank Menechino (??), Tom Wilson, Alberto Castillo, Gookie Dawkins, one of the Bobby Joneses, Tony Torcato, C.J. Nitkowski and Mac Suzuki.

These players won't be difference makers in 2007 when all is said and done, but a few of them will earn roster spots next year and many more will be in Triple-A as injury backup and roster filler. The Jays had three players signed as minor-league free agents (not including big leaguers signed to minor-league contracts) play for their 2006 club: Chad Mottola and Luis Figueroa (as injury replacement) and, I believe, Kevin Barker (reward for a great season). In 2005 Matt Whiteside and Andy Dominique made appearances, as did Ken Huckaby, who was originally signed as a minor-league free agent in 2002 with a minor detour in Texas and Baltimore in 2004.

So, in the interests of finding a diamond in the rough and at least giving the fans of the SkyChiefs a competitive team, who should the Jays go after? What names on the list spark your interest?

Minor League Free Agents | 21 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
js_magloire - Monday, October 23 2006 @ 11:14 PM EDT (#157151) #
We have to get CJ so we can complete the trifecta in the organization: AJ, BJ, CJ.
Craig B - Tuesday, October 24 2006 @ 08:51 AM EDT (#157159) #

We have to get CJ so we can complete the trifecta in the organization: AJ, BJ, CJ.

Yes, but that then introduces the problem of how to get D.J. Carrasco back from Japan and healthy enough to sign.  He's been pitching for the Hawks there but now he's having knee surgery according to the KC Star.

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, October 24 2006 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#157160) #

We have to get CJ so we can complete the trifecta in the organization: AJ, BJ, CJ.

Calling to mind this 2005 traipse into the Hall of Names:
There's A.J. and B.J. ... and C.J. and D.J.?


Mike Green - Tuesday, October 24 2006 @ 10:55 AM EDT (#157162) #
The player that I really like who is out there is Tim Redding. I've always thought that he could pitch.  He threw well in triple A last year, and ended the season hot.

There are a bunch of interesting power-hitting big guys: Michael Restovich, Brandon Sing, Ryan Ludwick and old friend Josh Phelps.  Between Guillermo Quiroz, Matt Ford and Phelps, the disappointments of 2002 are out there.  Friend of BB and all-around good guy Spike Lundberg is also taking offers.

John Northey - Tuesday, October 24 2006 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#157168) #
  Interesting to look at has beens (Jose Offerman is still out there?) and never were's (Fernando Valenzuela Jr.).

Josh Phelps - AAA 308/370/532 over a full AAA season.  I'd sign him to a AAA contract with a spring invite and shot at the DH job along with Adam Lind.  If the roster spots exist a platoon of the two of them could be very effective.

Guillermo Quiroz - AAA 304/359/428 but just 138 AB's plus some ugly AB's in AA (188/235/375) and 0-2 striking out both times in Seattle.  Worth resigning to AAA but I don't know if there is a lot of hope left here.

Tom Wilson - AAA 299/369/493 - Yes, the guy who was here in '02 and '03 is a minor league FA.  Only 12 AB's in the majors since he left.  Getting old but still hits well and could be another Zaun, solid guy who never gets a real good shot.

Eric Munson - AAA 250/351/469 Majors 199/269/348 - has always hit in the minors (265/363/492) but sucks in the majors 211/286/400 over 923 AB's.  Worth signing to AAA but don't see him learning how to take a walk or hit for average in the majors.  Definition of AAAA.

Sandy Martinez (aka Angel Martinez) is actually still out there too, but I don't see him around here again (just can't hit worth a darn)

Some decent choices for AAA catchers there but looking through the list and doing a few Baseball Cube views of stats reminds me of how the talent curve is like the far end of a normal curve, few at the very top but tons when you go down a bit.  I suspect you could throw a dart at a lot of these guys and end with the same result as spending hours debating which is best.  Still, I'd chase Phelps, Wilson, Munson, Quiroz in that order with spring invites and mentioning the opening at DH and CA (and backup at 1B for Phelps).  AAAA guys want that shot and the Jays have potential openings these guys could use.
Thomas - Tuesday, October 24 2006 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#157172) #
I put question marks next to Menechino because he only had 57 at-bats in Triple-A last year and I thought he had basically retired, but it's possible he didn't or he's hanging around for the right invite. I know he's always dreamed of playing for the Yanks.

One of my favourite names on the list, one that hasn't been mentioned, is J.R. House. House was a 5th round pick for the Pirates in 1999. A catcher with power, House made his way through the Pirates system hitting at each level. He was the co-MVP of the Southern League in 2000 with another former top prospect who never panned out - Josh Hamilton. However, despite hitting when he was given the chance, House was not given much playing time in 2002 or 2003 after losing 2001 to injury and he was released following rotator cuff surgery in 2004. His career minor league line for Pittsburgh was .304/.371/.502.

He went to West Virginia University and served as the backup QB for a year, before deciding to return to baseball with the Astros. He started in Double-A and put up the following line, .325/.376/.475 in 97 games. He earned a promotion to Round Rock and ended the year in 114 at-bats hitting .412/.445/.675, although he went 0-for-9 in a mid-August promotion. He had a strong arm but a mediocre defensive reputation, if I remember correctly.

He's 2-19 in his big league career so far, but I don't see any reason why he couldn't challege Phillips for the role of backup catcher. He's likely to get a better shot here than he will at some places, but it might be tough to convince him to sign if Thigpen is expected to get most of the time behind the plate at Triple-A. He could DH, but I don't know how he'd feel about it. Anyhow, I'd make House one of my top targets if I was Toronto, but I expect many teams with questions at catcher will target him.

John Northey - Tuesday, October 24 2006 @ 09:27 PM EDT (#157180) #
Wow Thomas.  JR House looks darn good.  Between AA and AAA last year he hit 345/392/521 over 493 AB's.  Next year is his age 27 season.  This guy would be very much worth signing if the Jays can get him and if his defense is any good at all.

House sure looks like reason #19347 why the Pittsburgh Pirates are sub500 year in year out though.  Guy was wasted for 65 AB's in rookie ball in '03 after he hit well in AA in '02, then tossed into AAA the next year and hits well but I suspect gets depressed by the management so he goes off to play football.  Sheesh.  I suspect he has had a lot of injury problems having missed '01 and a good chunk of '02 and '03 but still... it really looks like a player who was mishandled by managment.

Calig23 - Wednesday, November 01 2006 @ 10:13 AM EST (#157375) #
Those stints in rookie ball by House were rehab assignments, I believe. House was injured all the time. The Pirates can be criticized for a lot of things, but I don't think that their handling of House can be one of them. That being said, he probably would be a reasonable gamble for some team to take.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.