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The Big Hurt is coming to Toronto.

Update: The reliable Jeff Blair writes that it's a two year deal for $18 million with a vesting option for a third year based on plate appearances that could push the total value to $30 million. (thanks to KevinJaysFan for linking that)

Update 2: The contract is for $10 million in year 1, $8 million in year 2, and $10 million in year three if Thomas reaches an unknown threshold of plate appearances.

Update 3The signing is official now.

Last year the Jays made an early surprise splash in the free agent market signing BJ Ryan. This year they did it again signing DH Frank Thomas. Details of the contract are sketchy, but various reports have the deal for at least 2 years and $20 million. A team option with a buyout for the third year is likely. The deal is subject to Thomas passing a physical.

After two injury plagued years in 2004 and 2005 Thomas bounced back in a big way in Oakland this season. He played in 137 games and hit .270/.381/.545 for the A's. When Thomas is in the lineup he hits - his OPS+ the past 4 seasons is 149, 151, 131 and 141. His career OPS+ is 160. The key of course is keeping him healthy. A 39 year old with foot problems isn't exactly the safest bet. On the other hand, you're not likely to get a safe, premier hitter for just a two year commitment, especially without giving up any compensation (Thomas is a type B free agent so the Jays give up no picks. The A's will get a sandwich pick in 2007.).

What are the ramifications of the move for Toronto?
  • Thomas fills the DH spot full time for the Jays. The Jays won't be able to rotate players that need an occasional off day from the field in the DH spot. Given how Glaus looked at certain points during the season he could use some more DH time. Now he won't get more than 20-30 games at DH (unless Thomas is injured).
  • The lineup becomes very right handed. The Jays four biggest power hitters - Thomas, Glaus, Wells, and Rios - will all be right handed. At this point only two positions will be filled with left handed hitters. One is Overbay at 1B and the other is Cat if he's re-signed or Lind in LF. This of course could change based on who the Jays sign at catcher and in the middle infield, but it's doubtful that either will be filled with a power bat.
  • If the payroll is in the $90-95 million range for 2007 the Jays will have $10-15 million left for free agents. If the Jays sign one of the '2nd tier' free agent pitchers they'll likely have to go cheap in the middle infield and catcher. So Julio Lugo isn't likely an option at SS anymore.
  • If it already wasn't evident, it is now - Justin Speier will sign with another team. Baltimore and Boston seem to be the most aggressive pursuing him.
  • The outfield has at least one extra player right now. The Jays will have a few different options:
    • Re-sign Catalanotto to continue the platoon with Johnson, Wells in CF, Rios in RF and Lind in Syracuse to begin the season
    • Let Cat sign elsewhere and go with Lind, Johnson, Wells, and Rios in the OF
    • Trade Wells to fill the holes on the team (SP, MI, C) and go with Lind, Cat, Johnson and Rios in the OF
Unless the Jays are really short-sighted I suspect that they already know what direction they're going here. It looks like they'll let Cat sign with another team and go with Wells, Rios, Johnson and Lind in the OF.

Is this a good move for the Jays? Well, Thoams certainly upgrades the lineup. The Jays rotated 7 players through the DH spot last year collectively hitting .292/.338/.473 compared to Thomas's .270/.381/.545 line in Oakland. Thomas should add a minimum of 100 points of OPS to the Jays DH spot, and more likely closer to 150 points of OPS when you consider Thomas hitting in the favorable HR environment of the Rogers Centre. That will certainly improve the lineup, even if Thomas can't run faster than Bengie Molina.

If money was not a factor this would certainly be a good move. But money is a factor so whether it's a good move is yet to be determined. That will be determined by what the Jays payroll ends up at, the remaining free agents that they sign & trades that they make, and how the rest of the free agent market shakes out.
Blue Jays Sign Frank Thomas | 152 comments | Create New Account
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Shaker Mo - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 09:29 AM EST (#158024) #

Jeez, I'm on the fence about this one.

Without context (positional effect and payroll), this is a great move, but I really see it as addressing a burning need per se. We still need at least one SP (which won't come cheap) and have now relegated ourselves to picking up scraps for middle infield and catcher.

I'm not a fan of the notion that Thomas' bat makes it a good idea to move Vernon now -- Frank is an offensive force when healthy, but I wouldn't want to put all my eggs in the Glaus-Thomas-Overbay-Rios basket if I had a choice.

Mike Green - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 09:41 AM EST (#158027) #
Here is what I said in the other thread:

Who is likely to offer more overall value to a club over the next 2 years, Julio Lugo or Frank Thomas?

The answer to that question seems pretty obvious to me-Julio Lugo.  I think that Frank Thomas is a great, great hitter, but he will be 39 in May.  It's not reasonable to expect more than 300-400 at-bats from him in a season.  Maybe, when the dollar figures are confirmed, this will all make sense.  For now, my eyebrows are raised almost to the height of my rapidly receding hairline.

earlweaverfan - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 09:50 AM EST (#158029) #
My comments moved from the other thread.

My first strong hunch - the budget is significantly bigger than we think it is.   Do your recall JP saying about Lilly's agent that he has no idea what our budget is?   That could have been a bluff, but I think that it was a quiet shot across the bow of this entire FA market.

 This move, whether or not it finally closes, sends two messages to the agents and players in the free agent pool:
  • The Jays have the budget to be players, so take us seriously
  • The Jays are going all out to win now, so any interested player would be joining a team investing to make (and win) the playoffs and moreover, a team that may well have the talent to pull that off.
How much more money do I mean?  I am thinking Ted Rogers has said to JP - if you have the chance to land better than average players, you can spend up to $100MM or even a little bit more.  

My second strong hunch - JP will now make a real try to re-sign Wells showing him how hard he is working to make the Jays stronger.  If that does not work, he is planning to have Wells stay on for another year, avoiding all trades unless some GM offers him a better than average solution to two of his other gaps - MI, CA, SP.  Wells current salary cost will be readily handleable in 2007, and the resulting hitting line up would be murderous.  This would give Lind more time to break in as a corner outfielder.  He could still afford to retain Zaun, and buy both a short stop of the Gonzalez calibre and a starting pitcher of the Meche/Padilla/Lilly calibre.

There will be limits - Catalanotto, Speier, Molina are surely not coming back; if Lilly costs a lot more than Meche/Padilla, then he is not returning; Lugo will be too expensive a solution for the middle infield.

In summary, I think JP and Ted Rogers both know that this is the year they have plotted and schemed to get ready for.  There is little to be gained by being penny wise now (except, of course, by trading for Brad Penny) now that this year has finally arrived. 
Pistol - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 09:51 AM EST (#158030) #
If it's an either or situation I'd take Lugo over Thomas as well.  The Jays DH this year wasn't great, but it wasn't a massive hole like the non-Aaron Hill part of the middle infield was.  It was middle of the pack (despite being so low in HRs).  Said another way, I think Lind/Lugo is the better option than Thomas/McDonald.

How the other positions get resolved over the offseason will give a better indication of quality of the Thomas signing.
Jevant - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 09:59 AM EST (#158032) #

I'm always a bit of a cheerleader, but I'd be real careful about criticizing JP too quickly.  Let's wait to see what the total haul is.

The concerns raised so far remind me of last year, when many, many people got antsy about signing BJ Ryan to a big contract.  Did anyone think/expect we would get Burnett, Glaus, Overbay and Molina after that?  I know I sure didn't.

I'm just thrilled that they are showing a desire to win, and win now.

And I'm now backing off my initial "it's time to trade Vernon" opinion.  Quality hitting is going to be cheaper than quality pitching (albeit, only slightly).  I'm willing to gamble with a 4-5 of Chacin-Marcum, so let's resign Vernon long-term.

danjulien - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:04 AM EST (#158034) #
Bashing JP for giving 2 years and $20 million to Thomas when Epstein just gave $51 million to talk to a pitcher who has never thrown in the Majors is kind of funny. 
Thomas - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:15 AM EST (#158035) #
I was initially really excited by this move, in part because it was so out of nowhere. I figured the Jays might look at Thomas, but a lot of people thought his return to Oakland was only a matter of time. Unlike the Glaus trade or the Burnett signing there was no stage where this went from being a rumour to an almost done deal to a done deal. It just popped on our screen as an almost-completed signing that was basically confirmed within two hours. That is part of the reason I was shocked when I read thew news in a way I'm not sure I will be again this offseason.

As for whether or not it's a good move, it's too early to say. We need to let the rest of the dominoes fall where they may and then evaluate JP's offseason as a whole. And even one offseason may not be enough (although I think it will with Thomas), because this offseason is going to make Ryan and Burnett's contract look much more "reasonable."

Aside from some of the payroll implications which have been dealt with above, this signing indicates a few other things. As Pistol said, the Jays must believe Glaus' back is fully healthy and as far as they can tell not likely to be subject to any nagging injuries. He'll need to DH from time-to-time, but if they ever thought he'd wind up there on any even semi-permanent basis in the near future they'd never have made this signing. This signing also indicates that they have full confidence Lind can play a passable corner outfield. Speier was gone anyway and I think this makes it noticably more likely than not that Cat and Lilly will follow him out.

There are no reports of any playing time clauses in the contract, which does surprise me as Thomas still has significant injury risk. That alone shouldn't deter the Jays from signing him, but I'm not sure that they couldn't have guaranteed $6 million (or so) and had another $4 million kick in with playing time clauses. They wouldn't have needed to be performance-based as he's never hit poorly in his whole career; we just could have used them to guard against the possibility of him playing 70 games. However, maybe the thinking was by the middle of the season the team would be set and a few million was unlikely to make any difference to the budget going forward, so why not use it to secure the Big Hurt?

If forced to choose I'd probably side with Lugo/Lind over Thomas/McDonald, too. But the Jays aren't going to end up starting McDonald and this is merely part 1 of JP's plan. Once the entire plan has unfolded, then we'll better be able to say whether the Thomas signing looks wise. However, in this market I'm less concerned with dollars and more concerned with alternatives.

I never thought the GM meetings would give Toronto this big of a signing and that we'd get the chance to witness someone hit his 500th homer in a Blue Jay uniform, hopefully at the Rogers Centre.

Rich - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:25 AM EST (#158036) #
Who is likely to offer more overall value to a club over the next 2 years, Julio Lugo or Frank Thomas?

I don't think that's a fair question, since by all accounts I've seen Lugo is looking for a 4 year deal. It's like asking who is a better deal in 2007 - Thomas for $10 million or Vernon for the $5.6 million he's currently slated to make?

I suspect it's not an accident that this would make 2 offseasons in a row where JP opted to make an early splash. Perhaps his thinking is that a big early signing may help intice other frequent agents to consider Toronto more seriously. It's too early to judge the deal until we see what else JP has up his sleeve.

Jordan - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:25 AM EST (#158037) #
Viewed on its own, it's obviously a good move -- a major upgrade to the offence, on a short-term contract, at what will eventually be a market price, in a batting-order slot that's devilled the Blue Jays for years, without losing their first-round draft pick. Now, at this stage of his career, Thomas is all or nothing -- one-third of his hits last year were home runs (only 11 doubles in 550 PAs -- that'll improve at the RC). And he's obviously creaky; he won't play 162 games, but I'm betting he'll play 125 or more, and that's fine. But Wells-Thomas-Glaus is about as nasty a 3-4-5 as you'll find in the American League, and you need those kinds of bats to be taken seriously when you visit Boston, New York, Chicago and Detroit.

All things being equal, I probably would've taken Lugo over Thomas too -- it's not where I expected them to invest their money first. But it's not a certainty yet that the Jays are finished with Lugo. One possibility is that the balance of the new dollars go to Lugo, and the Jays swap their remaining minor-league talent for the third starter that they really need. Another possibility is that there's more money available than previously advertised. And a third possibility is that JP lost his focus and spent his money too early when other needs had to be addressed, and they'll enter 2007 with replacement-level players at SS and catcher. JP has dropped considerably in my estimation over the last couple of years, but he hasn't dropped that much; I don't believe yet that this was a foolish move.

We won't be able to fully measure this decision until all the dust has settled. But a Jays lineup with Frank Thomas at DH is better than a Jays lineup without him.
Jevant - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:27 AM EST (#158038) #

Good point - Thomas.  Saying Lugo/Lind or Thomas/MacDonald doesn't make sense, because it's not going to be Thomas/MacDonald.  It's more likely to be Thomas/Gonzalez, or Thomas/Kennedy, or something like that.

danjulien - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:35 AM EST (#158039) #
Not sure if this was posted anywhere but I don't think so...From the Star's article
"It would send another message around the league that we're right there and getting better," said Wells, signed for the coming season but still waiting on talks about a contract extension to heat up. "That's a huge bat."

"It definitely perks my interest," said Lilly, a guy the Jays would definitely like to re-sign but one that has attracted inquiries from, by his reckoning, 12 to 14 teams."Getting Thomas would be great to see."

Looks like the guys are happy...goes to my point that this signing may attract other players cheaper.

Mike Green - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:49 AM EST (#158040) #
I suppose the more pertinent point question may be: who will give more value over the next 2 years, Gregg Zaun or Frank Thomas?  The common perception is undoubtedly Thomas in a cakewalk, but it's closer than one might think.  With Zaun apparently being offered 2 years/$12 million, it is not a shock, I suppose, that Thomas might get $10 million a year.

Thomas' real value is no higher now than it was at the end of last year.  His perceived value is much higher.  "Buy low, sell high" still makes sense to me as a guiding principle.

AWeb - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:53 AM EST (#158041) #

It's a bit misleading to say the Jays had middle of the pack production from DH this season. It's true, but the gap between Ortiz, Hafner, Giambi, Thome, and Thomas, and then the rest, was huge. Several wins worth of huge.

In light of this signing, it looks like the Jays are going for it, now. High risk, high reward would be a fair characterization. That means, to me, if you are going to trade Wells, you get back a pitcher/top catcher/SS who is good right now  (any potential free agents after next year that might be available?), not a package of players who might be good long term. You don't sign Frank Thomas for his age 39 and 40 seasons and then downgrade the team in the short-term in other ways.


Jonny German - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 11:05 AM EST (#158048) #

Thomas' real value is no higher now than it was at the end of last year.

I can't agree with that. In 2005 Thomas played ony 34 games, after playing only 74 in 2004. I think it was reasonable to wonder if he'd ever be a force again or if his injuries would be the end of him. By playing 137 games this past year I think he did a lot to prove he can still be very useful. $10M useful? Maybe, in the current market, to a team looking to push over the top.

Maybe JP simply saw this as the most talent he could add to the team for $20M. The fact the DH wasn't a glaring need is not particularly significant in my mind - increasing the overall assets of the team improves the team's position in trade talks, where other needs can be addressed.

Many have brought up Troy Glaus and the need to DH him. It's true that he seemed to break down late last season, but it's also true that his overall production was in line with reasonable expectatins and he played 149 games in the field, just 4 at DH. Thomas' presence doesn't make it diffiuclt to find one day a week off for Glaus. Bench him once every two weeks, DH him once every two weeks, with Thomas getting a breather on the days Glaus is DHing.

Chuck - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 11:10 AM EST (#158050) #
lets be fair to Lugo and use his 2005 numbers, a typical season for him.

Lugo's OPS+ from 2003 (age 27) to 2006 (age 30): 95, 94, 105, 94.

The 105 is his 2005 number, so 2005 is not exactly his typical season. Still, his truly typical seasons of 94-95 are certainly valuable enough for a shortstop who is purported to be a fine defender. And the consistency he has shown from ages 27 to 30 suggest that a huge dropoff is not imminent.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 11:13 AM EST (#158051) #
You may be right.  Thomas is a year older though, and he's a big guy so every year really counts.  I felt last year that 300-400 at-bats was a reasonable expectation from him in light of his injury history, and I still feel that it is the same.  I wonder how ZIPS will see the playing time issue.

Let's choose an optimistic spin on it.  This is not a P-K4 opening to a chess game. 

Chuck - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 11:24 AM EST (#158052) #
Thomas' arrival diminishes Molina's potential value to the team. Molina's main skill, the ability to hit LHP, is no longer as crucial since Thomas hits LHP just fine. I'd imagine that if Molina were even on the radar to start with, he's off it entirely now.

The much-discussed righthandededness of the team (and their presumed ability to be able to handle LHP) should mean that the team should focus on worrying about who's in the lineup vs RHP. This would make a Zaun/Phillips platoon at catcher more tenable. Zaun would play 2/3 of the time (getting the rest he needs) and while Phillips wouldn't be a star vs LHP, he'd represent a highly affordable platoon-mate for the ever more expensive Mr. Zaun, who's 2/6 talk of a few weeks ago seems like chump change in this new, days-old marketplace.
fozzy - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 11:26 AM EST (#158053) #
And if we need another reminder of what kind of market it is going to be this off-season, the Orioles just paid 11.5 million over 3 years for a 35-year old LOOGY.

As far as Thomas goes, I see the Jays payroll shaking down 1 of 2 ways: they are keeping the number a secret in an effort for bargaining power, a beautiful strategy in a crazy free-agent market. Or (and to me this seems the likely scenario) this is a case where JP had a chance to make a splash, and he took a proposal to Uncle Teddy, who gave the green-light to open up some more coin - it's something I can see happening again this off-season and thus, the budget is kind of 'up in the air', depending on the market and the opportunity.

Wildrose - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 11:27 AM EST (#158054) #

The 105 is his 2005 number, so 2005 is not exactly his typical season.

Fair enough, but I was trying to give Lugo a break. The Big Hurt's OPS +  during the same time period,  149-151-131-141, this does not factor in playing time a severe weakness with this metric.
Chuck - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 11:38 AM EST (#158055) #
Fair enough, but I was trying to give Lugo a break.

Understood.  I wasn't trying to be pedantic. In the back of my mind, I had an inkling that 2005 represented Lugo's career year. In looking at the OPS+'s, I was surprised to learn how consistent he has been over the past four years and how the gap between his established level and his career year was smaller than I thought.

Taking the either/or tack, Lugo would seem to be a more prudent choice than Thomas, particularly in light of Thomas' potential injury woes. But Thomas is definitely the sexier choice. It will be a guilty pleasure to watch him play every day, knowing that the team likely would have been better served with Lugo (once again, looking at this through an either/or lens -- if Mr. Rogers wants to spend my monthly cable bill on making this and "and" lens instead, I'm all for it).
KevinJaysFan - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 01:57 PM EST (#158068) #

Long time lurker, first time poster....

Haven't seen it posted yet, but Jeff Blair reports that the deal will be for $18 million for two years, with a vesting option for a third based on plate appearances.  The option would bring the value to $30 million.



Mike Green - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 02:18 PM EST (#158074) #
Most analysts do not use WARP as the primary source of information about defensive prowess. If one looks at a variety of metrics (Dial ratings, Win Shares, Pinto's PMR, FRAR) over a three year period, Gonzalez and Lugo appear to both be solid, but not great defensive shortstops. Call it a wash. Offensively, Gonzalez is about 5 runs better than replacement level per season; Lugo is about 20.  Frank Thomas is about 25 runs above replacement level for every 1/2 season.  Frank Catalanotto is about 15 runs above replacement level for every 1/2 season.  Actually, objectively Lind/Cat/Lugo might only generate 5 more runs than Lind/Gonzalez/Thomas.  It depends on the other pieces who might fill in for the time that Thomas is unavailable. 

There is no guarantee, of course, that Gonzalez will be signed or for that matter that Catalanotto could be.

fozzy - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 02:19 PM EST (#158075) #
Congratulations to Johan Santana, who was the unanimous choice for the AL Cy Young award today!

And boo to the writers for voting Roy Halladay into third place, behind Chien-Ming Wang - how they came to that conclusion by looking at their numbers baffles me.

Thomas - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 02:22 PM EST (#158076) #
Agreed on the Halladay news. Congrats on another great season by Doc, but how the writers concluded Halladay's more strikeouts, fewer walks and fewer hits in more innings were less valuable or not as good as Wang's totals baffles me. However, this isn't the first time the BBWAA has baffled me and nor is it the last time they will.
Pistol - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 02:27 PM EST (#158077) #
Wang has more wins.  He must be better, right?

The baseball writers with votes, particularly in the AL, are still in the dark ages when it comes to evaluating performance for awards. 
Cristian - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 02:36 PM EST (#158081) #

I may be missing something but assuming Wells isn't traded and the Cat doesn't come back, this is what we're looking at:

RF: Rios
CF: Wells
LF: Lind
DH: Thomas

Whither Sparky?  Am I the only one who thinks Reed is deserving of a full time job?

Mike Green - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 02:40 PM EST (#158083) #
Presumably, the club would platoon Lind and Johnson.  Sparky would get some extra at-bats when Lind fills in for Thomas at DH, and filling in for Wells and Rios.  He'd probably get 500 PAs that way.  Alternatively, the club may send Lind down to Syracuse to begin the season.
Ron - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 03:17 PM EST (#158085) #

Anybody that expects a 39 and 40 year old injury plagued Thomas to repeat last years performance is foolish. The perfect time to go after Thomas was last off-season while his value was low. The Jays have grabbed Thomas after he re-established his value.

You canít truly judge this signing until all the other puzzle pieces are in place though. I thought the Jays should have went after Durazo who will make a lot less than Thomas. I can only hope this signing doesnít restrict the Jays from obtaining the other pieces they need (a upper rotation starting pitcher, a league average starting pitcher, shortstop, catcher).

In a span of 2 seasons, the Jays have gone from a so called small market club to one of the biggest spenders. Rather than building through the farm system, the Jays have decided the best way to improve the ballclub is to buy free agents.

R Billie - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 03:30 PM EST (#158087) #

Lugo's probably out but I think he was before...last week or the week before Blair already had the Jays switching gears to second base candidates like Loretta, Kennedy, and Durham with Hill shifting to short.

If they get Barajas in lieu of Zaun then you're solid 1-8 (relative to the position).  If you bring back Zaun you're solid 1-9.

Alex Gonzalez would help stabilize the inner defence significantly by keeping Hill at second but he's an offensive negative.  As attractive as that combo would be defensively, I have a hard time with that sub-.300 obp.  But maybe they can carry him if your 1-7 are strong and your 8 is decent.  I mean this team gave so many at bats to Adams and McDonald who put up terrible numbers as it is.  If Gonzalez is cheaper ($4M?) then you have to consider it.

Pistol - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 03:32 PM EST (#158088) #
I agree with the point about the Jays buying high on Thomas.  I was suggesting the Jays sign him to a few million base plus $10-15k for each AB over a certain amount last year.

But Durazo?  Really?  Why?  He'll be 33 next year, the A's didn't want him last year, and he bounced around three different AAA teams last year putting up low .800 OPSs with very little power (5 HRs in 192 AAA ABs).  And he's no better a bet than Thomas to stay healthy.

R Billie - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 03:36 PM EST (#158090) #

As for Reed, I think he could be dangled as trade bait after his standout season.  Depending on the return it could be a sell-high opportunity.  If he can bring you back a catcher or middle infielder of similar or less projected salary then you've done well.

But the luxury would be to platoon Lind and Reed, one playing more than the other depending on performance.  Lind could mix into RF or even DH occasionally when Frank or Alex need a day off.

Mike Green - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 03:40 PM EST (#158091) #
Lind has not played right field in his minor league career, as far as I can recall. 
Pistol - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 03:47 PM EST (#158092) #
2nd place has its advantages: 

Toronto Blue Jays (Share of Players' Pool: $556,020.44; value of each full share: $11,830.22) - The Blue Jays awarded 33 full shares and 14 partial shares.

The Cardinals were in the $360K range and the Tigers were in the $300K range.  That's a nice boost if you're a minimum salary player.

Mike D - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 05:13 PM EST (#158099) #

I strongly believe the 3/15 rumours about the deal Hurt and his agent were "seeking" were incorrect.  For what it's worth, Jeff Passan over at Yahoo wrote on November 8 that the A's would get Thomas "if they triple his $3 million salary from last season."  Passan's intel appears to have been bang-on.  3/15 was unrealistic on its face, and it appears to be another "Ricciardi chose Prokopec over Gagne"-type myth -- which also started innocently enough -- that it's best to dispel now.

Mike G, a case can be made that Alex Gonzalez is better defensively than Julio Lugo.   A-Gon commits far fewer errors, including just seven last year (a tremendous result for 111 games of shortstop, and his range is by no means poor), and is more solid on the DP pivot.  John Dewan also points out that in 2005, Lugo made 49 more putouts than could be expected despite not being exceptional on balls in the air.  He attributes this to calling off inexperienced teammates like Nick Green and Jorge Cantu on popups unusually often, and to the D-Rays assigning Lugo coverage responsibilities at second base on steal attempts more often than other shortstops in the league.  These factors skewed certain of Lugo's defensive stats upwards (more proof that the numbers at our disposal at this point in time don't tell the whole story with respect to D).

All that being said, if the last several years are considered, it does seem that both are probably in the "good to very good, but not great" category.   I'd place Gonzalez ahead of Lugo subjectively, but both have superb throwing arms that the club has lacked at that position.

Ron, I agree with you on Durazo with respect to this point:  Bad players like him would indeed command far less money than MVP-calibre players like Frank Thomas.

Ron - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 05:17 PM EST (#158100) #
But Durazo?  Really?  Why?  He'll be 33 next year, the A's didn't want him last year, and he bounced around three different AAA teams last year putting up low .800 OPSs with very little power (5 HRs in 192 AAA ABs).  And he's no better a bet than Thomas to stay healthy.

Durazo was coming off Tommy John surgery so that could have influenced his poor numbers last season. He's currently playing in the Mexican Pacific League and has a line of .394/..500/..740  By no means would I sign Durazo and lock him into the DH spot though. If I was in charge, I would also bring in Cliff Floyd to play the OF and DH. Wells would be traded away for a starter and a shortstop. JP should be doing his best to find bargains to go along with his high price signings. The current market is flooded with 2nd/3rd tier OF's/DH's. This is an area I expect Billy Beane to exploit.

Pistol - Friday, November 17 2006 @ 08:57 AM EST (#158156) #
Interestingly, Thomas' contract is for $10MM in year 1 and $8MM in year 2.

Given that it's structured that way the Jays might have more money to spend than what the high estimates of the payroll were.  And JP is certainly talking like they have at least another $15 million.

Mike Green - Friday, November 17 2006 @ 04:28 PM EST (#158201) #
Dan Szymborski's take on the signing is here, complete with ZIPS projection for 2007-2009. 
AWeb - Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 06:44 PM EST (#158241) #
For those who may be concerned about having too many right-handed hitters next year, here are the lines vs righties for the "big 4".

Thomas: .298 /.415 /.540

Glaus: .244/ .342/ .483

Wells: .277 /.321/ .476

Rios: .305 /.353/ .509

All are career lines, except for Rios (2006 only). Johnson was almost as good against righties (sacrificing OBP for SLG) in 2006 as well, if Wells is traded.

Those are still some very good numbers. And against lefties...droooool. I still can't understand how the Jays didn't score more last year. 4th in OBP, 2nd in SLG, 7th in runs? If only they hadn't stunk with the bases loaded (.236/.287/.417)...
TimberLee - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 03:18 PM EST (#158582) #

I see on Tiger Blog that some fans there think they did a great thing picking up Gary Sheffield for three promising young pitchers. Sheffield is one year younger than Thomas, is due to make considerably more money than Big Frank (over 3 years) and is expected to also be primarily a DH.

Considering that the Jays gave up no players at all to get the services of Mr. Hurt, perhaps we should be a little more excited about his acquisition.

Mick Doherty - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 03:33 PM EST (#158584) #
Agreed, TimberLee, and I know you weren't saying this, but I do think it's right that the Tigers did do a great thing picking up Sheffield. A BSB is just what the middle of that lineup needed!
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