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A notable signing yesterday, but not of a free agent - the Rockies signed Jeff Francis to a four year deal for $13.25 million.  

The contract takes Francis through his arbitration years and gives the Rockies an option for a 5th year which would be Francis' first free agent year.

Signing bonus: $500,000
2007: $500,000
2008: $2.75 million
2009: $3.75 million
2010: $5.75 million
2011: option, $7 million-$8 million

Francis has pitched 383 innings over the past two seasons.  That's a nice amount for a young pitcher - not too much and not too little.  The contract seems quite reasonable for an innings eater.  If Francis is better than that - and he certainly could be (or possibly already is) - the contract will be a great move for the Rockies.  If Francis was a free agent today he'd probably be looking at something in the Lilly/Meche/Padilla line of contracts. 

As recently as this past year JP Ricciardi indicated that he wasn't looking to buy out the arbitration years of his players like he did with Hinske and Wells.  At the time it seemed like a wash - Hinske looked overpaid by a few million and Wells looked underpaid by a few million.  However, Hinske doesn't look so bad now, but Wells is certainly a major bargain for the Jays.  I think it's obvious that the Jays came out ahead.

Signing young, established players to long term deals is generally a good move.  It's especially true in an environment where salaries are rising.  I think we'll see a lot more of this off season than we have in the past.

In my mind the Jays have two candidates to lock up - Aaron Hill and Alex Rios.  Hill isn't a player that will break the bank - he doesn't have a lot of power, doesn't steal many bases, & probably isn't going to hit better than .300.  He hits near the bottom of the lineup so his runs and RBIs won't be too high.  If the Jays went year to year with Hill they would probably pay more than if they signed him to a long term deal now, but not by a whole lot.

On the other hand, if the Jays locked up Alex Rios now they could be saving themselves a lot of money.  Rios' power increased significantly last season - his slugging went from .397 to .516 and his HRs from 10 to 17.  He also missed about 30 games with his leg injury (and also struggling when he came back).  Rios will be 26 this season and it's possible that progressing normally from last season and avoiding injuries that he'll turn into a 30 HR player with speed, average and with well above average defense.  I could see him becoming a Jermaine Dye type player.  Consider the comparison:
Dye, age 25 - .294/.354/.526   --- OPS+ 120
Rios, age 25 - .302/.349/.516 --- OPS+ 118
If the Jays sign Rios to a long term deal this off season I think they'll save millions.  If they go year to year they'll only save money if Rios falls apart.  There's always risk signing players to long term contracts, but this seems like one of the safer moves the Jays could make.

So deal, or no deal?  (Do you have Deal or No Deal in Canada?  It's a dumb, but highly addicting game show).


It sounds like Gary Matthews is close to signing with the Angels.  This would presumably take them out of a Wells trade if the Jays decide that's the route they want to go.  I'm glad the Angels are doing this if only so I don't ever have read Santana, Aybar and Wells in the same sentence again.
Deal, Or No Deal? | 197 comments | Create New Account
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Mike Green - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 10:33 AM EST (#158536) #
I don't quite agree with the assessment of Hill's future.  Right now, he doesn't have much power and hits at the bottom of the order.  When he reaches 27-28 and his late arbitration years, I expect that he'll have more sock and be a #2 hitter.  For a fine-fielding second baseman who will be a free agent after 2010, that sounds to me like a very expensive package. 

His long-term situation looks to me a lot like Zaun's short-term situation looked 4 or 5 months ago. 
John Northey - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 12:30 PM EST (#158551) #
Is Zaun worth $4-5 million a year?  I've been going on gut and saying yes so far but lets look closer...

Lifetime stats - 253/345/385
2006 - 272/363/462
Age - 36 in 2007

Most comparable by age - Greg Myers &  Pat Borders are the top 2 - OK, now that is weird

Myers at 36 hit 222/341/382, then went nuts at 37 in Toronto 307/374/502 then played a total of 14 more games before retiring.

Borders at 36 played 12 games, then had a total of 98 more games, cracking 50 AB's just twice and hitting pretty badly in those two chances.

#3 was Dave Valle who never played after age 35
#4 is Jeff Reed who hit well at 36 (258/373/371) and poor at 37 before retiring.
#5 is Tom Pagnozzi, retired after age 35
#6 is Clyde McCullough who only had 100+AB's after age 35 once and hit 258/303/367
#7 is John Flaherty who played at 36 and 37, 47 games each, 127 AB's both years, poor stats both years.
#8 is Glen Myatt, played 3 years, hit 318/392/393 at 36 and never again would crack 300 for OBP or Slg
#9 is Ray Mueller, 4 more seasons, peaks were 257/307/413 at 38 over 167 AB's otherwise sub 300 OBP and sub 350 Slg.
#10 is Damian Miller, played at 36 hitting 251/322/390 and is still active today.

Overall average for these 10 guys after age 35 - 3 seasons, 143 games, 379 AB's, 242/314/362 OPS+ of 73 (not factoring in two guys who never played after 35).

Ugh.  That screams to the Jays not to commit to Zaun beyond a one year deal, maybe 2.  Just one of those guys was any good after 37 for even a season so a 3 year deal is just asking for the 3rd year to be a write off.

Zaun has been great fun these last 3 seasons but he was pretty bad the 2 years before coming (185 and 166 AB's with OPS+ of 54 and 68) and looking at the numbers I have to suspect he doesn't have many, if any, good years left.  At this point I have to hope he gets a great deal but that it comes elsewhere, then returns as a coach afterwards.
John Northey - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 12:39 PM EST (#158552) #
I've been on the pro-Zaun anti-Barajas train for awhile.  After my last post you can see I'm off the Zaun bandwagon.  Lets see if Barajas can get me on his side...

He is in his age 31 year next season

Lifetime - 240/282/410 OPS+74
2006 - 256/298/410 OPS+78

Peak OPS+ is 99, done in 2005 254/306/466

2 most similar batters are active, Jason LaRue (105 & 65 OPS+) and Chris Widger (missed age 30 season, then OPS+ of 92/60/77/28)

Bo Diaz was the best of the batch for playing time at 6 seasons, 513 games, 1729 AB's, 250/291/372 OPS+ 79
Only guy with an OPS+ over 81 is Jason LaRue at 91 and that is probably going down at this point.

Average for all players after age 30...
3 seasons, 234/296/364 OPS+ of 71

Ugh.  Another 'thanks but no thanks' guy.  The age makes me think more is possible but the stats say otherwise.

Lets hope JP has a 3rd option.
John Northey - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 12:51 PM EST (#158553) #
A third option is keeping Bengie Molina.  I didn't think about this option seriously until now.  Now I'm thinking it is the best of the batch.

Lifetime - 275/310/407 OPS+86
2006 - 284/319/467 OPS+98

Only 1 of his 10 comparables has played less than 4 seasons after age 31.  Wow.  Sadly it is his #1 comparable Eddie Taubensee - at 32 he hit 250/315/362 (78 OPS+) over 52 games and retired.  He only played 81 games the season before with an OPS+ of 73 though so the warning was there.

Overall average - 6 seasons, 260/321/375 OPS+ of 83 with 1 of the guys on his list still playing (Sandy Alomar)

Much more promising than Zaun or Barajas when it comes to career length and potential for offense.  For Barajas only Dias played more than 4 seasons, for Zaun it was just Borders with 2 guys not playing a single game.  For Molina 7 guys played over 4 seasons.  Since catchers tend to hang on for awhile after their expiry date (see Pat Borders for a great example) endurance beyond their current contract is a factor to consider.  Zaun and Barajas are both high risks for being injured or ineffective the day after they sign, while Molina is, surprisingly, not.

So, there is now one person here who says sign Molina and say goodbye to Zaun, assuming Bengie can still catch over 100 games a year.
Chuck - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 01:27 PM EST (#158555) #
He [Molina] has ... a big bat

You forgot the qualifier against LHP.

With Thomas in the fold, the Jays will hit LHP very well. The team needs help against RHP, particularly with a RHB laden lineup. Molina has been awful against RHP over the past two seasons (2006: 246/286/389, 2005: 253/294/361). That level of performance screams out $310K, not $4M.

Finding the cheap end of a catching platoon, especially when the team does not desperately need a thumper against LHP, will be the easy half of the catching equation. It's all those AB vs. RHP they need to worry about, which only serves to point the conversation back towards Zaun (which the obvious caveats that should apply to someone his age, coming off his best season).

Mike Green - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 02:12 PM EST (#158567) #
David Pinto's Probabilistic Model of Range has Julio Lugo as significantly above average again in 2006 (20 outs above predicted).  The Dial Ratings have him as average.  The difference appears to arise from the fact that Pinto makes routine park-adjustments.  The predicted ground-ball efficiency for Tampa is the second-lowest in the majors. 
Jordan - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 02:25 PM EST (#158572) #
Juan Pierre's contract suddenly looks... well, slightly less insane.

What's going on in LA? I thought it was the New York teams that were supposed to spend wildly out of proportion and screw up the market for everyone else. At least the Mets got a legitimate All-Star when they signed Beltran. This ... I don't know what to make of this.

Vernon Wells is eventually going to sign a contract for about $20M a season. I seriously doubt it will be with the Blue Jays.

Smithers - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 02:30 PM EST (#158575) #

The Matthews signing is doubly bad news for the Jays.  Not only does that take the Angels out of a potential bidding war for Vernon Wells, but Matthews is also a type A free agent.  Looking at the Elias rankings list that Mark posted earlier, Matthews just barely squeaked by Speier (contract value is an entirely different story though).

Gary Matthews Jr. 75.556 A 
Justin Speier 74.027 A

So I guess this means that the Jays lose that Angels first round pick (which at the moment belongs to Texas), and instead are looking at a sandwich pick and a second rounder that will likely be somewhere in the 70's as compensation for Speier.  Too bad.

Rob - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 02:58 PM EST (#158579) #
Do you have Deal or No Deal in Canada?

Are you kidding? It's an American show; of course we have it.

I noticed Pinto's rankings of the shortstops and I saw that "Aaron W Hill" brought up the rear (about 13 outs below predicted). It surprised me -- I was of the opinion that Hill was fine at SS. Sure, maybe he's better suited for 2B, but shortstop shouldn't be a problem. So I'm not sure what to think about that.

On the other hand, if you believe those rankings, John McDonald is barely -- barely -- above average, which I hope will finally end all talk of him being a superior defensive shortstop.

On the other other hand, there was Gold Glove talk around Sea Bass, and he was roughly equivalent to McDonald.

In other news (since I'm out of hands), Ken Rosenthal reports that Sarge Jr. is heading to LAAoA for 50 million over 5 years. Looks like telling your kid to study hard and stay in school wasn't such a sound financial decision after all. (Unsound financially, as opposed to Frank Thomas for 18 million, which suddenly seems as though the Jays bought him at the 99-cent store.)
Rob - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 03:00 PM EST (#158580) #
Ken Rosenthal reports that Sarge Jr. is heading to LAAoA

And yes, I know I'm not the first to point this out, but I stand by my "99-cent store" line.
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 03:19 PM EST (#158583) #
The pattern of free agent contracts over the last few years does seem to be tied to collective bargaining negotiations.  The change in the free agent market between 2003-05 and 2006 does not seem likely to be attributable to growth in the game alone.  This "correlation" is, of course, nothing new.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 04:54 PM EST (#158595) #

and plays at least a passable center field

And Wayne Gretzky could score a few goals occasionally.

Matthews is the best defensive CF in the game, possibly excepting Torii Hunter.

Mike Green - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 06:04 PM EST (#158598) #
Matthews definitely made the circus catch as well or better than anyone this year, but it's not entirely clear how well he did generally on the more mundane bloops and humpback liners.  The metrics say that he was on the whole average, and it is definitely strange for a player to become the best defensive centerfielder in the league out of nowhere in his 30s.  But, Mick did see a lot of Matthews...
slitheringslider - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 06:24 PM EST (#158600) #
I agree that I would rather have Johnson over Matthews Jr., he is a couple years younger, and Johnson might actually be a better hitter than Matthews. Over his career, Johnson has a higher BA, .OBP, .SLG than Matthews. If you compare last year, Johnson has an edge in BA, and OBP, with Matthews holding a slight edge in SLG. Before last year, Matthews was basically used in the same role as Johnson while posting similar (as in pre-2006) numbers. If Johnson hits anywhere close to .300 again this season while playing decent defence in the outfield, does that mean he gets $60mil/5yrs when he hits free agency since he has outperformed Matthews? Johnson and Matthew are average players who are no more valuable then someone like Catalanotto. I will argue that Catalanotto is superior to both Johnson and Matthews at the plate, let's take a look at their respective career lines and their age:

Catalanotto (33): .297/.362/.454 over 3076AB
Johnson (29): .288/.348/.423 over 1808AB
Matthews (32): .263/.336/.419 over 2787AB

So last time I check Cat will make $13mil/3yrs and Matthews will make $50/5yrs. Um... something just doesn't add up. Does Matthew's defence and 1 year age difference really make him that much more attractive an option that he deserves 6mil more per year and 2 years more in his contract? Hell, I will just let Cat butcher centerfield and save that 37mil on something else. Plus that will be an upgrade on his bat. Seriously, this market is out of control and props to Jon Daniels for finding a bargain. Let's hope Johnson doesn't use Matthews' contract as a comparison when he seeks an extension.

Thomas - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 06:26 PM EST (#158601) #
Mick, I'm going to need more than your assertion to believe that. While his catch around the ASG was jaw-dropping, every metric grades him as roughly average, from Dial's to Pinto's. As Mike says, for a guy to become the best defensive CF in the game at 31 out of relatively nowhere is very unusual. I'll keep your statement in mind, but I'm not sold Matthews is any better than Wells or several other nams tossed about as the best defensive outfielders in the game..
TamRa - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 02:46 PM EST (#158648) #

I may be the only one but if I have a straight choice between


Adam Kennedy @ $4.5 mil (for 4)

Rod Barajas @ $2.5 mil (for 2)




Greg Zaun @ $4 mil (for 2)

Russ Adams @ $400,000


That's a no brainer to me. Will Zaun be overpaid? Sure. by about 1 million per by the team's rekoining...but IMHO Kennedy at that price, for that long, is gonna cost you more than 2 million too much over the next 4 years. It's at least one year too long and at least one mil too high - a total of 7.5 million more than we ought to be commiting to him.


and for what?

On top, Kennedy this year, on bottom, Adams in 2005:

.273 - .334 - .384 - .718 - 26 - 6 - 4 - 55 (451 ab) 16 sb, 10 cs

.256 - .325 - .383 - .708 - 27 - 5 - 8 - 63 (481 ab) 11 sb, 2 cs


Someone PLEASE tell me we aren't about to spend 18 million dollars on a 4 year older version of Russ Adams!

If anything can put me on the road to being a JP basher, this is it.


No, whatever Zaunie's age issue (which are very real) Zaun/Adams will give us more on the field in 2007 that Barajas/Kennedy unless Zaunie falls apart the way Myers did...and even if that happens the sunk cost is much less.


Now, if we're signing Durham or Lugo, fine, go cheap on Zaun. but even then, Barajas isn't the answer. You can get Toby hall for basicly nothing and get the same offense and defense you get from Barajas without the multi-year commitment.

OTOH, if you want to at least TRY to get offense from the catcher position - then take a flyer on Lieberthal. If you go with Adams at 2B and spend what you would have spent on Barajas and Kennedy on Lieberthal (hopefully, most of it in incentives)

Mike Green - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 03:01 PM EST (#158649) #
There are reasonable concerns about Kennedy.  At age 30, he seems to have lost speed on the basepaths and perhaps much of his defensive range.  He has however been a significantly better hitter than Adams so far in his career, once one adjusts for park.  Given their respective ages, it is certainly arguable that Adams is likely to be as effective at second base from age 26-29 as Kennedy might be from 31-34. 
John Northey - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 04:43 PM EST (#158663) #

On a side note, to provide a break from the craziness of free agency...

Looking over at it was interesting to note how the minors seem to work in odd ways.  In 2003 the Jays drafted a guy named Matt Foster in the 13th round.  He played for 3 seasons (missed 2004 due to military service) in Pulaski.  A total of 18 games pitched, 22 2/3 IP over that time frame.  Just 16 hits allowed, 12 walks, 22 strikeouts and 1 home run with a 2.84 ERA.  Doesn't seem bad, throws left handed which is a plus, is now 25 for the 2007 season so is quite old for that level.  Why wasn't he given a shot to throw more innings?  Why wasn't he promoted at some point to a higher level (Pulaski is at the bottom and now removed entirely)?  This isn't blasting the Jays for dumping an old rookie league pitcher, it is more wondering how the system works when I see a guy who, on the surface, appears to be talented and never got a real shot to show what he could do.  Probably injuries or something that aren't listed online, maybe he never was dedicated to baseball and just did it for fun for a few years, who knows? 

Fun to speculate about a guys career, wondering if he is sad today and feels like he never had a shot or if he was about to quit on his own, feeling he needed a real career.  Wondering why guys can show some talent at the low minors and never get moved up even one more level to see if they would fail or not while others get promoted no matter what they do it seems.

robertdudek - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 01:05 PM EST (#158698) #
I don't think that looking at raw comparables for Zaun is the right way to analyse his future value.

1) He hasn't caught many games in his career, so is less likely to be subject to rapid decline most catchers in their mid-30s suffer.

2) He is a very good defensive catcher and a good baserunner (especially for a catcher). This, and anecdotal evidence, suggests that he is in excellent physical condition.

3) He has a broad range of offensive skillls (decent BA, excellent control of strikezone and decent power) so I think he's a fairly safe bet for good production over the next two years - he will not fall off a cliff.

He is a much better catcher than Bengie or Barajas, so I will be ticked off if the Jays sign either of them at a comparable salary to what Zaun is asking for.

robertdudek - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 01:08 PM EST (#158699) #
22 innings over 3 seasons? That should give us a clue. Think - INJURIES.
John Northey - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 03:02 PM EST (#158712) #

So, for second base we've all been talking about Adam Kennedy but what about the top hitting second baseman out there at the moment, Ray Durham?  He would cost a draft pick, but that is a small price for what he brings.

350 or better OBP for 7 of the last 8 seasons, 360+ for 6 of those 7.
420 or better Slg for 9 straight seasons, peak of 538 last year
Last OPS+ sub 100 was in 1997
Better than league average range factor every season of his career, although RF/9 isn't always as good (sub average last year in that measure)

Played between 110 and 142 games in the past 4 seasons, so has had injury problems
Made over $7 million last year, thus is expensive

Comparables for 35+ averaged 4 seasons with a 276/364/427 line (OPS+ of 105).  4 HOF'ers on that list plus Alan Trammell, Lou Whittaker and most comparable to Craig Biggio.  Comparables are weak with a peak score of 906 by age and 878 for overall, indicating a fairly unique player.

Y'know, a guy who puts up a line of 276/364/427 for the next 4 years averaging over a hundred games a season isn't bad if he plays a solid second base.  A switch hitter, although hit better from the right side last year he has a minor split for his career - better OBP as a left handed hitter, better Slg as a right handed hitter.  A case where what the scouts say about his health and defense could make the difference.  Anyone know if he is rumoured to be going anywhere other than SF?

Craig B - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 04:21 PM EST (#158724) #

At three years younger than Lee, and generally about as productive (probably a bit more valuable) I think Vernon is looking at a deal at Soriano's level, and certainly no less than Lee's.

Who here would offer Vernon seven years at 112 million (16M/yr), right now?  I think that's his market rate if the Jays want a longterm deal.  Scary, eh?

Craig B - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 04:28 PM EST (#158727) #

Does it make sense to anyone else that with the escalating salaries of these deals that Manny Ramirez's trade value goes up?

Yes, and his availability goes down at the same time.  Boston shopping Manny was always predicated on them being able to bring in a big hitter, not replacing him with a bat from within (they don't have one).  Without the big guy, the Sox outfield is Crisp, Pena and David Murphy.  If they want to bring Trot Nixon  back, they're looking at $8-10 million a season, I reckon.

Yeah, signing Frank Thomas for 2 years at $18 million was just silly.  :)

John Northey - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 04:31 PM EST (#158728) #
This is an odd offseason.  Back in the late 80's we saw a big jump post-collusion then another one in the early 90's after the big Fox deal was signed.  This offseason I suspect is crazy due to the stability in labour we now see plus the fact that internet revenues appear to be growing at a pace that helps teams significantly.  So, is it smart to overspend today to avoid bigger costs tomorrow?

A way to look at it is to show peak pay per year.
Year	AL		                NL	
1988 $2,305,000 Brett $2,340,000 Ozzie Smith
1989 $2,766,666 Viola $2,766,667 Hershiser
1990 $3,200,000 Yount $2,513,703 Murray
1991 $3,791,667 Carter $3,800,000 Strawberry
1992 $5,300,000 Tartabull $6,100,000 Bonilla
1993 $5,550,000 Carter $6,200,000 Bonilla
1994 $5,550,000 Carter $6,300,000 Bonilla
1995 $9,237,500 Fielder $8,166,666 Bonds
1996 $9,237,500 Fielder $8,416,667 Bonds
1997 $10,000,000 Belle $8,666,667 Bonds
1998 $10,000,000 Belle $14,936,667 Sheffield
1999 $11,949,794 Belle $10,714,286 Brown
2000 $12,868,670 Belle $15,714,286 Brown
2001 $22,000,000 A-Rod $15,714,286 Brown
2002 $22,000,000 A-Rod $15,714,286 Brown
2003 $22,000,000 A-Rod $17,166,667 Vaughn
2004 $22,500,000 Ramirez $18,000,000 Bonds
2005 $26,000,000 A-Rod $22,000,000 Bonds
2006 $21,680,727 A-Rod $19,369,019 Bagwell
Interesting eh? By checking both leagues we can see if it is just one player (such as A-Rod) or if it is a general trend. 
Peak salaries have climbed by scary figures some years (61% in 1992) and actually dropped in others (-20% in 1999).

The AL increased it's peak salary by over 15% a year for 4 straight years from 1989 to 1992, and it was 4 different players thus not 'forced' by one guy getting a dumb salary (see A-Rod and Bobby Bonilla for examples of those).   Outside of 1992 the AL was within $9k of the NL peak or above it during that stretch so it wasn't a league thing either.

So, is it worth signing a guy to a 5 year deal when prices are jumping?  Depends.  The 1988-1992 stretch was artificial due to the collusion of 85-86-87 and peaked when a tv deal was signed.  Other big spikes were 1995 post-strike (30%+ jump for peak in both leagues), 1998 (Sheffield getting an odd deal), 2000 (Brown redefining it), and 2001 (A-Rod & Ramirez setting new levels yet to be passed).   It is interesting to see the peaks drop this season, suggesting that players at that salary level figured on a possible strike/lockout this season and adjusted their pay accordingly.

So, signing a guy for big bucks in 1988 was a good idea, as it was in 1995 and 1998 since top salaries kept climbing significantly for awhile after.  2001 was a bad time to do it as that winters peaks were viewed as terrible even though the players kept playing at their peaks (imagine if Ramirez or A-Rod fell apart).  It looks like 2007 will set new levels again (although they won't show up on this table due to A-Rod) which will probably, if history is a guide, continue to grow for a few years afterwards.  A-Rod's deal could be surpassed on an annual basis very soon and, sadly, it looks like Vernon is a strong candidate to be the guy who does it next winter with a big 2007 season.  If he doesn't sign an extension this winter and has a 900-1000 OPS season in 2007 watch out as he gets a deal worth well over $20 million a season.
Smithers - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 09:30 PM EST (#158761) #
Well, now Blair is reporting that the Jays are going to be signing Barajas - and we all know Blair's accuracy.

"According to multiple sources, the Blue Jays are close to signing the 31-year-old free agent to a two-year contract worth between $5.5-million and $6-million (all figures U.S.) and could have a deal in place by Tuesday. That's the same day the Blue Jays expect to have recent free-agent signing Frank Thomas in town."

So what happens with Gregg Zaun now?  Will he return for another year of the two-headed beast catcher?
Jordan - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 10:16 PM EST (#158772) #
Gotta love that robust .282 lifetime on-base percentage. Barajas hit 21 HRs two seasons ago, while posting a career-high .306 OBP; he had 11 in 344 AB last season. He hasn't been particularly helped by playing in Arlington -- his OPS is actually slightly better on the road. But in no way is he an inspiring offensive player.

I don't know him well enough to rate his defence -- he's thrown out about a third of all baserunners career, and Defensive Win Shares has him 9th in the AL defensively, behind such luminaries as Toby Hall and John Buck. Maybe Mick can shed some light on his prowess with pitchers, blocking the plate, stealing strikes, and so forth. Otherwise, at this point, I don't get this signing at all.

Mick Doherty - Saturday, November 25 2006 @ 01:26 AM EST (#158788) #
Maybe Mick can shed some light on [Barajas'] prowess with pitchers, blocking the plate, stealing strikes, and so forth.

You want light shed by the "master of outlandish hyperbole"? Dangerous ground, sir. Let me first address this one minor point ...

... with all due respect to Mick, he's been known to say some fairly outlandish things about the Rangers before (eg. "the bidding for Michael Young would start at Halladay + Wells").

Actually, when I wrote that, and I have explained this previously, it was meant specifically as a way of saying "There is no way the Rangers are trading Mike Young to anyone, unless the offer made is just stupidly un-turn-downable." Which that offer would be, of course.

And though I live in North Texas and sort of (have to) follow the Rangers in the newspaper, I really have to be clear about this -- I am not a Rangers fan (except in the "supporting the local nine" sense)  and haven't even been to a game at Ameriquest since '04.

So I can't really speak to the Barajas specifics, Jordan, though in what I have seen and heard in passing on TV and in the papers, I tend to think of him as overpaid and overvalued here, much less at an inflated contract rate. For whatever that's worth.

Scott Lucas is Da Box's true Texas resident (a native, I think) and Rangers fan, so maybe he can speak to the Barajas situation better than I just did.
actionjackson - Saturday, November 25 2006 @ 01:28 AM EST (#158789) #
I wonder if JP endured a lot of sleepless nights full of visions of stolen base after stolen base, with no end in sight. Last year, in a league where the average team totals for stolen bases and caught stealing were 89 and 36 respectively, for a total of 125 attempts, the Blue Jays catchers allowed a staggering 130 stolen bases, while catching just 32, for a total of 162 attempts, or exactly one per game. We can blame pitchers being slow to the plate up to a certain point, but eventually when you start poking around at the career numbers of the catchers you realize: a) Zaun never had much of an arm to begin with b) Bengie's arm hit the wall in about 2004 and c) Opposing baserunners run on Jason Phillips with complete disregard for his arm. So much so, that I am concerned about him as a backup in 2007. If he plays 50 games at catcher as js suggests, you're probably looking at a little over 40 SB and a little under 10 CS. Not good.

Last year in 94 games Barajas held opposing baserunners to 38 SB and 19 CS. The percentage is not I-Rod-like or Yadier-like, but so few are. What is important to notice is that only 57 attempts were made. In other words either the Texas pitchers play Texas hold 'em with the baserunners (don't forget Kevin Millwood is one of their starters) or Barajas has a respected arm and people don't test it too much, and when they do, he has a better than average chance of throwing them out. Do I like his bat? Not particularly, but if the Jays can score Kennedy for 2B or Lugo for SS, you can bury Barajas in the #8 slot where all those new fangled lineup tools say the worst hitter should go, and the rest of the order practically writes itself out. It's not like he's Huckaby. I know he's a tweener, but we got him for tweener money and we got him for that arm. I still would like to see a proper backup or preferably a starter, but we don't have an unlimited budget here, and there are more pressing needs right now. I for one will be happy to see a slowing down of the opposition track meet on the base paths.

If he contributes that and whoever we sign for the middle infield solidifies that situation and we get that #3 starter, I'm a happy camper. Of course, we could also use a fourth outfielder, an upgrade at backup middle infielder, that upgrade at backup catcher, another arm in the rotation and the pen. Oh yeah, I forgot about that budget thing and the players that are already here who might contribute. Now, kindly back away from the toilets, except those of you that have already had too much to drink in your despair. You can feel free to drive the porcelain bus if you must. Please though don't try to tell me that signing Barajas instead of Zaun is going to make or break the season, because I'm not buying it.
Eric Purdy - Saturday, November 25 2006 @ 03:08 AM EST (#158792) #
I'm not greenfrog but I'll give you plenty of reasons to be down on Gil Meche, melondough. For starters, he's a flyball pitcher. That's a pretty big negative right off the hop if he's going to be throwing half his games in the RC. His 'big breakthrough' this past year still came with a below average ERA and while pitching half of his games at Safeco Field. Here are his road ERA's since he became a regular member of the M's rotation in 2003: 5.71, 5.79, 5.04, 5.14. His peripherals took a jump forward this year but that only brought them up to mediocre from bad. His control is still middling.

There's little reason to believe Gil Meche would have an ERA under 5 if he was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays next year.

VBF - Saturday, November 25 2006 @ 03:08 AM EST (#158793) #

Last year Barajas hit .279 against righties and .156 against lefties.

Hrm. Bengie Molina anyone? You get your lefty masher, your decent righty hitter, and your late inning defensive sub.

Marc Hulet - Saturday, November 25 2006 @ 10:50 AM EST (#158802) #

I really liked the Barajas signing (assuming it truly happens) and I was advocating signing him at the end of the year... If Zaun did not come back. He doesn't walk much, which I think gets more attention than it deserves. He has some power and is solid defensively, which is where catchers' true values lie. And Phillips is a fine as a backup to play 60 games with Thigpen (not on the 40 but in triple-A) and Diaz (on the 40 but in double-A) acting as the third catcher... If the Jays don't add a veteran minor league catcher to triple-A.
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